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GCSB Debate Interrupted Now Unlikely To Pass This Session

Debate on the committee stage of the the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill was interrupted when the House rose just before 10pm, making it unlikely the bill will pass in the current session.

The House rose with MPs still debating Part One of the bill and as tomorrow is a Members Day the debate will not be resumed until Friday.

Even if the committee stage was completed then, which appears unlikely, the third reading debate could not take place until after the coming week long adjournment.

The Government has indicated it is not willing to use Urgency to pass the bill.

Debate was heated during the evening and Attorney General Chris Finlayson said part one of the bill provided a clear framework for the oversight of the intelligence and security sector.

Much of the changes related to out dated terminology and spelt out the GCSB’s roles and functions, and in particular how it worked with other agencies.

There were “greater limits” around what the GCSB could do for particular agencies.

There was also the creation of a set of principles which the GCSB would work under modelled on the principles the SIS worked under.

Warrantless powers could not be used against New Zealanders and privileged communications could not be targeted.

Labour Leader David Shearer said the Prime Minister John Key had shown no respect for private communications and this bill emphasised that as it was meant to be a balance between privacy and security.

The bill had been rushed through, not thought out and the process had been flawed.

Peter Dunne said most people agreed their needed to be an effective governance regime for the intelligence security agencies.

The bill has nothing to do with the “unfortunate experiences” which followed the Henry inquiry.

The bill as reported back was not good enough, but the amendments he would move would strengthen it and Labour should join National in supporting them.

Much of the debate around the bill centred on whether it gave the GCSB more powers or codified what was intended under the original Act.

Much of the personal attacks centred on Dunne with Opposition MPs targeting him due to the key nature of his vote.

Finlayson did also attack the Law Society submission saying it was prepared by someone who was willing to make all sorts of extravagant claims with a lack of impartiality, he said lawyers had expressed concern to him about the standard of the submission.

The House will resume tomorrow at 9am under Extended Hours provisions.

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