Labour will push for select committee scrutiny of any Government proposals to strengthen anti-terror law including more sweeping powers to cancel passports of New Zealanders planning to already fighting in overseas conflicts.
Prime Minister John Key yesterday confirmed a month long review of New Zealand's anti-terrorism laws which he said was likely to result in recommendations for urgent short term law changes that his Government would pass before Christmas.
The review in response to the rapid rise of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its success in recruiting foreign fighters - including some New Zealanders - to its cause will consider extending existing legal provisions for the cancellation of New Zealand foreign fighters' passports.
Acting Labour Leader David Parker said his party would take up the Government's offer on a briefing on the issues behind its proposed law changes.
"These are superficially attractive. If there is a gap in the law... I want to see what the Government is saying in respect of it. We'll take some convincing, if there is a need to change passport laws, that it should be done under urgency.
"If there is a case for urgency then we might consider an option like a short term option with a sunset clause in it and at the same time putting the identical piece of legislation with a long term fix to a select committee so that it could be considered properly by the end of the sunset date, say six months."
Labour MP and former Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff said the Government had to be careful about "rendering people stateless if that is the intent of the legislation".
"If a person has a New Zealand passport and citizenship and only New Zealand citizenship, stopping them coming back to New Zealand probably exaggerates the problem of terrorism rather than resolves it."
In announcing the review yesterday , Mr Key disclosed New Zealand's national threat level for the first time, saying it had recently been raised from "very low" to "low", implying the threat of a terrorist attack is now seen as "possible but not expected".
Mr Goff this morning said a "low" threat rating "does not require urgent action without proper select committee scrutiny and proper thought about how best to deal with any potential threat that might exist".
Mr Goff also warned once again against sweeping changes aimed at preventing New Zealanders from fighting overseas.
"If there is an inadequacy of the law and it doesn't allow you to stop a person from fighting with an organisation that is committing crimes against humanity then we would need to change the law. But equally I know a lot of people in the Kurdish and Syrian community who if they had the opportunity may well go to protect their own people against the oppression of al-Assad or the oppression of Isis. I don't want to see laws that would prevent people from going to fight for things that most New Zealanders would regard as proper and against the oppression of others that are damaging their family and friends."
Minister in Charge of the SIS and GCSB Chris Finlayson yesterday said the review would focus on what he believed were inadequacies in in the Terrorism Suppression Act and expansion of SIS surveillance powers was "one of the things that would need to be looked at as part of the review".
Other areas of focus would be the definitions around terrorist groups and conflict zones and the type of evidence that was admissible when prosecuting alleged foreign fighters.
"If you are going to prosecute people the law needs to be extremely clear as to the circumstances that will bring them within the law and there will be some very careful definitional questions that will need to be addressed otherwise the legislation potentially would undermine people's human rights", Mr Finlayson said.
Mr Key yesterday responded to those who had suggested he was scaremongering over the terror threat New Zealand faced by saying: "If anyone believes there is absolutely no risk of a form of domestic terrorism here then they're actually deluded."
New Zealanders and other western passport holders threatened to return to their countries of origin "both radicalised and with military training."
Mr Key said he was also aware of several Kiwis seeking to travel overseas to fight for groups such as Isis and that the group was running a sophisticated social media campaign to identify and recruit NZ jihadists.
New Zealand's intelligence and security framework was to be reviewed next year, but "the issue of foreign fighters is an immediate and rapidly evolving one that cannot wait to be considered as part of that wider review", the Prime Minister said.
Mr Key will give a speech next month which will likely include details on the number of actual and potential New Zealand foreign terrorist fighters and further context for any potential assistance New Zealand would offer US led efforts to counter Isis in Iraq.