Newsroom: Why sweeping surveillance laws aren’t the answer

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National leader Simon Bridges is calling for New Zealand’s intelligence agencies to be given greater powers, claiming our spies currently have their hands tied behind their backs. But it’s far from clear that greater surveillance would have stopped the Christchurch attack, and hasty changes could be disastrous, Sam Sachdeva writes.

It’s often said that the role of opposition leader is the worst job in politics – and that is never more clear than in the wake of a national tragedy.

Political machinations are – rightly – far from the minds of New Zealanders in the wake of the deadly Christchurch terror attack.

But with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s star shining as brightly as ever at home and abroad, and her omnipresence in news and social media, Bridges could be forgiven for feeling enveloped by her shadow.

That may go some way towards explaining the National leader’s hawkish stance on the powers of our security and intelligence agencies.

Bridges has called for a swift review of the surveillance laws restricting our spies, claiming to RNZ that Kiwi spooks have “two hands tied behind their backs” compared to their overseas counterparts.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attack commissioned by the Government would take too long, he argued, suggesting swifter action including reconsideration of Project Speargun – a proposed cyber-defence system claimed by critics to be a mass surveillance regime which was scrapped by Prime Minister John Key in 2013.

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