Urgent: 12 hours to tell Labour & NZ First your concerns about Spy Bill

A huge thank you to the 1,400+ members of ActionStation who have either signed a petition or written an email to an MP about the 'urgent' changes to our national security laws that are being pushed through before Christmas. We know the window to have your say was small, and we're so impressed that so many of you were able to take action. We want you to know, this is not yet the end. John Key has said this bill was just the beginning and a full review of security settings would consider broader changes in the new year. 

Spy Bill Update:

Prime Minister John Key welcomed the report back of the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

A number of changes have been agreed, particularly in areas where submissions had raised concerns.

The agreed changes to the Bill reflect feedback from ACT and United Future, as well as negotiations with the Labour Party.

The proposals contained in the current Bill will be subject to a sunset clause. 

The changes include:

  • The 48 hour emergency surveillance proposal will be reduced to 24 hours, and be restricted to activity that relates to the foreign fighters issue only
  • The new visual surveillance power will be restricted to activity that relates to the foreign fighters issue only
  • The sunset clause has been pulled back by a year to April 1, 2017
  • Additional oversight safeguards and more regular reporting will be required with regard to some of the new powers, particularly the 24 hour emergency surveillance power.

 

Earlier today, the country's spy bosses appeared in secret before a Select Committee that is considering “urgent” changes to our national security laws that the Government is trying to ram through before Christmas. [1] The Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill was made public last week and includes the rights to withhold and cancel passports, surveillance without warrants, intrusion onto private property by the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and enhanced powers for the police and SIS to access Customs records. [2]

ACT, United Future, Maori Party and the Greens have all expressed serious concern about the Bill, citing particular concern over the ability for the SIS to conduct 48-hour warrantless surveillance. This leaves NZ First and Labour in a pivotal role and they urgently need to hear from you about why the bill is not only necessary but suddenly urgent and what concerns you might have about the changes that are being made.

Last week, ActionStation members and others made more than 600 public submissions on this Bill despite the fact they were only given a 48 hour time period in which to do it. It is because of questions that emerged during this public consultation process that the SIS director Rebecca Kitteridge and Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn were called to committee to clarify a few points in the Bill today.

Tomorrow, the Select Committee will table its report, so the Labour and NZ First members on the Committee have only tomorrow morning to report to their caucus and get support for their position on the Bill. If you are a Labour or NZ First supporter, they need to know what you think about this Bill, and what position you expect them to take on your behalf.

The window of opportunity is again very small, but we need to keep the pressure on.

Former prime minister and constitutional lawyer Sir Geoffrey Palmer, has cautioned against rushing these controversial laws through Parliament. [4]

Australia and Britain, which both have higher threat levels than NZ, are taking much longer to pass new terrorism laws. [5]

ACT leader David Seymour has said "I am yet to see the case that warrants can't be issued quickly enough to surveil actual threats that we've had.” Green Party Security spokesperson Dr Kennedy Graham has said “There has been no compelling evidence put forward by the National Government for why these changes need to be rushed through without proper public consultation.” Some of those who have submitted on the bill - including the Law Society, the Human Rights Commission and the Privacy Commissioner - have voiced concerns specifically about the clause that gives the SIS power to carry out video surveillance for up to 48 hours without a warrant.

We think you should get to have your say too.

Send an email to Fletcher Tabuteau from NZ First, David Shearer and Phil Goff from the Labour Party to express your concerns.

 


 

More information:

[6] Kitteridge recalled to answer questions - Otago Daily Times