Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

SIS review: PM aiming for bipartisan support from Labour

Mr Key said he expected that the report would be made public next week. Photo / Greg Bowker
Mr Key said he expected that the report would be made public next week. Photo / Greg Bowker

Prime Minister John Key says he will be trying to get bipartisan support from Labour for changes to the intelligence services in the wake of a review of their operations.

Mr Key confirmed today that the review, completed by former Labour Deputy Prime Minister Sir Michael Cullen and lawyer and professional director Dame Patsy Reddy, had been received by members of the Intelligence and Security Committee, a statutory panel including Labour Party leader Andrew Little.

Mr Key said he expected that the report would be made public next week after the committee had discussed it.

But he said he had met the reviewers during the process and asked that their recommendations be acceptable to both major political parties.

"One of the instructions we gave the reviewers was to try to come up with some recommendations that not only worked but could meet common ground," Mr Key said at his post-Cabinet press conference today.

The review concentrated on the Security Intelligence Service domestic spy agency, which operates under legislation that has not been changed since 1969.

A review of the cyber-security and external spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), was undertaken in 2012 and legislation expanding its powers was passed the following year, without Labour's support.

"My preference is to try to get an outcome for this review that will lead to improving the current legislation but will also get that bipartisan support reinstated," Mr Key said.

He had not yet read the review but understood that its general contention was that the SIS legislation "was not fit for purpose" and that it recommended ways in which the GCSB and SIS could work together in the modern environment.

Mr Key chairs the Intelligence and Security Committee.

The other members are Mr Little, Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson, who is also Minister in Charge of the SIS and GCSB, Justice Minister Amy Adams and Labour foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer.

- NZ Herald

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