Here’s a fantastic interview by Moana Maniapoto talking with law professor and courageous public intellectual Jane Kelsey, on her retirement from university life.
The whole 17 minutes is really worth watching. It’s good to place Prof Kelsey in context with this brief, accessible retrospective look. She has always struck me as an articulate, determined, fiercely heroic, yet humble person.
Jane Kelsey has featured on this blog, last noting her involvement in the 2013 mass protests against National Party PM John Key’s unpopular strengthening of New Zealand’s security apparatus. See ‘Stop the GCSB Bill’ rallies and marches today where I captioned my photo of her (right), ‘Living treasure Professor Jane Kelsey addresses the Auckland Stop the GCSB Bill rally.’ (Yeah, OK, I gushed. But she is dynamite.)
Key took a ‘damn the protesters’ approach, seemingly determined to widen the surveillance powers the GSCB in the face of fierce public opposition, and pushing through legislation to increase the avenues in which those powers could be used. Notably, the law changes (recently defended by his ‘Minister of Spooks’ Chris Finlayson in his typical petulant fashion, even taking the time to name-check and smear Dame Anne Salmond like a twat) broadened the definition of ‘national security’ issues to allow for ‘protection’ of the ‘economic well-being’ of New Zealand i.e. commercial interests.
So, say, dairy farming giant Fonterra or, oil and gas exploration ventures, or, I guess, pig farms — you know, businesses sometimes targeted by activists and protesters over their environmental ethics and behaviour. The government can now potentially use espionage/terrorism powers and the associated secret police agencies to ‘protect’ these private enterprises. So, same old conservative Industrial Age mindset that got the planet where it is now.
It wasn’t the first time I felt John Key was motivated by some off-stage agreement or assurance he’d given one our overseas economic and security partners. He just seemed impervious to reasonable counter argument at times. Puzzling.
‘The disinformation era’
Jane Kelsey’s reflections on what Moana refers to as “the new era of protest” are also worth quoting in part, relevant as they are to recent themes:
“In the 1970s and 80s, there were lots of small protests erupted — Eva Rickard on the Raglan golf course [ …] Bastion Point, Pākaitore, of course lots of anti-Nuclear protests. But it was before the disinformation era. […] One of the things I always insisted on in protests was that it was accurate information. And now we’ve lost that. And that’s where I think a lot of the power of protest risks being lost, because it’s been devalued.”
Enjoy the video (thank you Moana and Cameron Bennett) with its evocative call to action by Prof Kelsey at the end.
Funny to catch a glimpse of a law professor’s Conviction History Report. All that ‘trespassing’. Tsk tsk. Lol. (Notably, non-violent protest.)
PS Yeah, I saw what Jane Kelsey said about about avoiding ‘personalising’ the debate or denigrating opposing arguments. Prof Kelsey would probably not have called Cameron Slater a knuckle dragger as I did yesterday, or Chris Finlayson a twat. Oops. Oh well, as Slater told me during one of our coffee catch-ups back in the day: At least you won’t die wondering what I think.