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Greens "subvert" spooks committee

16 March 2000

Greens "subvert" spooks committee

The Green Party has exploited a procedural loophole to highlight opposition to the statutory Intelligence and Security committee which overseas the Government's spying agencies.

Green MPs Keith Locke and Rod Donald presented two petitions to parliament yesterday, one calling for the abolition of the Government Communications Security Bureau and the other calling for a review of the Security Intelligence Service.

"We understand the two petitions have now been referred by the Clerk of the House to the government administration committee," Mr Donald said.

"This creates a real dilemma for the Government. It is unlikely that they will want to let a Parliamentary Select Committee consider petitions on the intelligence agencies but if they try to take them away they will be highlighting the fact that the statutory committee undermines the sovereignty of Parliament," he said.

Since the statutory committee was established by National and Labour in 1996 petitions relating to security agencies have had to be referred to that committee. But this can't happen until a motion to set up the committee and a motion to transfer parliamentary responsibilities to it have been debated at the beginning of each new parliament.

"We hope our 'subversive' action will increase public and parliamentary debate on the lack of parliamentary oversight of the SIS and the GCSB," Mr Locke said.

"In addition to giving the statutory committee responsibility for estimates, financial reviews and petitions the sessional order motion would, if passed, specifically deny select committees the right to examine the Intelligence and security agencies," he said.

Debate on the notices of motion to set up the statutory Intelligence and Security committee (which includes Helen Clark, Jim Anderton, Michael Cullen, Jenny Shipley and Richard Prebble) and to allocate responsibilities to the committee is likely to take place next week.

Contact Rod Donald on 04 470 6660 or 025 507 183

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