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Independent review of intelligence agencies needed

David SHEARER

Labour Leader                        
 
07 April  2013                                                           

MEDIA STATEMENT

Independent review of intelligence agencies needed
 
The next Labour Government will commission a full and independent review of New Zealand’s intelligence agencies, to help restore public confidence in their effectiveness and accountability, says the Labour Leader, David Shearer.
 
“The standing of our intelligence agencies has taken a battering over the last 18 months.  Revelations of illegal spying, a lack of proper oversight and the whiff of cronyism in the appointment of the GCSB Director have undermined their reputation.
 
“As Prime Minister I will ask Parliament to sign-off on terms of reference for a wide-ranging review of the structure, operation and accountability of our intelligence agencies. 
 
“This needs to be an independent review, conducted by a person of the highest integrity, such as a senior retired judge.  It should be completed before any changes are made to the SIS legislation – work for which is already underway.
 
“Such a review could examine whether there is sufficient democratic oversight of our intelligence services.   And it could consider whether a National Security Advisor with the power to examine the activities of those agencies is needed to report directly to the Prime
Minister.
 
“New Zealand has never conducted an independent review of its intelligence services, but they are not unheard of overseas.  Australia has held two such exercises in the last ten years.
 
“These agencies have extraordinary powers, and the public must have faith that they are operating to the highest possible standards.  That is why nothing less than a full and completely independent review will be enough to restore the public’s faith in the country’s spy agencies,” says David Shearer.

ENDS

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