Bill to go ahead de­spite wide­spread protests

Central Leader - - NEWS -

Thou­sands of pro­test­ers took to the city streets on Satur­day to rally against the GCSB spy­ing bill.

The protest, which was one of 11 around the coun­try, was pref­aced with speeches out­side the Town Hall be­fore the 2000-strong crowd marched down Queen St.

Po­lice had to cor­don off parts of the main drag as peo­ple flooded in to lis­ten to speak­ers dis­cuss the Govern­ment Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Se­cu­rity Bureau Amend­ment Bill.

The con­tro­ver­sial bill and other re­lated changes will ex­pand the le­gal power of the GCSB to spy on New Zealan­ders.

In­ter­net en­tre­pre­neur Kim Dot­com was among those in Aotea Square, while other marches took place in Welling­ton, Christchurch and other towns.

Mr Dot­com told the crowd the bill made New Zealand a pup­pet for the US govern­ment and called Prime Min­is­ter John Key ‘‘the big­gest pup­pet of them all’’.

Labour Party leader David Shearer, Green Party MPs and Mr Dot­com stood side-by-side to voice their dis­ap­proval chant­ing ‘‘kill the bill’’ in cho­rus with the crowd.

Mr Shearer says if Labour is voted in at the next elec­tion there will be a thor­ough re­view of the spy­ing agency and Mana Party mem­ber John Minto went a step fur­ther, say­ing they would shut the GCSB down all to­gether.

Lawyer Rod­ney Har­ri­son QC says the most wor­ry­ing thing about the leg­is­la­tion was that it opened the door for peo­ple’s pri­vate in­for­ma­tion to be sent over­seas.

He says the coun­try had been ‘‘robbed of the op­por­tu­nity to have a ra­tio­nal de­bate’’ on the mat­ter and called for the Govern­ment to make it a con­science-vote is­sue.

Speak­ing from Seoul, Prime Min- is­ter John Key says the protests were part of a ‘‘healthy democ­racy’’ with peo­ple al­lowed to make their voices heard.

Mr Key says the law change is nec­es­sary and af­ter weeks of con­tro­versy he has now se­cured the num­bers to pass it af­ter agree­ing to a se­ries of changes which have won the sup­port of United Fu­ture leader Peter Dunne.

The law changes were sparked by Dot­com and the raids on his Auck­land man­sion re­quested by the US who want to ex­tra­dite the in­ter­net ty­coon to face copy­right charges.

Pho­tos: PHIL DOYLE

Sol­i­dar­ity: About 2000 peo­ple march down Queen St in protest against the GCSB amend­ment bill. Kim Dot­com ad­dresses the crowd call­ing the Prime Min­is­ter a ‘‘pup­pet’’.

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