Dotcom Snooping

More Evidence that the  Government Communications Security Bureau  Is Not Under Control

Yet again Kim Dotcom bites the government on the bum
Prime Minister Key is extremely naïve, or lying, when he says he is “shocked” by allegations that the GCSB intervened in the Dotcom case on behalf of the United States.  No Prime Minister has full control over the Government Communications Security Bureau, as David Lange acknowledged (in his foreword to Nicky Hager’s seminal 1996 book on the GCSB and its Waihopai spy base, “Secret Power”).

The Government must rue the day they ever heard of Kim Dotcom, because everything about his action packed few years of presence in New Zealand so far has come back to bite them in the bum.

But the fact of the matter is that they gave him New Zealand permanent residence and the GCSB is supposedly prohibited from domestic spying on NZ citizens and residents.

New Zealand has just hosted its first visit by a US Defense Secretary in 30 years and the only surprise is that Key didn’t put his back out with all the bowing and scraping he did. Secretary Panetta made it clear that everything about the US/NZ military and political relationship is on course to revert to the good old days of ANZUS, so why should anyone be surprised that “our” spooks should be doing the bidding of the US Government and its law enforcement agencies in the Dotcom case?

That’s what the GCSB exists to do – to work as local sub-contractors of US intelligence.

The staff at the Waihopai spy base routinely intercept communications for their US and UK big brothers with few questions asked.  The spy base does not operate in the interests of New Zealand and should be closed down.

As former whistleblowers  have revealed, neither laws nor ethics bother the spooks. Politicians have little idea about what the spies do. In Britain the Government Communications Headquarters, which is responsible for massive interception of international business and private communications, is increasingly involved in domestic spying. At a minimum the GCSB should be put under proper control by a Parliamentary Select Committee before the same thing happens in New Zealand - not the current sham “oversight” regime of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security and the Intelligence and Security Committee, which operates in non-accountable secrecy and is a committee of Government, not a Parliamentary Select Committee. Better still, it should be shut down, a snot being in the national interest. Let the Yanks do their own dirty work rather than hiding behind a so-called “New Zealand” spy agency.

Just Close and Bugger Off


Here we go again. Every time that Rio Tinto, the gargantuan mining and processing transnational which owns 80% of they Bluff smelter, feels that its charmed existence in New Zealand is going to become less cushy, it threatens to pull the plug, close the smelter and walk away. Last time it did so (in 2008) was because of the Labour Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme. This time it is trying it on as a tactic to try to pressure Meridian over its power price contract, which has already been negotiated and is due to take effect in January.

Just close the smelter & bugger off, you're a liability not an asset

Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) calls Rio Tinto’s bluff (pun intended).Stop crying wolf, stop using your New Zealand workers as disposable pawns in your cynical game, stop holding Southland and the country to ransom. Go ahead and close the smelter and bugger off. See if we care, the country will be much better off without you. The smelter is the country’s single biggest user of electricity, consuming one sixth of the total, 24/7 for more than 40 years. It pays a top secret super cheap price that is not available for any other user and all it does is export electricity from NZ in the form of alumina, while being subsidised by all other electricity users. The smelter is the textbook example of corporate welfare in New Zealand. It is the biggest bludger in the country. Those who extol the bracing discipline of market forces for everybody else are strangely coy when it comes to this corporate recidivist.

Rio Tinto Alcan won the 2011 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating In Aotearoa/New Zealand. It was nominated for lobbying two Governments “over several years to secure excessive allocations of free emissions units under the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme”.

The Roger Award judges agreed, concluding: “It appears therefore, that the New Zealand taxpayer is subsidising a transnational corporate rort of the emissions trading scheme… The significance of this stance cannot be underestimated; a major transnational player within New Zealand materially benefits from its non-compliance with a strategy to reduce global climate change and its ecological effects”.

The Judges’ Report concludes that the company has a 50 year history of “suborning, blackmailing and conning successive New Zealand governments into paying massive subsidies on the smelter’s electricity; dodging tax, and running a brilliantly effective PR machine to present a friendly, socially responsible and thoroughly greenwashed face to the media and the public. Its milking of the Emissions Trading Scheme is entirely in character”.

The extremely detailed Financial Analysis reveals that the smelter’s claimed benefits to NZ, namely annual export earnings of “around $1 billion” are, in fact, overstated by four fifths.

The full, damning, 2011 Roger Award Judges’ Report can be read here

In short, it is a liability to New Zealand, not an asset.

What about the people who work for the smelter, directly or indirectly? The tobacco industry used to employ a lot of people here, but that was deemed to be no longer in the public interest. Lacing lollywater with booze and selling it to kids supports a lot of jobs too but there’s plenty of public demand to get rid of that particular industry as well. The P industry provides an income for thousands of people too, but we don’t hear any demand for that insidious trade to be kept going to keep them in a job. History is full of examples of horrible industries that kept people in jobs (such as the slave trade) but which were banned and/or abolished for the greater good.

This smelter constitutes a crime against the people of New Zealand and has done for its entire existence.

In the national interest, it must be closed and the sooner the better.