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AGENDA - Full Transcript

AGENDA

October 28 2006

Transcript ©Front Page Ltd 2006

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

Presented by LISA OWEN

LISA As the Labour Party strives to distance itself from the headlines of the past few weeks it could do worse than to look across the ditch for a lesson in staying power. Queensland Labour Premier Peter Beattie, guest speaker at the Labour Party Conference this weekend has endured a lot in his time, he has just won a fourth term in power after a nightmare two years where he lost three MPs and three bi-elections and faced crises over water rationing and a failing health system. So how did he do it, Peter Beattie joins me now.

Good morning, local newspapers in your area said that your government was terminal quote "because of a bloody shocker of a third term" so what's the secret to political resurrection.

PETER BEATTIE – Queensland Premier

Well I never believe the local press that’s the first thing. Oh look I think yes we had a few hot spots along the way but any government that’s in office for a reasonable period of time, it doesn’t matter whether it's Helen Clark, or Peter Beattie or John Howard, you'll have your bumps, it's whether you are the best government to continue to govern for the constituency you serve and that’s the decision Queensland has made, but notwithstanding we've had a few bumps we were still the best to look after Queensland, but frankly what our strategy was, was to do what we always do that is have long term plans, water grid was the answer to some of the ….

LISA This is to counter your drought problems.

PETER Yes, we've got major impacts of climate change, I think Australians are starting to realise that now, but we had a water grid which was a series of pipelines moving water round from where it was falling to where it was needed, we also put together a very significant health strategy but we had a long term vision for Queensland's future and we spelt that out very clearly in practical terms for Queensland.

LISA You say governments have bumps but these arguably were mountains in the road, you had a scandal with a doctor there who's implicated in the death of 20 patients, you had a Minister take wine into an Aboriginal dry zone, you had several resignations, you had this massive water shortage, power blackouts, these are not small things so what parallels do you see between the position you found yourself in and perhaps the one that New Zealand Labour Party now finds itself in.

PETER Well I obviously don’t get involved in other countries and Helen Clark's a very good Prime Minister who certainly doesn’t need any advice from me, but in terms of what we did clearly in each one of those situations – I won't go through them I won't bore you with it – but some of those were as a result of clear decisions we made. The Minister went because of a range of things, we've got in a number of our communities limitations on alcohol because we're dealing with alcohol abuse, abusive children and so on, we took a strong view.

LISA So swift action when your own party members step out of line.

PETER Well yeah if people don’t toe the lines and the principles and standards that we set they go.

LISA You think they should go if they don’t do that?

PETER Oh if they break the rules absolutely and I've got a track record of getting rid of people who don’t, but I've also you mention members going, yes that’s true, I've had a strategy of renewal, when we came to office you know eight and a half years ago, of the 18 ministers we have there are only five left, I continually renew, change, improve, so people can see we've got a direction, plus you’ve gotta have strong leadership and the opposition of course weren’t up to scratch and people saw that.

LISA So did you win, or was it just that the opposition lost?

PETER Well you're asking me of course, we won.

LISA But how much did that play into your success do you think objectively?

PETER Well I think the real core issue here is, people will look and they will say look who is the best person to govern New Zealand or govern Queensland and they obviously will take into account the performance or lack of it from the opposition. I mean oppositions can whinge and jump up and down but are they ready to govern the country or govern the state? That it is a very crucial issue and in an election campaign people make that judgement. When you’ve got the day to day hurly burly and as I said governments have their bumps or mountains as you put them, people look at well how do you deal with those problems, that’s the first thing but secondly when you get into the election campaign and you haven’t got those sorts of things happening people say well who's the best to govern this country or govern this state, and then they make a judgement, if the opposition are not up to it then why would you risk the future of the state or the nation with them.

LISA Queensland, fastest growing state in Australia, you’ve got I think it's about 5% economic growth, to what degree is that success going to prove to be your enemy because you're faced with the likes of infrastructure problems and greater demands on water, electricity etc.

PETER Basically the challenges we have are as a result of growth. We have an additional 1500 Queenslanders every week, people leaving New South Wales, Victoria, we even have a reasonable percentage of New Zealanders who come to Queensland as well I should say.

LISA I think 130,000 permanent residents there of New Zealand.

PETER Absolutely, I mean New Zealanders the ones who've come have been fantastic members of our community, in fact of overseas people coming to Queensland 34% come from New Zealand, so people come to Queensland because we are the engine room of Australia you're quite right, we do have challenges with infrastructure that’s why we've got a 66 billion dollar programme over the next 20 years and this is what we did, we've been spelling this out, we did it prior to the election we did it through the election, people can see we've got a vision for Queensland and where it needs to go, but you're right there are challenges. Our biggest challenges relate to growth and development and numbers but I'd rather have those than be in a recession and going backwards.

LISA Right let's bring in our panel here. David Beatson what do you think the Premier has to offer in terms of advice? Should he be here giving a speech at the Labour Party Conference?

DAVID BEATSON – Columnist

Well I was going to ask him you know what's your brief, because they want you here for a reason, what reason have you been given for the invitation to come and tell the Labour Party how it can follow your model and get a fourth term?

PETER Oh well I'm here for a couple of reasons David I should say, I'm obviously talking to a number of businesses who do business in Queensland and I'm keen to see greater business between Queensland and New Zealand. We've got a lot in common we get on well, it's more than just rugby and it's more than just airlines as you and I both know, but clearly I'm doing business as well for Queensland, but the conference, I mean I have a lot of time for Helen Clark, I regard her as a friend of mine, she's someone that I've admired for a long time, I was given the invitation to come and talk about the election and I'm only too delighted to do that, we're fraternal parties if you like and I'll talk about what happened in Queensland.

DAVID Well what fraternal wisdom are you going to deliver for a Labour government which will seek a fourth term and also to break a mould which was almost as firmly cast if you like as your own, 65 years since a Labour government in Queensland achieved a fourth term?

PETER Well I guess the answer to that is that Helen Clark does very much what we already do, that is she actually stands for things, she's strong, she's determined, she was right on Iraq, Australia wasn’t. I mean she has always stood up and one of the reasons Queenslanders I think have supported my government is they know exactly where we stand, we're strong, we're stable and we provide that stable leadership. Helen Clark does the same thing.

DAVID Could it be also that your voters actually don’t know your opponents from a bean? You were up against a Liberal leader who'd been in office all of about a month, a first timer in parliament you were up against an old stager who'd been around the scene so long they probably forgot what he was about, if you'll forgive me for using that language, because that’s certainly the reading I get.

LISA Exploiting the opposition's weakness?

PETER Well look that did help campaign for us and I'll always be grateful for that, so let's not have too much modesty about it David, they did and but at the end of the day that’s not my fault, I mean if the opposition are hopeless they should get their act together, I mean if they are hopeless and people make a judgement they couldn’t govern a bean bag then that’s their problem not mine.

LISA Alright let's bring Brian in here.

BRIAN FALLOW – Economics Editor, NZ Herald

Premier we hear these appalling stories about the drought and one farmer suicide every four days and so on, I take it from what you were saying before that people are starting to make a link between that and climate change and do you think this will shift Australian policy on this at the national level.

PETER I think in the next federal election which will be due next year, it will be the biggest issue, now a lot of people would have thought that crazy, for anyone in politics to say a few years ago, but you’ve recognised it in New Zealand long before we did and to your credit. I mean the reality is that climate change is making significant changes, the rain patterns have dramatically changed over a long period of time, everyone just expected it was going to continue to rain, but it hasn’t, and that’s why we're building water grids, we're doing desalination, we're using recycled water, we're getting people to put tanks on the sides of their homes, we're getting them to do retrofits in their homes, dual flush toilets, all those sorts of things, using grey water and by that I mean water out of the bath. It will be in my view one of the biggest issues in the federal election next year.

BRIAN I gather the state governments are working together on some sort of setting up a carbon market and marketing rights to that and the government here and the opposition are both minded to go the same way, how's that going?

PETER Well it's early stages but there's a dual approach to this, that’s one part you're quite right. The second part is that we are investing a small fortune in developing clean coal technology. As you know Queensland's got 300 years supply of coal, what we need to do is to develop clean coal technology, we've got a pilot plant in central Queensland and we're investing 300 million, we've got 300 million coming from the coal industry, we're trying to get some money for the Commonwealth, we see that technology is part of it as well.

BRIAN But how do you make it worthwhile for generators to invest in this cos it's gotta be more expensive than just sending it up a chimney.

PETER Well basically what we're doing is – and I think Kyoto, the debate about Kyoto, climate change, will I think put a lot of pressure on not just our generators in Australia to use it but also make it attractive for overseas generators to use and buy the technology. So the issue is Australia produces about 1.5% of greenhouse gases, while that’s high per capita I mean frankly in world terms pardon my French it's bugger all, but when you see what's happening in China it's something like 15.6 and going that way, they're exempt from Kyoto. What we need to do because they're buyers of our coal, if we could actually get them to buy the technology for their generators we can have a huge impact on reducing greenhouse gases. I was in Beijing in June talking to a lot of the major players in China, we think that they will be part of either developing the technology or buying it, so that’s I think a big contribution we can make.

LISA We're gonna have to leave it there. Thank you very much for joining us this morning, Queensland Premier Mr Peter Beattie.


LISA Earlier this week Helen Clark assumed a peace-keeping role at the Pacific Islands Forum as the relationship between Australia the Solomon Island and Papua New Guinea reached a new low. Her success was a welcome diversion for the Labour Party after months of negative publicity over illegal election spending and the Taito Phillip Field affair. Rebuilding public confidence in the party's reputation will undoubtedly be a feature of this weekend's annual conference. I spoke to Helen Clark just before she left for the conference and began by asking her with the current level of unrest in the Pacific what more does New Zealand need to do to calm the waters.

HELEN CLARK – Prime Minister

We're pretty involved and we played a pretty important role at the forum this week in Nadi, because we arrived there with country's not speaking to each other, PNG Australia on the one hand, Solomons and Australia with severe strains on the other. So people looked to New Zealand to come in and find a way of working through the issues. With respect to Fiji we've made it very clear that we support the constitutional process, we don’t welcome the military commander saying that he wants to take the law into his own hands and at that point we have to let the Fiji government get on and sort it out but they know that they have our support.

LISA As far as the Solomons is concerned though 90% of RAMSI is funded by Australia, we give 10% and a small number of personnel, have we got the resources to contribute any more?

HELEN You can always do more if your aid budget increases over time, and the Solomons has come from virtually nowhere to be the biggest single development partner New Zealand has, so we're certainly pulling our weight there but there's no question that the regional mission the Solomons is not viable without Australian support and if you add in what they’ve given to the specific regional mission, plus Australia aid over the last three and a half years, comes to something like one billion Australian dollars, huge resources.

LISA Let's come back home. Before you went away the validating legislation for the misspent election funding well that was passed and in doing that there were questions raised obviously the question of state funding for elections has come up. How much support do you think there is for that – state funded elections?

HELEN Well the funding has to come from somewhere and what we've seen is the bigger corporates show signs of getting out of giving to parties altogether particularly now it's signalled that there's going to be grater transparency around donations. Telecom made the public announcement, I understand others are in the process of making such decisions. Now elections do cost and the state has always recognised that with the specific support for broadcasting on radio and television, so those are the issues that have got to be looked at, people know that political parties need to present a case, how can they do that in the absence of significant funding?

LISA But do you think you can get the numbers to get state funding through?

HELEN Well it's an issue that’s going to have to be worked through with other parties. I would think even the National Party would be starting to sweat with some of the public announcements that the larger corporates are making, so we just need to have a rational discussion, have a look at other models, in Australia for quite a lot of years now they have had a higher level of public funding, American presidential elections do, it's very common right through Europe, just need to look at what's a good model.

LISA When it comes to relationships with other parties obviously you needed support to get this validating legislation through, what is that gonna cost you in the long run, you are a coalition government, there are no free lunches what is the price you're gonna have to pay for that support?

HELEN Well we did get support from the confidence and supply partners and the Greens abstained on the issue, I think they all knew what the case for the legislation was, firstly it's not a good look for a country like New Zealand to have accounts tagged and secondly parliamentary service really didn’t have a clue what it could spend on and what it couldn’t in the wake of that particular report. But we work very closely with all of those parties, we from time to time engage with the Maori Party as well. I think what we've shown in government is that we do have a capacity to relate to smaller parties and pursue a coherent government agenda across a lot of policy areas.

LISA So okay in terms of relating to smaller parties United Future Peter Dunne in the week that this validating legislation goes through he announces that yes we can expect personal tax cuts and we can expect corporate tax cuts. What are your expectations given he's said that what are you leaning towards in terms of personal the business tax cuts?

HELEN Well I think people know that when you put up a pretty ambitious business tax review proposal that there's likely to be something come out of it and I think what we've seen both United Future and New Zealand First do is kinda go out front and claim some of the credit for whatever might happen in advance, good on them, that’s politics. What we've gotta do now is sit and work through a budget process because while it's always nice for people to have something by the way of tax cuts, on the other hand there's not a day that goes by when people aren’t saying why isn't there more for this why isn't there more for that, so we've gotta sit down and see what the options are.

LISA So what about the Greens then, how can you rely on their continued support when the party itself is saying on its website that it looks at National's climate change policy and thinks it's quote "gutsy, more gutsy than Labour by far". What's making you more attractive for them when National seems to be delivering some of the policy that perhaps they might have relied on you for in the past?

HELEN Well they’ve obviously seen something in that policy that I haven’t seen, because it's utterly vacuous, there's also the reality that the National Party is led by a climate change denier, such people are in retreat right around the world.

LISA Dr Brash in recent times granted has said that, he's reviewed his position on that.

HELEN Well I think we know the real truth is that he would shy away from taking the sort of measures that are gonna have to be taken and there's gotta be action across forestry, across land use and management, across the transport fleet, across public transport, so many areas.

LISA What specific action are you talking about?

HELEN Well specifically we've already announced the permanent forest sink initiative which is about helping reforestation, there is more to come on forestation and reforestation, there's more to come on sustainable land use management, there's more to come on efficiency in the vehicle fleet, there's more to come on efficiency in our homes and making sure we build the best energy efficiency designs, there are a lot of policies either already announced…

LISA So will part of that be a ban on old imports – old imported cars?

HELEN Well obviously that’s one of the things that out there for consultation, and by the way we haven’t just announced a whole lot of things because there's always you know carrots and sticks in some of these things, we are going out and saying here's the options you have your say, there will be quite a substantial paper coming out for consultation before the end of the year on the land use issues for example, forestry, agriculture, and so on, so we're trying to move forward in a way which takes the public with us. I think now and particularly with the old Gore film having had such a terrific reception around the world, publics are pretty tuned into the fact that the world's got a problem here and people like to see New Zealand pulling its weight with problems not just pushing them aside.

LISA There has been allegations from some political commentators that you're looking like a tired third term government, are you?

HELEN Well I'm not tired, I saw a speech Tony Blair gave recently where he said third term governments are never popular but just get on with it. Look we've been in government seven years, we believe we've achieved a lot but you can never rest on your laurels, if you sat around congratulating yourself on what you’ve done, you'd never get anywhere, we have to keep setting new goals, new targets, identifying new challenges and issues, we're in the process of doing that even mid term looking to the future.

LISA So in terms of that new challenges new goals can we expect any Cabinet reshuffle before the next election, are you anticipating any retirements or new blood, what can we expect?

HELEN Well firstly the main blood comes in at an election and I'll be signalling to the party conference that we need to be looking at new quality candidates for our list, that’s when you do your main renewal. With respect to the Cabinet of course close to a third of it actually is new since the last election, that’s quite a significant turnover, we've got new MPs who came into parliament the last term playing important roles in select committees.

LISA Retirement – Michael Cullen?

HELEN Well, I just find that Michael Cullen over my political career has been an incredible work horse, he's been an amazing deputy to me, the longer I can hang on to him the happier I'll be.

LISA Close to Auckland, South Auckland, arguably this is the area that delivered Labour its last election victory, 20% increase in the South Auckland vote, yet out there now this is the very area facing these huge problems, their young people are killing other young people, what are you doing to help them, do you owe them some kind of debt, they put you in government?

HELEN Well I don’t want to stigmatise particular suburbs of Auckland, the reality is that the youth violence issues are not only in that particular area, there's actually some around my own electorate and around Phil Goff's and they're well known to the Police, and we also urge the Police when they’ve got this focus on Counties Manual don’t forget some of the other suburbs with the same issues, but look we have been putting a lot more effort into programmes both around family violence and youth gang violence, there are new youth workers, there's a lot of good will across the Police, across the schools, across the community agencies, across Ministry of Social Development to deal with these issues, we don’t want no go zones in our cities.

LISA And sometimes it takes a bit more than goodwill, I mean are we are risk of having this urban underclass like south central LA, do you feel that that’s what we're looking at?

HELEN No I don’t believe so, unemployment is now quite low and the interesting thing is I think we've got a bit of a lag from times when things were much worse. There's quite an unusual pattern to a lot of the youth violence, a lot of these young people are in school during the day or in a job, they're at church on Sunday but something's going horribly wrong in the wee small hours, Saturday afternoons and so on, it's not a typical gang problem which you might be finding in the suburbs of other big cities world wide.

LISA So does Labour need to lead by example and give the people of South Auckland and MP that they can look up to?

HELEN Well I think I've made it pretty clear that Phillip Field needs to be considering his future. Of course he's not the only MP across the Counties Manukau area, there's other MPs and very very good role models but certainly there's some issues to be worked through in Mangere.

LISA But he is an MP that finds himself in a position that we have not seen before, a search warrant executed on an MP, an MP's office, how long can you afford to hold on to him, you say that you’ve told him he should be reconsidering his future but what about a decisive decision by you?

HELEN Well it's a little difficult given that the most basic concept of our justice system is innocent until proven guilty, there's a Police investigation going on, it must go on untrammelled, the Police must do their work then there'll be decisions by all concerned to make.

LISA But in saying that separate to the Police investigation how seriously do you think this dragging on and damaging you as a party – you could still make a decision separate to the Police investigation that this is a person that you no longer want being a Labour MP. As a party you could decide that.

HELEN The decision has been made to suspend. There's been very clear statements about the need to consider the future of the major affiliate of the Labour Party which carries significant influence in selections has made it clear that Mr Field won't have their support. I think people can see the direction it's going in but right now the Police must do their job and quite a lot will hang on that.

LISA In recent days you have said and stuck to the line that you don’t think the whole pledge card issue is also going to damage Labour at the next election. If this is not what's going to be at the forefront of people's minds what do you think is going to be the election issue?

HELEN I think it's always about a choice between two visions of New Zealand, one takes you ahead, one takes you back to the bad old days of the 90s, the social division, the state assets sales, the sort of government we've seen from National in the past. Now when push came to shove at the last election people had two very stark choices, they stuck with Labour and I don’t think people want to put all the gains that we've made across so many areas at risk, we'll be looking to keep on building on the things we've achieved, it can't be all bad when you’ve got the lowest unemployment in the western world, it can't be all bad when you’ve had just about the longest run of continuous economic growth since the second world war. A lot has gone right in New Zealand.

LISA So after everything that’s happened you're determined to fight for a fourth term?

HELEN Absolutely, and I have at our conference this weekend Premier Peter Beattie of Queensland had a shocker of a first year at the beginning of his third term and went on to win by a huge margin.

LISA Alright, thank you very much Prime Minister Helen Clark.

LISA We'll turn now to our panel for their reaction. Starting with you Brian you were interested in her comments on climate change there.

BRIAN Well I thought it's a little bit rich of her to claim the moral high ground here when their first go a climate change policy four years ago now has completely collapsed and they're still really waiting to fill that gap, granted that the Nats' virtue on the subject is still kind of wet paint as well.

LISA Interesting that the guy that they’ve brought over to talk to them at the conference Peter Beattie, Queensland Premier, saying that you need to get these things right, climate change, if you want to continue with the economic growth.

BRIAN I think that they're proceeding so gingerly because they're afraid of getting ahead of public opinion on this, and I think they’ve paid an electoral price for carrying the torch on climate change in the past, that’s their judgement to make, but if she's right and the public opinion has tipped on this issue I think we need to see a little bit more decisiveness and leadership than we have so far on this.

DAVID In my view the real issue is are we seeing any grit and determination to actually address issues today. It's fine to talk about alternative visions for the future but this is a government seeking a fourth term and has yet to put its pegs down on some very basic longer term issues for New Zealand's future. Brian's touched on some of them, taxation, they're still obviously fiddling around, and there's still a lot of fuzzy talk going on about what we might see in the next budget and how the minor parties are leading on the issue, well where is Labour's leadership on the issue, where is the decisive action on things like Phillip Field, where is the decisive action on things like dealing with the issue of possible retirements of your Minister of Finance, you can't just leave questions like that unresolved and they’ve gotta bite on them.

BRIAN And it's all well and good to hear about firming up language about prospect of tax cuts in 2008, but that’s the ninth year of her administration, and the reasons that the Aussies are so much richer than us is that their businesses have invested a lot more capital per worker, it's not rocket science, things like tax, the regulatory environment which have been her charge for you know more than two terms now, are not providing good incentives to do that, and it's all still in manana territory to address that.

LISA Some commentators have said it's a tired looking government what do you put the inaction down to, fear that as Brian is saying that you might ostracise some people by getting ahead of public opinion, or they don’t have innovative dynamic policy to share with us?

DAVID I think they have tripped up on some major issues and it's been to their cost and they have actually reeled back from that and are having second thoughts about so many different things, that’s one point but equally they are distracted by the issues, such as Field, such as Benson-Pope, the little minor scandals, the little issues whereas the big issues just seem to be on the back burner while the little things get attention.

LISA Alright let's bring in TV One Political Editor Guyon Espiner who's in Rotorua for the Labour Party Conference. Morning Guyon, you would have heard the Prime Minister's comments there about let's start with Phillip Field saying basically that innocent until proven guilty, we're still in a holding pattern, what's the mood down there in regard to Phillip Field is it time to cut him loose.

GUYON ESPINER – One News Political Editor

Well I think there was quite a bit of shock last night about just you know – there was quite a dramatic development yesterday with the Police raiding his two offices and his parliamentary office, we tried to speak to Mike Williams the President about this, he agreed to do an interview and then went out to park his car and was never seen again so he scuttled across the floor and Michael Cullen as well was very short about this, granted he's the Attorney General so there's a bit of a conflict of interest there, but yeah I mean they're certainly concerned, we spoke to Andrew Little, the Union Leader who's at the conference too and obviously the unions are searching around for another candidate so they’ve made their minds up.

LISA Reading between the lines there she said words to the effect that she thought people could see where this was heading with Phillip Field so is she just relying on them to wait for him to bow out at the eleventh hour?

GUYON Yeah well the thing is that while Prime Minister's are very powerful unto our system, the voters voted him into Mangere and the voters have to vote him out, you can't just turf someone out of parliament, they’ve suspended him from the Labour Party they could expel him from the caucus, that doesn’t change the fact that he could remain there as an Independent MP unless he's convicted of a crime with penalty of more than two years then you have to leave parliament, but you know so she is actually a little bit catarrhed about how much power she does have over his future.

LISA So in terms of the big picture she's indicated that she wants Labour to get over the pledge card issue, get over the Brethren and start looking at policy, what expectations are there down there in terms of policy and coming up with some big picture ideas?

GUYON Well I think there is an expectation and I think that’s obviously what she needs to do but I've been surprised at the way that they’ve organised this conference because it does seem like they're just you know really being bogged down in that mire, we had in a short speech yesterday from Helen Clark last night at the conference, just opening the conference a reference to the Exclusive Brethren, they're holding two sessions on it today, how to combat the religious might in New Zealand politics, I think that’s just drawing back that attention, and it's hard to move around the Labour Party conference without seeing some Labour Party socks for sale, or they're auctioning off a hybrid car, so they're rattling the tin under everyone's noses and I just wonder how wise that is just to be so open and blatant about that and it keeps coming back to that issue. In your interview with Helen Clark she was talking about state funding, now that may well be an area where you need to go, but god I wouldn’t like to be fighting an election on state funding because it's gonna give the National Party a dream run if you're trying to pass legislation to say the taxpayers should pay more it's gonna just draw that issue of the pledge card right back so I think that they really need to do more to push the substance and the policy and get away from some of these issues.

LISA I'm interested in everyone's views on this, Peter Beattie though is he going to end up being an own goal in the sense that he indicated there if your MPs astray you should cut them loose, he's talking about telling people clearly what your policy for the future is, addressing things like climate change, is he not underlining things that Labour might need to work on.

GUYON Well I was listening to that with interest because it reminded me very much of the way Helen Clark used to operate and has operated so successfully, she was cutting Minister's loose at a very swift rate if you remember earlier in the term, she seems to have lost some of that political acumen where she would read an issue very quickly and then act decisively on it, look a the Phillip Field issue, I mean Nolan took what nine months on that inquiry it just dragged on and on, look at the spending issue, it took them so long to come round and no act of contrition really from that either. So she hasn’t really managed to put those issues to bed.

LISA We'll bring our panel in here. David, this morning Andrew Little saying that we need an act of contrition over the pledge card, do they need to come up with some kind of apology or gentle words to the public to move forward?

DAVID Well they’ve certainly gotta do something because – and they're doing all they literally can in one sense but the sort of total denial that there has been a wrought. Look every party has wroughted the funds that have been available to them, I'm quite sure of that and a government is in a bigger and better position to wrought more of it than anybody else, and they've done it, and they’ve done it consistently over years and it's fine to say well nobody blew the whistle in the past. That’s not entirely true because there's been a lot of controversy about their election advertising.

LISA Words of apology, do we need them Brian?

BRIAN I think it would help, a little bit of humility here and this is a Caesar's wife issue particularly if you're in power you can't be seen to be mixing up your money and the taxpayer's money and I think that’s the bottom line impression that people are left with and they really do have to sort of say it's a fair cop.

DAVE Guyon is absolutely right when he says I wouldn’t like to be in a situation where I was trying to sell the electorate on state funding of elections as a substitute, as a way of getting round this issue, this is not the way – you know it's not gonna make the problem go away, there's still going to be a lot of jiggering around the sides.

LISA Guyon, what are we expecting in Helen's keynote speech that she's delivering today?

GUYON Well we haven’t really had much of a taste of what she's going to get into there, she has used that speech, the main conference speech in the past to signal new directions, but you know the way Helen Clark operates, you're not going to get a bolt from the blue and a whole new policy direction, there'll be signals and there'll be hints about where things are going but she's an incrementalist you know things happen slowly, she doesn’t like to surprise people so I wouldn’t expect any dramatic new policy announcements today from her.

LISA How much talk about renewal and retirements that might be expected, that was obviously something we were discussing here this morning?

GUYON Well it was and I thought that was quite another big hint that she gave you in that interview today about people having to move on and she said that she would reiterate that in her speech and I guess that’s aimed at the Dover Samuels and the Marion Hobbs and the Diane Yates and the Russell Fairbrothers, those sorts of people, but it interests me that apart from Michael Cullen, Helen Clark is the only Minister with a speaking slot at this conference, now you go to a National Party conference you might get five or six spokespeople with their main speaking slots and you get some ideas, she's so dominant in this party but I just would have thought it would be worth giving some other ministers and even some of the newer back benchers a chance to take the floor, I mean let's see some of this new blood that she's talking about.

LISA Thank you very much for joining us this morning that’s Guyon Espiner who is the Political Editor for One News.


FINAL THOUGHTS – GUEST COMMENTATORS

LISA Were we looking and hearing from a tired Prime Minister and a tired government, or what are they gonna need to do to spark it up?

DAVID Well they're obviously going to have to carve out that new vision for what they're going to do in another term, and that’s going to be hard work. I think the past is catching up with Helen Clark in a big way, she can't act as decisively as she did early in her political career as Prime Minister and that’s going to be a real drag factor.

LISA Why?

DAVID Because you make too many enemies quite frankly. You create too much tension within your own ranks the harder you are and remember she's in the middle of a row now where it's her actions which are in question, her – she is in the gun for a change compared to the ministers she's dealt with in the past and there can't be a double standard on this, sooner or later your past catches up with you and I think it's about that point really.

BRIAN I thought what was striking about Mr Beattie is that you got a sense that he had a vision and that the voters of Queensland had recognised what it was and had gone for it, that’s what's missing, I think you're right about that, I had the uncomfortable feeling before the last election that I didn’t know what Labour wanted to do with another three years in power and I still don’t know, and Guyon's word about her being incrementalist I think is right, but there comes a point when we say well you have all this power Ms Clark but what are you gonna do with it.

LISA What are you gonna use it for? What do you think of the choice of bringing the Queensland Premier over, is it going to end up shooting yourself in the foot by bringing this guy over, are you admitting that you anticipate you're gonna have the same problems he did?

BRIAN Well I spose you could see it that way, it could on the other hand be a sort of a decorous recognition that they do have these problems and maybe they had something to learn from someone else because there is a touch of arrogance there that it would be nice to see something that countered the other way.

DAVID It can be either the worst own goal in history or it could be a real wake up call and you know as far as I'm concerned it's too early to call what's going to happen in the election, far too early, there is the opportunity for Labour to actually recover the ground that’s lost equally there's an opportunity for National to shoot itself in the foot which it seems to have a remarkable facility for doing.

LISA Well that was the point obviously raised by the Premier, sometimes the opposition helps you out in leaps and bounds, do you think that Labour has enjoyed that advantage a little at the moment?

BRIAN Well I think Dr Brash has been something of an advantage for them, for the government I mean in that respect, but …

DAVID Well how does National shuffle off the shadow of the 90s that Labour is really casting over them very effectively.

BRIAN Well I mean Bill English was very strong about we need to move on from that, they seem to have retreated a little bit from that, at least that’s my perception of them and I don’t think it's gonna work for them.

LISA Thank you very much for joining us this morning.

ENDS

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