Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


PM: Third reading speech on GCSB legislation

Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister
Minister Responsible for the GCSB

21 August 2013
Speech Notes
PM: Third reading speech on GCSB legislation

Mr Speaker, this is an essential Bill which has attracted a lot of debate, much of it alarmist.

It’s one of the strengths of our country that people who oppose legislation have an opportunity to say so.

That’s their right, whether or not they understand what that legislation will actually do.

Some people are fundamentally opposed to the work of our intelligence agencies.

Those critics oppose the agencies almost on principle.

As Prime Minister, I am not one of those people.

That’s because I have access to evidence which shows that without the GCSB and NZSIS, our national security would be vulnerable.

There are threats our Government needs to protect New Zealanders from. Those threats are real and ever-present and we under-estimate them at our peril.

New Zealanders are entitled to expect that their security is something that the Government takes seriously. And we do. We take it very seriously.

But we can’t say we take it seriously, and then not make the tools available to allow our security services to do their job.

That is the opposite of taking security seriously.

And that is something I will never do.

Over the past four and a half years that I have been Prime Minister, I have been briefed by intelligence agencies on many issues, some that have deeply concerned me.

If I could disclose some of the risks and threats from which our security services protect us, I think it would cut dead some of the more fanciful claims that I’ve heard lately from those who oppose this Bill.

But to disclose that work publicly would, in some cases, jeopardise it, so I can’t.
I can only assure New Zealanders that the GCSB is a necessary and valuable contributor to our national security – just ask my predecessor Helen Clark, who said as much just a couple of weeks ago.

Today as the House debates this Bill, I think it’s important we all know why it is needed.

It isn’t a revolution in the way New Zealand conducts its intelligence operations. It is not about expanding the powers of a mysterious intelligence empire.

It simply makes clear what the GCSB may and may not do, and it fixes an Act passed under the Labour Government a decade ago which is not, and probably never has been, fit for purpose.

It’s a great shame to see Labour now running away from sorting out the problems it created.

But here in the National Party, Mr Speaker, I’m proud we recognise the importance of national security.

And I’m pleased that John Banks and Peter Dunne do too.

I’d like to acknowledge Mr Dunne and Mr Banks for their efforts to strengthen this legislation.

It is a better Bill for their input.

Mr Speaker, this Bill makes the GCSB’s three functions clear.

They are:

• Information assurance and cyber security;
• Foreign intelligence, and;
• Assisting other agencies.
The first of these functions allows the GCSB to help protect government organisations and important private sector entities from cyber-attack.

This is a growing threat which targets our information and the intellectual property of our best and brightest.

Already this year the number of logged cyber-attack incidents is larger than it was for all of last year.

GCSB's specialist skills can help protect departments and companies and this Bill gives it the clear mandate to do that.

A lot has been said about this so I want to be clear about a few things.

Cyber security is about protecting our secrets. It’s not about spying.

The Bill requires GCSB to get a warrant from the independent Commissioner of Security Warrants and me before it can intercept a New Zealander’s communications.

That warrant must be issued for a particular function, in this case cyber security. The clear intention of that function is to protect, not to spy.

The Bill also allows for conditions to be put on warrants and I intend to do that.
I will not allow cyber security warrants in the first instance to give GCSB access to the content of New Zealanders’ communications.

There will be times where a serious cyber intrusion is detected against a New Zealander and the GCSB will then need to look at content – that’s why the law allows that.

But that should be the end point, not the starting point.

So I intend to use a two-step process for warrants, requiring the GCSB to come back and make the case for a new warrant to access content, only where the content is relevant to a significant threat.

I also expect the GCSB to have the consent of the New Zealander involved unless there was a very good reason not to.

The second function of the GCSB is, as I said, – collecting foreign intelligence. That has been the largest portion of the agency’s work.

The third function allows the GCSB to assist the Police, NZSIS and NZ Defence Force.

This is something it has been doing for more than a decade, including under the previous Government.

At all times the GCSB believed it was acting lawfully, as did the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security and successive Prime Ministers.

This is because GCSB’s Act said it could assist others. But its Act also stated it couldn’t undertake surveillance on New Zealanders.

No agency should operate with such an ambiguous legal framework.

The Kitteridge review identified just 88 cases of assistance over 10 years – an average of under nine people a year.

So this isn’t and will never be ‘wholesale spying on New Zealanders’.

The truth is that GCSB has unique capabilities.

It makes no sense to duplicate those when they are so rarely used.

Instead, we will make it clear GCSB can assist only those three agencies, and only when they are able to show they have the lawful authority to undertake the surveillance themselves.

Mr Speaker, nothing in this Bill allows for wholesale spying on New Zealanders.
This Bill actually tightens, not widens, the existing regime.

I also want to be clear about another issue in this Bill, that is metadata.

There have been claims this Bill offers no protection of metadata and allows for wholesale collection of metadata without a warrant.

None of that is true.

Metadata is treated the same in this Bill as the content of a communication.

So when the GCSB wants to access metadata, it is treated with the same level of seriousness and protection as if the GCSB was accessing the actual content of a communication.

And there are protections around that.

Mr Speaker, this Bill is good legislation, and it is necessary legislation.
It fixes the problems with the current Act, and clears up the ambiguities that Labour passed into law a decade ago.

It puts in place a robust review of the intelligence agencies in 2015 and every five to seven years thereafter.

It requires more transparency, through open public hearings for the financial reviews of the intelligence agencies.

It requires the GCSB to tell New Zealanders how many times it has assisted other agencies and how many warrants and authorisations it has been issued.

It gives the GCSB a set of guiding principles that acknowledge the importance of human rights, independence, integrity, and professionalism.

And it puts in place a stronger oversight regime that will go some way to rebuilding public confidence in the GCSB.

Mr Speaker, I have rarely seen so much misinformation and conspiracy about a subject as has been perpetrated about this Bill. That has some citizens agitated and alarmed, which I regret.

But my regret about that would be nothing compared with my regret if this measure was not passed, and New Zealanders were harmed because of the gap that currently exists in our security arrangements.

This Bill is being passed today because its provisions are needed today.

They are needed right now because there are threats against us right now.

Others may play politics with the security and lives of New Zealanders but I cannot and I do not, and I will not.

That is why I commend this Bill to the House.


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Parliament Today: State Opening Of Parliament

The House sits at 10.30am today before MPs are summoned to hear the Speech from the Throne in the Legislative Council Chamber.

The speech delivered by the Governor-General on the Government’s behalf outlines its priorities for this Parliament.

After this MPs will return to the House for the presentation of petitions and papers and the introduction of any bills.

The Government has five notices of motion on the Order Paper which can be debated. These relate to relating to the appointment of the Deputy Speaker, Assistant Speakers, the reinstatement of business in a carryover motion and one on “Entities to be deemed public organisations”. More>>

 

Tertiary Education: Students Doing It Tough As Fees Rise Again

The Government is making it increasingly difficult for Kiwis to gain tertiary education as fees continue to rise and access to student support becomes even more restricted, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. More>>

ALSO:

Housing, Iraq: PM Press Conference – 20 October 2014

Prime Minister John Key met with press today to discuss:
• Housing prices and redevelopment in Auckland
• Discussions with Tony Abbott on the governmental response to ISIS, and New Zealand’s election to the UN Security Council More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Review Team Named, Leadership Campaign Starts

Labour’s New Zealand Council has appointed Bryan Gould as Convenor of its post-General Election Review. He will be joined on the Review Team by Hon Margaret Wilson, Stacey Morrison and Brian Corban.

ALSO:


Roy Morgan Poll: National Slips, Labour Hits Lows

The first New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll since the NZ Election shows National 43.5% (down 3.54% since the September 20 Election). This isn’t unusual, National support has dropped after each of John Key’s Election victories... However, support for the main opposition Labour Party has crashed to 22.5% (down 2.63% and the lowest support for Labour since the 1914 NZ Election as United Labour). More>>

ALSO:

In On First Round: New Zealand Wins Security Council Seat

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed New Zealand securing a place on the United Nations Security Council for the 2015-16 term. More>>

ALSO:

TPP Leak: Intellectual Property Text Confirms Risk - Jane Kelsey

The US is continuing its assault on generic medicines through numerous proposed changes to patent laws. ‘These are bound to impact on Pharmac if they are accepted’, according to Professor Kelsey... Copyright is another area of ongoing sensitivity... More>>

ALSO:

RMA: Smith Plans Reform To Ease Urban Development

Newly appointed Environment Minister Nick Smith has announced Resource Management Act reform to foster urban development, where high land prices and expensive resource consents are blocking efforts to provide affordable housing. More>>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On New Zealand getting involved (again) in other people's wars

Apparently, the Key government is still pondering how New Zealand will contribute to the fight against Islamic State. Long may it ponder, given the lack of consensus among our allies as to how to fight IS, where to fight it (Syria, Iraq, or both?) and with whose ground troops, pray tell? More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On child poverty, and David Shearer’s latest outburst

The politicisation of (a) the public service and (b) the operations of the Official Information Act have been highlighted by the policy advice package on child poverty that RNZ’s resolute political editor Brent Edwards has finally prised out of the Ministry of Social Development. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On the government’s review of security laws

So the Key government is about to launch a four week review of the ability of our existing legislation to deal with “suspected and returning foreign terrorist fighters, and other violent extremists.”

According to its terms of reference, the review will consider whether the SIS, GCSB and Police are sufficiently able right now to (a) investigate and monitor suspected and returning foreign terrorist fighters… More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news