ACT position on the GCSB bill

Finally got a response from ACT. Pretty much as you would expect. There is mention of giving the GCSB these powers to “avoid doubling up on resources”. Okay, if that were the case, why do we need the SIS? The same argument could be used for legislature and the courts. If we have one, then probably we are doubling up on resources. I for one, find that a little disturbing. Also, it is a little ambiguous on the “visiting the legislation every 5-7 years”. So, is it going to be 5, or 7 years? That is a worry, as I can see it largely being forgotten before long, further entrenching the organisations power.

Anyway, I have included the letter for you to make up your own mind.

Thank you for your email regarding the Government Communication Security Bureau and related Legislation Bill (the GCSB Bill).

ACT is supporting the Bill as reported back from the Intelligence and Security Committee.  The GCSB Bill provides and GCSB with clear law and improves the system of oversight over the GCSB.

The GCSB Bill has gone through a process of public submissions and careful scrutiny by the Intelligence and Security Committee.  The Hon John Banks is a member of the Committee.   It will undergo two more stages of debate in Parliament.

The GCSB Bill does two main things. It clarifies that organisations such as the SIS and the Police can ask GCSB for assistance in the undertaking of their duties. If spying on New Zealand citizens or residents the SIS and Police will need all the correct judicial or other warrants they currently need, but the GCSB will be able to assist them. This practice has taken place for many years, and this bill simply clarifies the position. ACT sees no point in duplicating resources between agencies and supports this step.  This assistance role was also provided for in the 2003 legislation.

The bill also increases the oversight and scrutiny of the GCSB. The Inspector-General of Security and Intelligence who formerly worked alone will now have a deputy and be supported by a two-person panel. 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 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.

At the suggestion of the ACT Party, the bill will also include a set of guiding principles that the GCSB must take heed of when carrying out their work.  These principles are a statement of the fundamental rights of New Zealanders.  The Inspector-General of Intelligence will audit the compliance of the GCSB against these principles.

While there will always be critics, ACT feels the GCSB Bill will make New Zealand a safer place while also preserving fundamental freedoms.

Clodagh O’Connor-McKenna

Private Secretary (Research) to Hon John Banks CNZM, QSO

ACT Party Leader

MP for Epsom

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