GCSB and SIS review – public views sought

Public submissions are now being sought as part of the independent review of New Zealand’s intelligence and security legislation.

Michael Cullen and Patsy Reddy, who are carrying out the review, have put out a press release advising of the submission  process, asking the public for their views on “what the GCSB and NZSIS should be doing to protect New Zealand”.

I presume that allows for public views on what the GCSB and SIS shouldn’t be doing.

Intelligence and security reviewers seek public’s views

The independent reviewers examining New Zealands intelligence and security legislation are calling for public submissions.Intelligence and security reviewers seek public’s views

“We are seeking public submissions to help us determine what issues to focus on during the review,” says Sir Michael. “We want to hear your views on what the GCSB and NZSIS should be doing to protect New Zealand and how they should do it.”

“We also want to hear what would give you confidence that the agencies are acting in the best interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders while having due regard to their rights and freedoms,” says Dame Patsy.

The review will consider the legislation relating to the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS), and the oversight of the agencies. It will also assess whether the new legislative provisions introduced late last year by the Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill should be extended beyond their current expiry date of 1 April 2017.

Submissions will be open until 5pm on Friday 14 August 2015. You can make a submission online by visiting https://consultations.justice.govt.nz/independent/iris, or you can make a submission by email or post using the call for submissions document available on the website. The website also includes some resources to assist you in making a submission.

More details were given via a Q & A.

Questions about the review

Why is this review being carried out?

Legislation passed in 2013 made several changes to clarify the law governing the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and improve oversight of New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies – the GCSB and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS).

One of these changes was to introduce regular independent reviews of the intelligence and security agencies and their governing legislation.

Regular reviews will help to ensure the law keeps up with changing risks to national security, while protecting individual rights and maintaining public confidence in the agencies.

Who is conducting the review?

Hon Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy are the independent reviewers, appointed by the Acting Attorney-General Hon Amy Adams in consultation with the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

Biographies of the independent reviewers are available at https://consultations.justice.govt.nz/independent/iris.

What will the review cover?

The review will determine:

1. Whether the legislative frameworks of the intelligence and security agencies (GCSB and NZSIS) are well placed to protect New Zealand’s current and future national security, while protecting individual rights;

2. Whether the current oversight arrangements provide sufficient safeguards at an operational, judicial and political level to ensure the GCSB and NZSIS act lawfully and maintain public confidence.

The full terms of reference for the 2015 review can be viewed at: http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/i/intelligence-and-security-agencies-review.

How long will the review take?

The review will be completed by the end of February 2016.

When can I read the independent reviewers’ report?

The independent reviewers must provide the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament with a report containing the results of their review by the end of February 2016.

After the Committee has considered the report, the Committee must present the report to the House of Representatives subject to any restrictions on the disclosure of information under section 18(3) of the Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996.

Where can I find more information about the review?

The Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996 establishes the statutory framework for the review. You can read the Act at http://www.legislation.govt.nz/.

The announcement from Hon Amy Adams appointing the independent reviewers, including biographies of the independent reviewers and the full terms of reference for the 2015 review, can be viewed at: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/intelligence-and-security-review-commence-june.

The notice in the New Zealand Gazette can be read at: https://gazette.govt.nz/notice/id/2015-go3140.

Any future announcements about the review will be posted on http://www.justice.govt.nz/.

What other reviews of the intelligence agencies have there been?

There have been a number of reviews in recent years relating to specific aspects of the intelligence and security agencies, for example the Murdoch review in 2009 and the Kitteridge review in 2012. The agencies in the core New Zealand Intelligence Community were also subject to a Performance Improvement Framework Review in late 2013. However, this will be the first review to look at the broader legislative framework and oversight of the agencies.

How does the review relate to the Law Commission’s work on classified information in court proceedings?

The Law Commission’s work has a specific focus on the rules and processes governing use and protection of security sensitive information in court proceedings. However, it is anticipated that the Law Commission’s work will complement the wider review.

While both pieces of work will proceed independently, there will be opportunities for the Commission and independent reviewers to share research and thinking if common issues arise.

Questions about the submissions process

When can I make a submission?

Submissions are open until 5.00pm on Friday 14 August 2015.

How can I make a submission?

You can make a submission online or download the consultation document to make a written submission at https://consultations.justice.govt.nz/independent/iris. Written submissions can be emailed to IRISsupport@justice.govt.nz or posted to IRIS Support Team, Ministry of Justice, Level 3 – Justice Centre, 19 Aitken Street, Wellington, DX SX10088.

I don’t know the answer to some of the consultation questions. Do I have to answer them all?

No, you do not need to answer all of the questions. None of them are mandatory.

Why is my submission being sent to the Ministry of Justice?

As stated in section 26 of the Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996, the Ministry of Justice is responsible for providing administrative, secretarial, and other support to the independent reviewers. This includes assisting with public consultation.

What happens with my submission?

Your submission will help the independent reviewers to decide what issues the review should focus on within the broad terms of reference. Your submission is sought for the purposes of this independent review only. It will not be shared with government agencies other than the Ministry of Justice (which is providing administrative support for the review) or released publicly.

After the independent reviewers have considered your submission, the independent reviewers or a member of the Ministry of Justice support team may wish to contact you to discuss your submission. At the beginning of the submission form you will be asked to indicate whether you are willing to be contacted for this purpose.

Flag change process update

An update on the process moving towards the flag referendums (from and email newsletter from Lewis Holden at Change The Flag):

The shortlist

In an interesting development, we have learned that the Flag Consideration Panel will be publishing a “shortlist” of the top 50-75 flags at some stage mid-August. We suspect they will gauge from this public reactions which will then inform their choice of the final four designs. We’ll keep you posted on this!

Reported back

The Justice and Electoral Select Committee has reported back on the New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill, the legislation that will enable the vote for our new flag to take place.

The committee has made a handful of recommendations to change the Bill before it becomes law.

  • Preventing MPs from spending their parliamentary funding on the referendum campaign;
  • Using the same roll for both the first and second referendums.

These aren’t major changes, but minor amendments that I’m sure most people – even if they oppose changing the flag – would agree with. Both save taxpayers money.

What happens next?

The Bill is now back in the House of Representatives to be debated a second time. Following the second reading the Bill moves into the “committee of the whole house” stage where amendments to the Bill can be moved. When this all happens we don’t exactly know, at last glace the Bill was sitting at no. 26 on Parliament’s order paper.

TPP – Pharmac fears dismissed by US economist

As US economist thinks that the fears (or fear-mongering) of the effects of the Trans Pacific Partnership on Pharmac and New Zealand drug prices are overly pessimistic.

NZ Herald reports Pharmac TPP fears dismissed:

Leading American trade economist Professor Peter Petri is optimistic that the Trans Pacific Partnership will turn out to be less damaging to Pharmac than people fear.

Trade Minister Tim Groser on Tuesday said the Government would not sign up to an agreement that undermined the pharmaceutical purchasing agency which kept the cost of medicines affordable for New Zealanders.

Petri said the most recent leak of TPP text he had seen, albeit a year old, embodied a set of rules much weaker than the United States had initially sought.

“The idea is to make the process of drug selection transparent and the US had initially proposed a formal appeal process which was then subject to the agreement’s dispute resolution mechanism [one of TPP’s most contentious provisions],” he said.

“The most recent leak suggests that it will be an appeal process up to the country itself to shape … and my guess is it won’t be subject to the dispute resolution mechanism.”

There’s been vastly different views on leaks.

TPP opponents fear that measures to increase the amount of information made available to drug companies about the processes by which Pharmac apportions its finite budget and decides which pharmaceuticals to subsidise will enhance their ability to stir up public concern that New Zealanders will be denied access to this or that life-saving medicine. The effect would be that the companies make more money and New Zealand taxpayers bear more cost.

“No doubt they [the pharmaceutical companies] will make those sorts of arguments,” Petri said. “That’s the price of transparency, that you get people making arguments you don’t like.”

But it was odd, he suggested, for people to deplore a lack of transparency in the TPP negotiations but oppose more of it in Pharmac’s deliberations.

Time will tell who is most correct.

Top ‘Rate the Flag’s

The top rated flags at ‘Rate The Flag’ have changed over time.

Pikopiko Southern Cross (#7297)

I guess this would be ok but it doesn’t stand out as much as others to me.

Coru And Southern Cross (#2473)

I like this one, it’s bright and cheerful and the Southern Cross looks integrated rather than added just to have it there like some others look.

Land Of The Long White Cloud (#1066)

A bit bland and abrupt, and I’m not keen on the split Southern Cross.

New Zealand New Flag (#9495)

Bland similar to the last one, not very distinctive, not noticeably New Zealand.

Green White Black Koru Simple (#951)

Simple and ok but it seems round the wrong way to me. So I’ve flipped it:

Flag951flippedI like it that way better.

Strong Hold (#7671)

That’s more distinctive but there’s something about it that doesn’t do it for me. It seems to be split in two rather than integrated.

Maori And Nz/Euro (#2305)

Not sure about the black/red/white and the stars look too dominant.

Reaching (#2821)

On a white background that doesn’t stand out and the stars don’t seem right. I’d remove the stars but then the wide white is too dominant, it would need narrowing. Then replace the blue with black and have a silver fern in the top left. Too much effort to try it all but here is the stars and blue removed:


Southern Cross Over Stylized Land Of The Long White Cloud (#4011)

Not for me. And it doesn’t look New Zealand.

Pacific Waters (Variation) (#7294)

Not for me, not distinctive, not New Zealand and not keen on the three stars.

Katoa – Everybody (#5652)

I quite like the style of that one.

That’s the twelve (the last three are tenth equal). Note that none have a silver fern. The first of those comes in at 13th.

Night Sky Pacific Fern (Variant) (#5386)

That’s ok but not sure the stars are necessary. Here it is without the stars:


I prefer that simplicity and the fern is our most distinctive emblem.

Of the rest of the top twenty this is the only one that stood out for me:

Te Awa (#7149)

That’s simple cleverly represents New Zealand – but only if you know New Zealand geographically.

Flag7149FernNot sure if that’s any better but it’s more distinctively New Zealand. What about blue instead of green?


Stand out flag?

Posted on Twitter:

Spot the 10 @NZFlag designs. Not sure if it’s a good thing to stand out or blend in? International quality?

Manipulating the flag vote from England

A claim that someone from England has been mass voting at Rate The Flag on designs featuring a Union Jack.

Someone in England had been up-voting union jack flags. They’d cast over 15% of the total votes. Needless to say, they’re blocked! #nzflag

It could be the Queen (unlikely), it could be a New Zealander living in England, it could be anyone.

I would have thought they would have had a system that prevented multi-voting from one source.

In the list of The Top Flags (20 of them) none have the jack on them.

I asked Rate The Flag if the votes were removed. They responded:

We haven’t yet but we will be reversing their ratings out. Will make a big difference

From the missing million? “23 Times Kiwis Didn’t Give A Single F*ck”

From Buzzfeed: 23 Times Kiwis Didn’t Give A Single F*ck

Seriously the most carefree nation in the world.

It’s worth looking through all of them. I recognise quite a few. Here’s the first:

1. When these guys didn’t want to pay for removalists.

An example of poor footwear choice here in New Zealand.

The comment is as funny as the photo. This one is a bit over the top but I’ve seen quite a few interesting modes of moving furniture here in Dunedin’s Scarfyville. Carting mattresses on top of cars is not uncommon.

And another that I remember from Scarfyville:

8. When the cops need a break

How the New Zealand police deal with drunk university/college students….

The expression of the older cop on the right is classic.

More at 23 Times Kiwis Didn’t Give A Single F*ck

How religious is your neighbourhood?

NZ Herald has a nifty interactive map that you can drill down into to see how religious your neighbourhood is.

See the oddly (and possibly inaccurately) headlined God and money: Interactive map shows rich suburbs have most atheists.

A Herald interactive map, based on 2013 Census data and the New Zealand Deprivation Index, shows that religious New Zealanders live mainly in poor suburbs, with rich Kiwis increasingly turning their backs on God and religion.

The number of Christians decreased to 1,906,398 (48.9 per cent of people with religious affiliation) from 2,082,942 (55.6 per cent) in 2006.

Zooming into Dunedin and drilling down into my own area I get:

Area Unit – Ravensbourne
Deprivation Index: 5
% No Religion: 52.7
% Christian: 37.1
% Hindu: 1
% Buddhist: 1
% Muslim: 0.5
% Jewish: 0.3
% New Age: 0.8
Total people stated: 1155

It looks like I’m relatively deprived of neighbourhood bible bashers (and quiet believers).

One of the poorer areas of Dunedin:

Area Unit – St Kilda Central
Deprivation Index: 9
% No Religion: 47.3
% Christian: 46.8
% Hindu: 0.4
% Buddhist: 1.1
% Muslim: 0.2
% Jewish: 0.2
% New Age: 0.8
Total people stated: 1578

But this proves the deprivation theory wrong:

Area Unit – Vauxhall
Deprivation Index: 1
% No Religion: 43.7
% Christian: 50.6
% Hindu: 0.6
% Buddhist: 1.3
% Muslim: 0.6
% Jewish: 0.1
% New Age: 0.5
Total people stated: 3699

And also in Invercargill:

Area Unit – Waianiwa
Deprivation Index: 2
% No Religion: 42.2
% Christian: 54.7
% Hindu: 0.5
% Buddhist: 0.2
% Muslim: 0
% Jewish: 0.3
% New Age: 0
Total people stated: 1842

The Herald probably didn’t test their theory south of the Bombay Hills.

Nor in Auckland properly:

Area Unit – Herne Bay
Deprivation Index: 1
% No Religion: 46.8
% Christian: 48.5
% Hindu: 0.8
% Buddhist: 0.9
% Muslim: 0.2
% Jewish: 1
% New Age: 0.3
Total people stated: 2592

Area Unit – Waiata (includes Remuera)
Deprivation Index: 1
% No Religion: 31.6
% Christian: 61.7
% Hindu: 1.2
% Buddhist: 2.2
% Muslim: 0.4
% Jewish: 0.9
% New Age: 0.1
Total people stated: 4068

Would no flag be better?

It was suggested here recently in Flag consideration or pissy political pointscoring? that we shouldn’t have a flag at all. Lynn Prentice:

Have you ever actually thought through what a national flag is and the reasons for having it in the first place? Care to explain why it is a good idea for a nation to have one?

The functional reasons for their existence have long since past for technical reasons. Now they just seem to be held on to by people who substitute them for thinking. You are a good case in point.

He was wrong there. It got me thinking. Do we need a flag? It’s worth considering that in the change of flag debate.

I wrote about why I didn’t think we should have a flag at all back in March in this post “On the flag – lets not have one“.

And from that post:

My  question is “Why have a damn flag at all?”.

I can understand the logic in history for them. They were battle standards in the days when the battlefield was a standup with little guile and a need for visual communications. But in the types of battle that have been common over the past century, sticking a flag up just helped to provide the enemy with points to aim at – with grenade launchers, artillery, and airstrikes.

Having flags on the battlefield has long been out of favour. Certainly we trained for in my army time nearly 40 years ago and I haven’t seen them in any realistic military training since.

Later they became “national” flags when the politicians of the day wanted people to turn off their brains and become “patriotic”. This appears to be the main use that John Key and his minions have for it, mostly as it relates to sport.

One thing that I am quite proud of in our kiwi culture is our relative lack of a conditioned patriotic knee jerk reflex. We don’t wander around like other cultures saluting some linen each day as children as part of a state operant conditioning process. This is a good thing because it means that as a culture we are far more mature about when and how we get into conflict.

Our relative lack of flag induced stupidity is quite distinctive when you run into other cultures. And it has probably saved us from a lot of aggravation in my lifetime.

You only have to look at the military and diplomatic messes over the last century that the USA with its obsessive flag saluting culture has managed to produce to see the downstream effects of that. But in our history, my great grandparents had such an obsessive flag culture and ran headlong into the machine grinder of the first world war.

The lack of a conditioned flag bearing culture in NZ has a lot to do with our currently evolving culture.

These days about the only place that a flag really has use in our culture is in sport. Based on friends who are addicted to being armchair activists for this cause, raising a flag appears to be used as a signal for some suspension of realistic expectations. Just as going into a darkened room at the cinema is a signal for a similar suspension of disbelief. But any kind of symbol is useful for that. I’d suggest that the haka is a much more satisfactory and relevant one.

Sure, a flag has symbolic power. That doesn’t mean that we should allow people to exploit that. As far as I am concerned it appears to be a signal for the onset of collective stupidity. Apart from cynical moneyman manipulators like John Key – why would we want that?

I don’t define myself by a flag, and I know bugger all kiwis who do. Given a choice, I’d vote for not having a state flag at all. Lets see how our culture evolves with that. But I sure as hell can’t see why changing our flag at the forced behest of John Key has anything to do with our culture and society.

If we don’t get that choice, then just vote against changing the flag. The old one is kind of boring. Lets hope that its relevance will continue to wither away over time.

Why have a damn flag at all?

Some people seem to like waving them and flying them. Some people like to fly them at half mast in respect. Some countries like to be differentiated at international meetings and events. Some gold medal winners like to see them raised.

Just about every country has a flag. I see very few people saying they don’t want a flag.

But it would certainly be different having no flag. Would no flag make New Zealand stand out more than all the traditionally flagged countries?

It’s at least worth discussing as an option.

Perhaps we could have a Clayton’s flag, a clear plastic flag with nothing on it. That would be different.

Flag consideration or pissy political pointscoring?

It hasn’t taken long for the flag discussion process to be ambushed by pissy political point scoring.

This could be the only chance in a generation – or in a lifetime – to consider alternatives to our current flag and decide whether as a country we want to change or not.

I think the approach taken by the Stand For website is a bit strange, they seem to be trying to do more than just consider a flag change.

But to attack it as a way of attacking John Key because he instigated the process shows how childish and petty our politics can be.

And The Standard is promoting the pettiness as if it’s a win against Key and National.

Standfornz – when social media goes bad

The site www.standfor.co.nz is supposed to get us all excited about the flag distraction:

“Before our country decides which flag we’ll stand for, we want to know what you stand for”

It’s not turning out the way the Nats intended.

And the comments show that a number of blog participants don’t respect democratic process or serious debate about a serious issue.

Sad to see individuals doing this.

It says a lot about the gravitas of New Zealand’s main Labour left blog for them to be promoting this.

And they will probably be amongst the quickest and loudest to complain if a new flag is chosen that they don’t like.

UPDATE: surprise surprise – lprent is against any flag change so is against any sensible debate about it.

Who cares. A flag is a meaningless cloth to me both as a citizen and an ex-soldier. I’m usually pretty proud to be a New Zealander. I don’t need some manky cloth to remind me of that.


Tell me what the point of having a flag at all is again?

I can’t see any point nor reason to change it. Certainly the idiots promoting it have yet to make a single argument for having either a flag at all (see my post on that) or a change in the design.

We aren’t changing constitution. So what are we doing this for?

As far as I can see, only because John Key has such a pitiful track record that he wants to charge everyone for a face saving exit.

That’s how dire our political discourse has become.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,087 other followers