Privacy issue can get Winston Peters more votes

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Gurbrinder Aulakh

It is for the first time ever that I, a strong critic of Winston Peters and his party, may be voting for him.

Why ‘May be?” I will explain later.

Why this sudden shift in not only my thinking, but perhaps also that of many other New Zealanders, who in general hate policies of the New Zealand First Party?

It is due to the dirty politics of the hit job on him, which appears to have done the opposite of what was desired by its masterminds.

I have never liked and approved the political style of Mr Peters, as mostly, he has been coming up with issues aimed at polarising the nation and spreading hatred. I have seen him as an opportunist, who will criticise immigrants for the ills in this country, but it will be business as usual once he becomes a Minister.

Victim of leakage

However, as the victim of the leak of his private information, he wins my sympathy.

We see a ray of hope that, for once, he may shun the policy of polarization to take up an issue that is indeed unitedly first on the minds of New Zealander’s across the country.

Breach of Privacy has been on the minds of the public for quite some time now. There have been many instances of callous breach by the government agencies and departments, with continued repetition of their illegal actions, without any remorse.

From the Government Communications & Security Bureau (GCSB) illegal spying on its citizens in the name of national security, leaking of ACC and medical records of patients, Police accessing bank accounts of journalists and others without obtaining warrants, and now the Ministry of Social Development records of a senior lawmaker, the list keeps on growing with each passing day.

Suppression by repression

With no serious consequences to the perpetrators, the conduct appears to have become entrenched in the system.

A majority of people is sick of this suppression by repression attitude of the successive governments. It no longer trusts that their information is secure in the hands of government, or that its agents are not trolling through their private records and affairs in the name of national security.

At a time when even the developing countries are starting to embrace privacy laws, and taking these rights of its citizens more seriously, New Zealand appears to be going back to the dark ages.

Fundamental Right

Recently, a nine-judge Supreme Court bench in India held, that although the right to privacy is not specifically mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, it was a fundamental right as it is intrinsic to freedom of life and personal liberty.

It is high time that New Zealand took its Privacy Act, and the Bill of Rights more seriously by slapping severe exemplary punishments on those who breach these laws so casually.

Now that Winston has himself been bitten by the breach, if he takes up the issue of overhauling of the privacy laws in this country, the public is likely to rally behind him.

In fact, this may be a big opportunity for him to not only come back with a huge contingent of MPs to Parliament, but also to leave a legacy, as it may be his last term as a lawmaker. If he brings this issue of privacy to a logical conclusion, he may leave behind a legacy for generations to come.

It is highly likely that either of the two main political parties would require his support to form a government.

And here in lies the answer to my ‘May be’ mentioned earlier.

If before the elections, Mr Peters announces this issue to be a deal breaker for any government formation after the elections, then for the first time in all these years, he has my vote.

Gurbrinder Aulakh, is a Barrister & Solicitor at Auckland, and the Chair of the National Board of ‘English Language Partners New Zealand,’ which works with Migrants and Refugees across the country. The above article carries his personal views.


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