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NZ government to legalise black bag jobs

15 December 1998
The Government will introduce an amendment to legislation this week covering 
the operations of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, and will also 
seek to appeal part of the Choudry decision of the Court of Appeal, Prime 
Minister Jenny Shipley said today.
"In Mr Choudry's case, the Court of Appeal pointed out the need for Parliament 
to provide express authority for the NZSIS to enter private premises, without 
permission, to intercept communications."
"It is vital that the NZSIS is able to carry out its functions properly in 
gathering intelligence on security threats to New Zealand. In some rare 
instances, this may require covert entry to private property, which the 
amendment to the legislation will allow.  The existing law had been presumed 
to allow this to occur.  The Court has said if this is the intention, it 
should be made explicit as is the case in Canada, the United Kingdom and 
Mrs Shipley said the Government would also seek leave to appeal against one 
aspect of the Court of Appeal's decision in Mr Choudry's case.  The issue 
concerns the procedure the Court should follow when the Government asserts it 
is necessary, in the course of litigation against the Crown, to withhold from 
the Court, and other parties, access to information, in order to protect 
national security interests.
Choudry was a protestor against the 1994 APEC meeting held in Auckland (a 
bunch of foreign politicians turned up to talk for a week, shutting down the 
city centre in a way that wasn't equalled until Mercury Energy earlier this 
year).  At the time the SIS's mandate had been widened to include "economic 
security", bringing the APEC meeting into its sphere of interest.  As part of 
the APEC brouhaha, they carried out a black bag job on Choudry and got caught, 
causing the government some embarassment.  The current bill, rushed through 
under urgency just before parliament shuts down (which means it gets 
rubberstamped with no scrutiny or debate), would legalise these things in the 
future, just in time for the next big politicians powwow next year (which has 
already lead to the army invading the university as part of some training 
exercise which involved a simulated search for dissidents).
The second part is more worrying, what it'll do is remove any provision for 
judicial review of dubious actions by the government by allowing them to claim 
national security concerns as a blanket excuse for whatever they do.  
Certainly in the Choudry case the real concern was job security, not national