It looks like today’s questions were a coordinated effort by opposition parties to make the prime minister answer questions and not have him fob them off to someone else or deny he has any responsibility to answer it. I thought Duncan Garner was a political journalist once, so surely he would have known this? Or is this fobbing off questions a new thing, unique to Team Key?
When MPs ask Key if he “stands by all his statements” he has to answer questions that are put to him and not pass it on to one of his Ministers. If they simply asked him about a particular subject, he can blow it off and not answer it by saying he has no responsibility for that portfolio, thereby wasting a valuable question. The government does this so the prime minister is kept from having to answer tough questions and/or be associated with dodgy, useless, inept, corrupt, etc, government ministers and departments.
For example you could ask Key about the state of operations at a particular DHB, he could claim he has no ‘ministerial responsibility for that’ and pass the question to his Minister of Health to answer. Or he might have made the claim a health department is operating very well, but when it’s proven it isn’t, he can simply deny he has any knowledge or responsibility for it. Whereas asking him if he “stands by all this statements” (usually it is only in relation to a particular topic) but to make the point the opposition parties gave him no wiggle room today by asking if he stood by all his statements since becoming prime minister, means he has to answer, and truthfully, MPs including the PM can not to lie to or mislead parliament. It’s probably the worse thing a politician can do.
Passing off questions has been happening a lot with this government and it frustrates democracy. A country needs a strong opposition (regardless of your politics) to hold governments to account but if they are hindered in the very house where they are meant to get answers for the public, from the very ministers or a prime minister who serve us, then there’s not much an opposition can be, but inept – and that doesn’t do anyone any favours. I applaud what the parties did to day. More of the same please.
Tena koutou katoa, it is fantastic to be here and may I acknowledge the organisers of this fantastic public meeting – what a great job you’ve done [audience claps].
This just isn’t about the GCSB Bill – though it is about the GSCB Bill – but it’s about so much more than that. It’s about the quality the relationship between a people and their Government. A people should not live in fear of their Government – a Government should be a servant of their people [audience claps].
We can make Government once again a servant of the people, together we will, and can make history.
This is about the quality of our relationships with each other. How can we have proper human relationships with each other, if we have no private space where, in which we can communicate honestly, our opinions to each other without living in fear that those communications could be intercepted and used against us?
How can we have proper human relationships [audience claps]?
And this is about the quality of our democracy. Democracy is not just a popularity contest once every three years – Vladimir Putin can run one of them [audience laughs].
Democracy is about some fundamental rights like – the freedom of expression – the right to live free from state surveillance. Democracy is more than just voting once every three years Mr Key [audience claps].
And this debate, indeed this struggle which we are engaged in, is also about the quality of our relationship with the rest of the world. We don’t wish to be the second rate follow up, the second deputy sheriff, to the great United States of America [audience claps].
When Hollywood says we don’t like Mr Dot Com to the US Government and the US Government says to Mr John Key, well we don’t therefore like Dot Com either, Mr John Key’s answer should not be, “you want me to jump? How high [audience claps]?”
We want to have an independent foreign policy; we want to be a respected country in the world. We want to be a nation state known for its belief’s and its values [audience claps].
Instead across Europe, and the, across civilised world the United States is now being viewed with suspicion, and fear, and as member of the Five Eyes Network , we are now being seen in as part of that – and I don’t think we want to be seen as part of the global surveillance state [audience claps].
There reason we can have this meeting here tonight is because those who came before us fought for our democratic rights and our democratic freedoms – that is the only reason that we can have this meeting here tonight. And I think we need to acknowledge the people who have come before us [audience claps].
I seems now very apposite that John Minto was one of the organisers.
But these democratic rights and freedoms that we have, that go back centuries – these democratic rights and freedoms were not giving as a charity by those who had power, to the people – they were taken. They were taken from people just like you. They were taken by people whose stood up for something and had their voice heard.
So tonight what I would ask of you is that – we don’t know what is going to happen this week in the house, maybe y/know we’ll get lucky and find in amongst those [forty-nine] fifty –nine National Party members of Parliament, one of them will have a conscience, y/never know [audience laughs].
But whatever happens tonight, remember, the democratic rights and freedoms you have right now are a result of the people that came before and before us and fought for those democratic rights and freedoms. And our job, our job here tonight and over the next year, is to play our part in the chain of history and make sure we restore our basic democratic rights and freedoms and over turn this bloody law.
Download transcript pdf: GCSB 2013 08 19 Auckland Town Hall – Russell Norman