7 May 2013

Spy bill to be debated this week

6:03 pm on 7 May 2013

Legislation will be introduced to Parliament under urgency on Thursday allowing the Government Communications Security Bureau to legally spy on New Zealanders.

Civil liberty campaigners want more transparency and accountability in the legislation, while a security analyst says the changes are necessary to counter emerging threats.

Prime Minister John Key on Monday announced an overhaul of the GCSB's legislation so that it can legally assist the SIS, police and the Defence Force.

Rhys Ball, a lecturer at the Massey University's Centre for Defence and Security Studies says the changes are not being fast-tracked and the Government is addressing the problems that have cropped up.

"They want to get it off the front pages as quickly as possible. And the intelligence services themselves want to be able to make sure that their policies and laws and legislations are robust."

Dr Ball says the public must feel comfortable that necessary intrusions and protections are dealt with in a serious and appropriate manner, and a wider debate about a national security strategy could also be useful.

A spokesperson for the Council for Civil Liberties says the legislation looks better than originally envisaged and welcomes the news that the bill will go to select committee.

Kevin McCormack says the number of referrals from each agency and general outcomes should be made public.