Dunne’s speech on the GCSB Bill


Draft transcript:


In Committee

Hon PETER DUNNE (Independent—Ōhariu):

The one thing that most people agree on about this bill, the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill, is that there needs to be an effective regime to govern our external intelligence agency. That is the starting point for this debate.

The second thing I wanted to say is that this bill has nothing whatsoever to do with the recent, unfortunate experiences of the Henry inquiry. That set of circumstances could happen under any situation. It is nothing to do with the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) legislation.

The third thing I want to say by way of a preliminary comment is that this bill as it stands, as reported back from the Intelligence and Security Committee, is not satisfactory, and that is why I am moving a series of amendments that will need to be passed by this Committee and by this House if I am to support the bill further.

The reason why I am moving those amendments is that they strengthen the accountability provisions of the bill, they actually make it much easier in terms of transparency, and they address all of the major points that were raised by the witnesses who attended the Intelligence and Security Committee.

Mr Grant Robertson spoke earlier and expressed a lot of concern about section 8C , in clause 6 of the bill, and I agree with him.

What section 8C says, effectively, is that by regulation or Order in Council, any variety of existing Government agencies could be added to the provisions whereby the powers of the GCSB could be applied to them in the pursuit of their objectives. I think that is wrong; I agree with him entirely. That is why I am moving an amendment to delete section 8C in the bill, which means that if there needs to be additional entities added to the purview of this legislation, they will have to be added by way of separate legislation.

So, Mr Robertson, you should be supporting the amendment that I will be moving in this Supplementary Order Paper that is before the Committee at the moment.

We will also be changing in that Supplementary Order Paper the warrant provisions to ensure that when a warrant is issued, it is put on a register, so that people actually know what warrants have been issued, particularly when they relate to New Zealanders, and so that the GCSB will never be in the position again of having 88 cases of dubious legality, because every year the number of warrants will need to be recorded, as will the number of occasions when the GCSB has cooperated with other agencies—information that is not known at the present time.

The Intelligence and Security Committee, which currently has a very perfunctory oversight role, has its powers changed by my amendment to ensure that when it conducts the annual financial review of both the GCSB and the SIS , that hearing has to be held in public. At the moment it is held behind closed doors.

Members opposite, who want accountability, are presumably now going to vote against an amendment that says that when it comes to the Intelligence and Security Committee’s operations in reviewing the performance of the security agencies, it has to do that in public. Those members are against that, and yet they want more transparency and more accountability.

And they talk about a review. They want to have a review of our intelligence services. Under the amendment contained in my Supplementary Order Paper there will be a review early in 2015, and not only then but every 5 to 7 years thereafter, of both the SIS and the GCSB. So the cry for a review again falls flat when these members have the opportunity to vote for one and they decide to vote against it.

Now let us talk about one of the other issues that have been raised throughout this whole debate and that is of critical importance. It is the definition of “private communication” and the issue of meta-data, and Dr Norman made some good points in respect of that.

The reality is that every witness who appeared before the Intelligence and Security Committee raised it as an issue. Every witness said that it was important to get a solution. No witness offered a solution. I made a point of ringing a number of them to say: “Have you got a definition? Have you got a way through this?”, and the answer I got universally was that, no, it needs to have a lot of work done on it.

It needs to be worked through very carefully, and that is why, as part of the agreement I struck with the Prime Minister, there will be work done on the Law Commission’s 2010 report, which deals with this whole issue of the definition of “private communications”, not just in the GCSB legislation but also in the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act , the Crimes Act , and the criminal surveillance legislation.

So I simply wanted to make this point. I listened to the major points made by all of the witnesses who attended the statutory committee. I read their submissions and I noted that no one said: “We do not need a GCSB.”—no one, not even Mr Dotcom.

Everyone said we wanted to have tighter accountability, more transparency, more openness, and a better process. I have crafted amendments that deliver those things.

So it will be very interesting during the course of this debate to hear those who cry for all of those things vote against them, when they have the chance to do so.

I started on the point that everyone agrees that we need to change the current situation. The consequence of these members’ actions would be to preserve a most unsatisfactory status quo, where you have a GCSB that effectively has no accountability, where you have potentially 88 New Zealanders spied upon illegally over the last decade, with no record of that. That is appalling.

The consequence of opposing this legislation is simply so that that intolerable situation would continue, and no New Zealander deserves to be treated that way.

This bill, with the amendments that I am proposing, will ensure that those days are well and truly days of the past, and that New Zealanders can have a fresh sense of confidence in the way their security services operate.

While the Green Party strongly oppose the bill Russel Norman said they will support Dunne’s amendments:

I would also like to make a comment on Mr Dunne’s amendments, which we will be supporting because they do provide minor improvements to the bill and we will vote for minor improvements.

That’s a practical decision typical of the Green approach, taking everything on it’s merits. The Greens have also proposed amendments.

In contrast Labour speakers strongly attacked Dunne. And they didn’t propose any amendments except one SOP that would scrap the bill after a review.

Refer to: Dunne’s SOP on GCSB Bill amendments

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