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Q+A: Interview with Sir Roger Douglas

Published: 2:39PM Sunday September 23, 2012 Source: Q+A

GREG

Plenty of pressure this week on the Prime Minister to dismiss ACT leader John Banks over the donations from Kim Dotcom, but John Key is sticking to his lines. His words may be helping. Check this out. Today's ONE News Colmar Brunton polls shows strong support for John Banks' dismissal, but perhaps not as strong as many would have picked. 57% say sack him, but nearly a third of voters say he should stay, and a full 12%, well, they're unsure. The panel's analysis shortly, but first what does ACT's founder Sir Roger Douglas make of what's happening to his party. Sir Roger is with Shane Taurima.

SHANE

Good morning and welcome to the programme.

Sir ROGER DOUGLAS - ACT Party Founder

Good morning.

SHANE

Are you surprised? 57% say he should be sacked.

ROGER

No, I'm not surprised at all. I think John's done rather well. When you look at the media beat-up that we've had over the last two weeks, I'm surprised that John's done as well as he has. The fact is - and it was in your trailer, just an example of that - it was the TV or the media's inspired and organised trip to Wellington from Dotcom and the whole reporting of that. Everything that Dotcom said was if it came from the gospel, and he was treated like royalty. And the fact is that there was no attempt to put the other side of the coin-

SHANE

What is the other side to the coin?

ROGER

Well, okay. Well, let me- Look, I had nothing to do with John Banks' mayoral campaign, but I was involved in Dick Quax's campaign to some extent. No, because it's the same thing. The first thing you do is you appoint a treasurer who knows the law. You find out-

SHANE

Let's-

ROGER

No, wait a minute. You find out-

SHANE

We don't want to relitigate it, because as you say, you don't know around Mr Banks' campaign,…

ROGER

No, no, wait a minute.

SHANE

do you?

ROGER

I know what happens, and I know that there is another side that you just can't take Dotcom's words as if they're gospel as the media have.

SHANE

And I think you've made your point. You've made that point, so does that-?

ROGER

I wanted to illustrate it. I'll illustrate it this way. What you do is you find out what the rules are. And when you see someone who's a possible donor, you tell them what the rules are. If you give 100,000, it must be declared, less than whatever it is - 20,000, let's say - doesn't need to. It's over to them, and you make sure that the candidate is not the one receiving. The money goes through the treasurer, and the candidate never absolutely knows whether the money came in or not. I suspect that-

SHANE

So do you believe Mr Banks?

ROGER

I believe Mr Banks, yes. And I believe that Mr Banks may well have said what we've said to people who are possible donors. We told them the law. The law is that if the donation is more than X, it has to be declared; if it's less than X, it doesn't have to be declared.

SHANE

But with all truth, something stinks, though, doesn't it?

ROGER

Look, the truth is if you as television looked at all the mayoral candidates round New Zealand, you would be able to write the same story. What I'm concerned about-

 

SHANE

That something stinks. Something stinks.

ROGER

No, what I'm concerned about is how John Banks has acted as an ACT MP - has he done well or not?

SHANE

And what's the answer to that?

ROGER

Well, I think he has done well. If I read the press releases that John Banks has put out over the last eight months, I would say that they have been consistently along ACT principles and I believe probably more consistent than we've had at any time. And for that, I congratulate him.

SHANE

But Mr Banks is seen as more of a National MP rather than an ACT MP, isn't he?

ROGER

Look, I think- People do say that. I think-

 

SHANE

Do you agree with that?

ROGER

No, I don't agree with that. I think in terms of financial policy and also policy in relation to education, health and welfare, John has no problems and would be absolutely in line with ACT principles. I think it would be fair to say that on some of the social issues where people have a conscience vote, then maybe John is more conservative than the average ACT member, but certainly not in terms of our main principles.

SHANE

Do you think he should release his police statement so we can clear this up once and for all? Because you've got to admit there is a bit of a sideshow here, isn't there?

ROGER

Well, there is and it's a total making of-

SHANE

So should he release this police statement?

ROGER

total making of the media, and I think that John's made his point- position clear. I think he should examine the other side a little more in depth.

 

SHANE

So, going back to the police statement - do you think he should release it?

ROGER

Well, I think John has probably released it. I've seen the-

SHANE

Well, he hasn't. He's refusing to, isn't he?

ROGER

Well, he's been in front of a camera and answered questions. How often do you go on doing that? I think- Look, there are more important things in New Zealand than whether or not John said particular things to Dotcom or not. The fact is you've been talking about one of them today - welfare. Those are the things that I want to see John-

SHANE

Can I just ask you, because we have to wrap up, are you happy with the state of the party now currently?

ROGER

Yes. Well, I'm not really involved. I think there is an issue that ACT needs to deal with. Credibility has to- the whole question of the brand being hurt, the question is how they do that. And if we had another quarter of an hour, I could probably tell you.

SHANE

And unfortunately we don't. Thank you very much for joining us.

ROGER

Thank you.

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