Domestic terror threat revealed


It has been revealed that there has been an attempt to carry out a terrorist attack in New Zealand in the last two years.

The newly released National Security System handbook says a recently introduced system for dealing with serious threats against New Zealand has been activated for a "threat of a domestic terrorist incident".

No other details on the nature of the plot have been revealed.

Chris Finlayson, Minister in Charge of the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) refused to comment about when the terror threat emerged or the source of the threat. Mr Finlayson said "I'm not being flippant, these are very serious matters and in due course further information may come to light but not yet."

Other recent examples of activations of the system include the "threat of 1080 contamination of infant formula", "Ebola viral disease readiness", and "neurological complications and birth defects possibly associated with Zika virus".

The National Security System can be activated for more than one issue at any time, and it is led by a committee chaired by the Prime Minister including key officials from intelligence services, police, the military and other departments.

It has also been revealed that in the last year, the Security Intelligence Service has for the first time used its powers to authorise urgent surveillance without a warrant.

It was the first time the agency had ordered urgent surveillance since parliament passed new laws two years ago.

Alexander Gillespie, Professor of Law at Waikato University, told Newshub it is no surprise that the powers to undertake surveillance without a warrant have been used.

"The threat levels around the world are at their highest especially in Western countries".

He said the threat of terrorism is real and needs be monitored, but it also needs to be kept in perspective and "we need to make sure that our civil rights and our protections are also maintained at the same time".

"The risk of something bad happening to Kiwis is much higher with domestic violence than it is with a terror incident which is a very remote risk", Mr Gillespie said.

"The risk is there but it needs to be kept in proportion".