The Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill is unnecessary and offensive to both the rule of law and proper parliamentary process, Green Party human rights spokesperson Keith Locke said today.
Today Mr Locke sent a letter to Attorney-General Chris Finlayson informing him the Green Party won't be supporting the Government's Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill. In the letter to the Attorney-General Mr Locke outlined the following reasons for not supporting the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill:
- Only in exceptional circumstances would the Green Party support retrospective legislation and this is not one of them.
- There is not sufficient reason for moving with such urgency. It is clear from the Supreme Court ruling in the Operation 8 case that the Evidence Act allows for video evidence not legally obtained to be used in trials in certain circumstances, including when the charges are serious.
- An abbreviated Select Committee process would not be adequate to address the Green Party's concerns in such a complex area as surveillance legislation. The Justice and Electoral Committee spent two years considering the Search and Surveillance Bill, which deals with Police surveillance. It fine-tuned the legal processes in the Bill around the granting of a new warrant, a surveillance warrant, and it proposed prohibiting video surveillance involving trespass for all but offences carrying a penalty of seven years or more in prison, or arms offences.
"The Video Camera Surveillance Bill gives Police carte blanche to use covert video surveillance when implementing their search powers," said Mr Locke.
"After studying the draft legislation it appears that other state agencies will be given these unrestrained video surveillance powers. This goes against Section 21 of the Bill of Rights Act, prohibiting unreasonable search and seizure, including unreasonable surveillance by state agencies.
"Rushing through a law which gives any state agency a blank cheque implement covert surveillance of private premises is irresponsible," said Mr Locke.