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Goff on Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill

17 June 2005

Speech Notes
3rd reading, Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill
Madam Speaker, I move that the Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill (No 2) be now read a third time.

This Bill reflects New Zealand’s continuing commitment to respond effectively to the threat posed by terrorism. The Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 was passed largely in response to the events of September 11, events which confirmed in the most tragic way that terrorism represents a serious threat to international peace and security.

Just days after that Act was passed, an attack took place in Bali. There was a major terrorist attack in Madrid just last year. The threat posed by terrorism has not diminished. It continues to evolve and adapt, and New Zealand along with the rest of the international community must also continue to evolve and adapt our strategies to respond to and counter the threat.

This amendment Bill is a reflection of that ongoing process. The Bill is necessary to update the original 2002 Act in two important respects: firstly, to ensure that terrorist entities designated as such under the original Act do not expire. This would have placed New Zealand in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Secondly, the Bill brings our law into more complete compliance with Security Council and Financial Action Task Force requirements to criminalise those who provide financial support to terrorist organisations. While financing of terrorist acts is already illegal, not to pass this Bill would mean we have no legal sanction against those who support organisations related to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

This new offence will not hamper the desire of New Zealanders to contribute funds to genuine human rights or humanitarian groups. The offence targets only those who knowingly collect or provides funds to benefit terrorists.

The necessity for such terrorist financing offences is part of the global strategy to deny terrorists access to financial support, and to ensure they do not secure access to banking services in order to move funds around the globe in support of their criminal activities. To ensure there are no weak links in the international system, our efforts in this regard are led by counter-terrorist financing standards set by the OECD-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

In addition to creation of the offence contained in this Bill, other government initiatives already announced include tightening the requirements relating to international and domestic wire transfer of funds and the cross-border transfer of cash by couriers. Both of these mechanisms have the potential to be used by terrorists to move money around the globe, and while there is no evidence that New Zealand is a haven for such activity it is important that effective deterrent and preventive measures are taken.

Further anti-terrorist and anti-money-laundering measures are also under consideration. New Zealand’s largely deregulated financial system has resulted in potential loopholes in the system that require closing in order to meet strict international requirements. While greater regulation does impose administrative costs, not to take action to meet international standards would risk not only exposure to money laundering and terrorism but also damage to New Zealand’s financial and international reputation.

These are matters of balance. And also in that respect, none of the amendments in this Bill adversely affects the balance achieved in the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 between the civil liberties of New Zealanders and the need to deter terrorism.

Despite this, there are other provisions of the current Act that would benefit from re-evaluation and possible amendment in the light of experience since its passage. The designation procedures are one clear area for further consideration. The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee is currently engaged in an extensive review of the Act, and must report back to this House no later than 1 December 2005.

The review of that Act was a requirement inserted by the committee when deliberating on the Act in 2002 after receiving extensive submissions on the measures contained in it. The nature of terrorism and the methods used by terrorists are ever-changing, and the review is therefore both timely and welcome. I look forward to considering the committee's report in due course.

Madam Speaker, this Bill is important in ensuring that the Terrorism Suppression Act continues to remain effective in responding to the threat posed by terrorism.

I commend this Bill to the House.

ENDS

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