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PM Welcomes Support For GCSB Legislation

PM Welcomes Support For GCSB Legislation

Prime Minister John Key today welcomed Peter Dunne’s support for legislation that clarifies the Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) legal framework and substantially increases oversight of the country’s intelligence agencies.

Mr Key today reached an agreement with Mr Dunne, which will see amendments made to further strengthen the GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

“I am pleased Mr Dunne and ACT Leader John Banks have agreed to support this important legislation, which goes to the heart of our national security,” Mr Key says.

“The Bill has been significantly strengthened through a combination of the input of public submitters, feedback from Mr Dunne and Mr Banks, and consideration by the Intelligence and Security Committee.”

The agreement reached with Mr Dunne means the Prime Minister has a Parliamentary majority to pass the Bill.

“I remain open to discussions with other parties in Parliament to increase support for the Bill, so it can pass with a larger majority.

“However, I am confident this amended legislation strikes the right balance between privacy and national security.

“Our intelligence agencies have an important role to play and need a clear legal framework to operate within.”

The changes that will be made to the Bill include:

·         A set of guiding principles will be added, in line with requests from Mr Banks and Mr Dunne.

·         The Inspector General will be supported by a two-person advisory panel.

In addition to these changes previously signalled, the Prime Minister has agreed to the following changes with Mr Dunne, which will be made through a Supplementary Order Paper in the House:

·         The removal of the proposed Order in Council mechanism which would have allowed other agencies to be added to the list of agencies able to request assistance from the GCSB. Any additions beyond the Police, NZSIS and NZ Defence Force will now be required to be made by a specific amendment to the legislation.

·         To ensure effective oversight in the issuing of a warrant, the Bill will be amended so the Inspector General is informed when a warrant is put on the register relating to a New Zealander.

·         The GCSB will be required to report annually on the total number of instances where it has provided assistance to the Police, NZSIS or NZ Defence Force.

·         The GCSB will also be required to report annually on the number of warrants and authorisations issued.

·         The Intelligence and Security Committee will hold public hearings annually to discuss the financial reviews of the performance of the GCSB and the NZSIS.

·         There will be an independent review of the operations and performance of the GCSB and NZSIS and their governing legislation in 2015, and thereafter every 5-7 years.

In addition to these changes Mr Dunne will have a role in the Government’s upcoming work to address the Law Commission’s 2010 report Invasion of Privacy: Penalties and Remedies. This work will include a review of the definition of ‘private communication’, which was highlighted as an issue by submitters on the GCSB legislation.

“These are significant and sensible amendments which I am happy to make.

“New Zealanders can take comfort the GCSB and NZSIS will be operating under a far stricter and more proactive oversight regime as they undertake important activities to ensure the safety of this country,” Mr Key says.

ENDS

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