Hager’s presentation to Operation Burnham inquiry

RNZ – Operation Burnham Inquiry: Hager accuses Defence Force of spin and lies

Journalist Nicky Hager has launched a scathing attack on the Defence Force during a presentation to the Operation Burnham Inquiry, accusing it of not telling the full truth about its operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Inquiry, which is investigating allegations that six civilians were killed in Afghanistan during a New Zealand-led raid in 2010, and the military covered up what happened is holding a public hearing in Wellington today.

During his presentation Mr Hager spoke about the military and political context of events covered by the Inquiry, but said there was a gulf between what the New Zealand Defence Force does and what it chooses to tell the public and Parliament.

“NZDF seems to believe it is entitled to hide news that might not be welcomed by New Zealanders and to bend the facts whenever necessary to avoid criticism or scrutiny … not just mistakes made in war, but toxic foam used in bases, the scale of sexual abuse in the forces and much more.

“NZDF almost never admits mistakes until utterly forced to, and even then they will minimise and spin the news. Reputation trumps being up front.”

@Economissive:

Nicky Hager’s presentation to Operation Burnham is quite a read:

Operation Burnham public hearing 22 May 2019

Nicky Hager: the military and political context

The bit about false redactions to protect national security should be hard for the Inquiry to ignore….

Particularly as some of the names have been disclosed already:

This thread has a lot more coverage:

Website: Inquiry into Operation Burnham

Pike River mine re-entered, just

Pike River Re-Entry Minister Andrew Little:


More than eight years after 29 men went to work at the Pike River Coal Mine and never came home, the promise to re-enter the mine drift has been honoured.

In the presence of families, experts from Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau mā Iwa-Pike River Recovery Agency completed breaching the 30m seal and successfully re-entered the Pike River mine drift. Previously scheduled for 3 May, the milestone had been delayed following a false oxygen reading from a failed sampling tube.

“New Zealand is not a country where 29 people can die at work without real accountability. That is not who we are. And that is why today we have fulfilled our promise. Today we have returned,” Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little said.

“The tragedy that took these men’s lives was the consequence of corporate and regulatory failure.

“Fulfilling the promise to do everything possible to safely re-enter is an act of justice for families who have waited for far too long.

“It is because of the families’ tireless efforts that future mining tragedies might be prevented.

“There is still much to do. We must find out what happened at Pike River. However long that takes, the recovery project will be done professionally.

“Most importantly, it will be done safely. Safety is the families’ and the Government’s bottom line. This was demonstrated when we delayed re-entry earlier this month.

“Today’s milestone belongs to the families and to the memory of their men. It also belongs to all New Zealanders, who know that going home to your loved ones is the least you should expect after a day’s work,” Andrew Little said.

Video and photographs of the re-entry have been released by the Stand With Pike Families Reference Group at www.tinyurl.com/190521pike

Background here: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/pike-river-re-entry


They have only just re-entered the mine. There is a long way to go.

This is a big step towards getting into the mine to investigate causes of the explosions, and to try to recover bodies, but there is a lot to do still.

I have concerns about promises being made, and expectations. The re-entry is expensive, risky, and may or may not resolve what families of the dead miners want.

 

Cabinet considering extending employer Kiwisaver beyond the age of 65

NZ First leader and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says that Cabinet is considering extending the age when employers have to contribute to employees’ Kiwisaver. The age employers are required by law to contribute is currently 65.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that no decisions have been made.

And Seniors Minister Tracey Martin says “we need older people to stay in paid work”.

RNZ: Peters and Ardern send mixed messages over KiwiSaver changes

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Minister for Seniors, Tracey Martin, were at a Grey Power conference yesterday to announce an injection of more than $8 million to revamp the SuperGold card website, a new app and in funding digital literacy training for seniors.

During the announcement Ms Martin stressed the importance of maintaining a workforce over the age of 65.

“We are going to increasingly need older people to stay in paid work if they want to. We can not have 1.2 million seniors dropping out of the workforce,” she said.

At the conference, Horowhenua Grey Power president Terry Hemmingsen, who was called in to work after he had retired, asked why his employer – the government – had scrapped its contributions to his fund.

“The day you turn 65, that 2 percent employer contribution stops. With government agencies, so being in education, I could keep paying in myself, and did. But I lost the 2 percent. Now that’s discriminatory on the basis of age, wouldn’t you think?”

On that basis you could also say that paying people National Superannuation from age 65 is discriminatory on the basis of age.

But Hemmingsen has a point. People employed with negotiable wage rates can factor in things like the the employer contribution. The KiwiSaver contribution is part of an overall remuneration package, and once that ceases at 65 theoretically at least pay rates can be renegotiated.

But people employed by the Government with industry wide rates of pay, like teachers, may not be able to do that.

Perhaps a solution is for public servant pay rates to be adjusted once someone turns 65.

NZ Herald: Deputy PM Winston Peters says Cabinet is looking into changes to NZ Super eligibility

He said that Cabinet is considering changing the KiwiSaver rules so people over 65 were able to have their contributions matched by their employer.

speaking at the Grey Power annual meeting today, Peters hinted that changes were on the way in this area.

“Something like 70,000–80,000 people have come into our country … and whether they pay tax or not, have acquired full superannuation just like some of you who have worked 45 years,” he told those gathered.

“The issue of being able to arrive in our country and get full super after just 10 years is being addressed as I speak.”

Speaking to media after the speech, he said the Government was looking into increasing the amount of time someone has to live in New Zealand before being eligible for the scheme.

Asked if the Government’s position on the issue would be unveiled before the 2020 election, he said: “Very much so, yes”.

At the moment, if someone over 65 is still working their employer is not obligated to match their contribution.

Peters said this was “not right”.

“And the Government and Cabinet are looking at that matter as we speak – trying to see why that would be fair and, more broadly, why would we not keep on encouraging older people to keep on saving?

“It’s a serious question, we’re looking at that right now.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was less enthusiastic, but also non-committal:

“New Zealand First has long held a policy in this area and it’s absolutely within any party leader’s rights to reiterate that,” she said at a post-Cabinet press conference today.

“But I note that the Deputy Prime Minister also acknowledged that no decisions have been made.”

“When we make any decision related to retirement or savings, they will be announced – I’m not going to speculate on any other policy work that is being done, or has been done”.

I am concerned that Cabinet could be discussing this possibility and could make a decision according to Peters without proper public discussion and debate.

There is no reference to KiwiSaver in the Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement.

Q+A: free speech versus hate speech

On NZ Q+A last night Labour MP Louisa Wall and Act MP David Seymour debate free speech versus hate speech.

Louisa Wall:

We need tighter laws because I believe hate does exist, and hate breeds racism. It also breeds sexism, misogyny, homophobia.

And from my experience we haven’t really looked at whether out current legislation is fit for purpose, and specifically section 61 of the Human Rights Act, which is what I took the old Nesbitt cartoons in 2013 to the Human Rights Commission. So that was about racial disharmony.

But in fact I think civil disharmony has now become an agenda item that we all are investigating.

David Seymour:

I find it detestable that people target each other based on their race or their gender or their sexuality, and I’ve got a track record for that, when the Labour Party went through the phone book and targeted people for having Chinese sounding names I was the first politician to stand up to that. When the New Zealand First Party said that Kanwaljit Bakshi and Melissa Lee should go home to their home countries I stood up to that.

My concern is that, free expression is one of the most important  parts of the human condition. We all experience the world differently, and we should be able to talk about that and express our thoughts and feelings.

Secondly, not only is it a very important human value, but it’s an important part of how we work through our troubles as a society, so if you look at the places in the world that have managed to actually fight bigotry and racism, it’s the places where we actually allow people to discuss their differences and work through them on the basis that sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will not hurt me.

1 News cover:  MPs David Seymour and Louisa Wall clash over Israel Folau case during hate speech debate

Mr Seymour called the Australian rugby player’s anti-gay Instagram post “so ridiculous” and Ms Wall hit back that it’s not ridiculous if you’re a young gay person coming out.

“You’ve had a series of really quite absurd cases where people have been spoken to by the police for things they said on Twitter. And yet as they’ve measured it, the amount of hateful rhetoric in the UK has increased there too,” Seymour said.

“So I’m just not convinced that these laws will work, and they can actually create cynicism.”

“Can I give you the example of Israel Folau. Now what the guy recently put on Instagram is that if you’re gay, when you die you will go to a fiery pit in the ground. I mean it’s so ridiculous. He’s been ridiculed…”

Ms Wall interrupted saying, “It’s not ridiculous if you’re a young gay person, David, who’s coming out. And he has done this three times. Last year when he said it there was nationwide and also Australian wide condemnation.”

Seymour: “Look, you know if he had had the Australian police show up at his door and say, ‘we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to discipline you’ or whatever, I think he would have actually instead of being ridiculed around the world as he was, quite rightly, I think he actually could have become a martyr.

“And that’s what’s happened to some extent in the UK. You can actually end up creating more resentment with these kinds of laws.”

Ms Wall said she believed tighter hate speech laws would have prevented the Christchurch attack, saying “we would have been able to call them out”.

“We need tighter laws because I believe hate does exist. And hate breeds racism. It also breeds sexism, misogyny, homophobia,” she said.

I think that Wall is right, hate speech can normalise attacks on groups of people, it can encourage and incite more hate speech.

But I don’t think it is possible to claim that tighter speech laws would have prevented the Christchurch massacres. They may have helped prevent the attacks, but they may have made no difference, and they may even have made an person like Tarrant more determined to attack.

The full debate:

 

Documents reveal NZDF knew civilians were killed in SAS raid.

Documents previously kept secret by the NZ Defence Force with the support of the Ombudsman have now come out in advance of an inquiry.

NZ Herald:  Documents too secret to be seen – but now the inquiry into the NZSAS raid says they should be public

New documents have revealed NZDF had intelligence showing civilians were killed just days after the 2010 NZSAS raid which is now subject to a government inquiry.

The details are part of an extraordinary document dump previously blocked by NZDF with support from the Office of the Ombudsman.

The documents have emerged as the inquiry prepares for public hearings this week at which lawyers for the Afghan villagers – those people directly affected by the raid – will not appear. The lawyers representing the villagers had pulled out of the hearing after complaints sufficient funding is not available to properly represent them.

That’s as much as I can see, the rest is behind the paywall, but this seems to be a big deal.

History of ‘white power’ in New Zealand

Sad idiots, or potentially dangerous?

Do a small number of people with extreme views raise the risks that one person will get encouragement to do go beyond extreme rhetoric and do something violent?

Patrick Gower and Newshub have been investigating ‘;white supremacy’ in New Zealand.

Gover’s latest report – Revealed: How white supremacists terrorised New Zealand for decades

Gang expert Jarrod Gilbert says up until now, much of the far-right has often been viewed here as sad idiots.

“They were more sort of bumbling, no one took them particularly seriously,” he told Newhsub.

But there has always been a dangerous element to the white power movement here. Gilbert describes them as “hard-as-nails skinhead street-gang kind of guys” who thrived in the South Island.

The most notorious was the Fourth Reich, which terrorised Nelson and the West Coast.

They were responsible for the murders of young Māori man Hemi Hutley, gay man James ‘Janis’ Bamborough, Korean tourist Jae Hyeon Kim and Christchurch woman Vanessa Pickering.

Like the Nazis they emulated, most of the skinheads’ venom was aimed at Jews. But then, in 2001, 9/11 happened and the extreme far-right added a new ‘enemy’ to the list. Sociologist Paul Spoonley says this led to new followers.

“They were much more online and they were much more Islamophobic than anti-Semitic. And they were much more internationally connected,” he told Newshub.

It only takes a small number of people reinforcing each others hate and amplifying claimed threats to lead to terrorism.

Joris De Bres was the Race Relations Commissioner from 2002 until 2013.

Alarmed at an increase in threats against Muslims, he repeatedly asked the Government and police to start recording crimes motivated by hatred and racism.

“I don’t think we’re sufficiently aware that we do have people among us who do those things and who have a real and worrying hatred,” he told Newshub.

But when they wouldn’t collect the data, De Bres started collecting it himself. During his time as Commissioner there were more than 100 race-related crimes reported in the media.

“I always had the sense that it was only the tip of the iceberg,” he says.

I’m not sure that it’s the tip of an iceberg type scenario. It only takes a few violent extremists to harass and to kill – Brenton Tarrant has demonstrated that it takes just to one to go as far as a violent massacre.

Aliya Danzeisen from the Islamic Women’s Council has been abused many times for her religion and the clothes she wears.

“I’ve had a car drive up on the curb towards me and then swing by laughing,” she told Newshub.

She says the rise of the Islamic State saw a rise in Islamophobia here. So five years ago the Women’s Council wrote a report about the increasing discrimination and sent it to the Ministry of Social Development. She says nothing happened.

She says regular pleas for the police and the SIS to monitor the rise of alt-right groups followed – and were also ignored.

The police had a sudden wake-up call in Christchurch in 15 March. Now they are being proactive.

It’s Sunday morning, and armed police are visiting New Zealanders’ homes as part of the response to the Christchurch terror attack.

“The reason we’re here, it’s basically down to the recent events in Christchurch,” a police officer tells one man.

“A number of people have been identified that we’ve been tasked to go and speak to. You are one of those people.”

But while there have been 13 arrests for sharing the video, when it comes to white supremacy or people linked to it, police say they have made zero arrests. They say the response is about “community reassurance” instead.

I think it is also about putting warnings out. It may seem (and may be) draconian for innocent people to be approached by a number of armed police, it serves a useful purpose – it sends a signal that the police are now looking for signs of extreme views becoming a violent act.

Globally, white supremacy was on the up: the march on Charlottesville was just one symbol of a global movement linked by everyday social media platforms and darker sites like 8Chan.

“They are part of a big international network and that’s a big challenge here in New Zealand, just not realising that we’re now hooked into this conspiratorial, racial vilification, white supremacist network,” Spoonley says.

Of the Christchurch victims, the Prime Minister said: “They are us. This person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not.”

But he is part of a growing movement in New Zealand.

Blenheim man Joseph Ward has a swastika tattoo and the email handle “Nazi New Zealand”.

“I’ve been told I am you for 30 years.  And now I’m not you… I’m exiled,” he says. “We need to have a national conversation.”

We can start by saying that Ward was getting a false impression that ‘I am you’, probably from within a small bubble – I think most New Zealanders would want his sort of views exiled from New Zealand.  All that has changed is that now he is getting that message.

So the warning signs about white supremacy have always been there – year after year.

But as a nation, we ignored them.

Tarrant has ensured that people who express extreme white supremacy views will be viewed with more suspicion. As they should be.


More on white supremacy from Newshub:

 

 

Love everyone…

Pre-budget announcement addressing family and sexual violence

It is good to see the Government putting more into initiatives and the budget to try to address family and sexual violence better. It will be difficult, but more needs to be done. Violence is one of the biggest problems in New Zealand. It affects families, communities, health, education, imprisonment rates, employment and productivity, and increases the number of beneficiaries.


Breaking the cycle of family and sexual violence

Breaking the cycle of family and sexual violence and better supporting survivors is a major feature of the Wellbeing Budget, with the Government delivering the largest ever investment in family and sexual violence and support services.

The budget package will deliver more support services delivered to more New Zealanders, major campaigns aimed at stopping violence occurring and major changes to court process to reduce the trauma victims experience.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Parliamentary Under-Secretary Jan Logie today announced a new and collaborative approach to tackling one of the country’s most disturbing long-term challenges.

“There has never before been investment of this scale in preventing and responding to family violence and sexual violence,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Every year about one million New Zealanders are affected by family and sexual violence, including almost 300,000 children. This is something I know New Zealand is ashamed of and the Government is taking a major step forward in fixing on the budget.

“Wellbeing means being safe and free from violence. That is why this package is such a significant cornerstone of the Wellbeing budget.

“My goal has always been for New Zealand to be the best place in the world to be a child and that means supporting parents and communities to ensure children grow up in secure homes free from violence,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The family and sexual violence package, which sits across eight portfolios, is the result of the first ever joint Budget bid from multiple government departments. It includes funding and support for:

• 1 million New Zealanders covered by Integrated Safety Response sites (Christchurch and Waikato), and 350,000 by the WhāngaiaNgā Pā Harakeke and Whiria Te Muka sites (in Gisborne, Counties Manukau and Kaitaia)
• 24/7 sexual violence crisis support services for up to 2,800 children and young people every year, and an additional 7,700 adult victims and survivors from 2020/21
• Funding for major advertising campaigns and intervention programmes to reduce violence occurring
• Using video victim statements to reduce trauma for up to 30,000 victims of family violence every year, and reduce time spent in court,
• Enabling victims of sexual violence to give evidence in court in alternative ways in order to reduce the risk of experiencing further trauma, and providing specialist training for lawyers in sexual violence cases
• specialist training for lawyers in sexual violence cases
• improving the wellbeing of male victims and survivors of sexual violence through peer support services – up to 1,760 from 2020/21 onwards
• dedicated funding for a kaupapa Māori response to sexual violence
• training for health practitioners in District Health Boards to provide effective screening and referrals for family violence
“We know this is a long-term project. The package we’re announcing today lays the foundations for a violence-free Aotearoa New Zealand,” Jan Logie, Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues) said.

“The package announced today gives providers funding security, while making available significant extra resource to break the cycle of violence and provide more women, men and children the help they need.

“I want to acknowledge and thank Ministers Andrew Little, Carmel Sepuloni, Tracey Martin, Nanaia Mahuta, Chris Hipkins, Stuart Nash, Kelvin Davis, Iain Lees-Galloway, and Jenny Salesa for their support and commitment to this work,” Jan Logie said.

The Wellbeing Budget 2019 family violence and sexual violence package comprises initiatives across five areas:
• Preventing family violence and sexual violence [$47.8 million over 4 years]
• Safe, consistent and effective responses to family violence in every community [$84.3 million over 4 years]
• Expanding essential specialist sexual violence services: moving towards fully funding services [$131.1 million over 4 years]
• Reforming the criminal justice system to better respond to victims of sexual violence. [$37.8 million over 4 years]
• Strengthening system leadership and supporting new ways of working [$20.0 million over 4 years]
• The total monetary value of the package is $320 million (comprising new operating funding of $311.4 million, and $9.5 million of capital funding).

 

Beneficiaries and Privacy Commissioner on MSD investigation breaches

Newshub Nation interviewed beneficiaries who had been investigated by MSD, and then Privacy Commissioner John Edwards on the breaches of law and what MSD will do now.

On Newshub Nation: Emma Jolliff interviews Privacy Commissioner John Edwards

Jolliff: The Privacy Commissioner says MSD’s powers to investigate have been taken too far. I asked him how serious the breaches have been.

Edwards: That’s hard to rank them because everything is so contextual. I was really troubled by the breadth of the ministry’s data collection in these cases, particularly of text message content. In most law enforcement contexts, you wouldn’t be able to get that information without a warrant issued by some judicial officer — that means an independent person has to look at the case that you’re making for getting access to it, they have to decide whether what you’re seeking is proportionate to the need, and then issue the instruction. These are just demands issued by some clerk or bureaucrat or investigator without adequate checks and balances, in my view. And especially given the sensitive nature of that information, in ranks pretty highly.

In simple terms, how do you see that MSD has breached the law?

By simply ignoring the statutory requirement to seek the information from the beneficiary first, unless doing that would prejudice the maintenance of the law. That’s the headline story. Beneath that, there are a number of instances in which I think the ministry has just lost track of the kind of developing jurisprudence that governs these things. Getting 10 years worth of banking records to investigate one year worth of benefit entitlement us just completely disproportionate. We’ve got to keep recalibrating those enforcement techniques against what we know is legally acceptable in terms of the Bill of Rights Act, you know — the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Do you see that MSD has accepted that its breached the law?

I’m happy that the ministry has accepte my report. I’m happy that the Chief Executive has assured me that they are going to implement all the recommendations, and they have conceded that the actions that they’ve taken have been unlawful.

MSD justified its collection of personal information about beneficiaries from third parties by saying clients wouldn’t volunteer information, and it was just quicker to go to the third parties. What do you say to that?

Well, that’s not the law, and it also presupposes that the only reason you notify the beneficiary first is to get access to the information. I mean, a beneficiary probably can’t delivery up 10 years of banking information, but what it does do is it informs them that those inquiries are being made. It gives them the opportunity to exercise some autonomy over that.

Could MSD identify any cases where evidence tampering occurred because a client was approached before a third party?

Not as far as I’m aware.

The Privacy Commissioner’s office expressed concerns to MSD about collection of information as far back as 1998, yet they carried on with the practice. This just suggests that they are disregarding the requests of your office, doesn’t it?

Back in 1998 the reference in our report was to the inadequacy of the record-keeping in the ministry because one of the things that was difficult in our investigation is that they simply didn’t have good records. They couldn’t tell us how many times they were issuing these notices, how many times they were going to a beneficiary first. We would ask, and we would get one set of records, then we’d get a completely different version.

So it hasn’t improved despite your requests?

No, it hasn’t improved, and it needs to. And that’s one of our recommendations, and I’m pleased that the ministry have said that they’re going to implement that. We need to have nationally consistent reporting of how these tools are used.

How important is that, and why is that?

Well, it’s really important, and, again, this is about the integrity of the public service. Everybody recognises that beneficiaries have some duties to the ministry, to the government, in terms of their eligibility. The ministry also has duties to act within the law and to demonstrate that it’s acting proportionally. If it is not complying with its obligations, how can it, with any moral authority, expect anyone else to?

Your report also found the MSD had issued notices under Section 11, stating that they’d been approved by the Privacy Commissioner. Was the misleading?

Well, utterly. It was wrong. It was misleading. I’m not able to speculate on the origins of that. I would very much doubt somebody intended to mislead, but they’ve got the wrong end of the stick. We’ve called them out on it, and, to their credit, they withdrew those.

So does this suggest that the Privacy Commission needs greater powers, do you feel?

I have made a call for greater powers, but in fact, when it comes to my monitoring of government agencies, I think that the authority that we have is sufficient. I mean, you will come back to the ministry, as the Nation — as TV3 — in 12 months, and say, ‘Look, tell us what you’ve done to implement the Privacy Commissioner’s recommendations.’ And if they haven’t, then you’ll hold them to account. That, I think, is really important.

You shouldn’t really want to rely on the fourth estate to do that, though. You should have your own powers, shouldn’t you?

Well, you have a role. Other members of parliament and advocacy groups in the community have a role. They will all hold them to account. I was very pleased to see the Minister reacting to our report, and saying, ‘Well, actually it’s great that the ministry have said that they accept the recommendations, that they’re going to implement them, but I think we need to have another look at the legislative underpinnings of this, and see whether there needs to be a law change.’ That’s really positive as well.

Some legal experts have suggested that beneficiaries could take legal action against MSD under the Bill of Rights. Would you agree that that is an avenue that they could pursue, and should they be entitled to compensation?

Certainly if somebody felt that they had experienced significant humiliation or significant injury to feelings because of breaches of the Privacy Act, they could bring a complain to my office. Now, because of the numbers involved in this mismanagement by the ministry over many years, I’m recommending that if somebody does feel that they might’ve been caught up with this, they first direct their inquiry to the Ministry of Social Development.

Can you remind us what those numbers were because you said that was something difficult to ascertain as well?

Starting point — about 15,000 cases.

MSD’s committed to ceasing their blanket policy, as you say, in approaching third parties for information, reviewing the code of conduct, having their investigative practices independently assessed. Does that go far enough?

Look, I think that goes a long way. What we need to do here is to restore the integrity of the system, so that people who are receiving benefits know that they have duties, know that they will be treated fairly and according to the law.

What concerns were raised by private sector agencies like the telcos over the information that they felt they were being compelled to provide?

Those industry groups have felt really uncomfortable about this. They provide services to customers, and they don’t feel like they should be snooping around in their private lives, but when they receive one of these notices from the ministry, they are under a legal obligation to comply.

Have these people, these 15,000 or so, been denied a fundamental human right?

Well, everybody has the right to avoid arbitrary interferences with their liberty and their privacy. So, in some cases, yes, they will have.

Transcript from Newshub Nation/Able/Scoop

Helen Clark Foundation report: Harmful Content on Social Networks

Helen Clark backs Jacinda Ardern’s Christchurch call: ‘All key players should be there’

Former prime minister Helen Clark says those who aren’t attending the “incredibly important” Christchurch call meeting in Paris are saying more about themselves than the summit itself.

Speaking to Stuff ahead of releasing a report on reducing social media harm from her new think tank, Clark said the call was a “huge deal” and “all the key players should be there”.

“I think this says more about the people who are not going than the call itself. It’s an incredibly important call and why would those people not be there. That’s what will get the interest,” Clark said.

She said getting an issue like this on the table at a G7 meeting was “unprecedented” for New Zealand and praised Ardern for carrying on momentum.

“I think that New Zealand is going to be defined not the by the horrific attack itself, but he way she has responded. New Zealand is making a significant statement about who it is and what needs to be done locally and globally.”

The Helen Clark Foundation report key recommendation:

We recommend a legislative response is necessary to address the spread of terrorist and harmful content online. This is because ultimately there is a profit motive for social media companies to spread ‘high engagement’ content even when it is offensive, and a long standing laissez faire culture inside the companies concerned which is resistant to regulation.


Harmful Content on Social Networks

Executive Summary

Anti-social media: reducing the spread of harmful content on social media networks

  • In the wake of the March 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack, which was livestreamed in an explicit attempt to foster support for white supremacist beliefs, it is clear that there is a problem with regard to regulating and moderating abhorrent content on social media. Both governments and social media companies could do more.
  • Our paper discusses the following issues in relation to what we can do to address this in a New Zealand context; touching on what content contributes to terrorist attacks, the legal status of that content, the moderation or policing of communities that give rise to it, the technical capacities of companies and police to
    identify and prevent the spread of that content, and where the responsibilities for all of this fall – with government, police, social media companies and individuals.
  • We recommend that the New Zealand Law Commission carry out a review of laws governing social media in New Zealand. To date, this issue is being addressed in a piecemeal fashion by an array of government agencies, including the Privacy Commission, the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Internal Affairs, and Netsafe.
  • Our initial analysis (which does not claim to be exhaustive) argues that while New Zealand has several laws in place to protect against the online distribution of harmful and objectionable content, there are significant gaps. These relate both to the regulation of social media companies and their legal obligations to reduce
    harm on their platforms and also the extent to which New Zealand law protects against hate speech based on religious beliefs and hate motivated crimes.
  • The establishment of the Royal Commission into the attack on the Christchurch Mosques on 15 March 2019 (the Royal Commission) will cover the use of social media by the attacker. However the Government has directed the Royal Commission not to inquire into, determine, or report in an interim or final way on issues related to social media
  • platforms, as per the terms of reference.As a result, we believe that this issue – of social media platforms – remains outstanding, and in need of a coordinated response. Our paper is an initial attempt to scope out what this work could cover.
  • In the meantime, we recommend that the Government meet with social media companies operating in New Zealand to agree on an interim Code of Conduct, which outlines key commitments from social media companies on what actions they will take now to ensure the spread of terrorist and other harmful content is caught quickly and its further dissemination is cut short in the future. Limiting access to the livestream feature is one consideration, if harmful content can genuinely not be detected.
  • We support the New Zealand Government’s championing of the issue of social media governance at the global level, and support the ‘Christchurch Call’ pledge to provide a clear and consistent framework to address the spread of terrorist and extremist content online.

Helen Clark was interviewed about this on Q&A last night.