Monday, October 03, 2011

Video Surveillance: The Submissions

Last week, the government pushed the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill through its first reading under urgency, and sent it to an abbreviated select committee process. The bill went online on Tuesday evening, and submissions opened mid-morning on Wednesday and closed at midnight, giving the public around fifteen hours to submit on it. Despite the tight timeframe, over 80 people and organisations managed to (thanks in no small part to Labour's Clare Curran, who dropped off around 20 submissions forwarded to her, including my own). It's a good showing, especially given the tight timeframe; most bills are lucky to get half as many.

Not all submissions are online (for example, there's no submission from the police, and at least one person has reported that theirs isn't up yet). But of those 80-plus submissions on the bill which are online so far, how many supported it? I've spent the past hour skimming them, and the answer seems to be one [PDF]. Yes, one. As for the rest, there was universal condemnation of retrospective authorisation for unlawful surveillance, and a widespread demand that future surveillance only occur under proper judicial supervision. Plus of course a lot of disquiet that this was happening under urgency.

So, the question now is whether the select committee will listen to the public or not. Sadly, given Labour's surrender, I'm expecting not. In the process, Parliament will earn its reputation and further delegitimise itself and our democratic process. And then they'll ask whining questions about why the public has such contempt for them.

Update: According to the select committee report [PDF] there were 438 submissions, so we're only looking at a subset which may not be representative of the whole. I'll skim the rest when they are published and do a summary.