PM wants counter terrorism law changes passed this month

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

The Government is making moves to speed up counter-terrorism changes, with the Prime Minister wanting stronger laws "as a soon as possible and no later than the end of this month". 

"Parliament must act," she said. 

The Prime Minister said all legal avenues were pursued prior to the West Auckland supermarket terrorist attack on Friday, which left seven people injured. 

It was also revealed the Justice Minister intended to expedite the law changes on the same day the attack happened. 

New Zealand's Parliament debating chamber.

Ardern said on Saturday she wanted it to progress through Parliament as soon as it resumes. 

She thanked National's Judith Collins for her support in getting the law progressed. 

Collins said her party would support pushing the change through Parliament in Urgency.

"It’s the responsible thing to do."

Collins said Ardern told her she would accept National's assistance to get it through as quickly as possible. 

"I think we've had very good public discussion on it, it's time to get moving, I'm very happy to support that."

Last month, Ardern met with officials to discuss the risk the individual posed to the community. Later that month, officials raised the possibility of speeding up changes to the counter terrorism laws. 

"Within 48 hours of these discussions, the Minister of Justice contacted the Chair of the Select Committee with the intention of speeding that law change up. That was yesterday, the same day the attack happened."

"We must be willing to make the changes that we know may not necessarily have changed history, but could change the future," Ardern said. 

New Zealand currently has proposed changes to counter-terrorism laws going through Parliament, it passed its first reading in May and is sitting at Select Committee stage. 

"That means the public have had their say, and now Parliament must act," Ardern said. 

"I am committing, that as soon as Parliament resumes we will complete that work. That means working to pass the law as soon as possible, and no later than by the end of this month."

The first reading of the bill was supported across the House. 

During the first reading, Justice Minister Kris Faafoi pointed to the Royal Commission into the March 15 terrorist attack, which "highlighted the need to consider creating offences which relate to the preparatory behaviour of a terrorist before they attempt a terrorist act".

"Overseas jurisdictions, including Australia and the United Kingdom, have developed offences that are precursor in nature, but this is currently the gap in our legislation."

The proposed law change would amend the two current terrorism laws, and creates offences in the Terrorism Suppression Act "that may be broadly described as precursory in nature, including an offence of planning or preparing for a terrorist act".

"The bill brings New Zealand into line with the way that terrorism is criminalised in overseas jurisdiction with similar legal systems and enhances our ability to meet our international obligations," Faafoi said. 

The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill would amend the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 and Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Act 2019.