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Q+A Panel Discussion - Response to Judith Collins Interview

Q + A
Hosted by SUSAN WOOD
In response to Judith Collins Interview

SUSAN Welcome back to the panel – Bryce Edwards, Kate Sutton and Matthew Hooton. Matthew, Teina Pora – the Minister’s saying her hands are tied. We’ve all seen the letter from Jonathan Krebs, his lawyer, basically saying they’re trying to find the fastest way to get him out, which does seem to be in appeal to the Privy Council at this point, the hope being that they quash the conviction and do not order a retrial at this point. It’s still a matter of months, though, isn’t it?

MATTHEW HOOTON – Political Commentator
Look, I understand the Minister’s perspective, because all these people think they’re innocent, don’t they? Bain and Lundy and Scott Watson. ‘The police get it wrong every time, don’t they?’ However, I think this is the exception to the rule. If you talk to any of the senior people in the law-and-order community in Auckland and you ask them is there one thing in their careers that they’re concerned about, that the judicial system got profoundly wrong, they will answer it is this case. And they will not answer in that way if they’re talking about some of those other famous cases. I think this is an exception, but, you know, I can see her perspective, because, as she said, everyone thinks they’re innocent, don’t they?

SUSAN But, then, I’ve been going back through, and there’s a story going around about Arthur Allan Thomas and Muldoon and how he got him out and there was a lot of whisky involved, as there would have been around Muldoon. But there was also a conversation, and somehow, you know, Cabinet was involved when that happened. I mean, that’s not possible these days, Bryce?

DR BRYCE EDWARDS – Political Scientist
No, no. I think Collins is correct. Constitutionally, she can’t just pardon him. There’s a law process going on, justice process going on, that has to be followed first. The difference with the Arthur Allan Thomas case was there was the inquiry – the official inquiry came out. There’s no such inquiry that has proved him innocent, so…

KATE SUTTON – Former Labour Party Board Member
The Police Association and Andrew Little and the Maori Party, I think, have called for an inquiry—

SUSAN I mean, for the Police Association—

MATTHEW And John Banks, the Police Minister at the time.

KATE So I think that that’s really important. We do need to look at the broader issues around this and how this led to it. And I think one thing that is important for people to note is that they are looking for funds to fund their— Oh, you’ve got that there.

SUSAN Gifford Devine. Gifford Devine Solicitors in Hastings – their number 06 783 0420. Yeah, they have no money to fund this.

KATE It’d be worth doing that.

SUSAN Absolutely. All right, corporate manslaughter – another interesting topic, actually, touched upon there. Australia, Matthew, they’re quite big on that, aren’t they? And I think there’s also massive fines, I was reading, in terms of corporate culpability – multimillion-dollar fines. Should we be looking at corporate manslaughter here off the back of CTV and Pike River?

MATTHEW Yes. You know, we have started to see the courts and the Serious Fraud Office and others take a stronger line against white-collar crime. Pleasingly, there are some people involved in the finance industry who are now in jail for a significant amount of time. And being a director of a company is not something we, as we’ve seen at Fonterra, is not something where you just go to a meeting once a month. You are responsible, and you should go to jail if the company does something very wrong.

SUSAN Because, Kate, I think we have seen certainly in a lot of cases – it just seems no one’s ever held accountable. It’s frustrating.

KATE It seems to be. I’ve been reading a little bit about this and thinking about the Pike River families, and it seems to me it’s not just about holding a company responsible; it’s also about holding a board responsible. So under corporate manslaughter, I’d want to be looking at, you know, who is held responsible in this. And I think to get justice, we do need to look at those individuals, not just the company. Because, of course, when someone— when a company goes under, that’s it. And that’s the situation we’ve found ourselves in with Pike River – it’s just desperately sad, and people do need to be held responsible.

BRYCE I think it is also resonating with that ideological change I was talking about before, where post the global financial crisis, the public does want to have a bit more accountability from CEOs, from companies, and they’re not willing to just let them get away with anything. There’s a major focus on the rich and powerful and wanting them to be part of the justice system as well.

KATE We’ve also got to see our government taking that on board too, and what I’ve been saying is I just don’t think we’re seeing enough responsibility. I mean, Key’s always very relaxed about everything, and, again, as I was saying before—

SUSAN That’s just how he rolls.

KATE …crisis to crisis. Yeah, I’m not okay with that. I’m very keen to see people— You know, for me, I’m really relaxed when I’ve got a strategy, I’ve put in place a plan, I’ve got some good rules around it and it rolls, then I’m relaxed. You know, I think don’t be relaxed at the very beginning.

MATTHEW I think that’s the Prime Minister’s public persona.

SUSAN Yeah, I think that’s right.

KATE But we haven’t seen the responsibility. We haven’t seen the outcome of that.

MATTHEW But those that work with him say the hokey-dokey, ‘I’m comfortable’ image is not—

KATE Pike River, Fonterra, Christchurch rebuild…

MATTHEW Yes, but that’s the public side.

KATE Crisis to crisis.

MATTHEW Behind the scenes, he is tough as all hell, and that’s— perhaps he should show it in public more often.

KATE But we’re not seeing the outcome of that, though.

SUSAN Briefly, Bryce, coming up this week – we’re in recess, so not a lot?

BRYCE Not much, no. This is the week to take off if you’re watching politics, actually. No, it will be interesting.

SUSAN There will be something come the programme next Sunday.

BRYCE Yes, in vacuum, things happen. That’s the rule of politics. But the big thing to watch out, of course, for is the announcement tomorrow about the official inquiry by the MPI and what the terms of reference are, and then John Key will be announcing something a bit later in the week about their own ministerial inquiry. And that’ll be the one to watch.

SUSAN Very good. Thank you, panel.

KATE Thanks.

SUSAN Nice to see you all.


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