The Herald sums up the submissions to the Government’s Video Camera Surveillance select committee:
The committee also heard from Police Commissioner Peter Marshall, who said evidence was being lost and safety put at risk.
“I am aware of a particular situation which involves the safety of community members and we have been trying to identify a particular offender. It is a serious top-end scale offence likely to be committed.
This is the crux of the argument put forward by the Police, the Prime Minister and the Attorney General: ‘if we don’t give fisheries officials legal powers to install secret cameras in the home of private citizens, lives may be lost!’
So let’s talk about risk to the community. The police obviously consider Valerie Morse a risk to the community. They charged her with terrorism! That charge was thrown out by the Solicitor-General, and the Supreme Court dismissed the other charges against her because the police made an informed decision to break the law when they collected evidence against her. Because the police acted illegally, someone they consider a terrorist is at large! Haven’t they put us at terrible risk? When do we see some accountability on that score?
As far as the actual bill, I see this in terms of real-politik: the civil service is always eager to expand its powers; Judith Collins is an authoritarian who believes in the limitless expansion of police power for its own sake; Key is a pawn of his officials, and Finlayson is so desperate to become Justice Minister he’ll happily tear up his reputation as a legal expert to do so.
But let’s say you’re a National supporter, and you think the government is acting out of principled, selfless motives – they’re just trying to protect us! But National won’t be the government forever, and this sets a dangerous precedent for all future governments. Are you happy for a Labour-run government department to knowingly act in an unlawful way, then retrospectively change the law if they get caught out by the courts?