I move, That the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill be now read a first time. It is my intention to move that the bill be referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee, with a report-back date of on or before 31 March 2010.
The Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill was introduced by the previous Government to replace the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act 1974. The Government considers that this bill warrants referral to the select committee, where it can be the subject of detailed consideration and public scrutiny. The security industry is being regulated by outdated legislation that is now overdue for replacement.
The security industry is an important one. New Zealanders depend upon its members for their safety and security 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Members of the industry patrol and protect private properties, respond to alarm call-outs, and ensure public safety at major sports events and concerts, and in licensed premises. They also operate within workplaces to help businesses to protect themselves from theft and fraud. The industry employs more people than the New Zealand Police, and is often more visible. Just about everyone in this building will have been greeted by one of its members this morning.
Reform of this legislation is also timely, with major events like the Rugby World Cup coming up in 2011. The Rugby World Cup is an opportunity for New Zealand to showcase all that it has to offer while people participate in the sport that we love. We will be depending heavily on the security industry to ensure that visitors and players alike can fully and enthusiastically participate in this event without fear for their safety and security.
Plenty of things have changed since 1974, when the current legislation was enacted, but the underlying objective of occupational regulation remains the same: protecting the safety of the public and the industry, and ensuring that the public can have confidence in the industry, but without burdening business with unnecessary bureaucracy and cost. Members of the security industry operate in a position of trust. The aim of the bill is to ensure that those working in the private security industry are of good character and properly trained.
The bill will require a wider range of people performing security-related activities to be licensed. In particular, the bill seeks to extend regulation for the first time to personnel who are responsible for protecting people, or are keeping order. This means that bodyguards, private security staff guarding people in custody, crowd controllers, and bouncers will have to be licensed. The benefit of requiring security personnel to be licensed is that they will have to undergo a criminal record check, and can also be required to undertake training to ensure they are properly qualified to carry out security work.
Under the 1974 Act, there was no way of ensuring that licensees and certificated employees had completed suitable training. That was because the Act did not require them to undertake any training. This bill will enable regulations to be made requiring training to be completed by applicants for a licence or certificate of approval. One of the problems that this bill seeks to address is the risk associated with untrained personnel becoming involved in a physical confrontation. Just last year the Wellington regional coroner, Ian Smith, called for compulsory training, following the tragic death of Cedric Joyce in Blenheim in 2005 after he was restrained by bouncers outside a pub. Inevitably, some members of the industry will sometimes find themselves involved in a physical confrontation, and it is in both the public’s and the industry’s best interests that security personnel are properly trained to deal with such situations. The bill sets up a mechanism to achieve that, and, ultimately, we will need to look carefully at who needs to be trained and what type of training is appropriate for different classes of security personnel.
The bill will also set up an enforcement body called the complaints investigation and prosecution unit. It will be funded by the industry, and is intended to ensure compliance with the new legislation. It is intended that the unit would carry out investigations, provide information to the licensing authority, and carry out prosecutions. The bill also updates offences, and increases penalties. For example, unlicensed operators are a concern to the industry. The penalty for operating an unlicensed security industry business will go up from $2,000 to $40,000 for an individual and $60,000 for a company.
I am aware that aspects of this bill will require careful scrutiny by the select committee. The Government has decided to proceed with this bill as it is, rather than to withdraw, review, and redraft it, because it is time to make some real progress on reforming the existing regulatory regime, and to give the public a chance to have a say on how the industry should be regulated. It is quite possible that major changes may be appropriate when detailed submissions have been heard and considered. In that respect, there are aspects of the bill that I encourage the select committee to examine closely. In particular, I expect that the select committee and submitters alike will look very closely at whether the reforms are proportionate, whether they take account of the small and flexible membership of many security businesses, and whether the scope of the regulatory regime is appropriate. The provisions in the bill that specifically govern the activities of private investigators are essentially unchanged from the 1974 Act, and will require extra consideration.
Most members of the industry are consummate professionals in whom New Zealanders can place their trust. However, regulation has the ability to encourage all members of the industry to meet the high standards that are expected today. It is my intention that this bill, when finally enacted, will achieve that in an efficient and cost-effective way. I commend this bill to the House.
I rise to speak in favour of the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill, which is still in the name of my Labour colleague the Hon Clayton Cosgrove. The bill will lead to a future where private investigators and private security personnel can know that they are part of a better-regulated occupation. It will be an occupation for which one must have a licence, which itself will have value. Indeed, not having a licence will be costly. It will be an occupation that may develop a code of ethics, which is something the Associate Minister of Justice did not mention. It will be an occupation whereby licensed persons might have a level of training and whereby the bad guys face a renewed array of increased sanctions and penalties.
This bill is clean-up legislation. It modernises earlier legislation that is now 35 years old, and it will allow occupations that are covered to be more valued by society, because people will know that those occupations are closely monitored. That is something that all good private investigators and all good security guards should welcome.
I have done a bit of private investigation myself over the years, though not ever as a business; only ever in the public interest. Indeed, in recent weeks I have, by coincidence, investigated the Minister. It has been one of the most bizarre, rollicking, often troubling, and sometimes hilarious, experiences. As is often the case in private investigations, a lot of information is drawn from publicly available sources, as it was in this case. One Monday only a couple of months ago, the Dominion Post featured a story about the Minister taking himself off to India in a private capacity—
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I cannot see what this has to do with the bill. I ask you to bring back the speaker to the substance of the bill.
We are in a first reading debate. I have not yet heard what the member is saying, other than a reference to a Monday. If it proceeds past that, then I will intervene.
It certainly will proceed past the Monday, for indeed the story I intend to tell—and to draw parallels with the legislation with—goes on for weeks. I will make it quite a short story, though. On Monday the Dominion Post featured a story about the Minister taking himself off to India in a private capacity—
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He has now proceeded beyond that point. You said you would intervene; I request that you do so.
Yes. I want the member to come back to the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill. I want the member to confine his comments to the substance of the bill.
Certainly, Mr Deputy Speaker.
I turn the attention of the House to clause 96(b), which gives us some insight into the importance of not giving false information “knowing that it is false or being reckless as to whether it is false.”, which is the sort of thing that might arise with the story that has occurred as a result of my own private investigations into the Minister.
The Minister took himself off to India in a private capacity, in part to line up some student aviation pilots from India to train at the Southern Institute of Technology—
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This member is completely ignoring your ruling and basically flying in the face of the instruction you have just given. Are you going to allow it to continue?
I am interested to hear what the member has to say. He is referring to a private investigation. This bill is about private investigation. I will intervene if I find the discussion to be outside the scope of the bill.
Furthermore, the Dominion Post pointed out that the Minister was at that time a substantial shareholder in a company that wanted to start a joint venture with the same Southern Institute of Technology for the purpose of that training. What was not in the public arena that morning but became available to the public that afternoon was that he had not told the Prime Minister about it.
I ask the member to come back to the substance of the bill. The substance of the bill is about private security personnel and private investigators. That is what the substance of the bill is about, and I ask the member to confine his comments to those points. That is my ruling.
Certainly, Mr Deputy Speaker.
I draw the attention of the House to clause 39(1)(a), which states that a person who is licensed under this legislation might be “a private investigator employee:”, and to clause 39(1)(b), which states that such a person might be “a security technician employee:”—and so it goes through to clause 39(1)(g). The point of those provisions is to ensure that a person is one thing and not another. Unfortunately, the Minister, on his trip to India, went as a private individual, but when he got there he said he was a Minister. He went as a private individual—
I am going to rule. I ask the member—this is the third time I have asked—to concentrate on what the bill is about. It is about private investigations and private security matters. I ask the member to confine his comments to them. That is the third time I have asked. The member will please confine his comments to the substance of this bill.
On each occasion I refer back to the substance of the bill and explain, by way of an example involving the Minister, why legislation of this nature is of consequence.
Let me do it again: it is not appropriate, according to clause 77(e), to be involved in certain activities that might be regarded as misconduct. It is not appropriate under this legislation, looking at clause 77(h), to make a “false statement”. My private investigations found that the Minister said he went to India as a private individual, but under close examination it turned out that he had used a ministerial passport. So we know that the Minister was acting contrary to the Cabinet Manual, because he went without declaring he had a personal interest—
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is all very cute and clever, but, once again, your ruling is being completely ignored. Is there no sanction against this sort of behaviour, or does it just go on?
Thank you for the point of order. The points that the member is making are in the public arena. They have been mentioned and debated in this Chamber before. The member, however, must relate them back to the substance of the bill. This bill is the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill. That topic is the nature of the bill. That is what we are debating in the first reading. The member must refer back to that topic. That is the substance of this bill.
I refer to clause 77(h), which states that it is grounds for possible deregistration to give a false statement.
I will give an example of what a false statement is. The Minister, when he arrived at question time—duly “bollocked” by his Prime Minister, who, by the way, said parenthetically that the Minister was “stupid”—said he was going to divest himself of all his Indian-linked business interests immediately. He said that on Monday. On Tuesday he said to a member of the press gallery that he had already divested himself of all of his personal interests that were India-linked, yet a wee piece of private investigation showed this to be a false statement. Indeed, by Thursday not only had he not divested himself of one of the companies—
The member has had 6 minutes of his 10-minute speech. Although he could mention, and he has mentioned, points that are in the public arena, I will say for the last time that he must draw back to the substance of this debate. The subject is quite clear. That is what we need to be debating, and the member has 4 minutes remaining. If he does not confine his comments to the nature of the bill, I will be terminating the member’s speech.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am a bit reluctant to intervene in all of this as I have been in the House for only 5 or 6 minutes. In that time you have been required to rule on the content of a very senior member’s contribution to the House on at least six occasions. The matter, in my view, is no longer one of interpretation of the member’s comments. The matter surely now becomes one of the fact that the member is refusing to listen to, or follow direction from, the Speaker. That is a far more serious issue.
I thank the member for his comments. I have given a very clear indication to the member what my expectations are. If he does not confine his comments to the bill, then I will terminate his speech.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It must be in order for Mr Hodgson to speak about whether his own activities as a private investigator would be caught by this legislation.
I call the Hon Pete Hodgson, if he wishes to continue. He has 4 minutes remaining. I warn the member for the last time to confine his comments to the substance of this bill; otherwise, I will terminate his speech.
Now he’s a member of Parliament and also claiming to be a private investigator.
A member is known by his or her name. To refer to that member by a slang name is not appropriate. I ask the member to apologise.
I happily apologise.
Let me refer the House to clause 106 (1)(l). That is a regulation-making law allowing for a code of ethics to be promulgated under this legislation. That regulation-making power enables a process by which this occupation, or that occupation, can develop a code of ethics that then becomes binding on that particular occupation. It is not an unusual regulation-making clause. In fact, codes of conduct or codes of ethics are not unusual codes themselves. Many professions have them—indeed, Ministers of the Crown have them. The code of ethics by which Ministers of the Crown find themselves bound is not a legal document so much as it is one that is agreed by a process and adopted by convention. It is called the Cabinet Manual.
The Minister who introduced this legislation has broken the Cabinet Manual. That is not my assertion; it is the assertion of his boss—the Prime Minister of the land. It is of interest to me that the Minister would put forward legislation that has a regulation-making power within it to enable a code of conduct to be progressed, but that he is not able to follow the code of conduct in recent months himself—not arguably, but provably. So the Minister should give some explanation as to why he thinks a code of conduct is terribly important for private investigators but is something that he does not feel so obliged to pay attention to when it applies to him.
That is the point of my contribution. We have a series of regulation-making powers and a series of changes around licensing. We have a series of assertions about misconduct, including the importance of false statements, the importance of misleading conduct, and the importance of not giving false information knowing that it is false, or being reckless as to whether it is false. The Minister who delivered this legislation to the House has managed to break about half a dozen clauses in the legislation that he wants us to swallow. Well, I do swallow it. I think it is good legislation; I want to see it passed. I want to see it passed within a period of time that is far shorter than the 11 months that he has set for the select committee to look at it. But I do wonder at the idea of putting up a Minister who has himself broken both the spirit and the word of what is proposed in this legislation in his own life in recent weeks. I wonder whether that reflects the fact that the Minister has been told—no doubt by other people in his caucus—that he has to take his cue from the select committee process, and give it 11 months to consider the bill, because he does not have any more pulling power than that, understandably.
I am delighted to speak on the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill. It has been said that although this bill may have been long overdue, the previous Minister, Clayton Cosgrove, actually missed the mark.
The first major flaw in this bill, as has been said, was the way in which the review of the industry, prior to the drafting of this bill, was conducted. Justice officials were constrained to only the parameters of the existing Act, and were not allowed to go outside those parameters apart from training. So they did not actually look at some of the other areas—one of which was the use of cameras and video equipment by private investigators. This is something that private investigators have been calling for, for a long time, and it is quite significant when one is investigating cases in regard to the accident compensation scheme. They are challenged by lawyers representing a person under question, and they are being asked questions relating, for example, to the colour of the jersey the person was wearing at the time he or she was seen to be perpetrating an act of physical activity while collecting accident compensation for a back injury. Investigators are not allowed to use cameras or video equipment, so they have to take substantive detailed notes. So there were some challenges around why that was not also revisited at the time of the review of this particular Act.
The next area of deficiency on the part of the previous Government was its inability to broaden the review to also cover increased powers of detention. It is to be hoped that the select committee will start to look at some of these additional areas that were not covered by the previous Government. It fell short of doing a proper analysis and review in regard to private investigators, security personnel, and the like.
We have to look at outlining a security officer’s powers of arrest and detention. A private citizen has that capability, so why not strengthen a security officer’s powers of arrest and detention as well? That should have been covered in the review. This debate is about what we allow private investigators and security officers to do, and the amount of responsibility they have in line with the requirement to be licensed. That includes those people under them, and I will talk a bit more about that in future.
Members may well ask why these people need increased powers of detention. The answer to that is pretty simple actually—they are picking up the slack where police are delayed in attending violent incidents. More and more people are now using private security, and that is their right, and, as this bill clearly indicates, the sector will be licensed. The bill quite clearly indicates that the sector will be licensed. Clause 16 sets out that the following people will have to hold a licence: private investigators, security technicians, security consultants, confidential document destruction agents, property guards, personal guards, and crowd controllers. Those are just some of the categories. There will also be certificates for other personnel who might not hold such a responsible role within any of those categories.
If we look at the case of security guards, we have only to look at Manukau City, which at one point employed security guards across the city on a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week basis. That was to strengthen security measures in the area. The council needed front-line police with statutory powers, rather than security guards who did not have those powers. In other Western countries such as Britain and Australia there are legislative provisions to extend powers of arrest and detention to adequately trained security officers. So the select committee might like to look at some of those aspects and see whether we would be justified in broadening out some aspects of this bill.
There are some other issues to do with crimes perpetrated at night versus crimes perpetrated in the day, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. If the offence is perpetrated by day the maximum punishment must not be less than 3 years’ imprisonment if a security officer is to apprehend an offender. I am sure that a lot of these issues will be brought forward at the select committee.
One of the other flaws identified in the legislation was that the new bill makes provision for a 3-month trial period during which an employee need not undergo training. That may need to be looked at again in order to test the efficacy of that requirement. There may be some temptation to avoid expenditure on the provision of professional security officers and to rely on in-house security staff who do not have further additional training.
If we consider why it is necessary to license these people, we should look at the whole matter of police testing of the backgrounds, etc., of people in charge who are in jobs of responsibility. For a start, we can look at the case of a security guard in Dunedin who was jailed for 9 months after pleading guilty to the theft of $19,500 from an employer. It was later found that he had a history of previous offending between 1992 and 1995. Licensing of those personnel is seriously important. I think the matter of licensing is one really good strength of the bill, but it has to ensure that police checks can be done on all the people in those positions of responsibility. If there is an exemption, I ask whether the ability for police checks to be carried out will still be covered. Another security guard was sentenced to 180 hours of community work, 6 months’ supervision, and fined $400 for theft of items from a film set. That guard was also convicted of cultivating cannabis at the same time. Those things might all have been revealed if the proper assessment and analysis of that person’s background was actually undertaken.
The select committee needs to look at this bill in regard to strengthening the requirements in terms of those personnel, which include private investigators, security technicians, crowd controllers, personal guards, and security guards. They are all in charge of very important aspects of the industry, particularly security guards. If we look at what was allowed in terms of employment occurring outside the licensing regime, employers are seriously limited in their ability to check the background of an employee. There have been incidents where some security guards have escaped the police and criminal checks that are so necessary. There were revelations that the Immigration Service hired bank and customs guards without work permits and with questionable security authorisations. They had been working for several weeks in banks and at customs clearing areas for cruise ship passengers on Auckland’s waterfront. Those guards had very questionable backgrounds, so I cannot understate the importance of making sure that the particular flaws I have outlined in this bill are covered. I ask whether the certificates identified in this bill will give the ability for employers to do the full background checks necessary, so that security guards who hold positions of responsibility and have access to personal property and information act responsibly and do not put at risk those assets or the information they have access to.
I think it is important that the code of conduct has been mentioned. It is important that this bill progress through its stages, that real consideration be given to it, and that some of those areas that have been omitted are taken into consideration. I am sure they will be covered by submissions. I know, having spoken to a private investigator recently, that the use of cameras and videos is particularly important, that such use needs to be seriously considered, and that the bill needs to be broadened to allow that to occur. I also know that increased powers of detention should be seriously looked at, having been so successful when adopted overseas. Categories for licensing and for certificates for those who do not yet have a licence but need to carry a certificate must be robust enough that adequate background analysis checks can be done. I am glad to support my most excellent colleague Richard Worth as he commends this bill to the House.
I too fully support the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill. I think it has considerable merit, and I am very pleased to see that it will be going to a select committee. Usually, under this Government, I get up in the House complaining that bills are not going to a select committee at all, or that they are going for a very short time and are being rushed back through the House, as has happened on the Commerce Committee. Of course, that is something our very efficient committee can deliver on in terms of our workload, but I am somewhat confused at why this bill has been given 11 months.
Well, I was confused until I heard Sandra Goudie’s speech, because the Minister, Richard Worth, did not actually indicate in his speech why it was going to the select committee for 11 months, except for a very subtle reference to the fact that it might require a substantial rewrite. I think that is how he put it—a substantial rewrite. He did say that he did not want to withdraw it and start all over again. What a lazy Minister! He is not withdrawing it and starting all over again. He is not doing his job. Instead, he is getting the chair of the select committee to stand up in the House and say what the Government is planning to do. That is very interesting. I think that the public have the right to see the bill the Government will in fact consider, not the one that was already introduced into the House.
I am sorry that I have the member mistaken for the chair of the select committee. She is desperate for me to acknowledge the fact that she is not good enough to be the chair of the Justice and Electoral Committee. That is fine by me.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the context of your earlier discussion, I ask you to bring the member back to the point of the debate.
This is a wide-ranging debate. We are on a first reading speech. There is nothing untoward in what the member has said.
I am referring to the fact that this bill is being sent to a select committee for 11 months. The reason that—
I know; I have already apologised to the member. I have already said that she is not up to being the chair of the Justice and Electoral Committee. We all know that, and I am terribly sorry that I mistook her for somebody of intelligence.
I want people to understand that she has actually told the House what the Government is preparing to do, and I think we have to focus on that, because this is the bill that will go out for public consumption. This is the bill that was subject to the regulatory impact statement. It is not the bill that will be reported back to the House according to both the Minister, who has indicated a substantial rewrite, and the somewhat less elegant member, who probably referred to gutting the bill—because two things are missing from this bill according to Sandra Goudie.
The first thing missing from the bill is the right to film and photograph people without their permission. There are all sorts of rights-to-privacy issues there, but she does not care about that. The other thing that is missing from the bill, according to Sandra Goudie, is the right for security guards and private investigators to arrest and detain. She wants them to have that right. Who does that now? The police do that. That is a police function. So the National Government is not only determining that we will have private prisons but also that we will have private police under the police State that it is sneaking in through the back door.
I say that the Minister has no right to rely on the existing wording of a bill just to get this devious plot brought before a select committee without proper consultation and proper reference to the public about the changes that might be implemented. I do not think it is appropriate that members of the Government know full well what the Government is planning to do. As soon as this bill gets to the select committee the private police option is in there.
Of course he did. Members opposite have been briefed by their Government about what is planned. Government members are using the very good bill introduced by my very good colleague the Hon Clayton Cosgrove. They are putting it forward as a kind of Trojan Horse. But in behind the Trojan Horse is a design for a complete rewrite of the bill after 11 months at a select committee. What we will find is a private police State implemented by the National Government behind the closed doors of a select committee that is not open for public consideration.
I refer the House to the regulatory impact statement in the bill as it stands. Of course, it makes the point that under the current Act people are already required to be licensed if they are running businesses as private investigators, etc. The point that is being made is that the weaknesses of the existing legislation were spelt out in the regulatory impact statement. The policy objectives were all set out in the regulatory impact statement. The options for reform were considered, then the particular requirements set out in this legislation were determined to be the appropriate way forward.
It is true that people in the industry itself want the right to arrest and detain, and they want the right to take photographs or audio recordings without the subject’s written consent. Of course they do! It is in their commercial interests to argue for that. But there are considerations that need to be put before both the House and the people of New Zealand before these things are debated at a select committee. I think that the Government should say exactly what it will do in this legislation. If the Government intends to bring in photographing, audio recording, and video recording provisions, and if it intends to bring in, essentially, a private police force option—which is the arrest and detention provision—then I challenge it to bring the Supplementary Order Paper to Parliament and refer it to the select committee, because to have the select committee make such substantial changes without the input of the New Zealand public would be a travesty.
Even I do not think that the National Government would stoop so low as to bring in a private police State without that sort of consultation. It is absolutely outrageous that the Government has put up this 11-month visit to a select committee in order to be able to do this in the closed environment of a select committee rather than in the open environment of this Parliament where we get a chance to debate the real issues.
It is very important that we do move on this legislation. When we consider the degree of responsibility on the people in this sector and some of the issues that other speakers have already raised in the House, we see that this is actually an incredibly underpaid, overworked, and difficult area of work in which to operate. These people need proper training, proper wages, and proper conditions of employment. They need to have the professionalism that is associated with the changes proposed in this legislation.
We do not want to hold up the legislation. We are amazed, though, to find that there are further plans for this legislation once it hits the select committee. It is unfortunate that the changes are not being dealt with in an upfront way. The Minister himself may be a member of the Justice and Electoral Committee, where his bill will go for consideration. I hope we can get from him an absolute assurance that he will bring any substantial rewrite of the bill to the House by way of a Supplementary Order Paper to be referred to the select committee for the calling of submissions. Otherwise, an enormous travesty of justice could be done.
I do not believe that the Minister, in his heart, would want that to occur, because it is such a substantial change. Once private companies with commercial interests have the right to arrest and detain ordinary New Zealand citizens, we are talking about a private police State. There is no other way to describe it. I am deeply, deeply concerned about the references that have been made in this House to those amendments coming through the select committee process. That was ruled out by the previous Government, and I am happy to stand by that decision. I support the bill as it stands and I commend it to the House.
The Greens will support the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill. It is good that it tightens up controls not only on private investigators but also on a range of other security people—for example, security guards, bouncers, crowd controllers, and bodyguards. The bill also allows for regular registration of such people, proper training, a code of ethics—which has been mentioned previously—a complaints investigation and prosecution unit, and the imposition of higher fines.
However, as clause 101 states, security people do not have any more rights than any other citizen in this country, and under this legislation they are not allowed to imply that they do. I think that is quite correct. Security people are not allowed to wear clothing “likely to cause any member of the public to believe” that they are police. Yet I think we all know that bouncers and security guards do wear uniforms that suggest to ordinary people that they are a bit like the police or have some sort of semi-police power. They often imply by their demeanour that they have the power to restrain, arrest, or remove people physically, and this is where it gets difficult. I agree with the previous speaker, Lianne Dalziel, that there is a concern that if this bill is changed it may be changed, based on the comments made by Sandra Goudie, in the direction of giving these security people aspects of police functions.
The problem that is developing and that is leading us in this direction is that there has been almost a delegation of police functions to people who are not the police. A month ago there was a case at an Auckland City Council meeting where a person who goes along to those meetings quite regularly and who speaks out vigorously, sometimes not always in turn, but who is a committed citizen, was dragged out of the meeting and out of the building by a security guard. I sent a written question to the Minister to find out how many police are present at council meetings. The meeting of the Auckland City Council was a major one, but basically it appeared from the reply that the police had delegated those policing functions to private security guards, unlike here in Parliament where we have real police officers.
We also see this problem at large events where there are crowd controllers. Often at large events not too many police are on hand, so security guards are relied on to keep order, even though they do not have any powers of physical restraint—they rely on people thinking that they do have powers of physical restraint. There is also increasingly the problem of the police deputising civilians to look after prisoners when they are being transferred to a form of secure police custody. I think that all of this is leading in the direction that Sandra Goudie talked about. She called for increased powers of detention for these people, but, actually, they do not have any powers of detention let alone increased powers. So that is a matter of concern.
Yes, I think that is right.
There is another category in this bill that relates to private investigators and how much they intrude on people’s privacy. Sometimes private investigators like to violate the spirit, and sometimes the letter, of the Privacy Act. It is good that there is a carry-over from the old Act into this legislation, in what is now clause 66, whereby private investigators are not allowed to take photographs or make video or audio recordings of people without their written consent. There are big penalties under this new bill for doing so without consent. Evidence from such illegal photos or recordings is not allowed to be used in legal proceedings, and that is all to the good.
The extent of intrusion by private investigators into private lives can be a bit sickening. In October 2006 the Sunday Star-Times reported South Auckland private investigator Lew Proctor saying he had been investigating the private lives of Helen Clark, her husband, and other Labour MPs. The ban on photos is good. However, there is a bit of a contradiction in the law, in that as far as I can tell it is not illegal to put tracking devices on people—on their car, or whatever.
The prohibition on photos and videos is more honoured in the breach than in the observance by some private investigators. For example, in 2006 the Save Happy Valley Coalition, which protested Solid Energy’s proposed West Coast coalmine in order to protect the pristine natural environment, discovered a digital video camera hidden in the forest to spy on its protests. It was probably put there by a private investigation firm called Thompson and Clark Investigations, which we know was hired by the State-owned enterprise Solid Energy to spy on protesters. Thompson and Clark Investigations even put an infiltrator called Ryan into the protest group. That person became disenchanted with doing the spying and blew the whistle to the Sunday Star-Times. The Sunday Star-Times also reported at the time that another infiltrator, who was called Somali, was put into the Wellington Animal Rights Network. According to the Sunday Star-Times it was likely that Somali was also put into the network by Thompson and Clark Investigations.
It seems logical to me that if private investigators are not allowed to take photos of people, then morally it would be utterly wrong to infiltrate a group to pretend to be a protester in order to betray and undermine the collegiality and trust of groups that are acting for a very good cause, for the most part. In fact, Helen Clark said that Thompson and Clark Investigations, in paying Ryan to spy on the Save Happy Valley Coalition on behalf of the State-owned enterprise Solid Energy, was acting in what she called an unacceptable way. The Minister for State Owned Enterprises at the time, Trevor Mallard, said that this had to stop and that State-owned enterprises were required to act in a socially responsible manner.
Private investigators often think it is OK to cross the line between collecting information on people in the public space, which is OK, and acting in a covert manner, such as infiltrating organisations to gain more of what Trevor Morley, the President of the New Zealand Institute of Private Investigators, calls “competitor intelligence”. Hopefully, a code of conduct will finally be established, as provided by regulation under clause 106, to prevent unethical behaviour by private investigators. The Greens will be watching this process closely, and we are very happy to work with the Government on refining this code. One of the most important things will be to stop private investigators infiltrating protest groups, or private companies arranging for the infiltration of competing companies. Hopefully, the ethical provisions of the new code of conduct will prevent all this. We must hold the line, because particularly with the advances in surveillance technology, whereby one can spy on people from a long distance and use electronic devices to hear what they say, and with the development of computer hacking and all sorts of techniques in that regard, we must have strong regulation, a strong code of ethics, to govern the private investigation industry.
It is good that a long period is provided for this bill to be considered, although there is a bit of a contrast between the 11 months projected for this bill and the less than 1 month projected for a bill discussed earlier this afternoon—the bill implementing the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area. I think there should perhaps be a longer period for the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill to be considered than is the case for that bill. The Green Party is supportive of this bill, but we will be pushing for a strong code of conduct. Thank you.
I rise on behalf of the ACT Party to support the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill. Before I go on to the substance of my contribution, I am somewhat bemused and amused by the Hon Lianne Dalziel’s comments on police States and private police. I will venture to give her a slight history lesson about the establishment of the police by Sir Robert Peel in England in the 19th century. It was made very plain that the police were intended—
Yes, just watch this space. Sir Robert Peel established the police and made it very plain that they had no greater rights than the ordinary citizen; they were simply there to act as a voluntary organisation charged with assisting to maintain the rights of the ordinary citizen. We inherited that tradition of fearless policing on behalf of the ordinary citizen in this country.
But what happened when Labour was in Government? Members will recall an incident whereby one Tim Selwyn was charged with, convicted of, and served time for sedition for putting an axe through the window of the previous member for Mt Albert. Can anyone believe that if Mr Selwyn had put an axe through the window of Mr Locke’s office or Mr Hide’s office, or Mr Power’s office for that matter, he would have been charged with sedition? I do not think so. What happened there? What happened when the police looked at the case about a certain painting? My understanding is that it went not only to the Wellington police, who said there was a prima facie case of fraud—
I ask the member to come back to the substance of the bill that we are debating and to confine his comments to it.
I was taught at law school that the starting point with any bill is to look first at the ill that is being caused. What is the mischief that is to be solved? I will give the House an excellent example of the mischief that this bill is designed to solve. Mr Cosgrove must take credit for it, frankly. It attempts to prevent, and in fact will prevent, the activities of outfits like Rent-a-Bro, which is a branch of the Mongrel Mob. They act as “security guards”. They employed one Mark Stephens, once known as the “Parnell Panther”. He is a very unpleasant individual whom I have personally had the misfortune of meeting.
Yes, I have. He is an extremely unpleasant and intimidating individual. He was employed by Rent-a-Bro to collect debts. Because the industry is unregulated, he was able to go around to some Chinese people’s places to collect a debt. Mr Mark Stephens, for those members who are unaware, and who are familiar with imperial measurements, is about 6 feet 4 inches in height and about half that in width. He turned up at a couple of Chinese people’s places, wearing his Mongrel Mob patch, and announced that he was a member of the Mongrel Mob and he was there to collect a debt.
Mr Mark Stephens, the “Parnell Panther”, is a member of the Notorious chapter of the Mongrel Mob. The Notorious chapter of the Mongrel Mob has been extolled by Mr Cosgrove’s friend Mr Kim Workman as a great example of the kind of gang that moves beyond crime and into legitimate business. Rent-a-Bro was supposedly that kind of legitimate business. But Mr Stephens turned up and because he is a bit thick he said he was actually with the Mongrel Mob, and not with Rent-a-Bro. The victim of his intimidation was terrified, and not surprisingly. He was a Chinese person and very small. Mr Stephens stayed for an hour. This person then complained to the police. I will leave the House to judge the good sense of the judge who, when Stephens came before him, said he accepted that Stephens had gone there in good faith. He had gone there in good faith, but it was his referring to the Mongrel Mob that was the problem. The judge then went on to say, correctly and clearly, that the only reason Stephens referred to the Mongrel Mob would have been to intimidate or to overcome resistance to paying. So that is the kind of evil this bill is designed to cure, and I commend the Labour members opposite for starting the process to cure that kind of thing.
The Minister has mentioned already the death of Cedric Joyce in 2006, which was another example of the kind of security that older members of the House will remember—and they will remember the Hells Angels providing it, at Altamont, back in the 1960s. This bill is intended to take us away from all that and, as other members have said, to establish a basic level of skill and understanding, to ensure that training and governance are effectively given, and to develop training standards and requirements in the industry that will remove reliance on people like Mr Mark Stephens of the Notorious chapter of the Mongrel Mob—the reformed gang member Mr Workman is so proud of. Those people will be taken out of it; they will not be able to get jobs any more, and that has to be good.
The bill will keep criminals such as Mr Stephens out of the industry, remove their sense of authority to act in the way they do, and stop them from intimidating people—because that is what they are about, of course. I notice that the members opposite have gone a bit quiet. That is what those people do. They are not successfully—
You tried that on the Back Benches TV show—intimidating people, didn’t you?
Oh, yes, he has started up again. They are not successfully rehabilitating criminals, at all; once a gang member, always a gang member, and Mr Stephens is a great example of it. Again, this is an example—a rare example—of the ACT Party supporting public expenditure. We recognise that fees created by, or to be charged pursuant to, this legislation are necessary, in order for the proposed authority to act in the best interests of the public, and to legitimise an industry that, as the Minister said when he introduced the bill, has operated under legislation that is now some 35 years old.
We have some small reservations that the planned authority does not become overly bureaucratic, and does not stifle an industry from developing and operating efficiently, but we have no hesitation in supporting this bill to go to a select committee. Like National, we look forward to refining the bill and hearing submissions. I am sure they will be wide ranging. Perhaps even the Notorious chapter of the Mongrel Mob will make submissions on why it should be allowed to register Rent-a-bro under the new legislation. The ACT Party will support this bill.
Tēnā koe, Mr Deputy Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa. I hope I take a different line from Mr Garrett’s revelations in respect of gang leaders as we talk about this particular bill, in the hope, of course, that we start talking about positive ways to address these sorts of issues. The constant haranguing of those people will probably not do us too much favour in trying to rehabilitate some of the issues they currently face. Be that as it may, as we turn to this bill I say that when many Māori consider the notion of “PIs”—private investigators—some of the younger generation, like me, think about Magnum, P.I., that programme that used to be on TV. You might remember him, Mr Deputy Speaker. He lived in Hawaii, a very “unlucky person”—
—who worked when he wanted to, just like Mr Hughes. He had access to beautiful women—that is questionable—an overflowing beer cabinet, which is also questionable, and he had a Ferrari. I am not too sure about that one for Mr Hughes.
That is, I suppose, the notion that some of us have about private investigators, whereas the relationship of Māori to security guards is well-established on the other side of things. In fact, I understand that a well-known artist—namely, Michael Parekōwhai—has even created some sort of art feature that has 15 brown fibreglass figures posing as security guards somewhere in Aotearoa. I am led to believe that the theme throughout the work is of a stereotypical Māori male, standing guard outside bars, clubs, and social events. It is a figure we can all probably quickly identify; it is a study in being staunch.
This bill puts together two categories in dealing with the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act of 1974. It is putting in place measures to ensure that both private investigators and security guards are appropriately qualified to undertake their work, and that their conduct is consistent with the public interest. The important distinguishing point about this bill, however, is that it is not just restricted to private investigators and security guards. In reviewing the licensing requirements for the security industry, the bill now brings within its fold a much wider group: private investigators, security technicians—that is, those who fix burglar alarms or security cameras—security consultants, the agents who offer confidential document destruction, property guards, personal guards, and crowd controllers, whom we might more commonly call bouncers.
Although the scope of people targeted has broadened, there is more flexibility about the requirement for licensing renewal and certification. Indeed, it is a huge—a massive—jump from the expectation of being subject to an annual review to now having that review every 5 years.
The other major aspect of the bill, outside the licensing changes, relates to the policy goal that the conduct of those in the security sector is consistent with the public interest. For a classic example of this, we need think only of the events that shook Aotearoa in October 2007. We might remember that Peter Williams QC was one of the first off the blocks to call for private investigators to look into the facts of the police raids that took place in Ruātoki that year, under the auspices of the Terrorism Suppression Act. In speaking out, Mr Williams challenged the State. He issued a statement well-known in Māori circles: waiho mā te ture anō te ture e patu—let it be for the law to beat itself up. His urgent recommendation was that all New Zealanders should be concerned at the breach of rights that unfolded in the nation of Tūhoe. He suggested that there should be some private investigators to get all sorts of statements, and to bring action to the High Court for exemplary damages and compensation for all of those who were badly treated. So we saw with the events of October 2007, perhaps, a new environment where private investigators might well be considered a useful investment for Māori to call on for support and expert advice.
The Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill makes an important start, as I say, in regulating the private security sector. It brings into being a conversation about professionalism, integrity, and respect—values that are at the very essence of any aspect of the security industry. The Māori Party believes, however, that further amendments are needed to ensure appropriate standards of conduct are set and maintained. As a core requisite of standards of conduct, we recommend that anti-racism training for private security personnel needs to be included in the code of conduct when it is developed and implemented. This bill introduces more objective criteria in determining who will get licensed. The licensing authority will retain discretion to assess suitability of applicants, but the prevailing emphasis is on consistent values and standards by which we come to regard this profession.
Within these criteria, we hope that cultural competency will be elevated to be a significant component of the registration of competent and licensed private investigators and security guards. We will be looking forward to more detail coming out at the select committee phase around the licensing process—namely, who gets approved. Although certain categories of people under both the current Act and the provisions of the bill are disqualified from applying, there needs to be a more robust mechanism than conviction of certain offences to determine whether someone is suitable to be a licence holder or to be certified.
We will be strongly recommending that those who have had experience in this sector, those who are currently practising within it, those who have left the industry, or those who have been at the receiving end of the management and operations of personnel should be involved. For example, if there are people who have had unsatisfactory experiences with security guards, or perhaps bear resentment towards the activities of a private investigator, it is vital that we hear their views alongside the views of those who may be more positively inclined. A key principle for the Māori Party in coming to this bill is that we want to be absolutely certain that the power of security staff is appropriately balanced to ensure the rights and safety of the public. Clarity around these standards is critical to ensure the credibility of the security industry while also adhering to due protection of the public.
At the heart of the issue is the role of power and control. Although security workers and other personnel across the sector do not have the same power as a police officer to remove a person’s liberty, they do hold aspects of power in their roles, and need to be duly responsible with that power. Feedback that we have picked up from the sector shows a desire to see a code of conduct actually developed and used to establish and maintain industry standards. This has never been done as yet, even though I am led to believe there is provision to do so in the 1974 Act. A code of conduct would provide a mechanism by which to monitor and review the standards of practice through adherence to a code of conduct of licence and certificate holders. This will be especially important given that the licensing period is now 5 years, and also to be able to better regulate the conduct of those who are already licence and certificate holders.
There are many issues and experiences that come with this bill that will benefit from more intense scrutiny at the select committee. In light of the need for more information and, indeed, more analysis, the Māori Party is happy to support this bill at its first reading. Kia ora tātou.
It is very good to rise and speak in favour of the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill. I start by talking about private investigators; I accept from the outset that this detailed, comprehensive bill is not only about them. Indeed, it regulates many others, including security technicians, security consultants, and the like. A private investigator’s role is a tough one. They are often involved in fairly tedious watching work—for instance, watching people potentially breaking the rules of Work and Income, the accident compensation scheme, or the like. However, that is sprinkled with moments of excitement and, some would say, danger.
As a young commercial litigation lawyer, it was my pleasure to, on occasion, instruct private investigators to find individuals who had gone missing, or to do work in relation to crash scenes and piece together what had happened. Like the Hon Pete Hodgson, who said that he had been an amateur super-sleuth in the past, I remember doing the work myself many a time when a case would not justify the hiring of a private investigator: looking to find an individual and then dropping documents on him or her in various places. There is a point to these stories, by the way: it is to prove the importance of regulation in this area.
I also recall instructing private investigators in the leafy suburbs of the Hon Rodney Hide’s electorate to find an individual and serve him with documents. The difficulties with that task were immense given the individual’s electronic gates. What investigators would do in this situation, and what this particular individual did, was to stick a rubbish bin in front of the gates so that the individual had to get out, and therefore could be served. In fact, the individual drove at the private investigator, and I have to say that it did not have a particularly good ending. As I say, it can be a tough and quite responsible job, and it calls for regulation.
Well, it is funny you should say—I am sorry, Mr Deputy Speaker; I did not mean to bring you into the debate.
I recall older colleagues providing many a war story in relation to private investigators working in the times before modern divorce, when adultery had to be proven. This required quite a bit of work by private investigators—indeed, it was a staple of their work. Evidence needed to be collected and this would involve the private investigator sitting outside Cobb and Co. or the like, watching what happened, going back to the address and sitting outside, watching the couple go inside, watching the lights go on, watching the couple go round to the bedroom with—again—the lights going on, and then often having to go outside under the window. I am told that there would be evidence in court of what the private investigator heard in listening to the said adulterous act. So, as I say—and I make a serious point—regulation of this often tedious but sometimes dangerous and exciting job is required.
This bill does more than just regulate private investigators; it regulates a whole host of individuals employed in the security industry. It is an important bill—and I accept that it was originally brought in by Labour and the Hon Clayton Cosgrove—because we have not seen a revisiting of the 1974 Private Investigators and Security Guards Act since its enactment. It is not before time that we come back to this legislation. National is in favour of regulation where it is appropriate: not regulation for regulation’s sake, but regulation that has a real purpose.
This bill does four broad things. Firstly, it weeds out the inappropriate regulation from the industry. As I say, when these people are doing sensitive, often delicate, and sometimes dangerous work regulation is very important, and a comprehensive licensing regime is brought in through this bill. Secondly, it trains the industry adequately. Again, when we are dealing with often sensitive matters, training in this area is particularly important. Thirdly, it incorporates a code of ethics—that is important. Finally, it provides for offences and penalties and lifts those penalties substantially to provide a deterrent effect. We can understand why that is important given that this area has not been revisited since 1974—quite some time ago, and, indeed, before those divorce laws that I talked about earlier were changed. The licensing is important. Members will be glad to know that I am not going to take the House through any of the details at this point, but I will say that the legislation extends the old 1974 Act in quite comprehensive ways. That is all to the good.
Next we move to training. I note that this was an area where there simply was no provision under the old 1974 Act. I am sure the House will agree that this was a major shortcoming in the legislation. When we think about the various players in the industry who are regulated here, including bouncers—called something like “crowd controllers” in this bill—we find that they are often in high conflict and, as I say, sometimes dangerous situations where they encounter either potential or real violence that can be literally life-threatening. I argue that it is beyond doubt that they need training to de-escalate and turn things around, and that is what this bill provides for. As I say, the bill provides for a code of ethics. That is important so that private investigators do not do things that they should not do. I heard the Hon Lianne Dalziel’s speech and her fears that this bill might somehow bring in private policing through the back door. That is not right, at all. When one looks at this code of ethics, one sees that it is very important that private investigators appreciate that they are not private policemen; they do not have the powers that police officers have. They do not have the court’s permission for surveillance or for searching premises. The National Party takes privacy rights and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act very seriously, indeed. That is why one of the four primary purposes of the bill—that is, to bring in a code of ethics—is particularly important. I mentioned the offences and the penalties, and said there was a need for modernisation of the 1974 legislation and for higher, more deterrent-based penalties.
In summary, this is a good bill. It is a worthy bill. Private investigators and others who will be regulated by this bill are often involved in tedious—some would say boring—jobs, but ones that are sprinkled with danger and with aspects that need regulation, licensing, training, and the like. So I commend this bill to the House.
As prior speakers on behalf of the Labour Party have already indicated, the Labour Party is supporting the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill in its current form. Coming towards the end of the first reading debate on this bill, it is opportune that we have the chance to respond to some of the misguided comments that have been made, particularly by Mr Garrett on behalf of the ACT Party.
Mr Garrett stood up and gave a 10-minute speech saying that this bill was being supported by the ACT Party because the bill addressed the problem of the “Parnell Panther”, acting through Rent-a-Bro as a debt collector, standing over people to collect debts. He said it was absolutely abhorrent for Rent-a-Bro, or the “Parnell Panther” through that organisation, to be standing over people to collect debts. I agree that that ought not to happen; it is probably regulated against already by the criminal code. But I tell Mr Garrett that this bill does not affect debt collection. This bill does not do anything to control debt collection. It controls the acts of private investigation, crowd control, and some other things that are specified in the Private Investigators and Security Guards Act. But this bill does nothing to control debt collection. So those were hollow words from Mr Garrett, and I am somewhat disappointed that he did not read the bill before he made those comments. He is a lawyer, and I would have thought that his failure to read the bill was pretty readily apparent from the fact that there is no reference to debt collection in the explanatory note of the bill or in the legislation. It is pretty clear that he got that wrong.
I also respond to the member for Tauranga’s response to Lianne Dalziel’s concerns about increased powers for security personnel and about the privatisation of some of those functions, which could occur if powers that are currently held only by the police are extended to security personnel. That member may not have been in the House when his colleague Sandra Goudie gave her contribution, which caused Lianne Dalziel’s concern. I share Lianne Dalziel’s concern, as a consequence of what Sandra Goudie said to the House. She said the reason it is proposed that there will be a very long period for the select committee to consider the bill is so that the committee can consider whether there should be some quite major extensions to the powers of security guards and private investigators, including consideration of whether they need to be given powers to take photographs and to conduct other surveillance techniques that are currently illegal for them, and powers of arrest.
Such extensions of power would be very, very serious intrusions into civil liberties that I hold dear and that Lianne Dalziel holds dear. I would be most upset if a bill that presumably has a New Zealand Bill of Rights Act vetting from the Attorney-General in its current form was to have those powers put in it at the select committee—powers that are not in the bill that is going out to people for them to look at and submit upon at the select committee. If there was to be a dramatic change to the powers of security guards and private investigators, then it would be quite inappropriate for that to be done through this bill unless, as Lianne Dalziel said, a Supplementary Order Paper was presented through this Parliament to the select committee, and there could then be separate submissions made upon it. I would be very sure that if that were the case—if there were to be major extensions to the powers conferred upon private investigators—we in the Labour Party would then oppose that. It is not justified; there is no need for it.
There are plenty of instances in recent years to show why we should be concerned about granting those sorts of powers to private investigators, which would reduce the civil liberties that we all enjoy in New Zealand. We ought to protect ourselves, and protect ourselves assiduously, against any unwise and unnecessary watering down of civil liberties. I think one of the examples that we heard from the Māori Party actually went in exactly the opposite way to that which the Māori Party intended. The Māori Party complained that the State inappropriately used powers under the prevention of terrorism legislation in the Ureweras in respect of Tūhoe. [Interruption] The member may well be right that the State did use powers wrongly in that area if it had intended to use them under the prevention of terrorism legislation. But in the end, of course, the Crown did not bring charges under the prevention of terrorism legislation. How can that be seen as a justification for giving more powers to private investigators? I cannot follow the logic there. If we complain that the State already has too many powers, or might use the powers that it has too much, then how do we cure that problem by giving more powers of intervention, further undermining civil liberties, to someone else? I do not follow the logic of that, I am afraid.
In terms of recent examples of situations where we can see civil liberties may have been inappropriately intruded upon—the freedom of individuals to go about their lives free of inappropriate intrusion by private investigators—we need to think no further back than only about 3 years ago. About 3 years ago I was a Minister in the previous Government. The Exclusive Brethren, who we know had some pretty shonky dealings at the election of 2005, did not just fund about $1 million of expenditure, or up to $1 million of expenditure, on the part of the National Party. I think that is to the shame of the National Party, but that is not the point that I am focusing on now. The point is that after the election, the Exclusive Brethren were funding private investigators. What were they funding those private investigators to do? They were funding private investigators to pursue their politically motivated witch-hunt, and those private investigators were investigating members of Parliament, and, effectively, harassing them. Whom were they investigating? They were investigating the Prime Minister, Peter Davis, Dr Michael Cullen, me, and David Benson-Pope. I remember these issues well, because they affected me and my family.
I will not agree that there is any need to give the right to private investigators to do those sorts of things any more than they can currently do them in law now. There is no need for them to have increased powers of surveillance. There is no need for them to have powers of arrest. There is no need to give them any more rights to intrude upon my privacy or the privacy of members opposite. [Interruption] I know this bill was drafted by the Labour Party, and it does not extend the powers of private investigators. We have a member of the National Party, Amy Adams, who says the bill does not do that. The member needs to talk to her colleague Sandra Goudie. [Interruption] Well, thank you. I am glad that someone has spoken to the member’s colleague Sandra Goudie.