Brian Edwards Media

Campbell versus Key – the wider issue.

index

The wider issue is television itself. Television does not deal well with complexity. This is particularly the case with commercial television which subscribes to the view that the average viewer has a short attention span, is easily bored and likely to reach for the remote within minutes or possibly seconds of the first hint of tedium appearing. Commercial television executives have assessed the attention span of the average viewer at a maximum of seven minutes, less if the viewer’s interest is not frequently stimulated.

In the areas of news and current affairs that stimulation generally comes in the form of conflict:  the reporting of conflict in the case of news; and actual conflict between antagonists in the case of television current affairs. Third Degree’s ‘The Vote’ provides a classic example. As did the Campbell/Key debate.

However unpalatable, this view of things is probably more or less correct. Commercial television viewers do bore easily and will desert a channel that does not offer them excitement. Such desertion leads to declining ratings and  loss of advertising revenue – the commercial television executive’s nightmare.

The discursive (big word for ‘long’) examination of significant social or political issues simply does not fit the commercial broadcaster’s agenda. So programmes like Campbell Live and Seven Sharp, which play in prime time, are normally made up of three segments with a combined duration of around 22 minutes. I’m told the average sound-bite in a commercial news bulletin is now around five seconds.

Programmes which do attempt to take a more in-depth look at social and political issues – such as The Nation and Q & A – are deliberately marginalised by commercial television executives to the audience wastelands of early Saturday and Sunday morning.

This is all familiar territory to anyone interested in commercial television broadcasting. But the problem of presenting and debating complex issues on television goes beyond ratings pressure and time allocation. Complex issues require not merely time for exegesis and debate, but time and opportunity for the viewer to assimilate what has been  said and to reflect on it. Neither commercial nor non-commercial television can meet those requirements.

Only the printed word or its on-line equivalent can allow us to assimilate and reflect on information and ideas entirely at our own pace. This is essentially because the reader controls the information exchange process while, with  television (and radio), the broadcaster controls the process.

Consider how you read your newspaper: You pick it up and look at it when and where you want; you can read it now, later or not at all; you decide, normally from the headlines, which items interest you and which don’t; you determine  the order in which you will read those items; if an item is complex you can read it as often as you like in order to understand it; you can take as much time as you want to assimilate and reflect on what you’ve read, whether news or opinion;  and you can return to  the original article at any time of your choosing.

It’s true of course that the publisher of the newspaper pre-selects the items to put in the paper. That is also true of the producer of any television news, current affairs or documentary programme. But from the moment you pick up the newspaper you control the process.

I’m aware of course of the existence of MySky and a variety of other ways of recording and replaying television programmes. But all these methods require cumbersome rewinding and fast-forwarding of the televised material, while the printed text allows virtually instant access to the paragraph, sentence or line you want to re-read. Television viewing, in contrast, is an essentially transient and ephemeral experience.

This is not to say that television has nothing to offer to our understanding of scientific, social and political issues. On the contrary, its narrative or story-telling strength is fundamental to the documentary and has the capacity to open our eyes to the world around us.

In the political arena, television provides incontrovertible evidence of the truth of the old saw that a picture is worth a thousand words. Its ultimate power lies in the close-up. In this respect I like to quote the doyen of British television interviewers, the late-lamented Sir Robin Day:

“When a TV interviewer questions a politician, this is one of the rare occasions, perhaps the only occasion outside Parliament, when a politician’s performance cannot be completely manipulated or packaged or artificially hyped.

“The image-maker can advise on how to sit, or what hairstyle to have, or on voice quality. But once the interview has started, the politician is on his or her own….

“Unlike a politician’s platform speech, or a politician’s article, or a politician’s TV address, an interview on television is one public act which is not in the hands of the advertising men, the pollsters and propagandists, the image-makers, the public relations experts or the marketing men….

“In a TV interview, provided there is time for probing cross-examination, the politician cannot be wholly shielded against the unexpected. The politician’s own brain is seen to operate. His or her real personality tends to burst out. Truth is liable to raise its lovely head.”

This is why Russell Brown’s comment that the Key/Campbell debate was ‘a study in media training’ annoyed me so much – because it displayed such abysmal ignorance of the media trainer’s inability to instruct his client in the art of deceiving the viewing public. There is no such art. Why not?  Precisely because, as Day observes, in a television interview, ‘The politician’s own brain is seen to operate. His or her real personality tends to burst out. Truth is liable to raise its lovely head.’

That is nowhere more true than in New Zealand. We’re a media-savvy lot in Godzone, not easily fooled.

So at the end of the Campbell/Key debate we probably thought that Key won but was a bit too silver-tongued to be entirely credible, and Campbell lost because it meant too much to him.

But were we any closer to understanding the significance, for good or ill, of the GCSB Bill? I very much doubt it. Too complex. Too hard to take in or even remember the arguments for and against, put by Key and Campbell. A transcript you could read at your leisure, at your own pace, might have helped. But ideally you’d need to read the Bill itself and preferably a range of arguments advanced by those who support and oppose it. And you’d need time to assimilate and reflect on what you’d read.

Television doesn’t offer you that luxury. You’ve barely caught your breath when it’s time for The Block or Dog Squad.

So is it really the case that television does not deal well with complexity? Or is it perhaps that we don’t deal well with television?

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117 Comments:

  1. Sorry, your point is…?

  2. So why on earth would the Campbell show travel the country asking shop assistants, petrol station attendants, random shoppers or anyone at all,” do you support the bill ?” Nonsense wasteful television and they know it.

    • Well, you’d certainly have to regard this as a nonsense in terms of measuring public opinion. And the bias, conscious or unconscious, in the questioning was patent. As I said, John and his team were simply too close to the issue, too involved, too committed.

      • When Paul Holmes was doing Q and A, Guyon Espiner did the interviews, not Paul Holmes himself. It might be an idea for John Campbell to do the same – call in someone who is good at interviews to do the interviews. I enjoy JC and like that he puts a lot of effort into pushing issues into the spotlight rather than doing stories about people and their cats. I don’t think that doing probing interviews is his forte though – he should delegate it.

        • Good idea. I was frustrated by how slow he was on his feet. John Key actually started explaining that The End Justifies the Means (“it doesn’t matter how I get here” etc) and Campbell didn’t even pick him up on it.

  3. Hey Brian

    What are your thoughts on the content of the Campbell / Key interview and not its form?

    Simon

  4. Well, its harking back to old current affairs format then. Commercial TV sees no monetary pull in that, so it would have to a be state run channel and certain political persuasions would oppose that.

    Commercial television has dumbed down its audience expectations to the level that ‘Seven Sharp’ or ‘The Block’ is considered quality prime time viewing.

    Campbell Live it seems can only toss in the occasional ‘gotcha boxing match’ type political interview to stay in the ratings.

    • I’m not sure the old days were any different. Certainly Rob Muldoon and Norman Kirk, who were the first real “NZ TV politicians” thought that ‘Gallery’ of the late-60s/early-70s was a “gotcha boxing match”.

      Make the format as long as you want, and go back as far as the first Kennedy-Nixon debate. Maybe the real truth is that TV, in contrast to radio and print, is a “cold” medium that doesn’t deal well with complexity. Instead, it is a medium for impressions, communicating human responses, and priming viewer interest to research further via other mediums.

      • And the necessity for ‘media’ trainers leads me to agree with you. Perhaps, when in certain dimensions, minds can meet.

        Television doesn’t have to be totally moronic, surely.

        • No. To the contrary, good TV communicators are anything but morons

          But what they do well is de-clutter, so the core message is succinct and memorable. Poor communication skills on TV maybe show you don’t know how to distill down complexity, because you don’t really understand the issue, nor how it really affects the viewing public, nor what their concerns really are.

          Which is why David Shearer, despite being a decent man, who is obviously very able in some areas of life, is just not cut out for his present role. Maybe as the ‘technocrat’ like a Bill Birch, or Steven Joyce he would shine. But not as leader of his party.

          • I never said good TV communicators were morons. I was referring to the general medium of TV as not having to be moronic, which commercialism seems to breed.

            I would say David Shearer is well cut out for his role. Depends what sort of ‘leader’ you want. I for one want a ‘real’ person, warts and all, not a media trained puppet.

            But I do agree that if Shearer wants to be PM he is going to have to keep sharpening his approach with Key. He has already with his recent comments regarding Keys ignorance on the workings of the GCSB Bill.

      • ‘fraid not, Kimbo. I was there and that certainly isn’t true. Compared to today, we interviewers were models of politeness and propriety. I remember Keith Holyoake responding to my question, ‘Prime Minister, when are you going to retire?’ and his reply, ‘You have no right to ask me that question!’ The real belligerent was Muldoon himself.

        • I’m sure that’s the case.

          However, both Muldoon’s biographer Barry Gustafson, and also Kirk’s secretary, Margaret Hayward in her ‘Diary of the Kirk years’ record the misgivings of their subjects.

          Although I may have ‘Gallery’ confused with ‘Compass’.

    • I think John does rather better than that, Kat. He is a campaigner. Whether you approve or disapprove depends on your view of the campaign.

      • I don’t intend to be cruel and imply that John Campbell only ‘inadvertently’ exposed the PM, but if it was intentional, and the interview was not just about TV3 ratings, then there is a very subtle and subliminal Campbell Live campaign underway.

    • Perhaps, but ratings most often reflect what preceded a programme and what’s opposite it on other channels. Seven Sharp inherits a huge audience from One News. Campbell isn’t so fortunate. Also, Campbell is serious, Seven Sharp isn’t.

  5. “So at the end of the Campbell/Key debate we probably thought that Key won but was a bit too silver-tongued to be entirely credible, and Campbell lost because it meant too much to him”.

    Hmmm. I’d agree the second conclusion may be correct, although more likely Campbell lost because the basic (unstated) premises behind his campaign (the security threat is overstated, and Key and his Government can’t be trusted) were flawed.

    In response, Key was on top of his material and knew how to apply it. That doesn’t happen by accident. Maybe, or more likely, it is exactly as Key says it is. Contrary to those who are complaining Key was using dark arts, you can’t do that when going toe-to-toe with an able advocacy journalist (who had Helen Clark’s scalp, albeit by ambush over ‘Corngate’), by “filling the space”, or agreeing to an interview at only 3 hours notice. This was Campbell’s patch, Campbell’s subject, and he had called Key out weeks ago.

    As a result, you maybe overstate the skepticism, “But were we any closer to understanding the significance, for good or ill, of the GCSB Bill?”.

    However, I disagree with your first conclusion. As the previous thread demonstrated, Key’s credibility, certainly in the case of the politically aligned, was determined by the viewers’ prejudices. The interview was a form of political Rorschach test.

    As most New Zealanders are (thankfully) not politically passionate, Key’s clear-cut win, while not necessarily settling the complexity, did settle the issue that is behind opposition to the GCSB Amendment Bill: can you trust THIS Prime Minister to administer the GCSB in a way that ultimately secures New Zealand’s security interests, while also protecting personal freedoms? For those who are willing to be convinced on the basis of a TV appearance (which is how most apathetic political agnostics decide – I’m not making the rules, just reporting them), the answer is “yes”.

    You never know what shoe will drop next in the on-going Kim Dotcom-GCSB-Kitteridge enquiry soap opera. However, other than amongst die-hards and those who politically profit out of opposing it, the GCSB Amendment bill is probably now a politically dead issue. Labour would be mad to keep up the noise, especially when they have more politically profitable fields to plow like housing and power prices. Plus Labour when in office are usually always tough on matters of national security (e.g., Ahmed Zaoui, the Urewera Raids), no doubt in part because they know the facts denied to the rest of the public, and possibly because they don’t want to be seen as a bunch of pinkos jeopardising national security. Better to leave that ghetto to the Greens amd Mana…

    • Kimbo you make some good points however, the key observation that Brian makes is spot on: prime time can never fully address the complexity of issues like the GCSB & the programs that do are pushed out to day time weekend telly when most of us are finding better things to do with our day.

      So the question is is it a true democracy when people are persuaded by mere sound bites rather than true understanding of complex issues that have a huge potential to affect our lives?

      Personally I don’t care too much about the GCSB per se as dodgy people will always be able to access private content & use it for dodgy purposes…so if they get a kick out of reading my texts & emails then good for them.

      But I do care about big policies like this being put through without the proper public consultation. Child abuse & welfare – I elect on the basis of who I think will act in our children’s best interests. Same goes for minority human rights issues like SSM (I don’t think such issues should be determined by the majority when they only personally affect a minority), but GCSB… on top of Collins & her alleged underhand tactics of the David Bain case or censoring Wikipedia – no way. They should be pressing pause & taking the time to give us all the pertinent facts, pros & cons.

      That said I think you are right – it is a politically dead issue for most people….that they really do care more about snapper!

      • I don’t think TV, be it commercial or publicly funded is a suitable medium for “true understanding of complex issues that have a huge potential to affect our lives?”.

        Instead, you have to go elsewhere, likke print and radio.

        • I think it can be – people seem to be finding the conventional mediums for getting details on policies & politicians less trustworthy. Most people like to be able to watch a person’s face & see their reaction to information they are hearing or how their expressions change when conveying information. If they can’t do it in person then TV is the next best thing. Hence why the leaders debates during the elections are so popular. And perhaps also why things like The Vote are rating high. People love a good robust debate & I think many – myself included – are continually frustrated by how context, tone & intention is often lost in amongst a tirade of sound bites & glib one-liners.

          This is why JC lost last week – online tactics don’t work in real conversation.

          He also demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the office of the Prime Minister – something which may have been lost on the public had this been an exchange via internet or print, but which was easily seen in via television.

          The other thing to consider is that the PM & their senior MPs don’t tend to ‘engage’ with the media or the voters. They meet & greet, issue press statements & hold press conferences. This shuts down the ability to have a real conversation with them about real issues.

          JC was right to have this discussion, but what he should have done was asked for an hour long slot & had a proper debate – asked the questions, let the PM answer without interjecting & diverting with another question, listened carefully then responded accordingly.

          If he had done that he may have gained a whole heap more respect (instead of losing some!) & the ordinary telly obsessed non political voter may have actually gained some understanding.

  6. That is a brilliant commentary, Brian. I would just add that the internet is even better than print because it allows for immediate fact and opinion checking by the critical reader.

    Also, populist TV “news” can be very destructive by playing on emotions, highly selective and opinionated reporting and the use of extreme and unrepresenative personal circumstances and views.

    • Which begs the question: why was Key unable to tell the truth? Surely he knows the Bill inside and out – there’s no need for him to lie? Except he did.

      • 6.1.1

        Your question certainly begs the question but I don’t see anywhere my comment does.

        Neither did you respond to either of my elaborations in the previous thread about the proposed policies where I asked what your actual problem with them was.

  7. At 18 minutes there was time in this interview for both the real JK to be isolated AND for complex issues to be clarified.

    On the first point I agree with you. There is no way that any person could follow a script or training manual for that length of time in the face of JC’s questioning (he is after a smart and well-briefed cookie whatever else is true). Hence the weirdness of the view of the Left. JK is a light weight but is able to regurgitate his training at high speed and for such duration so as to be able to stymie JC! If he could do the latter then he is not the former. And if he did it intuitively then he is not the former either. Let’s face it, the real JK came calling, and he was good.

    As to dealing with complex issues, I think JC shot himself in the foot. The high speed and shifting nature of the debate meant that the complexity and any flaws in JK’s argument never emerged. Those characteristics were a direct result of JC’s hectoring style and unwillingness to allow any part of the debate to be closed off. If JC had slowed down, allowed JK to make his points and then addressed them himself with reasonable objectiveness he might have got much closer to what he wanted to achieve.

    But I guess in our own responses to this we see why commercial TV likes conflict; I personally have really enjoyed the interview and the post-match analysis. Really interesting….

  8. John Campbell several times asked John Key a question and then demanded that he answer yes or no-apparently no other answer allowed. Many questions are incapable of being answered by a yes or no and anyone has a perfect right to not answer such a question surely.
    ‘…too close to the issue, too committed, too involved’ or simply too biased….too determined to get the answer that he wanted….

  9. Nobody gives a toss about all this, save for the posters. An empty forum, because the majority of viewers care not one whit. More important things in life than debating ephemera.

  10. Brian, we all know you were a groomer for Helen and she had the same policy as Key as regards to the US spy network. Political interviews with the government are a waste of time on TV ,as they are too well groomed for avoiding the issues.
    It’s not that politics is too complex for a TV format.

    • Judy and I were media advisors to HC for more than a decade, yes. We did not have a single conversation with her on this matter.

  11. “A transcript you could read at your leisure, at your own pace, might have helped.”

    Karol at the standard thought so too.

    http://thestandard.org.nz/key-vs-campbell-the-transcript/

  12. A good article by Matt McCarten on the main points.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10913802

  13. A good piece Brian but when it comes to this interview, a bit off the point for me.
    What was the point of this particular interview? Was it a one on one commutative attack on a tv program and an interviewer or the allaying of the electorates fear on a very complex subject that a great many the NZ people have found undemocratic, threatening, confusing and rushed?
    I say it was the allaying of the electorates fear. Did that happen in any way? The answer to me is a categorical No!
    Avoiding the directed questions and shouting over the interviewer does not achieve that end in any way.
    The second question we need to ask is, ‘was this behaviour/tactic coached or spontaneous? Of course it was coached. My Key has never behaved in this highly autocratic way b4 on TV. With regard to the origin of this behaviour, it is more than interesting to not that Steven Joyce behaved in an identical way two weeks ago on The Nation with regard to the Dunne subject (please take the time to watch this I/V as the similarities are marked) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhBhQjDBy1w#at=18.
    So to me, Mr Key treated the electorates ability to ‘think for themselves’ with huge disdain and frankly, not worthy of his time??? The question has to be asked. “How bad is that?”
    In my opinion, in a important political i/v such as this, the interviewer has a responsibility to the viewers/ electorate to interrupt an interviewee when they do not even try to answer the questions put to them (the PM in this case), and immediately launch into a blanket party political statement re the wider picture. In simple speak, they hi/jack the i/view. JC tried a number of times to re-ask the questions that the NZ electorate wanted answered but each time the PM raised his intensity of his voice and relaunched into his party political ‘speech’.
    The concern for the country was the indecent haste and the lack of safeguards to do with this bill. Seventeen ‘Tua like’ minutes on air and almost no allaying of the electorates fear at all, just constant playing the man over and over again, and a constant disdain for the electorates ability to think for themselves. Informative interview, or typical media manipulative tactic of ‘one on one personal combat?’ To me it was a joke but not one of John Campbells making at all. Methinks the PM needs to open his other eye.

    • 13.1

      “…it is more than interesting to not that Steven Joyce behaved in an identical way two weeks ago on The Nation with regard to the Dunne subject (please take the time to watch this I/V as the similarities are marked) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhBhQjDBy1w#at=18.”

      For me, the striking thing about Rachel Smalley’s interview with Stephen Joyce is the stark contrast with her immediately preceding “interviews” with Russel Norman and Grant Robertson. Norman and Robertson were permitted to speak at length, without interruption, and without any serious attempt at questioning by Smalley. Joyce had barely opened his mouth before she was all over him, interrupting, speaking over him, and refusing to allow him to answer her questions.

      I used to regard Smalley as one of the more impartial and therefore better interviewers among a pretty poor bunch. Not any more.

      • Its called not answering the question the interviewer has asked Random. If you ask a question and the interviewee takes off in another direction completely; then you try to make them address the issue you have put too them. The talent? does not have the right to hijack the interview, ever. Thats what Joyce did, and that what Key did.

    • as I posted on the previous thread where I commenced by quoting your post: –

      “An interviewer has a responsibility to the viewers…to interrupt an interviewee…when they do not even try to answer the questions put to them, and then immediately launch into a blanket party political statement re the wider picture. JC tried a number of times to re-ask the questions that the NZ electorate wanted answered but each time the PM raised his voice and relaunched into his party ‘speech’. The concern for the country was the indecent haste and the lack of safeguards to do with this bill. Mr Key didn’t answer or allay any of those concerns at all.”.

      Paul Mack, for those who choose not to hear, there is no asnwer that will satisfy them. Just like the the folks who’ve posted the transcript I quote below, you may not have liked the answers Key gave, but on the contrary Key did address the matter of supposed indecent haste and the supposed lack of safeguards:

      http://thestandard.org.nz/key-vs-campbell-the-transcript/

      John Key: Firstly, is it rushed? A year ago (take note, Paul Mack!), when we got advice from the lawyers, that at least there was difficulties of subject to interpretation around Section 14 versus Section 8, of Labour’s law, that they passed in 2003. OK?

      John Campbell: Yeah.

      JK: we said, “Well, we gotta stop providing that assistance”. So that’s the 88 individuals in those cases. That’s what stopped. It physically stopped…

      JC: I’ll tell you what. Let’s play you some of the experts that are not experts. We’ve got 2 here ready to go. Sir Bruce Fergusson former head of the GCSB; Geoffrey Palmer former head of the GCSB because he was a Prime Minister like you. Listen to what they’ve said:

      BF: I really I can’t get to grips with why it has to be rushed through so much, particularly given there is a large public concern about this.

      GP: I think the manner in which the legislative process has been handled has been ur, pretty diabolical actually. It seems to me that we needed to go into it in much greater depth. That we needed to look at the legislation much more thoroughly. That we needed the debate to be elongated, not cut off.

      JK: OK. So, let’s go through those points. Firstly, is it rushed? (take note, Paul Mack!) A year ago, when we got advice from the lawyers, that at least there was difficulties of subject to interpretation around Section 14 versus Section 8, of Labour’s law, that they passed in 2003. OK?

      JC: Yeah.

      JK: we said, “Well, we gotta stop providing that assistance”. So that’s the 88 individuals in those cases. That’s what stopped. It physically stopped.

      JC: Yeah. Are you saying Sir Bruce Fergusson, Sir Geoffrey Palmer and the Law Society and the Privacy Commissioner and the Human Rights Commission are all wrong?

      JK: (take note, Paul Mack!) Yep. OK

      JC: And Anne Salmond New Zealand

      JK: So, what they are, what happened was, we stopped. So the only assistance that was being provided by GCSB, under warrant, signed by all these individuals, for very serious issues. People with links to terrorist activities; people who may have been involved in either providing information that could have been used for weapons of mass destruction; all of these things.

      JC: You genuinely believe those people live in New Zealand

      JK: Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely…Those 88 cases over 10 years – 9 people. That assistance stopped. We then went about putting clarity into the law. So people say it’s been rushed. (take note, Paul Mack!) That’s what Sir Bruce is saying, what Geoffrey Palmer is saying.

      JC: The Law Society, yeah.

      JK: OK Well. Is it rushed? OK. For a start off (take note, Paul Mack!), the legislation’s been out there for some time. Secondly (take note, Paul Mack!) we ran a public hearing. Thirdly (take note, Paul Mack!), there is (take note, Paul Mack!) nothing that’s come up in any of the 124 submissions that hasn’t been answered off in the departmental report. There’s great understanding that if you read that report

      JC:…You’re doing a wonderful job on the show tonight. You did rather hope that this would sneak through under the radar. You haven’t fronted. You weren’t in the House for the committee stages. You weren’t there for the second reading. You have been conspicuous by your absence….You had one select committee day that you were there…

      JK: OK, I don’t need to go in there and read out a pro forma second reading speech…What I did do was in public hold those sessions. And by the way, when your mate Kim Dotcom said, “Oh John Key won’t front ever”, even though it was a sideshow, (take note, Paul Mack!) I actually sat there.

      On the supposed lack of safeguards:

      JK: Well you got a number of things wrong. I mean firstly. The question you’re wondering into cafes and things around the country – and basically put, the proposition you’re putting to people is that under the GCSB law ah the government effectively through GCSB will be able to wholesale spy on New Zealanders. Factually totally incorrect. OK. So the only thing GCSB can do, under the law, (take note, Paul Mack!) which is actually with much greater clarity and far better oversight than the previous law, is 3 things: 1) foreign intelligence gathering. Nothing to with New Zealanders. 2) It can provide assistance to SIS, defence and police…The last point is cyber security

      JC: Yeah.

      JK: OK. So that, under cyber security for a start off, GCSB (take note, Paul Mack!),…has to get a warrant.

      JC: From who?

      JK: OK the warrant, like all warrant (take note, Paul Mack!), is the same as the warrants from SIS

      JC: From who?

      JK: have to be signed by the (take note, Paul Mack!) Commissioner of Security Warrants, which is a retired high court judge.

      JC: Appointed by who?

      JK: By me. Has been

      JC: Who is the other person who signs the warrants?

      JK: OK Me right

      JC: So you and a person that you have appointed sign the warrant…

      JK: Now Sir Bruce Robinson taken over. But Sir Bruce Robinson (take note, Paul Mack!) was the president of the court of appeal. They are independent. Are you really, seriously going to tell New Zealanders that the way the government is going to get round this

      JC: Prime Minister

      JK: is to corrupt a judge…That’s a very serious allegation, and not correct.

      JC; No wai, wait a minute. You’re putting words in my mouth.

      JK: Well you just said who appoints them…OK. So then after those two people, myself signs a warrant. And it’s signed, well it’s actually (take note, Paul Mack!) it’s actually constructed by the Commissioner, which is a former, either High Court of Appeal Court judge.

      JC: Appointed by you.

      JK: OK It (take note, Paul Mack!) all has to be reviewed, or can be reviewed at any time:

      JC: After the fact.

      JK: (take note, Paul Mack!) by the inspector. OK So, for a start off, if any, if any unlawful behaviour was taking place, all of that is reviewed, which it would be anyway, but would be reviewed by the inspector. Now with the (take note, Paul Mack!) increased oversight, the inspector’s office has (take note, Paul Mack!) considerably more powers, (take note, Paul Mack!) is much more transparent, (take note, Paul Mack!) the director of the GCSB and SIS have to appear before the public…

      JC; I want to come back to the mistake you say we are making. The big difference between this legislation and the 2003 Act that this is amending, is absence of section 14. Dan can you whack up the graphic. I’m going to read this out. So this is section 15:

      Neither the Director, nor any employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.” That has gone hasn’t it?

      JK; …but what you’re forgetting is (take note, Paul Mack!), section 8 of the old Act…A reading of Section 8, allowed the GCSB to provide assistance.

      JC: Although, that was an incorrect reading, wasn’t it? It was illegal and in the Kim Dotcom case you came out and apologised.

      JK: no, no. Quite wrong. Actually, quite wrong. It was not illegal. What the lawyers did when they looked at , and some time ago…in fact actually the Inspector General, and said, “I’m just not quite sure about the way section 14, which is specific, works with Section 8, which is the general”…so basically, when the lawyers went and looked at it, they came back and said, “We think it’s probably lawful, but it’s subject to difficulties of interpretation.” OK. So take Kim Dotcom. OK. Kim Dotcom was illegal under the old law, which is why I apologised and it’s illegal under the new law… So what happened under Kim Dotcom was nothing to do with getting it, whether it was section 14 or section 8. The police went to GCSB. They said to GCSB, “Kim Dotcom is a foreigner. Under your foreign intelligence powers. Which sit there – which are the ones you’re talking about under Section 14 – we want you to undertake this work.” They said, “He’s a foreigner.” But actually, he was a resident class visa holder and (take note, Paul Mack!) they were totally wrong. They were wrong…They were wrong then and (take note, Paul Mack!) they’d be wrong now…

      JC: OK. I want to read you 8A, Prime Minister, 8A: Information and Assurance and cyber security…“The function of the Bureau is to cooperate with and provide advice and assistance to any public authority, whether in New Zealand or overseas or to any other entity authorised by the Minister on any matters relating to the protection, security and integrity of communications.” Goes on: “To do everything that is necessary or desirable to protect the security and integrity of the communications and information infrastructures referred to in paragraph A” – Which was the first paragraph…It’s meaningless

      JK:OK

      JC: It’s so broad

      JK: OK. No, it’s not meaningless. The lawyers (take note, Paul Mack!) absolutely understand that. It’s in the departmental report.

      JC: The lawyers don’t understand it – the Law Society has strongly opposed this Bill.

      JK: OK, we’ll come back to the Law Society in a moment. So what happens under that provision is, (take note, Paul Mack!) if the GCSB wanted to provide cyber security support to an agency – let’s take IRD and its facility – OK? So that’s the provision, under which again, (take note, Paul Mack!) they’d have to go through that process of getting a warrant by the (take note, Paul Mack!) inspector or (take note, Paul Mack!) by the Commission, (take note, Paul Mack!) by me, subject oversight of the commissioner – OK, the inspector – OK. Fine. So, that’s the first thing. You have to get a warrant. Do you know what happens under that? They cannot look at the content of…(take note, Paul Mack!) anything in there. All they can do, is protect you. So it’s against malware, or against a vrus. So you have on your computer…it’s really important people understand this. So on your computer at home, you almost certainly have Norton Anti-virus. Or you have some sort of anti-virus thing that you’ve downloaded and paid money for. That is exactly what that is at a much higher level…

      JC: That’s the kind of vacuuming that’s going on.

      JK: (take note, Paul Mack!) No. The point, the point here is that, you’re going into a shop. Or you’re going down the main street of, of New Zealand, and you are saying “Do you want to be spied on?” If you come and ask me that question, the answer John is (take note, Paul Mack!) “No.”…you cannot do that…under Section A…

      JC: Can I have some yes or no answers on this?

      JK: Sure.

      JC: Is the GCSB using or does it have access to XKeyscore?

      JK: …What I’m saying to you is, we have, we have, in 88 occasions in a decade used um basically the assistance of GCSB

      JC: Because you see the thing is, you’re sitting here, making very good reassurances, and telling us we’re fine

      JK: I’m telling it because it’s correct

      JC; But if the GCSB is using or has access to XFscore, then all of the stuff in your legislation is absolutely meaningless.

      JK: What I’m telling you is, everything that GCSB does (take note, Paul Mack!), is legal. So (take note, Paul Mack!) what is legal is that they can provide

      JC everything that GCSB does in New Zealand is legal,

      JK: (take note, Paul Mack!) Correct

      JC: …Are our partners able to do stuff that is illegal?

      JK: (take note, Paul Mack!) No

      JC: the NSA, the GCHQ

      JK: (take note, Paul Mack!) No

      JC: OK.

      JK: Well, I can’t talk about what they do in their own country and with their own legislation. That’s a matter for them, although I have seen president Obama on TV, saying that what he does is, what the US do is legal. But if you’re asking us, “Do we in New Zealand go around the back door and ask our partners to do things for us that would be otherwise not legal for GCSB to do?” The answer’s (take note, Paul Mack!) unequivocally, (take note, Paul Mack!) “No”.

      JC: Will the, great! thank-you. Will the GCSB operation, once this legislation is passed, involve, or be connected to the collecting or harvesting of New Zealand’s metadata whether under warrant or not?…

      JK: (take note, Paul Mack!) No. Not in the way that you would say that. So my

      JC; Potentially inadvertently?

      JK: (take note, Paul Mack!) No what, it’s important that you understand what we are saying. The only ways that they can provide information of metadata, because under the law metadata’s treated the same as content, right? So there’s no differentiation in the law. So to go and look at someone’s email, is the same as collecting their email, right? So under the law (take note, Paul Mack!), the only way they can do that is (take note, Paul Mack!) providing assistance, and the only way they can do that is for (take note, Paul Mack!) those 3 agencies…

      JC: So why do you need, why do you need this legislation?…Because on the one hand you’re standing saying we need it because the because of terrorist, on the other hand you’re down playing it a number of times.

      JK: let me finish my last point. So OK, some people would say in cyber security because you have the protection where you can’t see the information, but you’re protecting – some people might say it’s metadata – but (take note, Paul Mack!) it’s not reading information, it’s not (take note, Paul Mack!) collecting the the detail.

      JC: So you will be accessing that?

      JK: No. What I’m saying is, we provide protection.

      JC: OK

      JK: like the Norton Antivirus…under New Zealand legislation – to go back to the point, the only time they can look at people’s metadata and their information, in the context that you’re talking about, is when they have a warrant. There’s 9 cases. OK, so let’s give you this example (take note, Paul Mack!): if GCSB this afternoon, were to decide they’re going to listen to every phone call, and read every txt message in New Zealand, do you know how many people that would take? A hundred and thirty thousand people, is the estimate they’ve given me, and cost 6.6 billion dollars. You are frightening people…It doesn’t matter what techniques GCSB use, or don’t use. What matters is it’s legal. If it’s legal, then what I’m telling you is, the only legal things they can do, (take note, Paul Mack!) is provide assistance – of which it’s about 9 people a year. And anything else they might do in cyber security would (take note, Paul Mack!) require a warrant, (take note, Paul Mack!) would not have access to content, (take note, Paul Mack!) and is essentially like a virus protection. (take note, Paul Mack!) That’s it.

      JC: Prime Minister, thank-you for joining us. I’m sorry it’s taken you so long to get in here.

      JK: I’m more than happy to come. But the point is, you know, we’ve gotta have decent stuff to debate. (take note, Paul Mack!) We’ve been going through a process, I can’t come on your show until (take note, Paul Mack!) we go through the proper process going through. But what I can tell you, is the same thing I’d tell any New Zealander whose watching this show. (take note, Paul Mack!) They have absolutely nothing to be worried about. (take note, Paul Mack!) The security risks that New Zealanders face are real

      JC: Prime Minister,

      JK: (take note, Paul Mack!) But they have to be protected properly.

      JC; The security risks New Zealanders face are real and that’s.

      JK: (take note, Paul Mack!) Absolutely. And that’s what that law does. Protects them properly.

      JC: I’d like to talk to you at a later stage about what those security risks are.

      JK: Sure. Yeah. No problem

      • Kimbo, as usual, you are too eager to defend JK and the red necks. Perhaps you need to take a step back and ask yourself how many of JK’s replies fall in the honest and factual category, then JK’s monologue starts to unravel rather quickly. You look silly with your “take note…..”

        • Fair enough, johan.

          Tell you what, how about we just let folks have a read and make SPECIFIC critiques of what Key said, not what you or I think he said?

          That’s why (take note, johan!) I posted it.

          • Key out and out lies in that transcript, hence his hurried “statement” to The Herald on the following day in which he “pledges” not to exploit the loopholes in that legislation (whether subsequent PMs etc would make that pledge is seemingly ignored).

      • I don’t understand at all?
        You say a few platitudes and writing off some of the finest minds in NZ is an adequate explanation for the GCSB changes? With great respect, when it comes to a fundamental and far reaching change in the spying laws in NZ, that’s a ridiculous claim to make. The simple truth is that this law is a massive change, after all, these kinds of wide ranging spying rights were the very reason that WW2 happened (Hitler, the SS, the Stasi, Stalin) and I don’t think that the sons who died for that very reason would ever have let this law proceed in the way that it has. Maybe Key and yourself can write those sons deaths off as non related in any way, personally I think that is simply being n=blind to history. We’ve been here before. Its all there in the history books (take note Random)

  14. “The concern for the country was the indecent haste and the lack of safeguards to do with this bill.”

    Actually the claim of haste was the only point made by Palmer and Fergusson who should have been in the best position to have made any substantive criticisms. Salmond is so far out of her depth and expertise as to be merely a silly sideshow of the likes put on by a couple of our actresses recently.

    And Key addressed that directly, pointing out that the legislation had been a year in the making and criticisms comprehensively addressed by the department’s reviews.

    “just constant playing the man over and over again”

    That’s the most ridiculous statement in your whole ridiculous comment. Key spent almost his entire time trying to spell out the facts in response to Campbell’s scaremongering.

    • Are you not playing the man and not the points I raised Alan?
      What about the Joyce I/V? What about the electorates right to clear and calm informative debate rather than yet another party political statement. What about my statement that its end result was divisiveness and even more confusion?
      Play the words, not the man Alan. Otherwise debate is a pointless brawl, much like what happened the other night.

      • What particular expertise does Salmond have in the matter of NZ security? It is not “playing the man” to ask that question (and answer it yourself). If a public figure seeks to lend credibility to a campaign by injecting themselves to add supposed “heft”, and “authority”, then they are open-season.

        And debate is not really possible with those who will not really listen and engage. I’d suggest your posts fall into that category Paul Mack, as evidenced by your swimming against the tide of expert (not just amateurs having a lash) media opinion.

      • John Campbell would have been better to have an INTERVIEW and not a DEBATE with John Key, there is a difference. Key as we know is a master debater and he was responsible for changing the style of this Campbell Life segment. JC, admittedly, was not his usual self, in fact, I believe his performance was well below par. JK’s verbal hype with “let me finish” as he goes on with silly analogies.

        Joe public has been ill treated by this gov’t in their effort to explain how the GCSB bill will affect them. Certainly, the snapper debate is an easier concept to understand for ordinary people, so more complaints are registered.

        JK, again, has come across as arrogant and contemptuous towards the average New Zealanders, honesty and fairness appear to be a distant second.
        This bodes well for an upcoming election when voters will NOT turn to National and JK to get screwed.

      • 14.1.3

        “Are you not playing the man and not the points I raised Alan?” Nope, the only man I played was a woman who is playing on her fame rather than her facts or expertise.

        “What about the Joyce I/V?” Didn’t see it. Seems irrelevant.

        “What about the electorates right to clear and calm informative debate”. Key was the only one attempting that in this interview.

        • 14.1.3.1

          Please Alan. Open the other eye. There are two side to every single thing in life. To only look at one is to be one eyed.
          The simple truth is that this law is a massive change, after all, these kinds of wide ranging totalitarian control and spying rights were the very reason that WW2 happened (Hitler, the SS, the Stasi, Stalin and so many more) and I don’t think that the sons who died for that very reason would ever have let this law proceed in the way that it has. Maybe Key and yourself can write those sons deaths off as non related in any way, personally I think that is simply being blind to history. We’ve been here before many times. Its all there in the history books so to suddenly right history off as being not relevant simply because its post 911 …. somewhat nuts?

  15. In the late ’70s, after viewers had several years of competitive commercial television, primetime current affairs like Dateline Monday were at the top of ratings. Even programmes like Prime Time going after 10pm still had ratings in the high 30s.

    Have people really changed Brian, or do they have no choice about what is offered to them (and hence why they have deserted television in droves)?

  16. This is why Russell Brown’s comment that the Key/Campbell debate was ‘a study in media training’ annoyed me so much – because it displayed such abysmal ignorance of the media trainer’s inability to instruct his client in the art of deceiving the viewing public. There is no such art. Why not? Precisely because, as Day observes, in a television interview, ‘The politician’s own brain is seen to operate. His or her real personality tends to burst out. Truth is liable to raise its lovely head.’

    I’m sorry you were so annoyed Brian, that wasn’t my intention. But I’m not the only one of your readers to note that the “we’ll get back to that” style is a hallmark of recent ministerial interviews. Steven Joyce does it very well. The subject rattles off a series of assertions, most of which we don’t in fact get back to. For goodness sake, even Judy expressed the view that Key “bulldozed” his way through the interview.

    As I noted, at other times, Key simply defined down the question. The Norton Antivirus analogy was a banal response to what was actually put him: the real and considered qualms of the Law Society, a conservative body, on the scope of the law and the “information assurance” brief that governs the GCSB’s ability to collect intelligence on New Zealand (Internet NZ and others expressed similar qualms in their submissions on the bill). Answering in this way amounts to a denial of a serious question.

    Campbell clearly lost his composure, and I agree with you that he is too close to his subject here. He blew it. But I’m puzzled by the the idea that Key was simply polite. The “your mate Kim Dotcom” crack was an unwarranted personal dig, and more than once Key declared that everything Campbell Live had reported on the topic was false, which is plainly incorrect.

    Ironically, it was the Prime Minister who misled the public in claiming that the GCSB would be forbidden to look at the content of New Zealanders’ communications in its broad cyber-security role. His subsequent response to Audrey Young — that he personally wouldn’t allow it — underlines the main problem with the bill and how he’s been talking about it. If you want to proscribe or restrict an activity, you say so in the text of the bill. This really is not a trivial issue,

    • 16.1

      “His subsequent response to Audrey Young — that he personally wouldn’t allow it — underlines the main problem with the bill and how he’s been talking about it. If you want to proscribe or restrict an activity, you say so in the text of the bill.”

      I don’t agree for the simple reason is that the activity is to be allowed when justified and a warrant issued accordingly

      Key has refined that process to say that under his watch there will be two warrants required and three steps: the first warrant to identify the source of the security threats via metadata, then an assessment of whether that source is being used unwittingly or knowingly involved in the threat, and finally the second warrant to investigate content for those believed knowingly involved.

      The first point is that all of these steps are already taken without any warrants by private businesses protecting their systems and investigating attacks.

      The second is that there is an obvious need for comparable powers in the public sector and if the GCSB is the appropriate security agency considering malicious attacks on our infrastructure may originate from foreign states then GCSB legislation must not remove those powers.

      The third point is that when the legislation cannot proscribe an activity which must be employed judiciously and on subjective judgements then control can only be exercised via the quality of monitoring of those judgements. For example, legally requiring separate warrants as Key is proposing adds nothing to the protection of privacy since they could simply both be issued immediately should the authorities so choose.

  17. Key has refined that process to say that under his watch there will be two warrants required and three steps: the first warrant to identify the source of the security threats via metadata, then an assessment of whether that source is being used unwittingly or knowingly involved in the threat, and finally the second warrant to investigate content for those believed knowingly involved.

    Oddly enough, the law will still be there when he is gone, so a promise to a journalist that things will be done a certain way “under his watch” is meaningless.

    The fact that he was obliged to quickly make this promise after it was pointed out to him that the assurance he gave in the Campbell interview misstated what is in the law does not exactly fill me with confidence.

    • “Oddly enough, the law will still be there when he is gone, so a promise to a journalist that things will be done a certain way “under his watch” is meaningless.”

      No, it means that the voters have a respionsibility to continually elect those whom they consider trustworthy to wield power. There is no “law” that can ultimately substitute for eternal vigilance, especially where the needs for secrecy and public disclosure intersect.

      Good government, especially in the matter of national security, is both a combination of good law, and good/trustworthy people. That is the essential point that legal sophists like Palmer and the Law Society, who ever-inflate the importance of their profession in the interests of patch-protection, overlook.

      • Surely making a law to grant you powers with the express provisio that you will not use those powers is a little strange, though. |

        I’d be quite interested to see how National party supporters would feel about trusting, say, the Green party to use these powers? Given that the bill encompasses NZ’s “economic” interests and the Greens think economic interests includes a clean environment, it’s not difficult to imagine some unforseen consequences.

        • “I’d be quite interested to see how National party supporters would feel about trusting, say, the Green party to use these powers?”.

          I’m glad you asked that, because I’ve been giving it some thought.

          I wouldn’t have a problem seeing the Greens in office granted the powers proposed under the GCSB Amendment bill.

          However, as I have posted elsewhere, because the wider debate is about the competing needs of national security vs personal privacy, I’d be very unhappy if the Greens got anywhere near direct supervison of the SIS or GCSB, especially when the former acts in concert with foreign national security agencies. In their heart of hearts they don’t really trust those organisations in ANY sense of the word, much less believe they have a necessary right to exist (dissembling on their part to the contrary).

          Whereas the majority of Kiwis probably consider them necessary evils, which we are willing to see operate with necessary secrecy, and under the direct supervison of the PM, whose party we direct elect.

          Which is why, when push comes to shove, I think the Greens will ALWAYS struggle to win on the Government credibility test. Which is why Helen Clarke three times declined to call upon them as a coalition partner when she had the option (but not the necessity).

          I know that may not be a popular view with some around here, but I’m not making the rules. Just reporting them…

    • 17.2

      “a promise to a journalist that things will be done a certain way “under his watch” is meaningless”

      Now you are just getting completely silly. It is not at all meaningless, it is a commitment. Key cannot bind any future Governments, they will do as they wish. And you have avoided all my substantive points. Which seems to be a pattern for most of those opposed to the Bill.

      I am sure the legislation could be improved but I have yet to see a suggestion that passes the most elementary crap-detector test.

  18. No, it means that the voters have a respionsibility to continually elect those whom they consider trustworthy to wield power. There is no “law” that can ultimately substitute for eternal vigilance, especially where the needs for secrecy and public disclosure intersect.

    That, sir, is really quite a bizarre rationalisation.

    • Why?

      I realise you adopt the attitude that you can turn up here, Russell, and we are all meant to fawn all over your supposed expertise.

      Here, let me make it simple for you:

      Ultimately it is people, not laws, which determine how law is adminstered: The executive, the juciary, and when law comes up for amendment (as per the GCSB bill), the legislative.

      Don’t believe me? Geoffrey Palmer, supposedly the great legal scholar on the abuse of unbridled power presided over a dysfunctional fractured cabinet from January 1988 to August 1989, until the PM, Lange, finally decided to act in a way that the cabinet should have forced with the Governor-General over 18 months before. So much for the law protecting the country from bad government.

      National security, of its very nature, requires aspects of secrecy. Every PM, no matter whether National or Labour, when in office have adhered to that badrock principle. Don’t like it? Then get yourself elected PM.

      As a result, I’d suggest Labour’s and NZ First’s present posturing over the GCSB Amendment bill is precisely that – posturing. Which leave the Greens and Mana, who hold thoroughly unrepresentative positions compared to the rest of the political spectrum. At least they are “principled” in that when it comes to the balance between the security needs of the state, and the protection of the individual, they effectively ditch the former (dissembling aside in the case of the Greens), and focus entirely on the latter.

      And good luck to them, and their cheer-leaders, and fellow-travellers. The fact you get to have your say is a clear indication democracy is not under threat.

      But two things that flow from that right:

      Kindly stop pretending you are representing a groundswell of public alarm, nor that oppoenents of the bill are uninterested in furthering their own political brand as aresult.

      Kindly stop, in the context of a debate you have sought, encouraged, and continue to forment, complaining and hand-wringing about prissy nonsense that the PM manipulated the time for answers by means of “media training”, nor was he playing by Marquis of Queensbury rules when he called out an advocacy jourrnalist over his “mate” Kim Dotcom – especially when Campbell was prepared to imply there was inproper protections when Key appoints the commissioner who issues the warrants.

      These were big boys, Ruseell, and this is a big person’s debate.

      • Jeez Kimbo, talk about playing the man and not the ball. I didn’t know this was an playground only certain people approved by you could join.

    • It’s pretty crazy. Under that logic why not pass a law that the PM can sacrifice babies to Satan but the public have a responsibility to not vote for anyone who will do that.

      • That is a completely false analogy.

        The bill deals with national security, which all Prime Minsiter’s, Helen Clark included, have direct responsibility for. So the credibility of the office bearer is integral.

        The legislation is about juggling the competing needs of national good and personal privacy. Sacrificing babies to Satan, last time I looked, is not a competing need or ‘good’.

        Trust that helps with the Logic 101

  19. Going back to the point of the post:
    Television (and all broadcasting) is temporal whereas print is spatial in nature. You can bring your own timing to printed matter in a way you can’t to broadcasting.

    And partly because of this (but only partly), television is at a disadvantage when explaining complex or abstract ideas. But does that mean it has nothing to contribute? Nope.

    First, audiences with short attention spans can become familiar with complex issues over a period of time; general knowledge about a subject can build up over time. In between different episodes of exposure to the topic the audience has time to process the information.

    Second, television can suggest an issue is important and create an interest in the topic, allowing interested viewers to follow up the details elsewhere. How many of us watch tv with a portable device at our side, looking up terms we don’t know or otherwise making inquiries about the details of a programme we are watching?

    But also if TV gives up on serious issues, short attention spans and low civic awareness (and awareness of science and other topics not in fashion on commercial tv) will just get worse, not better. Short attention spans are fostered by commercial tv and it becomes a self-reinforcing cycle.

    So while I agree with you that television, especially commercial tv, faces many challenges when dealing with complex and abstract issues, it should not surrender this territory.

  20. These were big boys, Ruseell, and this is a big person’s debate.

    Ye gods. What a pompous ass you are.

    • In the absence of facts to support your continued assertions, which for the last two posts are in contradiction to the opinions of the resident media expert, I’m happy to agree one of us is worthy of that description.

      Do you have anything else to offer besides, “yes it was!”?

      • Do you have anything else to offer besides, “yes it was!”?

        Sure. Can I suggest you pop over to the NBR website and read Rob Hosking’s column on why small-government conservatives should oppose the bill as it is currently drafted?

        To quote:

        “Government of laws and not of men” is not a left wing principle: it was most clearly enunciated by John Locke, whose writings on government in the late 17th Century form the basis of much classical liberal and conservative philosophy about private property rights – and what is personal privacy if not a private property right? – and small government.

        Those who favour small government, and having the rights of officials to interfere in your lives and business kept under firm legal control, should be concerned about this legislation.

        And while you’re there, you could try and read Rodney Harrison’s explanation of exactly what the flaws in the bill are. Perhaps then your understanding of the issue might increase to match your remarkable capacity for bluster. But I’m not holding my breath.

        • Thanks, Russell.

          A more helpful contribution.

          However, you overlook that Hosking, whilst from the opposite end of the political spectrum to most of bill’s more vocal opponents, is still approaching this from a philosophical individual rights primarily-safe-guarded-by legislation perspective, rather than the pragmatic need to balance individual rights with national security.

          He, like you, and the Law Society, and Sir Geoffrey Palmer continue to highlight one at the expense (dissembling aside) of the other. Quote Locke to your heart’s content – other than by means of political assassination, he didn’t live in an age where technology can bring a nation to its knees by the actions of an otherwise insignificant few. Instead Locke’s idealistic position overlooks the messy reality that people primarily make laws work, not the other way around.

          Hosking naively asks us to consider,

          “The difficulty with this is twofold: one aspect is technology improvements are already giving government officials far greater ability to intrude on citizens, regardless of any law changes.

          The second is that government officials have demonstrated all too clearly in recent weeks they do not follow precise rules anyway”.

          Two problems with that analysis. If governments have greater ability via technology to intrude into the lives of citizens, irrespective of the law, so too do those who are a potential threat to the nation.

          Second, Hosking has just discovered that spy organisations are incompetent?! All he needed to do was read Peter Wright a generation ago to learn that the combination of a government department which, of its very nature has to conduct much of its work in secret will likely have incompetence as a default setting. No amount of law will suffice to protect from the idiot factor. I wish it wasn’t so, and I’m not making the rules, I’m just reporting them.

          Instead, while you need good law, that is NEVER a good substitute for competent people. I’d suggest Ferguson’s removal, based on what had gone before, is a good start. That is what Key was primarily appealing to in his interview with Campbell, and why you think he was obfuscating. He wasn’t. Instead he was working from the basis of the common sense he has to apply as the minister with the executive power to make the legislation, and the wider needs of the GCSB work. So he didn’t dance to your or Campbell’s tune? Perhaps you need to re-examine your own prejudices and assumptions.

          Hosking concludes by asking, “Think on this: what will those politicians from the left wing parties like the Greens or Labour do with these powers when and if they attain office?

          If you think they will do anything rather than use these powers to further bolster the size of the state in our lives, then I have an emissions trading scheme to sell you”.

          I’ve answered that above. Based on their conduct in office, I have no problem trusting Labour, and neither would the majority of the electorate. Clark, like Bolger before her was thoroughly trustworthy in balancing the two. (I’d exclude Palmer because he NEVER learned how to make executive power actually work effectively within the framework of his theoretically ‘brilliant’ legal conceptions). Her judgement and commitment to both, as endorsed by the electorate three times were impeccable and beyond dispute. That is what Brian Edwards means when he quotes Sir Robin Day: –

          “Unlike a politician’s platform speech, or a politician’s article, or a politician’s TV address, an interview on television is one public act which is not in the hands of the advertising men, the pollsters and propagandists, the image-makers, the public relations experts or the marketing men….

          “In a TV interview, provided there is time for probing cross-examination, the politician cannot be wholly shielded against the unexpected. The politician’s own brain is seen to operate. His or her real personality tends to burst out. Truth is liable to raise its lovely head.”

          Ask Helen Clark.

          http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8999662/No-spying-on-Kiwis-under-Clark

          Ask Jim Bolger. They’ve been there, and they are the experts in the field. They’ve had to make state security work, sometimes in situations most likely no law-maker could possibility conceive of, and which most of the vocal opponents of this legislation want to rationalise away, or simply deny they exist.

          They are the experts in the field, and everyone else is a “Monday morning quarter-back”.

          Start to meaningfully engage on the need for national security, Russell, and more particularly how you practically effect it, and you might actually start convincing some folks who don’t reside within your own ideological schema. Which last time I looked, is the essence of a ‘national debate’…

    • Russell, when a man like Brian Edwards speaks from his particular area of expertise (media training), and tells you repeatedly you cannot train some one in dark media arts as you claim Key was exercising, you accept that as a fact, unless you can bring some clear and cogent contrarary facts to the discussion.

      You’ve maintained the same position re Key you did from the outset. Fair enough. But when you don’t actually advance the discussion with anything new, then don’t try and pass it off as “debate”, nor that you are fostering one, whether in this forumt, nor on a national scale. Instead, we call that “an entrenched prejudice”.

  21. It’s pretty crazy. Under that logic why not pass a law that the PM can sacrifice babies to Satan but the public have a responsibility to not vote for anyone who will do that.

    Quite. It’s a particularly odd view given that unexpected interpretations of the 2003 law are at the heart of the whole issue.

    The Kitteridge report noted that the GCSB had been collecting metadata without warrants based on an interpretation of Section 14 of the 2003 law. One of the problems with the new bill is that it doesn’t explicitly fix this, and the government has resisted pleas to clarify the law.

  22. “I realise you adopt the attitude that you can turn up here, Russell, and we are all meant to fawn all over your supposed expertise”.

    Kimbo do everyone a favour and stop playing the man, your approach is getting tiresome.

    Perhaps you need to present factual matter to support your arguments instead of this continual, form of opinionated verbiage.

  23. 23

    RepublicansPushGilmoreForPresident

    http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/revealed-govt-plans-secret-orders-so-service-providers-under-spy-bill-ck-144562

    “At last, a substantive, factual critique.” – that’s right, the above article with related NBR links, is well informed on the TIC$/GC$B bills, with many more details than came from JK’s primetime posturing. It comes from the NBR, a pre-eminent business site, that’s hardly left leaning. The articles show some of the bills pitfalls, and shows there’s still much detail that is murky. This GC$B bill could do with reconsideration, with proper input from all concerned entities, instead of binning their submissions. It was too important to be rushed. The bill should have just been a temporary amendment, to allow current warrants to continue, giving time for a comprehensive new law to be thrashed out, with the support of the main opposition. The world has changed a lot, since the prior 2003 law.

    Recall the critics, caterwauling the big issues of the day, when Helen signed someone’s painting for charity purposes, or tinkered with electoral funding law, and the Herald running a fearsome series on the ensuing destruction of democracy – well, that was sh-t, to put it plainly. In terms of democracy, the TIC$/GC$B bills are bigger concerns for anyone and any entity impinged, and for JK to brush them off, saying they’re wrong, is surreal. It is a sh-t sandwich that only the mesmerized are enjoying, because JK told them it was yummy. A sandwich that is being shoved down our throats, dunne and dusted, before anyone can gag.

    We need appropriate security services with agreed checks, balances, and trusted oversight in legislation. It would be good to see a whole episode of Campbell, talking with a panel of concerned commentators, and it is commendable that he has been at the forefront of the issue. A stance history should judge favorably.
    Would it take another surprise snapper enema, to remind JK that more than a few worried voters, are not buying into it.
    Mr Campbell – it’s not over, until the big blow-wave sings, so well done with your coverage, and your Tom Cruise like passion, from his portrayal in “A Few Good Men”.
    Attent-hut!, there’s an officer on the MSM deck!

    • 23.1

      No, I think the substantive issues are far beyond Campbell’s intellectual ability even to identify, let alone address and resolve.

      It needs the likes of Kim Dotcom, Peter Gutmann and Rod Drury to be involved with the spooks to thrash these issues out.

  24. Well done Doctor. Interesting how your “the wider issue” gets dragged back to the GCSB debate which is also interesting. There is nothing in your analysis I would presume to disagree with. Perhaps you might discount social media but here you are (and both protagonists)using it.

  25. “The politician’s own brain is seen to operate. His or her real personality tends to burst out. Truth is liable to raise its lovely head.”

    Getting back to ‘the wider issue’ that is what happened with Key on Campbell Live. It may take a while for some to see it, even longer accept it.

  26. “Once the interview has started the politician is on his/her)own”

    Their “own brain is seen to operate”

    “His or her real personality tends to burst out”

    These quotes from Robin Day hit the spot.

    In my work I coach people on how to interview effectively in preparation for job interviews.

    I know that despite my advice and guidance, in the end they are on their own and their personality will burst out, and there is nothing that I can do to significantly influence this, apart from advising them to be aware that this will happen and so therefore to manage it as best they can accordingly.

    This tells me that, like job interview training, you can only take media training so far; in the end the person is on their own and their real personality will burst out as Day says. Those that claim Key is a product of media training don’t seem to get this point.

    There is also a nod here towards the power of non verbal communication. This is just as important as the verbal content of answers given. In this interview, Key’s non verbal communication was very powerful, and from his point of view very effective. Campbell’s was the opposite. Most of the commentary on why Key ‘won’ this interview is based on this – not on the content or quality of his answers.

    The content in the Key interview was complex, dense, detailed and at times technical. It would be hard for anyone except the most dedicated listener to follow all of it and to take it all in. Dedicated listeners will have been a very small minority.

    In the end in my opinion it didn’t matter much what Key said (in terms of influencing the audience) but rather how he said it and how he presented himself non verbally, and this would have had little to do with media training.

  27. “The content in the Key interview was complex, dense, detailed and at times technical.”

    I don’t think so. It was pretty obvious he didn’t know what he was talking about and was trying too fool viewers. It seems it worked with some. When Key said “we provide protection”, you’d have to be naïve at best or thick to believe him.

    Key walked out of a press conference today after interrupting a reporter who was in the process of asking a question about the GCSB Bill. The reporter fired back that he (Key) had also interrupted John Campbell. At that point, Key took off, muttering in the process. My goodness, I didn’t realise we had a PM who was so sensitive. For a supposedly non-issue, it sure is getting under his skin.

    He should leave the kitchen if he can’t stand the heat.

    • You miss the point Ross.

      Most viewers will not have concentrated on the content of Key’s answers. They will have instead been influenced by the non verbal cues coming from the two protagonists. On this basis Key clearly ‘won’ the interview according to most – regardless of what he was saying.

      Viewers were neither ‘naive’ or ‘thick’ as you imply, but simply human, responding as humans do when they observe a contest such as this.

      • We’ll agree to disagree, Grant. If most viewers didn’t concentrate on the content of Key’s answers, as you allege, then they are indeed thick.

  28. Conspiracy #52,666 on Campbell live tonight. 89% against – 11% for the GCSB Bill. Seems the Nats own polling got Key motivated alright!

    I have been trying to contact my fishermen neighbours all day, they promised me snapper for dinner, appears they have gone to the Auckland town hall.

    Nah, can’t be, no ones interested eh?

    • 28.1

      This poll reminds me of nothing so much as the one taken in the United States in the 1950s on the Metallic Minerals Act. Fifty six per cent of respondents said when asked that they were in favour, a smaller percentage said they were opposed, and an even smaller number had no opinion.

      There was in fact no Metallic Minerals Act, but that didn’t stop a huge majority of respondents having a firm opinion about it.

    • 28.2

      I wonder how many of those who oppose the Bill are actually aware of the changes it makes. Here at last is a comparative list:

      http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/08/the_gcsb_law.html

      As Farrer points out, most are substantial enhancements to oversight of the GCSB’s activities.

  29. “He should leave the kitchen if he can’t stand the heat.”

    Ah.. so you watched TV3.

    But Prime TV said that Key informed the meeting that he had to leave at 4.30pm for another meeting. During this meeting Key answered questions for 12 minutes on the GCSD Bill and when a reporter from Scoop made a long hectoring statement to the PM Key asked if this was a statement or a question and the reporter continued with his statement.

    At that stage Key gathered his papers, said thanks very much and walked off.. Prime noted he walked off at 4.30pm.

    Key 1, advocating and hectoring Scoop reporter nil, TV3 nil for not reporting the full facts.

    JC

    • But JC, there’s no need to storm off because a reporter says they were interrupted just like the PM interrupted Campbell. That’s what really seemed to get to the PM. He was quite prepared to answer a question but as soon as his performance on Campbell Live was mentioned, he spat the dummy. He needs to grow up.

      • 29.1.1

        Nonsense. You obviously didn’t see the Prime story. The guy was drivelling on interminably, like most loony Lefties, and Key perfectly politely picked up his stuff with a nice smile and left him ranting.

  30. Gosh, you were unlucky, Kat. Of the 1.4 million people in Auckland your fisherman was one of the 1500 who went to the meeting. That’s one chance in a thousand.

    • Conversely,I’d say Kat must be quite lucky in her neighbours if they not only throw the odd snapper her way but also take time to give a damn about fundamental changes in surveillance legislation… Sound like great Kiwis to me.

      • 30.1.1

        So where does Kat stand on the snapper issue? Conservation or dinner? Enquiring minds want to know.

        • I laughed at the comment Dover Samuels made that the only person who could feed the family on three fish, was Jesus Christ.

          • 30.1.1.1.1

            That reminds me of being in a hospital bed next to an old Maori who told me he had 105 grandchildren and a few dozen great grandchildren.

            You’d need a trawler to feed that family.

  31. Whats wrong with TV3.
    I just saw Rachel Smalley interview the PM.
    She let Key get away with everything as she was as ill prepared as Campbell was.
    She did not bring up the conflicting situation where Key says the law is fine yet he had written to the herald saying he would give assurances.
    She also let him say the opposition parties dont want to discuss this bill with the govt but the opposition parties had asked for cross party talks on this.

    Have tv3 always being this bad???????? As i didnt watch them before close up went

  32. One of the most powerful disciplines on the use of these powers would be to legislate that all interception warrants must be publicly released five years after they are issued.

    That will ensure that the public is kept informed of what is being done in their name and at the same time ensure that those issuing the warrants are aware their actions will become available for public scrutiny and criticism after that time.

    • 5 years isnt that long, renewable in secret in 5 if approved by pm and opposition leader

      • 32.1.1

        Why? Hard to see when that could be necessary?

        • Well it gives the option if there is something you cant envisage now

          • 32.1.1.1.1

            That is exactly what the bureaucracy always does when it drafts legislation and it leads inevitably to mission creep and expansion of bureaucratic powers. It must be resisted vigorously.

            No justification = no expansion of power.

            The point of a five year limit is that it is within the horizon of political consequences and therefore exerts real power.

  33. “One of the most powerful disciplines on the use of these powers would be to legislate that all interception warrants must be publicly released FIVE years after they are issued”.

    Alan is this your idea of democracy at work???

    The ability in NZ to obtain an interception warrant would be too easily obtained and must be changed to meet a much higher standard of approval, not merely left to the will of JK an his lacky.

    There needs to be checks and balances for certain organisations that too often develop a culture of “I can do what I like because I possess the power”.

    • 33.1

      Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Yes, this is certainly my idea of democracy at work.

      The only way to enforce a high standard of approval is exactly this kind of public scrutiny. Legislation cannot control subjective judgments.

    • “The ability in NZ to obtain an interception warrant would be too easily obtained and must be changed to meet a much higher standard of approval, not merely left to the will of JK an his lacky.

      There needs to be checks and balances for certain organisations…”

      OK, johan, I’ll call your bluff.

      Please tell us precisely what you think these “much higher standards of approval”, and what the specific “checks and balances” should be?

      • Hi Kimbo, let me record this for posterity, as the one occasion when YOU actually have asked someone for THEIR opinion!

        This GCSB bill must not be passed. We don’t need any of this american crap shoved down our throats. We need to start from scratch and develop and implement our own cyber security system, putting in the appropriate checks and balances that suit New Zealands not to satisfy a select NSA group who are dead keen on extending their interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine.

        • No, johan. You are still bluffing…

          I didn’t ask for a soap box rant. And you’ll note that, “We don’t need any of this american crap shoved down our throats. We need to start from scratch and develop and implement our own cyber security system, putting in the appropriate checks and balances that suit New Zealand” is so amorphous, John Key could say in response, “Amen! That’s why we are passing the GCSB amendment bill”.

          I asked you to tell us “precisely” and “specifically” what these “much higher standards of approval” and “checks and balances” should be.

          We know what you are against. However, like Russell Brown, you have failed to answer what your workable and concrete alternatives are. At least John Key said, “I’ll get back to that” rather than just flat out ignoring the questions!

          How about you have another go at making a contribution that someone who disagrees with you can actually consider the merits of. Give us some facts and proposals. This is, after all, a “national debate” that folks like you are telling people like me we need to have.

          Over to you…

          • Kimbo, the problem is that you want to stick to the whole GCSB setup, when I say scrap it and start a new national security system….which New Zealand badly needs…from scratch as mentioned above…. obviously this is a concept that you fail to appreciate, since you are too busy slapping each others’ backs in congratulating JK’s performance involving the GCSB Bill scenario.

            The lack of response from many Kiwis concerning the GCSB Bill is because there are too many unanswered questions about structure and function which is not made available to the public in order to make sound judgements.

            We have many able Kiwis who can be on a panel to work on cyber security matters.

            Until I am paid the Big Bucks, Kimbo, you will have to be satisfied with the above. Yesterday’s passing of the GCSB Bill will lead us to an rocky road.

            • 33.2.1.1.1.1

              “obviously this is a concept that you fail to appreciate, since you are too busy slapping each others’ backs in congratulating JK’s performance involving the GCSB Bill scenario.”

              Not really. And you are rather a sanctimonious fellow aren’t you, especially in the light of your complaints about how others play the man and not the ball. Instead, I prefer to listen to the opinion of someone who knows what our national security risks are, and knows what the GCSB is really like, and has had to deal with the real problem of juggling personal freedoms with national security. Someone like…this person

              http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9074684/David-Shearer-Was-Helen-Clark-in-the-know

              “Until I am paid the Big Bucks, Kimbo, you will have to be satisfied with the above.”

              Uh, huh, As per my advice to Russell Brown (where did he melt away to by the way? Just when it was getting interesting. What is it about people who insist we need a national debate, and then when you give an answer they don’t like, they disappear, leaving a precious parting missive about how discussion is SUCH a waste of time?!), I conclude you are a Monday morning quarterback, who has no idea what our national security needs. I’ve given you ample opportunity to tell us how you would specifically cater for those, and instead you continue to…bluff.

              Freedom of speech is a right that I am confident is still protected under the GCSB Amendment bill. However, an audience for your speech is not something that is automatically merited. In the absence of your ability to actually pony up with some real substance, I will think twice before asking you anything again.

              But at least I gave you the chance, which I’d suggest is something you never give those from outside your ideological prism.

              • 33.2.1.1.1.1.1

                Pompous, arrogant and smug as per normal Kimbo. A train wreck is coming with your blinded support for legislation that is suppose to oppose cyber terrorism and cyber espionage. Let the “Henrygate” scene become public for all to see and understand, even you Kimbo………….perhaps.

                “Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Yes, this is certainly my idea of democracy at work”. Amen

          • Yes the Pry Minister did say “he’ll get back to that”. The only problem is, he never did and probably never intended to.

  34. 34

    RepublicansPushGilmoreForPresident

    “One of the most powerful disciplines on the use of these powers would be to legislate that all interception warrants must be publicly released FIVE years after they are issued”.

    “The ability in NZ to obtain an interception warrant would be too easily obtained and must be changed to meet a much higher standard of approval, not merely left to the will of JK an his lacky.”

    These 2 are not mutually exclusive. Won’t get into the current bill. 10 years fullstop is simpler than 5 + 5. Could be retrospective, would provide some surprises for former activists. Would reduce hyperbole from the warrant applicant in making the case, knowing that the warrant can eventually be released.

    • 34.1

      Agreed, I would want to hear serious justification to extend it to 10 years though. I’d stick with 5, no extension.

  35. whats a political activist?
    David Farrar? Bomber Brabury? A person who writes a lot of comments on blogs/ media comments section?

  36. I don’t see the point in waiting 5 years for release of the warrants .The government who issued them may not be in power and the Pm may have changed. Who will be held responsible if the actions are deemed to be contrary to the bill. OH that’s right that’s the point of the bill, to remove any possibility of any legal challenges (justified or not)to the Governments actions. A much shorter time frame would allow greater accountability.
    Still couldn’t believe NatRad removing Bomber Bradbury, he was so entertaining.

    • 36.1

      I don’t agree. As I just said above, five years is within the horizon of political consequences. It will exert real control power on the administration.

      Immediate publication is entirely unrealistic. The investigating authorities must be given reasonable time to gather and interpret evidence and act upon it.

      My limited experience of Bradbury did not inspire me to seek any further exposure. I suspect he entertained only those who share his neuroses.