Phil Goff & John Key interviewed on TVNZ's Breakfast
Phil Goff & John Key interviewed on TVNZ's Breakfast - 7th & 8th Nov
TRANSCRIPT: Labour Leader, Phil Goff interviewed on TV ONE's Breakfast at 7:20am this morning the 8th November and National Leader, John Key interviewed on TV ONE's Breakfast at 7:20am yesterday morning.
The full length video interview can also be seen on tvnz.co.nz at, http://tvnz.co.nz/Breakfast
interviewed by CORIN DANN
(Tuesday 8th November)
Corin: Back to the election campaign trail, joining me now is Labour Leader, Phil Goff, good morning to you Mr Goff. Big day for you yesterday with a number of policies. If we start with paid parental leave. It seems to be even the employers are saying it's a nice looking policy, they'd like to have it. But when you look at what's happening in the world right now the prospect of a major financial crisis still brewing, is this just something we can't actually afford right now?
Phil: Well I think Labour's got the balance between a social policy that everybody thinks is a good idea, but it has to be paid for and that's why we're phasing it in over the six years. It will be affordable in that way, and look let's get the thing started, it starts the year after we get elected, it finishes in about five or six years after that, but it does give parents that chance to bond with their children in the early years, and every report you read say how important that is, to give mums and to give dads a bit of quality time with their children when they're first born.
Corin: But I mean to go from 14 to what 26 weeks, it took Labour with a prod from the Alliance to do it in their first term, was it first term I think of the last Labour government. Even at the boom times there was some resistance, it was a hard policy to get in. New Zealand was late to it. How on earth can we afford it as a country now?
Phil: Well I think you just heard from Jennifer Curtin that New Zealand is behind most other countries in the developed world. We worry about closing the gap with Australia. We worry about people going across to Australia. They're already on 18 weeks and it'll go up there. So we're saying this is something that needs to happen, it's good for parents, most importantly it's good for kids. Because our policy yesterday was focused on children, they're our future, we've gotta do the best by them.
Corin: Alright if we move on to the benefits. You implemented Working for Families. At that point you decided not to apply it to benefit families. Why the change of heart now?
Phil: I think you've gotta look at two policies in conjunction. One is that we're gonna lift the minimum wage. That provides a proper margin so that it pays to work. We can't afford to leave 200,000 children in poverty. Labour lifted 130,000 out of poverty because we brought in Working for Families. As Annette King said, this is unfinished business. We've got one of the worst records in the world about child poverty. John Key talked about the under class, but he had to admit the other day it's got worse. This makes it better.
Corin: But again you know critics will say we're borrowing 300 million dollars a week. Greece looks like it's going under, we've got Italy in trouble. We are a country which is vulnerable given the amount of money we have to borrow from overseas markets, probably a lot of them European markets.
Phil: Isn't this about priorities. You know the government found enough money to give $1000 a week in taxcuts to the most wealthy people in this country. The top 10% of income earners are getting about two and a half billion dollars a year in taxcuts, and we say we can't afford not to take our children out of poverty? Look it's common humanity, but it's also economic. How can you afford to give 200,000 children a year a bad start in life. To have them growing up living in inadequate housing, with not enough income support, not enough support to give them breakfast to go to school in the morning, so they don't learn. Look I grew up in a New Zealand that was a great country to bring up our kids. I want that for every child in our society. That's what we're passionate about.
Corin: Your critics will say the danger is though, the economy will end up being in far worse shape and then poverty will be even worse?
Phil: No no absolutely the opposite. If you take children and you leave them to grow up in poverty, they'll never realise their potential, they'll never make the contribution they can. All of the studies that our hospitals do, say that if a child grows up in poverty, they're more likely to be a teenage parent, they're more likely to have drug and alcohol abuse problems, they're more likely never to find a job. Investing in our kids is actually the best investment we can make.
Corin: Of course the other criticism I've seen is that in light of some of the attacks on your numbers, and the debate last week, that this is a policy which doesn't look like the costings are that solid. I mean what do you say to those people who are saying oh Labour they couldn't come up with the numbers.
Phil: Oh have a look at the policy, the numbers are all there, year by year. We've set out the full programme of what the cost is and where we're gonna get the money from, that is not an issue.
Corin: Will you change those costings though if things get worse in the global economy. Will you actually just accept that maybe there are some things that are too nice to have?
Phil: Oh of course there are things that are too nice to have, but the government says they can throw 400 million dollars into providing free water to massive users of water through irrigation, but they can't afford to life our kids out of poverty. They can give big taxes to the wealthy but they leave our kids inadequately housed, poor education, poor health. Let's get our priorities right.
Corin: Talking about priorities though, why put the six billion into the Super Fund, because that's a priority, that's for older populations, that's for a longer term issue. Why not use that money for the child poverty issues now and implement your policies earlier?
Phil: Well there's another issue affecting or children, that if we put the burden on our children of the baby boom generation retiring, when costs are going to double and health costs are going to double, as the Treasury report says our kids will vote with their feet, you'll be visiting your grandkids in Australia.
Corin: Just finally, we are going to talk about fracking very shortly. This is an issue about this technique of mining. The Labour Party has some concerns about this, what's your policy on that?
Phil: Yeah look I think there's a lot of public concern about it. What we've said is we'll get the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment to initiate an immediate inquire into it, the effects of water contamination, the effects on seismic activity. Let's have an evidence based response to this. Let's acknowledge the public concern. Let's do our homework.
Corin: So no moratorium at this stage?
Phil: No we would bring in the inquiry as a matter of priority. It can be done quite quickly.
Corin: Labour Leader Phil Goff, thank you very much.
interviewed by CORIN DANN
(Monday 7th November)
Corin: Well it's been another big week on the campaign trail, characterised by some confusing maths I spose. On one side Labour's touting fiscal prudence with a return to surplus in three years. On the other side National's talking fiscal prudence and a return to surplus in three years. The difference, billions and billions of dollars apparently. Now John Key Prime Minister joins us now. Good morning Prime Minister. Before we get to the numbers I just want to clarify something. The poverty action groups say that 22% of the child population if you like is below the poverty line. Do you accept that figure.
John: It's not a perfect measurement I don't think, and I can see where they're basing their numbers, but the general number that's used is 200,000 in New Zealand living in poverty. Now it's poverty defined on the first world term, it wouldn't be poverty the way we might define it in India for instance, but the other point that's worth remembering is that we have about 12% of the working age population on a benefit so it's 328,000 New Zealanders and they're supporting 220,000 children. So if you do the match, we're not saying they're exclusively in welfare based homes, but I think they're largely in welfare based homes. So I mean the point about all of that is to say that it's important that welfare supports therefore kids that need it and obviously families, but it's also important I think you follow the course of action we're trying to follow which is to move people off welfare and into work, simply because on a number of fronts, certainly on the economic front they will do a lot better, but also we think they'll get better health and ...
Corin: Chelt Watergrave says you need to raise the benefit by 10% to get them out of poverty. I mean isn't that the responsibility of a government. I mean to have 200,000 children in poverty, that must be a huge burden for you, I mean how can you cope with that?
John: Yeah but there's a lot of way of tackling it, I don't think it's just as simple as saying let's give out more benefit dollars. So we've insulated for instance 133,000 homes in New Zealand in the last two years. We have in the weekend announced we're gonna insulate ever state home in New Zealand that's insulated. We've dramatically increased immunisation rates.
Corin: So is this a case of doing other bits and not trusting the parents if you give them more money?
John: Yeah I'm just saying I don't think necessarily throwing cash at it, in fact that's the reason why we are going to have the payment card for 16, 17 and 18 year old young mums on the DPB. We think actually it's better to pay their rent, better to make sure that we put electricity in the house and it's warm, better to make sure that the money's there for food. I don't think just throwing money at them. The other thing is there's gotta always be an incentive to work versus welfare, and that's one of the risks. So the child poverty action groups want for instance want in work tax credits that you get for Working for Families, to be paid to beneficiary families, and that's a longstanding court case they've got. But the design of the system which was actually in fairness done by Michael Cullen, was all really saying well if there's no gap there why will a lot of people work. Some people will just say it's not worth it.
Corin: So you think the balance is right at the moment?
John: I think so, but we definitely, look I don't want to see any New Zealand child in poverty, and one thing I'm absolutely committed to is making sure they get a decent education, so they can choose their own life, but I think the argument here has to be to move people out of welfare into work.
Corin: Robin Malcolm, Outrageous Fortune start, probably one of the most well known actors in New Zealand has a big swipe at you at the weekend. You're response to that? I mean she's saying things like poverty, those types of things are a reason why you need to go.
John: Yeah well she was sticking to that you know, I would probably dignify it with a response, but given it was a fairly personal attack I'll just leave it, put it to rest.
Corin: The interesting thing is here in a sense she sort of did the Greens' dirty work for them because you could actually have to work with the Greens, yet she was there at the conference having a big swipe. I mean how do you feel about potentially maybe needing to call on their support in some way, whether it's abstention of whatever.
John: Yeah I think it's important to understand that if the Greens hold the balance of power it'll be a Phil Goff Labour lead government, and I think they would be quite upfront about that, they are socially quite a long way to the left and economically actually they want to put a lot of costs on businesses and slow down the economy as well, so in that regard they're much more akin to Labour. So you know we've worked in the last three years, in fact the home insulation programme I talked about, and the cycle way which I've gotta say has had no air time in the campaign, but it's doing very well. We worked with them on that, but I think they are a natural partner for Labour.
Corin: The problem is though that you've got a problem with ACT and we heard from Don Brash on Friday on this programme and he said he'd like a stronger signal you're going to front up with perhaps a stronger signal on Epsom?
John: Yes maybe in due course.
Corin: But what does that mean maybe in due course? So at the moment they're at 1% so you don't bother and then perhaps if they can get their vote up you might?
John: No, we've gotta make the call whether we're gonna sit down and have a cuppa tea with John Banks. We may very well do that. My main point there would be to say look at the end of the day we're on the campaign trail, we're looking to maximise our party vote at the moment, ACT will be doing the same, so will United. All I can say is in the last three years people have got a chance to assess how we work, and we've worked I think very constructively with the Maori Party with ACT and with United Future, and ACT have been very stable. So ACT return to parliament is something that I'd like to see as opposed to something I wouldn't like to see.
Corin: So just to clarify you're not ruling out the possibility of doing the classic sort of sit down in a café in Epsom somewhere having a cappuccino, so we could see that in the next couple of weeks?
John: Be a trim one, but yeah.
Corin: Just very quickly, we've lost the Greek Prime Minister by the look of it this morning. On the issue of numbers and figures, Labour, National, both having a go. You know listening to David Cunliffe, Bill English over the weekend you couldn't help be struck by have you both got your heads in the sand here? Should we in fact be cutting debt far quicker than we are now because we've got a major financial crisis coming?
John: Okay so there's always a balance isn't there? I mean in the last three years part of our deficit was around Christchurch, and part of it was actually around taking the rough edges off the recession. So let's say we didn't provide that support - cut Working for Families, cut benefits, as you were talking earlier. What you end up doing is you drive the economy down faster, more people on welfare, less jobs.
Corin: Are we running out of time here? Because I mean you know the window's getting smaller isn't it?
John: Not at all I mean that's the purpose of us getting back into surplus in three years' time, that's why we're balancing the books, that's why we're being very cautious with our spending. That's why we had a zero budget this time.
Corin: So you'd accept it's not 17 billion their numbers?
John: Oh it's probably 15.6 according to my guys, but just do this one simple calculation. Look they're saying 4 billion, they're borrowing 6.5 billion dollars for the Super Fund. If you go and borrow for anything in government that is deemed to be borrowing, they can't be as cute as to say I'm borrowing it but because like the asset doesn't count, because otherwise tomorrow I may as well announce ....
Corin: Well they say that's a legitimate accounting measure.
John: Except Michael Cullen the man who set up the Super Fund, accounted for it exactly the same way we do, in 2008.
Corin: Alright Prime Minister John Key we have
to leave it there, we've run out of time, but thank you very
much for your