Joe Hendren

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Labour vote with National to pass Terrorism Suppression Bill

Today sees the Committee stages of the Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill.

This amendment bill has an uncanny resemblance to the first reading of the Terrorism Suppression Act* as introduced by Phil Goff in May 2001.

In response to public concerns the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee put some safeguards on the use of the legislation. This included putting in place a High Court review of terrorist designations every three years. It also put in an additional clause to the terrorist financing provisions, ensuring that it was not a crime to collect funds "for the purpose of advocating democratic government or the protection of human rights".

I understand Green MP Keith Locke and Alliance MP Matt Robson played a key role in advocating for these changes.

These and other safeguards are being removed under the new amendment bill. When the government puts up legislation to remove provisions that were put in place following public submissions, its a pretty clear signal they have little interest in hearing what the public have to say about the issue.

While Parliament does have the right to amend legislation, its significant that it was a Labour dominated government who passed the original legislation. Could it be a coincidence that in 2002 Labour were in a government dependent on the Alliance and the Greens for their majority. They now are paired up with NZ First and United Future.

Now Labour are joining with their right wing mates and the National party to pass the Terrorism Suppression Bill in a form remarkably similar to as originally proposed by Phil Goff in 2001.

Keith Locke has suggested some progressive amendments in a supplementary order paper, but Labour are likely to vote these all down (hat tip NoRightTurn).

For those who wish to maintain a government with a progressive agenda, this is a good example of why Labour are only fair weather friends. Reliable progress towards a progressive agenda is more likely to happen by supporting minor parties to Labour's left - not Labour itself. And as an added bonus, Labour might be a little less arrogant.

* At the time the bill was known as the Terrorism (Bombings and Financing Bill)

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