Minister for National Security and Intelligence Bill English today welcomed the report back of the New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill, which has been strengthened by the select committee process.

“I thank the members of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee for their hard work and the submitters who provided feedback about the Bill,” Mr English says.

“As we said at the start of this process, we want broad political support for this legislation and the report back by majority reflects the constructive approach taken by the Committee.

“National security is a fundamental responsibility of any government and it is vital our intelligence and security agencies have legislation that is fit for purpose.

“This Bill implements the majority of the recommendations made in the first independent review of intelligence and security, presented to Parliament in March 2016 by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy.

“The Select Committee has recommended a number of useful changes to improve the Bill in response to submissions, including from the Privacy Commissioner and Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.

“One of the most significant changes is a two-pronged approach to national security in the warranting regime.

“This approach limits the scope of national security to a closed list of activities such as terrorism, violent extremism and espionage. It ensures the agencies can continue to respond to increasingly complex security threats while providing greater certainty and robust safeguards for New Zealanders.”

Other key changes include:

Tightening the warranting regime by removing ‘purpose-based’ warrants and imposing stricter rules on the use of ‘practice’ or training warrants. Introducing a fixed-term standing authorisation for business record information from telecommunications network operators and financial services providers in certain circumstances. This information is currently provided on a voluntary basis. The new legislation will provide statutory authority for this work. Further strengthening the oversight of the agencies through the introduction of additional ministerial policy statements, annual reporting requirements and compulsory information registers to assist the Inspector-General to exercise her oversight functions.

“This legislation increases the transparency and oversight of the agencies while ensuring they are able to protect New Zealanders at home and overseas,” Mr English says.

It is the Government’s intention for the Bill to have its second reading next month.

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