Bill to go ahead despite widespread protests
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.
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’’.