Government Communications Security Bureau Bill introduced today

  • Helen Clark
NZ Security Intelligence Service

Prime Minister Helen Clark has announced that the status of the Government Communications Security Bureau will be formalised in legislation to be introduced to Parliament today.

The Government Communications Security Bureau Bill formalises in statute the existing executive arrangements which establish the GCSB and authorise its activities, and puts the Bureau on a similar legislative footing to that of the Security Intelligence Service.

Helen Clark said that the Bureau contributes to the national security of New Zealand through the collection and reporting of foreign signals intelligence. It also gives advice and assistance to New Zealand government departments and agencies on the security of their information-processing systems.

The Bureau's head office is in Wellington. It operates two collection stations: the high frequency radio interception and direction-finding station at Tangimoana, near Bulls, and the satellite communications interception station at Waihopai, near Blenheim. It has an annual budget of around twenty million dollars and employs around 220 staff. The Prime Minister is the Minister in charge of the GCSB.

"The Bill is another step towards making the work of our security and intelligence agencies as transparent as they can be given the circumstances in which they work," Helen Clark said.

"It follows amendments in recent years to the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act which created the role of the Commissioner of Security Warrants. The Commissioner jointly decides with the Minister in charge of the SIS whether the agency should be issued warrants to intercept private communications.

"Earlier, the role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security was created by an Act of Parliament in 1996."

The Prime Minister said that it is important to the government that the security and intelligence agencies operate within a clear legislative framework which prescribes their powers and their accountabilities.

Submissions on the Bill would be called for next week.

The Prime Minister also released today a new publication on how the country's security and intelligence agencies are managed. Securing Our Nation's Safety is also available on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's web-site (www.dpmc.govt.nz). Copies will be available in public libraries and free copies are available by writing to the department at P O Box 55, Wellington.