Friday, August 02, 2013

Democracy and "national security"

Trade Minister Tim Groser during the debate on John Key's spy bill today (video here):

[W]e all know about Opposition politics. There has got to be some slack given to Opposition politics, where things that were done when the party was in Government are airbrushed out of reality—fine—but there are some limits that have to be observed. We could debate, probably inconclusively, where they should stop—before you start to undercut the fundamental concept where Government proposes and Opposition opposes—but we cannot debate where it starts. Where it starts is national security.

Or, in short, "opposition should not be permitted on national security". But as we're seeing with this very bill, "national security" is a highly political concept - there is nothing more political than defining who is an "enemy" and what the state is allowed to do to them. And what Groser is suggesting is that those hugely political questions should somehow be beyond democratic politics and beyond the vote.

Groser is Trade Minister and used to work for MFAT, and this is very much how MFAT operates. But it sure as hell isn't democracy. And for a senior government Minister to expound this ideology in Parliament raises serious questions about whether that party believes in democracy at all.