Keith Locke on the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Bill – Committee stage – part 4 of 5

The use of the word “intelligence” is not particularly appropriate to the service



I think that clauses 1 and 2 are very relevant here. The title is New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Bill. Let us look at the title of the organisation, which is the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service.

I have indicated in my previous contributions that there is a problem with the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service. In spite of the increased amount of money devoted to it—in the time I have been in Parliament I think its budget has gone from about $10 million a year to $40 million, or more, a year and all sorts of staff have been added, such as translators, and all kinds of people—it does not seem to have, in terms of the wording in the title, too much intelligence to make any progress and come up with some achievements that we in Parliament can learn about and celebrate.

I think that one use of the word “intelligence” is not particularly appropriate to the service. Also, there are no indications of what the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service has done for our security. We are always proud of the term “New Zealand” being in the title of any bill, as all of us are very patriotic New Zealanders. The problem is that the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, because of its relative lack of independence internationally, is not upholding New Zealand’s good name and traditions in the way that some other Government agencies are.

If we look at the WikiLeaks documents we will see that the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, although it resisted this course for some years, is now integrating its computer system with that of the United States intelligence agencies, such as Homeland Security, FBI, and CIA. In that sense we lose a bit of independence. There are not many nations in the world that link up their computer systems in the same way. We are then reliant more and more on the American Government’s definition of intelligence and who might or might not be an enemy, or who should be a prohibited immigrant, etc. We know, particularly from other WikiLeaks documents on Guantanamo Bay, that the American Government gets it wrong many, many times, and when audits have been done of their databases, even the Government audits themselves, they have found a very high error rate in terms of databases about who are really bad people and who are not. We are probably, through this integration with the American intelligence system, affecting detrimentally the lives or the travel plans of many people unnecessarily. We do not have the statistics on that. They are a little hard to come by, by the very nature of the way these things work.

I do not think the title is necessarily appropriate. It is certainly an amendment bill; that part of the title is quite correct. Perhaps we should change the commencement date to further down the track. The bill comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent. I think it would be better if we put the commencement date further down the track—a year or two out—so that we can ponder whether this is more appropriate legislation.

My view is that in spite of the improvements that have taken place in this bill, it is good that the provisions are there, in terms of the section that was discussed earlier on the human rights standard. It is good that the Government, the Government members on the Intelligence and Security Committee, and all members on the committee agreed to put in that provision. It was proposed by the Human Rights Commission in its submission. It is not quite in the form that the Human Rights Commission would like, but it is a step forward. It puts a little moral basis under the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service to abide by human rights.