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GCSB Bill remains flawed despite proposed changes

Proposed changes to the GCSB Bill represent minor improvements but do not address the fundamental flaws in the bill and the legislation should not proceed, the New Zealand Law Society says.

Austin Forbes QC, convenor of the New Zealand Law Society’s Rule of Law Committee, says the Law Society has looked at the amendments proposed by the majority of the Intelligence and Security Committee, and has a number of concerns about the wording and scope of the changes.

“For example, the report from the majority of the Intelligence and Security Committee proposes the inclusion of a new set of principles underpinning the performance of the GCSB’s functions.

“While the idea of a set of guiding principles is potentially a step in the right direction, the Law Society is not convinced that the proposed wording of the principles provides adequate or effective safeguards,” Mr Forbes says.

Further changes by way of a proposed Supplementary Order Paper have been announced by the Prime Minister and the Hon Peter Dunne, but that SOP has only just been made publicly available.

“The proposed use of the SOP procedure to make still further changes, but without making the detail of those changes available to the public, reflects the unnecessary urgency which has accompanied the GCSB Bill itself. 

“This is in the face of mounting public concern and a denial of adequate public debate over the potential loss of personal and data privacy and increased levels of surveillance of both communications and metadata,” Mr Forbes says.

The concerns the Law Society expressed in its submission on the bill have not been significantly mitigated by the proposed changes.

The Law Society is also concerned about the use of the SOP procedure to introduce significant amendments to bills after completion of the select committee process. 

The GCSB Bill is now before the House and there is no opportunity for further public submissions or informed debate about the proposed changes, because of the process adopted.

 

Last updated on the 3rd June 2015