Proposed legislation will allow GCSB to spy on NZers

Newstalk ZB Staff ,
Publish Date
Monday, 15 August 2016, 4:15PM
PM John Key and Minister Chris Finlayson announcing the proposed GCSB legislation (Felix Marwick)

UPDATED 5.21pm: Our foreign intelligence agency, the GCSB, will be able to spy on New Zealanders under legislation that is set to be introduced by the Government this week.

LISTEN ABOVE: Minister Chris Finlayson joins Larry Williams to give some insight into the GCSB. 

It will put the SIS and the GCSB under a single Act and allow them to spy on New Zealanders under a strict "triple lock" warrant system.

"It means the Attorney-General, and the Commissioner of Security Warrants, will have to approve any such warrant, which will then be subject to any review by the Inspector General," said Prime Minister John Key. 

Currently only the SIS can spy on New Zealanders.

John Key described the proposed law changes as the most significant reform of security legislation in New Zealand's history.

"It will clearly set out the agency's powers, build on the robust oversight for the agencies that we introduced in 2013, and establish a new warranting regime."

The PM cited the threat posed by Isis and global terrorism.

National Security and Intelligence Minister Christopher Finlayson said the overhaul will also finally sort out the multiple, contradictory layers of legislation.

"The SIS Act 1969, the GCSB Act of 2003 and the legislation dealing with the intelligence committee of parliament of 1996."

Where there's an imminent national security threat, a warrant can be obtained and used for 24 hours before being formally applied for.

For the first time the spy agencies will be treated as public servants and will come under the State Services Commission.

The proposed law change follows a recent, broad-sweeping intelligence review by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy, which made 107 recommendations.

MORE: Video - John Key on the GCSB

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