Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has confirmed the GCSB executed intercept warrants for the SIS during her Government but spying on New Zealanders "wasn’t their remit".
Clark, speaking in advance of the release of her new book At The UN, about her first four-year term as Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, said she was always "loyally and diligently" served by the intelligence services.
Clark said the Government Communications and Security Bureau acted within the law "as it was understood to be" and this included executing warrants for the Security Intelligence Service.
"I can assure you that I was always advised that what was being signed was legal."
She rejected that the Government Security Communications Bureau routinely spied on New Zealanders as that was "not part of their remit".
Speaking about her time at the UN, Clark said her work on poverty had New Zealand impact.
World economic leaders were concerned with the growth of inequality, she said, because business leaders recognised the value in having working people able to buy goods and let money revolve in a market.
"When you have people in poverty who can’t consume, who can’t invest, that makes a difference, so inequality is a huge issue."
Clark said in terms of poverty, the global definition of extreme poverty was people living on under $1.25 per day, so that did not exist in New Zealand.
Despite poverty in New Zealand being "relative poverty", Clark said "real hardship" did exist in the country.
Her time in the United Nations, and living in New York, had reinforced the idea that New Zealand was "in a race to the top".
"We have to keep lifting our game. We need smarter and better businesses. We need highly motivated people at all levels of skill and ability."
Clark said investment in people was crucial.
"You can’t be complacent, that would be my main warning. It’s not written in tablets of stone that you’re an affluent and developed country. You have to work for it."
Clark is currently back in New Zealand for a speaking tour which began with a TED talk on women in leadership at the Aotea Centre in Auckland last night.
Her book, At The UN, is a collection of speeches Clark has given in her first four-year term at the UN.
The book was designed to let people know what she had been doing and the issues she was engaging with.
Topics include international peace and security, emerging democracies, sustainability, health and development, climate change and energy solutions, disaster risk management, cyberspace and development, and conflict within and between developing nations.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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