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Transcript: Phil Goff interviewed by Corin Dann 8/3/11


Tuesday 8th March, 2011

TRANSCRIPT: Labour Leader, Phil Goff interviewed on TV ONE's Breakfast at 7:20am this morning.

The full length video interview can also be seen on tvnz.co.nz at, http://tvnz.co.nz/Breakfast

PHIL GOFF interviewed by CORIN DANN

Corin: Well is the political harmony in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch quake coming to an end, with Labour and the government starting to disagree over things such as a national memorial and some of those controversial comments about heritage buildings by Gerry Brownlee. Here to talk about those issues as well as near record high petrol prices and that Botany bi-election, which has just about been forgotten, is Labour Leader, Phil Goff. Good morning Mr Goff.

Phil: Good morning Corin.

Corin: Just firstly on the issue of heritage buildings do you think Gerry Brownlee has been too heave handed with some of his comments about bowling down old dungas?

Phil: Yeah, I think Gerry got it wrong to be frank. He said that you know he was gonna bowl everything over except for three or four iconic buildings, and I think it was an overstatement. Look we've given Gerry enormous powers, he's got the powers of a war time minister, but we need those powers to be exercised responsibly and we need him to involve stakeholders and to be inclusive, and you know Gerry was wrong. A lot of the heritage will be lost and that's the tragedy for Christchurch, but that's inevitable. Anything that's unsafe will have to go, but you know to say that these were killer buildings when actually the two buildings that killed the most people were buildings not from the heritage days, but from the 60s and 70s, was quite wrong, and where you can save the heritage clearly you know Christchurch people are gonna want to do that. They need to be consulted, they need to be involved in the decisions.

Corin: Isn't he though accurately reflecting a large chunk of the public down there? I mean I just spoke to Gary Moore, former Mayor, certainly in the Labour camp you could say or close to it, he was of the same view, bowl them down. Isn't there a mood down there that they don't want a lot of these buildings?

Phil: Well look where a building is unsafe and will continue to be unsafe, it's gotta go, people come first. For buildings that simply aren't affordable in terms of rebuilding, they'll have to go as well. But Christchurch people I think will want to keep the most beautiful of those buildings that are able to be saved and that are safe, and all Gerry's gotta do is talk with people, including on other buildings that he's mentioned that need to come down, he needs to talk to people first and make a considered decision. He doesn't have to you know rush in like a bull at a gate on that, and that's what we're saying to him, and I think he's acknowledged that by stepping right back from those comments, and being far more cautious about what he's advocating.

Corin: There's been some other controversial comments too about this following the quake. The Prime Minister for example commenting on the official cash rate, do you share his view that the Reserve Bank Governor should be cutting the interest rate?

Phil: Well I think there's two people in the country that really shouldn't comment on what should happen with the official cash rate, that's the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister, and the reason for that is the long established protocol that the Reserve Bank Governor is independent. Look I think most of us feel that the cash rate should come down, even before this earthquake we were headed back into a double dip recession, one of only two countries in the developed world that was heading backwards, not forwards. So in that environment you don't tighten up your monetary policy you loosen it, but the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister have gotta be very careful that they're not being seen to direct the Reserve Bank Governor, because that's contrary to the law.

Corin: The Botany bi-election. You claimed that this was good for Labour in some way?

Phil: Oh absolutely, our candidate lifted his vote in a National Party stronghold from 21% to 28%, and the National majority tumbled from 11,000 down to under 4,000. It was a 4.2% swing to Labour in a seat where nobody rated Labour as having any chance of improving its position at all.

Corin: Can we read much into it though given that it has been completely overshadowed by the quake, almost forgotten, and a very low turnout. Is it a bit dangerous to read too much into that?

Phil: It was a low turnout, that happens in bi-elections, and it was overshadowed by the quake, there's no doubt about that, but the fact of the matter is ACT people stayed away from voting for their party in droves, its vote was decimated, and the National turnout was very low in a seat where you'd expect a lot of enthusiasm for National, because it's a National Party stronghold, and their candidate of course was a very well known candidate, he's serving his third term as a City Councillor.

Corin: Just finally, I asked the Prime Minister yesterday about petrol prices, he expressed some concern but said basically we can do nothing. Do you agree with him on that, is there anything we could do? Could the government for example remove GST on the excise tax?

Phil: I remember John Key criticising Labour two and a half years ago about the high petrol price, so now apparently he can do nothing, of course it is internationally driven, but the fact is look I've got a diesel car, it's only a medium size car, for the first time I spent more than a hundred dollars filling it up the other day. What he can do is make sure that people on middle and low incomes are getting a fairer deal in order to be able to meet the extra costs. At the moment people are being crushed by those rising prices, everything's going up in price and certainly you know the broken promise not to increase GST has added an extra pressure on people's budgets. You know people at the top end, John did very well out of the tax cuts, he got a thousand dollars a week, people in the middle and low income areas didn't.

Corin: But is there anything you could do for petrol?

Phil: On petrol. No I mean you could conceivably drop the tax, but I don't think we're in a position to do that at the moment. What you've gotta do is increase the income of middle and low income people, instead of doing everything as was done in the past, with tax cuts for the rich.

Corin: Opposition Leader Phil Goff, thank you very much for your time.

ENDS

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