Hard News by Russell Brown


Need to Know

I had planned to be done with politics for the year, but one thing needs saying before the party starts: the police commissioner's assurances about domestic surveillance don't wash any more, and there must be an inquiry into the spying activities of Rob Gilchrist on the police's behalf.

I have no doubt it is a tricky situation for the incoming police minister, Judith Collins, but we cannot afford to be as incurious as she is. She says she has been assured that "the special investigation group is not actually targeting groups but individuals who may be involved in criminal activities."

Yet there is good evidence that police, in the words of No Right Turn, "seem to have been running a general dragnet, collecting political intelligence on left-wing groups engaging in perfectly ordinary and legal protest activities."

The best-case scenario is that this troubling over-reach has been driven more by Gilchrist's curious personality -- he seems to have acted with an enthusiasm fuelled by something more than the $600 a week police were paying him -- than carried out as part of policy. But we need to know.

PS: NBR editor Nevil Gibson makes a complete arse of himself discussing this issue with Oliver Driver on Sunrise. With what appears to be a straight face, he conflates environmental protest with "jihad". Memo to Nevil: get a fucking grip.

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