26 Nov 2014

SIS boss adamant more powers needed

7:57 am on 26 November 2014

The director of the Security Intelligence Service, Rebecca Kitteridge, says the organisation has prevented terror attacks in New Zealand, but needs greater powers to continue to keep the country safe.

The Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill introduced to Parliament yesterday would give the SIS more power to conduct video surveillance on terrorist suspects.

The bill passed its first reading by 107 votes to 14, with only the Green Party voting against it.

It will extend the period the Government can cancel a passport for, from 12 months to three years. It will also allow the Security Intelligence Service to carry out greater surveillance than it does now, including in special cases without a warrant for up to 48 hours.

Ms Kitteridge said the risk of an attack had risen, particularly in the past six months.

"I'm not saying all New Zealanders should be worried when they go to the supermarket or whatever ... of course they shouldn't.

"But the reality is that I do have to worry about it ... it would be a terrible, terrible thing if there were to be some kind of event in New Zealand as we've seen in Australia and Canada recently and I am absolutely determined to do my best to ensure that that doesn't happen."

Ms Kitteridge said the SIS had prevented incidents of that kind happening but would not go into details.

"There have been a number of times where intelligence has been passed that means that travel has been averted and various other security-related issues have been averted."

Ms Kitteridge said the SIS did not abuse its powers.

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