It is deeply disturbing for our democracy that the Prime Minister’s office had the desire to access the phone records of a journalist
New information that reveals a journalist’s phone records were sought by the Prime Minister’s office raises serious questions about the freedom of the press, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.
Speaker David Carter, in response to written questions from the Green Party, has confirmed that the Henry Inquiry established under the authority of the Prime Minister to look into the early release of the GCSB report, requested Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance’s phone and building access records from Parliamentary Service. Parliamentary Service handed over the building access records but not the phone records.
“It is deeply disturbing for our democracy that the Prime Minister’s office had the desire to access the phone records of a journalist as part of its inquiry into the early release of the Kitteridge report on the GCSB,” said Dr Norman.
“This is a pattern of anti-democratic and menacing behaviour by the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister’s office that is alarming. It follows the Prime Minister threatening the funding of the Human Rights Commission when it made a submission opposing the GCSB bill.
“One of the basic democratic principles that we rely on is a free press in order to keep the government of the day accountable.
“It is unacceptable for the media to have their details trawled through by unelected officials acting on behalf of the Minister responsible for our security services.
“This development is coming alongside the GCSB bill, where the Prime Minister is giving his department the authority to engage in mass surveillance of New Zealanders.
“New Zealanders will be deeply disturbed by these developments,” said Dr Norman.