Hosted by PAUL HOLMES
In response to RUSSEL NORMAN INTERVIEW
PAUL Time to meet the panel, then - Jon Johannson this morning from Victoria University; welcome also to Gareth Morgan, head of the Morgan Foundation and Gareth Morgan Investments; and from the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, the chief executive Michael Barnett. He does project a much more business-friendly Green image, doesn't he?
GARETH MORGAN - Financial Adviser
Yeah, but, I mean, he's just said in that last comment he's going to remain a ginger group, really, out to the side just to nudge policy. And I think the fact that, you know, we've got the cycleway that John Key started and business wants to go there anyway with, you know, pure advantage, those sorts of groupings, so it is the Greens' time. And if National are going to hands down, you might as well help the ginger group if those are the things you believe in. So, I mean, I am interested that he's not prepared to support them on supply, though, because that's sort of condemning the Greens it seems to me. Jon will talk more about this, but forever to be just a ginger group on one issue.
PAUL Yes, but as we have discussed many times on this programme, any small party that coalesces with one of the bigger ones gets eaten up.
DR JON JOHANNSON - Political Analyst
Yeah, I do think it's been one of the features since 1996 that the one party that has not had, you know, that sort of formal arrangement has been the party that has survived and thrived. And, you know, Russel also has that dynamic where which we've described, you know, before on the show where I've got no doubt that Russel Norman has the ambitions to be a Cabinet minister, and I think he would make a good one. That said, it is not Russel Norman's choice in the way that Winston makes decisions for New Zealand First previously. It is the Green membership, and so I cannot see any circumstances where the Greens membership are going to want a more formal agreement that means that they will be supporting second-term National Party budgets.
PAUL Well, he's got-
JON I think that's actually a step too far for them.
PAUL Green jobs - 100,000 green jobs. They're going to plant some plants in swamps, and they're going to- insulation of homes - they're going to need 4000 to 6000 people, because that eventually will be done. That's temporary jobs, isn't it? What do you think? Green jobs - 100,000.
MICHAEL BARNETT - CEO Auckland Chamber Commerce
You need employers, you need real jobs, you need, you know, productivity. You know, to my mind it sounds like a recycling. I still think that it's probably one of the biggest gaps that the Nats have managed to avoid. They should have been capturing this ground. Many of the areas that the Greens are in are becoming norm, they're becoming standard practice, and I think that the National Party has probably missed an opportunity to grab some of those younger votes, grab some of that Green principle stuff and make it a part of what they do.
PAUL Well, that could backfire for the Greens too, though, couldn't it? Because when the other parties pick up the Green policies, what room is there for the Greens?
JON Yeah, but that's actually the virtue of being a ginger group in a way, so long as they are making incremental progress. And, you know, their time will come in more substantive form when there is the next. And part of this positioning, which most people have not picked up on, is it's as much to finally sheet home to Labour, 'You cannot govern without us in Cabinet,' because all their previous experiences with Labour under Clark were bruising ones, and so the positioning strategy has been as much to do towards Labour - getting Labour to finally acknowledge how central Greens are to their political future. And I think in that sense the repositioning effort has been particularly successful.
PAUL Very good.
In response to THE BATTLE FOR NEW PLYMOUTH
PAUL So, another tight race this time. What do you make of Jonathan Young? (laughs) I've never heard of him. Jonathan Young as an MP?
JON Well, he's yet to make his mark on the national stage, Paul. I would say that.
MICHAEL That's invisible.
JON In saying that, you know, really, the battle here is, you know, both Labour and its absolutely being laid waste in provincial New Zealand for the last-
PAUL Extraordinary. Isn't that extraordinary?
JON But also more particularly in Labour's case I think you've got two of its MPs, Shane Jones and Andrew Little - both have been spoken about as potential, you know, leaders in the future. And in those circumstances, both how they perform in these local electorate contests will have some bearing on how their perceived by their colleagues in the post-caucus environment.
PAUL Do you have any comment on the New Plymouth electorate?
MICHAEL I think what makes it interesting is the fact that one of them is invisible and the other one is a confused brand.
JON He's not Harry.
PAUL He's not Harry.
MICHAEL As I say, you know, invisible for one and a confused brand for the other - hasn't done enough to clarify, yeah.
PAUL Do you have a comment on New Plymouth?
JON Oh, come on, Gareth.
GARETH What can you say? I mean, I think we'll all be mesmerised by it on the night, but, you know, trivial pursuit, really, I think.
PAUL Probably quite important- Just very quickly, quite important for Andrew Little if he has leadership aspirations that he win this.
JON Yeah, if you can't convince local people, how can you convince the country nationwide? That's the crux of it.
In response to BILL ENGLISH AND DAVID CUNLIFFE INTERVIEW
PAUL Jon Johannson, Gareth Morgan and Michael Barnett. Well, misters Barnett and Morgan, what stood out for you?
GARETH Well, the difference in style and emphasis. I mean, you've got one government that's sitting, you know, Bill English and co. sitting on top of the polls. They're high. They can preserve the status quo, Paul. Labour have got to make inroads, so what they're doing is they're bringing a whole lot of medium term responsible policy in place to scare the bejesus out of everybody. So, yeah, they're basically on two quite different platforms. You know, one is 'don't rock the boat, because we're in, fellows', and the other is saying, 'This is so bad, so bad, so bad.' Somewhere in between is the truth.
PAUL Yes, yes, yes, and you saw that in the demeanours of the two men, didn't you? English was not out to rock any boats, and Mr Cunliffe was on the attack.
MICHAEL And that's it. There's no game-changers coming out of this from National. They're sitting there. They're comfortable. I think when I've had a look at Labour, they've been hit with surprises. And I think I've said to you before, you know, surprises frame it. So Phil Goff this week should never have been caught on, you know, show me the money. His party should never have put him in there. On the same count, I'm sitting here this morning, I'm listening to 700 million coming from ACC - where did that come from?
PAUL 700 million off the ACC levy.
MICHAEL Yeah, coming off, and it's going to create jobs. It's not likely to create jobs at all. I still think that the retirement-age thing is, you know, I think it should've been about skills, about how we take that older group of people and help them to continue to participate in the economy. And when I have a look at the selling down of what they say is the sale of state assets, it should be talked about a shared ownership.
PAUL Shared ownership - that's less scary than the selling of state assets. Even the Chinese have public-private partnerships now.
MICHAEL Opportunity for me to put my money into a utility where my partner is the government - it feels a hell of a lot safer than putting it into finance companies and the sharemarket. I think it's the right approach to do.
PAUL Interesting that poll Guyon had right at the top there that most people actually think things are going all right and we're going to get a bit better - the economy.
JON Well, indeed, in that other poll, particularly, Paul, Cunliffe would have taken encouragement out of that - that there was at least split support for what is a politically risky policy about raising the age of entitlement. But I've got to say that having- in a way, the two parties are conforming to their historical roles. Labour, the party of ideas, whatever the circumstances that have driven them to those ideas; and National - trim sails, don't expect them to set a new course. They will just trim the sails and get everyone working quicker. But I do think that we will head to the inevitability now of raising the age as a result of one of the major parties raising it this election.
PAUL Exactly so, exactly so. Labour have opened it up for the Nats, haven't they? So if National were to win, they know that it's pretty neutral raising the age if they have to.
GARETH Labour's painting a really black picture on their retirement. I mean, it's raising compulsion for KiwiSaver, it's putting the Cullen Fund back in on interesting grounds, and even then it's saying that's still not enough - we still have to raise the age of retirement. Things have changed in the three years since Michael Cullen put all these things in place unbelievably, so they're actually painting a very black picture of the economy medium term, which, you know, David did talk about, that despite doing all this stuff, we've still got to raise the age to entitlement. And as Jon says, the poll says 50/50, so absolutely-
MICHAEL People are going to do it anyway. People are going to work longer. People are going to want to participate in the economy. So the workforce are going to determine that that's what they want to do-
PAUL But the thing is every year after 60, you know, you get older quicker.
MICHAEL Who are you looking at, Paul?
PAUL Well, myself. I'm 61. I can barely get across the road before the traffic.
PAUL You know, before the little man comes up on the traffic light.
JON Yeah, but, look, you've been diversifying, Paul.
GARETH I think the raising of the age to 67 is more of an affordability thing. I think a big chunk of this electorate is sick of this bloody great sucking sound coming from the elderly in this economy. It's sucking more than its fair share of the sav when it comes to health, and we've got, you know, Pacific Island and Maori kids being denied their rights, actually, in the health sector. Sick of them sucking out through this retirement stuff, and they really would like to see that age moved closer to 90.
PAUL Well, yeah. (laughs)
PAUL Well, this business of- what was I going to say? What I didn't get from David Cunliffe is a real understanding that many businesses at the moment are marginal and that that youth wage might be a very useful thing.
GARETH Yeah, now we're already saying in this economy, both governments here, both parties are saying that the minimum wage is not sufficient. That's why you have the accommodation supplement, you have the special-needs supplement, and you have Working for Families. So putting up the minimum wage more might start to fix that problem, but the effect on jobs I think will be horrendous. If the minimum wage is not enough for people to live on, Paul, then what you have to do is be quite specific about the transfer of wealth to the people that can't afford to work and live on that wage.
MICHAEL And there has to be an expectation from employers to be able to expect improved productivity.
PAUL Very good. Thank you. We will continue this discussion on our web-only panel.