Government To Introduce Amendment To Nzsis Legislation

  • Jenny Shipley
Prime Minister

The Government will introduce an amendment to legislation this week covering the operations of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, and will also seek to appeal part of the Choudry decision of the Court of Appeal, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

"In Mr Choudry's case, the Court of Appeal pointed out the need for Parliament to provide express authority for the NZSIS to enter private premises, without permission, to intercept communications.

"It is vital that the NZSIS is able to carry out its functions properly in gathering intelligence on security threats to New Zealand. In some rare instances, this may require covert entry to private property, which the amendment to the legislation will allow. The existing law had been presumed to allow this to occur. The Court has said if this is the intention, it should be made explicit as is the case in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia."

Mrs Shipley said the proposed amendment had been discussed by Cabinet, the Intelligence and Security Committee, the National Caucus and with the Leader of the Opposition.

"A bill to amend the NZSIS Act will be tabled in the House, and will have its second reading tomorrow. An opportunity will be given for submissions to be made to the Intelligence and Security Committee before the Bill is considered again, early next year."

Mrs Shipley said the Government would also seek leave to appeal against one aspect of the Court of Appeal's decision in Mr Choudry's case. The issue concerns the procedure the Court should follow when the Government asserts it is necessary, in the course of litigation against the Crown, to withhold from the Court, and other parties, access to information, in order to protect national security interests.

"The Government considers it will be helpful to have the Privy Council's decision as to the respective roles of the Courts and Ministers in resolving such issues."

Mrs Shipley said New Zealand cannot and must not assume it is immune from threats to its security.

"The NZSIS must be provided with what it needs to carry out its responsibilities legally for gathering information on threats to New Zealand's security and these measures will help achieve that," the Prime Minister concluded.