9 Jul 2013

PM willing to make changes to GCSB legislation

11:15 am on 9 July 2013

Prime Minister John Key says he's willing to make changes to spy agency legislation to get enough support to pass it, including the introduction of an oversight panel.

Prime Minister John Key.

Prime Minister John Key. Photo: RNZ

The legislation increases the Government Communications Security Bureau's powers and would allow it to spy on New Zealanders.

Mr Key says the Government is in negotiations with independent MP Peter Dunne. He says one condition of that support would be a panel to support the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.

Mr Key says the panel would act as a sounding board for the Inspector-General but would have only an advisory role.

He says the legislation needs to be passed so the bureau can resume its surveillance activities, and so has ruled out the inquiry wanted by the Labour and Green parties.

However, Mr Key says he would consider a future review being written into the legislation.

He has not ruled out formal negotiations with other parties to broaden support for the Bill, including New Zealand First, saying he will try to build as broad support as possible - but if need be the legislation would be passed with just Mr Dunne's support.

Mr Dunne says having a three-person panel to oversee the bureau would be a good first step.

"I'm not going to discuss the detail of the negotiations that I'm having. I'm approaching those in good faith to see whether we can reach an accommodation that I think meets what the Prime Minister wants in terms of his legislation and what I have by way of concerns and what were raised in a number of the submissions to the Intelligence and Security Committee."