Controversial spy bill passes first vote

A bill expanding the powers of security and intelligence services last night passed its first reading in Parliament just hours after an urgent debate was conducted on the former activities of the Security Intelligence Service (SIS).

Yesterday the SIS was under fire for releasing incorrect and misleading information in response to an official information request from WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater.

The Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill was introduced under urgency, and will allow the SIS to conduct surveillance on private properties without a warrant for up to 48 hours.

It also extends the powers of the Minister of Internal Affairs to temporarily suspend or cancel passports.

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee is due to report back by Tuesday of next week.

The Government intends to rush the bill through before the House adjourns for the year on December 10.

As minister in charge of the SIS, Chris Finlayson introduced the bill as something that addressed the threat from people in New Zealand who could become foreign fighters for terrorist organisations.

In his landmark speech on national security earlier this month, Prime Minister John Key announced there were 40 people on a watchlist as suspected foreign fighters, and another 30-40 who required further investigation.

The bill passed its first reading by 107 votes to 14 - with the Green Party being its only opponents.

The Labour Party was cautious in its support for the bill, and NZ First and the Maori Party indicated further support was conditional, with both wanting changes to the legislation.

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 - Stuff

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