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GCSB law criticised as a 'travesty for democracy'

Published: 8:51PM Wednesday August 21, 2013 Source: ONE News

Those who fought against the GCSB Bill say they are disappointed that the legislation has passed, but will continue to remind people why they protested against it.

The GCSB amendment Bill passed its third and final reading by 61 votes to 59 following another heated debate between MPs tonight.

The law will enable the spy agency to legally support the New Zealand Police, Defence Force and Security Intelligence Service in surveillance operations on citizens and residents.

One of the most polarising pieces of legislation in recent times, the GCSB Bill and its related legislation has often been pushed through various stages by just one vote.

The Government's rush to get the Bill through, has seen thousands turn out at protest marches and public meetings and some high-profile opposition.

Law professor Jane Kelsey today told ONE News that she is disappointed that the Bill would be swung on the vote of just one or two MPs.

"This legislation is a travesty for democratic government, the fact that something so important can be passed on the vote of one person," she said.

Professor Kelsey said many people are concerned about the law's repercussions.

"It has got people out there - young, old, conservatives, lefties, people in rural and city areas - who haven't voiced a political opinion in years," she said.

"People simply don't swallow the 'trust us' line anymore."

Internet mogul Seeby Woodhouse today said that he would continue to remind people why they protested against the law.

"We all have curtains, we don't want John Key standing outside peering in. It doesn't mean we are doing anything wrong in our home," he said.

Mr Woodhouse says he will stand on the steps of Parliament during election year and remind people why they protested against the Bill.

"I am going to stand there the entire day and I am going to remind the New Zealand public why they protested and why it is important to repeal this law," he said.

'Serious threat'

In a statement to ONE News this evening, internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom criticised the lack of independent oversight within the legislation.

Mr Dotcom is one of the key figures in the fight against the bill, after it was discovered that he was being monitored illegally.

"It's a sad day for NZ if the bill passes without a prior independent inquiry into illegal spying and implementation of proper oversight to protect Kiwis from abuse.

"The GCSB and other intelligence agencies have a right to exist and are necessary to keep us safe.

"But the overreach, the lack of independent oversight, and the connection to the Five Eyes spy cloud which includes all communications of all New Zealanders are turning this new law into a serious threat to our basic human right to privacy," Mr Dotcom said.

Essential legislation

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has tonight welcomed the passing of the law.

John Key said that the law will allow the nation's security agencies to get on with their job.
"Despite ill-informed claims to the contrary, nothing in this legislation allows for wholesale spying on New Zealanders. It actually tightens, not widens, the existing regime," Mr Key said.
"This essential legislation makes it clear what the GCSB may and may not do, and fixes an Act passed under the Labour Government a decade ago, which was not, and probably never was, fit for purpose.
"It clarifies the GCSB's legal framework and substantially increases oversight of the country's intelligence agencies, which will go some way to rebuilding public confidence in the GCSB," Mr Key said.