Panel response to METERIA TUREI interview
PAUL What do you make of that performance from the Green's Co-Leader, she got rattled and she seemed very uncertain on matters of trade I thought, what did you think Paul?
PAUL EAST - Former National Cabinet
Well she's certainly uncertain on matters of trade, and I thought she was in difficulty trying to deny the huge benefits that have flowed to New Zealand from trade.
PAUL And to Konvita from 60% increase in trade with China.
PAUL EAST Exactly, and I think also she was beating the drum about the mining of the national parks trying to get the Greens into a good position on that subject, and she probably might succeed there, but I think thoughtful New Zealanders will realise that we're entitled to know what the wealth of the nation is, and find out what we have by way of assets in terms of minerals right throughout the country, and today mining is very different from what it was in the old days, it's a little door going into a hillside and everything takes place underground, I think there's a bogey man there that she'll try and run as an election campaign.
PAUL No government surely is going to dig up fuel in a national park Mr Williams?
MIKE WILLIAMS - Former Labour Party
No they're not, but people are schizophrenic about this, they don't want coal mining, they don't want coal burning, everyone agrees on that, and yet 10 to 15% of our electricity is supplied by a massive coal fired power station at Huntly, so you can't have it both ways.
PAUL Here is what Metiria Turei suggested might happen with some of our great national parks in the matter of mining.
Metiria Turei: 'We're going to fight it all the way and so is the New Zealand public. We have our petition out around the country at the moment, we are gathering thousands of signatures every week on that petition, because New Zealanders do not want their government to be digging up national parks, marine reserves and wetlands, just for coal and petrol.'
PAUL Is that bogey going to run Therese?
THERESE ARSENEAU - Political Analyst
It's more than just our brand I think clean and green, I do think it's part of our national identity. It's considered one of those sacred cows and I guess the question is as Paul has mentioned, will the public buy that we have a right to actually even examine what the wealth is in terms of the national parks. I do think though that the public is very wary of doing anything that upsets not just our image, but I think it's very much part of our national identity.
PAUL Let's just go back to that trade business because Metiria seemed almost at one point to be doing a satire of a politician answering very difficult questions when it came to trade, what did you make of that, was she making it up as she went along?
MIKE Well to some degree she was but I mean Paul and Therese said she's rattled, she was rattled, but what you saw there is a politician's nightmare occurring before you, and congratulations to Guyon Espiner, I mean he actually landed a scoop on her, and given those circumstances I actually think she did rather well.
PAUL Just stay on that, I mean I couldn't get a commitment whether she's committed to - I couldn't really understand whether she's actually committed to CER?
MIKE There was no answer.
PAUL No, then we come to the matter it turns out - well wouldn't you know, the moral compass of parliament, the Greens, have had their snouts in the accommodation allowance trough. Here's a crucial part of that.
Metiria Turei: 'We made a mistake, we're not happy about it, we fixed the rent in June to make sure that they were paying under market value from that point on, and we have refunded the money.'
PAUL So we made a mistake, we've refunded the money and we're not happy about it and that's why we're talking about it today, but we wouldn't be talking about it today if Guyon hadn't started asking questions this week, Therese.
THERESE And it's interesting because what happens typically in politics, things like this hurt the party that has put itself up as the word was used the moral compass, it tends to hurt those parties more. So for example in the US they said you know the Republican Party can't weather a sex scandal the way the Democratic Party can. So I do think they're watching all this and how it's played out, clearly we need - well we need clarity around this. It seems everybody now is getting into difficulty, the difficulty is widespread around parliament, and my theory is that it's really leading to a downgrading of the image of parliament, and the clarity needs to come around not just what the politicians are allowed to do, but what is acceptable in terms of the public viewpoint.
PAUL Paul East, your view on this.
PAUL EAST Well the parliament needs strict rules and they need to enforce them, and I think part of the problem has been that they have been lax in that regard, and certainly I think the Greens looked - it's a story that I think will run, but I think if you come back to the Green Party and why it is in trouble, it is in trouble because our Green Party in New Zealand unlike European Green parties is seen as a bit of a fringe group, it's the candlestick maker, caftan, goat herding sort of Green Party, it's not the one that can go either way with any political party both left and right of the political spectrum.
THERESE It's a party that's off to the left of Labour.
PAUL EAST And that is their problem in terms of getting National support, getting up in the polls and being able to really have a position of power and authority.
PAUL Is there a place for the Greens now really when you consider that National - you know many of the things that they've been talking about for years have now moved into the orthodox, into the centre of politics, National now having Emissions Trading Scheme, they're not wiping that, Labour had one and so forth. Are the Greens squeezed, do they need to exist any more?
THERESE Small parties go through stages and we've seen the first stage, and the first stage is the founding stage, there's passion, it's new, the second stage is the difficult stage for a small party and they have to make these sort of strategic decisions, do we stay very principled, do we stay off to the left of Labour, but do we face perhaps irrelevance, or do we compromise somewhat, move more towards the centre, open our options which is what makes a smaller party powerful...
MIKE Well I've thought a lot about this, I don't think it's slit your wrists time for the Greens, but I do think they've made a couple of strategic errors recently. Some of them were forced on them. Now if you look at Russel Norman versus Rod Donald, I find Russel Norman colourless and cold, and I don't think he's got half the impact that Rod Donald's braces had, and I do think that the choice of Metiria Turei over Sue Bradford is a mistake, 13% of people actually voted for the anti smacking referendum, and Sue Bradford had a large chunk of that group. Now she was in fact - outside the Labour Party - the only MP in parliament who would actually defend beneficiaries, which is a significant group. So I think you put all those things together, and then you put the deal with National over housing insulation, and people must start to wonder is that party necessary, particularly given the very clever strategy of the National Party to move into that space. National had a very successful Blue Green Conference last weekend.
PAUL EAST National is at the moment
succeeding in being virtually all things to everybody. I
think one of the things the Greens are really gonna miss is
Jeanette Fitzsimons, because she had a great deal of respect,
people saw as commonsense, responsibility, those sorts of