Opposition blasts the government

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It didn’t take long for the opposition parties in Parliament to blast the government’s agenda as presented when the 2011-2012 session opened this week. Progress Party leader Siv Jensen was the most vociferous, while the Labour-led government thought the Conservatives’ criticism was “constructive.”

It’s the opposition’s job to pick apart the government’s platform and Jensen didn’t disappoint. She thought the government’s trontale, the opening speech read aloud in a formal setting by King Harald on Monday, was vague and didn’t go far enough in reacting to the terrorist attacks of July 22.

Targeting PST
Jensen specifically demanded that the government launch an independent probe of how the police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) handled events before and after the attacks. So far it seems only PST will examine its own role, and then pass on its conclusions to the July 22 Commission investigating emergency response.

“It’s clear that this is a process the government will have control over,” Jensen remarked.

At the same time, she was unsure whether PST has received enough funding to handle its anti-terrorism work. “We don’t know if it’s enough to handle steadily more demanding assignments,” Jensen said.

Details due Thursday
She also applauded trade union confederation leader Roar Flåthen’s call for an examination of Norway’s unpopular and controversial fortune tax and tackled some immigration issues. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has already said that many of the points Jensen brought up in Parliament on Tuesday will be addressed when his government’s state budget is presented on Thursday.

The other main opposition leader in Parliament, Erna Solberg of the Conservative Party, took a different approach than Jensen, actually thanking Stoltenberg and other government authorities for showing leadership and a desire for solidarity after the terrorist attacks. Her tone, reported newspaper Aftenposten, was milder than Jensen’s and she stressed that Norwegian politicians can have the same goals for welfare in Norway even though they disagree on how to achieve them.

She supported Jensen’s call, though, for an independent probe of PST, and Justice Minister Knut Storberget, who’s ultimately in charge of PST, thought Solberg’s comments were constructive. Stoltenberg, meanwhile said his government will strengthen the Defense Ministry’s role in anti-terror efforts. Details of how the government’s programs will be funded will emerge on Thursday.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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