Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 14. 1966.
The Basic Issues are clear in the National Party incident exposed by this paper last Monday.
Use of security information for political purposes is completely repugnant to this country's system of government.
This information is collected for our national security and defence —not for shabby political smear work.
The students association has condemned Mr. Laurenson and Mr. Barnes—and rightly so.
Mr. Laurenson's delight in showing that he had "contacts in high places" is sadly reminiscent of the pathetic glory which the Auckland Security officer, Mr. D. Godfrey, took in his job.
It is quite clear that he intended to try to destroy Mr. Boshier's political reputation if he could obtain any suitable information.
Some have sought to defend the actions of Mr. Barnes in this matter.
We have sympathy for his situation, for we are all fallible. But this does not lessen the mistake he made nor the condemnation which he must receive for it.
We can see no logical reason why Mr. Barnes should have rung Security Intelligence — unless he intended to obtain information and pass it back to Mr. Laurenson. He himself had no possible use for the information.
At the same time, he deserves the benefit of the slight possibility that, had he received highly confidential information, he might have realised his mistake and refused to pass it back to Mr. Laurenson.
By the very nature of his post, he was in a better position to obtain the information than Mr. Laurenson was.
Thus his refusal to put Mr. Laurenson in touch with Security is hardly a point in his favour. Mr. Laurenson stood a better chance of getting the information he wanted.
Security Intelligence appears to have acted with propriety throughout the incident. Yet we must express disquiet that any information, however well known, should have been given or confirmed by Security.
And Mr. Boshier can find small comfort in the knowledge that he is "known to Security."
A final word. We set out, in last Monday's special Salient, a carefully checked, unshakeable fact sequence.
Probably the National Party will now turn to attack the bona fides of those involved. After all, this is the very tactic they intended to use against Mr. Boshier.
The first sign of such tactics will be the clearest possible admission of the National Party's guilt.— H.B.R.