Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 25. No. 11. 1962
View from the Left
View from the Left
Most of us were unsurprised by Mr Holyoake's melodramatic announcement that two members of the Russian Legation had been caught spying, We take it for granted that one of the normal activities of legation staffs is to spy . The only element of surprise in the whole business is to find that New Zealand has information worthy of the attention of spies.
However Recent Events and More Mature Reflection Reveals some Most Disturbing Aspects to the Situation. These can be best highlighted if we go through some of the recent events of the last year or so that have affected our security department
Security Police Under Fire
For some time organisations such as the Council of Civil Liberties have been questioning the effectiveness of our security police. They have also been disturbed by some of the activities of the force. The black-listing of non-communist liberals as a result of information provided by security, the hounding, of ex-communists and the attention paid by security to non-communist and even anti-communist progressive groups have all been matters concerning the critics of the Security Police.
Too often it has seemed that the force was not solely concerned with the activities of communists and fellow-travellers who, because of the link between the Communist Party and Russia and China, could be considered a risk to New Zealand's security. Rather they have shown an unhealthy interest in any who feel that our present society is imperfect,
The Attack Grows
During the debate on the estimates of expenditure in 1961 Warren Freer, controversial M.P. for Mount Albert, asked that the vote for the Security Police be listed as a separate item in the accounts. Prior to this the vote had been concealed under the heading, "Prison Officers Overtime".
Mr Edwards, another opposition member, attacked the nature of the control of the Security Department. He felt that with the Department under the sole care of the Prime Minister it could be used to attack any critics of the government. He proposed that control be vested in a committee of five, this committee to include; the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, and an Anglican Bishop. There was widespread support from editorials throughout the country for these proposals. In March of this year Mr Holyoake announced that the vote for security would be shown separately as requested.
At the beginning of this year two articles attacking the security police appeared. On in Comment and the other in Polemic.
For the first time the vote for the security police would become an item for debate in the house. For the first time the activities of the department would be under scrutiny by the people of New Zealand. Obviously this situation must have been of some embarrassment to security who had as yet, as far as we know, failed to expose one genuine, true blue spy.
Brigadier Gilbert Counter-attacks
At the annual conference of New Zealand's major "patriotic" organisation, the R.S.A., in June of this year, Brigadier Gilbert made a speech on the dangers of communism and called for witch-hunts against local reds. In this incredible diatribe he claimed that the problem facing S.E. Asian countries was communist infiltration and that hunger was not "a universal problem in the area". He also managed to put in a good word for the pro-western dictatorships in the area, claiming that these were "by no means oppressive or malignant in the context of local conditions".
At that time this speech received scant attention from the press, except for a few to be expected exceptions. The counter-attack had failed!
The Attack Resumes
Shortly after Brigadier Gilbert's speech the vote for the security police was tabled in the house. The Lobby Letter in the Dominion of the 2nd of July contained a number of highly provocative comments concerning the size of the vote. The writer felt that the figure of £95,000 was not justified by the activities of the branch. He forecast that the vote would come under considerable fire from the opposition. He also asked whether or not the duties of the security police could not "be better and more cheaply performed by the ordinary cop, uniformed or plain-clothed?"
Thought for the Issue
There are too few idealists in the world and too many goddam realists.—Val Maxwell