The Slow Burning Fuse

an atheisitic anarchistic scorcher

A snapshot of New Zealand

Schools searched for drugs

 Specialist teams with sniffer dogs have this week searched three regional high schools for drugs – Mount Hutt College, Ashburton College and Geraldine High School.

Mount Hutt College principal John Schreurs confirmed that a specialist company, New Zealand Detector Dogs, was hired to do a sweep of the school with dogs.  In a random search of 16 classrooms there was one bag detected to be positive, about which the school contacted the police.  No disciplinary action was taken, as the bag in question was not always being used on the school site.

 In an email it was revealed that the decision to search the schools was made not due to “any information received but was part of a proactive programme.”

 New Zealand Detector Dogs is carrying out the searches because police were no longer willing to do searches of schools, Mr. Pitcaithly director of NZDD said.  

 Ashburton Guardian 5/4/12

 Call for spyware on kids’ phones

During the inquest into the death of a Rotorua teenager who killed herself after getting threatening text messages, MyFone spokesperson Sally Rae gave evidence stating that if New Zealand telecommunications companies got behind an initiative, spy software could be available on all New Zealand cell phones for $200,000.

 MyFone was launched in New Zealand last year. The business operates through a website that allows parents to sign up their child’s cellphone number and then see any calls or texts made to and from the phone.  The site also provides a tracking service so parents can find out where their child is.

New Zealand Herald 10/4/12

 Schools demand powers to search for cyber-bullies

Principals want the power to search students’ cellphones and laptops to combat cyber-bullying.  Secondary Principals’ Association president Patrick Walsh said, “Cyber-bullying has become so common and the consequences so serious, that it overrides privacy concerns.” 

 Search and seizure guidelines were developed last year to allow principals to search students for drugs and weapons, but principals want it written into law.

Sunday Star times 13/5/12

 BSA decision a victory for NORML

The Broadcasting Standards Authority has ruled in favour of NORML, the pro-cannabis campaign group, after an Australian doctor lodged a complaint against the organisation.

The BSA ruled that encouraging and promoting cannabis use on a radio show was “in the spirit of protest” and did not breach standards of law and order, adding “The programme amounted to high value speech because it is legitimate and desirable in a free democracy for individuals to challenge particular laws and promote law reform.” 6/4/12

Man and family spied on by city employer

A company that launched a covert surveillance operation on a Christchurch employee and his family has been ordered to pay $7500 compensation.  The company manager, Mr. Ydgren, spent all day following the employee as he went about his duties.  Ydgren borrowed a family member’s car so he would not be spotted, and kept written notes of the day, beginning: ”7.35am left home – dropped son in Rolleston”.


The Employment Relations Authority said: ”Mr. Booth and his family feel violated and victimised,” by the surveillance.

The Press 5/4/12

Worker’s privacy ‘undoubtedly’ breached

An employee whose personal details were leaked during an industrial dispute could seek compensation from Ports of Auckland for breaching his privacy, a law expert says.

Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson, in a letter to Maritime Union (MUNZ) secretary Russell Mayn, addresses the leaking of personal information, including details of bereavement leave, about employee Cecil Walker to the Whale Oil blog.

The blog published a list of 106 leave days under five categories taken by Mr. Walker, a crane driver, from when his former wife was diagnosed with a terminal illness in 2007 until after her death the next year

New Zealand Herald 12/4/12

Mob rejects ban on graves insignia

The Mongrel Mob is pledging to fight Porirua City Council all the way to the Supreme Court if it goes ahead with a ban on offensive insignia on headstones.

The council can dictate only the size and installation of headstones, not content, but under a new proposal, sparked by complaints about gang insignia and mottos a new rule stating “no individual monument shall cause offence” will be added

About 10 years ago the Mob replaced the words “Sieg f…in heil” with “SFH” on some new headstones.  However, the cemetery that saw a complaint emerge, Whenua Tapu, has no “SFH” tombstones, and just four with the Mongrel Mob insignia.

The gang have said they are happy to remove swear words, but taking down anything else that had previously been approved would be unlawful, disrespectful and culturally insensitive, adding that Mob membership was similar to religion and some members wished to have the gang’s insignia on their headstones.

Dominion Post 2/5/12

Police teapot tape file won’t be released

The police file on the teapot tape investigations is to be withheld from public view.

Following the Police decision earlier this year not to charge cameraman Bradley Ambrose over the now infamous recording of the Prime Minister and John Banks during the election campaign, Newstalk ZB sought a copy of the police case file under the Official Information Act.

Police are refusing to release any documents, citing a ruling from the Chief Ombudsman that says privacy interests in matters that aren’t prosecuted are high and need a strong public interest to justify disclosure.

Police say, in this case, public interests don’t outweigh privacy interests.

 AOS members drinking before siege

Fourteen armed offenders squad members who responded to a hostage siege in Opunake in which a gunman was shot dead had been drinking beforehand, police have revealed.  However, none of them was the officer who shot dead the gunman.  

Assistant Commissioner operations Nick Perry said that the amount of alcohol drunk by the officers varied from a glass of wine with a meal to five pints during the previous five hours, Mr. Perry said.  “At the time of this incident the police regulations relating to the carriage and possession of firearms stated that an officer should advise his supervisor if he had consumed alcohol before returning to duty and accessing firearms,” he said, adding “The regulations stated officers should not begin duty without the supervisor’s approval.”

The provision related to general duties officers responding to critical incidents where they would be required to carry firearms and was not intended to apply to AOS callouts, Mr. Perry said.

“It has been since identified that the policy was ambiguous in relation to armed offenders squad staff who were not on stand-by and were being recalled for duty due to emergency situations,” he said.

The ambiguity had now been removed.

An employment investigation was commenced, which concluded that the officers had breached the code of conduct by consuming alcohol prior to the callout but due to the ambiguity of the regulations no sanctions were imposed.

Mr. Perry said most of the officers who responded on the night were off duty.

“Some had already worked a shift in their normal roles and were not on stand-by for armed offenders duties but made themselves available due to the nature of the situation.”

Taranaki Daily News 25/5/12

 Corrections union slams ‘degrading’ extended search powers in prisons

A proposal to extend strip search powers in prisons has been slammed as needless, degrading and possibly dangerous by the corrections union.

A select committee heard yesterday that procedures for searching inmates for contraband were sufficient, and removing safeguards could lead to an increase in violence.

The Corrections Amendment Bill would remove the need for officers to get permission from a prison manager before searching an inmate. Officials would also perform a more invasive procedure for all strip searches.

Corrections Association of New Zealand president Beven Hanlon said the current strip search procedure was highly successful and he did not believe corrections officers needed greater powers.  He stated that, “I’m not aware of any statistics that say we’ve got a problem with prisoners concealing things inside them that we’re not able to find during a strip search process.”

The Corrections Amendment Bill was introduced last year to remove barriers to managing prisoners and encourage efficient, cost-effective prisons.

Human Rights groups have told the committee that basic rights and dignity should not be sacrificed for these goals.

New Zealand Herald 24/5/12

You are digitally recorded 12 times a day

Surveillance cameras are now so powerful that they were able to zoom in on individual spectators at the Rugby World Cup and read their text messages.

Details of police monitoring used for the first time during the tournament were discussed at a privacy forum in Wellington, at which it was revealed that the average person is digitally recorded about a dozen times a day – and even more if they use email and social media frequently.

At the forum Civil liberties lawyer Michael Bott warned against becoming desensitised to digital surveillance.

 Dominion Post 4/5/12

 Accused seeks further compensation

A man once accused of being involved in underage sex may receive a second payout for damages from police after they revealed the allegations to a future employer and the Accident Compensation Corporation, causing him to lose work and accreditation.

The man, who is referred to as EFG because of a court order granting name suppression, has brought proceedings against police complaining they breached his privacy by revealing he had been accused of committing sexual acts on a minor when he lived at Centrepoint, a commune where the “removal of one’s sexual limits” was encouraged.

Indecent assault charges were laid against EFG but he was later discharged at a High Court trial.

In 2002, EFG applied for a job with a counseling organisation and allowed police to disclose information about him to the organisation.  The police told the organisation that EFG had been accused of molesting two 8-year-old girls when he was living at Centrepoint. EFG then complained to the Human Rights Review Tribunal that the information police handed over was unbalanced, failed to record his denial of the claims, and failed to explain what happened at the trial, and the reasons for his discharge.

In 2006 the tribunal ruled largely in EFG’s favour, ordering the police to pay $12,500 damages and restraining the police from disclosing the information in future.

However, before that decision, EFG applied in 2005 to ACC for accreditation to provide pain management and sexual abuse counseling services to ACC clients.  Police once more made the same disclosures, and ACC declined accreditation.

EFG again complained to the tribunal and the case is still ongoing, but the tribunal has ruled that EFG is able to receive more damages from the police if he can prove he suffered economic loss when the police gave information to ACC, but it ruled EFG could not get more damages for humiliation, loss of dignity and hurt feelings because he was already compensated for this at the first case.

 Sunday Star Times 6/5/12

 Facebook privacy fears for job applicants

The Privacy Commissioner is concerned at reports that employers are seeking access to job applicants’ Facebook pages, and has fears that the overseas trend of making it a requirement for employment will catch on in New Zealand.

Commissioner Marie Shroff told MPs on the Justice and Electoral select committee that employers overseas were increasingly demanding access to Facebook pages or even a Facebook password as a condition of proceeding with a job application.

She said such cases were reported in the United States and while there was as yet no evidence of it to that extent in New Zealand, there was anecdotal evidence applicants were being asked to give access to their Facebook page.

Landlord: I want white tenants

A Fiji-Indian landlord has had his rental property listing removed by Trade Me after he described his ideal tenants as “European”.  He said the television show Renters had put him off ethnic tenants.  Trade Me removed the ad after users of the site brought up the breach.

 Under the Human Rights Act, it is illegal to treat someone seeking property differently based on race or sex.  The act also forbids discrimination based on whether someone has children, is married or is employed, yet several listings seek tenants who are working, single or without children.

However, Human Rights Commission spokesperson, Gilbert Wong, said the rules did not apply when looking for flatmates.  “Someone might advertise for a female flatmate. That’s fine because it’s about living with someone, as opposed to offering a product or service generally,” Mr. Wong said.

Trade Me operations manager Mike O’Donnell said it had been two years since the last problem with racial discrimination, a property ad refusing anyone who regularly cooked ethnic food.

New Zealand Herald 16/4/12

Minorities shut out of public service

It has been alleged that Government departments, despite progress in getting women into leadership roles, are failing to promote racial diversity.

Women occupied 40 per cent of senior management positions last year, up from 33 per cent a decade ago, the figures show. However, Maori, who comprise 15 per cent of the population, held only 9.2 per cent of the roles, a decline from 9.7 per cent in 2001.  The proportion of Pacific Islanders in senior roles also fell from 1.9 per cent to 1.6 per cent, and Asian representation was up from 1.7 per cent to 1.9 per cent. The 2006 Census shows Pacific Islanders comprise 7 per cent of the population, and Asians 9 per cent.

Ethnic minorities are also likely to earn less. Pacific Islanders earn on average 19 per cent less than other employees, while Maori and Asian employees lag behind by 11 per cent.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said the situation made him feel dispirited.

Sunday Star Times 20/5/12

Report lifts lid on SIS priorities

The Security Intelligence Service’s (SIS) annual report for the year to last June says that work relating to the Rugby World Cup was given priority “at the expense of business as usual activities”.  The SIS had planned extensively for “an increased level of terrorism awareness” during the tournament.  As well as identifying threats to national security, its duties included security vetting of 11,000 people, including caterers, bus drivers, volunteers and hotel staff, who would be close to the teams or dignitaries.

 The report also included a statement on the interception warrants in use over the year, which had to be signed by Prime Minister John Key. There were 21 domestic interception warrants for an average of 143 days each, covering cellphone taps, listening devices, interception devices and copying documents.

 Otago Daily Times 23/5/12

 Free birth control for beneficiaries

Women on benefits, including teenagers and the daughters of beneficiaries, will be offered free long-term contraception as part of the Government’s welfare reforms.  Critics, however, say the measure borders on state control of women’s reproductive choices.

Sue Bradford of the Auckland Action Against Poverty Group said although it was billed as voluntary, there was a power imbalance between beneficiaries and case managers, who were under new pressure to get people back into work.  “My fear is that they will be pressured and intimidated into going along to the appointment for contraception. There are many in the church and community groups who believe that the state should not play a role in women’s reproductive lives”, she said.

New Zealand Herald 8/5/12


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This entry was posted on June 20, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .
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