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Q+A Panel Discussion - Response to John Key Interview

Panel Discussions
Hosted By Susan Wood

In response to John Key interview

Back with the panel. Dr Bryce Edwards, Fran O’Sullivan and Matt McCarten. Bryce, very interesting seeing him [John Key] using the emotional ties, the Korean War, the soldiers who fought there, to push our free trade agreement.

DR BRYCE EDWARDS - Political Scientist
Yeah, I mean, we should congratulate John Key for achieving the restart of the talks. But make no bones about it, he had used it as a Trojan horse - using the commemorations, using NZ’s war veterans going over there, basically going in with direct talks and saying, ‘Look, we lost 45 people who died in this war. Now it’s time for payback. We want free trade talks.’ It’s a Trojan horse, and it’s really what wars are for. NZ goes in and then comes back and says, ‘Now it’s time for payback,’ and he’s got it.

SUSAN Pretty important for us, though, Fran, isn’t it, that we get in there, given that it is our fifth largest market?

FRAN O’SULLIVAN - NZ Herald Columnist
Yeah, it is important, and, frankly, I wrote after he came back empty-handed last time that he should do exactly this and that he should stress it.

SUSAN That’s interesting.

FRAN Well, Helen Clark did exactly that. All those trips to Europe. Spilling blood on European soil, trying to protect our access to markets there. You know, we have fought for democracy in other countries, so there is an importance. But I think also this is interesting. It’s been a stalled FTA, but it’s not the only one. Canada’s been stalled, Australia’s been stalled. In the background, a very powerful figure, Han Duck-Soo, has been to NZ, and he came on a prime ministerial fellowship, and he’s a former prime minister of Korea. He was active in Washington to get the US-Korean FTA over the line, and he now prominently heads the Korean International Trade Association. They have made an ally of him. He says it’s going to be done. He’ll muster his company, 65,000 companies, and they will put pressure on the Korean government. I think that makes just as much difference as the emotional plea.

SUSAN Certainly something that we see both sides of the political divide. It doesn’t matter who’s in power. They are singing from the same song page.

MATT McCARTEN - National Secretary, Unite Union
Everyone wants to do a deal for us, and so they should. I like Bryce’s thing about that we want to have payback. I would have thought the Koreans would have said, actually, our whole wool boom and dairy boom was based on the Korean War, and we did extraordinarily well. I would have been more impressed if the Prime Minister had popped across the border and done a deal in the north and set up a trading partner.

FRAN Well, the problem is that at the moment, our companies are being really seriously disadvantaged as a result of the preferential deals given to US and others on the deals they’ve got. So it’s not as if we’re just getting access; it’s that we’re just trying to get back to where we were before everybody else got better.

BRYCE An even playing-

SUSAN A level playing field, yeah. All right. Very interesting also, Matt, I’ll bring you in on this. The GCSB - the Prime Minister essentially said the protestors, they are politically aligned or misinformed. Is he underestimating the strength of opposition to this?

MATT Yes, I think. I’ve been quite surprised the opposition’s taken quite a while to actually catch up. And when I was here last time, it was interesting with this Peter Dunne and the trust thing. I remember when I was here last time, he said, ‘I’d like to trust him, but I just don’t.’ And so now it’s he does trust him. I did say as a quip on my way out, I just said, ‘He’ll get it through with Dunne’s vote,’ and that was when Dunne was being done. And that’s exactly what’s happened. This is just cynical politics. This is the problem he’s got. Labour and NZ First, they’ve both offered a negotiated agreement to get the essentials of this done. He’s spurned them, and he’s just going for it. I think it’s more about him being miffed because he’s been annoyed about how it’s run out with Kim Dotcom, the embarrassment, and he just wants to retrospectively do it, and he’s got himself into a corner, and he can’t get out of it. And now Dunne has seen his opportunity to get back in the game, and, yes, Jessica [Mutch] is quite right - Dunne wants to get Ohariu-Belmont, and this is the price. Wants his cup of tea.

SUSAN Bryce, there will be some Supplementary Order Papers that do come in. We will see some changes to it, perhaps, and a bit of political face-saving. And Winston Peters? His role in all of this?

BRYCE Yeah, I mean, I think all these politicians are actually quite vulnerable, Peter Dunne, Winston Peters and John Key, on this because there is a growing rise and social movement almost. We saw that with the protests yesterday. And John Key has tried to say, ‘Oh, no, this is just politically aligned, informed people.’ But it’s increasingly people of the establishment. It’s the Law Society, it’s QCs, it’s dames, it’s NZ Herald editorials saying things.

SUSAN New Zealander of the year.

BRYCE So I think he’s undermined-

MATT No, no, no, you’re right. I go to all the protests in Auckland.


MATT And this was the first protest I didn’t know everyone’s first name. It was a different mix.

SUSAN How many people in Auckland. It was hard to tell.

MATT 5000, 4000, 5000.

SUSAN 5000. Is that significant?

FRAN It’s small.

MATT No, no, no. People don’t march now. They don’t. In the old days, we did. They don’t. And it was a nationwide thing. It was organised in a week. I’m just saying. It’s early days.

SUSAN Let’s get Fran in here.

FRAN I think it was actually a pretty miniscule march.

MATT What was the last march you’ve been on, Fran? (ALL LAUGH)

SUSAN It might have been at university. (ALL LAUGH) Do you think the Prime Minister is underestimating the opposition, or do you think this will go through and go away?

FRAN Well, it will go through, because he’ll push it through.


FRAN I think there’s still issues there, and there’s issues- I think one of the untapped potential issues is really the use of metadata to crack down on journalists.

BRYCE Absolutely.

FRAN In a story this weekend about snooping around the finding who Jon Stephenson had spoken to, admittedly not by the use of metadata in NZ but offshore through US affiliates of the defence. These are the things that will raise hackles, and it will get into also other people like journalists having to-

BRYCE So, it has been beltway issue, absolutely, but it is mainstreaming.

SUSAN But you think it’s going to spill over?

BRYCE Well, it’s still to be seen to what extent, but it is mainstream.

FRAN But also a lot of people are worried about terrorism and things like that. It’s a bit part of why you actually have security services.

SUSAN Thank you, panel.


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