Search Bill Passes Into Law

by Editor on Thursday, March 22, 2012 — 4:55 PM

The Search and Surveillance Bill passed into law today.

National, ACT and United Future supported the third reading to pass it by 61 to 57.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the bill modernised various Acts covering the search and surveillance powers of various agencies

She said it also legislated for Police to obtain warrants to trespass in order to place surveillance devices, a practice that the Supreme Court had declared illegal under current legislation.

The bill also put in place a judicial process for a journalist to protect the name of a source when the police were trying to obtain that information, she said.

Labour is refusing to support the bill as it does not include the Serious Fraud Office and its powers to seize documents and evidence. Collins said the SFO would now be required to report on how they used those powers.

Labour’s Charles Chauvel said it had been known for years that New Zealand’s search and surveillance powers were and inadequate patchwork with large gaps that had been exposed in the 2011 Supreme Court ruling.

There were many positive points in the bill, but Labour would not support it because the SFO was not included, when it easily could have been,

ACT Leader John Banks said once he would have dismissed concerns about the bill with “nothing to fear, nothing to hide’’, but now he was older he realised that there were things to fear.

Individuals had the right to be protected from the powers of the state, but the state also had to have powers to protect people from those who sought to do harm, he said.

After the bill’s passage MPs turned to the committee stage of the Crown Pastoral Land (Rent for Pastoral Leases) Amendment Bill.

All parts of the bill were taken as one question and the bill was reported without amendment.

The House then adjourned until next Tuesday.

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