Apparently, according to a six line news brief on page seven of the New Zealand Herald today, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s report into the possible unlawful spying on New Zealanders has cleared the GCSB of any illegality. That’s it, nothing to see here, move on everyone.
Except that the New Zealand Herald would have to be clairvoyant to actually make that claim, because John Key has decided that the report will not be released because its not in “New Zealand’s interest” to do so. Instead we must rely on a media release from Ian Fletcher the Director of the GCSB, who tells us that Paul Neazor has found that the actions of the GCSB were “arguably” legal. Presuambly this means they were arguably illegal as well?
The Inspector=General is meant to be our watchdog on these agencies. Frankly I couldn’t care less what John Key’s family friend thinks about the report. New Zealanders deserve to see it. It must be made public if there is any hope for New Zealanders to regain a shred of confidence in our intelligence agencies. That must be followed by a full inquiry into our intelligence agencies.
The lack of transparency around this government is now reaching crisis levels. Denying Parliament access to information about the legal consequences of the mean spirited carers legislation and the legislating away of rights of appeal, missing BORA reports and Regualtory Imapcts are the new normal under National.
Bear in mind that the Office of the Ombudsmen, the agency charged with dealing with complaints about government actions, has a backlog of thousands of cases, and is actually investigating a number of government agencies about their non-compliance with the Official Information Act. That is how bad things have gotten under National.
This government is riding roughshod over our constitutional norms and practices of good governance. This cuts to the heart of our system of democratic government. It might not rate as a nightly news story, and for people struggling to make ends meet it will be at the bottom of their list of problems. But it does matter, because transparency of government is at the heart of the social contract of our liberal democracy. Without it, government loses legitimacy. They must not, and will not, get away with this.