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Q+A Panel Discussion - In response to Steven Joyce Interview

Q + A
Panel Discussion 1
Hosted by SUSAN WOOD
In response to Steven Joyce Interview

SUSAN Welcome to the panel today. Political scientist Dr Claire Robinson from Massey University, great to have you on with us this year.

DR CLAIRE ROBINSON – Political Scientist
Oh, thank you, finally.

SUSAN One of our regulars, Matt McCarten, Unite Union. And Fran O’Sullivan, New Zealand Herald columnist, also a regular. I’ve just got to ask this question – who thinks we’re going to win this Cup? Because my nerves are frayed, like the rest of the country.

MATT McCARTEN – National Secretary, Unite Union
They’ll romp home. Romp home.

SUSAN Well-known sailing commentator – Matt McCarten.

MATT Yes. Yes, I’ve following it for the last two races, and I think it’s in the bag.

SUSAN We’ll have the port lead in, which is the left lead in, from you, and we’ll win it, right?

MATT Yeah.

SUSAN Are you ladies feeling as confident?

CLAIRE This is just— This is like the Rugby World Cup jinx thing that’s going through New Zealand at the moment. I think, you know, we lost the Rugby World Cup constantly, and people started getting really worried that because they were overconfident, that we would lose, and I think that that’s exactly what we’re seeing now. People are thinking, ‘Ooh, we were confident last week, and now we’re not, and so we don’t want to say anything.’

MATT We’re going to have to ask all the Kiwis on the Oracle boat to get off so we can win.

SUSAN Yeah, well, that would help.

MATT There’s one American on their boat. Half of them are New Zealanders.

CLAIRE Yeah, exactly.

SUSAN In an economic sense, Fran, how do you commercialise— and let’s be optimistic here and hope that the Cup does come back to New Zealand, how do you commercialise it in a longer-term sense? Because it’s hard to do. You think about Olympics, Sydney, yes, you get the infrastructure, the roading, but it’s very very hard to get a long-term benefit from it, isn’t it?

FRAN O’SULLIVAN – NZ Herald Columnist
Yeah, I guess so, but in many respects, for our boatbuilding industry, for our technologies, what we do in the computer space, digital, all around this, New Zealanders have come up with some terrific innovations which have been picked up by other boat owners, including, you know, making— building the boat for Larry Ellison. So in that sense, I think I think there’s— you know, it still puts New Zealand up there, right at the sharp end.

SUSAN So those relationships get created. You, Claire, though, would like to see the Government take a bit more of a lead, perhaps?

CLAIRE Yeah, I think that often the tendency is to say— to throw the money at the syndicate and say, ‘You go off and do it,’ but, actually, if the Government’s being really strategic, it would say, ‘Yes, in terms of the boatbuilding industry, we’re going to get some return, in terms of tourism, but what more can we do? What more can we leverage off this event?’ So I think, yeah, putting some money— strategically money in and resources into developing more of the high-tech, more of the design-led industries associated with the America’s Cup so that when the investors are looking, when the investors are coming, then we can really give them something to take away, apart from the experience.

MATT We might like to change the name of the boat as well and not call it old Emirates. We’d call it Taxpayer Funded. Old Team—

CLAIRE Well, there’s a logo on it.

MATT There’s 36 million bucks on there already.

SUSAN But that’s the trouble with this thing – it’s such an expensive campaign. If we could shift gear and get on to Chorus? Fran, we heard Minister Steven Joyce talking about that and a whole lot of misinformation, he says, but the charge is – is this just another example of corporate welfare from this government?

FRAN Well, it’s an interesting topic, really, because the Government clearly has put a lot of taxpayers’ money out there behind ultrafast broadband, and, of course, Chorus has got the lion’s share of that to do, you know, the guts of the backbone in this country. I think it’ll end up as a compromise. It won’t be quite so much coming off the monthly broadband— sorry, copper rental that people are currently paying. And somewhere in the middle, there’s a threshold. But I do think the campaign is barking mad as well. I mean, there is not a tax—

MATT But it’s effective.

FRAN Well, no, no, no, not because it’s effective. You’re part of it.

MATT I’m against your side, absolutely. Come on, this is—

FRAN I would—

MATT If a Labour government was doing this, Fran and all her mates would be screaming about picking winners, the status involving. One billion bucks to an Australian-owned contractor, you know, and then they say, ‘Oh, the price is higher than we thought,’ and the Cabinet goes, ‘We’ll set the price for you so you can and so we can ship another 600 million across.’

FRAN I think there’s a lot of debate over the actual covert report, and we’re starting to see people like Ross Patterson, the previous telecoms commissioner, coming out. There’s a long way to go in this one, and it’s very useful for certain PR operators to round up the usual suspects—

MATT There is a poll tax on every internet user in this country of 12 bucks a month to subside this private enterprise—

SUSAN Whatever the facts, information, misinformation – it’s confusing a) for punters to follow, but, politically, it could be quite damaging for the Government, because you have the perception – Tiwai Point – is this just another example of, you know, looking after bigger business?

CLAIRE It is, too. But I think that the fundamental issue with this is that price isn’t going to drive behaviour, so the debate seems to have skewed round to, you know, if copper is cheaper, then people will move to copper. Actually, people are more than prepared to pay for quality and speed if it’s there, so, really, it’s up to the ultrafast broadband to prove that it is a good performer. You know, if we were really worried about price, we’d still be just all using landlines and dial-up, you know, and we don’t. We really— So we do buy into really good quality. People pay a lot for SKY; it’s much cheaper just to watch free-to-air TV. So I think that people, you know, once they do get to try…

SUSAN Well, that’s the trouble. Once it comes to a street near you, which is taking—

CLAIRE Yes, and when is that?

SUSAN Well, exactly. I rang the other day. It’s June next year, which is not very helpful.

CLAIRE Yeah, ridiculous.


MATT Well, where my office is, it’s not going to be till 2017, and that’s in a business part of—

CLAIRE So I think that is the bigger issue, you know, the slowness of the rollout.

MATT Well, that’s the free market at work, you see, and it doesn’t work. They should just cut out the middle man and just do it themselves, because that’s what they’re doing—

FRAN Just put it in themselves.

MATT They might as well do it themselves instead of making money for your mates.

FRAN What do you mean by mates?

MATT Based in Australia.

SUSAN A lovely note to leave our panel.

FRAN What?

MATT Go, Kiwis.

FRAN Vodafone are going to, actually, be a beneficiary, not Chorus.


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