Keith Locke on Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill – in committee stage



I rise to support David Parker’s amendment, and also to commend the previous speaker for a very good, wide-ranging speech on the privacy problems we face. I thought the speaker before him, Simon Bridges, gave a somewhat contradictory speech, in that he admitted the problems of the intrusion of people’s privacy, using the example of Fergie in Great Britain, and the intrusions of the media like

News of the World,

into the privacy of people in Britain. Recently in Britain we have had the scandal of journalists hacking the voicemails of different politicians. I do not think we have had that scandal here yet, but as David Cunliffe indicated, technology advances are such that we might find it happening to us.

Hon David Cunliffe

: How would we know?


: How would we know? Yes. If the intrusion on people’s privacy is a serious problem, and if the Law Commission is devoting its attention to that issue, surely we should go with that rather than say “Well, let’s loosen up in another area of society; let’s loosen up in terms of the controls over private investigators.” There may be a contradiction between what the public can do at the present time, and what private investigators could do before this legislation, but I think the way to level that playing field is to increase the restraints on general members of the public, and journalists as well, with regard to intrusions on people’s privacy. That is the way to resolve the contradiction. I think the difference between ordinary members of the public on the one side, and private investigators or the police, is that private investigators and the police engage in activities that are quite intrusive into people’s privacy—for good reasons, in the case of the police. For that reason, we have controls on the police, and these controls are being extended under the Search and Surveillance Bill currently before the Justice and Electoral Committee, and that is a good thing. A private investigator’s job is to intrude as much as he or she can, to find out certain things in people’s private lives. When investigators use audio and video recording and photographs, that is overly intrusive, and, as it was pointed out, if they just want basic information about people for the Ministry of Social Development, or whatever, there is plenty of other data around about people that they can check, without using audio or video recording devices or photographs. There is a serious problem; we saw that problem when the

Sunday Star-Times

ran an article on the putting of a tracking device by a private investigator, Thompson and Clark Investigations, under the car of Rochelle Rees. She is a very fine animal welfare activist living in Auckland, currently running in the elections for a local board, and likely to be elected.

Hon David Cunliffe

: What about State-owned enterprises?


: Sorry?

Hon David Cunliffe

: What about Solid Energy?


: Thompson and Clark also put an infiltrator into the Happy Valley Coalition and disrupted the workings and solidarity in that particular group. That is a problem. So why do we give these people more power to intrude on people’s privacy, particularly with tracking technology? The tracking technology is quite intrusive. It is very simple.

A little device like a magnet is put under the car. I have seen the device that was put under Rochelle Rees’ car, and wherever she went in her car could be tracked by Thompson and Clark Investigations, for—as I understand in this case—the interests of the Pork Industry Board, because she was very strongly campaigning with others against sow crates and cages for chickens. So I think it is important to support the amendment of David Parker to reinsert the prohibition on audio and video surveillance devices, and the photographing of their targets. Thank you.