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Panel discusses Phil Goff interview

Published: 4:57PM Sunday August 01, 2010 Source: Q+A

PAUL I suppose the question, Mr Harvey, does Phil Goff convince? And the second part of the question, does it matter if he doesn't? Because, in the end, as we all know, governments lose elections, parties don't win them.

BOB HARVEY - Waitakere Mayor
I think Phil showed leadership, and I think he's back on the board. I mean, countries need good opposition, and I think that's what Phil has done, that he's stamped his mark on this one. I'd just say to Phil that I give him credit for what he's done this week, but all political lives finish in tears, to be honest. And with Chris Carter, you're seeing that, you know, Helen, all of them. Uh, the end of your career is often very sad. And we're seeing a very good MP, basically- There's no grief counselling in this business, I have to tell you.

PAUL They did score some good points through the week, before the Chris Carter thing came along. But in the end...

THERESE ARSENEAU - Political Analyst
It's never a good thing when this sort of ruction comes out in public. It's always seen as a failure for the party. And I actually think, in many ways, the Chris Carter thing is a side issue, almost a red herring. I think the more important question to ask is why did this happen? What's going on within Labour? And I do think we're at a crucial point. We're at crunch time in the electoral cycle, and the problem is really that Labour has not made any progress. It was always going to be a big ask to win in 2011. I actually don't even think that's the issue. I think the issue is where's the rejuvenation? Where is the change? What does this new Labour stand for?

PAUL He says the rejuvenation is there, of course.

THERESE But in the back benches

PAUL Yes, exactly.

THERESE predominantly.

PAUL Yes, exactly. No one's heard of them. That's right.

THERESE But the good thing for Labour - and this is the important thing - there's been a lot written that the voters moved to the right in 2008. I don't think that's correct. I think John Key moved National towards the vote, to the voter.

PAUL And is governing Labour-lite.

THERESE And it's not necessarily a natural or comfortable place for a lot of that National Party caucus to be.

PAUL Kerry.

KERRY PRENDERGAST - Wellington Mayor
I think Phil's in an impossible situation, in this three years and potentially six years. I think it's a shame he's suggesting there are mental-health issues. I think Chris has been under enormous stress. I think he's responded to that stress. I think Phil should have used Chris' contacts, maybe contacted Helen. I think Chris needs an opportunity to leave with dignity. I think it's a sad end to what has been a hard-working minister over the years.

PAUL You're saying, as leader, he should have seen it coming, Phil Goff - is that what you're saying?

KERRY I do, too.

PAUL As a manager of people.

BOB Support. Support these people.

PAUL OK.

BOB Clearly there's a gap there. And I said there's no grief counselling for these people, that you can see are in trouble. Carter's been in trouble probably since Helen left.

PAUL As someone once said to me at Parliament, no one leaves this place without being deeply wounded.

BOB And hurt.

PAUL Well, let us speak about what we might be seeing in the week ahead, Kerry.

KERRY Well, I'd hate to think the media's going to be dominated with the Chris Carter. I suspect it will be, but I hope it isn't. I think there are much bigger issues. The Australian election is three weeks away. The polls are 50-50. There don't seem to be any issues - they're concentrating on silly issues around gender and dress and earlobes and things like that. It's ridiculous. Australia is so important to us. Their GDP is bouncing ahead of ours. I think we need to be looking to our government to make sure we're getting really clear answers on how we're going to close the gap, and how they're going to continue to work with an Australian government.

THERESE Pacific Islands Forum is coming up. I think Fiji might be back on the agenda.

BOB And I'm keen to see us coming to terms with the slaughtering of our children in this country. And I have been and Waitakere has been advocating for a greater accountability when the social services that keep sending our kids back into homes to be killed. Enough is enough. That will be this week, Paul.

PAUL This kid...

KERRY But it was known to the social services. This family was...

PAUL What do you do, Bob? It's just such

BOB You register every child that's born and the difficulties in the family. You're sending children back- Kerry's a midwife. My wife's a midwife. They know you don't send back kids home, and we do.

THERESE And you look at what organisations are having success, like there's a group in Christchurch, the Family Help Trust. And there are other organisations like that around the country.

PAUL Therese, I've got to leave it there, and I thank you all very much.

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