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Agenda Transcript: Steve Maharey, Sandra King

Steve Maharey, Sandra King


Labour Cabinet Minister Steve Maharey says the Government has no plans to introduce state funding of political parties, despite the measure being employed by other countries.

Speaking on TVOne’s Agenda today, Mr Maharey said: “There’s been talk about it, but no moves obviously, in that direction. That would take us closer to what you see elsewhere around the world where you then can guarantee … total transparency because we all know what’s given, [and] how it’s spent.”

When questioned by panellist Fran O’Sullivan about a possible commission of inquiry on party spending, Mr Maharey maintained that there was no problem with corruption in the Government.

“I think a lot of these things … are not corrupt practices, they’re not things that require an investigation. There are not many things that add up here to something that you would see as wrong.”

He instead pointed to the National Party as the place to start investigating.

“There are some things that are murky. I think the biggest thing is the Exclusive Brethren and I think the association between Don Brash and them is something that needs to be investigated.”



A top New Zealand newspaper executive says newspapers may die.

Speaking on TVOne’s “Agenda” Fairfax Sales and Marketing Manager, Sandra King said staff cutbacks announced yesterday at her company were indicative of the newspaper’s declining position in the media.

She said that as online media continued to grow, it would be the print media who would suffer.

And she said environmental factors might also add to the pressure on newspapers.

But she argued that media companies would continue in business even if printed newspapers did die.

“What traditional media does is gather news and information, disseminate it, the paper product may die but fundamentally media companies won't because they’ll continue to do what they do,” she said.

However she also said the current advertising decline was likely to last for some time.

“It is very fair to say that right now there is an advertising slow down and certainly from Fairfax Media’s point of view we actually do think that’s sustained. We don’t think in the very near future there’s going to be much change in that.”

“With technology advances and changes and the new media … it actually does change things for traditional media companies.”


30 September 2006

Transcript ©Front Page Ltd 2006

May be used provided attribution is made to TVOne and “Agenda”

Presented by LISA OWEN

LISA Pass or fail – Steve Maharey on the state of our school system, and the politics of party funding – will changing the rules really change the game.

Violent students and low rates of achievement, by and large we've always been proud of our education system but it's losing the confidence of teachers, parents and students alike. What's gone wrong and how is the government going to fix it?

LISA Earlier this week a Post Primary Teachers Association survey revealed that only one third of teachers are happy with the National Certificate of Education Achievement or NCEA. The PPTA also pointed to a rise in student violence against teachers and even at primary school level teachers say they're being bitten and kicked. This has led the President of the Secondary Principals Association to question whether disruptive and violent students should be taken out of the mainstream and educated separately. Minister of Education Steve Maharey joins me now from Palmerston North. Good morning Minister, only 30% of teachers happy with NCEA when is this ever gonna get a pass rate, when are you going to have it fixed.

STEVE MAHAREY – Minister of Education
I think it has one now because although the survey showed that about 30% of the teachers were happy with it about 30% were neutral for it, and about 30% thought that they could see some negatives in it, not one of them said they want to go back to the old system, so we have got a tick for the move to NCEA, what we're working on now and I think we made some major improvements last exam season, is trying to get up those numbers of people who feel that the whole system is working well, so that’s the space I think we're in.

LISA That’s hardly a ringing endorsement though is it?


LISA Let's look at some of the other concerns raised, that the system's encouraging kids to aspire to mediocrity, they look for easy credits to get the numbers, it's not pushing them, how exactly is that going to build a nation of achievers.

STEVE People look at the research by Luana Myer from Victoria University you'll find that students overall were saying – and what is the only piece of research we have by the way – is that overall they were saying it is motivating, they like internal assessment, they like the flexibility, they like the fact that they can get credit, and remember any exam system has a problem with motivation. You'll remember when you were at university for example, you probably got yourself a gentle person's C because you didn’t try hard enough you should have tried for an A but you thought that you'd go through that course without trying harder, so one of the problems is how do you motivate in any assessment system, students to try harder, and one of the things about NCEA is that it does do that. Last night I spent time sitting round a kitchen table talking with young people about this exact issue and they were saying that yeah right through their school they’ve got young people now achieving where of course under School C 50% would have failed not matter what they did, so we've got a good system as I say, but what we've got to do is move from those early years of it not working well at all to where we are now, when things are starting to improve dramatically.

LISA But what exactly are they achieving, I mean you look at some other statistics, 65% of New Zealand boys graduate from upper secondary school, only 65% graduate for upper secondary school, 9000 boys a year they say don’t even leave with Level 1 which is basic literacy and numeracy, what are they achieving?

STEVE Yes but of course the difference between NCEA and School Cert is that 50% were left with nothing and the others would have left with some grade with School C. Now of course many of those boys for example may have got say 70 credits, 80 would be round about the equivalent of the School C pass of the old days, but with 70 credits they may for example decide that they’ll leave school and they’ll start an apprenticeship somewhere with a local firm and they’ll use those credits towards the qualification they're going to get, so what we've got now is a system that is vastly more motivating and does give people credit for what they learn and do.

LISA If it is so great though why are so many schools still offering the likes of Cambridge exams.

STEVE There are 44 offering the likes of Cambridge out of 600 secondary schools, so it's not exactly a huge number, and I think all of that comes from the fact that in the first few years it wasn’t a system that was easily predictive and of course many of the schools that have gone into Cambridge have parents who send their children to their schools who want high levels of predictability, because they want to know that the school will pass 80% of School C and so on. Now I think as NCEA becomes more predictable and I think it's begun to do that this year we'll see the value of taking an exam which is based in Britain and was originally developed for the third world will fade out as being necessary because schools will say it's now predictable and I'd much rather use NCEA because it's a good system.

LISA Well some of the other concerns that teachers have raised this week is violence in the classroom, some of them described it as a battlefield, said they were subjected to daily abuse. So does every student, given that you know that, does every student have a right to a mainstream education?

STEVE No there are children who do have to be expelled or suspended but they really do have to be very small in number, as Judge Becroft has pointed out repeatedly the young people he sees in front of him in the Youth Court are almost invariably young people who haven’t been at school, and we know that if you can keep young people at school they tend to get themselves eventually back on the straight and narrow and go off and get a job and hopefully do something worthwhile with their life, so I think it's for the minority to be expelled and suspended, the majority what we need to do is to pump more resources into those schools that need that kind of support. Remember that last year 75% of schools didn’t suspend or expel anybody, so we know that there are pockets of people like for example in the Auckland area where we've just released the gangs strategy, we know that about 15 schools are having a pretty tough time with the gang behaviour of round about 700 plus young people, so we have to do a lot about that, but not get panicked into thinking that every school has a problem with high levels of violence. In Palmerston North I don’t think any schools here would report that kind of violent behaviour.

LISA But we're not talking about necessarily suspension or expulsion, this idea floated by Graham Young from the Secondary School Principals Association is educating these children in separate facilities, separate schools with social workers and he estimates up to 10% of the school population have severe difficulties with behaviour problems, why not do what he's suggesting?

STEVE I know Graham well and I disagree with him on this particular point, so if you're watching Graham we disagree on this one, and I agree with Judge Becroft as I said before that those young people if we take them out of these schools we'll end up in essentially facilities where they’ll be surrounded by other young people like them, this is clearly not going to lead towards their behaviour improving. I think what we have to do though is of course make sure that they are surrounded by the resources that make it safe for them to be in a school, safe for the teachers to be there and they don’t disrupt other students, that’s the way forward.

LISA But apparently that’s not happening at the moment because again the PPTA says some schools have hired security guards because of these problems and that teachers feel consistently under threat, so what specifically can you offer them as a solution?

STEVE Well we're doing a whole lot at the moment, I'm about to roll out just after Christmas for the new academic year, a package for example that will allow a principal to pick up the phone, ring the Ministry of Education, get some immediate resourcing while we decide what to do with a young child of the kind that you were describing long term, that’s new resource. Spent about 100 million dollars on this area at the present time and clearly we need to spend more, but we also need to make sure that we do better with truancy, with the use of alternative education, with wrap around services for really difficult families, need to work with gangs in Auckland as I said before we're doing, so we are moving down this road as rapidly as we can, but I stress we're not talking about the bulk of young people here, this is a manageable issue because we are talking about some schools, particularly areas like Auckland where we have problems with gangs that are experiencing this today at a rate which is just totally unacceptable, so I intend to carry on making this a top priority for me.

LISA Alright well let's talk about choice in education, how much choice should parents get when it comes to their children's education, zoning for example, should they get to choose exactly what school they'd like their kids to go to?

STEVE Well it would be great in an ideal world if you could do that but there is no country that can manage the costs of having just straight choice, where it's been tried the costs are so huge no one continues it. So what you have to do in all countries and we're one of them, is that you do have schools where a lot of people want to go, you do introduce some kind of zone, we've had that under the National government and under this government as well. So you have a zone which means that if you're local to the school you’ve got a guarantee to go there and then you usually use something like a ballot system for topping up the numbers of young people that will go to the school.

LISA So no choice beyond the zoning.

STEVE No no, actually that’s not true.

LISA What about having the information as Bill English has suggested on a website where parents can compare schools, see truancy rates and expulsions so that they can make an informed choice, why not do that?

STEVE Can I just go back to your first question just for a tick, you do have choice, zoning actually is choice, it means that if you live with your child in the Auckland Grammar zone then you have the choice of going there.

LISA If you live in the zone, so it's limited choice.

STEVE If you're out of that of course you have a choice, most schools are not zoned so most schools are simply taking you as a parent making the choice to go to that school, so choice is maximised if you like in our system, but limited in relation to that zoning. To come back to your other question what about giving people lots of information, well we do give a lot of information but what I'm not prepared to do is get into what's suggested by some people as really just making a market out of schools, it is the whole sort of thing you’ve seen in the Metro Magazine for example trying to rank schools, because the only way you could ever do that is to make a fair comparison between schools would be to randomly assign students to schools that have got that sort of equal mix of students, in fact we never do that of course as you pointed out before people live in different areas and they go to different schools, so it's better that we use the mechanisms we've got now, ERO gives good information, people can go down to their local school, talk to the school, and I know most schools are making use of ICT and I'm encouraging them to to inform totally their school population. So we're into information we're not into this kind of market comparison.

LISA The issue of party funding is proving to be a thorn in parliament's side. Parties in parliament have two sources of income, parliamentary services and money they raise themselves. The current rules allow each party to spend one million dollars on their election campaign, 20,000 dollars for each electorate seat a party contests, a further 20,000 for each of those electorate candidates to spend on their own campaign and anonymity for donors who give less than 10,000 dollars. Last year 34% of the money given to the Labour Party was done so anonymously, National raised 93% of its funds this way, and this has led to calls for greater transparency. Michael Wright with this report.

MICHAEL WRIGHT It's been the story that won't die for our politicians.

'Helen Clark: The real corruption in politics is Dr Brash's cash for policies'

Just how parties get and spend their money is under scrutiny. In the firing line anonymous donors and wealthy outsiders, such as the Exclusive Brethren campaigning on behalf of parties. Almost every party in parliament has made use of the law that protects donors' identities but one former insider says his party's use of trust accounts to channel funds is wrong.

John Colllinge – Former National Party President Well I'd much prefer political donations to be up front so that if they came over the 10,000 dollar limit the donors would be known, it would be totally transparent and to put them in a trust or to have them go through trust accounts isn't the way to go.

MICHAEL For now the changes mooted by the government only go as far as preventing outside influences from financing campaigns, but the party also considers increased disclosure as a priority.

Public policy consultant and lobbyist Mark Unsworth says the donation process is rapidly losing appeal among his corporate client.

Mark Unsworth I think they're too scared the muckraking that happened in the media, the thought that whatever money they get was going to be front page of the newspaper on the TV one day.

MICHAEL Perception of party funding is so bad in fact that shareholders at Contact Energy visited other listed companies to discourage them from donating.

Mark I think that leads to shareholder concern to director concern and I think over time less and less listed companies anyway will be giving money to political parties in New Zealand.

MICHAEL The law as it stands still offers an array of options to the publicity shy donor. So how do we go about changing it?

Stricter disclosure rules in Australia's electoral law have shed some light on their party funding process, but Auckland University's Dr Jennifer Curtin says that they backtracked more recently, siphoning donations through third parties and paying for the privilege of the Prime Minister's ear at fundraisers.

Dr Jennifer Curtin – Lecturer, Auckland University I think it was more transparent until June this year. In June this year legislation was passed in the senate that raised the disclosure threshold from 1500 dollars per donor to 10,000 per donor which is you know what we have in New Zealand, and that was argued in terms of Australia wanting to actually become more like New Zealand.

MICHAEL But Dr Curtin says it's an uphill battle to force the big players into showing their hand.

Will we always be faced with the system where a person who wants to remain anonymous in their contribution to a political party can find a way of doing so?

Jennifer Yes I think so, I think – I'm sure it happens here but in Australia donations for access is a pretty common thing that goes on. Both the Labour and Liberal Party were in cahoots if you like in terms of making sure that they could still progress with third party avenues.

MICHAEL As our own politicians cry foul over electoral funding then it could be the taxpayers footing the bill.

LISA Alright well joining us again is Steve Maharey. Mr Maharey how important is full disclosure in terms of funding for elections and how are you going to achieve it there when you could see with the Australian example people find ways to get around it?

STEVE MAHAREY – Labour Party Strategist
Well we'll have to see what is said by the Ministry of Justice, but I think it's in everybody's interests to try and make sure we have an open and transparent system because as the point that was just raised you’ve got these trust funds for example where no one knows what money is in there or how much was given by a particular person or for what purpose. I don’t think anything is served by that and that’s one of the reasons we've been interested in the idea of transparency but we'll have to wait and see what the Ministry of Justice says before we move any further.

LISA You mentioned trust funds, Labour took about 300,000 from anonymous donors, is this about transparency or is it about strangling where National's funding has come from because they got about 1.25 million.

STEVE No I think it's about transparency because if you take the case of the Exclusive Brethren I think what people are worried about here is a very secretive group obviously who have a large amount of money and people who are involved here seem to have spent about 1.2 million dollars and I think people just look at that and say hold on we're a small country and we're used to being an open democracy we don’t want anybody buying elections, we don’t want anybody putting money up and hoping they’ll get a return, so I think the more transparency the better and that goes for all parties.

LISA If indeed there is full disclosure there is a suggestion there that perhaps some donors will be frightened off from giving money, so is there going to be a move for state funding to plug the gap of what's lost because of disclosure?

STEVE Well there's been talk about it but no moves obviously in that direction, that would take us closure to what you see elsewhere around the world where you then can guarantee of course total transparency because we will know what's been given, they know how it's spent, there's no real back door to come through for the election period, so that would guarantee transparency but as you know at the moment there is no concrete plan to do that, there's just been discussion of it.

LISA I mean you mentioned third parties involved, obviously this week there's been this revelation from Tariana Turia that they were offered money, the Maori Party was offered money and encouraged for that money to support Labour, what steps are you taking, what steps are the Labour Party taking to get to the bottom of that?

STEVE Nothing because we've never heard of it and to investigate it we'd have to know what we were going to investigate, and you'll notice that so far there has been no move to do what both the National Party and Labour have asked Mrs Turia to do and that is to name names because then something might be done about it, but equally journalists have not been able to find anybody who might fit the description of living on a yacht and sounding like Sean Connery giving away large amounts of money. So at the moment I think what we're dealing with is something that seems to have absolutely no substance at all and certainly we know nothing about it so we couldn’t investigate something about which nothing is known.

LISA But if you really wanted to get to the bottom of it you could lay a complaint with the Police.

STEVE Well as you know of course the Police themselves have said it's pretty hard to investigate something as nebulous as this, but as I have said the closest you can get with is Section 103 of the Crimes Act which does prohibit bribes, and I think if anything else was said that made it a little bit more clear then I think the Police would be knocking on the door of Mrs Turia and saying let's have a closer look at this.

LISA Alright, let's bring our panel into the discussion starting with Fran O'Sullivan who would like to see a royal commission of inquiry into funding the elections.

FRAN O'SULLIVAN – Political Commentator
Yes, there's just so much Minister on the table now going right back to the allegations of corrupt practice by Labour with the overspending at the last election, Don Brash and the Exclusive Brethren, there's a lot of murk and dirt around that, now we've got Tariana Turia as you said ostensibly a section of the Crimes Act has been breached, if it could be stacked up, Police aren’t up to the job quite clearly they're worried about constitutional upsets if they'd really gone down the track with Labour and taken the case there, isn't this grounds for a royal commission of inquiry which has full investigative powers and can you know basically require people to put up their evidence or shut up and face the consequences.

STEVE Yeah I read your column this morning and I've got a lot of sympathy with the idea that we ought be looking broadly at these kinds of issues, but the one thing I'd want to be careful about is I think a lot of the things that have been listed over the last sort of while are not corrupt practices they're not things that require an investigation, there are not many things here that add up to something that you would say was wrong, for example you'd expect me to say this but nobody in the Labour Party has behaved in a corrupt way as is claimed around something like the pledge card, we've played by the rules. So there are some issues that I think need to be clarified, they're pretty straightforward the kinds of things that Lisa was raising before, say about advertising limits or third party funding, and there are some things that are murky. I think the biggest murky thing is the Exclusive Brethren and I think the association between Don Brash and them is something that has to be investigated and would be easily answered if Don would just actually get the diary out and remember exactly what he did and told us about it that might open up that door properly.

LISA What about public perception though Mr Maharey because that’s significant as well, and arguably you could say that some people are losing faith in the political system based on this and wouldn’t a royal commission lay it all on the table, restore the faith in the system.

STEVE Well it actually might undermine it because what it would say is look there's so much you know bad practice going on here we need to have a royal commission to have a look at it. I think it boils down to some pretty straightforward issues like levels of advertising, it boils down to some issues which are a little stinky and I think those are mainly around the Exclusive Brethren and I think there's one person who could clarify that without all the expense of a royal commission and he's called Don Brash. So while I read Fran's column today and thought yeah there's a lot in here which you would like to clear up, I think the method of doing it doesn’t actually require the taxpayer to fund a royal commission with all that that would mean.

FRAN But you know some 500,000 thousand was spent on Taito Phillip Field with an inquiry which had no real powers at all, I mean what you’ve got is a situation where the Police said they balked at taking action against Labour when they found a prima facie case basically of corrupt practice with the overspending on the pledge card and didn’t go ahead because they were worried about the constitutional implications, now frankly there's something really wrong with the system when the Police will not play their role, these are the sorts of things that a bunch of judges with appropriate powers could you know investigate in a non partisan way. At the moment you know each side's got dirt on the other and it's getting all very messy, I think there's a lot there that needs to be sorted out, and I really do describe it as a dirty election this one.

LISA Let's bring in Bryce Johns here – do you agree do we need…

BRYCE JOHNS – Editor, Waikato Times
No not at all, the Minister's right, the country's commission would sort it out and generally they're pointless, nothing comes out of the things, let's get it right going forward. Minister I was interested, you seem to me to steer a pretty neutral course on taxpayer funding of election campaigns. What is your view bearing in mind what the public's reaction is to the pledge card, do taxpayers want their money going in those areas?

STEVE Well I think actually if taxpayers could take the leap into a state funded system they'd probably like it because most countries have gone down this track for the reasons we're discussing here. In the current atmosphere I imagine most taxpayers would say oh we're not too keen on that at all, but I think if they found themselves in an environment where they could see transparently what each party got and they knew what was being spent on they would like that a whole lot more than the kind of situation that they have now, but you're intimating I think here taxpayers probably look at any of this with a jaundiced eye right now.

BRYCE So what is the next step, obviously transparency's a good move, will the public get a say in the funding or will this be you know something that is determined by the government?

STEVE None of us have seen the Ministry of Justice report yet, so I can't really say what they're gonna say but that I think will be a useful first step of just hearing what they’ve got to say about the last election and maybe that'll lay the foundation for what we do next, but the debate clearly hasn’t finished. What would be great is to get away from all the murk and so any real issues can then be put on the table and I think dealt with in a pretty straightforward way rather than the royal commission route, but we do have all this murk lying about the place at the moment and that’s the thing that needs to finish.

FRAN But we also have a perception that political parties and governments are above the law in this respect, in the sense that action's not being taken and you know there's also some allegations made by Winston Peters in parliament about Telecom getting free you know services, this sort of thing for the National Party and some sort of cash for policy deal, the Prime Minister's made allegations about cash for policy deals between National and insurance companies. Now this is really getting to the guts of that kind of bribery and corruption practice, and you know you cannot make these allegations and not investigate it, I don’t believe you can just sweep it under the carpet and say we move forward, I mean if it was any Joe Blogg person doing that in private life you know they'd be in court. You know why are politicians and parties above the law?

STEVE You’ve gotta sift things through though I think Fran, and that’s the point I guess I'm making, you mentioned before the Police report and if you have a look at the Police report which is around to be looked at you'll notice that the Police actually ended up saying look we think basically the way forward is to clarify the rules.

FRAN Yes but the Auditor General said that the rules were already clarified and there was a huge amount of you know the Chief Electoral Officer who threw the complaint in in the first place to the Police really took issue with that, you know he said the rules had been clarified before the election, the Police basically got soft soaped by government on this I mean how else would you explain it? Too scared to take on political masters.

STEVE Well I have to say that the Police seem to me to be pretty independent and I can't remember a conversation between us and them that might have led them to soft soap, I think in the end if you have a look at the rules that changed in 2003 – well in fact they are, that you’ve gotta put the crest on it plus an address, that’s it, that’s all the change that took place, so this talk about change of rules boils down to exactly that.

FRAN Will Labour pay back the overspending if the Auditor General finds?

STEVE Obviously you and I are having this report because it was a leaked report but what we would say is we played by the rules why would you pay money back if you’ve played by the rules.

LISA We'll have to leave it there, thank you very much for joining us this morning Steve Maharey.


LISA With both major newspaper houses now looking to reduce staff numbers it appears that our print industry is feeling the pinch. Seventy places at Fairfax are under threat and rival company APN is asking for voluntary redundancies. As online media grows in popularity so too does speculation that the newspaper may be on the way out. So is this a sign of things to come or merely a dip in the economic cycle. Well Sandra King is the Group Sales and Marketing Manager at Fairfax and she joins me now. Is this a blip on the radar or is this really the bite of the internet taking away that market share?

SANDRA KING – Sales & Marketing Manager, Fairfax
It is very fair to say that right now there is an advertising slowdown and certainly from Fairfax Media's point of view we actually do think that’s sustained, we don’t think that in the very near future there's going to be much change in that. However in saying that certainly from our point of view it's about business efficiencies and planning for the future. With technology advances and changes and the new media you know along with the web it actually does change things for traditional media companies, all traditional media companies not just newspapers.

LISA I note that when the whole news of Dr Brash's recent problems broke that there was a 1300% increase in hits on the web for information about that story, is that where people who care about the news are going first?

SANDRA Yes and know, there's certainly research from round the world that’s saying that people are actually using both press and the web right now to access news, and it's really important to understand that today with technology changes and consumers following technology that it's really important to get to consumers through a 24 hour period, so they’ll come into a newspaper, they’ll certainly come into TV and they’ll come into the web as well, so they're actually using all media currently to access news and information.

LISA Now in this book The Vanishing Newspaper, Phillip Myer basically predicted that by 2043 that’s it for the newspaper the last exhausted reader will toss their edition aside, do you agree with that?

SANDRA Look I wish I had a crystal ball as Phillip does. I think consumers will dictate that about whether newspaper will die, whether it's in 2043 or whatever that is, I also think that perhaps environmental factors will dictate what actually happens and that’s saying that yes newspapers may die, but certainly from a publishing point of view the vehicle that news and information is carried in is in the newsprint or paper product, that’s fundamentally what you know we do and certainly what traditional media does is gather news and information, disseminate it, the paper product may die but fundamentally media companies won't because they’ll continue to do what they do…

LISA In a different format. Let's bring in the panel there. With the internet and things there's this rise in the citizen journalist blogging and all the rest of it, but do you think that that can compete with sort of traditional news outlets with accuracy and credibility?

BRYCE Yeah that’s down to credibility, that’s what it's all about, and I think we're way too premature to be having this debate because they weren't do it in the last three years when my paging was growing like Topsy and staff was going up, you know we're at the end of an audit period now where Waikato's going to report very solid circulation growth. There is no fear of the immediate future of the newspaper, no doubt about that at all, what media companies like Fairfax and APN are thinking though is we are content providers not perhaps newspaper providers and the news franchises are very strong you know, in the Waikato I've got 65 journalists, no other media outlet's got more than two, so we are the prime media outlet in that region. If people want to know what's going on whether it's through the internet, through the newspaper or any other new forms that come up they have to be linked to us, we're very solid.

LISA Sandra I want to raise the revenue thing that you get from advertising, some studies say that you would need a 10 to 1 ratio, on the internet you'd need 10 more people to view the items to make the advertising revenue, and some say up to a 100, is that really doable in terms of getting the money back from advertising?

SANDRA Oh yeah it is all about efficiencies and it's about the number of people viewing, whether it's the net or whether it's the newspaper, where it's television that’s what's paid for currently, there is research to say that it is actually about outcome and not just measuring eyeballs anymore, so yes right now the net is quite inexpensive, that’s not to say that it won't change in the future.

LISA Fran, hard copy is it ever gonna go or do people need that tactile experience?

FRAN Well I don’t think it's just the tactile experience, I think there's things that papers can do, that papers are gonna have to do a lot better and I think what's the advent of bloggers and you know just sort of privately funded online operations – it's gonna be a bit like what happened with the underground papers in the 1970s which men used to rail against the Prostitute's Press and keep them on their toes by actually attacking stuff that you know the media at the time wouldn’t do – what bloggers are doing they're actually forcing a bit of a change in the discourse and I think that’s all to the good because I think papers have become a bit too precious about where they sit in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think they challenge enough, I don’t think there's enough newspapers if you like and I think we will have to see a bit of a migration you know in this, papers are gonna have to be a bit more daring if they're gonna hold on to paper circulation over time, particularly the big city papers.

BRYCE That’s the key point.

LISA Murdoch recently made a speech where he said that editors and reporters had to get away from talking down to their audiences is that what you're saying?

FRAN Absolutely. They gotta challenge them an be a bit daring, I also think you know the big advantage of newspapers which newspapers lose at their peril of they migrate to infotainment is to you know do that big disclosure, do you know the real hard core journalistic ethic and put that out there and you know really drive using a newspaper brand in a way that a blogger can't cos they don’t have the credibility and I think that if we risk that or if we don’t sort of continue to hold on to and cherish that space that we occupy then I think we're vulnerable.

LISA Thank you very much for joining us this morning Sandra King.


Let's go to our panel for their final thoughts of the day. To start with Bryce.

BRYCE Interesting session with Steve Maharey though I was a little concerned that the Minister takes too much value in any survey of students, I mean are we really surprised that they would favour a system in which is it is easier for them to achieve. Big things coming up for me this week will be the Te Atawa settlement probably over the weekend and the Tainui River Claim which isn't that far away as well, and that’s gonna be a more accurate guide I think on public opinion on Maori issues than anything Don Brash says.

LISA I dare say you will get a good testing of the waters with that given the recent events with Brash.

BRYCE That’s right and this is more significant than what one man thinks of you know the number of indigenous Maori or not.

LISA Fran, funding and transparency, I feel that’s on your mind.

FRAN Yes it is, it's not gonna go away, no I won't give it up, I've gotta keep – that’s our role, keep them honest. I think one of the things that actually occurred to me watching Steve Maharey is that there's a lot of position taking going on now and people are starting to position themselves for the post Helen Clark era. Helen Clark wasn’t actually all that well thought of by her colleagues over the last week when you know the polls swung so badly.

LISA With the cancerous comment?

FRAN Yes, she's making some miscalculations which are actually starting to cost her.

LISA Which were evidenced in the Dairy Diary there weren't they?

FRAN Absolutely, and it's been very interesting just watching people like you know Steve Maharey on one hand starting to sort of just sort of edge into this area you know deciding to come on this programme today, you know the whole business about raising his own stakes in areas where he really hasn’t been a pivotal player in the House on this whole funding thing, you know it's some of the other people who have been driving this but now hey presto sort of kind of a white knight starts to come in, so I'm just watching that I've found the dynamics quite interesting.

BRYCE A rare misstep wasn’t it from the PM, a rare misstep and I think they’ve together the party is looking for ways out of it.

LISA And the public, what's your feedback from the people that you serve with the paper down in Waikato?

BRYCE The dairy attitude there that you had is the public perception, absolutely no doubt, that they're in trouble over it and they’ve gotta get a way out.

FRAN Well I think the interesting other thing there was Steve Maharey was still holding to this notion that you know the Auditor General's thing was a draft report, we may not necessarily pay this back and there's a lot of confusion about whether they will or they won't, so everyone will be waiting ….

LISA Yeah but at the same time let's look at the Brethren thing with an absolute microscope.

FRAN Yes, and Don Brash of course, they’ll hammer hammer hammer that but you know trying to keep the focus off themselves and so far they're the only ones who've had reports from the Police and others saying that there was a prima facie case of corruption and they didn’t explore it so you know I just don’t think you can steamroll past that, sorry.

LISA Even though Bryce thinks you're off message you still think that’s the only way to go?

FRAN No – and our job, it's our job to make sure that governments don’t just you know get past this, I think we really have to hold them to account.

BRYCE There've gotta be cheaper ways, better ways.

FRAN It's a question of crime, you know it's a question of criminal behaviour.

LISA Thank you very much for joining us this morning, the debate rages.


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