Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 8. 1969.
In His Anzac Day statement that "a highly organised and centrally directed espionage effort from overseas is continuing in New Zealand" Mr Holyoake reaches new levels of irrelevancy and disregard for the genuine concern of many loyal New Zealanders. Once again he drags from under his bed the long tried and true (albeit slightly worn) spectre of international conspiracy with which successive governments, National and Labour, have terrified the middle class, the elderly, and the hysterical.
It is indeed unfortunate, considering the literary effort which his advisers have put into the statement and the attention the press have given it, that the Prime Minister makes absolutely no attempt to deal with the main criticisms of the security service: that it is constantly snooping into the business of New Zealanders and New Zealand organisations that by no stretch of the imagination could be called subversive, and that it is completely free of the checks and limits which have been imposed on the police by the wisdom of centuries of British constitutional experience.
I for one would not deny the possibility of a communist (or South African or Rhodesian) spy ring in this country: indeed the size of certain diplomatic establishments suggests a likelihood. But I would deny that this gives a group of semiofficial sneaks the right to treat all opposition to the present policies of the present government as inimical to the security of New Zealand.
I would deny that it gives them the right to infiltrate and investigate the members of organisations such as the Labour Party and the late Citizens All Black Tour Association.
I would deny the right of the security service to run checks and have files on individuals who have neither applied for a job in a sensitive area of the public service nor been convicted of an offence: Security respects no rules of evidence.
And as for investigating the activities of youthful radicals, to believe that students could successfully organise subversion demonstrates a naivete on the part of the service that is somehow as alarming in its way as its extralegal activities.
The head of the security service, Brigadier H. E. Gilbert, told parliament's public expenditure committee last year that the service checks on 18,000 people each year. For what purpose? With what result in terms of subversives caught? These are the sort of questions to which Mr Holyoake should be supplying answers. Memories of the Boshier-Laurenson, Godfrey. CABTA, and other affairs are too fresh to be expunged by the traditional whitewash-by-mudslinging.
A security service has a function to perform in checking on personnel in key areas and in investigating the activities of foreign government but at present it clearly equates dissent with disloyally. It must be put on a legal basis, preferably as part of the police force. Otherwise it is the security service who are the subversives, subverting the principles of law on which our way of life is founded.
If to fight the communists we have to become like them, why fight them?