People will be losers if privacy not protected

In respect for my blood pressure I don’t often listen to talkback but every now and then I tune in to hear what people are thinking.

This week the storm in a teapot story was a popular topic but I was pleasantly surprised that a majority of callers were saying it had all been blown out of proportion and were backing the Prime Minister’s stand on the principle of privacy.

This has been confirmed by a Fairfax Media poll:

Voters overwhelmingly think the “tea party tape” of the conversation of John Key and John Banks was a breach of privacy and should have been wiped without being made public. . . .

The Fairfax Media-Research International poll asked if the recording was a breach of privacy and should have been destroyed immediately.

A net 58 per cent agreed, with a net 29 disagreeing.

But respondents were equally divided when asked if the event was all about publicity, so all aspects should be available for reporting.

By a narrow margin – 45 to 41 per cent – voters polled said there was no such thing as a private conversation in public.

But 63 per cent felt politicians should be able to talk about controversial ideas without fear of those discussions being made public, with only 22 per cent disagreeing.

The poll of 507 people had a margin of error of 4.2 per cent.

The issue of whether or not the conversation was private is to be considered by the High Court on Tuesday.

If it decides that it wasn’t, we will all be the losers.

In New Zealand we have remarkably free access to politicians. If they know that anything they say in a conversation in a public place could be regarded as public they will be far less willing to engage with people and politics will become even more stage managed than it already is.

It could also hamper the media because politicians will be even more carful about off-record conversations and backgrounders.

Perhaps that’s why we’re now seeing what Keeping Stock calls mea culpe season.

2 Responses to People will be losers if privacy not protected

  1. Mark Hubbard says:

    I agree Homepaddock. However, I wish Key, and National, understood that the biggest abuser of my privacy is the coercive State. If we don’t have privacy from the State, and we most certainly don’t, then we are not free.

    I wish National, or any party in parliament, understood this. But they’re all Statists so they don’t. Classical liberalism has been washed away and replaced by Statist barbarism to which there is no end in sight. The cup of tea is a sideshow in comparison to the real issues in the West surrounding privacy from the Orwellian State. If Key really wants to know what real loss of privacy is all about, then put himself on the receiving end of a four year IRD audit …. And I’m not comfortable with the covert security laws that have been enacted recently by National.


  2. JC says:

    Agree with what you say. I thought it was incredibly dumb and unethical of the media and opposition parties to go to war against privacy.. one of the perennial issues in NZ.

    Just as dumb was the failure to recognise that they were going against *tradition* in a socially liberal society.. but one with some bright lines on some issues. The public instinctively recognised that the relatively informal relationship of politician and people would be compromised if there were to be no privacy at all.



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