Dunne backs expanded spy powers

Last updated 16:57 22/07/2013

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UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne says he will support controversial legislation to expand spying powers.

Dunne said he was willing to vote for the Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment bill after ''major amendments''.

He voted for the bill at first reading, but then raised concerns after he was forced to resign over suspicions he leaked a report into the GCSB.

The legislation would allow the foreign intelligence agency to spy on New Zealanders on behalf of the police, Defence Force and Security Intelligence Service.

Dunne said Key had agreed to a number of changes which included:

* specific legislation to add any agencies allowed to request assistance from the GCSB. The current proposed bill only required an Order in Council, which is not voted on by Parliament

* the watchdog overseeing the GCSB, the Inspector General  of Intelligence and Security, must be informed when a warrant is put on the register relating to a New Zealander

* an annual report from the GCSB on the number of times it has assisted other agencies

* annual public hearing of Parliament's closed door Intelligence and Security Committee to discuss  financial reviews of the performance of the GCSB and the SIS

* an independent review of the security services in 2015, and then every five to seven years

Key had already conceded to establishing a set of guiding principles into the legislation and the establishment of a two person advisory panel to assist the work of the Inspector-General.

Key said the amendments were "significant and sensible."
He confirmed ACT's John Banks would support the bill, giving the Government a Parliamentary majority.
"I remain open to discussions with other parties in Parliament to increase support for the Bill, so it can pass with a larger majority," he said.

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

Dunne said he would also work with Justice Minister Judith Collins on privacy invasion issues raised by the Law Commission in 2010.

He wanted a standard definition of private communication and meta-data across all legislation, including the GCSB and SIS acts, and the Crimes Act and the Search and Surveillance Act.

Dunne said the changes ''substantially'' addressed his concerns about the legislation. He said they improvd the ''accountability of the GCSB and the transparency of its operations, as well as updating and modernising the definitions of private communications to meet today's circumstances.''

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The ISC was meeting this afternoon to discuss changes to the legislation, which is due to be reported back to Parliament by the end of the week. Labour and the Greens were opposed to the new powers without an independent inquiry into the intelligence services. National also had the support of ACT.

- Fairfax Media


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