PANEL DISCUSSION, HOSTED BY GREG BOYED IN RESPONSE TO JOHN KEY INTERVIEW
GREG BOYED Time to welcome the panel this week. Dr Raymond Miller from Auckland University, good morning to you. Josie Pagani, former Labour candidate and communications consultant, welcome along. From the right, welcome to Matthew Hooton, public affairs consultant and columnist. All right, first of all, Matthew, we'll start with you. John Banks. John Key, he believes him. He is backing him.
MATTHEW HOOTON - Political Consultant He didn't quite say he believes him. He says that he enjoys his confidence. I think it's probably fair enough that the Prime Minister doesn't read every word of that police file, but he has 40 staff in his office, including a chief of staff, and I think he should get his chief of staff to read it carefully. He's right that it's politically motivated, but that doesn't mean that what Mr Banks said in that clip and what the police file said are impossible to be reconciled. And this is not going to go away, because Labour knows this is the government's majority. If they can somehow get rid of Mr Banks, then Mr Key becomes reliant on the Maori Party. So Labour's going to fight this all the way.
JOSIE PAGANI - Political Commentator I mean, 'enjoy his confidence'. I mean, let's just have a look at this. If the bar is lowered to such an extent that if you haven't committed a crime, you can be a minister in John Key's Government, that's lowering the bar a bit too far, I think. And that seems to be what he's saying is that he enjoys his confidence. Clearly he lied. He solicited the donations, he accepted them in person and then he forgot about them and then he remembered. So in the court of public opinion, he's clearly lied. But I just think this is remarkable. What John Key seems to be saying is he's not in jail; he'd make a fine minister.
GREG Raymond, how acceptable is this? The bottom line seems to be, 'I haven't read the report, so I take him at his word, and he enjoys my confidence.' Is that enough for a prime minister? 'I just haven't read the report.'
DR RAYMOND MILLER - Political Scientist No, and I suspect that most of our viewers will agree that John Banks is really on very thin ice on this. A lot will say he's lying. And it's strange that the Prime Minister continues to support him given John Banks' own inability to defend himself credibly. I think there are political implications in all of this. I think the Prime Minister is concerned about getting rid of the leader of the ACT Party, because he needs him for support, for confidence, for decisions that go through his government. And he's got a slightly different set of standards for him than he does for ministers of his own party.
JOSIE You imagine, Greg, if there was a referendum on asset sales, which there could hypothetically be given the delay, he would need the vote of John Banks to get the asset sales through. And I think everybody looks at that and goes, 'This is yet another result of this disastrous asset sale plans, when you've still got John Banks there.'
MATTHEW The legislation for the asset sales is through. This is about the ongoing stability of the government.
GREG Let's move on to job. 600 jobs in the past month, with Tiwai Point, Kawerau and the list goes on. 'Always going to be job losses' is the line that John Key took there.
JOSIE Yeah. Here's the other thing he said about the Kawerau paper mill - that no one is reading newspapers anymore, therefore we've got these job losses. Well, that just ignores the prime reason. All these job losses that we're seeing recently are export industries. They're timber mills, coal, aluminium. And that's the major problem. He's been to Europe, and what we've seen there is that all our trading partners, whether it be Australia or China and all the countries of Europe, are trying desperately to make their dollar competitive. Our dollar is so overvalued that our exporters are simply priced out of the market. And that's the problem that he's failing to-
MATTHEW This is the statement that we've heard from David Parker-
JOSIE It's not David Parker. It's the IMF. The IMF line.
MATTHEW David Parker from the Labour Party has come up this week saying that he believes that the New Zealand Government and the New Zealand Reserve Bank can somehow control the value of the New Zealand dollar in the face of the economic storm with the euro and the US dollar and so forth. This is just simply incredible that after all these years of having a floating dollar, there is absolutely no possibility our Reserve Bank-
JOSIE No, but our Reserve Bank Act was written at a time where the biggest problem we had was inflation. Well, now the biggest problem we've got is that our exporters are not competitive.
GREG I want to bring you into this, Raymond, with the paper mill we saw in Kawerau. We've heard what Australia has done. The government there is subsidising pretty much the same operation in Tasmania to keep that going. Why are we not even looking at that?
RAYMOND I think for ideological reasons as much as anything. I don't think the government is in a position where it wants to be propping up industries, believing that it's the survival of the fittest, in a sense. Some industries will survive; others will fall. But it doesn't want to engage that level of kind of propping up ineffective or inefficient industries. A few months ago, we were talking about the problems of the Eurozone, and I was waiting for Bill English to break into the Fred Dagg song We Don't Know How Lucky We Are. It's now spread to Asia, and there are concerns expressed there. The Prime Minister today said everything is interconnected, and it is. China's our second most important export market. Japan is number four. Australia's number one. Australia's in difficulties with its exports to China. So what we're seeing in New Zealand is this interconnectedness in very practical terms, and jobs are one aspect. What is really going to be important is the next time the unemployment figures come out to see whether what's happening in Kawerau and Greymouth is happening right through the country.
MATTHEW Well, it isn't, because the economy is creating more jobs than it's losing.
GREG Let's quickly jump on to water because we are running out of time. I apologise. Common law supports the government's view of where they are with water and their stance on water. That was fairly emphatic what John Key had to say this morning and where the government will be going next on this.
MATTHEW Well, that's going to be tested in the courts. And so is wind, and so is sunlight-
GREG And earth, wind and fire, apparently.
MATTHEW Who knows? And I think what the government might find is it may well prevail in the High Court, but by the time this gets to the Supreme Court, I think we're going to find the courts are going to rule that there is some Treaty right to water, and it's going to create a terrible dilemma for the government. But it also creates a terrible dilemma for the Labour Party. The Prime Minister has declared that, in his view, water is state owned. Does David Shearer agree with that? Does he endorse the Prime Minister's position that water is owned by the state, or is he prepared to say, like the Maori King is, that it's privately owned? Or is he going to waffle? If he agrees with the Maori King or waffles, then I think the government is quite entitled to say Labour is prepared to countenance the privatisation of water. Let's see how that one goes.
GREG We will find all that out in just a moment. David Shearer's here in just a moment, so we will ask him, I'm sure.