National question appointment of Nicky Hager to reference group

Section
National,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 17 April 2018, 4:15p.m.
National is questioning the appointment of Nicky Hager to a new reference group set up by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. (Photo/ NZME)

National is questioning the appointment of journalist and peace activist Nicky Hager to a new reference group set up by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn.

Ms Gwyn announced the formation of the group on Monday, saying she "stood in the shoes of the public" and wanted to know the sort of questions the public would ask.

Its chair is Suzanne Snively of Transparency International and Mr Hager is one of 11 members.

The group includes investigative journalist David Fisher and Paul Buchanan, an intelligence consultant.

National's security and intelligence spokesman, Gerry Brownlee, says some members of the group are "far from objective".

"Nicky Hager made his views about the Security Intelligence Service clear in a public talk in 2011 when he said the agencies should have been closed in the 1990s because 'their main long-term anti-communist rationale was gone'," Mr Brownlee said.

"He then questioned the legitimacy of their role in identifying and monitoring terrorist threats."

Mr Brownlee says if the point of this group is to ensure the public's best interests are served, the public should know exactly what's being planned by Cheryl Gwyn.

"She is claiming that she wants to be able to better stand in the shoes of ordinary New Zealanders.

"One look at that group tells you that they are not exactly a broad spectrum of our New Zealand community."

Mr Brownlee wants to know whether Ms Gwyn discussed the appointments with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and whether it will have top secret clearance.

LISTEN ABOVE AS GERRY BROWNLEE SPEAKS WITH LARRY WILLIAMS

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