Questioning The Terrorism Suppression Bill

2007 Auckland protest against “terror law” attacks on Māori and peace activists. Photo credit: Joseph Barratt / Scoop

By Serah Allison

On the 16th October 2019, Labour government Justice Minister Andrew Little introduced the Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill to Parliament. Media suggest this Bill is targeted at one man, New Zealander Mark Taylor, who travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State, and who has been more recently held captive by Kurdish forces. With the withdrawal of the United States military from Syria and the possibility of Turkish incursions into Kurdish-held territories, it appears that Andrew Little perceives the possibility of the release of prisoners such as Mark Taylor, and their return to New Zealand.

 The proposed Bill will allow the New Zealand Police to request the New Zealand Court to impose a control order on an individual “to protect the public from terrorism.” The need for a control order will be decided by the Court on “balance of probabilities” – that is, a lower standard of proof than the “beyond reasonable doubt” level required to convict people of a crime. The default is for the identity of the relevant person to be suppressed, but the affected person can overturn that if they wish. When originally proposed, accusations of terrorism by overseas authorities could be considered evidence, and evidence could be withheld from the relevant person and their legal counsel. In Andrew Little’s words on 16/10/2019: “It would limit where people could go; it could require them to for example go to the Police station once or twice or more times a week; it could restrict them from having access to the Internet; it could provide a level of curfew but not a 24 hour curfew. So, restrictions from quite severe to quite relaxed.” As Radio New Zealand host Lisa Owen said during that interview: “And it’s going to be done behind closed doors isn’t it, because it’s going to be prohibited to report on these cases unless expressly given permission by the judge. So you’re going to make what you’ve described as perhaps draconian measures behind closed doors in the absence of the person you’re making the order against and with a lesser level of proof.”

 This legislation would sit alongside existing legislation that addresses terrorist activities. The Crimes Act 1961 section 7A allows New Zealanders to be charged for certain crimes committed overseas, including acts of terror. The Terrorist Suppression Act 2002 section 6A allows imprisonment of a person who commits a terrorist act for up to life, while section 13 allows imprisonment of a person who participates in a terrorist group for up to 14 years. Section 5(2) includes the following definition of a terrorist act: “[an act which is] carried out for the purpose of advancing an ideological, political, or religious cause, and with the [… intention …] to unduly compel or to force a government or an international organisation to do or abstain from doing any act.” Section 20 gives the Prime Minister power to designate any entity as a terrorist organisation if they have “good cause”. This very broad definition makes me wonder whether a person peacefully participating in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (Rojava), a person participating in a Peace Flotilla to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, a person present in Hong Kong or Chile during protest activities, or a person participating in protest activities in New Zealand, might be at risk of having these same laws applied to them in the future. [Read more…]

Little’s resignation: Labour Must Change Course

Andrew Little’s resignation as Leader at Labour’s caucus meeting on Tuesday morning (1 August) has shocked the political world. We can accept Little’s reason at face value. He cited opinion polls: Sunday’s One News Colmar Brunton poll, Monday’s Newshub Reid poll and Labour’s private polling. These polls showed Labour’s support down to 24 percent, below their 2014 general election result.

The ISO welcomes Little’s resignation. [Read more…]

Workers can run the world

NUW workers in Australia occupying a Dandenong factory, 2015

NUW workers in Australia occupying a Dandenong factory, 2015

Gowan Ditchburn gave this talk to the Auckland branch of the International Socialists in May.

Let us examine on of my favourite things on Earth, Democracy. No, not that silly parliamentary kind where you vote every few years. I mean real democracy. Control by the people. Actual control not sending people to parliament to argue like children for three years and pass a few laws which change very little. I mean getting to decide how everything is done. From the Economy and the distribution of goods and resources, to the planning of our cities. All this placed in the hands of the people. My aim is to bring you an interesting look at a different, better and much more democratic way of doing things. [Read more…]

Why voting Democratic hasn’t preserved choice

The Clintons on parade for Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1997 (White House)

The Clintons on parade for Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1997 (White House)

Elizabeth Schulte makes the case that a woman’s right to choose abortion won’t be defended by subordinating our struggle to the needs of the Democratic Party.

DONALD TRUMP gave abortion rights supporters a frightening glimpse of what an administration he commands might do when he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews earlier this month that “[t]here has to be some form of punishment” for women who have illegal abortions. [Read more…]

Guy Fawkes: Myth and Reality

guyfawkes_1401691aRemember, remember, the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.

We all know these words. For centuries they’ve been handed down through the generations, first as a nursery rhyme sung by English children, and more recently popularised by the film ‘V for Vendetta’. David Lloyd, the artist behind the original graphic novel, has written that the Guy Fawkes mask his character wore has become “a common brand and a convenient placard to use in protest against tyranny”, and a quick glance around the world today reveals widespread use of it in everything from Anonymous to the Occupy movement.

The tale of Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up Parliament remains an integral part of our culture, and one at times associated with revolution and social change… but has this always been the case? And do we truly remember all that we should about the fifth of November? [Read more…]

Public opinion sinks super-city

This Wilde ambition

This Wilde ambition

By Ewan Tavendale

These days, after the National Party winning the general election last September, when workers still lack the confidence to take militant action, and when there are injustices all around, any successes against the forces of reaction are gratifying. The decision by the Local Government Commission to throw in the towel and drop their Wellington and Northland “super-city” plans is one such welcome triumph. The Commission, however, is pressing on with their Hawkes Bay super-city scheme; all depends now on a poll of Hawkes Bay electors. [Read more…]

Northland: No Win for Workers

Winston-peters-1200

By Martin Gregory

The preliminary election result excluding special votes yet to be counted give Winston Peters a commanding win: 15, 359 votes (54% of the vote) over National’s Mark Osborne’s 11, 347 (39.9%). Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime received 1, 315 votes (just 4.6% of the vote), and no other candidate scored more than 107 votes.

Northland and its predecessor electorate has been won by National in every election from 1943 until this election and has been thought of as a safe seat. At last year’s general election Mike Sabin had 53% of the vote and a near 10,000 vote majority over Labour. New Zealand First has not put up a candidate here since 2005 when Jim Peters, brother of Winston, came fourth with only 8% of the poll. [Read more…]

Wellington Super-City Stumbles

wellington-city-cbd-looking-from-mt-victoria-nov2014-edward-swift

By Ewan Tavendale

One strand of the neo-liberal policy of the Key government is an anti-democratic deform of local government in an effort to inhibit the public service role of local councils. This role, inasmuch as collective provision is made for services, has a social-democratic character that has often been dubbed “municipal socialism.” Many public services are delivered by the local state, mainly at district or city level and some at regional: libraries, museums, rubbish disposal, water and wastewater, roads, paths, street lighting, support for culture and the arts, planning and regulation, parks, sports facilities, swimming pools, public transport and many more. To the right-wing parties local public services are not just “old hat” but abhorrent to their project of widening the scope for private profit. Their ideal is privatisation, but if that is not realistic their next best option is to see public services taken from direct council control and farmed out to misnamed council-controlled organisations and run on commercial lines. [Read more…]