Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Q+A: Susan Wood interviews John Howard

Q+A: Susan Wood interviews John Howard
 
Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE and one hour later on TV ONE plus 1. Repeated Sunday evening at 11:30pm. Streamed live at www.tvnz.co.nz.   
 
Thanks to the support from NZ On Air.

Q+A is on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/NZQandA#!/NZQandA and on Twitter, http://twitter.com/#!/NZQandA
 
Q + A – March 24, 2013
 
JOHN HOWARD
 
Interviewed by SUSAN WOOD
 
JOHN                            It is very close. It’s closer than it was back in 1996, when I became Prime Minister. I felt we’d gone through a bit of a period in which both sides had taken it for granted, and we’d each got a bit lazy about the relationship. And I always thought that wonderful expression of Dr Johnson’s about keeping one’s friendships in good repair applied to Australia and New Zealand.
 
SUSAN                         You said last year at the Oxford Union that many Australians are condescending to New Zealanders.
 
JOHN                            Yes, some of them are. Yes.
 
SUSAN                         In what way?
 
JOHN                            Well, they just are.
 
SUSAN                         Just think we’re too small to bother with?
 
JOHN                            It is a little bit of that, but it’s changed and I tried in my own small way as Prime Minister of Australia to accelerate the process of that change.
 
SUSAN                         You did also, in 2001, change the way New Zealanders are treated there, and there are now some New Zealanders, a decade and a bit later, who are pretty much an underclass – second-class citizens, the way they’re treated in Australia. Is that what you intended?
 
JOHN                            Oh, I never intended to create a situation where people felt second-class in the country in which they were living, but there were justifiable reasons, from Australia’s point of view at the time, to make that change, and as to whether there should be changes made now – well, I’ll leave that to the current leaders of the two countries.
 
SUSAN                         No student loans, no access to student allowances. We’re talking people who may have lived in the country and paid taxes for many years. No  unemployment, no sickness benefit. Up to 150,000 Kiwis in that boat. Does that sit comfortably with you?
 
JOHN                            But can I say that, you know, addressing that issue now and the figures that you're quoting are today’s figures. That really is a matter for the current Prime Minister of Australia…
 
SUSAN                         But do you think—?
 
JOHN                            …and the current Prime Minister of New Zealand.
 
SUSAN                         So you think you did the right thing, then?
 
JOHN                            I think what was done then, given the responsibilities that we had to people in Australia and the Australian population, I thought the decisions that were taken were fair, and there was an understanding reached between the two governments at the time. I don’t think I was seen as an Australian Prime Minister who was in any way unfriendly or unsympathetic to New Zealand. I’d have though quite the reverse.
 
SUSAN                         What I’m asking you though – do you think it’s fair now, with 2013 eyes?
 
JOHN                            I think what…
 
SUSAN                         But you were the architect?
 
JOHN                            I think what is judged as fair now is in the remit of the current leaders of the two countries.
 
SUSAN                         But I’m asking you as the architect of the legislation.
 
JOHN                            I know you are, and I’m giving you the answer that I’m giving you.
 
SUSAN                         Well, you're not giving me an answer.
 
JOHN                            Yes, I am. You may not like it, but I am giving it to you.
 
SUSAN                         So would you at least acknowledge that the Bondi surfer, the dole-bludging Bondi surfer is a myth?
 
JOHN                            Well, I regard it as a myth.
 
SUSAN                         Because Helen Clark used that language at the time.
 
JOHN                            I mean, they’re expressions— I mean, I never used those expressions, to my recollection.
 
SUSAN                         What would you do if you were the leader now? Would you change it?
 
JOHN                            Well, look, I’m not, and I’m not going to put myself in that position, because one of the rules I’ve tried to follow in my post-political life is not to give running commentaries on day-to-day issues. I’ll defend the things I did as Prime Minister.
 
SUSAN                         Do you have regrets over what you did as Prime Minister?
 
JOHN                            I don’t have any regrets about the major policy decisions that I took. Obviously, there are some individual things that I’d have done differently, but—
 
SUSAN                         Would you have apologised, for instance, for the Stolen Generations? Would that be something you would have done?
 
JOHN                            No, no, I don’t have a different view on that.
 
SUSAN                         Do you think you owe New Zealanders an apology for what we’re seeing as this underclass now in Australia?
 
JOHN                            No, I don’t.
 
SUSAN                         The NZIER, which is our Institute of Economic Research has done some numbers – because as we know, a lot of people go from New Zealand to Australia – and they are saying that if this continues until 2025, it will cost New Zealand $30 billion in lost human capital. Australia very much on the plus side of that ledger, isn’t it, when we’re talking about the brain drain and taking New Zealanders?
 
JOHN                            Yes, but without in any way intruding into the area of whether there should be changes now, because that’s a matter for John Key and whoever is the Prime Minister of Australia—
 
SUSAN                         But you wouldn’t oppose changes?
 
JOHN                            Well, that is a matter— Look, if current leaders want to make changes, then let them make them, and when I know what they are, I’ll have a view.
 
SUSAN                         Why, do you believe, wages are so much higher in Australia?
 
JOHN                            Well, because Australia’s economy has grown more strongly for a combination of reasons, and one of the reasons, of course, is the resource endowments that we have, and we are very fortunate providence has given us all that stuff and a lot of other people want it.
 
SUSAN                         We are very well resourced, actually, for our size. We have a lot of minerals, gas, oil in the ground. Do you think we should be digging it up, monetising it?
 
JOHN                            Well, I think any country should sensibly use natural resources. I don’t believe in leaving natural resources in the ground indefinitely. I know that’s a modern view that a lot of people have, and I think they’re wrong. And I think any nation that’s got natural resources should use them sensibly, and I think it’s possible. And the world is changing in relation to the exploitation of natural resources. The veritable—
 
SUSAN                         So is New Zealand sort of wasting an opportunity by not digging up what we have in the ground, by not getting the oil, the gas, the coal and everything else?
 
JOHN                            Well, I haven’t come here to give New Zealand lectures about what to do. I’m making a general observation that could apply with equal force with attitudes in Australia. There are some people in Australia who don’t believe in digging anything up. Some people in Australia think we should phase out coal. Australia’s the largest coal exporter in the world. I mean, that’s economic lunacy, the idea of phasing out the export of coal from Australia.
 
SUSAN                         Let’s talk about the on-going difficulties with Australia, which we have seen this week. Why, though, with this – I mean, Labor doing their best to self-destruct – is Tony Abbot not more popular?
 
JOHN                            Well, according to every single poll that’s been conducted over the last year, if there was an election held, the Liberal Party would win comfortably. The fact that his own approval ratings may not be as high as some people think they should be is quite immaterial.
 
SUSAN                         Is he a misogynist, as Julia Gillard tried to paint him as?
 
JOHN                            Absolutely no. That’s just ludicrous, desperate nonsense.
 
SUSAN                         She scored a bounce in the polls, though, when she said that, didn’t she?
 
JOHN                            Well, I don’t think their poll position’s too good as we talk, irrespective of whether it’s Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard. I don’t think it’s going to make any difference, because they are equally culpable for the policy difficulties the current government has. Kevin Rudd authored the biggest policy failure of all of the current Labor Government, and that’s the destruction of an effective asylum-seeker policy. And the collapse of our border-protection policy has been the biggest single policy failure of this Labor Government.
 
SUSAN                         So if you had to characterise this current Labor outfit – because there's a lot of hate behind the scenes, obviously, and I don’t think that’s too strong a word – how would you describe it?
 
JOHN                            The level of personal vitriol surprises me. It’s quite deep. And the things that were said about Kevin Rudd last year when the leadership ballot was held at the beginning of 2012 – I mean, they were quite extraordinary. And the Labor Party should never have got rid of Rudd in the first place. I’m no fan of his, but I haven’t seen anything quite like this, and it’s all happened so quickly. But you never know in politics, and the Liberal Party shouldn’t get too complacent and shouldn’t assume it’s automatically going to win. The public can sense that. Australians are very good at sensing that. And so are Kiwis.
 
SUSAN                         John Howard, thank you for your time.
 
JOHN                            Pleasure.
 
ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell:
On The Last Rites For The TPP

The Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal is one of those litmus issues that has always had more to do with one’s place on the political spectrum than with any imminent reality.

To date, the Greens have opposed (a) a wide range of the leaked content of the TPP (b) the secretive way it has been negotiated and (c) the undemocratic way in which any final document would be ratified. Labour has shared some of those concerns, but while remaining generally supportive of the deal itself.

National has, for its part, been very enthusiastic about the TPP, while still giving assurances about Pharmac being protected... For the TPP’s friends and foes alike though, the end now seems nigh. More>>

 
 

Gordon Campbell: On The Farcical Elevation Of David Seymour

With the election won, it’s time to find jobs for the boy. David Seymour is the Act Party’s latest scrounger to be rewarded by the National Party, and not only with a seat in Parliament. More>>

ALSO:

As Key Mulls Joining ISIS Fighting: McCully Speech To UN Backs Security Council Bid

It is an honour to address you today on behalf of the Prime Minister and Government of New Zealand. Our General Election took place last week - our Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key is engaged in forming a government and that is why he is unable to be here in New York... More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Cunliffe Triggers Party Wide Leadership Contest

David Cunliffe has resigned as Labour Leader, but says he will seek re-election... If there is any contest the election will have to go through a process involving the party membership and union affiliates. More>>

ALSO:

Flyover Appeal: Progress And Certainty, Or Confusion And More Delays?

Lindsay Shelton: The Transport Agency, embarrassed by the rejection of its flyover alongside the Basin Reserve, says it’s appealing because the decision could “constrain progress.” Yet for most clear-sighted Wellingtonians a 300-metre-long concrete structure above Kent and Cambridge Terraces would in no way be seen as progress… More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Cunliffe’s Last Stand

Right now, embattled Labour leader David Cunliffe has three options. None of them are particularly attractive for him personally, or for the Labour Party... More>>

ALSO:

Key Seeking 'New Ideas': Look To Children’s Commissioner On Poverty - Greens

John Key should not reinvent the wheel when it comes to ideas for tackling child poverty, and instead look to the recommendations of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Group on Child Poverty, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says. More>>

ALSO:

'Safe To Re-Enter' - OIA Docs: Safety Is Absolute Priority At Pike River Mine

“We understand that the time it is taking to complete our evaluation of the risks is frustrating for the family members and we are trying to complete this work as quickly as we can,” Ms Dunphy says. “It is Solid Energy’s responsibility to make this decision and we will do so, once we have all the information required to make a fully-informed decision.” More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
More RSS  RSS
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news