Friday, December 31, 2010

The History of the Search and Surveillance Bill

In 2002 Labour said that police powers of search and surveillance were a mess. 

They argued that law and order hadn’t kept pace with technology and that police powers were based on statutes between 40 and 50 years old. The Law Commission was ordered to recommend changes.

It took five years for Warren Young and his mates to write their report; it was finally tabled in parliament in 2007 and the Search and Surveillance Powers Bill was born. Before it could be passed though, National won the election. They made a few changes to the Bill, including a name change – now it is just known as the Search and Surveillance Bill, the word ‘Powers’ was dropped.

At its first reading in Parliament, the Greens were the only Party to oppose the Bill. ACT have supported the Bill to the Select Committee but may not support it any further than that.

In October 2009, public submissions were heard against (or for) the Bill and fairly consistently since then the Bill has been in the media. A lot of people and organisations spoke out against it.

National, in response, took a minor step backwards and instead of pushing the Bill through as quickly as they wanted, they put it off until May 2010. Three months later, the Select Committee published an interim report and the Bill was opened up for re-submissions. However, it was to be only re-submissions – only those who had given submissions on the original draft of the bill were told they could re-sumit.

After significant public pressure, submissions were opened up to the general public - resulting in 380 new submissions. But in September the committee quietly notified only a handful of submitters that they would be allowed to make oral submissions. Many people were not allowed to speak to the committee.

In November the Bill was reported back to parliament. Now it is only waiting to be voted on. Very soon it will become law.

Read more about the Bill on one of our pages:
Or visit the Search and Surveillance blog: