Up to 80 protesters marched through Tauranga's streets on Saturday objecting to the Government's GCSB and TICS Bills.

The marchers met at 2pm outside Tauranga Police Station and marched to the Devonport Rd offices of Tauranga National MP and cabinet minister Simon Bridges.

Speeches were then made against the controversial Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bills.

Mr Bridges was not present.


The protest was organised by local members of Stop The GCSB Bill, which has more than 13,000 supporters. The group is concerned by proposed extensions to the powers of the Government's spy agency.

"I was impressed with the turnout," said Tauranga protest organiser Graham Cameron. "Tauranga doesn't do this sort of thing traditionally."

The protests were part of a national day of action with similar events being held in 11 towns and cities around the country.

"I thought it was telling that four of the six speeches made were from people in the IT industry. They were really concerned at the amount of intrusion in the TICS Bill."

Mr Cameron called the bills a scandalous erosion of privacy.

"Personally I was concerned at the invasion of privacy to myself and my family," he said. "They build up a picture from a collection of data across the whole population, which they call megadata, and then they decide from that who is a threat. It turns the presumption of 'innocent until proven guilty' on its head. The State has an obligation to protect us but we have rights as well and this is a step way too far."

The march, led by a man dressed in a SpongeBob SquarePants outfit, was good natured said Mr Cameron. He believed it would prove the first of several similar events to be held nationally.

The only frustration for Mr Cameron was the absence of Mr Bridges.


"Simon has a habit of not being available now when people don't agree with his point of view. But that's part of what being a representative is about as well. You have to listen when people don't agree with you. It's like a pressure valve. People get frustrated when they don't feel they're being listened to."

Attempts by the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday to reach Mr Bridges were unsuccessful.