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Q+A:Transcript of panel response to Tariana Turia interview

Published: 1:28PM Sunday May 06, 2012 Source: Q+A

PAUL 
Time to welcome the panel.  This week Dr Bryce Edwards from Otago University, former Waitakere mayor and once Labour Party president Bob Harvey, and Mr Ron Mark, the Mayor of Carterton and, of course, a former New Zealand First MP.  Well, she had a lot of strong stuff in that.  This is a woman on a mission.  And it doesnt sound kooky. You know, the arguments are fine.  The arguments are good.  Is it realistic to make New Zealand smoke-free from 2025.

BOB PARKER Fmr Waitakere Mayor 
Absolutely.  Look, Ive been a lifetime enemy of smoking.  I think this country should be the first in the world to actually ban cigarettes.

PAUL 
Now, the trouble with bans, Bob.  Stop right there, because the trouble

BOB 
Yeah.

PAUL 
If I may say, because, you know, she said youre dealing with addictions.  Isnt the way to stop addiction?

BOB 
Give them that amount of time to get off the addiction.  You quit, the world is quitting, but I think New Zealand could quit.  What a great brand that would be to be the healthiest country in world, Paul.  Isnt that a smart deal?  I mean, Id want to get rid of those stupid lolly bloody things thats shes talking about too, because

Dr BRYCE EDWARDS Political Scientist
But Tariana was pretty unclear about whether she wants to ban it or just keep on pricing it out of peoples reach.

PAUL 
Yes.

BRYCE 
And I think its good politics on her part because its really playing into the social conservation Maori vote that does want to clamp down on smoking, gambling, alcohol, and shes lucky because theres very few opponents to this.

PAUL 
We should be clear on that.  We should be clear on that.  She indicated she would like to ban it.

BRYCE 
Ideally.

PAUL 
Ideally and make it unlawful, but she didnt necessarily say

BOB 
The bag is too big with gambling.  Lets get gambling out of it.  Lets talk about

BRYCE 
Well, no, I think its quite related because

BOB 
Do you?

BRYCE 
Absolutely, because increasingly theres a constituency that does want to clamp down on these social ills, if you like.

PAUL 
Well, thats right.  Now, thats most interesting.

RON MARK Fmr NZ First MP
Look, the question is why is she doing it?  Her focus is really about the health and well-being of people.  For her, its Maori people in particular, because they feature so negatively in her statistics.  But my question is is just a full-frontal attack on smoking alone going to resolve the issues?  No, because smoking does start people start smoking because they are rebellious, for one reason, because its fashionable and other reasons.

BRYCE 
Well, I think

RON 
Its about education, but I think that the problem shes got to deal with is that its also about smoking dope, and I havent heard one word about that issue which plagues Maori to hell and back.

PAUL 
Yeah.

RON 
Its also She touched on gambling and she touched on alcohol, but it has to be a multipronged attack on those issues if its going to be effective.  And Ive got to say this to you Ive seen people, take Tau Henare, great example gave up smoking, right?  Look at him now hes like a balloon.  I mean, is he going to die of a smoking-related illness?  Probably, a heart attack, no.  Itll be an obesity or a weight-related illness, so why?

BOB 
Why is that in the mix?

RON 
You cant just solve those problems

PAUL 
So are you saying weve got to attack on all three at once?  Is that what youre saying?

RON 
Well, I think if you dont do the coordinated attack on those things and its going to be education, education, education about lifestyle and about choices that makes the difference, not a wholesale attack on smoking alone, because they drive it underground, then youre

BOB 
Take away sponsorship of cigarettes

RON 
Then it becomes a black market.

BOB 
And it worked.  We took away off the racing cars, off from the racing industry, off from ballet and opera and the whole damn thing.  Now lets do the big one.  Lets not be gutless on this.  Hey, this could be the

PAUL 
Well, look, I can remember sitting over there on the other side of the studio having debate after debate after debate when Helen Clark was trying to get rid of the cigarette sponsorship on the racing cars, when she was trying to get the smoking out of the offices, and to a lot of people it seemed kooky, nanny state.  Out of the bars nanny state.

BOB 
Out of the RSAs.

PAUL 
And now you wouldnt think of smoking in an office.

BRYCE 
Well, its interesting

PAUL 
You wouldnt think of smoking inside at home.

BOB 
So now the big one.  Now the big one get rid of it out of the country.

BRYCE 
Ron brings up banning, I mean, dope and issues.  And what is really interesting is looking at the contrast

BOB 
Distraction.

BRYCE 
In well, it might be distraction, but theres an interesting lesson from internationally, theres been a defeat on the war on drugs.  Across the world, governments are starting to talk about legitimising or legalising drugs.

BOB 
Yeah, drugs is one.

BRYCE 
And Im not sure that were going down the opposite

RON 
And, Bob

PAUL 
Well, the war on

RON 
Youre probably one who would like Don Brash, would advocate decriminalising

BOB 
No, Im not Don Brash.

RON 
Decriminalising dope.  Well, dope is

BOB 
Dont go there. Im not talking about

RON 
No, but its the same youre talking smoking and youre talking about social well-being of our populace.

BOB 
Uh-huh.

RON 
You cant

BOB 
And the health of the country.

RON 
You cant turn the Nelsons blind eye to the problems of drug addiction, which tobacco is.

PAUL 
No, but youre dealing with the gangs there, arent you?  I mean, youre dealing with

RON 
Well, there you go.

PAUL 
Too many, but

RON 
Why turn a blind eye to the biggest industry that the gangs have, which is dope dealing, which is smoking?

PAUL 
But, listen, again But, listen, go back to banning.  Any Where in the world when theyve tried to ban the booze, like in the States, or the drugs the war on drugs I mean, youve got some of the most senior respected people in the world now saying the war on drugs that Richard Nixon instigated 30 years ago has failed.

BOB 
This is a new world, Paul.  This is not then

PAUL 
Banning never works.

BOB 
This is now.

RON 
And tobacco if you prohibit the sale of tobacco, you will create another black market illicit drug trade.

BOB 
Oh, what a bogey that is.

RON 
And if you price it Look, youve got black market tobacco in New Zealand, Bob.

PAUL 
I imagine it could become a huge thing to smuggle in your fags from Australia.

RON 
Get back into the world of reality.

BOB 
The world reality is a healthier world

RON 
Youre being idealistic, and ego-social engineering is a thing of the past.

BOB 
I live in the city, but

RON 
We know that.

BRYCE 
The political dimension of this is very interesting because what were seeing from Tariana Turia is a politician in full flight, and shes looking pretty confident.

BOB 
Shes good.

BRYCE 
Shes not a politician that I think is about to

PAUL 
Well, thats right.  That was the point I was trying to make about Helen Clark.  Everyone got annoyed in those days when Helen was trying to get smoking out of the offices.  Now Mrs Turia can come on and speak about actually banning

BRYCE 
I think shes got momentum here.

PAUL 
And we kind of agree with it.

RON 
The one thing about Tariana

PAUL 
And the other thing is I dont know anyone who smokes cigarettes who actually wants to smoke cigarettes.  Thats the sad thing.

RON 
Im a person who enjoys a good pipe after whatever.  I mean

BOB 
Or a cigar after youve had a baby or something like that.

RON 
How many of you here smoke?

BOB 
Come on, the world is jumping forward.

RON 
We all smoked, and we all kicked it.

BOB 
I think we should cheer her on, actually.

RON 
Of course you should, but its not just about smoking.  Its not smoking tobacco,  is it, and

PAUL 
One other thing I liked No, youve made your point on that, but I think thats another discussion.  I really do.  But she makes the point you know, what I really liked was she is not frightened of these bloody cigarette companies.

BOB 
Shes not frightened full stop.

PAUL 
And again when I go back to those debates we used to have, you know, on the Holmes programme about it, the tobacco lobby would come in and say the arguments those people come up with are incredibly inventive.

BRYCE 
Well, it helps her case to put this almost bogeyman of the companies, and thats

PAUL 
But shes not frightened of them.

BRYCE 
But whats interesting is no ones frightened to disagree with Tariana Turia on this.  We dont see any other political parties actually stepping up and putting forward the rights of smokers or civil rights.

RON 
Its an easy political wagon to run.  It will always be popular because its right.  And it was carried first by Tuku Morgan, and it was carried by Hone Harawira, and shes got the mantle now.  And as the minister, shes got the profile and the ability to drive it.  But if youre focused on the social well-being and the health of your people, to have a myopic focus overly focused on just tobacco is self-defeating in the long run.

PAUL 
I dont think she was.  I think where shes focusing on is the smoking

RON 
No, I know, but I think the

PAUL 
On the gambling and the drinking as well.

RON 
The whole of the country

PAUL 
But theres Ive got to leave it.

BOB 
Shell win.

PAUL 
Lets hope so.

 

 

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