New Zealand's spy agencies were focusing too much on Islamic extremism and not enough on the threat of white supremacy, says National Leader Simon Bridges.
This is despite the minister in charge of New Zealand's security agencies, Andrew Little, saying both the NZSIS and the GCSB had ramped up their focus on white supremacy over the past nine months.
Bridges – who is a member of the Security and Intelligence select committee which receives briefings from the two spy agencies – told RNZ this morning that it appeared the threat of white supremacy in New Zealand was not a focus for the agencies.
"I think what I can say, it's in the public domain and certainly is my view, is that when you look at this, you can make the case that there was a big focus on Islamic extremism – you see that from their documents.
"There was also work in Asia in cybersecurity matters – but this [white supremacy] does not seem to have been something that was a focus."
He would not go into detail about what was said at the briefings.
But he said the degree to which the NZSIS and GCSB were looking into this type of threat should be investigated as part of a royal commission of inquiry.
But Little clearly does not agree that the spy agencies have not been paying close enough attention to the threat of white supremacy in New Zealand.
Last week onQ&A, he rejected any comments that there was too much attention given to surveying potential Islamic extremism over other kinds of extremism.
"What I know is that over the past nine months, given the rise of right-wing extremism and white supremacism in other parts of the world, that has been a discrete focus of our agencies in reviewing their activity."
Little signs off all warrants the NZSIS issues and he said he was satisfied all forms of extremism were being looked at.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made similar comments to media last week, saying that over the past nine months, the NZSIS and GCSB have been doing more work in terms of monitoring far-right-wing extremism.
The role of New Zealand's security and intelligence agencies will come under scrutiny in an official inquiry into the March 15 terror attack.
Ardern said an inquiry, which would look at the specific circumstances leading up to the Christchurch Mosques terror attack, would be launched.
That inquiry would look at what all relevant agencies knew or could or should have known about the man who carried out the shooting – including his access to weapons, his travel and his use of social media.
A royal commission of inquiry was one of the options, but Ardern is yet to make a decision on that yet.