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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 11. 1969.

Council Suggests Changes to Security Bill

page 3

Council Suggests Changes to Security Bill

The Existence of a Security Intelligence Service is by its very nature a constant danger to civil liberties, according to the Canterbury Council for Civil Liberties.

The Council made three suggestions in a recent statement regarding the Security Intelligence Service Bill, now before Parliament.

The first suggestion is that the word "subversion" should be eliminated.

"Security" is defined in the Bill as 'the protection of New Zealand from espionage, sabotage, and subversion,' the Council said.

"But the word 'subversion' has no place in legal definition, and has become an emotionally-loaded term.

"Brigadier Gilbert, for instance, has said the duty of the service is to 'Follow the activities of communists and other subversives'.

"Here, the looseness of definition extends to members of a legal party, and to 'other subversives'.

"If replacement of the term is necessary, the word 'sedition' is more appropriate.

"This word exists in the Crimes Act, and a body of legal opinion exists as to its meaning."

The Council suggested that the Service should be prohibited from directly informing foreign governments or agencies, or members of the public in New Zealand, such as employers.

In fact, direct communication should be permitted only with Ministers of the Crown and heads of Departments.

Governmental departments in NZ are known for their discretion, and this is particularly important in a department such as the Security Service, where the information is bound to be unreliable.

The Council also suggested that persons informed upon by the Service should have the right to challenge allegations brought against them.

People whose activities have been prejudiced by a report from the Service should be informed about it.

The Council has made these suggestions as it felt there was no reason to trust implicitly in the goodwill or honesty of any governmental agency, least of all that of a service basing itself on political criteria undefined by law and the Courts.