The Government's plans to allow the SIS to conduct surveillance without a warrant for up to 48 hours may not get enough support, it emerged in the first reading debate for the new legislation yesterday.

All parties except the Greens voted for the first reading of the bill aimed at stopping Kiwis from joining Isis, the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill.

But most parties expressed reservations about aspects of the bill, mainly the 48-hour warrantless surveillance, the ability to suspend a passport for three years instead of one year, and the fact that the Government would be able to cancel the New Zealand passports of foreign fighters while they are still overseas.

Even National's support parties, Act, United Future and the Maori Party, as well as Labour and New Zealand First expressed concerns about the 48 hour clause.


United Future leader and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne, who has responsibility for the passports part of the bill, said the SIS Minister Chris Finlayson gave the House a hypothetical instance of when such emergency powers could be used.

"Say reporting indicated this morning that an individual was planning to depart New Zealand later today to travel to Syria.

"That individual had been previously unknown to NZSIS, but the new reporting indicated the individual had boasted to others about going on jihad.

"There would be insufficient time to get a traditional warrant in the eight hours before the individual left the country."

Labour leaders said he had been briefed by the SIS on why it believed it needed the ability to move quickly with surveillance without a warrant because of the speed with which suspects acted and other measures.

"But they constitute a massive erosion of privacy and of civil rights so there should be effective checks and balances and it should be a deliberative and careful process to obtain a warrant for state officials to breach privacy and act against people's civil rights."

The bill was sent in advance to Labour and interested groups such as the Law Society last Friday.

New Zealand First complained that it was not given an advance copy of the bill - even though leader Winston Peters has been briefed by SIS director Rebecca Kitteridge on foreign fighters from New Zealand.


The bill is being fast-tracked and the foreign affairs and defence select committee will have a maximum of four working days to hear submissions before it is to be reported back to Parliament next Tuesday and passed before the House rises for the year.