14 Oct 2014

NZ warned against copying Aust law

11:52 am on 14 October 2014

The Australian Lawyers Alliance is warning New Zealand against copying Australian anti-terrorism laws which give sweeping powers to government agencies.

The Australian Foreign Fighters Bill, which would restrict travel to some parts of the world, is expected to be passed later this month.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has announced a four-week review of New Zealand's security laws to bring it more in-line with allies such as Australia.

But Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesperson Greg Barns told Nine to Noon these kinds of laws gave too much control to security agencies.

"We can, for example, lock a person away for days on end in order to break them, to make threats against people," he said.

"The agents will be immune from prosecution and, worst of all, if the media reports ASIO (the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) abuse and it's a special operation, journalists will go to jail."

The New Zealand government should avoid being caught up in the hysteria of the moment, Mr Barns said.

But Peter Jennings, executive director of defence think tank the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said it was important for Australia and New Zealand to have similar anti-terrorism laws because of the number of people who travelled between the two countries.

"I understand, for example, that the two New Zealanders who were killed in the Yemen, one had actually been a resident in Australia for a period, the other had lived in Australia for a certain amount of time.

"So that easy flow of people between our two borders means that we really have to work jointly."

Mr Jennings said the change in policy would also bring New Zealand into line with other allies.

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