Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 7. 1969.
Opinions expressed in Salient are not necessarily those of VUWSA.
April 23, 1969
The circumstances which gave rise to last week's special edition of Salient, revealed more than one disquieting feature about the relationshp between the University and the Security Service.
Even accepting the basic premise that a Security Service is, per se, a necessary organisation to have in this country, an assumption many are not prepared to make, there are significant aspects of it which should be legislated against immediately.
The Hutchison Commission, which arose out of the Godfrey affair at Auckland University in 1966, made a major recomendation in that any member of the Security Service who was enrolled as a student at that University should advise the Vice-Chancellor of his presence there.
The officer referred to in Salient last week is not enrolled as a student at Victoria University.
He is however enrolled as an extra-mural student at Massey University.
Mr. Banks visits the cafeteria, but is not a member of the Students Association; he uses the library, but does not have a library card; he in fact participates in most of the activities of a part-time student and yet he is not enrolled as a student. Therefore, only a minor technicality renders him immune from the provisions of the Hutchison Commission, for within their context he is not a student. Therefore he is under no obligation to notify his presence to the Vice-Chancellor or anyone else, except of course, the odd malcontent who can be snared into the same net career-wise.
If there is any point in having this provision at all, it should be revised in order to allow for this kind of situation.
The commission also recommended that no member of the Security Service enrolled at the University should practice his trade, so to speak, within the university precincts. In Mr. Banks case, the student approached was required to report on "outside" organisations only. But it is a short step indeed to request reports from within the university after the student is enmeshed in the web of the Official Secrets Act. It would certainly not be difficult to ascertain the organisations the student approached was personally concerned with and, even allowing for the peculiar criteria of the Security Service, he would have been in a capacity to report on several.
In September last year, when the Minister of Justice, Mr. Hanan, was voting for the allocation of $272,000 for Security, he agreed it should be put on a statutory basis.
"I would like to get around to it sometime," quoth he, in a classic statement of party attitude to more questions than the Security Service. Let him get around to it by all means. But during his stint on the opposition benches in the next few years we must sincerely hope the initiative is taken out of his hands.