By Charles Finny
On 3 September 1939 a Labour Government in New Zealand declared war on Germany in support of the UK and others following Adolph Hitler’s decision to invade Poland. Until the war ended in 1945 New Zealand made enormous sacrifices and as we all know, and as happened in World War I a disproportionately large number of New Zealanders were killed and wounded.
From 1941, the war became as much a war in the Pacific as a war in Europe. One of the developments of this war was signals intelligence and cryptography. New Zealand and New Zealanders played as big a role in these areas as we did in the wider conflict. Because of this, and because of the staunchness of our commitment we found ourselves part of what is now known as the “five eyes agreement”.
As technology has developed we have received the same signals intelligence as the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. And our own communications have been protected by the highest grade encryption technologies developed in association with these other four countries.
For a pipsqueak little country of only a few million people located in a distant corner of the globe we have been in an incredibly privileged position.
The Labour Government that saw us through World War II, and thosefrom 1957-60, 1972-75, 1984-90 and 1999-2008 have not sought to change our position in “five eyes” because the leaders and senior Ministers of those Governments have realized how lucky we are to be part of this agreement and knew how fundamental the intelligence derived from it was to the security of New Zealand.
Ultimately the most important function of government is to protect the people. “Five eyes” plays a very important role in our ongoing security. There was a wobble under Lange which saw New Zealand denied access to some processed intelligence from the US, but access to the raw communications intercepted by the four allies continued throughout. Under Helen Clark the full flow of processed intelligence resumed.
I cannot believe what I have just heard David Cunliffe saying about GCSB today. What we now call GCSB is as much a creation of Labour as it is the National Party. It is crucial to our continuing security. It protects us against the hostile actions of foreign governments, terrorist organizations, and international criminals. Ofcourse the same foreign governments, terrorist organizations and criminals hate the ‘’fives eyes agreement” and want it dismantled because it stands in their way. I can’t believe that a Labour Leader would align himself with these forces and put this agreement and our position in it so much at risk. If his senior colleagues do not call Cunliffe on this, shame on them too. Our national security is too important to be put at risk by short term political opportunism.