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PM Announcement On Unlawful GCSB Activities

PM Announcement On Unlawful GCSB Activities

PM Press Conference 24 Sept, 2012
Scoop Audio+Video+Photos

By Mark P. Williams

The Prime Minister's regular post-cabinet press conference was today dominated by questions on the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

The Prime Minister said he was informed that the GCSB had been found to have acted unlawfully on the 17th September and referred the matter to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security the same day. He went ton to say that he has asked the Inspector-General to investigate the circumstances leading to the unlawful gathering of information and to undertake measures to avoid it happening again.

Mr Key said that the public is entitled to have full confidence that security agencies will operate fully within the letter of the law.

He also stated that the events in question occurred after the current Governor General left his post as Director of GCSB. He added that under the GCSB legislation a warrant was not required for the incident and so he was not asked to sign a warrant and nor was he briefed on the operation in question. He went further in questioning, saying that he had only ever been briefed by GCSB twice during his tenure as a minister: once when he was named as a possible target and once in the case of the action against Mr Kim Dotcom and Mega upload.

He emphasised that he was "very limited" as to what he can say, due to the matter being before the courts.
He then spoke about the economy, emphasising that New Zealand's GDP growth is higher than other developed economies in the northern hemisphere.

He spoke briefly about the arrest this morning of the arrest of a Taleban "weapons dealer" and "senior Taleban leader" by Coalition and Afghan troops. He said that New Zealand SAS were not involved in this specific operation but were involved in intelligence gathering operations which had led to it.

The PM then took extensive questioning on the matter from the press gallery, as well as questions on whether National would still rule out working with Winston Peters, on the SAS involvement in the Afghan arrest, and the future of Solid Energy.


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The PM was asked whether the GCSB case was an isolated incidence of unlawful information gathering. He responded that this was his belief, saying that he had never been briefed on any other instances during the four years he has been the minister responsible.

The PM was asked whether the GCSB had flouted the law or if it was a misunderstanding. He said that the explanation he had was that it was a mistake, an error.

The PM was then asked about numbers and people involved. He responded that it was a small number but that he was not in a position to comment as to who those individuals are or how many.

The PM was asked whether this weakened the case against Kim Dotcom. He responded that he was not in a position to comment.

The PM was asked if he could say what kind of communication had been intercepted. He responded again that he was not in a position to comment.

The PM was asked whether as the minister, he took some responsibility. He responded: "No…simply because I wasn't aware of the fact that the operation was taking place and it didn't require ministerial sign off," adding that the first he had heard of it was Monday. He said that legally he had responsibility "for that bureau" but that there were no actions he had taken "that have resulted in this".

The PM was asked whether the unlawful information gathering was an example of the GCSB being too eager to please the Americans. He responded that he did not believe that to be the case.

The PM was asked whether it was still his position that he was not aware of the operation against Kim Dotcom at all prior to the day before the raids and if so did he think that, as minister of GCSB and SIS, he ought to have been informed. He said that GCSB was not something he was generally involved in since it did not require ministerial sign-off.

The PM was asked if those involved have been stood down. He said that they had not and that it was part of the Inspector-General's inquiry to determine the course of action.

The PM was asked whether this opened New Zealand up to potential legal action from Kim Dotcom. He said that he was not in a position to offer a view on that.

The PM was asked whether there was any indication that the US were involved. He responded that he was not in a position to answer.

The PM was asked whether criminal charges were possible. He responded that he did not know the answer.

The PM was asked his response to accusations of dereliction in his duty for failing to take notice of matters which came directly in his purview. He responded that he had already answered all those questions.

The PM was asked whether he was talking about unauthorised phone tapping. He responded that he could not go into that.

The PM was asked whether he thought this tarnished New Zealand's reputation internationally. He responded that he was disappointed but that he didn't feel this error reflected badly and that he retained confidence in the Bureau.

Other Questions

The PM was asked what role the New Zealand SAS troops played in the apprehension of the arms supplier.

The PM was asked about the restructuring of Solid Energy and whether further job losses were expected.

The PM was then asked whether the situation at Spring Creek would affect the proposed float of Solid Energy and whether the government has considered any intervention.

The PM was asked what the government planned to do to create more jobs in the wake of job losses at both KiwiRail and Solid Energy.



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