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John Key defends the GCSB bill

Wednesday 14 Aug 2013 7:39 p.m.

Campbell Live has devoted much of this week to the GCSB bill. We're on a nationwide road trip, finding out whether you support or oppose the bill or even if you feel informed.

We've asked Prime Minister John Key to appear on a number of occasions to discuss the bill. He's always declined, until tonight.

"We got 124 submissions on the GCSB bill, and 30,000 on snapper," he says.

Mr Key says he spends a lot of time touring the country, but the GCSB bill is not a topic that comes up in his discussions.

"People do not raise GCSB. I have public meetings, I have question sessions at everything I do. I probably have half a dozen meetings a day with public engaging with people…People don't raise this issue," he tells Campbell Live.

The Prime Minister says under the changes, the GCSB will need to obtain a warrant from the Commissioner of High Security Warrants – a retired court judge appointed by Mr Key.

"[The surveillance of] Kim Dotcom was illegal under the old law, which is why I apologised, and it's illegal under the new law," Mr Key says.

Mr Key says some discussion around the bill has been misrepresented, and the organisation will not be able to spy on New Zealanders.

"The point here is that you're going into a shop, or you're going down the main street of New Zealand, and you are saying, 'Do you want to be spied on?' If you come and ask me that question the answer is no. But you cannot do that under Section Eight," he says.

Mr Key says the GCSB stopped surveillance of 88 New Zealanders last year under advice from lawyers.

"I'm a bit busy running the country…so I don't need to go in there and read out a pro-forma second reading speech," he said when asked why he did not show up to the committee stages or second reading of the bill, before accusing Campbell Live of creating stories around the Dotcom saga.

"You've done so many stories which are absolute nonsense and you know they are, and I've actually answered those in the past," he says.

Mr Key says the original problems with the GCSB stem from a section passed by the Labour Government in 2003.

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