'An Evening with Chelsea Manning' leaves audience frustrated

  • 09/09/2018

An audience member who attended Saturday night's An Evening with Chelsea Manning says the event left him feeling frustrated.

Ms Manning, primarily known for leaking US intelligence to WikiLeaks, was speaking at an event hosted by Think INC and hosted by Georgina Beyer at Q Theatre.

Architect Jeremy Hansen said went along to hear about Manning's life, but it was drowned out by people abusing the question-and-answer segment.

"I think New Zealand audiences shouldn't be allowed to ask questions some times because there are a lot of people, men slightly older than me in particular, who got up and made very longwinded statements that didn't contain a question," he told RadioLIVE on Sunday.

Mr Hansen called the statements "agonising" as many people in the audience had paid money to hear Ms Manning speak, and instead had to listen to audience members.

He said Ms Beyer told people they would only be taking questions, not statements, and shouted down some - but a lot of them got away with it.

"It's just sort of incredible to me how people can be told this thing time and time again and get up with their own agendas that they will push," said Mr Hansen.

"It strikes me that those people probably aren't good listeners because they didn't seem to be very interested in very much that Chelsea Manning had to say, but rather getting us to listen to them."

Ms Manning's visit had caused controversy before she arrived due to questions about whether she would be granted a visa due to her criminal conviction for leaking classified information. The Australian Government declined to let her in, but New Zealand did.

National MP Michael Woodhouse had argued in light of her conviction she should not be allowed to enter the country, and if he were in charge he would have not let her in.

But Labour MP Michael Wood told The AM Show proper processes had to be followed for decisions on whether to let a person with a criminal conviction enter the country.

"Around these decisions you have a process. She has a conviction so she has to apply for dispensation," he said.

"The minister then considers that and they've got certain factors they can consider and they have to make a proper and lawful decision and that's the approach we'll take in this case."