Security Committee Members Appointed

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 — 5:52 PM

Membership of the Intelligence and Security Committee has been approved by Parliament, despite questions over the lawfulness of the nomination process.

Following completion of the Debate in Reply to the Prime Minister’s statement two Government motions were debated. One making appointments to the Intelligence and Security Committee and another laying out what work it will do.

The Prime Minister’s nominees were Christopher Finlayson and Amy Adams, The Leader of the Opposition’s nominee was David Shearer.

The terms of reference motion included the committee examining the budgets for the security agencies and reviewing their performance.

Acting Attorney-General Amy Adams said the security agencies were needed because the world was a dangerous place and the Intelligence and Security Committee was part of a thorough oversight regime to give the public confidence they were using their powers properly.

The committee should move beyond “political point-scoring” and the membership proposed would act in a constructive and proper way.

Labour Leader Andrew Little said oversight of the agencies was an important function. Mr Little said the committee was working in a climate where there was a lack of public trust in the agencies and their powers. There was a tension between the balance for the need for security with protection of human rights and privacy.

“We must get that right,” Mr Little said. David Shearer had the skills experience to sit on the committee, he said.

Green Co-leader Metiria Turei said her co-leader Russel Norman’s exclusion from the committee was intended to make it easier for the committee to be a lapdog for John Key and Andrew Little who she called the “Old Boys Club”.

Ms Turei said the membership of the important committee has never been so closed and public concern never so high.

Green MP James Shaw asked in a point of order to the Speaker for a ruling on the legality of the motion as the law setting up the committee required consultation with the leaders of the political parties about the nominations and this had not taken place.

Assistant Speaker Lindsay Tisch ruled it was beyond the powers of the Speaker to intervene in a statutory matter, the House did not make the appointments this was for the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, MPs could only approve, omit a name or reject.

Mr Tisch said it would be a matter for the courts to decide if statutory duties had not been done lawfully.

A number of Labour MPs and others expressed concern about NZ’s oversight of security services and said this should be overhauled in an upcoming review.

The motions were approved by 95 to 25 with the Greens and NZ First opposed.
MPs began debating the second reading of the Judicature Modernisation Bill
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