The Government Communications Security Bureau has linked a campaign against New Zealand signing up to a UN Treaty to neo-Nazi groups based in Austria.
The campaign against signing the Treaty saw National Leader, Simon Bridges, promise that National would withdraw New Zealand from it the UN Compact on Migration if it became the Government.
Green MP Golriz Ghahraman revealed the GCSB’s discovery yesterday saying that a Parliamentary Committee had been briefed on the finding.
Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, appearing before the Committee, confirmed her claim.
Peters did not name the group, but the Austrian neo-Nazi, Martin Sellner, the leader of the Identitäre Bewegung Österreichs (IBÖ, Identitarian Movement of Austria) played a leading role in the campaign against the Compact there.
A report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), which monitors extremism online found that for months, the most shared link on German social media channels was to a petition against the UN pact organized by Sellner.
Sellner has told the Austrian public broadcaster ORF that there was an exchange of several messages between himself and the accused Christchurch gunman, Brenton Tarrant.
It is not known whether Tarrant was involved in the New Zealand campaign against the pact which appears to have been headlined by an obscure right-wing extremist groups called Right Minds NZ led by Dieuwe de Boer.
Ghahraman asked Peters to confirm the Austrian connection.
“I know that in an open hearing of the GCSB oversight committee they informed us that the misinformation campaign about the binding nature and the way that the Compact was supposedly designed to interfere with immigration policy domestically, was started by neo-Nazi groups in Europe,” she said.
“That’s exactly what happened,” said Peters.
“We were never going to stand aside while a bunch of Nazis of a very, very minuscule number in Austria could mount a campaign of disinformation like that and get away with it.
“And I’m seriously proud of the fact that y despite the huge pressure, and I personally have never seen a campaign like that, and I’ve had a few crap campaigns against me in the past, but this was the most vicious and I decided we would stick to our guns and out them.
“It didn’t deter us.”
Peters said that to answer objections raised by National about the Compact, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade had obtained legal opinions not only from New Zealand but also Britain.
National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Todd McClay told the Committee that National had been concerned about the impact the Compact would have on New Zealand’s ability to undertake its own immigration settings.
He said it was only after he raised that question that Peters obtained the legal opinion.
The exchange was the only even slightly jarring note in a marathon two-hour Committee hearing on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Estimates during which both Peters and McClay had frequently talked of their belief in a bi-partisan foreign policy.
“There will be many things going on at the UN at the moment that New Zealand may or may not be involved in,” said McClay.
“We probably wouldn’t know and then to find out that somebody is off to sign up to something is actually not good enough if we want to build true bipartisanship in foreign affairs.”
Then came a sight not often seen in the New Zealand Parliament; Winston Peters making a positive and generous offer to the National Party.
“Well then let’s agree on this though ,whilst we wouldn’t want to have a Parliamentary debate on everything (in foreign affairs) otherwise you’d never have any other time for Parliament, perhaps we could set aside seven occasions (and they could be taken from a drawer) where Parliament would discuss things.
“That would make sense.
It would be far more democratic.”
McClay replied: “If you did that that you’d have our support.”