Tuesday, July 02, 2013

No clue

So, John Key says he has no sympathy for Peter Dunne having his emails spied on. Why?

"I have very limited sympathy if any at all for a minister or former minister, and the reason for that is when you're a minister you swear an oath of allegiance and that oath basically says that you'll treat information confidentially.

So what does that "oath of allegiance" (actually the Executive Councillors oath) actually say?
I, [specify], being chosen and admitted of the Executive Council of New Zealand, swear that I will to the best of my judgment, at all times when thereto required, freely give my counsel and advice to the Governor-General for the time being, for the good management of the affairs of New Zealand. That I will not directly nor indirectly reveal such matters as shall be debated in Council and committed to my secrecy, but that I will in all things be a true and faithful Councillor. So help me God.

As the Ministry of Justice makes clear in its 2004 review of oaths and declarations, this applies only in the context of the Executive Council - that is, the vestigal feudal body which rubberstamps Cabinet decisions. It does not apply to Cabinet, and it does not apply to general Ministerial business. Ministers do not sign away their privacy by joining the government.

The fact that Key has no sympathy tells us very clearly that he has no clue of either our system of government or of privacy and human rights. He still thinks he is a corporate CEO wielding absolute feudal power over his employees, rather than an elected representative constrained by constitutional and democratic norms. And the fact that he is trotting out "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" over spying on who a Member of Parliament has been communicating with is absolutely terrifying. The fact that he is doing this spying regularly, and without any sort of warrant or statutory authorisation, is even more so.