Spying concerns to boost protest

Protesters outside the Waihopai Spy Base
Protesters outside the Waihopai Spy Base

Green Party list MP Steffan Browning is confident of a higher than usual turnout at the annual Waihopai spy base protest due to dissatisfaction with the Government's surveillance law.

The Anti-Bases Campaign is holding its protest at the Government Communications Security Bureau's electronic communications monitoring station in the Waihopai Valley tomorrow afternoon.

Mr Browning said the Government's GCSB law, which was passed in August, had sparked concern about privacy.

The law allows the GCSB to legally spy on New Zealanders and pass information on to international allies.

New Zealand was among the countries that had fallen victim to the "information grab" that was being executed by the National Security Agency in America.

"We're not advantaged by it," Mr Browning said.

"We have our privacy broken."

Mr Browning said organisers had received more travel assistance requests for this year's protest, which was a good indication that there would be more people attending compared to the usual 50 to 60 people.

"We do expect a few more this year because of the high level of public awareness of the GCSB legislation."

Last year's protest was marred by a clash between activists and police.

A group of 20 protesters climbed fences on to a driveway to the base intending to deliver a letter to the officer in charge, the first time protesters have entered base property since 2008 when three activists deflated one of the base's two domes.

Mr Browning encouraged Marlburians to head along, despite what happened at the last protest.

"It's a peaceful protest that's safe to bring your children along to."

Mr Browning and veteran protester John Minto are speaking at a meeting at the Nativity Centre in Blenheim at 10am.

They will be discussing issues that have surfaced following the implementation of the GCSB law.

The protest outside the Waihopai spy base is at 1.30pm.

The Marlborough Express