Labour in last-ditch Search and Surveillance fight
The fight against the controversial Search and Surveillance Bill rages, as the committee stage debate gets down to the wire..
While the committee stage was hoped to wrap up last night - and the debate to cotinue today - last minute changes to Parliament's agenda means parts three, four and five will be battled out between the opposition and government later this month.
Part three, which deals with protection orders and directly relates to the Serious Fraud Office’s ability to demand documents from media organisations without a warrant, is a contentious issue and is set to prompt strong debate.
It was these powers which allowed the SFO to obtain documents from The National Business Review in 2010 relating to the financial collapse of South Canterbury Finance.
Despite lodging a Supplementary Order Paper requesting changes to the bill, Labour’s David Parker says he is not optimistic that the changes will be voted through.
“You would hope that these changes would be made, given that the point of principle is so clear. As was seen last night, the government continue to vote against the amendments, so it is not looking good,” Mr Parker said.
The third and final reading, expected on March 20, is Labour’s last chance to push the changes through.
Justice Minister Judith Collins warned on Wednesday that should the bill not be passed by April 17, all surveillance activities of the Police would be halted, therefore compromising police investigations and could allow criminals to have “free reign”.
While Labour opposition agreed with the majority of the Bill, it contended that the SFO should have been included.
Labour’s Phil Goff earlier said that while MPs might resent the media; the fourth estate still needs to be protected.
He argued that passing the bill would damage New Zealand’s reputation internationally, referencing New Zealand’s media freedom downgrade from 8th in the world to 13th by international media monitoring agency, Reporters Without Borders.