The review is to determine whether improvements can be made to the Intelligence and Security Act 2017 (the Act) to ensure it continues to be effective, clear and fit for purpose.
The review will also consider relevant issues and recommendations raised in the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain on 15 March 2019.
The review’s full Terms of Reference can be found here.
Section 235 of the Act requires that the Act and the intelligence and security agencies – the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) – be reviewed every five to seven years. The Act was due to be reviewed from September 2022, but the review has been brought forward in response to issues raised by the Royal Commission.
The Royal Commission made specific recommendations to strengthen our intelligence and security legislation, these being:
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is considering the Royal Commission’s recommendation to establish a new national intelligence and security agency as part of its review of the overarching national security policy settings. The reviewers of the Intelligence and Security Act will take note of that work as it develops.
The review is being carried out by two reviewers, the Hon Sir Terence Arnold KNZM and Matanuku Mahuika. Dr Penelope Ridings MNZM is a special advisor to the review.
More information on the reviewers and special advisor can be found here.
The Prime Minister appointed the reviewers and set the review’s terms of reference, in consultation with the Intelligence and Security Committee, a statutory committee made up of members of Parliament.
The Ministry of Justice is providing the secretariat and other support to the reviewers and special advisor. Public engagement is being conducted through the Ministry of Justice, including its consultation hub.
In March 2016, Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy presented findings from their review of intelligence and security in New Zealand to Parliament. The Government accepted most of the recommendations and this resulted in the passage of the Intelligence and Security Act 2017, which put in place a single legislative regime for the NZSIS, GCSB, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Intelligence and Security Committee.
This 2022 review is not intended to replicate the scope of the 2016 review, or be a first principles review of the Act. The intent of this review is to understand what improvements need to be made, if any, so that the Act is clear, effective, and fit for purpose, as well as considering the relevant matters raised by the Royal Commission’s report.
This review will have particular regard to:
The Act was amended in 2021 so the review could begin sooner than the original statutory timeframe.
The review met the Government’s Protective Security Requirements for the handling of classified information. Security clearances were confirmed for the independent reviewers and special advisor.
On 2 March 2022, the Prime Minister notified in the New Zealand Gazette the appointment of Hon Sir Terence Arnold KNZM and Matanuku Mahuika to carry out the review, and the appointment of Dr Penelope Ridings MNZM as a special advisor to the review. The terms of reference were also notified.
Since April 2022, the review has carried out a comprehensive literature review and had preliminary meetings with the intelligence and security agencies and other government and non-government stakeholders, with a view to preparing for public engagement on specific topic areas.
Public engagement runs from August-September 2022.
A report is due to be delivered to the Intelligence and Security Committee by 20 December 2022.
After the Committee has considered the report, it must present the report to the House of Representatives.
The Government will then consider any recommendations in the report.
The terms of reference require the review meet communities’ expectations of transparency as far as possible, and that a wide range of people should have the opportunity to express their views on issues relating to the review.
The review aims to meet public expectations of transparency as far as possible.
Therefore, the reviewers are seeking public feedback on a range of issues relating to the review. If you would like to have a say, you can take part in an online questionnaire here(external link).
You can also provide a written submission to the reviewers by email at ISAReview@dpmc.govt.nz or by posting it to the following address:
Intelligence and Security Act Review
Ministry of Justice