In my day job when I’m responding to discussion papers from the Government, I usually bitch if there’s less than a couple of months to pull together some coherent thoughts, backed by evidence and consultation with experts. So instead, we’ve got until midnight to respond to the Video Camera Surveillance Bill. Midnight? Less than twenty-four hours to respond to something that breaks the Bill of Rights and declares that when the Police were breaking the law, they are now magically resolved of all wrong-doing? It is tempting to write a submission that just said: “Dear John, WTF?” Instead, I put my grown-up hat on and wrote:
“The use of covert video surveillance by the Police must be balanced by the right to be secure against “unreasonable search” as laid down in Section 21 of the Bill of Rights. This balancing requires a decision to be made on the basis of the facts of each investigation, as is the case for other forms of intrusive search. Thus Police should be required to obtain a search warrant for such surveillance.
The ability to retrospectively change the law is a dangerous tool that can undermine the rule of law. I take as granted that the Police, along with the rest of New Zealand, should not break the law. When it is clear that they have done so, they should not be allowed to benefit from doing do. When the Police knowingly break the law, the Government should not enact retrospective legislation to redefine past illegal actions by the Police.
When the legislative changes affect fundamental rights as set down in the Bill of Rights, thorough consideration and consultation is needed. Attempting to push the Bill through under urgency and allowing only one day for submissions to the Select Committee makes a mockery of the democratic process.
The current Bill should not be passed in this form.”
If you want to respond, do it here. If you don’t want to respond, then you’ll get what you deserve.