Garth George: Put the thing on top of One Tree Hill for all I care

Some readers have been wondering why I haven't had anything to say about the planning for a new stadium. The simple reason is that the whole hysterical affair is absolutely irrelevant to me, for I have no interest in what Auckland does or doesn't do since I intend to escape from this mercenary metropolis the moment my commitments allow.

I will return to the Mainland where, in one of its smaller towns, I shall rediscover real New Zealand, where hospitality, neighbourliness and community spirit, wide open spaces and fresh air still abound.

But since you asked, as one who is both uninterested and disinterested (take that, Brian Edwards!) it makes as much sense to me to build the thing on piles on the waterfront as it does to build it on pillars across the top of One Tree Hill.

The One Tree Hill site, however, would have the advantage of providing plenty of space for several levels of carparks to be built round the mountain underneath it, and revered old rugby codgers wouldn't lose their perk.

If it is to be called "Stadium New Zealand", then it should be paid for by New Zealand and the only way for that to happen is for the Government to pay the full cost of building it, then the full cost of running it.

After all, with Finance Minister Michael Cullen apparently getting ready to announce yet another colossal thieving profit in the Government's annual accounts, it's not as if the money isn't there. Setting aside a billion dollars or so shouldn't be a problem.

Mark my words: if it is built, the cost will be much, much closer to Tauranga MP Bob Clarkson's estimate of $1.5 billion than to the $500 million pulled out of the air by Dr Cullen and his sidekick Trevor Mallard, the Minister of Sport.

And in any case the ratepayers of Auckland's cities have already been lumbered with enough publicly built white elephants to start a zoo.

And now for something a bit more relevant - though not much - and that's the kerfuffle over Don Brash's emails, a subject which at least raises some interesting questions.

Much as I stand for freedom of information, I don't blame Dr Brash for obtaining a wide-ranging injunction forbidding the public use of his emails and demanding their return to the court.

Particularly if he was aware that they were going to be used in a document written by the bilious green Nicky Hager, who must have trouble walking straight considering how far he leans to the left.

While there is no suggestion that the emails got into circulation by any other means than from the hands of dishonourable manipulators and back-stabbers who infest any political milieu, I think Dr Brash's legal move raises one of the more important questions of today - that of the security of email communication, on which so many of us have come to rely.

Telephone tapping has always been illegal, and anyone who was found steaming open anyone else's snail mail was looked at with opprobrium if nothing more. Yet we seem so far not to have considered too seriously how our right to privacy can be compromised through our emails.

Sure, there are encryption programmes of various degrees of sophistication available, but they require similar programmes to be installed by recipients.

Businesses and Government agencies have their security systems - although it appears the Government's might leave something to be desired - as do, no doubt, the armed and police services.

But that's not much help to us ordinary email users, unless there are tools available to protect our traffic, of which I am unaware.

Mind you, anyone who puts anything in an email they wouldn't want someone else to see is a fool, particularly if they work for a firm which runs a computer network and whose subterranean geeks can spy on every keystroke we make.

For real confidentiality cellphones (so far) are much safer, and landline telephones even safer still. It seems to me it's about time that some legal eagles took a real good look at the questions of computer-use spying in general and email confidentiality in particular.

Of much greater relevance to our crumbling society is the apparent success of Green MP Sue Bradford's anti-smacking campaign, since it appears her amendment to Section 59 of the Crimes Act will be passed early next year.

The good news is that it has been so messed about with by the select committee that it will be pretty much meaningless, which was inevitable, of course, in the hands of politicians who are always wanting to appear to be doing something while doing nothing useful at all.

But even had the amendment passed the committee without being so comprehensively compromised, it would still have done nothing to alleviate the dreadful scourge of child abuse, which I have no doubt whatsoever is Ms Bradford's sincere aim.

At least 95 per cent of parents - some of whom use physical discipline, some of whom don't - never abuse their children and the tiny minority who do indulge in child-bashing will still do what they do, whether the bill is passed or not.

What really disappoints me about this whole affair is that reputable organisations such as Plunket and Barnardos have been sucked into supporting this politically correct piece of nonsense.

But I guess in this day and age such organisations have always to be aware of the old adage that "he who pays the piper calls the tune".

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