Who is watching the watchers? Labour and Nats aren’t

Green MP Keith Locke is calling Parliament’s intelligence and security committee a farce after learning it met only once last year.

“The parliamentary supervision of the intelligence services is a joke,” says Mr Locke, the party’s spokesperson on intelligence services.

“Through a parliamentary question I have discovered that the intelligence and security committee met only once in 2005, on June 14, for 43 minutes. It met two times the previous year for a total of 84 minutes.

“That’s hardly enough time to pour their coffee and listen to a couple of briefings. The committee is not likely to meet again soon, because it hasn’t been reconstituted since the last election, six months ago.

“The committee’s abysmal record demonstrates the need for a proper select committee to supervise the intelligence services, rather than the current statutory committee made up of National and Labour appointees. That was the point of my private members bill, the Intelligence and Security Committee Act Repeal Bill, which was unfortunately defeated at the First Reading in 2000.

“The Security Intelligence Service’s bungling of the Zaoui case doesn’t seem to have inspired the present committee to take more interest in intelligence matters. Overseas, intelligence service failings over Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, and the misuse of intelligence by governments, has prompted inquiries and moves towards greater accountability.

“Here, Labour and National leaders seem to be asleep on the job. Who is watching the watchers? Certainly not Labour or National.”