In recent weeks international security has been in the headlines. As New Zealanders have been watching events unfold in the Middle East the Government has turned its mind to the role that we need to play as international citizens. Last week the Prime Minister gave an important speech on national security which outlined the threat that the terrorist group ISIL poses both globally and to New Zealand.
The Government takes its national security obligations very seriously. We have an obligation to ensure New Zealanders are safe at home and abroad. ISIL exposes New Zealand to a type of threat that we lack both the legislative tools and resources to combat.
Sadly, there are individuals here who are attracted to carrying out domestic attacks of the type we have seen in Canada, and luckily prevented in Australia. NZ agencies have a watch list of between 30 and 40 people of concern who may wish to become foreign fighters for ISIL.
To respond to the evolving foreign terrorist fighter issue Cabinet has approved limited, narrowly focused legislative changes which would allow:
This is my first newsletter since the recent elections and I want to say a huge thank you. To the 21,000 people that voted for me - I appreciate you putting your faith in me again. To the hundreds of volunteers and supporters - I wouldn't be in this job without your unwavering support.
Parliament goes back
This week the 51st Parliament was opened with two important ceremonial occasions. Firstly the Commission Opening of Parliament where MPs were sworn in. Secondly with the State Opening of Parliament where His Excellency, the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae outlined the Government's agenda for the next three years. These ceremonies have been undertaken in New Zealand since Parliament first met in Auckland in 1854.
At the State Opening the Governor-General delivered the ‘Speech from the Throne’ to detail the work we will be doing on behalf of New Zealanders. It's an opportunity for us to reaffirm the commitments we made during the election campaign and to build on the work done in the past six years. Three of our main priorities outlined in the speech include: