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Security bill ready for its next stages

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/02/2017
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A cross-party parliamentary committee has strengthened some of the provisions in the Intelligence and Security Bill, and it's ready to go through its remaining stages.

The bill re-writes the laws around the SIS and the GCSB, and gives the GCSB a mandate to spy on New Zealanders under strict warrant conditions.

When it has been passed, the security agencies will come under a single Act.

It was drafted in response to the review of both agencies by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy, and implements most of their recommendations.

Prime Minister Bill English, who is responsible for national security and intelligence, says the foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee has made several useful changes to the bill.

"One of the most significant changes is a two-pronged approach to national security in the warranting system," he said on Friday.

"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."

The committee has also strengthened oversight of the agencies through annual reporting requirements and compulsory information registers.

The bill passed its first reading in August last year by 106 votes to 15.

The Greens and United Future opposed it.

It still has to pass its second reading, committee and third reading stages before becoming law.

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