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Q+A: Panel response to interviews - transcript

Published: 3:28PM Sunday May 01, 2011 Source: Q+A

  • Jon Johansson
    Jon Johansson

In response to Hone Harawira and Pita Sharples interviews

PAUL What does Mana do to the Maori Party, Jon Johansson, do you think?

JON JOHANSSON - Political Analyst
 I think we've learnt a bit more today, and if Dr Sharples believes that Hone forcing a by-election means the previous détente is off, well, then it's all on.  I don't actually see how that's going to be in the interests of the Maori Party.  Because it would seem to me that Hone has to draw some of his support from those Maori electorates.

PAUL Yeah, but Sharples seems to be saying there's Maori Party support still in Te Tai Tokerau, and they're saying to him, 'Why are you deserting us?'

JON Well, then he's caught between a rock and a hard place, isn't he?  But the effect of Hone running in those seven Maori seats, in my view, could result in the Maori Party being reduced to only two members after this election.  Because I think with a Mana Party representative, especially a high-profile one, standing, say, in Pita's own seat, that is gonna create the circumstances where Shane Jones can come through.  So you can see the circumstances where Labour walks out of this election with four Maori seats, Hone's back, and two from the Maori Party.  In terms of Whata Winiata's dream of the Maori Party locating itself as the treaty partner between National and Labour, that is up in smoke, isn't it?

PAUL What do you make of those two?

DEREK FOX - Mana Magazine
 Well, I think what you see is what you've got, which is Hone enunciating - and a very good performance, as everyone here noted - he's enunciating exactly what the sort of supporters he has will like, and exactly the same with Pita.  And that's it.  And the difficulty has always been that the Maori Party was such a broad church.  It's got the widest group of constituents of any party in the country, probably any party we've ever had.

JON But do you think its strategy was wrong from the get-go, Derek, in the sense that it always needed to carry the base with it.  It seems it's got disconnected from the base as it's got involved in government.

DEREK No, I don't think it's that about the base, because one of the things that the Maori Party does ad nauseam is whenever there's something on they go back to their constituents.  They always ask the electorates to give them some sort of response.  I think where they became, not so much disconnected, is look at the individuals in the Maori Party and you've got a couple of teachers, you've got Hone, whatever he represents, and you've got a lawyer, and a former social worker - Tariana Turia.  Where is the business representative?  Where is someone who understands trade?  And so that, I think, is what the difficulty is.  It is a relatively unsophisticated, naïve group that are trying to deal with this MMP politics.

PAUL Deborah Coddington.

 That's exactly what I was gonna say.  First of all, I admire Hone, cos at last we're seeing the politics of conviction coming back into Parliament, and that is great, and that's why he was never going to be contained by the Maori Party.  I think it was not a matter of if, but when he would go.  But he talks about the Maori Party ignoring these things, but everyone's forgetting that Maori now are on the rich list, they are making up the corporates.  They're forgetting-

DEREK Two or three, though.  That's hardly gonna be useful.

DEBORAH This is the House of Representatives.  They're forgetting there are Maori in the National caucus.  The Mana Party will not wipe out the Maori Party vote and Maori Party representation.  And don't forget when President Winiata resigned as president, in his final speech he said, 'There is room for two Maori parties in Parliament.'  So I don't think the Maori Party will be wiped out at the next election.

JON But coming back with two, it's near as dammit, isn't it?  It certainly is not the dream that Whata originally had for the Maori Party.

PAUL Did the Maori Party blow it, do you think?  Did they get too close to National?  Is there a perception amongst--?

DEREK Oh, there may be a perception now, and it's a useful one to have now.  Look, if you're going to go into Parliament what do you go there for?  To twiddle your thumbs and to throw stuff across from the Opposition benches?  You go in there to govern.  So I'm certainly one that felt that it was a right move to go into government.  Where I think they've failed - and they have failed, in my view - is they failed to be able to address some of the really big issues.  Look, there are 200,000 kids living in poverty.  There were under Labour, there still are now.  The unemployment rate for Maori is double the normal Pakeha rate.  Um, the incarceration rate is horrendous and completely unjustified.  Nothing happening in those areas.

DEBORAH But how's Hone gonna lift them out of poverty by-

DEREK Hone's not going to do that.

DEBORAH He's going to lift them out by nationalising the supermarkets, the duopolies and the monopolies.

DEREK You miss my point.  Hone's not gonna do that.

DEBORAH Soviet queues, hello.

DEREK You clearly don't wanna listen, Deborah.  Hone's not gonna do that.  I'm lamenting the loss and wastefulness of the Maori vote.  The value of the Maori vote is something like 23 seats.  You add it up - a similar number of Maori on the Maori roll as there are on the Pakeha roll.  That's worth about eight seats each, roughly, if you add it up.  So if you got all 16 together, then you started getting some party vote, you get up to about 23 seats.  Now, if we could vote together and hold hands long enough, nobody could govern without us.  That's the only way you'll get change.  You won't get it by Hone speaking as eloquently as he has this morning and gathering together a group of people who I've known all my life.  They're not gonna make a change.  And Pita Sharples has demonstrated that he hasn't been able to make a change.

PAUL What do you make of those who turned up ready for the launch of Mana yesterday?  I suppose one could say the protesting gaggle, or the eternal protesters.

DEBORAH I don't call them the protesting gaggle.  These are bright, articulate, clever people.  And what disappoints me, especially with Hone, is why didn't he talk about kura kaupapa Maori?  We talked about this on Friday, talked about it with Hone.  This is the way to lift Maori out of poverty - through education.  And you guys have the best opportunity to do it.  We have huge problems and difficulties in private education, but you can do it so much easier.  Hone's children were educated through kura kaupapa.  His daughter, he said, is a lawyer now, and she went through it.  Why isn't he using that as one of his campaign platforms?

DEREK Hang on, let's wind back a bit and let's see-Maybe we've gotta wait for our next speaker, because he's gonna say a whole lot of things that I'm gonna find really interesting, but the thing is with this education, you know what?  I don't know one kid that's paid tens of thousands of dollars a year to go to school and educate themselves.  I do know there's an entire industry paid millions and millions of dollars to educate the kids.  So why aren't they doing it?  I haven't seen one person lose their job because these educational statistics aren't up to it, or anything.

PAUL One word each before we go to the break.  The by-election justified?

DEBORAH No, absolutely not.

JON Uh, mixed feelings.  Democratic impulse, understand that.  Timing not flash, is it?

DEREK Good stunt.

PAUL Yeah.  Keeps him in the public.


In response to Don Brash interview

PAUL What do you make of Dr Brash, then, taking the leadership of Act, as a former Act MP?

DEBORAH At the beginning of the week, I said it wouldn't happen.  I didn't think he'd win in a fight with Rodney.  And I was very pleased to be proved wrong, but he has to keep up that leadership and that determination that he exhibited last week.  I already see signs of it wavering.  He should have been able to come out tomorrow with naming the leader of the House, and that should be Heather Roy, because he needs someone up there beside him who's a woman - not just  a tokenism woman, but she's been there since 2002, she knows the House rules.  She doesn't need a portfolio - that person shouldn't have a portfolio - and he needs someone who's not a grumpy-old-man syndrome.

JON Act's always had a problem with female voters, attracting female support, hasn't it, so I think his hands are tied there as well.

DEBORAH They need to get their membership up, they're down to about 600 members.  She can do that because she has enormous support with the old Act crowd.

PAUL One law for all.

DEREK I think it's a shame he hasn't got a decent hobby of some sort.  He should be enjoying his latter years and doing something meaningful, you know?

PAUL He makes the point, though, we're borrowing 300 million a week, that's 1.2 billion a month.  This is no good.

DEREK We all know that.  What's the alternative?

PAUL Well&

DEREK Look, you say one law for all.  Well, does that mean that he will ensure that, uh, that there are no longer 200,000 babies living in poverty?  Does that mean that he will ensure that people aren't incarcerated-Two lots of people turn up, a Maori and a Pakeha turn up at the court: Hori goes to jail, Pakeha fellow gets home d or a fine or something like that.

JON Yeah, it's never been an argument based on empirics, Derek, has it?
 It's special privilege.

DEREK What's the special privilege of being over-unemployed, over-incarcerated, have terrible health statistics?  What's the special privilege in that, I wonder.

DEBORAH 'One law for all' is a silly saying; it's meaningless, it doesn't mean anything.

DEREK But it will be his catch-cry, and it will be what will lift the vote for Act.

PAUL Can I ask you something?  The government is between a rock and a hard place.  No one wants to borrow 300 million a week but, as Derek says, what's the alternative?  And the alternative is drastic cuts.

DEREK Riots in the streets, that's what the alternative is.

JON Key's dynamic has all of a sudden become more complex.  And for once I'm actually very very interested in seeing that initial polling impact of Dr Brash,  because it could be a game-changer.  Because we've all head the frustration from the right with this do-nothing government, as they see it, that they hate Key's incrementalism and they hate his centralism.  And so now let's see if they walk the talk.  And if they do walk the talk they are going to come in behind Brash, and that is going to create quite a jolt.  All of a sudden, Key's choices are far reduced.

PAUL Look, all of a sudden, this week the whole political landscape suddenly changed.  I mean, you've got the launch of Mana - what's that going to do to the government's coalition partner?  And, of course, the ascendancy of Brash to the leadership of Act.

JON And one of the things I'm concerned about with that is at a time when-You know, the MMP referendum at the end of the year, it does worry me that we're seeing more fragmentation in our party system at this point.

PAUL So MMP comes into disrepute?

JON Well, for the wrong reasons.  You know, I mean, the receivership of the Act Party wasn't brought about by MMP or the rules of, it was brought about by Rodney Hide's deficient leadership, you know?  And so people have to be careful not to separate it.  But in all honesty, I don't think Dr Brash or the people that back him would care a fig if they bring MMP into disrepute.

PAUL You made a good point, though.  Why couldn't he get Heather Roy given the tick at the board yesterday?

JON Well, even if he gets it from Act, Paul, the prime minister has to acquiesce to this as well.

DEBORAH Not-It's the caucus actually has to vote on the deputy leadership.

JON Yeah, but Key still has to go along with it, right?  And that conversation has not taken place yet.  I mean, I agree with the logic of it.

PAUL He doesn't have a say on who's deputy leader.

DEBORAH But the right shouldn't get too cocky about this, because they are in danger of scaring away the National support partner, scaring them, the Maori support partner, if that's who it's going to be, into the arms of Labour.

JON That soft centre belly, as well.

DEBORAH Yes.  Into the arms of Labour.  And Brash goes on about borrowing 300 million dollars a week, which is bad enough.  After the election, if Labour's in government, we could well be borrowing 600 million dollars a week, if they get too smart.

JON Well, hang on a tick here.  The only reason Bill English can borrow 300 million dollars a week is because of the state of the books that Michael Cullen left for him, Deborah, which was zero net public debt.  You know, let's not forget that too.

PAUL Do we expect Dr Brash to play the race card?

DEREK Yes.  He's doing that already.  He of course denies this.  I heard him saying on-He really endeared himself, I imagine, to the people watching Te Karere the other night by referring to something as 'pure and unadulterated crap'.  He doesn't think that, but that's exactly what he invokes.

JON Dr Brash has been saying the exact same thing since, if you read his speeches, all the way back to 1985.  That shtick ain't gonna change now.  He believes it.

PAUL Has he endangered John Key by doing this, by taking the leadership of Act?

DEBORAH No, I think it's given National a perfect opportunity to say, 'Look, Act is extreme.'  I think John Key is very smart saying, 'Those are extremist policies.  We won't have a bar of them.'  So it actually gives National a chance to move a little bit further away from the centre - not too far away, just a little bit further away from the centre.  'It's far too extreme for us, we would never do that.'  But they can just budge a bit further away from the centre.

PAUL 'But we might give this a bit of a nudge.' Yes.

DEBORAH A bit of wriggle room, yeah.

JON I think it really does depend on how much of a significant initial impact Brash makes, because that's really gonna shift the whole, sort of, narrative around this government.

DEREK I think it's going to see Maori who might have been hanging in with the Maori Party, I think it's going to see them move the other way.

PAUL Go to Hone?

DEREK Or go to Labour.  And that's exactly what Deborah said which could see National pfft.







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