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Transcript: Party Leaders' Debate, TVOne, 8/9/05


Transcript Provided by TVOne

MARK SAINSBURY: Good evening, I'm Mark Sainsbury, and welcome to this One News Special, the last in our election debate series. Tonight, we have the leaders of all eight parties in Parliament here, live from the TVNZ studios in Auckland before an audience made up of representatives of, and selected by, each party.

There is a lot at stake tonight for every leader present. Let's meet them. From left to right, we have from the Maori Party - Pita Sharples; Jeanette Fitzsimons, co-leader of the Greens; Jim Anderton of Jim Anderton's Progressive Party; Labour leader Helen Clark; Don Brash, National's leader; alongside him, Rodney Hide from ACT; Peter Dunne, leader of United Future; and NZ First leader Winston Peters.

To begin, let's talk about vision. And you all know how you see it. Well, what I want to do is to ask you how you see this country in five years' time. Later we're going to look at the challenges that you may face in bringing that vision into reality.

Every party is calling this our most important election because our futures hang on it. Helen Clark, how do you see this country five years from now?

HELEN CLARK (Labour Party leader): Five years from now I see a very proud and confident country. I see a country that's continuing to do well economically. I see a country which will have low unemployment. I see a country which offers a lot of opportunity to all its citizens through jobs, education, trade training. I see a country offering a lot of security through our health system, our superannuation, support for our older folks, through our policing. I see a country which offers a lifestyle which the rest of the world envies and is fun to be in, whether it's because of the great outdoors in our wonderful environment, or whether it's our urban lifestyle with our arts and our creativity. I see a very confident country.

SAINSBURY: Don Brash, you wouldn't disagree with that, presumably?

DON BRASH (National Party leader): I think the objectives are very good, Mark, but the question is, how do we deliver those objectives? And you won't get good health care, good education, good employment and so on, unless we have economic growth. And frankly, the Labour Government has totally failed to deliver better economic growth.

In 1999, the gap between New Zealand wages and Australian wages was $5000 a year. It's currently $10,000 a year, and this government has done nothing at all to fix it. Their pledge card, seven pledges on it, only one of them tangentially related to improving our growth rate. And frankly, unless we can do that, the good things that Helen Clark talks about, we will not have in five years' time.

SAINSBURY: But what makes you think that you are going to make any difference?

BRASH: Because the National Party's got policies which are committed to raising living standards in New Zealand ¨C a tax system which will give New Zealanders an incentive to get ahead, a tax system which will deliver a 19% tax rate at the average wage, not the 33% rate they face now and will face indefinitely under Labour.

SAINSBURY: Helen Clark, the tax argument, is that what vision is about?

CLARK: This country, under Labour, has grown faster than Australia. That's a fact. This country, under Labour, has grown close to 4% all the time we've been in office as against other Western economies growing at an average of 2.5%. We've delivered the results. That's why 273,000 more Kiwis are in work today under Labour than when we came into office.

SAINSBURY: I want to bring in the others. Peter Dunne, I mean, a vision in some ways is a luxury, isn't it, for a small party, because whatever you want or whatever you see as your vision, is going to have to tie in to how both the two major parties see it.

PETER DUNNE (United Future leader): A country without a vision is a country without a future. We want New Zealand to be the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family. We want this to be the best culturally diverse nation in the world, and that means we have to have economic policies that support economic growth. We have to support families, we have to give parents their head in terms of their responsibility in raising their kids. We also have to look after our environment and make sure that we're able to enjoy that great New Zealand heritage.

This future of New Zealand is really going to be forged on the traditional values that New Zealanders have nurtured and cherished for years.

SAINSBURY: But how are you going to achieve that, Peter Dunne?

DUNNE: Well, we're going to achieve that by talking about it, by being the party of influence in a government that makes sure that those things aren't lost sight of. New Zealanders are ready to respond to that type of message and that type of leadership, and what we need to do is work collaboratively with others to bring that to effect.

SAINSBURY: Jeanette Fitzsimons, you want to be a party of influence as well. What difference is the Greens' vision going to bring if it came down to a Labour-Green government?

JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Green Party co-leader): In five years' time, we could be halfway towards our goal of ending child poverty in 10 years. We could have a major programme up and running to clean up our very polluted rivers. We could have taken some very significant steps to prepare for the end of cheap oil. We could have excellent public transport systems, a rebuilt rail system, cars that go twice as far on a tankful.

SAINSBURY: Pita Sharples, I mean, where do Maori fit into the vision? The Maori vision for the future, is that the same? Does it sit within the others here?

PITA SHARPLES (Maori Party co-leader): For sure. The Maori vision for New Zealand is a vision for all New Zealanders. We would like to see, like Jeanette¡­ 1.9 million people live below the poverty line, below $25,000 in their household. We would like to see that brought up to the median, which is only $39,000, at least. We would like to see good race relations where people respect each other's culture, the diversity of all peoples so we can celebrate each other here in New Zealand.

SAINSBURY: Jim Anderton, in terms of vision, I mean, the danger is that people look at you as an appendage of the Labour Government. I mean, your allegiance is there in terms of forming a coalition.

JIM ANDERTON (Progressive Party leader): That's why Labour is standing against me in Wigram cos I am some appendage (!)

SAINSBURY: Be that as it may, what defines the difference in your vision, say, from Helen Clark's?

ANDERTON: Well, I'll you what defines the vision I have, and it's the terrible example we get of politicians like Mr Brash and some in the business community who go around complaining about how bad New Zealand is and how useless we are when we're one of the best performing countries in the world, and we should celebrate it.

And, basically, we've outperformed Australia, as Helen said. If Dr Brash doesn't know that, he should. We're better than the OECD average. We've got the lowest unemployment in the developed world and the highest growth rates. And if you compare what that is like now against what it was when there was a National-led government last in this country, we are light years ahead. And if that isn't broken, we shouldn't be trying to fix it, we should be celebrating it.

SAINSBURY: (ADDRESSES STUDIO AUDIENCE) Can I just say one thing? If we have to wait for applause after every single person talks, we're gonna chew up a lot of the time they have available. So we'll just try and keep it moving, if we can.

Rodney Hide, aren't you in the same position, though, as Jim Anderton and the Progressives? Your vision is tied to whatever your likely coalition partner, being National, is.

RODNEY HIDE (ACT leader): We have a vision of a freer and more prosperous New Zealand. That's where we'd like to be in five years, and that's why we support the National Party, cos their policies are heading in that direction.

What we'd like to see in five years' time ¨C currently we're losing 600 people a week to Australia, we'd like to turn that completely around. That would be a tangible result, so that we'd have net 600 Kiwis returning to New Zealand. Why? Because hard-working families have more money in their pocket each week, because the economy's going well, because we're prouder, because we're doing better economically, we have a positive outlook on our future. And I'd like one other thing in five years' time - I'd like our country to have much better relationships with our traditional friends Australia and the United States of America.

SAINSBURY: Winston Peters, I mean, no one is going to stand here today and say they don't want full employment, they don't want the country prosperous, they don't want to see New Zealand grow. What is it that in terms of your vision for the country, do you think, that is unique?

WINSTON PETERS (New Zealand First leader): Well, there's an old saying, ¡°Where there's no vision, the people perish,¡± and what's happening with our country is that over the last three decades we have slipped from about number five in the world to number 40, according to the World Bank's latest figures. And you can have all the consumptive growth you like, but you've got to have productivity.

And I look forward to a country where they've got the resources, economic soundness to be able to pay for the sick when they need attention; to look after our young and care for our young children, that they get educated properly; to ensure, for example, that people can walk our streets without fearing what might happen to them, because we don't have enough police at all. I look forward to a country where people come here because they want to be New Zealanders and to sign up to the values that we are trying to build as a nation. And last of all, but most significantly, I look forward to the end of the Treaty-grievance mentality where we can see ourselves as equals, as one people, before the law.

SAINSBURY: Can I just ask you, this is to the smaller parties here, what is the one thing that you would suggest to your potential coalition partners or to the party you would look at supporting in Parliament, that you see from your vision that you would want to insist on? Winston Peters?

PETERS: Well, right now, I mean, the one thing I would hope for right now, nine days before the election, is that some people explain how they've spent the bank and then borrowed some to go on to next year and hopefully win an election, because, I'll tell you, unless they can explain that, then there are going to be significant cuts next year and there will be tears.

SAINSBURY: Peter Dunne?

DUNNE: The one thing I want the next government to recognise as a priority is that the family is the cornerstone of our society, and when families do well, our country is going to do well. Strong families mean a strong country.

SAINSBURY: Rodney Hide?

HIDE: The tax cuts are in the best interests of all New Zealanders, and that in the first budget, we also bring down the top rate of tax and the business rate of tax because that will build a more prosperous New Zealand.

SAINSBURY: Pita Sharples, one point that you'd want...

SHARPLES: Well, very clearly, I represent the Maori people, and what we want is an authentic voice in Parliament, and we're going to have it this election.

SAINSBURY: Jeanette Fitzsimons?

FITZSIMONS: There isn't just one, but probably oil is the most important. If we don't get our energy on a sustainable footing, we won't have an economy in the future.

SAINSBURY: I'm going to come back to energy later, but, Jim Anderton?

ANDERTON: I want our young people to have the same chance in New Zealand that I had ¨C free health care, free education, a really good job that challenges them, and the opportunity to make a real contribution to New Zealand as they're starting to do now. That's the greatest achievement we could have ¨C to give a future to our young New Zealanders.

SAINSBURY: OK, just briefly before we go, I mean, Helen Clark, is there anything you see or hear from the other leaders here that Labour would look at adopting? Is there something you think is missing from yours that you've picked up from tonight?

CLARK: I heard a lot of things where we could work with people. I absolutely agree with Peter Dunne that the family is the most basic unit of our society, and our families need priority in our policies. I agree with Jim on opportunity. I agree with Jeanette on the issues around the oil issues, and I also agree with Pita Sharples that we've got to be a country that cares about living together and moving forward together as many peoples. We're a multicultural country. We should celebrate that.

SAINSBURY: Don Brash, I mean, same question to you. What have you heard around here in the studio tonight that you would say would sit or should sit within what your vision is of New Zealand?

BRASH: Well, I find myself very comfortable with both the comments made by Rodney Hide and by Peter Dunne. I'm very much comfortable with those. To my surprise, I have to say, I found myself very much agreeing with some of what Winston said also. He talked about the importance of productivity improvement, and that's the area which we haven't really talked about much tonight. We get aggregate growth, but if we are going to get growth in per capita income, we need productivity growth.

SAINSBURY: We'll have a look at that shortly. So, those are the visions. Next up, the challenges. After the break, the economy and the current oil-price shock.


SAINSBURY: Welcome back. We've heard the visions, now let's look at the economy over the next five years, and how would the current oil shock and the possible outlook for oil prices affect that vision? Dr Brash?

BRASH: Mark, I think most experts believe that the high oil prices will slow the economy down a bit. Why? Because people have less money to spend on other things, and that's likely to slow the economy, and, indeed, may even lead to lower interest rates.

I think what that means is, that it puts a premium on policies which encourage growth, and the National Party is saying we've got to, for example, have a tax system which provides for a decent tax rate for most New Zealanders. We're saying 85% of New Zealanders should pay a tax rate no higher than 19%. We think our company tax rate should be no higher than that in Australia, and that's an issue on which Jim Anderton and I agree. We want tax on secondary employment to be no more than 19%.

SAINSBURY: But are those tax reductions, Dr Brash, going to ensure the economy here doesn't get hit by the oil shocks?

BRASH: No, we can't avoid the economy being hit by the oil shock. There is no way that can be avoided. It hit us, without any question. The question is, how do we respond to it? What I'm saying is, because that will lead to us all being collectively poorer. We can't avoid that. It puts a premium on policies which will encourage growth. That's partly tax, it's partly fixing the Resource Management Act so we can get on with building roads and power generation, etc, and it's about reducing compliance costs.

SAINSBURY: Helen Clark, I mean, Dr Brash says you put more money in people's pockets, it's going to help cushion them against the oil shock.

CLARK: Well, fundamentally, the question was about energy, Mark, and there's tremendous demand for oil in the world today. The US economy has been growing fast, China puts a lot pressure on with its fast-growing economy, and don't forget India with its billion people coming up very fast as well. So when you've got those sorts of supply-and-demand pressures, and then you have a hurricane wiping out refining capacity, that impacts on price, and we've felt that.

I think we've got to be looking now to the policies which are going to make a difference for the future, around the biofuels, around the hybrid cars, around leading-edge environmental technologies which will keep New Zealand at the forefront and enable us to grow an economy which is not so oil-dependent in the future.

SAINSBURY: We are going to talk about energy later, but, I mean, you, as well as National, there's a lot of promises out there. It's going to cost a lot of money to bring those in. Is the impact of those oil prices going to affect the economy and affect whether you can deliver?

CLARK: It won't affect our ability to deliver because we budget conservatively and very prudently. I think for those who have promised to spend $7 billion more than we've promised to spend on tax relief, I doubt that they could deliver it. We know they would have to borrow a lot for it and cut spending, and that affects essential services, and it will put Kiwis' interest rates up. Not down, Dr Brash, but up.

BRASH: Mark, I've got to insist on this. The National Party's borrowing programme will be barely different from Labour's after you factor in the extra borrowing required by their
student-loan policy.

CLARK: No, no, no.

BRASH: Barely different at all.

CLARK: Not at all.

SAINSBURY: But interest rates, Dr Brash?

BRASH: My judgement is that the oil price, by slowing down the economy, is likely to lead to a slower growth and therefore lower interest rates.

CLARK: Well, Dr Brash ran a high interest rate policy as Reserve Bank governor, and the borrowing that he is planning, Mark, will certainly put pressure on interest rates, and we know that if your mortgage is $100,000, one percentage-point movement, and your mortgage will be up $19 a week. That's the sort of fate he promises people.

SAINSBURY: We are going to play fair, Winston Peters, and you will get your turn. But just before we- This is one of the crucial issues of the debate.

PETERS: Well, I know it is. Well, let me tell you why. Their borrow and spend on the National Party's part, and spend everything on the Labour Party's part, places the economy in serious danger because of the oil crisis. We will be having an economy which slows down next year, that's true. But in that circumstance, to over-promise, both on taxation and welfare, is extraordinarily dangerous. I see tears down the road next year because, as someone who's been a former Treasurer, I know how fine it can be.

No, no. We ran surpluses during the Asian crisis.

SAINSBURY: How could you support either party, Winston Peters, after the election, if you believe both their economic policies are fundamentally wrong?

PETERS: Well, I cannot support them after the election. That's why I made it clear yesterday that having looked at their economic policy, their promises, the huge spend-up, the no-surplus situation, I am concerned about next year, and we'd prefer to be on the opposite benches keeping them honest.

SAINSBURY: We'll come to you in a second, Pita. But, Jeanette Fitzsimons, I mean, just briefly when we're talking about the impact of the oil crisis, I mean, the Greens' solution would be to raise the price, wouldn't it?

FITZSIMONS: Look, it's not rocket science. If the problem is oil, you don't fix it with taxes or interest rates. You fix it with policies to use a whole lot less oil to do the same things. And there are massive opportunities for much greater energy efficiency¡­

SAINSBURY: We will get into energy, but we're talking about the impact on the economy.

FITZSIMONS: The impact on the economy. Well, if people had started doing something about it even 10 years ago, and I've been talking about the need for it for 30 years now, we wouldn't be feeling the pain today. But OK, looking forward, there is a whole lot that we can do to make the oil price much less of a problem to New Zealand. We need to look at each of the sectors of the economy and analyse how they can be made more energy efficient and need less oil; we need to look at our trade; we need to look at our tourism.

SAINSBURY: And the efficiency arguments, we will look at after the next break. Pita Sharples, you have a perspective on energy.

SHARPLES: Well, the thing is, the peak oil crisis is the real issue. It's not about the price or anything like that. In the year 2008 there will be a shortage of oil. Now, just imagine if New Zealand got cut off from oil now. We'd be in the soup. So this is an invitation from the Maori Party to all parties here to form a cross-parliamentary commission to look at renewable energy sources.

SAINSBURY: Again, that is something, Pita, we're gonna look at in the next¡­

FITZSIMONS: Put it there, Pita.

SHARPLES: Kia ora.

SAINSBURY: You've got an agreement sorted there already. Jim Anderton, in terms of the economy, how much is this going to hit us? Irrespective of how we deal with the oil pricing, how much of an impact is it gonna have on the businesses that you're out there trying to encourage?

ANDERTON: Well, the real issue now is that we have to speed up, if we weren't speeding up before, and I think we're doing pretty well. We have to speed up the transformation of the New Zealand economy from a commodity-producing economy to a high added-value and high-value economy, because if you can export in a cubic metre $700,000 worth of goods instead of 1 cubic metre of a pine log at $70 a cubic metre, you're gonna use energy much better, freight costs are gonna come down per item of goods produced. That's the future for New Zealand economy. We've gotta export value, not weight, and that's the future for New Zealand.

SAINSBURY: Rodney Hide.

HIDE: Look, it is a big problem for the economy. Everyone knows that when they go and fill the tank right now. But actually, Helen Clark, Jeanette Fitzsimons and Jim Anderton made it a lot worse by hiking the taxes on fuel this year. They shouldn't have done it. That tax should come off. And they're gonna make it worse next year when they put taxes on fuel further up because of the Kyoto agreement that they've signed us up to. What we need in New Zealand is to recognise this is a problem. Don Brash is quite right ¡ª getting taxes down will put more money in people's pockets. We are gonna have a slowdown in economy. We need to give it a boost. More money will do that. And we also need to create the business environment that we need to develop our energy resources because, actually, we're a very energy-rich country.

SAINSBURY: Peter Dunne, I mean, is an economic slowdown inevitable?

DUNNE: Well, we've gone through a period over the last few years where people have predicted a slowdown that's never come. I think this one ¡ªbecause of the external shock factor ¡ª is largely inevitable, although I suspect it may be more varied than commentators are leading us to believe, and I think the issue that that gives rise to is that it is important to firstly continue to promote policies that will open up the economy, promote growth and promote opportunity. But at the same time, if the oil shock is increasing the level of cost in the economy, then, like any prudent housekeeper, what you have to do is look at your expenditure, look at your outgoings, and then decide what you can continue to operate on and what you continue to seek to do within that changed environment. One of the fears I've got at the moment as this election campaign has unfolded has been what has been almost the unseemly auction that's come about between the various sides about what's being promised. I think there is a risk ¡ª particularly if the economy slows and we do find those constraints coming into effect ¡ª of tears before bedtime, and I think people now start to need to focus on what's gonna give in that context, because ¡ª I'll just make this point to conclude ¡ª the last thing we need after 20 years of prolonged economic restructuring and a dividend starting to appear is that we splurge it all in one go.

SAINSBURY: Yes. Helen Clark, I mean, briefly, is Peter Dunne right? The auction ¡ª and Jim Anderton has described it as that as well ¡ª the auction, in terms of both you and the National Party, is that going to¡­? When we're looking at the economy and the outlook, is that auction as well making things unrealistic? I mean, you're promising things you can't deliver.

CLARK: Uh, we are very carefully basing our policy on what we know is coming in. We are not promising to spend vast sums of money, because they are not there. There is no great surplus sitting in the bank to spend.

HIDE: Rubbish.

CLARK: What there is good budgeting, and you all know that this Government has run strong budgets and a strong economy and our commitment is to keep on doing it.

SAINSBURY: Dr Brash, are you saying¡ª?

BRASH: The surplus is bigger in New Zealand per capita than in any other country but one in the world.

CLARK: And that's a bad thing, Don? Is that a bad thing?

SAINSBURY: Are you saying that nothing you have promised in this campaign you won't be able to deliver on, irrespective of what happens in terms of the influence of the oil shocks?

BRASH: That is correct. Let me say one other thing about what Helen Clark said. She said that our package would involve increased interest rates. Now, I know as much about that issue, I guess, as anyone on the panel.


BRASH: It will not¡­ It will not¡­ I got interest rates down from 15.5% in 1988 to 7.5% when I left, madam.

SAINSBURY: Thank you. We're gonna move on. Global warming, Kyoto, carbon taxes and the Resource Management Act ¡ª can we afford the price of being clean and green?


SAINSBURY: We've talked tonight about the next five years. Well, there are some hard decisions to be made in that time. We've had warnings of blackouts by 2010 unless we sort out where our power is going to come from. Jeanette Fitzsimons, how are the Greens going to solve this energy problem?

FITZSIMONS: Well, building giant pylons across the countryside and damming every river and imposing a dirty coal-fired power station at Marsden Point is not the answer, Mark. We've¡ª Just about everyone now accepts that our very high use of energy is changing the climate and that it has to be moderated for that reason. We need a major energy-efficiency programme, insulating houses, insulating hot and cold things in industry, much more efficient lighting in offices and homes, we need to develop bio fuels. We want to put half a million solar panels on Kiwi roofs over the next five years, develop wind power and agriculture and forestry waste such as wood, which has got a lot to contribute to our energy sector.

SAINSBURY: But in the meantime, business has to run. Jim Anderton, I mean, you spend your time trying to encourage business to come here. What guarantees¡­? I mean, is energy efficiency going to do it? Or what guarantees can you give them that there will be the electricity to actually run the investment that they want to bring here?

ANDERTON: Well, you need energy efficiency, of course, and we have to put our hand up as a developed country and a good international citizen to play our role in global warming and all the rest of it, but we are going to have to be innovative and creative about new energy sources. We do need extra energy. If we're going to attract the kind of investment and development we need in New Zealand to grow into a first-world economy so that we can have first-world health, education, environment, infrastructural services, then we've gotta have an energy plan. The Government's working very hard on that in a wide range of spheres. There is very significant research going on for hydrogen-cell technology and so on for the future, but for the immediate future, one of the things that I'd like to see is more emphasis on mini hydro systems around the country, because hydroelectricity is our baseload, uh, form of electricity. It is environmentally friendly.

SAINSBURY: But you'd normally use coal, wouldn't you?

ANDERTON: Well, in some cases, we do now because if we didn't, the lights would go out in various places, and some of the people who are against energy development would be the first ones complaining if they did.

SAINSBURY: Don Brash, if the lights aren't gonna go out, how are we gonna get some more power stations up and running?

BRASH: I think we're very lucky in New Zealand. We've got an abundance of different kinds of energy sources. Certainly, gas is looking a bit skimpy at the moment, but we have got hydro, we have got geothermal, we have wind, and Meridian tells me that their proposed Wellington wind farm will be fully internationally competitive by any standards. We've also, of course, got, um, coal, and I personally favour burning coal here rather than exporting it to China to be burnt there.

SAINSBURY: Is he right?

PETERS: Let's get our head out of the sand here. The Bradford reforms of '98 did not work. The prices have gone through the roof. Contact Energy made 61% profit last year in one year alone, a company that acquired that generation capacity and their operations from the National Party. But here's the point here ¡ª unless you regulate against this profit gouging, up goes their salaries, up goes their profits, up goes the power pricing to all businesses and all homes in this country, and we've got to do that, and if we don't, then we should¡­ If we're not prepared to do that, then this country's gonna have one of its major competitive edges lost. We should say this ¡ª tie the power-price rises to the CPI, or the inflation index, unless you're going into power generation.

SAINSBURY: Rodney Hide, regulate?

HIDE: No, no. Regulation isn't at all¡­ Look, we're an energy-rich country, and we have got alternatives like solar and wind. Gosh, on a good day in Wellington, you feel as if you could power half the country. But what we do need to do is create the business environment in which we can have exploration, we can have development, and sadly, under Labour and the Greens, that's not happening, and it's going to get a lot worse if they ever get near the reins of power.

SAINSBURY: Helen Clark, one of the impediments, people say, is the RMA.

CLARK: Well, the RMA's about the balance. It's about seeing that everybody's interests are taken into consideration, and it's interesting you mentioned that in the context of energy, because one of the proposals around at the moment is transmission lines coming up from the central North Island to Auckland, and the RMA is there to be used by those both for and against it. Obviously, there are many farmers through the Waikato who are saying, ¡°Look, we don't think that's the answer.¡± On the other hand, we have to get power to Auckland, so we look to the RMA and the planning processes to get a good balance in the interests of the whole community.

SAINSBURY: But no one wants it in their backyard.

CLARK: Well, there's always that, but nor is that to say, Mark, that people shouldn't have their concerns represented in the planning process. If you happen to live next to where that line's going to go, you're going to want to have a say. If you live next to where a prison's going to go, you're going to want to have a say. If you're in a suburb where a mega service station's going to be set up, you're going to want to have a say. I see the Resource Management Act being about balance and letting people put their concerns out in a proper way.

SAINSBURY: Pita Sharples, let's have you have a say.

SHARPLES: Yeah, I'd like to complete my invitation to the parties here to have a cross-party parliamentary commission that would look at renewable energy sources, look at vehicle-fuel efficiency, to look at a public transport that's regular and reliable and reasonably cheap, and to set timelines for that. I don't think we're taking the fuel crisis seriously enough. It's gotta be looked at long term and immediately.

SAINSBURY: Don Brash, just back to the RMA, do you have faith in the process?

BRASH: I think the RMA needs major amendment, Mark, and we've made a commitment to make 22 changes to it. I think you're ab¡ª Helen Clark's right to say that people affected by a project need to be heard, but we had crazy situations in Auckland where they wanted to extend the Northern Motorway and someone in Coromandel objected. That's dopey. We have to change that RMA if we're going to get the kind of growth that New Zealand needs.

CLARK: Mark, can I just say on the RMA¡ª?

SAINSBURY: We will come back to you. Peter.

DUNNE: I just want to make the point on the RMA and then comment further that the changes that Don Brash has been referring to were ones that we actually promoted and achieved during the last parliament so that those sorts of silly situations will not occur in the future.

CLARK: That's right. Thank you.

DUNNE: But the real issue here is, what is going to be our energy demand moving forward and how do we manage it. And we don't manage it by telling people to moderate their usage ¨C that's a Luddite mentality. We've got riches in this country that we can exploit for energy purposes. We need to develop a comprehensive national strategy that is based around wind; it's based around small-scale hydro; it's based around thermal; it's based around coal, where that be needed to be burned here. But the notion that we can somehow say, ¡°Look, if we all just used a bit less, we'd be OK,¡± is very short term and won't work for a modern, progressive society.

SAINSBURY: In terms of the RMA, Helen Clark, I mean, people have the complaint they can't build a deck outside their house without getting caught up in the labyrinth of the RMA. How on earth is a power station going to get on?

CLARK: Mark, 95% of all resource consents go through very very smoothly indeed. 1% go to the Environment Court.

PETERS: Who told you that?

CLARK: That tells you how small a problem it is. And I find it a great irony-

PETERS: That's not correct.

CLARK: ¡­a great irony that the National Party has such a pro-development policy. It doesn't want any public interest taken into account, when their own MPs in the Clevedon area are trying to stop the transmission lines coming through.

PETERS: Mark. Mark, that's not correct.

CLARK: They want it all ways.

PETERS: She clearly doesn't know the Act. The Act, for example, does not have as a purpose sustainable development ¨C it has sustainable management. Now, you can't manage something until you've actually got it started - that's number one. It's got a whole lot of nebulous ideas at section eight. And then worst of all there are matters of national importance, but none of them are legally defined. Right there you've got huge delays which cost a fortune for the end-user as well as a developer. And it's the improper delay ¨C not fair, not reasonable. And it doesn't actually protect the climate.

SAINSBURY: Jeanette Fitzsimons, you would have issues, wouldn't you?

FITZSIMONS: Look, the RMA gets blamed for everything from acne to earthquakes. Most people don't even know what it does.

PETERS: Oh, speak for yourself.

FITZSIMONS: If you look at the Te Apiti wind farm - at the stage it was built, the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere. Hearings started on Monday, resource consent issued on Thursday. No appeal to the Environment Court. Built in less than a year. If it's a good project, it gets through the RMA really, really easily. There's no reason why- National wants to stop people having a say if they don't live right next door. Why shouldn't Jim, who lives in Christchurch, have a view on whether we let Lake Taupo get so polluted that we can't swim in it any longer? Why shouldn't I have a view about the braided rivers of the South Island, even though I live in the North?

SAINSBURY: Your view, Jim Anderton?

ANDERTON: Well, look, the obvious reality is that there are some excesses in the RMA processes. Sometimes it's the processes at a local-government level. Sometimes it's the fact that someone who has a vexatious approach to litigation appeals through to the Environment Court just to delay something. And this government has actually moved to fast-track some of those applications. And as we get closer and closer to getting applications to the Environment Court quickly, a lot of those vexatious objections fall away. But we're gonna have to continue to keep the RMA under close monitoring, as this government has done. We'll always have to have a planning act of some kind or other. It's gotta suit this generation and future generations, and the balance is always important.

SAINSBURY: But it needs improvement?

ANDERTON: Yes, it does. I agree with that. It does need improvement.

HIDE: We need to maintain and enhance our clean green image. Tourism depends on it. Our exports depend upon it. But we don't need an RMA, a resource management act, that hobbles every business in the country. This one does.

CLARK: It does not. (LAUGHS)

HIDE: And we don't need to be forgoing our ability to prosper and to grow our economy simply because we, sort of, sign up to crazy bureaucratic rules. That's a difficulty that's happening in NZ. Yes, we do need to maintain our clean green image and our clean green country, but let's not hobble ourselves and our business and our economic future in doing that.

SAINSBURY: OK, now, if we're talking about worries, there are some more to come. If we're worried about enough power, how about enough health care? How do we pay for the baby boomers about to come of age, or come of old age? That's next after the break.


SAINSBURY: Welcome back. When it comes to pressures on the economy, the ageing of the baby-boomer generation presents a big problem, especially in health, and government super. Helen Clark, I mean, there has been something like a 40% increase in spending, in terms of health, under your watch. But the increase in services has been a lot less. I mean, can we continue to meet the demand?

CLARK: Yes, we can and we must. There are basic things all New Zealanders expect the government to provide from taxes. Health care and the other issue you've raised, superannuation ¨C we have to cover those things. That's the kind of country we are. We know that public health systems which are comprehensive deliver the best for people. We don't want an Americanised system. We want our public system performing well. We've had to settle with our nurses to pay them better, because if we don't do that, we cannot keep them. We have to keep pace with the ageing population, new technology, new drugs for a quality service. But I'm absolutely committed to seeing that our people have world-class health care and world-class superannuation scheme.

SAINSBURY: But there's not a bottomless pit, is there?

CLARK: Well, we have to be wealthy enough to pay for it and because we're now managing to grow at levels which are faster than those of our counterpart countries, we're getting the wealth to do better. There's no doubt in my mind that we inherited a rather broken-down health system. The money is going in. We are getting the results.

SAINSBURY: Pita Sharples, I mean, both issues of health and of super are ones of particular importance to your people.

SHARPLES: Yeah, health is a bottom line. Health is a right not a need or anything like that. And good health¡­ Every government has to put money into health. It's from taxes, straight in. But we think that there should be a¡­ diabetes should be targeted. It's a major. 1200 people die every year of diabetes. We'd like to see the drug question tackled, that we're not really doing that - the serious drugs that are around. But what we'd like is something different ¨C wellness programmes. Instead of just curing all the time, we should be promoting wellness programmes in the community - a different approach to health.

SAINSBURY: Should there be separate or different health provision for Maori than from other groups in the community?

SHARPLES: What you do is you target the areas that need healing or else developing, so that we're all equal and share in our health. And if you can identify groups, people in groups, then you should fund that group.

SAINSBURY: I mean, Don Brash, the issue of Maori health is one that, I mean, you've come under fire for. I mean, you look at up north at the programmes set up there. Now, you've said in terms of your health policy that¨C at one stage you said they were going to stay. Now there is no guarantee.

BRASH: No, I said we could fund health on the basis of need, not on the basis of race. And, of course, we stand by that absolutely. Can I just challenge a couple points that Helen Clark made? She talked about the need for increased spending on health, and I acknowledge that, but it's important we get value for money. You talked about a 40% increase in health spending in the last few years - it's actually been 50%. We've still got 180,000 people on waiting lists, and a desperate financial crisis in aged-care facilities. Huge amounts of money. The Treasury, the OECD have both said productivity in this sector has collapsed. We need to do much better. We need to-

PETERS: I've got a copy of Helen Clark's pledge card '99. She said she was going to cut waiting times for surgery. It was then 98,000, now it's 180,000 and rising. That's the first thing. The second thing is the bureaucracy that she's put together has eaten it up. The third thing ¨C she's got Pharmac boasting that they've managed to cut their costs - 54% of Australia's and one third of the EEC. In short, the Labour Party has not kept that promise, and worse still, we've got 1329 who died on hospital waiting lists last year and women by their droves having to go to Australia for their operations. That's a disgrace in this country at the moment.

CLARK: Mark, Winston doesn't understand the difference between a waiting time and a waiting list.

PETERS: Oh no, no. Yes, I do.

CLARK: What we have done-

PETERS: Yes, I do.

CLARK: ¡­is made sure that people can get more timely treatment. We set goals of having people-

PETERS: Well, why are they dying, then?

CLARK: ¡­referred from their general practitioner to the specialist within six months-

ANDERTON: Even you will die one day, Winston.

CLARK: ¡­and we largely meet that for about 80%,

PETERS: Well, you should know, Jim.

CLARK: ¡­and then for having their operation within six months of that if they're deemed to be eligible for it. There's absolutely no doubt we're getting many tens of thousands extra operations through our public health system. And we have set clear goals for the next three years for another 10,000 hip and knee ops - more than the last three years. Another 7500-

PETERS: And 7000 cataracts.

CLARK: ¡­cataract operations. And we'll get there.

DUNNE: We need to be looking forward, rather than forever arguing about what's happened. The reality in New Zealand is we cannot continue to run two parallel health systems ¨C a public system which is stretched to overcapacity and a private system that is underutilised. What we need to do is better integrate. We need to have elective surgery funded through a special fund that could enable a lot of that routine surgery to be performed in private hospital beds, freeing up the public hospital beds for acute services. We need to review the role of Pharmac, which was designed originally to get the best drug prices New Zealanders, but which is now actually preventing New Zealanders from getting access to the medicines that they need-

SAINSBURY: Jeanette Fitzsimons, do you accept-?

DUNNE: ¡­and returning a surplus each year.

SAINSBURY: ¡­do you accept that the baby-boomer generation will be able to get the health care they want?

FITZSIMONS: The way we're going at the moment, health care of the baby-boomer generation is going to be more expensive than their super. And we've gotta deal with that now by re-orienting our health system towards prevention and early intervention and stopping people getting sick. And there's going to be some generation that has to bite the bullet and pay for both ¨C the people who are already sick and preventing the next generation from getting sick. But there's no better time to do it than now. We want every New Zealander to have a free annual wellness check. We want to spend money on diabetes prevention and early detection now to save hundreds of millions of dollars in the future. We want to tackle child obesity and diet through a nutrition unit in the health ministry.

SAINSBURY: Cuts to the health system, Dr Brash?

BRASH: Absolutely not. The National Party is committed that not one nurse, not one doctor will lose their job as a consequence of our tax cuts. Not one. Not one.

ANDERTON: I've got a challenge for Dr Brash. Two issues ¨C primary health care. Critical that people who might get even sicker if they don't get primary health when they need it. I hear everything that National say to me. There's going to be heaps of New Zealanders who have to pay a lot more money to go the GP. A lot more money to go the GP - number one. Number two ¨C the second point is this- Dr Brash is going to spend the ¡°surplus¡± we have. I know, sitting around the Cabinet table, part of that surplus is $500 million to renew, upgrade the Wellington Hospital. It's in the surplus. Dr Brash is going to give it away in tax cuts. So can he tell me how he's going to build the Wellington Hospital when he's given away the money in tax cuts?


BRASH: The tax reductions we are proposing to have will leave a surplus over the next four years, relative to GDP, bigger than the surplus Labour had in its first four years of government.

ANDERTON: You're gonna spend it twice.

BRASH: Bigger. Bigger. Bigger.

SAINSBURY: Just briefly - Rodney Hide. Health - can we afford it?

HIDE: Of course we can afford it. What we've seen is a whole lot of money go in and nothing come out the other end. And, in fact, Peter Dunne's right ¨C we should be using private sector more. We had a case of a constituent whose daughter died for want of a simple operation, under Helen Clark's government. It could have been done down the road at a private hospital. If that had happened, that young girl would still be alive today. And sadly, because of Helen Clark's ideological opposition to using the private sector, we're actually losing people on those waiting lists. We can do way much better.

SAINSBURY: We are running out of time now. I just want to go round each of you quickly for a yes-or-no answer just in terms of super, which is going to be the other drain in terms of the baby-boomer generation. Do you support the Cullen fund? Pita Sharples.

SHARPLES: I'm not too sure what the fund is, sorry.

SAINSBURY: In terms of putting aside the super fund that Dr Cullen is putting aside now to pay for super in the future. Should we be putting away money now for that fund?

SHARPLES: We have to.

SAINSBURY: Jeanette?

FITZSIMONS: We support 65% at 65. We don't think the Cullen fund is the only way to fund it. We think that we can put that into preventative health instead-

SAINSBURY: You don't support it. Jim Anderton.

ANDERTON: Absolutely. If we don't, we'll be telling people now to save for their super cos they won't be getting any.

SAINSBURY: Well, there's no point asking you, Helen.

CLARK: But can I say - essential to save now to save super for future generations.


BRASH: Yes, we support it, also. No, we support it now. And we're in a surplus more than sufficient to cover contributions to it.

SAINSBURY: Rodney Hide?

HIDE: No, we can do way much better for elderly by providing a more prosperous and stronger economy by actually returning that surplus to New Zealanders.

ANDERTON: Jobs for the 80-year-olds.

HIDE: No. Actually, I tell you what's happening -

SAINSBURY: No, no, sorry.

HIDE: ¡­I came in a cab tonight with a man that was 78 years old-

SAINSBURY: Sorry - yes or no?

HIDE: ¡­and he was still working. Stop joking.

SAINSBURY: Rodney Hide. Sorry, Peter Dunne.

DUNNE: Yeah, we supported its establishment and we continue to support it.

SAINSBURY: Winston Peters.

PETERS: Look, we've wasted 30 years since the Kirk compulsory scheme and this country, had that scheme gone ahead, would have been transformed. We made sure-

SAINSBURY: Do you support the Cullen fund?

PETERS: We made sure - NZ First - that the bill to set the fund up got through Parliament.

SAINSBURY: OK, thank you, Winston Peters. We all call ourselves New Zealanders, but what does it actually mean? That after the break.


SAINSBURY: Welcome back to our final Leaders' Debate, and we're talking nationhood.
Peter Dunne, what does it mean to be a New Zealander?

DUNNE: Oh, it's great to be a New Zealander, but what it means is that all of the cultures that make up this country, whether it be our indigenous Maori culture, our European culture, our emerging Pacific and Asian cultures, all contribute to making the unique species of being a Kiwi today. And I think that's something we need to celebrate and encourage, because what¡­ in a way this links back to the first question. In the future, our kids will be as at home in the European world as they are in the Maori world, the Pacific world and the Asian world. I think they will be uniquely equipped to proceed in the international environment, and they will be respected and recognised as Kiwis the world over. And that's just great.

SAINSBURY: Pita Sharples, are our kids home in the Maori world today?

SHARPLES: What we've gotta realise is that Maori come from here. There is no other place for Maori. This is¡­ These are their islands. The volcanic history, the Maori history, is all part of every New Zealander's history, and I think it's an indictment on our race relations that the major parties have scored hits on Maori in order to increase their popularity, but even worse, that the people have subscribed to that idea. So, for me, we've got a little way to go, in terms of coming to terms with there is a tangata whenua, there is an indigenous people.

But it doesn't mean to say they have to have special privileges ¨C just recognition of what they are and where they come from and what they mean to this place, and their values. And from there we can embrace, and we should embrace, and celebrate, the diversity that we have in our country instead of inviting people to come here, live here, and then discriminate against them. If we're gonna invite people here, let's open our arms up to them and give them full
New Zealand status.

SAINSBURY: Rodney Hide, can I ask you, I mean, we all embrace Maori language when
the national anthem's being sung at a test match, but is that where it ends?

HIDE: No, I think, actually, Pita's right. I think we should recognise that Maori were the first people here, and I was pleased that he said that he wasn't looking for special privileges --
because that's actually ACT's policy and now National's policies -- but recognition ¨C recognition that Maori were here first.


SHARPLES: Dr Brash hasn't invited me yet.

HIDE: It's actually a very very important point, because we are a people united in the love of our land, of the bush, of the mountains, of the beaches that we have, and we do get along.
We've got Maori people, we've got Chinese people, we've got European people, we've got people of many many nations coming here, and we do share a love of New Zealand, and we should celebrate that. And it's important that we recognise each other's culture, but let's not put one culture or one race above another. And that's what Pita was saying.

SAINSBURY: Winston Peters, does the different cultures coming to New Zealand,
say, under our immigration policy, does that threaten our nationhood?

PETERS: Well, I would've thought that cultures wishing to come here would see that there is an emerging culture from all this called the New Zealand way. And we used to be a very clear country about that, and we had problems, but we were getting on top of them, then all of a sudden we're flooded with so many more. It's the numbers that concerns me about it ¨C it's whether we can handle that downstream, as other countries haven't been able to handle it.

But let's face it ¨C we used to all know what being a New Zealander was, but these days we've got so much political extremism from within Parliament that people don't know whether they're Arthur or Martha. There's a cross-dressing bill in Parliament right now ¨C true. There's
a transgender cross-dressing bill in Parliament, and this bill says--

HIDE: (LAUGHS) Just because you're confused!

PETERS: ¡­that if I was to come sort of on a cross-dressing occasion to school, as a teacher, I can't be sacked.

HIDE: Well, I look forward to the day.

PETERS: No, no, that's what's happening here.

SAINSBURY: Now, Pita Sharples, can I ask you, in terms of new peoples coming here, how does that affect our sense of who we are in sense of the New Zealand and in sense of the Maori identity?

SHARPLES: Well, in terms of the Maori Party's policy on this, we believe that we should sit down and invite who we want in the country, both on need, but also on, like, our Pacific neighbours and people like that. Now, once you invite them here, you must embrace them, otherwise, what are you doing? We've gotta go forward as a country.

PETERS: Pita. Are Maori part of the Crown?

SHARPLES: That's not the point.

PETERS: It is the point.

SHARPLES: No, it isn't. The point¡ª

PETERS: Are Maori part of the Crown or not?

SHARPLES: The point is that Maori have their own kaupapa of kotahitanga ¨C being together ¨C manaaki tanga ¨C to look after people and embrace.

PETERS: We can't be one country if you're not part of the Crown with the rest of us.

ANDERTON: Mark. Mark. Can we just say this? Can I say this to Pita? This is Maori's place. They know their place. This is their home. Can I just say to Pita, his people came from somewhere else ¨C I'm not gonna get into the argument of where they came from ¨C but they came from somewhere else.

PETERS: China.

ANDERTON: No, I thought you came from China, Winston.

PETERS: Well, I did. 5000 years ago.

ANDERTON: That's what I can't understand.

HIDE: They shouldn't have let you in, Winston.

PETERS: That is China. It was China.

HIDE: They should not have let you in.

PETERS: A lot of people are happy they did.

ANDERTON: What I wanted to say to Pita is that this is the place for me too, and the place for all sorts of other people¡ª

SHARPLES: That's right. It is.

ANDERTON: My ancestors came from Ireland here. I stood in the Cathedral Square three years ago welcoming home the 2 /1st battalion of the New Zealand Army from East Timor. There was an empty rank on the front for Private Leonard Manning. The battalion did the battalion haka. Half the soldiers were Maori, at least, some were Pacific Island, many were European New Zealanders. You couldn't tell the difference in passion between any of them. The hairs on the back of your head stood up. You knew you were a Ngati Kiwi. This was the Kiwi culture ¨C this is us ¨C and we should be very proud of that. And we're all part of it, and I want New Zealand to be inclusive in that and everybody feels good about that.

SHARPLES: Nobody would disagree with that.

SAINSBURY: OK. Jeanette Fitzsimons, Jim Anderton raised the point that even Maori-- everyone in this country were at one stage immigrants, so does it matter where we come from?

FITZSIMONS: I think the issue, Mark, is culture and background. Part of being a
New Zealander is celebrating the treaty between two peoples with two cultures but so much to learn from each other and so many ways of working together for our future.
But it's also about proudly standing up in the world with independence -- not having to kowtow to other countries and fight in their wars for oil; it's about celebrating being the first country to give votes for women and to be nuclear-free and to have a social-security legislation; it's about identifying with the kauri and the kokako and protecting those for our kids; it's about a number eight wire mentality that gets stuck in and does things; sporting people who value
a fair go; and, more and more, seeing ourselves in our own books and theatre and music that is specifically New Zealand.

SAINSBURY: Don Brash, listening to, particularly, Pita Sharples here tonight, do you still believe that we are drifting towards racial separatism?

BRASH: I'm very encouraged by what Pita said, Mark, to be frank. I found myself agreeing with a great deal of what he said¡ª

SHARPLES: I might get invited to conferences.

BRASH: But I'm very concerned---


SAINSBURY: Encouraged enough to do a deal?

BRASH: Well, I worry that we started over the last six years with separate Maori seats -- we've had those almost 140 years -- we now have separate Maori wards in local government, we have separate Maori representation at district health boards and primary health organisations. That's the trend I worry about. I want every New Zealander ¨C Maori, Pacific Islander, Asian, European descent ¨C to have the same rights, and I'm delighted that Pita Sharples agrees with that.

HIDE: New Zealanders have mixed well together¡ª

SAINSBURY: Sorry, Rodney, we are running short on time in this section, but there's gonna be time in the next one. I wanna ask all of you¡ª

CLARK: You haven't actually asked me that question.

SAINSBURY: I know, but there will be plenty of time to make up. I just wanna ask each of you one question, and that is, in terms of the Maori seats, are you committed to keeping them?

SHARPLES: Totally committed. Yes.

FITZSIMONS: Yes, until Maori want to get rid of them.

ANDERTON: Same for me.

CLARK: It is a question for Maori. Maori should make that choice.

BRASH: I want to abolish them.

HIDE: It's a question for all New Zealanders, and they should go.


SAINSBURY: Peter Dunne?

STUDIO AUDIENCE MEMBER: Rodney has spoken!

SAINSBURY: Peter Dunne ¨C yes/no on the Maori seats?

DUNNE: What we should be doing is starting a process of dialogue about what the future for those seats should be, but not making any definitive decisions until Maori have had their say as well.

SAINSBURY: Winston Peters.

PETERS: Look, we've got six people with Maori in their background in our caucus¡ª

SAINSBURY: Would you keep the Maori seats?

PETERS: No, no, hang on¡ª

SAINSBURY: No, no, this¡ªSorry. We¡ª

PETERS: No, no, no, it is not that easy. Look, it's not that easy.

SAINSBURY: Well, we're gonna have to come back after the break.

PETERS: No, let me tell you why.

SAINSBURY: No, no, I'm sorry, but back after the break.

PETERS: Excuse me.

SAINSBURY: Sorry, no, Winston, we have to go on.

PETERS: Unfair, Mark.

SAINSBURY: After the break, civil unions, prostitution, smoking in bars, the drinking age, marijuana legislation, the government and our private lives ¨C next.


SAINSBURY: It's caused pamphlet drops and no end of debate amongst ourselves ¨C the impact a government has on our personal lives. Rodney Hide, can we start with you? Does the government have any business in the bedrooms of the nation?

HIDE: No, I don't think it has, and I think the difficulty that we've had with Helen Clark's government is it's just got too bossyboots, telling us what we can and can't do. And you see that everywhere you go. I mean, you have a cigar bar and you can't go in¨C Like, you know what's gonna happen in a cigar bar, right? People are gonna smoke. You can't go in there, have a brandy, have a cigar ¨C you've gotta sort of have your drink inside and your smoke outside. How ridiculous is that in New Zealand?

SAINSBURY: Have you become a bossyboots, Helen Clark?

CLARK: I believe in people having the maximum personal freedom consistent with other people's rights not being jumped on. And, frankly, if you go into a restaurant to eat and you're smoked over, that is bad for your health, and if you're an asthmatic, it can be absolutely crippling.

HIDE: But you don't have to go into a cigar bar.

CLARK: So in the public health interest, we have to deal with these issues.

HIDE: But you can have a cigar bar, Mark. People don't go into a cigar bar¡ª They know what's going on there ¨C people are gonna be smoking. And that's where Helen Clark's gone overboard. There should be a provision that you can have bars where someone can sit and have a drink and have a smoke. In a free society¡ª

CLARK: Most New Zealanders don't agree with you, Rodney.

HIDE: In a free society people can do things that I disagree with, that I wouldn't do. I don't smoke, but I don't have an objection to having a cigar bar in Auckland where people could go and have a smoke and have a drink, but we can't.

SAINSBURY: But we can't drive a dangerous car or do something to harm people.

HIDE: That's right, but what's the harm of someone having a smoke inside in a cigar bar? Helen Clark still allows them to have a smoke at home. Maybe next year that'll be the thing that'll get changed if she's in power.

ANDERTON: 4700 people in New Zealand die every year from tobacco. It's about time we took it seriously, and this government has. And many people agree with it.

CLARK: And how about the people who work in these bars? They're entitled to heath and safety as well, and their health and safety is now protected.

SAINSBURY: If we look at the other legislation, though, that's come in, Peter Dunne, you voted against the prostitution and civil unions changes, but you did vote to maintain the ability to smoke in bars under certain conditions and to keep the drinking age at 18. Is it only that freedoms count in one area and not others?

DUNNE: No, I think my approach ¨C and they were personal votes, not party votes ¨C my approach has always been to do things that work. I voted for the measures that you've described because I didn't think¡­ Sorry, I voted in favour of the things you've described because I didn't actually think the alternative was going to work.

But I think the bigger issue here is we have a society that is becoming increasingly polarised because it's seen a range of these measures over the years being imposed by very narrow votes in Parliament, with divided public opinion. What I want to see is a situation where if a bill of that type ¨C a conscience measure ¨C passes Parliament with less than the support of 60% of the Members of Parliament, it then is automatically referred to a referendum. That referendum, to be binding, would have to be supported by 60% of the population, and 60% of the turnout would have to also occur.

SAINSBURY: Should it be a referendum, Winston Peters? Do you think things have gone too far?

PETERS: Well, you've obviously seen our referendum policy. We believe in binding referendum. But the real point is, look, the last 30 years has seen a huge erosion from successive governments into people's lives where the government should not be. But one thing I don't want to let slide by, and that's this ¨C the Maori seats are important, and I'll tell you why. No, I'll tell you why. We're out to prove that the Maori seats are not necessary, but don't just go and take it off them ¨C demonstrate under MMP that they no longer need them.

SAINSBURY: OK, but back now to what we're discussing¡ª

PETERS: No, no. I'd rather talk about something that is fundamentally important to peaceful race relations in this country.

SAINSBURY: I know you might rather talk about it, but this is what we need to get through in this section. Do you believe we've gone too far in terms of the social legislation ¨C in terms of the prostitution reform¡ª?

PETERS: Oh, far too far. Look, the Prostitution Law Reform Bill was anything but a reform. Helen Clark and her colleagues were warned that there were gonna be young girls on our streets, that the police couldn't handle it, they'd be out in the suburbs. All those things have happened, and they're out there now with Mr Barnett, wishing to have more liberal views, which the New Zealand people don't want, don't need and should've been asked in a binding referendum. If ever you're gonna have temporarily empowered politicians making the decision, you're gonna get this sort of social disaster.

SAINSBURY: Don Brash, is there something wrong with liberal views?


SAINSBURY: I mean, you're a liberal on some issues.

BRASH: In many respects I am. I voted for the Prostitution Reform Bill, as you may know. Why did I do that? I don't like prostitution, I have to say. I think it's a terrible social evil. But prior to its passage, men who bought sex were not committing a criminal act, but women who offered themselves for sex for money were. And I thought that was a double standard I didn't approve of.

SAINSBURY: Do you regret that vote or do you stand by?

BRASH: Uh, no, I do not. Most of my colleagues did, in fact, vote against it. It's a conscience vote in the National Party, and I respect that.

PETERS: What did they think?

SAINSBURY: You're nodding in agreement here, Helen Clark.

CLARK: It's one thing I absolutely agree with Dr Brash on. Like Don, I find prostitution absolutely abhorrent, but like Dr Brash, I was motivated by wanting to have some more health and safety around what is an abhorrent profession. And the way the law worked was very discriminatory: the client got off scot-free; the person offering the client the service could end up in jail.

SAINSBURY: One thing I think you do agree with Jim Anderton on is the possible return of the drinking age to 20.

CLARK: I've always been quite conservative on alcohol issues, I have to say, and I voted for the bill¡ª

SAINSBURY: But it's a big issue for you, isn't it, Jim Anderton?

ANDERTON: Yes, it is, and I just listen to Peter Dunne. I read a piece of research in the last few days by international researchers, including researchers in New Zealand, on the lowering of the drinking age in New Zealand. It is quite clear now that we are going to have hundreds of young people between 15 and 19 die on our roads, and thousands who are actually going to be seriously injured, because of the lowering of the drinking age. I might say, however, I'm waiting for the cheque in the mail. If Don Brash got half a million dollars from the Exclusive Brethren for voting for the Prostitution Law Reform, I'd expect to get at least a million for voting against it.

BRASH: Mark, Mark, Mark. Mark, that is an outrageous allegation which is totally without foundation.


CLARK: I think it was a joke, Don. I think it was a joke. (LAUGHS)

BRASH: But it's not a funny joke.

ANDERTON: I thought it was very funny.

BRASH: Helen Clark made an allegation of that sort today, and it's simply not true.

SAINSBURY: Jeanette Fitzsimons, marijuana. You're going to¡­ I mean, part of your party's policy is to at least decriminalise that. I mean, a lot of people would see things are just going too far.

FITZSIMONS: Marijuana ought to be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal issue. The problem with it at the moment is the black market and the gangs and the crime that goes with it. Our approach is, provide the health services, provide the education services and you'll prevent the abuse that's happening now. Prohibition is giving us all the problems that young people are having at the moment. Removing prohibition won't make it worse. Anyone who wants to smoke is doing it now, but they're not doing it with any guidance or any health care or any education.

SAINSBURY: Is that issue gonna hurt you, do you think, this election?

FITZSIMONS: I don't know. We stand up for it because it's right, not because we think it will get us or lose us votes.


SHARPLES: The Maori Party is against all of those drugs, because, like, the tinny houses now are selling P. You know? There's no marijuana, so they sell P, and you know what, P is the worst drug we've ever had, but I'd like to talk about this question from a different viewpoint. I think that government has got into our homes in a major way by creating a kind of dependency on a whole lot of benefits and handouts and stuff like that, and to me, we should really look at unbundling all that. We've gone overboard ¨C successive governments. We've led the world in social policy, but we've gone on and on and on, and now there's almost a benefit for everything. I think we've got to unbundle that money and those benefits and give the responsibility back to the people.

SAINSBURY: On that note, we do have to move on. We'll be back after the break to talk about this campaign ¨C how it's gone and what might happen when the results are finally known.


SAINSBURY: Well, just like this election campaign, we are heading towards the end, so we want to now look at how straight this contest has been, and how it might all end up between our eight leaders here. Winston Peters, you've seen probably more elections than most. Has this one been dirty?

PETERS: Well, it's been dirty, it's been unseemly, it's been irresponsible, and I've never seen such a spending binge in my time in politics. And I fear, really, that, having seen it before, that when it comes up at the end of the election and we find out what the true state of affairs is, that a lot of people who have been led to believe promises will be thoroughly disappointed. That's sad. And that's the reason why we're not going into government with either Labour or National. We'd prefer to sit on the cross-benches and keep them honest and ensure that the fundamental things we stand for become the reality by our hard work in the cross-benches. I just¡ª

SAINSBURY: No matter what they offered you?

PETERS: No matter what they offer, because I have seen promises in this campaign where one party spent the bank, having said back in the May budget that there was no money available; 67 cents chewing gum taxation for the ordinary worker; where low wages, whatever these people promise, will still be, if the worker gets it, $10 an hour ¨C minimum wage ¨C and worse still, the key driver for recovery, business taxes, are not even addressed by Labour or National. Therefore¡ª

BRASH: Hold on. 30% from National.

PETERS: Let me finish off. They are not addressed by Labour or National for 2006, 2007, and maybe in 2008, but given what he's promised elsewhere, the key people that matter, workers and business, have been left out.

SAINSBURY: OK. Helen Clark, you, I think, have said during this campaign that you think it has been a dirty campaign.

CLARK: Oh, I think there's been some amazing things going on. I think the involvement of the Exclusive Brethren has got the country on the edge of its chair thinking, ¡°How could this happen?¡± You know, they did not declare their involvement; I'm afraid Dr Brash didn't declare the involvement he'd had with them; I think it's added a whole new dimension to the campaign.

SAINSBURY: But lots of groups would contribute to Labour ¨C we've seen, you know, the nurses are a big contributor in terms of the last election; a lot of the unions were contributing¡ª

CLARK: Yeah. In 1916, the Labour Party was formed with support from unions; it's an
upfront, transparent relationship. It wouldn't be a surprise that they give us support. What was different about the Exclusive Brethren were that they kept it secret, Dr Brash kept it secret, and it's all out there for the public to see at this time.


SAINSBURY: Does Winston Peters have a point?

PETERS: Who paid for this?

CLARK: That comes out of the Parliamentary leaders' budget.

PETERS: Oh, look, there you go.

CLARK: Yes. Winston¡ª Winston¡ª

HIDE: The taxpayer.

CLARK: Winston, just like I have seen large hoardings from you¡ª

PETERS: No, sorry.

CLARK: ¡­large hoardings from the National Party¡ª

PETERS: That's party fund-raising money¡ª


CLARK: Don, I have with me, Don, a superannuation letter sent last week by your superannuation spokesperson, on the Parliamentary crest, which contains an untruth. It contains an untruth.

HIDE: The reality is this. People can spend their money ¨C even though Helen Clark doesn't like it ©¤ they can spend their money how they choose. It would appear that no laws have been broken here, and, I mean, what is wrong with it? Helen Clark's spending taxpayers' money that half the country doesn't, you know, agree with¡ª

CLARK: So do you, Rodney.

HIDE: ¡­on that pledge card, but she's upset when New Zealanders go out and spend their own money. What's wrong with that?

CLARK: Well, what is wrong is the secrecy.

SAINSBURY: Sorry. Dr Brash.

BRASH: This election, we've been accused of being a tool of the Americans, the Australians, the Roundtable, ACT and now the Exclusive Brethren. The policy of the National Party is made by National Party Members of Parliament and approved by the National Party board in the interests of all New Zealanders. And no one else.

SAINSBURY: Was¡ª I mean, you look at this issue which has broken today. Should you have been more upfront in terms of what the Exclusive Brethren were doing?

BRASH: I was absolutely upfront. On Tuesday morning, I was asked, ¡°Was this pamphlet put out by the National Party?¡± I said absolutely not, despite the fact that both Labour and the Greens said it was to do with the National Party, we had no involvement at all. I was also asked, ¡°Did I know who it was put it out?¡± And the only time I'd seen that pamphlet was when Rod Donald showed it to me like that¡­ (WAVES HAND) at a chance meeting in Rotorua.

SAINSBURY: So you think Helen Clark owes you an apology?

BRASH: I did not know¡ª I did not know¡ª

CLARK: Oh, Mark, very hard to believe that when this issue¡ª

BRASH: Excuse me, Mark. I did not know on Tuesday morning who put that out.

CLARK: Well, Mark, this was on television on Saturday night. Dr Brash is the leader of a political party. I find it absolutely unbelievable that he didn't watch that item, get briefed on it, ask what the story was. I've read the interview¡ª

PETERS: Hang on, Mark, I know something here.

CLARK: ¡­with his finance spokesperson, Mr Key, from this morning on Linda Clark's show, where Mr Key said they have a phone conference every day and they discuss what's coming up. Did they never discuss it? I don't believe it.

PETERS: This is a bit rich. This is a bit rich. You've got Speedgate down in Timaru, you've got Paintergate, but I would ask Dr Brash this question, because if they want to put integrity on the line, it's a pretty significant matter. But I want to ask Dr Brash this ¨C why would you go and see someone who doesn't vote? A month from the election?

BRASH: Mark, these people came to see me and said they were fed up with a lousy government in this country, and I said so am I, so am I, and they said of course we can't vote; I said OK, I can't make you vote ¨C I'm sorry you don't vote ¨C and they said, ¡°We're going to campaign against them.¡± I said, ¡°Fantastic.¡± As lots of other people do.

ANDERTON: Mark, here's something about¡ª we're on to Exclusive Brethren, let's just go down this path. I met with the Exclusive Brethren in my electorate in the year 2000. They wanted me to support them to discriminate against non-'Christians like them' in the workplace. That's what they wanted. I said no, this is New Zealand, not some kind of religious state, and I didn't get half a million dollars worth of campaigning funds for me, so what did Don Brash actually indicate to the Exclusive Brethren that got him that sort of support? I would like to know that.

SAINSBURY: We are¡ª I want to come to you, Peter Dunne, but we are running out of time. Peter Dunne¡ª

DUNNE: This is all very interesting, but it's not actually helping inform the voters' choice for next Saturday, and I thought that was what this section of this discussion was to be about ¨C what would the shape of the government be after people have voted next Saturday.


DUNNE: Well, I think that the¡ª the first thing is, people will cast their votes. We've said that the party that wins the largest number of seats has the first right to attempt to form a government, and if our numbers are critical to that process, we're prepared to enter into negotiations to that effect. But we've got some bottom lines we want to see addressed, and there's two of them that I'd like to discuss with Helen Clark at some stage.

SAINSBURY: Peter, we know you have bottom lines, but we also are running very short of time. Rodney Hide, are you gonna be here?

HIDE: Absolutely. Absolutely. The ACT¡ª I am going to win the Epsom seat, we are gonna get over the 5%, and we are gonna defeat the Labour/Green coalition government©¤

CLARK: Dream on, Rodney.

HIDE: ¡­and we are gonna have a National-led government, because that's what New Zealanders want. They are sick of being overtaxed; they are sick of the breakdown of law and order in our country¡ª

CLARK: Bye-bye. Bye-bye.

HIDE: ¡­they are sick of Helen Clark, and they want a change.

SAINSBURY: Don Brash, do you feel as confident tonight as you felt at the start of the campaign?

BRASH: Absolutely. I'm confident that National can be the largest single party in the Parliament, and I'm very comfortable talking to any one of the parties on this table ¨C this group ¨C who share our values.

SAINSBURY: Well, if you're gonna talk to Rodney Hide, you're probably gonna need to help him in Epsom. Are you willing to do that?

BRASH: We're not proposing deals with anybody, but we're happy to talk to parties which are happy to help with us.

SAINSBURY: So you're ruling out¡ª?

HIDE: Don't worry, Don, your people are helping me in Epsom. It's fantastic.

SAINSBURY: You're ruling out tonight a deal in Epsom?

BRASH: We're not doing a deal in Epsom or Tauranga or anywhere else.

PETERS: I'd never ask you for a deal in Tauranga. We're gonna win easily there.

BRASH: I'm just confirming the fact that¡ª

PETERS: Well, don't make that sort of statement.

SAINSBURY: Jeanette Fitzsimons, I will come to you. Jeanette, for you, I mean, the time is getting shorter and shorter. You're looking at potentially a deal with Labour if, between you, you get the numbers. Can that work?

FITZSIMONS: Yes, it can, because any arrangement that we make after the election will be based on policy, not on personalities, and because Helen and I have worked together before and we know that we can trust each other's word.

SAINSBURY: Do you want to be in coalition?

FITZSIMONS: That depends on what the voters deliver and what the options are. We are willing to go into coalition if that's the best option, but I am sick of all the discussion about what's gonna be in your next pay packet in this election. I am sick of tax cuts. I'm asking New Zealanders to look a little bit above their calculators at what sort of society we're creating for the future, because that is more important.

SAINSBURY: Pita Sharples, I think you've made some new friends here.

SHARPLES: We're the new team on the block, or you might like to say cab on the rank, and I definitely am not likely to be invited for coffee down the road, so what I'd like to say is, the Maori Party stands for an independent voice, and if that means we have to stay in opposition, we'll do so. On the other hand, if we're invited to go into any sort of arrangement with anyone else, we will take it back and we'll be back within six days with an answer.

SAINSBURY: Just briefly ©¤ and I'll come to you in a second, Helen Clark ¨C have you, Don Brash, changed your mind in terms of any other potential coalition partners here after tonight's discussion? You and Pita Sharples¡ª

BRASH: I've been impressed by some of the things Pita Sharples has said, but I have to say that the difference between us on things like the Maori seats is so fundamental, I can't quite see how we could do a deal. I was interested in Winston Peters' question to him, does he see Maori as part of the Crown? If the answer to that is no, it seems to me an insuperable obstacle between the Maori Party and the National Party.

SAINSBURY: Helen Clark, in our first debate, you said they'd be last cab off the rank. Is the rank dwindling? I mean, may you still have to start looking towards them now?

CLARK: I know, Mark, that I can form a strong government with the people who have supported us to form a government before. That's Jim Anderton and his party, Peter Dunne and his party, and Jeanette and her party. I know we can offer strong, stable government, and I have the experience to lead that government.

SAINSBURY: Now, I've got one final question for you, and I'll start with you, actually, Helen Clark. Would your departure from power, or politics, be a loss to the country? Or how would it be?

CLARK: That is for the country to judge.

SAINSBURY: Jim Anderton?

ANDERTON: You'd have to ask the people of Wigram. They seem to think I'm not too bad down there.

SAINSBURY: Jeanette Fitzsimons? I mean, if the Greens were not in a position to form a government, what would be the loss to the country, do you think?

FITZSIMONS: If the Greens were not in a position to have influence on policy, there would be a huge loss to New Zealand. My departure from politics wouldn't be, because the Green movement doesn't depend on me.

SAINSBURY: Pita Sharples? I mean, I suppose, why do we need you there?

SHARPLES: Well, because we'll bring a new New Zealand. We'll take us to a new place in race relations ¨C a good place.

SAINSBURY: Don Brash, you've got a lot at stake this election. I mean, you said, I think, when you came to power, that it would be hard for you to keep your job if you didn't win. What would we have lost if you lose?

BRASH: Well, I don't think it's a question of what we would lose if I personally lost, but we would lose a great deal if the National Party was not the next government. Because, quite frankly, we're the only party which can plausibly establish an alternative government which will offer New Zealanders less tax and a single country with a good education system.

SAINSBURY: Rodney Hide?

HIDE: Oh, I don't think it's about Rodney Hide. It's about having the principles that ACT stands for in our Parliament.

SAINSBURY: But what do you bring to our Parliament?

HIDE: Oh, we actually bring the principles of individual freedom and personal responsibility. And we actually hold governments to account, and we actually put forward a positive vision for New Zealand, and that's what's important for our Parliament and for New Zealand, and to be quite frank, we need our party vote to ensure that we have a National-led government, not a Labour/Green one.

SAINSBURY: Peter Dunne? If you are not in the mix after this election, what have we lost?

DUNNE: Helen Clark and Don Brash have both acknowledged tonight the role that United Future plays with regard to family policies. I think that would be missing if we weren't in the mix. Whether Peter Dunne is there or not is immaterial.

SAINSBURY: I can't believe this ¨C Winston Peters, you're gonna get the last word again, so please keep this brief. What would be the loss if you were not back in Parliament?

PETERS: Well, look, the system, the Establishment and politics needs a watchdog, and it needs someone to keep it honest, and I've done that. But more particularly, if we were to not be there after this election, then the next government will be either a government of extremes of the left or the far right. That's what's good about this.

SAINSBURY: OK. Thank you all very much. We'll see, obviously, in about 10 days' time, just what part of the mix that will be. That's it for the final leaders' debate on One. Don't forget, you can read a full transcript of this debate on our website,, tomorrow ¨C the keyword is ¡°decision 05¡±. Thanks for watching, thank you to our audience, and thank you to our eight leaders for joining us. Goodnight.

Transcripts are copyright to TVNZ and may contain errors. Transcripts should be checked against a copy of the programme to ensure accuracy.

© Scoop Media

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