Little bows to Green Party changes on terrorism bill, bypassing need for National

The Justice Minister's terrorism legislation that has been fraught with support issues has bowed to pressure from the Green Party - bypassing the need for National to be on-side. 

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The proposed law is set to be introduced today in preparation for the possible return of overseas fighters such as Mark Taylor. Source: 1 NEWS

The counter-terrorism legislation, created in preparation for a possible return of Kiwi jihadist Mark Taylor, has now been altered after it was labeled by the Green Party as "outdated American style War On Terror policies". 

The Government announced last week a bill to "prevent terrorism and de-radicalise New Zealanders coming back from overseas" as tensions have risen in Syria. It comes after US troops were pulled from northern Syria and Turkish forces moved in, increasing the possibility of foreign ISIS fighters returning home.  

The Green Party immediately pulled support, with MP Golriz Ghahraman calling the legislation "outdated American style War On Terror policies, that breach human rights, risk criminalising political activists, and undermine our criminal justice processes". 

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It could put more restrictions on people like Kiwi Jihadi Mark Taylor. Source: 1 NEWS

National, which initially promised to see it through its first reading in Parliament, then said the legislation in its current form would only keep New Zealanders "half-safe", with leader Simon Bridges saying changes would need to be discussed or risk losing National support. 

After the meeting, Mr Little said National "want more, I said no to that, so I'm waiting to hear from them". 

The bill was scheduled to have its first reading on Tuesday, but it was delayed last-minute after the issues with National. 

The Green Party released a statement today saying it "negotiated important civil liberties changes".

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Foreign policy expert Robert Patman joined Breakfast to discuss the bill, which receives its first reading in Parliament today. Source: Breakfast

Ms Ghahraman said they had "ensured that foreign convictions and deportations won't be accepted without proper scrutiny and we've ended the use of secret evidence without an advocate".

"We eliminated the risk that this new law will recognise dodgy convictions from overseas jurisdictions that do not adhere to our high standards of fair trial and our definition of what constitutes terrorism."

She said the use of classified information "will only occur with the protection of a judge, and the lawyer appointed to assist the accused person will have access to the information, thus ending the use of secret evidence without an advocate". 

After the announcement, Simon Bridges tweeted, "National wants Kiwis to be safe and this bill does not go far enough."

"National will lodge amendments pushing for the changes needed to strengthen the bill. Andrew Little has let his ego get in the way of New Zealanders' safety so far. Now he has a choice whether to make this bill safer or not."

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Andrew Little joined Breakfast to discuss the bill, which was announced yesterday. Source: Breakfast

Annaliese Johnston of Amnesty International Aotearoa had said last week the legislation could have "ramifications for people seeking refuge or asylum here".

"Whilst the local definition of terrorism is much narrower here in New Zealand, we have concerns that the new law could still harm people falsely characterised by oppressive regimes overseas, if that information is influencing a New Zealand judge's decision."