Brian Edwards Media

In the red corner John Campbell; In the blue corner John Key; Your Referee – the good doctor!

The last time I really got stuck into John Campbell was when he interviewed ‘moon man’ Ken Ring after the February earthquake. That was on 28 February 2011. You’ll gather I find very little to criticise in John’s approach to his work – and a great deal to praise. I’ve described what he does as ‘advocacy journalism’ and many thousands of New Zealanders, most particularly those teachers, parents and children adversely affected by the Novopay debacle, and the dispossessed and seemingly abandoned victims of the Christchurch earthquake, have benefited from that advocacy.  It would not, I think, be an exaggeration to claim that both groups and a great many other people regard John Campbell as something of a hero. I share that view.

I don’t want to revisit the Ring interview. My criticism of John for browbeating his subject was harsh and I later regretted its harshness. I followed the first post up with a second, A Gracious Apology from John Campbell. It included this sentence: ‘For my part, I believe that my critique of his performance on this occasion was justified, but the manner in which it was expressed may not have been. Like John himself, I was angry.’

My impression last night was that John was angry again, this time with the Prime Minister, John Key. Key had refused numerous invitations by Campbell Live to discuss the GCSB legislation. That is his right. Television programmes have no power of subpoena and nor should they have such a power.

But Key had gone further than mere refusal when responding to questions put to him  by Campbell Live reporter Rebecca Wright during the National Party Conference. He had dealt with her perfectly reasonable and politely expressed questions in a snide, dismissive and clever-dicky manner that did him little credit. Finally asked by Wright if he would appear on the programme next Monday, he replied in a dismissive tone, ‘Probably not.’

At 4pm yesterday Campbell Live was informed that the PM would appear on the show that night. I’m reasonably sure that Campbell’s suggestion during the subsequent interview that the change of heart was prompted by widespread disapproval of his treatment of Wright was entirely correct.

I don’t intend to delve into the rights and wrongs of what Campbell asserted during the interview and Key countered or denied. You can take your pick from a range of blogs on the topic.

Instead I want to summarise how I perceived the demeanour of the two protagonists.

Key: critical of the programme, but  patient, considered, quiet, reasonable, polite, helpful, good-humoured.

Campbell: patient and agreeable to begin with, but increasingly impatient, interruptive, petulant, hostile, overbearing, accusatory, rude.  Having accused Key of playing the man not the ball, he launches into a very personal attack on the Prime Minister’s previous handling of the GCSB debate and sarcastically dismisses one of Key’s replies with:  ‘Prime Minister, you are a brilliant politician.’

For an entirely different view of the interview, you should look at Russell Brown’s Fluency, ease of manner – and Norton Antivirus on Public  Address.

Brown there describes the interview as ‘a study in media training’ – nudge nudge, wink wink,  say no more – and goes on to offer an interpretation of the exchange that left me wondering whether we had watched the same two people in the same interview.

The Herald’s Audrey Young offered what seemed to me a more rational interpretation of the interview:

‘After last night’s commanding performance on Campbell Live, John Key will be left wondering why he did not go on the show a lot earlier to defend the changes to his GCSB bill.’

My overall impression was that Campbell’s frustration arose from his inability to score off Key’s answers, despite the fact that his producers had thrown out that night’s ‘GCSB road trip’ and sensibly allowed the exchange to run for a lengthy 17 minutes. Tossing out the final item would have been even better. This is complex stuff and it’s to be hoped that Key will keep to his promise to return to the programme to carry on the debate.

As for John, I rather suspect that the next time I meet him at New World supermarket on College Hill, I’ll be praising him to the skies. His confrontation with Key has not changed my opinion of him one iota. Sometimes even the finest journalist can get too close to a story. That, in my view, is what happened here.

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  1. John Key might have scored on the night , but the horse has bolted on this issue and it is a game changer. Civil liberties are not to be glibly cast aside. The guillotine is set and the Nats are gone….

    • …and the clichés are rolling

    • I don’t think you could be further from the truth. He average nzer does not care about this issue

      • That is because the average NZer wouldn’t know an important issue if it sat on them and rode them around the paddock pulling the wool from their ears.

        But even sheeple can be woken up.(at least the “swing” voters) And when they do they can follow the opposition just as easily.

        Let’s have another story about what the royal offspring is doing then shall we?

  2. John Key is a master of political obfuscation. No one presently can touch him, although Winston may match him. I fear the straight talking David Shearer may be completely overwhelmed in any discussion with Key.

    Perhaps the lantern jawed one could coach the wavy armed frustrated one?

  3. I watched John Campbell’s interview with John Key last night as well and I can understand Campbell’s frustration. The Prime Minister seemed to want to throw plenty of mud in the direction of John Campbell, the programme and the experts they have put up who challenge the GCSB bill. I found John Key to be arrogant and smug in the interview and quite content with himself when he “played the man and not the ball”. I felt John Campbell was completely justified in calling the Prime Minister on it. I also found John Key’s comments about how he travels around the country smug and belittling. His assertion that Campbell Live’s tour of the country was misleading was actually misleading itself. Campbell Live aren’t dictating to the NZ public what they should be saying. They are simply offering the average NZer an opportunity to express their views. And despite John Key’s assertion to Rebecca Wright over the weekend, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if John Key & his advisors always planned to appear. The fact that they only confirmed an appearance with Campbell Live at 4pm yesterday was more like a deliberate ploy to try and catch John Campbell out and leave him under-prepared. Unfortunately, it was a ploy that seemed to have worked, so I’m sure the media advisors will be patting themselves on the back. However, I too think John Campbell and the team he leads do a fantastic job and will continue to praise him. For me there is no other interviewer who comes close.

    • “They are simply offering the average NZer an opportunity to express their views.”

      But vox-popping the great unwashed with questions so simplistic as to be misleading, such as “do you think the Government should be spying on New Zealanders?” when you’re talking about the role of the country’s sleuths is about the same as asking “do you think the Government should be killing New Zealanders?” when you’re really seeking opinions on the death penalty.

      As far as the advanced warning is concerned, surely 3 hours is enough for Campbell’s team of researchers and producers to come up with a workable interview strategy? And anyway, I’m sure they could’ve said ‘no’, if they thought they were too much on the back foot…..

      • I think you’ll find that the majority of the time the questions being asked are “can you share your view on the GCSB Bill?” or “do you support or oppose the GCSB Bill?” followed quickly by “why?” The thing that has impressed me through the stories, and through those vox-pops is regardless of how short those are people are informed and have an opinion about the bill which is putting John Key’s argument about snapper quotas to shame. And to be honest, even if more people were interested in snapper quotas, that doesn’t give the government the justification to push through under urgency a law that is contrary to NZ law.

        As for your comment about 3 hours being enough time, it was purely my opinion that John Key and his advisors would seek to get as much advantage as possible leading into the interview whilst during to unsettle the interviewer as much as possible.

        I also wouldn’t be surprised if this interview was a one time offer from Key’s camp. Either do it today or he doesn’t front on this subject. Again to unsettle the interviewer. John Key’s camp knew that Campbell Live had been trying to get him on the show for a long time about the GCSB so they knew Campbell wouldn’t turn them down.

        Regardless of all that, I personally think that Campbell Live have done a good job of keeping this important issue in the public arena, which is where the politicians don’t seem to want it. I am hoping that enough people vote on poll that Campbell Live are running and that the politicians sit up and listen.

        • Pretty fair comments, though I would say that of course all the Key’s men (and his horses too) would want the odds stacked in his favour, so the short fuse would be a perfectly logical ploy. I presume BE would agree.

          Like him or not, Key is the maestro in this setting: a bit smug and glib perhaps, but justifiably so given his level of preparation – no notes, but Campbell and his entire in tray still shot to hell. Key’s was a masterful performance.

      • Key avoided answering absolutely ‘all’ questions put to him in any clear and logical way, he just kept loudly insisting to John, “let me finish, let me finish, I’ll come back to that in a moment” and then simply wouldn’t stop semi shouting long enough to allow any other questions to be asked. This semi shouted “let me finish” interruption tactic just kept coming every time JC tried to reestablish any kind of civilized exchange (hence eventual head in hand).
        This tactic is classic media trained manipulation of an interview and Key and Stephen Joyce must have exactly the same media trainer, because Joyce employed exactly the same tactic to avoid answering any questions on the GCSB bill and belittle Rachel Smallie on the Nation last Sat. Joyces I/V was an appalling verbal attack verging on the personally abusive and Keys performance was essentially identical! Muldoon was a master manipulator in this way and Helen was the first here to use the, ‘Just let me finish, line, deftly delivered with an eye watering matriarchal stare. Woe betide any interviewer who fronted that stare!
        Taking the whole debacle further, Key between repeated protestations of “let me finish, let me finish” and ‘no I won’t answer that one”, attempted to lecture the interviewer and the public on the reasons they should ‘trust him implicitly’ on this bill. (The reason he was being interviewed was that the NZ public simply don’t trust him implicitly on this bill!!!!)
        An interview is an exchange of questions and answers in a civilized manner meant to illuminate the viewers. That was little more than a rambling street brawl controlled by a constant overtalking blustering verbal aggressor. Interview? Information? What a joke. It was a total joke and a joke that was very sad. Why? Because the huge losers on the day were the now seriously divided New Zealand people who still remain quite in the dark as to the implications and safeguards of this bill and why they should just, “trust National on this one”.
        The simple fact that our Prime Minister resorted to outright verbal attack and personal intimidation (PM’s can do that in a second to any interviewer btw. You know Brian) and then loudly blustered his way through a Nationally important interview, instantly told me that he was following his media grooming like one of Pavlovs dogs.

        • Pray tell ,Paul what is the point of asking the Prime minister a question and then not allowing him to finish answering it?
          Maybe if you listened instead of whining about his”demeanor” you may have learnt something.
          Cognitive dissonance appears strong amongst the Labour/Greens lovefest of fantasy on how to run this country.


            Right on the button.


            “Pray tell”, “Whining” “Cognitive dissonance”? How about trying to be less condescending Rodger T? Plain rude to mate.
            … An interviewer has the responsibility to interrupt when the interviewee/PM in this case does not even try to answer the questions put to him and immediately launches into a blanket party political explanation of the wider picture. JC tried a number of times to reask the questions the people of NZ wanted answered but each time the PM raised his voice and relaunched into his ‘speech’.
            The concern for the country (the one expressed by a great many very responsible people and the whole point of the I/V) was the indecent haste and the lack of safeguards to do with this bill. He didn’t answer any of those concerns at all. Nineteen minutes on air and almost no communication, just constant playing the man, and a constant lack of respect for the audience. Typically ignorant one on one personal combat. Informative interview? Crikey mate, you really have to own the other eye.

        • So Paul, you would be advocating that an interviewer deserves the respect of the PM (unearned but that’s another story)but not vice versa.
          You would tell me that the PM should not be allowed the courtesy of being heard to give his replies to questions but should be shouted over and have research notes waved in his face.
          You apparently are asserting that the PM has nothing better to do but spend his day researching and rehearsing unlike the interviewer who has had weeks of running his campaign and should know every nuance of the GCSB Bill to the point where he could debate rationally yet could not string back-to-back questions together in a coherent manner.
          You appear to claim that the PM should have so much free time on his hands that he should fly around the country every time that TV3 snaps its fingers yet when he has a schedule gap and offers to come for the show and give Campbell an opportunity to perform his serious journalist act he gets slagged for previous non-attendance.
          I think you are the one with the credibility problem.


            Once again David. What was the point of this interview? Was it a one on one commutative attack on a tv program and an interviewer or the allaying of fear on a very complex subject that a great many the NZ people have found confusing and rushed? I say it was the allaying of fear.(You disagree?) Avoiding the questions and shouting does not achieve that end in any way. You also say Key is busy? Too busy to allay the fears of the electorate in a quiet logical way when so many of them have serious reservations? He treated the electorate opinion as not worthy of his time??? How bad is that?

            An interviewer has a responsibility to the viewers (electorate in a pollie i/v) to interrupt an interviewee (the PM in this case) 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.
            Nineteen ‘Tua like’ minutes on air and almost no allaying of the electorates fear, just constant playing the man over and over again, and a constant lack of respect for the electorates ability to think for themselves.
            Typical media manipulative tactic of one on one personal combat. Informative interview? It was a joke but not one of John Campbells making. Crikey mate, please open the other eye.

            • “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:


              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


              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


                A TV station is not a vehicle for party political pronouncements Random. ??? Hullo! Even TVNZ’s mandate proclaims that immensely loudly.
                PM or not, an interviewee is an interviewee, and they are there by invitation participate in a civilized debate, an interview is not a party political statement at all.
                You seem to think TV is at the politicians beck and call? Thats ridiculous in a democratic country. In a totalitarian govt controlled TV that is true,(the media are a mouthpiece for the ruiling political party) but in an active democracy like ours, that is simply not true. Key avoided all offers for an interview, and when he finally did accept, he bulldozed any notion of civilised debate on the points that were of concern to the electorate and hijacked the time to give a party political broadcast. No idea why all that ramble is above. Makes no sense at all btw.

        • Paul I fully agree with your sentiments. To hear John Key’s 17 minute monolog was a disgrace. Key’s bad behaviour failed to score any points with me.

      • I agree with you Zinc.

        Michael’s bit about Key calling Campbell’s NZ tour misleading avoids a very key point.

        Campbell deliberately calls this activity ‘polling’, presumably to create the impression that its got some statistical rigour about it, and thus, credibility.

        It’s not a poll in any sense of the word. There is no rigour. It may be vox popping, it may even be a petition, but it is not a poll,and has no credibility as such.

        Campbell is equally misleading and devious Michael, if it suits his agenda.

    • Campbell, was petulant and out-gunned by the Prime Minister. It is not difficult to discern that TV3 and its “news” people have had their newsmaking inventiveness stymied.

    • Campbell Live’s tour around the country is not really a case of allowing the average NZer to have a say. Their Dipton stop-off happened to encounter a relative of mine. When asked if he had an opinion on the topic he was told pretty clearly: we are looking for people who oppose the bill and the engagement ended there. That is not the voice of the NZ public, that’s Campbell Live seeking out voices who support the show’s ongoing narrative on the topic.

    • I think JK has been off his game for some time now but that was a master class. He was not smug but considered and very clear in his answers.

    • Oh come on. That is what producers are for. They will tailor a story however they want.

  4. Mr Key could spring an election on that performance. If the GCSB Bill is tripped up by Mr Dunne or somebody missing the bell he may have enough momentum to get past the Greens and Labour combined. Just saying. Of course it was just a performance but they win elections.

  5. So now you too Brian decide also to “play the man, not the ball” – making commentary on John Campbell rather than the actual issue at hand that the PM was being interviewed about.

    Personally, I’m far more interested in the how and what of Key’s various points than whether John Campbell was getting justifiably irritated because Key was talking shit…

  6. Brian,

    I have not watched Campbell for some time as I don’t particularly like his brand of ‘advocacy journalism’. It seems to me it has become Campbell being the news rather than reporting the news – and I do know he has helped many people.

    The problem is every now and then it is possible that he may not be ‘right’. If you are that invested in issues then that can become a weakness.

    I follows politics very closely and today all the talk was of last night’s programme. I watched it online and like many think the PM took Campbell down. The PM remained calm and the calmer he was the more agitated Campbell became. Within the first minute and the first sign of agitation (weakness) and he was dog meat.

    Unfortunately for many who are scaremongering the PM is right – people care more about Snapper – a story that is more suited to Campbell’s current show. I support the GCSB Bill. Personally I would be more worried about the up and coming hackers than the Government spying on NZ citizens or residents. We are truly deluded if we think in the age of the internet we have any privacy any more.

    As a complete aside – love The Newsroom. That is the sort of journalism I’d like to see.

  7. “Key: critical of the programme, but patient, considered, quiet, reasonable, polite, helpful, good-humoured”.

    Which, along with “know the subject and do your homework” is why Key was reminiscent last night of Rob Muldoon at his best. Even though there are obvious public persona differences, Key, like Muldoon of old, knows how to use the medium of TV to defuse the unstated agendas of the interviewer, take control with relevant yet succinctly stated facts, and communicate directly with the viewers.

    If that is the result of the John Campbell interviewing style, long may it continue!

  8. Brown there describes the interview as ‘a study in media training’ – nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more – and goes on to offer an interpretation of the exchange that left me wondering whether we had watched the same two people in the same interview.

    No worries, Brian, I feel the same way. Thanks for the link!

    But are you seriously telling me you think Key’s “your mate Kim Dotcom” remark — which was apropos of nothing — wasn’t playing the man?

    • Watch Campbell with Dotcom in the many interviews, its fawning on an epic scale, sycophantic to the point of vomiting. Look at the ratings slide sine he got all excited about the GCSB bill, we stopped watching when he delivered the video montage trying to link Eric Holders visit to Dotcom. When this passes we will return to watching him.

  9. Brian, It seems to me that with the present National Party triumvirate of Key, Joyce and English there is a common approach when giving interviews. The ploy appears to be to talk almost incessantly and when interrupted to then say “I’ll come back to that”. (They seldom do!) The only option the interviewer has IS to interrupt, thus giving the impression of rudeness.
    I believe Campbell’s increasing frustration was because he was largely unable to break through the Key monologue during which Key masterfully introduced a number of red herrings.Snapper as well.

    • Three problems with that analysis: –

      1. Some of Campbell’s questions required detailed and complex answers because they dealt with detailed and complex facts and possible implications. That may not fit the “sound bite” agenda of ratings-driven and scheduled programmes like Campbell live who ultimately managed to secure this interview by asking a simplistic and leading question to members of the public, “Do you want to be spied on?”,

      …but seeing as they were playing the role of advocacy journalism crusading for the country’s good, then…tough! You don’t like the answer, then don’t ask the question.

      2. Key didn’t fill the air with lots of words when asked if Geoffrey Palmer, the Law Society and Sir Bruce Ferguson’s views were wrong. All he needed was one word: “yeah”. Effective communication, and I’d love to see my good friend Kat try and get the “John Key is a master of political obfuscation” tag to stick on that particular answer.

      3. Key didn’t first raise the matter of the Snapper in the interview. Campbell did – giving Key the opportunity to re-iterate why he stated that it was of more public interest than the GCSB bill. Which he backed up with facts “we got 124 submissions on the GCSB bill, and 30,000 on Snapper”.

  10. Brian, It seems to me that with the present National Party triumvirate of Key, Joyce and English there is a common approach when giving interviews. The ploy appears to be to talk almost incessantly and when interrupted to then say “I’ll come back to that”. (They seldom do!) The only option the interviewer has IS to interrupt, thus giving the impression of rudeness.

    Yes, that’s exactly the technique. Campbell lost one follow-up question after another to “I’ll get back to that” — after he’d actually asked the question. The subject does not have the automatic right to continue making one assertion (or “point”, as the PM had it) after another, without question. Attempting to get a question in between points isn’t “rude”, it’s actually necessary. As you say, it can be quite hard to do without being wholly combative.

    • Russell, I’d suggest that there was no answer that would have satisfied you, Campbell, nor any of the GCSB Amendement Bill’s critics, and the questions and answers are just positioning and posturing, when the real objection is

      …you can’t trust the government via the GCSB to collect information on New Zealand citizens and residents.

      Which may be right – although based on last night’s broadcast, I’d suggest you’ll now have a difficult job convincing the country.

    • The “subject” in this case was the PM of the country. He is not the corner grocer. He should be held to account. He should not be harangued like he was last night. He did well in keeping his cool.

      The Left has underestimated JK from day one and continue to do so. From Jonkey with his mangled vowels, to “smile and wave” JK and now to cunning media savvy JK, the Left sees superficiality and keeps hoping it will stick – I think it was you Brian who said JK was so shallow he would drown in a puddle.

      Good luck with that. Personally I see courage, intelligence and unparalleled decisiveness. The last can be a political liability and I don’t support everything this government has done but I can still respect it.

      • How such a high percentage of the electorate could respect ‘shallowness’ is more likely what the Left has underestimated the most.

        • Sounds like Labour need Cunliffe as leader more than ever, then.

          But while we no doubt agree that one out of John Key and Cunliffe is Chauncey Gardinerr, I’m guessing that is whwre our brief meeting of the minds ends.


            the last thing labour needs is cunliffe or his ilk, there are still too many of them hanging around for the pension, the ACT brotherhood is still alive and kicking within the labour ranks doing its utmost to search and destroy

          • No, Kimbo – let’s get clear on this: Labour must stick with Shearer for the rest of this decade, at least – OK? Trust me, he is the right man for the job. With him at the helm, this country will prosper as never before. Geddit?

        • Again, the view that the majority are too dumb to know what the left thinks are good for them. Your question which becomes a statement makes the assumption that your view of John Key as shallow is correct, but evidence would suggest that he is not.

    • I agree.

      In the first instance, there are very few occasions when current Ministers are agreeing to one on one interviews. I doubt that there has been a Government in my lifetime that has avoided accountability interviews in such a way. But there seems to be no demand from the public for them to do so.

      Secondly, their media training is consistent when they do appear and from the Government’s perspective it is very effective. First step – insist on putting everything in context and spend valuable interview time explaining the context. Second step – when interrupted by the interviewer, say “I’ll come to that shortly, just let me finish this because it’s important”. Of course they never come to “that” and the interviewer moves on because he/she is trying to get through all their questions.

      The 19 minutes of the interview is probably a record for the longest interview in the last decade of a Government Minister. That in many ways is the problem for an interviewer since most one on ones are usually just 6-10 minutes. Interviewers have to find a way to deal with this, rather than simply get frustrated – for when they do, they stop playing their interviewer role.

      In the old days, we would have said that Key’s performance told the public a lot about him. But I wonder whether these days the public gives a stuff? So where does that leave the media?

    • 10.4

      Tosh, Russell. If you ask a question you must be either prepared to pursue the issue in depth or willing to accept the subject’s response. Campbell was neither and Key exposed him completely as shallow, facile and a sore loser.

      Key was not simply talking for the sake of it but was wholly on top of and focused on the questions being asked. If Campbell actually wanted to “get back to” anything he had plenty of time to do so. But he was so desperate to land a counter-punch he kept trying new lines.

      Epic fail.

    • Other interviewers in other countries seem entirely capable of asking questions and without constant interruptions finding out what the person being interviewed thinks, why is it not possible in this country.
      I imagine you consider Mary Wilson from RNZ a good interviewer-again someone who doesn’t actually listen to the the answer before asking the next question.

  11. It is interesting that pretty well all the analysis of last night’s interview focus on style but there is little focus on substance.

    IMHO Key was wrong in his simplistic description of the effect of the proposed law changes and it would be sad if this particular discussion which is so important would be lost in superficial analyses of who looked more composed …

  12. How well the two fared seems to be dependent on your political persuasion. I declare my left leaning self now. I thought that JC became increasingly frustrated with JK’s flippant and distracting responses to JC’s interrogatories. Norton antivirus??? Sheesh. And saying it would be legal was an exercise in circuitous thinking. If I was judging a fight, I would say that JC’s interviewing exposed JK’s desperation to draw hopeless analogies and his slick media savvy was grating. It is a pity that the excellently researched questions were lost (and unanswered) in the talking over each other that ensued. JC needed to keep the frustration that he (and this viewer) clearly felt at bay to get the best out if his interview and not provide JK with the ammunition to treat issues with disdain and get away with it. It is nice to see someone in the media having a real go at Teflon man at long last. If it keeps it up, the slick veneer may well lose its shine.

    • 12.1

      Well stated Allison Adams, this is as I and many others saw last nights interview, the trouble I see with the right is it always has to be a fight, when all we require is the Facts, Truth, Transparency and Integrity.

    • 12.2

      Actually Key’s analogy with PC anti-virus software was perfectly reasonable. If, for example, IRD was attacked by a denial of service or a web server hack (which I understand is the intent of the web security provision) then GCSB would be empowered to track the source of the attack – just as is done for criminal malware attacks.

      What is your problem with that?



          Yes, I don’t use it myself, Kat. However it is installed by default on so many machines that it would be the most commonly known AV package for the general public so Key used it as his example.

          • Bad example, but reflective of the whole GCSB fiasco.


              No, for the reason I gave it was the appropriate example to be meaningful for the general public.

              All US companies are subject to US Government coercion. Norton’s is entirely unexceptional in that respect. No doubt the US is paranoid about Huawai precisely because it knows what it would be doing if it were the Chinese government. The same goes for all Israeli companies and no doubt various other aggressive or paranoid nationalities.

    • Yes your left leaning tendencies ARE well on display!JC lost because he lost his cool and instead of trying to find out what Key thought about various points was consumed with the idea of tripping JC up-quite the wrong appraoch as it proved to be.

  13. There isn’t a snowballs of John Key appearing on Campbell to answer questions on this question again in my opinion Brian. I’d suggest that promise was just as sincere as the oft repeated vow to “return to the question later” that the caucus has been schooled in. This strategy is now so entrenched and polished, (not to mention obvious and repetitive)that I’m getting sniggering emails from friends overseas. Diminish the validity and relevance of the question with flippant remarks and superior dismissive attitude, demean or ridicule the questioner (or preferably an absent party who holds similar views and has less popularity) and if those (few) uppity press STILL continue to demand answers -state you’ll “return to the question” whilst babbling jargon, analogy and unrelated inanity over the top of the questioner until the question goes away or the questioner gets so flustered they lose it. This isn’t accountable government, it’s arrogant thumb wrestling that only sycophants like Kimbo can defend. In the meantime, the public will only get irrelevant oneliners to ponder over -if they can remember anything of such little substance by next election. He won a playground fight using playground tactics last night, he’ll let that stand. We won’t see him front again.

    • I’m tempting to have my man make arrangements with your man for pistols at dawn, but the rest of the evil Tory sycophants talked me into giving you the opportunity to cite some facts to support your claims Key engaged in.

      “Diminish the validity and relevance of the question with flippant remarks and superior dismissive attitude,

      …demean or ridicule the questioner (or preferably an absent party who holds similar views and has less popularity) (BTW, given that Sir Geoffrey Palmer’s RMA is the next policy target on this Government’s to-do list, I thougth Key was very classy not taking a shot at the expense of befuddled ivory-towered academic ex Labour PM)

      …and if those (few) uppity press STILL continue to demand answers -state you’ll “return to the question”

      …whilst babbling jargon, analogy and unrelated inanity over the top of the questioner until the question goes away regarding”.

      You don’t think Key would appear on Campbell live again? Well, yes, we probably agree, because they would be mad to want to go a second round.

      Right, gotta go, brown-nosing to do elsewhere…

  14. Where’d you get the 4pm time from? JC himself tweeted about JK appearing at 2pm and negotiations would have begun well before that.

    There’s nothing unusual about pollies keeping journalists hanging anyway, JC has had weeks to prepare.

    As many others have noted JK had no apparent notes, JC was shuffling paper furiously.

  15. Were we watching the same program? John Campbell came across as being determined to get a handle on what is actually happening! John Key came across as slick but smalmy, evasive and clever – if I have one criticism it is that Campbell allowed John Key to evade discussing the criticisms put forward by the Law Society – and did not press home adequately the fact that Mr Key dodged the huge difficulty that I have – that it is Key who appoints the watchdogs and Key who is going to direct major spying operations on NZers. Key did not appeases my concerns one little bit – I was left thinking that this man is dangerous and quite capable of leading us into an era where the state is a malevolent intruder into our lives.

  16. If Key and Campbell had been politicians having a debate, then maybe Key “won”.

    But it was meant to be an interview.

    Key was ostensibly on the program to answer questions. But he did nothing of the sort, and he quite obviously had no intention of doing so. All that Key did was repeat his inane talking points in an unassailable (although not always articulate) manner. Key’s performance will have convinced very few people either way. He did not win an argument about his policies, because he did not try to, he merely avoiding engaging in debate about the substance of his policies.

    As Russell Norman said, “question time is meaningless if it is not also answer time”. Same thing here, Key didn’t “win” this interview, he merely avoiding being interviewed.

    Clap. Clap.

  17. Hey Brian,nice to see you back – that picture of
    our Social Development Minister was getting rather overpowering!
    I’m a first time “commenter”, but compelled to do so with this discussion. I agree with your post – JC was rather beaten by a PM who was well trained (and that is not a bad thing) but when you look at the substance there is very little there from JK. However he was superbly skilled in prevaricating, dodging the question (is that a tautology?) and facing the camera fearlessly, without notes faltering. Tell me his media managers!

    Having said that,I applaud John Campbell’s advocacy journalism, wishing there was a greater and deeper engagement with current issues. He is asking the questions, and elicits from us a much needed response,no matter what that might be.

    For me, I am against the GCSB bill – I am in no way trusting of the assertions I have heard/read. And I rely on commentators like you and others to tell it how it is from your perspective.
    So, please keep blogging sir!

  18. Key gave Campbell three big openings:
    1) blaming Labour for the law (when the debate was about changes to those laws);
    2) likening the GCSB interception systems to Norton antivirus (which as everyone should know, is not only a complete aggressive dog, but fundamentally compromised by acting as one of the CIA/NSA’s main spy tools);
    and not least 3) repeatedly saying everything was okay because it was legal (which is completely beside – indeed, contradictory to – the point; everything Hitler did was “legal” too!)

    Campbell FAILED to pick up and respond to ANY of those openings.

    Perhaps instead of asking, how could he miss them, we should ask WHY he “missed” them….

    (conspiracy theory #3891)

  19. To all the John Key followers, any chance you could put some light on his figures that it would take 130,000 people and 6.6 Billion dollars to sift through NZ’ers emails, surely we all no that even in NZ we currently have computer power and programs that could sift through and decipher this task in a week?

    • Soooo, ” in NZ we currently have computer power and programs that could sift through and decipher this task in a week” is a statement of fact or something that you made up? By you statement I would guess you watch a lot of TV.

    • 19.2

      By the end of that week there would be another week’s worth of work ahead?

      But you overlook that computers produce data, humans produce intelligence. My guess would be that Key’s comment was the result of extrapolating the effort that went into tracking the 88 subjects the GCSB investigated over the past decade and converting the retrieved data into investigative conclusions.

      Had Campbell been up with the play instead of merely intent on nailing Key to the wall he would have done well to distinguish between what data GCSB has access to, and keeps either here or elsewhere in the international spy network, and what it actually does access and investigate.

      Then we may have learnt something important.

  20. @Bruce Bisset.

    It is also another of the National party mantras to make the assertion that ‘Labour'(or more pointedly ‘Helen Clark’) introduced the 2003 GCSB legislation.

    What they fail to say is that the then Opposition voted in favour of it.

  21. Whatever you think of Campbell’s interview with Key, Key has this morning back tracked on his stance on the GCSB.

    The problem is; Key’s control proposal for these powers are not good enough safeguards for the almost unlimited Xkeyscore survellience powers at issue.

    We shouldn’t have to rely on having faith in the PM’s discetion. It’s unhealthy, undemocratic.

    More sophisticated independent controls are needed.
    That is why more time is needed.
    That is why Campbell’s work in raising interest and debate is needed.

    The fact Campbell got upset or flustered with Key during his interview is irrelevant.

    Good journalists have passion and sometimes it shows.

  22. Campbell Live has not been completely fair and balanced on the issue, but it’s difficult to be when Key won’t front to defend the legitimacy of the bill.

    John Campbell was surely angry because Key could have allayed some of the fears New Zealanders have expressed if he had of fronted earlier.

    I felt a little more reassured after the interview and my opinion of the bill shifted somehwat based on some of the points Key made, for example, that the GCSB will require a warrant to access metadata.

    But for many other New Zealanders, the horse has already bolted. Prudent political management means bringing the public with you by clearly explaining the rationale for policy and legislative changes. Key hasn’t done enough in this regard, and his ‘being busy’ – while obviously true – can’t be a defence.

  23. Look at the history, Clarke passed the 2003 legislation with a deal done with the Alliance. The Alliance got their face saving win and Miss Clarke was smart enough to leave a hole big enough to allow the GCSB to continue their work, this has blown up and Key has to fix the legislation (why else is the legislation being fixed).
    This is the fundamental reason why Campbell is coming unstuck with this crusade, unfortunately we need spooks and always have done and most NZers realise we do. Key has just put some rules around what they can do and can’t and explained it pretty well.
    Campbell does well when there is actually a reason to get excited (Christchurch) rather than getting all excited and flashing his green petticoats to his audience.

    • David, you fool. Look at the history yourself. There was no deal done with the Alliance to pass the 2003 legilsation. National and Labour *both* voted for it, because there was a consensus amongst the major parties on what to do.

      Also, according to Hansard debate all parties were quite explicit that the 2003 legislation *prevented* GCSB from spying on NZers. There was no question about a loop-hole that enabled such spying in certain circumstances. This was a central point of debate that came up multiple times because the Greens, of course, were quite adament that the legislation did nothing to prevent the GCSB from spying on NZers, if the GCSB choose to do so. The Greens were the only party to not vote for the 2003 legislation.

    • The legislation is being “fixed” because Winkelman has found that the GCSB spied illegally. If you took nothing else from that IV, it’s that JK hates “illegal”. That’s why he said legal so often. The real questions are why this is so rushed and why the bill is being changed after the select committee process.

  24. “In a dramatic twist on the GCSB bill, John Key now says he will restrict warrants granted to the spy agency so it can’t initially look at the content of New Zealanders’ communications in carrying out its cyber-security function.

    And he says if the Government Communications Security Bureau makes a good enough case to access content, he expects it to seek the consent of Kiwis before looking, unless there is a good reason not to.

    The Prime Minister made the announcement last night in an exclusive written statement to the Herald….Mr Key made the statement in response to questions about his fired-up appearance on Campbell Live on Wednesday night. In the course of the interview he said incorrectly that under the bill, the GCSB would not be allowed to look at the content of communications when conducting their cyber-security functions.

    In fact, there is nothing that prevents it from doing so. But what Mr Key is now saying is that in exercising his power to impose any conditions he wants on a warrant, he will use his discretion to set the default position not looking at content in the cyber-security function.”

    Goodness, Key never said that during his interview with Campbell. The serial liar just can’t seem to get his story straight and seems to be unaware of what is actually in his Bill. Yet this is the same guy who will be signing off warrants. Scary.

    • So given that Campbell apparently forced Key into making errors in his explanation of the GCSB bill, will Campbell now be judged to have “won” the interview?

  25. The above begs the question, why did the PM write to the Herald to admit his faux pas on Campbell Live? The honourable thing would have been to appear on Campbell Live and admit he stuffed up…clearly that is beyond him. He can’t be trusted.

  26. “Sometimes even the finest journalist can get too close to a story. That, in my view, is what happened here.”

    Spot on, Brian. Campbell was so emotionally attached to his point of view he was unable to cope with its destruction.

    He was asking questions that he could not bear to let Key answer properly because the responses were so devastating.

    By the end of it he was in full flight looking for a non-existent rescuer.

    I have reserved my opinion on the GCSB bill because I know I am not properly informed. My general view is that

    a) I absolutely do not trust the Americans – actually I trust them to capture and keep everything they can lay their hands on;
    b) The GCSB needs sufficient powers, but not excessive;
    c) There is no need for duplication of monitoring resources by different agencies;
    d) Close supervision of these powers by active independent monitors is absolutely necessary and to date has been inadequate;
    e) Campbell Live has been campaigning amongst people who are mostly at least as ill-informed as I am.

    • “He was asking questions that he could not bear to let Key answer properly because the responses were so devastating.”

      That’s the best laugh I’ve had in a long time, Alan. Key didn’t answer the questions, he kept saying “I’ll come back to that”. He never did. You were obviously watching a different interview where you imagined the PM did well.

      • 26.1.1

        You do need urgent treatment for that myopia, Ross.

        The rest of the world saw Key trying to answer the questions properly against a barrage of interruptions and diversions from Campbell.

        • Alan, I’m sure there’s a stage somewhere where you could parade your comedic talents.

          Key was as evasive as ever. Now he’s saying, at the 11th hour, that “he will restrict warrants granted to the spy agency so it can’t initially look at the content of New Zealanders’ communications in carrying out its cyber-security function.” Why didn’t he say that on Campbell Live? It seems like the penny might have finally dropped with the PM that there is a lot of opposition to his Bill.


            “Cyber security today: Under the present law, if the GCSB detected an intrusion into the IRD cyber system, it could track its source if it were overseas, or if it were from the computer of a foreigner in NZ but not if it were from the computer of a Kiwi.

            Cyber security tomorrow: Under the proposed law, if the GCSB detected an intrusion into the IRD cyber system it could track its source whether abroad, without a warrant, or in NZ with a warrant, which John Key says would not access the communications’ content. If the Kiwi’s computer was suspected as being an unwitting host of a remote attacker abroad, the GCSB would alert the Kiwi to get permission to access his or her computer content. If a person was suspected of being involved in the attack, the GCSB would get a warrant to look at the content.”


            Your problem with this is?

    • 26.2

      I unconditionally endorse your first point: “a) I absolutely do not trust the Americans – actually I trust them to capture and keep everything they can lay their hands on.”

      The paramount reason for the legislation is to show our US allies we are “on side” (following our botched attempt to help apprehend Kim Dotcom) and demonstrate our willingness to help, as much as we can with limited resources, protect US national interests.

      NZ needs US tech know how and its spy toys (Waihopai station in Blenheim) if our small nation is itself to remain safe from those who seek to destroy our way of life. Labour senior MP’s know this and are posturing as Mr Key and his close friends, including Ian Fletcher, well know.

      The Greens don’t know and are not posturing. Labour can not risk losing more ground to the Greens so Labour is obliged to posture. The Greens could have us out in the cold like when we broke out of ANZUS (and nuclear weapons)under a still novice PM David Lange.

      The delay in passing the Bill now creates the tantalising, but slight, possibility of the House rejecting the Bill and Mr Key calling on the country for a (love this word) mandate. I think he would get it on his Campbell Live TV performance . He might not if he waits for the term to run its course and the media (and the Opposition) learn how to defuse him.

    • Exquisitly said, Alan.

  27. Irrespective of Key not wanting discussion on the Bill its now happening. If Campbell has helped that along then all the better for NZ.

    Good to see you slowly becoming informed Alan, lets hope the discussion is wide and long enough to force the Bill to be written up properly to include all safeguards for NZ citizens into law. Which is exactly what the opposition has been calling for from the beginning.

    • 27.1

      Not sure that the safeguards can be in the law, Kat, since they depend on subjective judgements.

      It’s always been my view that the real safeguards have to be in the monitoring and reporting systems.

      • We live in a country that offers very little in the way of checks and balances. Too often legislation is rushed through without that “sober second look” to see if it really benefits NZ society, later we have the need pass amendments to this legislation.

        A.W. I think we have finally agreed on something. I do no trust the Yanks either. I have met some fantastic americans in my time, however their political system needs a drastic overhaul. Key is much too close to the americans. They will tell him to jump and Key will reply, “How High”

        I wouldn’t worry too much about cyber security. Much of the hacking at the high end is done by the Chinese. The GCSB is incapable of going after the big fish.

        The yanks are more interested in extending their influence into New Zealand to capture small fry who steal intellectual property.

    • Hmmm. I note Campbell tried that fig-leaf covering approach the next night.

      The problem with that analysis, and also RJL’s assertion, “If Key and Campbell had been politicians having a debate, then maybe Key “won”. But it was meant to be an interview”

      …is that when you ride forth on the white horse of advocacy journalism, you are not merely seeking “discussion”. Given that in the light of David Shearer;s continual no-show as Leader of the Opposition (Russel Norman is the real office-bearer in Parliament), Campbell set himself up as the unofficial Opposition…and got pasted.

      Dissembling about “participating in and facilitating the democratic process” is the sort of thing losers say on election night when consoling their faithful supporters.

  28. By the ‘safeguards’ I am referring to Keys so called assurances that he won’t allow the GCSB to access and read private communications of NZ citizens. Those assurances need to be legally framed and included in the Bill. At the moment they are not.

    • “Those assurances need to be legally framed and included in the Bill”.

      Ah, the Sir Geoffrey Palmer approach to righting all the potential wrongs in the world. Draft a law. That’ll do it! Worked for the RMA didn’t it?!

    • 28.2

      But he will, if they duly obtain warrants to do so. That is exactly my point. The law can only specify a process. The important issue is who is involved in, informed about and supervising that process.

      • That would be Key for the moment, and too many people now, it would appear, don’t trust Key to make such solitary decisions or supervise such process. Or such a power to any other PM in the future.


          That is where I consider myself ill-informed. I know there are other people involved, but I don’t know enough detail.

          In my view there needs to be supervision at a potentially whistle-blowing level by both independent professionals/jurists and opposition politicians. There also needs to be much better transparency in public reporting.

  29. Brian is absolutely right. JC is now too close to the story. If he has, as is widely assumed, adopted the stance of advocacy journalism then there’s some thinking that has to be done about how you present the argument. You can’t “interview” like an average journalist. You have to discuss. You have to use “I” and present your own opinion. JC in an attempt to be a journalist was forced to ask questions that illuminated his own opinion and concerns and hope that the PM would agree. That’s not going to happen. Pilger knows this and will be interviewed on his stance. To my knowledge JC has not been IV’d. This is a crucial decision to make and I’m not sure that JC is there yet. If he is an advocate he has to “make that change”.

    • 29.1

      An interesting perspective, Andrew. But I’m presuming Pilger does his own research while Campbell relies on others. That still leaves him betwixt and between- as evidenced by his messy sheaf of notes compared with Key’s clear desk and head. I can’t see him able to defend a position that he doesn’t have a deep knowledge of.

  30. Could this be why the State let slip its claim to $22 million in tax in the receivership of TV3′s parent company?

    That is, come election time, the Goverment wanted to joust with that pushover of a Leftist, John Campbell, TV3′s Mr Gush, the Mazda man.

  31. Whether you liked or dislike the demeanour of the players in the broadcast is not at issue here. What concerns me, is the level of faith that John Key placed in his lawyers and their interpretations of the law.

  32. Key was able to produce good evidence that most New Zealanders do not give a rats arse about the GCSB bill.
    It is not overbearing,it is quite necessary and most of us are more concerned with other things.
    He wiped Campbell over the floor, without trouble.
    Expect a third and possibly fourth term from NZ Nat Govt.

    • “Key was able to produce good evidence that most New Zealanders do not give a rats arse about the GCSB bill.”

      He didn’t produce any evidence at all. He kept saying “I’ll come back to that” and never did. Ignorance is bliss, eh?

  33. JK … “meat and three vege” … Campbell … was “Done like a Dinner”.

    Sooo … Campbell “Minced” … Shearer “Toast”

  34. 34


  35. All of the things you accuse JC of doing and being, petulant etc are exactly the things he always does and why I personally find it impossible to watch him or his programme. He is rude and confrontational and isn’t even the slightest bit interested in what the person being interviewed is saying-he has already made up his mind and that is it! I often watch Australian political interviews and I am constantly struck by how patient they are to allow politicians -of all colours-to say their thing. If they hang themsleves then so be it but at least they get their chance uninterrupted. The worse on radio is Mary Wilson-someone again who is almost always made up her mind and thinks that good interviewing is about talking over people and dismissing their answers-how can you know how to phrase your next question if you don’t bother to listen to the answer?
    Surely the purpose of any interview is to elicit facts and opinions from the person being interviewed?
    Interviewing in New Zealand is in a terrible state and the very fact that you,Brian Edwards, seem determined to not only defend it but to praise it makes for a very sad state of affairs indeed.

  36. Campbells advocacy journalism is commendable but too often he does misinform the public particularly on economic matters.
    The reason Campbell has been so harshly criticised over the Key interview
    Is his unwillingness to listen to answers. Campbell uses his programme as a bully pulpit which is becoming wearisome to many people

  37. John Campbell always interviews like that…the reason why I never watch him any more…

  38. GCSB protects us like Norton Antivirus, huh?

    Well, you know how Norton Antivirus works? It constantly monitors a computer, scanning and checking every file to make sure it doesn’t contain malware.

    So, if Key’s analogy is correct, we’re all being monitored and examined to make sure we don’t cause any mischief.

    Thanks for the insight, John Keys

  39. After Snowden revelations, looks like not only GCSB but NSA from USA constantly scans us in NZ too.