Thank goodness for Andrew Little’s timely intervention, so that 48 hours of “emergency” warrantless surveillance by spy agencies was reduced from 48 hours to only 24 in National’s new rushed-through anti-terrorism bill – and the bill’s “sunset clause” for when its powers expire was brought forward to 2017.
Because those 24 hours make so much difference.
Yes, that is sarcasm you’re hearing there.
In his explanation for agreeing to vote for the bill, Little appeared more concerned about its timetable than its content.
"People should always be sceptical when there are demands and plans for extra powers by security agencies that intrude on rights and freedoms, and when that happens there should be a decent amount of time for every citizen to have their say if they want to have it," he said.
As if it makes a difference to intrusions on your rights and freedoms if they’ve been discussed for four months rather than four days.
The sunset itself is of little moment. Almost every parliamentary term since and during Helen Clark’s reign we’ve seen another anti-terrorism bill introduced, often under urgency, usually botched, and always adding new things the state can do to you simply because the state would like to.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s the state’s legitimate job to protect our legitimate rights, yours and mine, and we do need spy agencies to counter the very real threats that do exist.
But threats from the surveillance state are just as real as terrorist threats – and much, much closer to home – which is why proper protections against state abuse of its surveillance powers need proper legal power: needing a warrant before embarking on surveillance being one primary protection the state should afford its citizens.
Greens co-leader Russel Norman is right when he says: "Unwarranted surveillance is still unwarranted surveillance even if it's only for 24 hours."
A pity there’s little sympathy for that position around the parliament.
NOTE: Some puns were harmed in the making of this post, and will undoubtedly be harmed again in future.