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Q + A: Panel In Response To Russel Norman Interview

Q + A
Panel Discussion 2
Hosted By Susan Wood
In Response To Russel Norman Interview

SUSAN Fran O’Sullivan, let’s just pick up that GCSB point. Yes, you need to sit up there. Let’s just pick up that GCSB point and what the Prime Minister was saying. I’ll let you take that.

FRAN O’SULLIVAN – NZ Herald Columnist
Well, I think on the GCSB, one of the issues that I had from it and just obviously reading the report while on the road, the thing that really worries me and does concern me is that we have this repetitive situation of not only the GCSB but also our police operating outside of the law, obviously, the search warrants that weren’t appropriately obtained for the Urewera raids and so forth. And so we have this pattern of people who should be utterly beyond reproach actually operating outside the law, and that has to be addressed. So I tend to think there does need to be a bit of a look, and it’s a look across all agencies, not just SIS, GCSB but also police.

DR JON JOHANSSON – Political Scientist
I think that we’ve reached the point— I support what John Armstrong, Vernon Small, Russel and the Greens and others have called for, which is an independent commission of inquiry solely on the basis that the *legislative branch has lost— I’ve lost confidence in the *legislative branch, not the Prime Minister but the *legislative branch investigating itself and always finding itself— giving itself a clear bill and then moving on. Let’s look at the reality of this. Why I’ve, sort of, come down on this side of the commission of inquiry is when I saw the inspector this week, Ian Fletcher, three times, as soon as the red flag that Key was talking about this morning— as soon as we saw that red flag, we promptly acknowledged our mistakes and we apologise for them, right? Three times he said that line. That absolutely is undercut by the fact that when that red flag of Kim Dotcom through our judicial branch of our political system, not the *legislative branch, when that information came to light, what did Fletcher do? He went and got the ministerial certificate, the only one that’s ever been written, to try and suppress this for all time. Now, I’d have Fletcher’s head just for that. These people should not be allowed to keep on pronouncing themselves as having done a proper job. It is not good enough, and it is impossible to have confidence in them to do so. Let’s get someone expert in the field of— an independent person from Australia or from Canada, someone, you know, that we can have confidence in to look in on all of these questions, because how can you have confidence in these people?

SUSAN Jane, a quick word?

PROF JANE KELSEY – International Trade Expert
Well, I don’t think the issue is just about the machinery. I think the issue is about the incredible expansion of state surveillance power that’s happened since the mid-1990s, and it’s just kept being added.

JON Kicked on along further after 9/11.

JANE Well, yes, but it was happening before then, and, you know, I have a particular interest in this. My name’s been bandied around this—

SUSAN I’ve heard plenty of people say, ‘I’ve got nothing to hide. I don’t care. I’m a law-abiding citizen. Who cares?’

JANE Well, we actually have rights as citizens in a country not to be subject to surveillance by the state, and we need to understand what those powers are. And part of my own concern is for those engaged, as I do, in legitimate international dissent and domestic dissent. It’s part of a democracy.

SUSAN You think they’re spying on you? (laughs)

JANE And I remember back when they made the changes to the SIS legislation in ’98, and they expanded the definition of security to including activities within New Zealand or relating to New Zealand that may impact on New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being. Now, that’s a box into which you can put all sorts of things.

SUSAN All right, all right. I think we’re very clear on the message from you on that. Russel Norman we’ve just heard about – is it going to—? Fran, is it going to get you out of your car? Are you going to use a central city rail loop? Is it part of the solution for Auckland?

FRAN I have the good fortune to live in the inner city in Auckland, but probably, actually, for that very same reason, in that public transport in Auckland hasn’t actually been sufficient. It’s— Everyone knows—

JON Wouldn’t it revitalise the CBD?

FRAN Well, it would revitalise the CBD, but I think it goes further than the rail loop. I think it’s also utilising the waterways – where are the ferries from St Heliers and places like that into town so that we utilise, because of the isthmus nature, just more of what’s there. But also I think there’s a lot we can be doing, because I don’t necessarily agree with building more and more roads. But in terms of putting on tolls and that sort of thing, we should actually start to push people towards public transport. If, you know, major times were tolled, then people would say, ‘Well, maybe it makes more sense.’

SUSAN Well, even the parking around Auckland makes you think twice about bringing a car into the city. Jane?

JANE Well, the problem with tolls is that they’re regressive. And I think there’s a report going to come out before the end of the month from this quaintly called consultative group on how to fund Auckland transport, and the kinds of issues that are going to come up are really serious for Aucklanders and for around the country. Are we looking at an increase in the petrol tax? Are we looking at an increase in rates? And a huge amount of Auckland rates already goes towards roading. Are we looking at Aucklanders who’ve already paid for the motorways paying to use the motorways that are already are?

SUSAN That are already paid for. I’ll just bring Jon in here. The interesting thing – I was talking to the EMA boss a few weeks ago about this, and he said this is the issue that’s really united Auckland, because Auckland’s generally not united. All of us want the rail loop, and his thinking was it’s just the way the numbers have been crunched between Treasury and between Auckland, and it will happen at some point.

JON Yeah, but I think this is actually good politics by the Green Party really supporting the Mayor in his vision of an integrated, sort of greater intensity in terms of housing but also with transport solutions that complement that. So, and you can see where this is all heading as well, isn’t it, that if Mayor Brown is re-elected with a very strong mandate to go ahead with this rail loop, how’s the Government going to resist that?

SUSAN Well, yes, you have a power struggle there, don’t you? I mean, they made the supercity, though. It made the supercity.

JON That’s right. They’ve created this beast, and they have to learn to live with it.

JANE And that’s the weird thing about the politics of it. I mean, you’ve got the AA, you’ve got the Council for Infrastructure Development, you’ve got the Auckland Business Forum all supporting the rail loop.

JON But National loves the smell of bitumen in the morning.

JANE Well, I hear that Key’s even said he’s agnostic about it, so you’ve got Joyce and you’ve got Brownlee—

FRAN It comes down to funding, and it comes down as to whether the Government actually wants to pick up the tab or stonewall Auckland so hard to the point where Auckland says, ‘Dammit, we’ll do it on our own and get our own funding from elsewhere.’

JON Better money spent than South Canterbury Finance, right?

FRAN Well, that’s already spent.

SUSAN 1.7 billion or so, yes.

* meant executive branch

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