One can only hope that John Key doesn't run his Cabinet meetings the way he is running the Intelligence and Security Committee meeting.
He did one thing and one thing only - he kept time.
He didn't quite pull out his stop-watch on yesterday's submitters on the GCSB bill but it would not have been out of place.
He welcomed them, told them how much time they had, told them it was over to them how they used it, then right on time, told them time's up.
Act leader John Banks asked a couple of questions, one to academic and environmentalist Cath Wallace about whether she would have been happy for the GCSB to try to stop the Rainbow Warrior bombers (yes, because the attackers were foreigners). Tony Ryall asked Cath Wallace about whether the state should have a role in protecting a private business if, say, some rabble were about to attack the computers of Fonterra's Reporoa factory (yes, but the police only).
Labour leader David Shearer and Green co-leader Russel Norman asked most of the questions to the eight submitters.
Six of them were given 20 minutes each: the Law Society, the Legislation Advisory Committee, the Council of Trade Unions, the Human Rights Foundation, the Council for Civil Liberties, and Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand. The other two, James Veitch, a former academic and supporter of the GCSB bill, and Penny Bright, Auckland anti-corruption activist, mayoral candidate and opponent of the bill, were given 10 minutes each.
Bright started with a lecture about how Key does deals like the Sky City convention centre - "your deals over dinner, deals over the phone - that might be customary practice in how you do things as a foreign exchange dealer or the head of derivatives for Merrill Lynch but that is no way to run a country".
On the spy bill, she wanted him to open up all his trust accounts, bank accounts, Swiss bank accounts, tax havens. "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, come on Prime Minister; you show me yours and I'll show you mine."
Key looked like he really wanted to engage: "Okay Penny, thanks very much. Your time has expired."
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