Spy Bills and Snapper Quotas

Our esteemed Prime Minister announced yesterday that New Zealanders are more worried about adjustments to the quota scheme for snapper fishing than they are about the GCSB bill, a bill which makes it legal to spy on New Zealanders in ways it was not permitted to before.

I freely admit that I am not in any way qualified to discuss the bill itself, because I don’t fully understand it, and I don’t want to do it the injustice of a half-assed attempt. What I want to highlight is the Prime Minister’s dismissal of the concerns that many people have over the bill.

The issue of snapper quotas is another that I do not understand well. It affects a small fraction of the country, and to be honest, much of the country probably hadn’t heard anything about it until last night. It may be very significant to some people, but the GCSB bill has the potential to affect all New Zealanders. Using the snapper issue as a smokescreen was disingenuous and a blatant attempt to sidestep having to think about what the country thinks.

Asserting that the experts that have been speaking out, and who have been gathered by one of our most prominent current events shows, are ‘not really experts’, is a load of tripe. Objections have been raised by people who matter in regards to law-making – the Law Society, various law professors, and even a former Prime Minister. Dismissing them as inexpert is ridiculous. The assertions that ‘most New Zealanders agree with the Government’ has not, as far as I know, been backed up with any statistics.

John Key dismisses us as being more interested in going fishing than in having the government spy agency being given far more power over us than before. He then asserts that most New Zealanders agree with the government. You can’t have it both ways, Mr Key. Either we’re fishing-mad and don’t know or care what goes on, as long as we get our fish, or we all believe the government knows best, except for those silly people who listen to anyone who isn’t the government.

I don’t like¬†condescension, and I don’t like being dismissed. This is a real issue, a big issue, and the government can’t hide behind a bloody fish over it.


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