Across the Ditch: NZ Govt Set To Increase Spy Powers + Olympics Roundup and Happy Kiwis

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Across the Ditch: Australian radio FiveAA.com.au’s Peter Godfrey and EveningReport.nz’s Selwyn Manning deliver their weekly bulletin Across the Ditch – This week: NZ Government introduces to Parliament intelligence law reform that will make it legal for the spy agencies to spy on its own people. Plus: Olympic highlights from week two of the games.

ITEM ONE: Spy Law Reform.

The New Zealand National-led Government introduced legislation into Parliament that if passed will enable the country’s intelligence agencies to spy on New Zealand citizens.

The legislation is called the New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill and will make it lawful for the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to turn its electronic surveillance on Kiwis.

Until now, it has been unlawful for the GCSB to place New Zealand citizens and permanent residents under surveillance. The Security Intelligence Service has been permitted to investigate and surveil Kiwis but only with a warrant signed by the Prime Minister.

The new legislation will bring the two major intelligence agencies under one piece of law. It will also lower the authorisation bar, requiring surveillance to only be signed off by the Attorney-General and a Commissioner of Warrants.

The Government states that only Kiwis that are suspected of being a danger to the country’s national interest will risk being spied on.

Also, the Bill will make it easier for the agencies to access private and confidential information relating to New Zealand citizens and held by other agencies such as Customs, Immigration, and Inland Revenue.

The new laws will also make it illegal for whistleblowers to make revelations in the public interest.

It will be an offence under the new Act for anyone to go to the media or make public classified information, reveal illegal practice, inappropriate or excessive use of the surveillance and interception powers that Parliament is asked to give the spy agencies.

It is a warning to anyone who holds a government ‘security clearance’ that if they “wrongfully communicate, retain, or copy classified information” they will be charged.

The Prime Minister John Key stated on Monday the legislation will be the most significant reform of the intelligence agencies in New Zealand’s history.

Labour leader Andrew Little is considering whether his party will support the reform.

Since coming into office in 2008, Key has introduced widespread reform of the spy agencies, including the invasive Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act and GCSB reform legislation of 2013.

The reform began in earnest after the GCSB was found to have been operating illegally, spying on New Zealanders and permanent residents.

ITEM TWO: Olympics Highlights and Update.

Olympics Update – Summary of the medal winners and what to expect over the next few days.

Gold Medals to date:
Rowing M2 Skulls – Hamish Bond and Eric Murray
Rowing Single Skulls – Mahe Drysdale
K1 200 – Lisa Carrington

TBA – Gold – Yachting in the 49ers, Blair Tuke and Peter Burling have won the gold with two races to spare. Once the races complete the medals will be confirmed.

Big names yet to compete:
Lydia Ko (ranked Golf’s number one in the world) begins her competition Thursday.

Double gold medalist Lisa Carrington will compete in the K1 500

NZ women’s Hockey are going very well. And there might be some good results yet on the cycling track and on the water in with the sailors.

Across the Ditch broadcasts live on Australia’s radio FiveAA.com.au and webcasts on EveningReport.nz LiveNews.co.nz and ForeignAffairs.co.nz.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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