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Labour set to support new ISIS law - but wary of NZ military action

Labour is indicating its support for the Government’s proposed law changes to crackdown on people wanting to fight for militant groups like Islamic State.

Source: US ABC

The Prime Minister is expected to outline further details of what action New Zealand might take in the international fight against ISIS when he gives a security speech in Wellington tomorrow.

But this morning, John Key has given Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, David Shearer, and defence spokesman, Phil Goff, a confidential briefing to lay-out the law changes his government’s considering to monitor and prosecute people fighting for groups like ISIS.

Mr Shearer and Mr Goff say that from what they've seen they're "reasonably happy" that these are measures that need to take place” to close loopholes.

Mr Shearer also says he is pleased the Government plans to allow time for submissions on the proposed changes and he says the Prime Minister’s confirmed the legislation would have a “sunset clause”, which means the law changes would only last until 2015.

But Mr Shearer says Labour is yet to receive a briefing on the rationale for why New Zealand would need to go to Iraq and in what form.

In recent weeks, John Key has said “it would be odd” if New Zealand did not offer some form of support for the international fight against Islamic State militants.

That support may be in the form of humanitarian aid or assistance with Iraqi military training.

Labour's defence spokesman, Phil Goff, says, "Our least preferred option is to send in troops on the ground in a combat capacity because we don’t know what the specific objectives are or whether the objectives can be achieved, and we don’t want a repeat of the mistakes of history simply to put our people at risk if the exercise is a futile one.

"But I think that New Zealanders, as a whole, would be very much focused on the sort of humanitarian assistance we could give to the people, the millions of refugees who have been victims, not simply of ISIS, but also victims of Shi’a militias in Iraq and victims of (Syrian President) Bashar Al-Asad.

"There are literally millions of people who are escaping oppression from a range of pretty appalling organisations and individuals," said Mr Goff.

Labour’s acting leader, Annette King, says if John Key is planning to send New Zealand military personnel to fight ISIS he needs to put a case to the New Zealand public to explain why.

Asked if she believed ISIS was receiving funding from New Zealand sources, Ms King said, "All we can do is hope that whatever information the Prime Minister’s got he’s using it wisely and well."