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PM on GCSB Legislation Changes


PM on GCSB Legislation Changes


Post-Cabinet Press Conference - 15 April 2013

Scoop Audio+Video+Photos

The Scoop Team

In the post-cabinet press conference at the Beehive on Monday, April 15, Prime Minister announced proposed legislative changes to remedy “inadequacies” in the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)Act.

Mr Key said the GCSB would retain its three main functions: information assurance and cyber security; foreign intelligence; and providing cooperation assistance to other agencies.

The Act would be amended to “make it clear the GCSB can undertake activities on behalf of other named agencies where those agencies can lawfully undertake those activities”.

This included allowing NZ police and SIS to investigate activities which involved New Zealanders.

Mr Key said other changes included a more proactive, and better resourced Inspector Generals office and a widening of the pool of candidates who could perform that role.

Mr Key said there would be an inquiry in to the leak of Rebecca Kitteridge’s GCSB review, be conducted by former senior public servant David Henry. Findings were expected in May 2013.

Mr Key said the GCSB played a vital role in protecting the security and safety of New Zealanders.

“There are people in our country with links to off-shore terrorists groups... those links range from helping to fund terrorist groups through to an attraction their extremist activities.”



Threats to New Zealand included cyber-attacks on the intellectual property of government and private organisations, and “covert attempts to acquire New Zealand's science and technology for programmes related to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems”.

Foreign countries conducted interference and espionage and attempted to recruit individuals with access to New Zealand's political or military secrets, he said.

Law abiding New Zealanders should not feel threatened by the GCSB’s activities, he said.

The Kitteridge report had highlighted difficulties in interpreting the GCSB act and because of this, the GCSB had ceased to provide support for agencies such as the SIS and police.

He said the legislative proposals would strike a balance between the privacy of individuals and necessary intelligence activities.

The heart of the issue with the GCSB Act were sections which related to the prohibition of the inception of communications of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, and rules around the cooperation of agencies who had requested GCSB support.

“Simply put. Since 2003 the GCSB’s view has been that when it has been assisting another agencies like the NZSIS it operated under the rules of the agency making the request for assistance and under the rules of the requesting agency’s warrant.”

The proposed changes to the act were to allow the GCSB to provide assistance to other agencies subject to “conditions and oversight”, he said.

A long running review of the NZSIS Act currently underway would be halted to focus on GCSB.

The Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams would release an update to interception and network security legislation in the area of telecommunications

Mr Key said from today until May 3, New Zealanders can buy shares in Mighty River Power. He said the minimum expenditure on shares would be $1000, with all New Zealanders guaranteed the first $2000 of shares they applied for.

Building and Construction minister Maurice Williamson announced earlier today that progress had been made in responding to the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission’s final report. The government had accepted in full or in principle 170 of the 189 recommendations in the final report.

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Questions to the Prime Minister


The PM was asked if the GCSB would be allowed to continue spying on New Zealanders while the legislation was passed.

He relied that the agency support had ceased until the legislation passed.
The Pm was asked if he had had any discussions with the Solicitor or Attorney General about the activities of the GCSB.

He replied he had spoken to them in 2013.

The PM was asked if the legislation would pass under urgency.

He said it would go to committee, and hoped to see it pass by the later part of this year.

The PM was asked whether national security would be affected by the present hiatus in GCSB's activities. He responded that he would describe the situation as GCSB not being in a position to provide support to the legal duties of other security entities during the period, but emphasised that those other entities would be able to continue with their regular 'intelligence gathering, but not with the assistance of GCSB'.
The PM was then asked whether SIS would be carrying out that work instead. He responded that where they legally had the authority to do so, such as under warrant or where it was not required, the NZSIS would be doing so.

The PM was then asked if the SIS were requesting any additional resources in the interim if they were unable to call upon the GCSB. He responded that they had not made any requests for additional resources to him as Minister.

The PM was then asked if the legislation was going to be retrospective. He responded that he did not think so, adding that the Kitteridge report was essentially saying that there are difficulties in interpretation and the government needs to clarify the law.

The PM was then asked why it was necessary to investigate the leak. He responded that leaks 'undermine the integrity of the entire public service'.
It was put to the PM that it might have been one of his own ministers. He indicated that he thought this was unlikely.

The PM was asked for clarity about the issue of cyber security, particularly whether he thought it was the case that New Zealand companies had lost R & D which had may have gone towards the production of Weapons of Mass Destruction. While saying that he would not go into exact details he did respond that there had been "cyber-intrusions" in New Zealand which the government believed to have been undertaken "to retrieve information that could be used in the creation of Weapons of Mass Destruction". He was pressed further to elaborate on the nature or relative success of the 'cyber-intrusions' but refused to comment.

It was put to the PM that asserting this was "like dangling a lolly" before the media, and was asked whether he thought it was right to be seen to play games with the press in this way. He responded that because there were people who questioned the rationale for having a GCSB and an SIS it was important to be able to give New Zealanders "a flavour of what's going on".

The PM was then asked why the government was having an inquiry into the leak when it had not had an inquiry into the events which had brought the "whole chaotic" situation to light. The PM responded "because we've had one". It was then put to the PM that we have not had an inquiry into the appointment of Ian Fletcher because it had been ruled out by the Auditor General. The PM responded that the Auditor General and State Services Commissioner had both backed the PM's behaviour.

The PM was asked whether national security would be affected by the present hiatus in GCSB's activities. He responded that he would describe the situation as GCSB not being in a position to provide support to the legal duties of other security entities during the period, but emphasised that those other entities would be able to continue with their regular 'intelligence gathering, but not with the assistance of GCSB'.

The PM was then asked whether SIS would be carrying out that work instead. He responded that where they legally had the authority to do so, such as under warrant or where it was not required, the NZSIS would be doing so.
The PM was then asked if the SIS were requesting any additional resources in the interim if they were unable to call upon the GCSB. He responded that they had not made any requests for additional resources to him as Minister.
The PM was then asked if the legislation was going to be retrospective. He responded that he did not think so, adding that the Kitteridge report was essentially saying that there are difficulties in interpretation and the government needs to clarify the law.

The PM was then asked why it was necessary to investigate the leak. He responded that leaks 'undermine the integrity of the entire public service'.
It was put to the PM that it might have been one of his own ministers. He indicated that he thought this was unlikely.

The PM was asked for clarity about the issue of cyber security, particularly whether he thought it was the case that New Zealand companies had lost R & D which had may have gone towards the production of Weapons of Mass Destruction. While saying that he would not go into exact details he did respond that there had been "cyber-intrusions" in New Zealand which the government believed to have been undertaken "to retrieve information that could be used in the creation of Weapons of Mass Destruction". He was pressed further to elaborate on the nature or relative success of the 'cyber-intrusions' but refused to comment.

It was put to the PM that asserting this was "like dangling a lolly" before the media, and was asked whether he thought it was right to be seen to play games with the press in this way. He responded that because there were people who questioned the rationale for having a GCSB and an SIS it was important to be able to give New Zealanders "a flavour of what's going on".

The PM was then asked why the government was having an inquiry into the leak when it had not had an inquiry into the events which had brought the "whole chaotic" situation to light. The PM responded "because we've had one". It was then put to the PM that we have not had an inquiry into the appointment of Ian Fletcher because it had been ruled out by the Auditor General. The PM responded that the Auditor General and State Services Commissioner had both backed the PM's behaviour.

The PM was then asked why the government was having an inquiry into the leak when it had not had an inquiry into the events which had brought the "whole chaotic" situation to light. The PM responded "because we've had one". It was then put to the PM that we have not had an inquiry into the appointment of Ian Fletcher because it had been ruled out by the Auditor General. The PM responded that the Auditor General and State Services Commissioner had both backed the PM's behaviour.

The PM was then asked about the proposed changes mentioning assisting the private sector. He said that the GCSB provides specialist support in helping certain companies prevent cyber-security threats.

The PM was also asked if there was anything about the Kim Dotcom affair that he regrets and whether he regretted not being informed by his colleagues what was going on. He replied that, as he had said publically, he regretted "the fact that they illegally spied on him" because New Zealanders should be protected by the law and Kim Dotcom should have had those protections.

The PM declined to comment further.

The PM was asked who had been saying that New Zealand did not need the GCSB and SIS. He responded that it had been said by the Green Party in relation to GCSB.

The PM was then asked what "domestic work" the GCSB had done on behalf of the Defence Force. He responded that he was not going to go into detail on that. He was pressed further as to whether it meant that have been intercepting the communications of New Zealanders. He responded "they have provided support to them, that's all I'm prepared to say". He was then asked whether they had done so overseas or domestically. He responded that he would not go into that.

The PM was then asked whether the GCSB spied on New Zealanders on behalf of overseas agencies. He responded that he was not going to comment on that. He was then asked if the review would tell us. He responded "you'll have to wait until Wednesday".

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ENDS

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