Last year, in the wake of a court ruling that police video surveillance in the Urewera case was unlawful, the government rammed through the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Act to give the police carte blanche to continue spying. However, the measure was only temporary, lasting only six months from the date it became law. Which means it expires on April 17.
The temporary patch was supposedly necessary to give the government time to craft a permanent response as part of the Search and Surveillance Bill, which they have been sitting on for the last eighteen months. That bill is back before the House today for its second reading. So what's the government's solution? Unfortunately, they're not telling us. No statement has been made, and no amendments have been tabled. The biggest civil liberties issue of the last few years, which governs whether the police can videotape you in your own bedroom, and the government is planning to do it all in secret.
This pathological secrecy is unacceptable. The government needs to come clean about its plans, so that the public can debate them. It is not acceptable in a democracy for something like this to be sprung on people at the last minute. And it would be nice if the opposition - or our media - would say so.