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Salient: Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 15. 1969.

Thoughts in Parliamentary Committee Room

page 4

Thoughts in Parliamentary Committee Room

What could be more democratic than the Statutes Revision Committee taking submissions on the Security Intelligence Bill?

Suddenly we become all responsible and submissive. Anybody can make submissions—and Everybody is there—putting their submissions, cheered silently by their fellow-travellers on the sidelines.

Answering the hostile questions cleverly ("can you name any foreign country which docs not have a security service?" "We are talking about a Bill for New Zealand now"), and the fixed questions succinctly ("Would you like the word 'subversion' removed from the Bill?" "Yes").

Chairman Riddiford chairs in his wise and democratic way. Shuffles round while the submissions are read. Leans over and talks to someone taking notes behind him. Writes something on bits of paper, screws them up and puts them in his packet (we can't have the Commo's in the Public Service going through the wastepaper baskets).

Then sums up the situation in a few mis-chosen words, recites his line—"We will give your submissions careful consideration"—and calls the next witnesses.

"Miss Shirley Smith and Mr. W. J. Scott of the Council for Civil Liberties. On the right is Miss Smith, on the left, Mr. Scott."

And we laugh with our readers.

It's even more democratic to see Sir Leslie come in and lake his place. The way his bum flops down on both sides of the wide Parliamentary chairs is delightful. And as Nordy goes out for a pee we feel parliamentarians are quite human too.

Then of course there is the Press Gallery. The ears of the Public. Hearings open to the press. But keep the rabble out.

Let their very own representatives, sitting there so quiet and knowledgeable and responsible tell them what happens They'll tell them all they need to know. And anyway, what responsible person believes the Dominion is run by the Security Service?

And when the Bill is passed next month, unchanged? Well, it wasn't for want of trying.