Rob Salmond on the hysteria over spying

I don’t hold a candle for Rob Salmond politically, I doubt there is much we agree on, but he has a thoughtful piece that cuts through?the?hysteria associated with the constant left-wing push against the GCSB.

The fact that he has bothered to look at what the GCSB is for puts him light years ahead of the other lefty shills.

The most critical question is whether trying to help Tim Groser’s, ahem, optimistic bid to become WTO Director-General falls within the GCSB’s legal mandate. I say it does. Here’s section 7 of the GCSB Act, which gives the Agency’s objectives:

The objective of the Bureau, in performing its functions, is to contribute to?
(a) the national security of New Zealand; and
(b) the international relations and well-being of New Zealand; and
(c) the economic well-being of New Zealand. ?

I can readily see the argument that having our own person at the head of the governing body for world trade, however unlikely he was to actually get the job, would be good for the economic well-being of New Zealand, therefore falling under subsection (c). You could make an argument for (b), too. And once you trigger one of those objectives, then sections 8A-8D open up all manner of tools for advancing them, including spying overseas.

The take home point here is: the GCSB’s mandate is not, repeat not, limited to security issues. Our spies have the legal power to spy on behalf of Groser, Fonterra TradeMe, Xero, or anyone else in making money in New Zealand.

Now we can certainly have a debate about whether that is an appropriate mandate. It seems pretty broad to me. But it is the current law, and the government gets to operate to the law’s limit, which it has.

He will probably be excommunicated and join John and Josie Pagani, and Phil Quin in the left-wing version of purgatory for daring to utter such thoughts.

The pity of it is for the left…is that he is right. For that I will give him kudos for daring to speak.


– Polity