8 Mar 2019

National Party targets justice committee refusal to hear Anne-Marie Brady

8:29 am on 8 March 2019

New Zealand expert in Chinese politics Anne-Marie Brady will not be speaking at Parliament about foreign interference in elections, after her request to submit was blocked by MPs.

No caption

Photo: Wilson Centre

That is despite a specific request from Justice Minister Andrew Little to the justice committee to examine foreign interference as part of its review of the 2017 election.

National Party spokesperson for electoral reform Nick Smith said Professor Anne-Marie Brady was New Zealand's most published academic on the issue of risks of overseas interference in elections. He said the committee must reconsider.

"Yes her views are controversial, yes there's been this question as to whether her office has been broken into and questions over whether her vehicle may have been inappropriately tampered with.

"We should put that to one side and simply say well, Parliament should get to hear all of the points of views and all of the evidence, if we are going to get the very best law and result from this inquiry."

He said it was deeply concerning Labour MPs had voted against her submitting.

However, Justice Select Committee chair Raymond Huo said they declined Ms Brady's request because closing date for public submissions was 23 September 2018, and her request had come five months late.

Raymond Huo

Raymond Huo Photo: RNZ

Dr Smith said that doesn't fly, because circumstances - and the premise of the inquiry - have changed.

He said it ignores the letter from Mr Little that came in October, after submissions had closed, specifically inviting the committee to look into the issue of foreign interference.

"My view is that Labour has badly misjudged this," Dr Smith said.

The committee will be hearing from the government's spying agencies on 3 April, who were invited to submit after the committee received the Minister's letter.

"Let's be honest, those agencies will only be saying things that have the tick-off and approval of Beehive Ministers," Dr Smith said.

He said hearing only those views and refusing to hear others constrained the ability of the committee and Parliament to do its job.

Mr Huo said as committee chair he was completely satisfied the correct procedure had been followed and the agencies would keep the committee well informed about any issues of foreign interference that may arise.

Ms Brady declined to comment.

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