Speaking at a protest outside the Waihopai base (Saturday, January 22), Mr Locke claimed the Waihopai station, which intercepts international satellite telecommunications, is damaging our international reputation.
“This base violates the privacy of all those people who make phone calls, faxes and emails overseas and all foreigners who send New Zealanders satellite communications,” he said.
“People around the world, particularly in Europe, are concerned that the Echelon system, of which Waihopai is a part, is being used to extract economic secrets from Europe, Asia and the Pacific.
“The secret information gained is most useful to the two main powers – the United States and Britain – who have access to all the data intercepted at Waihopai.
“I would like the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee to discuss what foreign policy benefits, if any, flow from the Waihopai operation. The downsides would seem to be significantly greater.
“New Zealand has major markets in Asia and Europe, which could be expanded if there is goodwill towards us. It is not going to help if New Zealand is seen as actively spying on them and passing on any information to other nations,” he said.
Mr Locke said an open debate on the functions and consequences of Waihopai was well overdue. “The public have largely been kept in the dark. I will be calling for a thorough Foreign Affairs Select Committee inquiry, which invites public submissions,” he said.