'Dicked around': Govt slams Nats over terror bill negotiations

Justice Minister Andrew Little says a referendum had never been raised with him in extensive...
Justice Minister Andrew Little. Photo: NZME
The minister in charge of a new anti-terrorism bill says he has been "dicked around" by National, which he says is playing politics on a bill regarding national security.

But National leader Simon Bridges insists this is not the case and accused Justice Minister Andrew Little of having a "belligerent" negotiation style.

The war of words comes as the Government continues to negotiate a bill which aims to give police more power to deal with those who have engaged in terrorism-related activities overseas if they return to New Zealand.

The Green Party has refused to support the bill in its first reading, meaning it needs National's support, or it would fail – unless the Greens change their minds.

National had agreed to support the bill in its first reading but had a laundry list of demands including reducing the age limit of those who would be targeted by the would-be law from 18 to 14.

But Bridges threatened to pull National's support unless Little agreed to meet with him before the bill went before the House for the first time.

They met last night but it remains unclear if National would vote in favour of the bill.

"Frankly, I do feel a little dicked around by them," Little told media this morning.

He added that he had indicated four areas where the Government would be happy to make some changes to the bill.

But he said after those points were relayed to National, the party came back with even more demands.

He said it was "politicking" and not good faith.

But National denies this; its justice spokesman Mark Mitchell said this was "absolutely not" the case.

"We have been very clear from day one what we wanted – none of our amendments have changed, they are still all the same amendments on the table and there has been no change at all."

Mitchell said the caveat to National's support to the legislation has always been it had to be a strong bill.

Like Little, Mitchell would not say which areas of the bill the Government had indicated it would change as "those negotiations are ongoing".

But he said Little saying National had been "dicked around" was not helpful language.

Bridges said the meeting with Little was "unproductive" but said Little's office had come back to him this morning with a more conciliatory stance.

Asked of National had, indeed, dicked the Government around on this issue, Bridges said no and that he was "not going to get into the name game blame".

But he then accused Little of being belligerent in the negotiations.

Mitchell told reporters this morning that he will make it known before the bill's first reading in the House this afternoon whether or not National will support it.

Comments

If the last 18 years since 911 has shown us anything, it is that terrorist legislation is only aimed at keeping domestic western people terrorized. Refer your last experience at an airport terminal. These control freak people are sick.

I wonder if New Zealand First would still have gone with Labour and Greens with Andrew Little as the leader?