AGENDA Transcript - October 7 2006
Transcript ©Front Page Ltd 2006
May be used provided attribution is made to TVOne and “Agenda”
Presented by LISA
LISA When Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters met with Senator John McCane and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in July the talks were overshadowed by a dispute between Peters and members of the New Zealand media over their conduct during a press conference, since then he's largely been out of the country and as his party languishes in the polls speculation is growing about who will succeed Peters as leader.
So how significant was that trip to the United States in terms of moving our relationship forward and how does he plan to revive New Zealand First's flagging fortunes. Winston Peters joins me now. Good morning Mr Peters, when you became Foreign Affairs Minister you said that one of your top priorities was going to be resolving the standoff with the US, so how did that meeting with Condoleezza Rice go, are you any closer to that goal?
WINSTON PETERS –
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Well I think we've made substantial progress over the last year with respect to our relationship with the United States, it's proven by the number of meetings I've had with Condoleezza Rice, and the meetings with the Prime Minister coming up shortly between the Secretary Hill at the Forum in Fiji shortly. There's been a deepening of our relationship and that’s what we've worked hard on. It's a pity of course that the New Zealand media decided it was all about them, but luckily the Close Up programme now demanded the full tape be shown, demonstrate that who was telling the truth and who wasn’t, but the disgrace about that was a nation's serious foreign policy interests were being jeopardised at home by a couple of clown journalists.
LISA So in practical terms if that relationship is closer in practical terms how is that manifesting itself?
WINSTON Well it's manifesting itself that by the end of next month I'll have met Condoleezza Rice five times since I've taken the job.
LISA And in terms of that what's concrete that’s come out of it?
WINSTON Well a whole range of things that are concrete about that, we're on a five plus five group country examination of what we can do on for example North Korea, that’s quite unique for a country like New Zealand to have been asked to come on to such a group which has large countries like China, the United States, Russia, Japan, this is very significant, and in the area of our engagements in a whole range of things, in science, even to extending close relations with respect to the military, these things are all adding up to a better relationship and a greater appreciation of what we do. I mean I did set out to remind the big countries in the world of just what New Zealand is doing in the Pacific and how important the Pacific is, and since that time we've had a huge meeting here in the Pacific led by China, a similar huge meeting led by Japan at Okinawa inviting the Pacific, a similar meeting where the people from the Pacific have been invited to of all places Paris, so there's a renewed focus on the Pacific and that’s important.
LISA We heard Glynn Davis from the US State Department on this show earlier in the year and he floated this idea of bilateral meetings between New Zealand and the US to talk about Pacific issues, are you keen on that idea and have any moves been made to put that in place?
WINSTON Well we're very keen on that idea, in fact in a way it started in that our discussions with the United States had been amongst a whole range of issues but on the Pacific as well, what the challenges are. The trans national and global problems we have with money laundering, the movement of terrorists, potential terrorists, border control, there's a whole lot of issues where we can work with the EU, with the United States, in the Pacific for ….return for our money.
LISA But do you actually see those meetings becoming a reality bilateral meetings?
WINSTON Well in a way yes I do see them becoming a reality and I think they are a reality now.
LISA So is it kinda like ANZUS just without Australia, or how would you characterise that?
WINSTON Oh look I'm not gonna get encapsulated in the past, I've been around in politics for a long time and I've observed all sorts of approaches, I'm taking an approach which I believe is effective and is working already quite dramatically with respect to the highlighting of the Pacific's importance.
LISA So are we beneficially back in from the cold do you think, and if so why now?
WINSTON Well look we have our differences of opinion but we are not going to let that constrain what is a close, and closer working relationship on so many important problems that we as democracies and free countries share.
LISA Are we on a better footing with the States now because we have something that’s valuable to them in the sense that we're regarded as the soft power in the Asia Pacific region, we have good relations with say China, we're involved in the Solomons and the PNG, are we a useful friend to them again now?
WINSTON Well times change and I think if you read the times correctly and act correctly with respect to the evidence before you then such improvement in relations happen, that’s what's happened here in the last 12 months.
LISA But is there a greater value in the relationship do you think because New Zealand has these friendships if you like with countries in the Asia Pacific region?
WINSTON Yeah that is probably a very good basis from which we've started because one thing wonderful about New Zealand's foreign policy today is that it's straight up and honest, it does not have a secret agenda, we're hugely respected internationally for that.
LISA John Howard has said in the past that he believes Australia is America's deputy sheriff in the Pacific, do you agree with that statement?
WINSTON I don’t make comments for other countries diplomacy, their leaders, or in any way make comments which could worsen our relations with other countries. Commenting on what the Australian's regard themselves – foreign policy, is not my business.
LISA So what are we? If he decides that they are the deputy sheriff in the Pacific if that’s what he likes to call his country how would you characterise us then?
WINSTON Well it's not axiomatic that we're something else as well because of that categorisation, we are simply a country that sees it's responsibilities in the wider Pacific and sees the Pacific's important to our own long term security, plays an honest role in the world and is respected for it, and I think better appreciating how important the Pacific is in our international image has enabled us to be better appreciated by the EU, by Japan, by China and by the United States in particular.
LISA Alright well in your speech to the UN you emphasised some of the things that we're aiming for in the Pacific region and you said that those included quote "full observance of democratic values", so how do you achieve that in the say Pacific region without being accused of wading in like George Bush in Iraq, bringing western democracy's people.
WINSTON It's a very good question that because the first thing you should do, and it should be part of your foreign policy in fact is to understand the thinking of the people you're going to work with, understanding what they would want and understanding what it is they actually want in the setting of democracy. That is not always exactly what the prototype is in New Zealand but that said and whatever it is you seek to assist to grow in the Pacific in terms of democracy and accountable government, it has certain precepts to it and they are open transparency, they are non corrupt good governance principles that have to be ascribed to and we've spent a lot of time in the Pacific ensuring we help capacity build island nations and their political systems to be improved in this way. So it's not imposing our values but you know simply if you're going to pay New Zealand taxpayer dollars into those countries they need to understand – their politicians and governments need to understand that we have to respond seven days a week to our journalists and our taxpayers as to how that money's being spent, and so if they don’t do the job properly there or if there's corruption there we cannot respond properly to our own taxpayers.
LISA Well don’t we have our own problems in New Zealand when it comes to different cultures, the clash of cultures say western democracy and other values, Phillip Field would possibly argue that that’s why he's in trouble, that it's a cultural clash, is he right?
WINSTON Well I don’t know the details of Phillip Field's case.
LISA Well he accepted financial gifts like lafo or koha and he says it's a cultural thing, I mean that’s an example of a clash of those cultures and western democracy.
WINSTON Well it depends on the circumstances I mean somebody might say to you look we've got a spare seat at the corporate box at Eden Park for the test, now is that a cultural thing? It sounds like to me it could be a cultural thing, but I mean you wouldn’t conduct any life at all if you just said no that’s all gone, that all out, but I can't comment on Phillip Field's case because I don’t know exactly the amount and what the socalled cultural gift was.
LISA Alright well you’ve been away a bit this year, there's been rumours circulating about your own health and political future, so where are you at with that, how are you?
WINSTON It's an act of pretty audacious behaviour on the party of some jumped up journalists who've been around five minutes and I've been around a long time – I fall sick for the first time in a long career, I've never been sick before, I get a bug, a virus up in Asia and it comes a matter of comedy and forecasting the demise of Winston Peters. Well how am I? Well I've lost 10 kilograms and I'm about 85%, 95% back, I knew it would take a long time before I recover from this and that’s the way it is, but luckily I probably won't get it ever again.
LISA So was it a spider?
WINSTON Well again that’s some journalist's comment. This is the first time I've seen someone else's illness being a matter of comedy. I'm a tough guy I can take it, as long as they can take it on the way back and most of these people cant.
LISA But seriously you know are you fit and well enough and intent on leading New Zealand First into the next election and possibly beyond?
WINSTON Well of course I am but you see that’s for my party to decide, not some group of journalists who are largely failures in their real lives as you well know.
LISA People are different in some aspects but yes….
WINSTON Well no no New Zealand media is the worst in the western world, and – excuse me this is an example of it, I'd tell them first if I was gonna go, it's not for them to make that sort of forecast, it's for my colleagues and my party members to decide that, not people who are not party members of New Zealand First.
LISA But your own personal intention is to be there leading the party at the next election?
WINSTON Well yes it is, but again that’s for my party to decide.
LISA And have you contemplated beyond the next election?
WINSTON Ah well it's never been my style just to go into an election without believing that we would win sufficiently enough to have a deciding influence on the outcome of it, just like we did the last election 2005, even though a lot of journalists thought it was a two horse race.
LISA Mr Peters last time you were on this programme you talked about this telephone book worth of emails that you had relating to the National Party and you said that we would see them in good time, when would be a good time to see them, do you still have them?
WINSTON Right, of course I didn’t talk about a telephone book, somebody else did that, the second thing yes you'll see them in due course when it's appropriate. None of them happen to be of a personal nature.
LISA What are they generally about?
WINSTON Well in good time you'll see them.
LISA So National has complained to the Police about emails being taken from them, how did these come to you and are you worried about the fact that it's now gone to the Police?
WINSTON They didn’t come to me and that’s the second thing, the third thing is that an insider stole them from inside the National Party, the National Party would know who that person is and does not. So they shouldn’t act like they're so innocent.
LISA Can you clarify what you meant by they didn’t come to you, did they come to someone within your party?
WINSTON No they came to someone else and someone decided to pass some of them on to me, and I don’t know from where but I received them well some time ago now, not nearly as comprehensive as it would sound given what else is being spoken of in the marketplace but let me just say there's someone within the National Party right in close to Don Brash stole them and that person is known to Don Brash and Don Brash should tell us all who it is.
LISA So you believe someone close to Don Brash pinched them?
WINSTON I do yes and with good reason to believe that, nothing to do with us at all, I am purely – as someone from out there said well we should give a few of these to Winston, that’s all that’s happened here.
LISA So they are stolen then?
WINSTON Well in this circumstance unless Don Brash freely released them himself or had a person of authority to release them, or gave them to somebody of authority to release them then they would be stolen.
LISA Doesn’t that place you in a difficult position then having them?
WINSTON Well excuse me, excuse me, if Don Brash knows the person who stole them and is not taking any action why tell the Police?
LISA And just to clarify there's nothing personal relating to Don Brash?
WINSTON No not the ones I've seen no, no nothing of a personal nature no. I'm pleased to say.
LISA Alright let's bring our panel in here. Going first to Chris.
CHRIS BALDOCK –
Editor, Sunday News
So when is appropriate to release these emails, is it when Helen's next under pressure and asked you to?
WINSTON No it's like, I mean you get information you decide when you're gonna run those stories, in the same way as we do. Don’t be precious here.
CHRIS I'm not being precious.
WINSTON You get information you say well it's not appropriate to use it now, there's nothing happening now that’s apposite or relevant to that, but sometimes something breaks in parliament, someone's engagement is the debate and all of a sudden you think to yourself excuse me that’s not what you people planned to do back two and a half years ago, that’s now what your plan and strategy was, I've got evidence to prove it, that’s when you'd use it.
CHRIS You know it all comes back to this mud slinging.
WINSTON It's not mud slinging at all.
CHRIS Well it is Mr Peters and don’t you think people have …
WINSTON No no don’t slide by say it's mud slinging and not give me one shred of evidence, I have not engaged in any mud slinging at all, I've been very pleased to have been away these last few months while all this rubbish goes on, I'm not interested in that, but when somebody says look this is the background to our policy and I see a document saying please don’t flesh this out because we haven’t got a policy, if I've got an email saying that it's worthwhile for the public to see it.
LISA Have you? Have you got an email that says that?
WINSTON Oh well you know this debate's gonna go nowhere if you're gonna ask stupid questions that a journalist would know first of all not to ask.
CHRIS Sorry, what I was getting at, you said earlier that the New Zealand media was the worst in the western world.
WINSTON They are.
CHRIS But the reality is the Beehive is probably the biggest laughing stock in politics at the moment because all we're spending time on is mud slinging, personal issues, and these emails will probably further that and why aren’t we just talking about the real issues and getting on with that stuff.
WINSTON Oh look I don’t disagree with you that things have descended in politics to a very very unfortunate and low level, I'm not arguing about that, I'm pleased that I'm not part of it. I've been pleased to have been abroad getting on with my job.
LISA Winston you dismissed the phrase mud slinging, but this is a threat, it's a threat hanging over someone else, is it not borderline blackmail? I mean the Prime Minister has come out this week and raised concerns about being followed by private investigators and this threat from private investigators that they're gonna start filtering out information, what's the difference between your strategy and that strategy?
WINSTON Look there's a thousand reasons why that is different, let me make the most obvious one, you’ve got a church decides to put private investigators on to of all people the Prime Minister, and senior politicians, this is an insidious development in our society, let's not try and say that someone gets a few emails that are related to a party's political policy formation and who helped form it is acting in the same way, there's no connection with that whatsoever.
LISA Let's bring Richard Long in here.
RICHARD LONG – Columnist, Dominion
Well at the risk of dragging you away from emails – I was fascinated with the Condoleezza Rice series of meetings you’ve had and particularly the latest one and you mentioned the North Korean current threat which must be alarming not just to the Americans, but our friends in the region such as Japan and China and South Korea for that matter, what can you tell us about the prospects of settling that, particularly when there's some speculation that with the anniversary of ….Kim tomorrow might be a good time …
LISA There's going to be a test.
RICHARD Yeah that it might be a good time to set it off?
WINSTON Well I think it's an extraordinarily complex issue in the sense of the administration of North Korea, their form of government and the recent history has been to make threats and carry them out, such as the missile into the Sea of Japan threats, but in this case you know I believe that we should prevail upon China to do all it possibly can, that’s it's last friend and they in a way in terms of financial support and food and aid and what have you are still propping them up for what we'd argue as humanitarian reasons but I think we should prevail upon China to do more, in fact I wrote to the Chinese Foreign Minister on that basis just yesterday, because I think that is our greatest hope. I notice that the Foreign Minister of Russia, Labrov is making some very serious comments overnight and the more pressure of that level and of that historic connection that can be brought on North Korea the better because it's just absolute lunacy the path down which they're going, it leaves us with terrible uncertainty, they go nuclear, South Korea have every reason to argue going nuclear, so will Japan and if you go west you’ve got India, Pakistan and potentially Iran, this is a horrible developing circumstance to do with issues we should do our utmost to turn around if we can. Now it's difficult in what we've got to use but we should use every opportunity and avail ourselves of every avenue particularly with the help of China to see that these tests don’t go ahead.
LISA Can I bring you back to domestic politics for a moment, we're expecting the Auditor General's report this week, Telecom announced this week it's not gonna give donations any more to politics. Where do you stand on state funding if corporates are gonna pull out?
WINSTON Well let me say we never took money from Telecom for darn good reasons, we never took money from Sky Casino either for darn good reasons, it's against our principles. Every other party did and so that explains the 16 long year monopoly Telecom's had all these years to gouge billions of dollars from New Zealand business and New Zealand homes.
LISA On the subject of state funding do you support it?
WINSTON You can't slide past by saying now here comes the Auditor General next week to say to you believe in state funding – no we never have. As a party we've always believed that you should try and raise your money from the streets and by the persuasion of your policies out there in the public.
LISA Retrospective legislation to cover any over expenditure.
WINSTON I just want to say this here, I've been in politics a long time, I have never seen an issue namely this issue of electoral expenditure be so fact free in the media when it comes to this debate, and when I say fact free I've seen all sorts of talk back hosts, all sorts of commentators write full scale articles not one stake of the law in it, it's a statute free, it's a fact free argument. Now I'm saying what you're seeing and reading out there to Joe Public whether you like me telling you or not is fundamentally basically not true. Let's have some facts out there as to…
LISA If it came to the point of retrospective legislation….
WINSTON Don’t get hung up on retrospective legislation I'm asking you a question.
LISA Can we take that as a no from you?
WINSTON No I'm asking you this question, which law changed the law, the money between 2002 and 2005. well tell me you’ve got three journalists here, which law changed it?
WINSTON Well tell me you’ve got three journalists here which law changed it? It's a fact free argument.
LISA We will leave it there. Before you go though as a special treat, as the Minister of Racing we wondered if you might provide us with a racing tip for the weekend.
WINSTON Well the last thing I'd do is give anybody tips on racing. However in the long shot is a horse called Ring of Fire at No.6 – the sixth race at Metropolitan Handicap in Sydney this afternoon, trained by my cousin so it's got a good chance.
LISA Write it down it might deliver the goods.
LISA Well Gerald Hensley is a former diplomat, he served as the head of the Prime Minister's Department under both Sir Robert Muldoon and David Lange, he was also Secretary of Defence for eight years, a true political insider. Hensley has written a book about his government career which includes revealing insights into the advent of New Zealand's nuclear free policy and the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. Gerald Hensley joins me now.
You probably get asked about this all the time but tell us really what was Norman Kirk like?
GERALD HENSLEY – Former Prime Minister's
Well he was Prime Minister for only a short time but I thought he had real gleams of greatness but his health really prevented that coming through, but for example someone like Lee Kwan Yu still talks about his meetings with Norman Kirk, that was the degree of the impression that he could make on his fellow Prime Ministers.
LISA One of the impressions that I was left with after reading the book was that you sat with him after he died, how did it strike you to be there and how did you end up being there?
GERALD It was a change of events my father in law was a friend of his and his lawyer and executor, so I went at Ruth Kirk's request to the Home of Compassion in the morning after he'd died.
LISA She didn’t want him to be alone?
GERALD No she said go and see Norman. I was a bit surprised to be shown into the bedroom and there he was lying on the bed in his pyjamas and he looked like some sort of great Roman Senator, like a carved effigy lying there and the sort of soft spring wind just blowing in and out of the windows, and his possessions in a little brown paper bag on one side.
LISA In stark contrast.
GERALD In stark contrast yes.
LISA Some would say that at the moment we're currently in the grip of gutter politics, well you worked with Sir Robert Muldoon who was no stranger to such things, he brought down Labour MP Colin Moyle with the innuendos about homosexuality, what did he tell you about that incident in a quiet moment?
GERALD He told me that it was the thing that he most regretted in his life. This was in the darkened cabin of a plane flying back from Tokyo in the middle of the night and we were sitting together and just chatting and this popped out and I think he meant it, there was no reason why he would say it in those circumstances if he didn’t mean it.
LISA Had you been talking about it or was it out of the blue?
GERALD I think we'd been talking about the House or behaviour in the House or something, there was something led up to it but I certainly didn’t expect him to make that confidence, but I believed him.
LISA You believed him. The lasting image that some would have of Muldoon is him can I say half cut calling a snap election. Now in this book you declare who was partly responsible for that, can you tell us the story?
GERALD First of all I think he didn’t call the election because he was half cut, I think he got half cut in the course of the evening, he had intended I think, been thinking for some time the general election, cos he'd asked me to look up the shortest time, but on that evening the Governor General Sir David Beatty accepted some responsibility because Muldoon went to Government House to seek a dissolution and it was an awkward time, the Governor General was giving a dinner party with members of the Opposition and members of the Press, and so feeling he had to get away carefully from his dinner table he told the staff to show the Prime Minister into his study and give him a drink, he couldn’t get away for some time so he told me, Sir David told me that Muldoon had two fairly hefty whiskies by the time the Governor General joined him and I think things got worse from then on as the night went on.
LISA Well also in your book you touch fleetingly on spooks on spies, but did the Cold War really reach New Zealand in the sense were there KGB Russian spies being filtered through this country?
GERALD Yes there was a flourishing KGB residency in New Zealand as in most Russian embassies around the world for many years.
LISA And so what can you tell us about that?
GERALD There's not much, I steered away from all this in my book, 20 years have gone by but it's not quite long enough for some of this detail, but there's no question there was and of course we know the meetings that Dr Sutch had been having with Razgoverov who was one of the KGB…
LISA Which has received recent publicity again. Let's fast forward to David Lange. His lasting legacy some people would say is arguably the nuclear free legislation but by the account in your book we seem to have bumbled our way to that end result, what actually happened.
GERALD Well I have a growing feeling that we played it very badly and that bumbling probably is not too far away, I remember being told by Michael Armicoster who was then Under Secretary of State when I went to try and – at David Lange's request to try and salvage something from that disaster. He said to me look you asked for a ship and we agreed to it, you asked for a particular time for the visit and we agreed to that, and then when we submitted a formal request for all this you said no, and I think that was the lasting damage.
LISA They felt the rug had been pulled out from underneath them.
GERALD They felt they’d been deceived that we were not serious and that we'd led them so to speak up the garden path.
LISA What does it say about Lange's character, people have said he was a man that wanted to be accepted by his peers and that he might have been saying one thing to Americans and the other to his own colleagues at home, what does this say about him?
GERALD He was a very – you know he was a feelings man, a warm hearted man but he was prone to talk to people more or less along the lines that they would be most comfortable with, so I think he was saying to the Americans he was working towards a solution to overcome the problem of ship visits as against our anti nuclear policy but he was not saying that to others or saying that in public in New Zealand, and I think the Americans became increasingly doubtful that he was serious in what he was telling them. He was also telling Bob Hawke, Lee Kwan Yu, Nakasoni the Prime Minister of Japan that we were absolutely determined to stay in ANZUS but we somehow mishandled the thing and slipped out.
LISA Rainbow Warrior, the Lange government was tipped off to who was responsible by someone inside the French camp, who did that and why do you think?
GERALD Well the first tip off is connected with this programme because it was Richard Harman's father who first alerted us to the going's on down at the Outboard Boat Club and that was really what started the whole unravelling.
LISA But the French government had a hand in it, well a department a French department had a hand in giving you information?
GERALD When we were gradually closing in on it yes, one of the French agencies gave us a hint, they didn’t tell us all we found it out step by step but we certainly got a hint from one of the rival bodies in Paris and that was quite helpful.
LISA Was it someone in France rather than someone here in the country?
GERALD Our people had good contacts in Paris with a whole range of people and that’s where we got that hint.
LISA Let's bring Richard Long in because I know he's read your book with interest.
RICHARD Well first of all wonderful read Gerald, for anyone who's been through the Muldoon Lange period it's just chock full of anecdotes, wonderful. But to continue Lisa's theme on that, there's half a dozen French agencies I understand, security agencies and they're all very competitive and hate each other, so was one just trying to dob in the DGSE on this or did they just regard them as cowboys who shouldn’t have done it and did they act that way.
GERALD I think both, I think you're right about the rivalry but I think they disapproved of such a cowboy action and weren’t averse to giving us a hint. I wouldn’t exaggerate it I mean they didn’t tell us all or anything but they did sort of say look over there, that kind of hint.
RICHARD Okay, well skipping to Lange and the Fiji coup and the attempted hijack of the plane, what on earth was he playing at when he tried to send a Hercules load of troops to Fiji at the time without consulting you as the security co-ordinator, without consulting the Chief of Defence staff, just what on earth did he hope to achieve.
GERALD That’s a question I've puzzled over for the subsequent 20 years Richard and I just don’t know the answer, I hope that perhaps my book my induce some other people who may know more shed more light on it, but I don’t know. I don’t know another equally baffling incident that morning that when we got news of the hijack and I arranged for the terrorist emergency group which we'd all exercised and established….
LISA This was a man in the plane on the tarmac holding an engineer I think it was wasn’t it…
GERALD Took the Air New Zealand 747 coming back from Tokyo stopped to refuel in Nadi and when the refuelling was completed this man on the flight deck announced – revealed his sticks of dynamite and announced a hijack – a very quick witted Air New Zealand pilot managed to sneak out and get the passengers off the plane, so in the end he only controlled – well only – he controlled the plane and the flight deck, well that was something that we'd thought about and exercised and so one, but when I said to the Prime Minister right everything's ready to convene the group with Ministers and Police and military and so one he said no I don’t want to, I'm not going to do it and to this day it made coordinating the negotiations with the hijacker and so on very difficult, to this day I can't understand why he didn’t use the machinery which was there to handle, which he had exercised with me.
LISA This is a very different picture to perhaps the myth that people have of Lange, what would you say about that?
GERALD Well he was probably the most complicated man I've ever known, certainly the most complicated Prime Minister and that’s probably saying something, he had very great virtues, he was warm hearted and he was charmer, you enjoyed his company, he was famously witty it just bubbled out of the ground and so on, but he had a defensive view of the world and I don’t think he had great consistent willpower to force things through, unusual in a Prime Minister as the two over there would agree.
LISA I just want to take you back to Muldoon for a moment, people would perhaps have an image of him as being quite a hard man with a sharp tongue but there's some funny little things in this book which show other side of the characters, the tooth fairy story, other things like that, which is the real character?
GERALD Oh both, again he was complex but he had enormous force of will, that’s what frightened people and that’s what led to some of his more famous…
LISA Did he scare you?
GERALD Scare isn't the word, I was working for him but you never entered his room without straightening your tie and tightening yourself mentally because he was so quick, if you made a silly or careless remark he would pounce and so nobody ever took him lightly, but if you worked for him you saw a somewhat more genial side of him, certainly with his young advisory group he was very benevolent and almost fatherly with them, but even so they could go through some bad times if they said the wrong thing or tried to pretend the knew more about a subject, he was ruthless on that, and then there was the terrible problem of people who said 'with respect Prime Minister', for some reason he loathed that and I used to have to brief people who were new to a cabinet, committee officials you mustn’t say – and then they would be stampeded and they'd say the dreadful words and a great torrent of abuse would fall on them and I'd have to take them back to my room and give them a drink, no matter what time of day just to restore them.
RICHARD So apart from the story you told about Colin Moyle there was another thing there which I found that’s not the Muldoon that we all knew at the time reporting him and that was that over the Springbok Tour because I mean that won him the election and my image of him was that he was dead keen for it to go ahead for that reason, but you have him in his darkened room slumped on the desk saying when the Rugby Union decided to go ahead finally that no good will come of this.
LISA So what was his real attitude towards it?
GERALD It was ambivalent because he was of a generation and of a type in New Zealand who liked the thought of Springboks, he stood in a war cemetery once in Northern Italy looking at South African graves and saying well they fought with us you know, so he was torn but I certainly – I don’t subscribe to the view that he egged it on and brought it to a head in order to improve his election prospects, finally it was very dicey in the end he only got re-elected by a few votes, but when he said to me when the Rugby Union's final decision was made known, 'I see nothing but trouble from this, nothing but trouble' I took him at face value, there was nobody else in the room, there was no point in doing you know theatrical demonstration, I think it was his feeling.
CHRIS Just quickly skipping back to Lange has New Zealand suffered because of the breakdown of the relationship with America or has it probably in some ways benefited because of the association now you know the problems with international terrorism and we've been kept apart from a lot of that, and you know how closely should we be fostering ties with an administration that is being discredited every day?
GERALD Yes, I mean you don’t base your view of relation to the United States on a particular administration, even though you know it's eight years, but I think we have not had a comfortable relationship with the United States since our break up over ANZUS and I think we have had difficulties from that, I mean I wouldn’t put it too strongly but I think the greatest most powerful country in the world and a fellow English speaking similar language and in many ways culture to ours, I think that it's really cramped our style to have had an uncomfortable relationship and it lingers 22 years down the track it lingers as the Foreign Minister was saying. On the other hand alliance or no alliance there are kind of realities that bring us together. I once was talking with Stanley Rolfe who is Assistant Secretary of East Asia and he was briefing me on President Clinton's visit to China which was very interesting but we ended up talking about ANZUS and Stan said how is it that any time we discuss any subject we end up talking about ANZUS and I said to this good Jewish boy from Brooklyn, 'Stanley it's Catholic marriage, you can get divorce but we're still stuck with one another' and I think that’s the case.
FINAL THOUGHTS – GUEST COMMENTATORS
LISA Turning to our panel for their final thoughts for the day, Richard Long.
RICHARD Well we covered the enigma of Muldoon which Gerald Hensley but the even more extraordinary thing is the enigma of David Lange, I mean it was one thing for him to abandon the flat tax without cabinet approval and then also to withdraw from ANZUS basically without cabinet approval but Gerald reveals that he off sending our troops off to Fiji on one occasion or trying to without any of the normal approval processes, without cabinet being involved or the Chief of Defence staff, and we could have got involved in a shooting war which I don’t think we would have won frankly with one Hercules load of our troops against the Fijians.
LISA It's fascinating stuff isn't it though, the public image versus what you now hear from behind the scenes and it's quite ground breaking for him to write a book like this.
RICHARD Yes, and I think that I think frankly needs to be pursued further it's quite alarming.
CHRIS It's always interesting to hear Winston Peters talk and I think he's very much enjoying and relishing the balls and chains of his current office and looking forward to new challenges there but at the same time seemingly oblivious to what's going on with his own – the perception of himself and his party you know, I kind of see him as the Jonah Lomu of politics you know coming off the out of cabinet bench to make a cameo appearance while at the same time you know ignoring the fact that his support crew, i.e. New Zealand First is plummeting in the polls.
LISA Less than 2% in a few of the latest polls.
CHRIS And I'm absolutely convinced that his relationship with Helen Clark is doomed to failure, is going to end in tears, I mean we've seen there that he's obviously at loggerheads with her over the question of state funding, and I don’t think it'll be too long before the whole relationship you know bites one of them on the backside.
LISA Richard do you see it that way?
RICHARD Well there's certainly a difference I mean Winston has been very close to Labour all the way through but there are dividing problems now clearly yes, state funding was very interesting, Helen Clark's trying to turn the whole thing around, spending around to state funding but Winston's not gonna have a bar of it which is fascinating, how is she gonna get the votes without…
LISA And the American the US New Zealand relationship how well do you think that is progressing?
RICHARD Well I mean you have to go back on this programme those various senior American officials have praised what Winston said about getting closer to them and improving the relationship so I mean …
LISA On face value we can only hope for the best. Alright thank you very must to our panel this morning.'