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Legislation passed in 2013 included a requirement for periodic reviews of the intelligence and security agencies.

In March 2016, Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy presented the First Independent Review of Intelligence and Security to Parliament. The review focused on the legislative framework governing the agencies and their oversight regime.

Their central conclusion was that there should be a single, integrated and comprehensive Act clearly setting out how and why the agencies are constituted; how their intelligence and security activities are authorised; and their oversight.

The current legislation

There are currently four separate Acts governing New Zealand’s core security and intelligence agencies, and their oversight bodies:

In the 47 years since the New Zealand Security and Intelligence Service (NZSIS) Act was passed, the world has changed a lot. In light of the growing complexity and sophistication of security threats, there is an increasing need for intelligence and security agencies to work together and pool their expertise. Having separate Acts has hampered the ability of the NZSIS and Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to work together.  

The Bill replaces these four Acts with one piece of legislation. This will make the law easier to understand and access. The legislation also needs to be updated to keep pace with our changing world.

The New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill 2016

As recommend by the Reviewers, the overarching purpose of the new legislation is to protect New Zealand as a free, open and democratic society.

The legislation sets out the appropriate functions, powers and duties of the agencies and empowers them to contribute to the following objectives while acting in accordance with New Zealand law and human rights obligations:

  • The protection of New Zealand’s national security; and
  • The international relations and wellbeing of New Zealand; and
  • The economic wellbeing of New Zealand.

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Factsheet 1 (PDF 484KB)