Tuesday, 16 October 2007 20:00 Victor Billot Editorial Dept - Australia
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The Alliance Party (New Zealand) says that confusion and secrecy surrounding police actions around alleged "terrorist" activity needs to be cleared up. Alliance Party President Victor Billot says several issues needed to be resolved quickly in what was an unprecedented use of armed state power in a political context within New Zealand.

"The exact and detailed nature of alleged threats to public safety must be made public immediately, and not in a selective way; The scale and timing of police operations, and the use of police publicity to create an impression of immediate danger, must be investigated; the extremely wide nature of arrests and searches that have taken place must be justified."

Mr Billot says there are unattributed comments and spin flying around in the media, which seems to be aimed at building up a certain picture in the public mind and perhaps a climate of fear.

If there are individuals using firearms illegally or threatening violence then those matters should be dealt with under general criminal law, he says.

He says that in the past, the anti-democratic Public Safety Conservation Act had been used to suppress anyone who disagreed with the Government, most notably in the 1951 waterfront lockout. "The threat to democracy does not always come from outside the system. Often the system itself is a threat to democracy, and unless constantly monitored and questioned by the public, will become more and more unaccountable and self-serving."

Mr Billot says the Alliance made the point that Chinese warships have been in New Zealand waters recently and have been carrying out joint exercises with the New Zealand armed forces.

"The Chinese armed forces have been responsible for actual state terrorism against their own people. Yet the quest for free trade deals quickly smothers any concerns about this threat to human rights and democracy."

Victor Billot
Alliance Party President



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