The report of the review of the Intelligence and Security Act 2017 (the ISA) has been considered by the cross-party Intelligence and Security Committee and presented to the House of Representatives.
A review of the ISA must take place every five to seven years. This review was brought forward so it could consider the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain on 15 March 2019 (the Royal Commission Report) that relate to the ISA in a timely way and within a review of the entire Act.
The purpose of the review was to:
- determine whether improvements could be made to the ISA to ensure it continues to be effective, clear and fit for purpose; and
- consider the recommendations about the ISA from the Royal Commission Report.
The ISA review report makes 52 recommendations (33 main recommendations and 19 ‘routine improvements’).
The review was carried out by the Honourable Sir Terence Arnold and Matanuku Mahuika, with Dr Penelope Ridings as special advisor.
Read the review here.
Recommendations of the review:
What happens now:
The ISA is administered by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), who is the lead agency for responding to the review.
The recommendations made in the ISA review report are complex. Many of them propose that the Government carry out further work to decide whether changes to the ISA are necessary. The Government will need time to consider the ISA review report and the potential impact of the proposals, before accepting any recommendations.
DPMC is currently considering the report to inform its advice to Ministers on the recommendations and the Government’s response.
Updates on the Government response
How does this review relate to the Royal Commission Report?
The Royal Commission Report recommendations related to the ISA and the other issues the Royal Commission identified with the Act will be considered as part of the Government’s response to the ISA review report.
The Royal Commission Report made four recommendations that relate to the ISA. These were:
- Recommendation 6: Strengthen the role of the Intelligence and Security Committee
- Recommendation 10: Add a reporting requirement for direct access agreements.
- Recommendation 17: Require in legislation for the National Security Intelligence Priorities and an annual threatscape report to be published, and the Intelligence and Security Committee to receive and consider submissions on both.
- Recommendation 18: Review all legislation related to the counter-terrorism effort – including an urgent review of section 19 of the ISA.
The ISA review was brought forward to March 2022 to consider the Royal Commission Report’s recommendations about the ISA in a timely way and within a review of the entire Act.
The review also considered other issues identified in the Royal Commission Report about the Act as it affects the counter-terrorism effort.
The ISA review accepted some, but not all, of the Royal Commission Report’s recommendations that relate to the ISA. A brief overview is provided in the table below:
|Royal Commission Report recommendation relating to the ISA
|Recommendation 6: Strengthen the role of the Intelligence and Security Committee
|The review accepted the Royal Commission Report’s recommendations about the ISC, and proposes wider reform of this committee.
|Recommendation 10: Add a reporting requirement for direct access agreements
|The review did not accept the Royal Commission Report’s recommendation to add a reporting requirement to the direct access agreement scheme. However, the review makes other recommendations about the direct access agreement scheme that they consider will improve the scheme.
|Recommendation 17: Require in legislation for the National Security Intelligence Priorities and an annual threatscape report to be published, and the Intelligence and Security Committee to receive and consider submissions on both.
|The review accepted this recommendation, but proposes the National Assessments Bureau (instead of the responsible Minister) publish an unclassified version of its independent annual threatscape report.
|Recommendation 18: Review all legislation related to the counter-terrorism effort – including an urgent review of section 19 of the ISA.
|The review considered the effect of section 19 of the ISA and does not recommend any changes to this section.