SIS Minister Chris Finlayson says he wants to maintain the same bipartisan approach to the comprehensive review of intelligence agencies next year as he has with Labour over law targeting terrorist foreign fighters, which is expected to pass in Parliament tonight.
"I think there is nothing more important than a bipartisan approach between the National Party and the Labour Party to these issues," he told the Herald last night.
"So they will be consulted on the reviewers and the terms of references."
It would not be an officials' review, he said. It would be "more arms-length than that".
The Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill is expected to pass tonight under urgency with the support of National and Labour.
It was introduced after the United Nations Security Council resolved in September to require member nations to address the threat of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq.
But Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, David Shearer, said last night that he would be seeking clarity from Mr Finlayson today on how the law would apply after a weekend interview suggested it could prevent New Zealand Kurds from going to Iraq to fight with the Peshmerga, the fighting force of the regional Government in semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, who are taking on Islamic State (Isis).
He said the committee had been given an assurance by the Security Intelligence Service and the Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet that the law would apply only to terrorist acts - as defined in the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 - and to individuals wanting to fight with organisations designated terrorist groups by the United Nations.
Mr Finlayson said he would "get absolute clarification on that".
What did the UN Security Council resolution say that kicked off the bill?
It required countries to stop people they believed to be foreign terrorist fighters from crossing their borders: to stop funding of such people; to try to prosecute and rehabilitate returning foreign fighters; to stop recruitment or other assistance to people going overseas for terrorist acts or for training.
What will the NZ law do?
It allows the SIS to undertake visual surveillance on private property for suspected terrorism with a warrant; allows it to conduct any kind of lawful surveillance for up to 24 hours without a warrant in an emergency situation relating to terrorism; allows the Internal Affairs Minister to cancel a person's passport for three years instead of one.
Is the bill related to NZ deploying trainers to the Middle East?
No. The bill was introduced about the same time the Government sent the Defence Force to the Middle East to scope out options for contributing to the fight against Isis. The Cabinet is almost certain to confirm a deployment in the New Year. They are both part of the Government's response to Isis. Labour supports the bill but not the deployment.