Wellington priest makes private submission to GCSB select committtee

A Wellington priest has made a submission to the Select Committee considering the the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

Monsignor Gerard Burns said his deepest concern about this bill is that it shakes the relationship of trust between the State and the citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Because a healthy society can only function on trust and because the State is more powerful than individual citizens, those citizens need to be able to know and trust that the State will not abuse its position. The range and extent of surveillance powers given to the State in this bill has a chilling effect on the ability of citizens to freely express their views, to associate and organize for social change, to defend the rights of others.” said Burns.

He listed has his particular concerns:

  • not sufficient oversight or remedies.
  • potential and actual abuse of powers.
  • access of foreign powers to intimate information about NZ citizens (via Echelon).
  • waste, inefficiency and potential fraud in computing systems (intransparent budget).
  • use of surveillance to continue economic and political inequality and injustice.
  • no role for conscientious objection and whistle-blowing in the Bill.

In his submission Burns emphasised that his submission was being made in his capacity as a New Zealand citizen. They were, he said, his his personal views; they were not an official submission on behalf of his Church.


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