PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference - 6 May 2013
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Fox Glacier Plane Crash Report
PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference - 6 May 2013
By Hamish Cardwell
At the post-cabinet press conference on Monday May 6, Prime Minister John Key discussed draft GCSB legislation, answered questions about the behavior of National Party list MP Aaron Gilmore, and explained the decision-making behind his trip to Labour MP Parekura Horomia’s tangi at Tologa Bay.
Mr Key said Cabinet had signed a final draft bill that clarified the function of the GCSB- New Zealand’s international intelligence agency. The ‘Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill’ was an “omnibus bill” which sought to strengthen the oversight regime of the agency and address issues raised in Rebecca Kitteridge's review of the agency.
“The compliance review showed that the GCSB Act is not, and probably never was fit for its purpose.
“The responsible thing to do is to clarify the legislation, while at the same strengthening the oversight regime governing our intelligence agencies so the public can have confident that they are operating within the law.”
The bill will be introduced to Parliament later in the week.
Mr Key said there had been 138 instances of cyber attacks recorded in New Zealand since the start of the year, which was as many as recorded in 2012. This showed that New Zealand public and private sectors faced increased risks from cyber intrusion.
There will be public hearings on the bill as well as written submissions, he said.
The Prime Minister said the offer period for shares in Mighty River Power had ended the previous Friday. The government would not release any more information until the bill was completed because of commercial tensions, and because institutional bidding was still ongoing.
A final decision on the price of shares would be announced before Mighty River Power was listed on the NZX, which was expected to happen on Friday.
The Prime Minister then answered questions from the assembled press.
He was asked evaluate the judgement of National list MP Aaron Gilmore who had been accused of threatening to have a waiter fired for not serving him alcohol at a hotel in Hanmer Springs last weekend.
He said Mr Gilmore showed poor judgment that night, and that the National Party were disappointed with him.
Mr Key said his press secretary had been in communication with Mr Gilmore, and that the the only interaction he personally had been an apology text.
Mr Gilmore had some positive attributes, but also some faults which were on display that night, Mr Key said.
Mr Gilmore is due to front up to media tomorrow to answer questions about the incident.
Mr Key was asked which parties were supporting the GCSB legislation at the first reading. He said the reporter would have to ask all the parties that question but he was confident that the Government had the numbers. Mr Key said he had written to New Zealand First leader Winston Peters that afternoon to ask for a meeting to discuss Mr Peter's recommendations.
Mr Key was asked why he did not attend the tangi of the recently deceased Labour MP Parekura Horomia on both Friday and Saturday. He said he was able to attend with a large delegation on the Friday, and he had also had received advice from a senior Kaumatua that Friday was the most appropriate day to attend.
Mr Key said he had a lot of respect for the deceased MP and would have been more than happy to go on the Saturday as well.
He would not put a date on a by-election for Mr Horomia electorate but mid to late June had been recommended.
My Key was asked the affect the changes to the GCSB legislation would have on the agency's ability to spy on New Zealanders. He said spying would happen if the legislation was passed or not, the question would be which other agency would do it. It was the view of his government that it made sense to have the technical capability in one agency – the GCSB, rather than replicate it in the SIS or the police.
The legislation would allow the GCSB to provide advice and interception which may bring it into contact with the information of New Zealand citizens, something it currently could not lawfully do.
Mr Key was asked, as the tourism Minister, if he was looking to make any law changes following the release of the coroners report on the fatal plane crash at Fox Glacier in 2010. He said he was heartbroken for the families of those who had died, and that he had received a letter from the families calling on the government to make changes to aviation rules.
Some of the things there were asking for the government would not act upon, he said, but that the coroner's recommendation of the use of safety belts was “eminently logical”.
He said the adventure tourism industry was safe, and had become safer in recent years, but one or two operators really let down New Zealand and the industry down badly.
Mr Key was asked what were the essential features of the oversight mechanisms in the draft GCSB legislation. He said recommendations included adding a Deputy Inspector and providing the agency with more resources.