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Agenda Trancript - Don Brash 12 August 2006

AGENDA
12/08/06


LYN EYB – Group Managing Editor TNT Magazine (London)
DON BRASH --- Leader of the Opposition (NZ)
Interviewed by LISA OWEN

LISA With disruptions delays and fears for their safety making air travel less palatable for many passengers the travel industry is bracing itself for the economic fallout, but just how bad is it likely to be. Lyn Eyb is the Group Managing Editor for TNT Magazine, a travel weekly written specifically for Australians, South Africans and New Zealanders based in London, Lyn Eyb joins me now.

Can you tell me you're a bit of a globe trotter yourself Lyn you’ve travelled a lot, what's the situation been like at Heath Row say in the last 24 hours, paint a picture for us.

LYN EYB – Group Managing Editor TNT Magazine

It's been pretty busy Lisa as you'd expect as we just heard there with the extra security checks, happening all across the airport essentially from check in right through to boarding there are extra security checks across the airport, people are obviously limited with what they can take on the aeroplanes, there have been large delays yesterday in London, 70, 80% of flights were cancelled they were only letting aeroplanes land at the airport, they're running out of space to park the planes so it's been quite a manic situation. Things are slowly returning to normal now but as you can see from Auckland planes are still late coming in because of the additional security measures.

LISA How do you think travellers are coping with this and in particular how is it going to affect the likes of Kiwi travellers?

LYN I think generally speaking Lisa Kiwi travellers are fairly resilient, I think after September 11 there was a huge shock value attached to travel and then the July 7 bombings here in London last year, and now this is sort of a third heavy blow for UK travel if you like in respect of terrorism and I think New Zealand travellers as well as Australian travellers are quite resilient and young people will always go on their big OE, I think they're now becoming accustomed to having to factor this sort of thing into their travels.

LISA So what they’ll take different routes to avoid perhaps places like America where it's anticipated security checks are going to be even tighter?

LYN Possibly, our journalists on the ground yesterday speaking to the guys taking off and waiting for flights and being inconvenienced at Heathrow were saying that there was a general acceptance that yes this has happened it's unfortunate but it was a matter of minimising the inconvenience for them, that could mean that instead of flying via LISA or via the States they’ll choose to fly via South America or via South East Asia where the security checks at the other end potentially are a little less stringent because their destinations are perceived to be a little lees dangerous.

LISA How are the airlines themselves coping are they doing a good job, are some doing better than others?

LYN I think generally speaking they're all coping, as I say a lot of this was put into practice last year with the July 7 bombings, even though that was an underground and a railway network attack, the airports at that time did put a lot of additional security measures in place just in case it did have a knock on effect, so I think the security system here in the UK is becoming quite accustomed to dealing with this sort of thing at short notice. Airlines yes they're handling it in different ways depending on the routes they're taking a lot of short haul flights into Europe have also been affected and that’s obviously having a knock on effect, they're just asking travellers and passengers generally to be patient and to check websites and travel advisories to ensure that they're not affected as much as they perhaps could be.

LISA What do you think it's going to mean generally for the travel industry though because you were there during 9/11 and also during the July bombings, post 9/11 some of the airlines went right to the wire what is the travel industry expecting there?

LYN I think it's a wait and see, I think for the moment as I said before I think people are quite resilient now and they're becoming accustomed to having to deal with this sort of thing. I think as far as New Zealand tourism is concerned you must remember that New Zealand is a still overwhelmingly popular destination with Brits, the 100% Pure New Zealand campaign here for instance worked a treat, it was very very popular and Brits still see it as an ideal destination, however I think a lot of work will have to be done with the airlines flying to New Zealand and within the tourism industry itself to remind people of the advantages of going to New Zealand and to make that journey as hassle free as possible, it's not a pleasant thought and as an Australian myself sitting here contemplating going home to visit my family and sitting on a 20, 30 hour journey without a book and without an ipod and that’s the situation facing a lot of travellers at the moment, so I really do think the airlines need to consider the situation and the travel tourism bodies as well and make this sort of journey and the decision to go to New Zealand as easy as possible for the British public.

LISA Well you mentioned there LYN that you yourself are contemplating travelling again, do you have any feelings of nervousness or fear?

LYN At this point Lisa no, if anything as horrendous as the last 24 hours, 48 hours have obviously been given the huge ramifications that this sort of terrorism activity could have lead to, in a way I think a lot of people the feedback we're getting as well are quite reassured by the fact that the security services here and MI5 and the government have been quite proactive and been on top of this for the last 12 months have had information relating to this situation and they have been following it and they have been tracking it so there seems to be a huge improvement in the security information coming through from the government certainly as opposed to a situation like last year's bombings where it slipped through the net and in September 11 where nothing was known about it, so I think there is a confidence growing here that actually the security services are getting on top of these issues and the increased security at airports could lead to a lot more of these situations being averted in the future.

LISA What's your feeling on how long people are going to be subjected to these extra security measures, I mean post 9/11 you still can't take your knitting needles and your scissors on board those things have stayed with us, is this going to stay with us as well?

LYN I'm not sure yet, there are mixed reports coming out of London at the moment, a lot of the airlines and the airport sources are telling us that it'll only be an interim measure, weeks potentially a few months and then they’ll have to for reasons of practicality go back to a little bit more of a normal situation, however most people do agree that airline travel has probably changed now and we won't know it like we previously have, the not being able to take bottled water on to the aeroplanes, not being able to take liquid fluids, that sort of thing looks like it might remain but realistically speaking as I said I don’t think the airlines can expect people to put up with a 20 and a 30 hours journey without taking a book on to the aeroplane, that’s just not a practical scenario to be in and certainly a lot of the European airlines in fact the socalled low cost airlines they make passengers buy food and drink on board the aircraft. That is all going to have to change because you can't expect people to take a flight and then fork out a further two three four five pounds for a bottle of water, so I think it's going to lead to a big re-evaluation for the airline industry in general and work out what long term is in the best interests of the passengers.

LISA Alright, thank you very much Lyn Eyb joining us there live from London.

*********

LISA Well this morning we're talking about the foiled terrorist plot in the UK and bringing our panel into the discussion now. Bernard Hickey what do you think this is going to mean for the aviation industry, I mean we did see some hiccups with airlines post 9/11 some of them went right to the wire, do you expect to see the same kind of thing?

BERNARD HICKEY – Managing Editor, Fairfax
No, I think the key thing to come out of the early discussion was the world resilience and that’s something that the airline industry despite the dramas of 9/11 have recovered in the whole. The American airlines most of them went into bankruptcy and most of them are now out of that bankruptcy and also the great thing with this is that it was caught before it happened, it may have been a different story if those eight planes had blown up over the Atlantic, but it's quite interesting how the airline industry has recovered and strengthened. In the first year after 9/11 there was a drop off of a third in the amount of air travel but that’s bounced well back and above where it was pre 9/11. There's been a boom industry over the last couple of decades, the whole tourism travel industry and also the growth of no frills airlines which has just been phenomenal, so I wouldn’t expect that this would really hurt the airline industry in the same way that 9/11 would but it is going to increase those costs on the ground and it's gonna mean that you're gonna have more of those nasty little charges which now seem to cost almost as much as the flight itself.

LISA So is cheap airline travel do we think that that’s a thing of yesteryear now that we've got this because already the companies that manage Heathrow and Stanstead are saying the cost of the extra baggage handlers, the cost of the extra security is going to be passed on to you when you buy your plane ticket.

BERNARD It will cost more but the real problem for the airline industry right now is actually increase in fuel costs, they’ve increased their costs by almost a third in the last year or so and that’s going to hurt a lot more than some of these charges, the other thing is that with increased efficiency of airlines, the increased volumes that are out there and we're only still scratching the surface of no frills, we reported this week in the Independent Financial Review that even in the United States where the no frills airline sector has been going for nearly two decades, only 45% of flights are on those no frills airlines and in Asia it's less than 10% so there is still a lot of room for those no frills airlines to grow, even in this part of the world and when that happens prices will fall and people will use the internet more to buy their flights, so yes the costs on the ground will increase but the costs of the actual flight will continue to fall.

LISA Chris Trotter can I bring you in here, let's look at the politics of this, George Bush was very quick to jump on it making some very strong comments, what do you make of that because there's been a lot of adverse publicity about Iraq, is this his opportunity to kind of turn around the press?

CHRIS TROTTER – Political Commentator
Well I mean it was such an audacious plot and it would have been so extraordinarily tragic if it hadn’t been detected and foiled by MI5, I think the United States President given that it was his country really that was being targeted along with Great Britain had to make a statement, but really I mean to the people who planned this you have to give a kind of perverse credit because you know they’ve fulfilled one of the great precepts of Sun Soo's Art of War they have cost their enemy a tremendous amount without actually having struck a blow, because you know I take on board what Bernard has said that this has cost Britain and America millions and millions and millions of dollars just the threat has been enough to cause huge damage.

LISA It's going to cost them more though isn't it, I was there during the July 7 bombings, the minute they use the word Muslim and connection with something attacks on Muslims went up 600%, what do you see in terms of that for say the UK and attitudes towards people who come from the same groups that these guys so.

CHRIS Well in a way there a strange timing to this, if you were cynical you would say it could hardly have come at a better time for the United States and Great Britain, because they’ve been under tremendous international pressure for their backing of Israel and its actions in Lebanon and this of course once again diverts the public's attention on to what George Bush calls Islamic fascism, Islamic fundamentalist religious zealotry, whatever you want to call it, and in a sense justifies or in the public's mind balances some of the terrible scenes that we've seen coming out of the Middle East.

LISA Thank you very much to our panel.

LISA Well according to a draft Auditor General's report virtually every party in parliament is guilty of unlawful election spending, the National Party's paid up the ten and a half thousand dollars it has said to have spent unlawfully on campaigning and says Labour should do the same, this apparently moral stand comes in the same week Don Brash had also drawn a line in the sand over his party's political direction. The National leader has made it clear he's not prepared to compromise even if it costs him the leadership. Don Brash joins me now.

Can we start with the Auditor General's report Dr Brash I mean what's your interpretation of that report, in electioneering when should the public purse pay, when should the private purse pay?

DON BRASH – Leader, National
Well let me go back a second, after the 2002 election a multi party committee reviewed the rules about what money could be spent from the taxpayer on electioneering and in November 2003 the Speaker indicated that there were certain things which could not be paid for by the taxpayers' funding and one of them was electioneering. Now well before the election the Chief Electoral Officer warned the Labour Party that their pledge card and associated brochure was election spending, nevertheless they continued right on not only spending it taking them over the electoral limit but also used taxpayers' money to fund it, and we're call on Helen Clark to pay that money back.

LISA So why did you pay your money back, the ten and a half thousand?

DON Because we accepted that the Auditor General had found a small number of technical breaches by seven of my members of parliament and we thought it was appropriate to pay that back promptly, happily he did not discover any improper spending on the part of my own leader's budget which is what the pledge card of course is on the other side so we're pretty clean on this one but we thought it appropriate to pay that money back and we think Helen Clark should do so also.

LISA You said earlier this week the rules were clear and taxpayer money could not be used for electioneering but things are a bit blurry aren’t they, I mean you would – did you used your chauffeur driven car during the election, did you fly about the country on the taxpayer dollar, if you were wanting to be 100% virtuous would you not say I'm not gonna use those things?

DON Well the Auditor General did not find those in breach, the Auditor General looked at the whole range of expenditure incurred by members of parliament and by political parties and said these are the things which in his judgement breached the rules established back in November 2003. Now I won't try and second guess his judgement on that, he found that ten and a half thousand dollars was properly payable by the National Party towards those taxpayers' funds, we don’t know yet for sure what other parties owe but it's very clear from the draft report by the Auditor General that the criteria he's using would catch at least the Labour Party's pledge card and associated brochure, he couldn’t regard that as anything other than electioneering that’s what Helen Clark said this is my commitment to you, I mean that’s electioneering by any standard.

LISA But you choose to single this one section out, I mean what about your party's $120,000 GST debt following broadcasting for the election campaign, why not pay that back right now?

DON I'm dead keen to, I'm dead keen to, legally I cannot.

LISA Well you could pay it back you just face legal consequences.

DON No no this money is sitting in a trust account now to be paid to all the broadcasters concerned, this was a genuine mistake, it was not noticed until after the election, we found it ourselves, we drew it to the attention of the electoral commission and we said tell us how we can legally pay, right now we cannot do that, we want to introduce a law to enable us to pay our debts, Helen Clark and Michael Cullen are talking about introducing legislation to prevent them having to pay their debts that’s the difference.

LISA You could argue here though you paid the ten and a half thousand back because there are no repercussions for you, if you were to pay the GST money back there are repercussions, so you're only sort of half way up the hill to the moral high ground aren’t you?

DON No no, we have taken legal advice from QCs and they’ve said you cannot pay that back, it's as clear as that and as I say we sought to introduce a members' bill in my name to enable us to pay it back, that was blocked in parliament by other parties.

LISA Obviously there's some confusion and debate over election expenditure and …

DON No there's not, the Auditor General is very clear.

LISA He might be now but you did overspend by ten and a half thousand so at the time there were some difficulties, why not clear up all those difficulties and say let's switch to state funded political parties?

DON We think this is a smoke screen by the Labour Party to excuse the fact or try to excuse the fact that they have egregiously broken the rules and we're saying to Helen Clark that was a corrupt practice and you should have the Labour Party pay that money back to the taxpayer.

LISA So you DON’t agree with saying more transparency, having state funding, not having third party trusts giving money to say the National Party?

DON Certainly I believe in transparency, certainly I want very clear to know exactly how much is spent on election campaign, the Labour Party overspent the electoral limit by half a million bucks and that half million bucks was funded by the taxpayer in clear breach of the rules, the Labour Party stole that election.

LISA Well if you believe in transparent Dr Brash who were the MPs in your party who have overspent?

DON I've said there are seven members of parliament who …

LISA Who are they?

DON I'm not naming them.

LISA Why, where's the transparency in that?

DON There's no need to name them.

LISA Well one of them was John Key, is he one of them?

DON I'm not answering that question, they're all very small amount – by definition total ten and a half thousand bucks, the average is one and a half thousand dollars.

LISA If you had your way John Key is perhaps a future contender for the Finance Minister, doesn’t the public have a right to know whether in fact he can keep his finances straight with expenditure?

DON All campaigns are run by a number of different people, a number of staff etc, I'm not indicating which of my members were in breach, but the average of the seven was only one and a half thousand dollars each.

LISA So shall I take that as a yes, John Key?

DON No you can not take it as a yes, the key issue Lisa is that what 30 or 40, 50 times that was misspent by Labour, that’s the key issue, and they're trying to pass retrospective law to validate what is clearly illegal.

LISA So it's okay to cherry pick the issues where you want to take the higher moral ground, but you won't name your own people.

DON No, no, be fair, listen, we have paid back the money we owe, I'm calling on Helen Clark to pay back the money she owes.

LISA Alright, this is all about principles in the speech this week you focus very much on principles, you said if I can quote you, as long as I am Leader of the National Party I won't be compromising its principles, which ones were you talking about, what aren’t you going to budge on?

DON Well we can't answer all of those questions in the time we've got available but the thing that prompted that speech was someone saying to me look Labour bought the election last year by their interest free student loan policy, you'll have to do something similar like for example waiving GST on food, now in the speech I say would that make sense in New Zealand's long term interests, and I said the answer to that is now, what I've said look I badly want to get rid of this government, I badly want to win the next election, but I'm not gonna do that at the expense of New Zealand's long term interests.

LISA You went on to say that you weren't interested in being Prime Minister unless you had a mandate to make changes, why did you feel the need to say that, is there some suggestion that within the National Party you wouldn’t have the mandate?

DON No no, I quoted this man in Christchurch who said look just do whatever it takes to win and I said look I'm not interested in doing whatever it takes to win if winning means doing something which is not in New Zealand's long term interests, find someone else, quite simple.

LISA And you’ve put that line in the sand about a jump to the left in order to win power.

DON No it's not a question of jumping to the left at all it's a question of compromising basic National Party values.

LISA Which are?

DON Well it's personal choice, freedom.

LISA The ones that you won't compromise on.

DON Well freedom, personal responsibility, those sorts of issues, but the key issue is is it in New Zealand's long term interests and that waiving GST on food for example would not be, would not be, and I'm not gonna do things, I'm not gonna do things which would be damaging to New Zealand's long term interests.

LISA But did you feel the need to verbalise that because of some discussion or debate going on in your own party?

DON No I felt the need to verbalise it because umpteen media commentators have been saying Don Brash should be doing something which would win more popularity for the National Party, that’s a load of baloney and I resent that, I'm not gonna do things which would damage New Zealand's long term interests.

LISA Alright, well just last week we had Bill English on this show and he said National's more pragmatic than it was 15 years ago we're not setting out to prove a point about ideology he said, we're setting out to demonstrate effective government. Do you agree with him 100% on that?

DON Absolutely. The ideological party is not National it's Labour, let's take one example, the Auckland Central Remand Prison, run by private management contract, by every criterion that prison worked extremely well and yet Labour decided to bring it back into the state sector, they won't use private hospitals to shorten their waiting lists, I mean that’s pure ideology.

LISA Let's look at your party for now though, what are you more pragmatic about now than you were 15 years ago?

DON I wasn’t in the party 15 years ago so I can't make a comparison.

LISA Not you personally but in terms of the party itself.

DON Well I think what we're saying is we will do what is in New Zealand's interests whatever the ideology behind that, that’s the point Bill English was making and I agree with him.

LISA But areas of policy where you're not as pragmatic as you were.

DON Where we're more pragmatic than we were you mean?

LISA Yes, so like does that mean Ruth Richardson type policy, Jenny Shipley freemarket, less control, that’s all dead in the water now?

DON No no, Ruth Richardson and Jenny Shipley both did things which were very important at that time, let's be very clear, National came into office in 1990 when the country's fiscal position was in desperate straights and they had to take pretty tough measures to deal with that, the great fiscal position that Labour's been in the last few years is very much because those women, and they were both women of course, took some very tough decisions under Jim Bolger's prime ministership.

LISA So where do you think perhaps you sit in the party then when you have the likes of Catherine Rich who obviously didn’t see eye to eye with you on welfare type issues and Bill English was perceived as being further to the left than you?

DON Well listen I don’t think left right distinctions are meaningful at all, I mean Catherine Rich and I differed on one small aspect of a speech which I gave, and that’s really what it was amounting to, she had asked to be relieved of the Social Welfare portfolio long before that speech, I'd urged her to stay until the election, she decided that that particular aspect of the speech she couldn’t agree with, but Catherine Rich is a very important member of our front bench.

LISA Before the break Dr Brash you were talking about how you felt Labour had bought votes by giving policies that the public would find agreeable, isn't a tax cut buying votes as well.

DON I think there's a fundamental difference between leaving money with the people who earn it and taking money off some people and using it to bribe other people, that’s a fundamental difference, and I think that’s what Labour was doing in the election with things like the interest free student loan policy.

LISA So tax cut's not a bribe then giving people money back.

DON No no you're not giving money back you're not taking it from them in the first place.

LISA Okay let's bring in our panellist Chris Trotter here, Chris you wrote a column in recent days looking at Dr Brash's leadership and questioning whether he was strong enough to lead the party.

CHRIS Oh I don’t think that’s the reading I would have taken from that column, quite the reverse.

LISA Has the speech he's given this week changed your mind on that?

CHRIS Well I think it was very interesting to read the Zonta speech but in my Independent Financial Review column I argued very strongly that Dr Brash had single handedly recovered National's fortunes and that in fact I think his advisors both in the party and in his parliamentary office have perhaps not served him as well as they could because I think as a man of strong principles he forces the public to make a decision and in a democracy that is absolutely crucial, and someone who can in a sense lead in that way should be allowed to get on with it rather than micro managed by consultants who are I'm sorry they are the death of good politics.

LISA So shall we ask Dr Brash about the suggestion of perhaps splits in approach within the party.

CHRIS Well I think the Zonta Club speech I think was a line drawn in the sand and it was very interesting earlier this week I was at the Sir Ronald Trotter lecture that the Business Round Table holds every year, an American speaker there Peter Bichky he said we've won the battle of theory but we've lost the battle of implementation and I was wondering reading that speech to the Zonta Club whether or not that same frustration is present in your thinking at the moment that there's still a lot to be done and you want to do it but the politics of it is very difficult, Bichky's speech was full of all the resistance that you know neo liberal economic policies generate within the body politic.

DON Oh I think there's certainly a selling job to be done on a number of policies remaining to be done but I think those policies are in fact not the very difficult disruptive policies of the early 90s which people associated with me to some degree, I think they're policies which are in fact quite popular and I think for example of the education area, I think most parents would like more choice about where their kids go to school, I think that’s a popular policy and it's one which is very dear to my own heart, so I don’t think it's impossible to sell the policies we want to promote at all but I think it is true that there are people and I quoted the one in Christchurch and it was a media person who said to me look you’ve gotta think of something like waiving GST on food and the irony of that is it would complicate the GST system, it would actually benefit mainly the people who spend most money on food which is not the poor it's the affluent, so I mean I just don’t want to go somewhere which is not in New Zealand's long term interests.

LISA Chris mentioned perhaps staff and marketing and managing of things here, was that Zonta speech an attempt to grab back the steering wheel in essence?

DON No, there's a myth about that Don Brash is putty in the hands of a group of faceless – most people know who the names are in fact – but I mean I think I've got some very good advisors and I feel confident in them and they felt very comfortable with the speech.

LISA Alright let's bring Bernard Hickey in here.

BERNARD I'm must wondering about your comments on pragmatism and this big idea that everyone wants National to come up with. One thing that I sense there is a bit of debate on within the National Party and outside of government is this issue of a compulsory superannuation scheme, this is something we've argued for in the editorials in the Independent Financial Review the idea that personal and corporate tax cuts are needed but right now they would be inflationary and possibly as the man who created New Zealand's inflation fighting credentials a personal tax cut that wasn’t in the form of a compulsory superannuation scheme would be inflationary and complicate as you say the problems for the economy longer term, why isn't National thinking about a compulsory superannuation scheme?

DON Well I guess because the National Party does believe very much in personal freedom and telling people they must save more seems to be directly contrary to compelling them to do that, I mean I could again go on at great length about savings and whether we're saving adequately or not, some Treasury research would suggest that New Zealanders are in fact saving adequately at the moment, the key backstop of course for poorer New Zealanders being New Zealand Super which all major political parties are committed to continuing but whether we should have on top of that a scheme which would for example make people less able to pay off their mortgages, now it's not clear that someone with a young family for example and a big mortgage should be putting money into a managed fund rather than paying off their mortgage.

BERNARD But if you'd won the election a year or so ago and now you would have been putting through those personal tax cuts that you promised before the election you would have been complicating directly the job of your successor in trying to control inflation, those tax cuts could have delivered an inflationary boost to the economy just when the Reserve Bank Governor is trying to keep a lid on it.

DON Well that’s certainly what Michael Cullen is arguing very strongly in the House but before we announced our tax cut package last year John Key three days earlier had announced quite clearly what we would do to balance those tax cuts what we'd do to fund those tax cuts if you like because we were acutely conscious and no one more conscious than I about the need to avoid putting additional pressure on the economy and therefore additional pressure on mortgage interest rates, and I think we had a package which at least financial analysts regarded as entirely plausible and consistent.

LISA Look I want to ask you a question about strategy, National has come out saying that it needs to bolster its vote amongst women and it's looking at groups like Pacific Islanders, Maori, how are you going to do that when say you’ve got Judith Collins talking about some of the welfare policies that’s she's touting the limiting of numbers of children on the Domestic Purpose Benefit, how are you gonna make yourself appealing to some of these groups?

DON Well two or three things, you're quite right, National has not won a reasonable share of women's votes for quite a number of elections, we've been quite strong among men votes, haven’t been quite as strong as we should have been among women, and we need to do much better in that regard, I think that’s about getting better education policies, promoting them more aggressively, we need a more comprehensive health policy than we had last election.

LISA So is that about going to Zonta a women's group, giving a speech and talking about … perhaps?

DON By all means, but I mean I think women, a lot of women find Judith Collins' comments on the DPB very attractive actually, I mean women who are themselves struggling to keep their families together resent the fact that some women, it's a minority to be sure have three four five six children on the DPB and refuse to name the fathers, a lot of women find that very irritating indeed.

LISA Alright, thank you very much for joining us this morning, that’s the Leader of the National Party, Dr Don Brash.

FINAL THOUGHTS – Guest Commentators

LISA Now turning to our panellists for their final thoughts of the day, Chris Trotter there was Dr Brash giving this quite firm speech at Zonta about where he stands in the political spectrum just a week after Gerry Brownlee pushed him back in the chair in parliament, what do you make of that?

CHRIS Well I mean I think that speech is going to go down as Don Brash's the lady is not for turning speech, Baroness Thatcher's famous speech to the Conservative Party Conference, 'you turn if you want to the lady's not for turning'. He's delivered a very similar message to the National Party he is the Don Brash that everyone assumed he was, he's a neo liberal economist, those are the sort of policies he wishes to pursue, if people have got different ideas then he's not their man.

LISA Was that as much for the public as well as his own party members do you think?

CHRIS I think it was a message delivered much more to the party through the public if you follow me. There is a major debate going on within National ranks it's quite clear, big divergence of views about how to win the next election and what to win it with.

LISA Precisely and I mean he's talking about capturing these groups who perhaps haven’t been traditional National voters, are they gonna do it, and with what.

CHRIS Well the strange reversal that has taken place in the last 20 years, men versus women, and which parties they support is very bad news for National, I mean you know James K Baxter had this wonderful line in one of his poems 'a National mum and Labour dad' well it's the other way round now.

BERNARD Well that’s right, Chris is right, and the timing of his column in this week's Independent National Review is just immaculate, and there is a debate going on within National about this issue of how do they win government credibly and there is a vulnerability that National faces particularly in this issue of corporate and personal income tax cuts, they're saying let's just cut the taxes but Labour could quite easily trump them by saying yes we'll do that but we'll do it into a compulsory superannuation fund which would cut the ground from under National's feet.

LISA Alright thank you there, Bernard looking for a gazumping, thank you very much to our panellists.

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Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

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