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Q+A: Winston Peters interviewed by Corin Dann

Q+A: NZ First leader Winston Peters interviewed by Corin Dann

Winston Peters: I can’t see how Mr Turnbull is going to survive long-term

NZ First leader Winston Peters told TV One’s Q+A programme that he can’t see how the Australian Coalition’s Malcolm Turnbull can survive long-term.

‘First of all, the pollsters got it wrong, because the number of people who haven’t got a landline these days is quite staggering, and I don’t think they’ve come up to date with that. The second thing is Mr Turnbull called an early dissolution. He put it all on the line, a bit like Mr Cameron, and I can’t see how he’s going to survive very long-term now as a consequence of that, because he took them right to the brink, maybe to the brink of total instability, by Tuesday next week.’

Mr Peters also said, ‘we need our neighbour to be strong, because this is a major trading partner of ours.’

Mr Peters told Corin Dann New Zealand has a ‘similar but greater’ immigration issue when compared to the UK.

‘Similar but greater. The level, in real terms, of immigration to New Zealand, as opposed to the earth-shattering influence in the Brexit that immigration was, our immigration levels is three times that of the UK, and that’s a fact. Now, what we’ve got here is massive establishment and systemic ignore of how ordinary people feel about that.’

Mr Peters said the number of immigrants coming into New Zealand should be between 7000 and 15000 maximum.

‘You’ve got a housing crisis; an infrastructure crisis; you’ve got a health crisis, education. Everywhere you look, you’ve got a crisis. Police numbers are capped, and there’s Mr Key saying, “We want more.” Three times the number, in real terms, the UK was taking. They couldn’t stand it, and nor can the majority soon of the New Zealand people.’

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE and one hour later on TV ONE plus 1. Repeated Sunday evening at 11:35pm. 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

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Q + A
Episode 017
WINSTON PETERS
Interviewed by Corin Dann

CORIN Looking first at the Australian election result, do you think we have seen maybe a tinge of Brexit there? Some strong showing in the heartland with the independents, which I guess has led to a lot of uncertainty?

WINSTON Oh, there’s so many similarities. First of all, the pollsters got it wrong, because the number of people who haven’t got a landline these days is quite staggering, and I don’t think they’ve come up to date with that. The second thing is Mr Turnbull called an early dissolution. He put it all on the line, a bit like Mr Cameron, and I can’t see how he’s going to survive very long-term now as a consequence of that, because he took them right to the brink, maybe to the brink of total instability, by Tuesday next week. So, very great similarities, and it told you one thing as well – there are a whole lot of people out there that feel they have been ignored, that they’re invisible, that everybody’s talking past them, over them, not having any engagement with the system itself, and they’re pretty– I’m not supposed to say peed off, but they are.

CORIN Surely, though, this is not a good thing for New Zealand to have more uncertainty in Australia after years of chopping and changing prime ministers. We need our biggest trading partner to be doing well, don’t we?

WINSTON Of course we do. In real terms, if you go, for example, from 1984 to presently, in real terms the Australian economy has grown about 37% greater than ours – in real terms. So whilst we’ve got all this going on in New Zealand, in real terms they’ve done far better than us; they’ve been more incremental in their changes; we’ve been experimental. Of course we need our neighbour to be strong, because this is a major trading partner of ours.

CORIN Well, let’s turn to immigration, Mr Peters. Do you think when you look at what the arguments around immigration with Brexit in the UK, that New Zealand has similar issues here with immigration?

WINSTON Similar but greater. The level, in real terms, of immigration to New Zealand, as opposed to the earth-shattering influence in the Brexit that immigration was, our immigration levels is three times that of the UK, and that’s a fact. Now, what we’ve got here is massive establishment and systemic ignore of how ordinary people feel about that.

CORIN But we can control our immigration. We have a point system. What’s the problem there? I mean, we can control it.

WINSTON Well, that’s Mr Key’s argument. He said that the British couldn’t control it; he could. But with respect, he’s got 1700km of water and huge oceans between us and the rest. They’ve got themselves tied into a situation where they couldn’t control it because the EU controlled immigration levels to the UK, not the UK. Mr Key is right, excepting he’s not doing that. He’s doing the very reverse. He’s taking in three times the number, voluntarily, that the UK are having to take compulsorily.

CORIN What exactly is your problem with immigration? Do you fear it is changing New Zealand in the similar way that Nigel Farage would argue that they’re trying to take their country back? Is that what you’re concerned about? That it’s changing the shape of New Zealand?

WINSTON Look, let me tell you, I’ve acted for more immigrants during a focused immigration time than probably anybody in the National Party cabinet. Every one of those families came into real jobs, real incomes, real investments, and they weren’t a total fabrication. My point is this – what’s my problem? Well, if you take out the influence of immigration on our GDP or on our growth at the moment, we are going at, last quarter – not from me, straight out of Treasury – 0.1% for the last three months measurable. That means less than 0.5% growth for the whole year. All the rest is immigration. And it’s superficial; it’s short-term, and the bubble one day must burst, and all that debt we’ve got there is a sign of it.

CORIN Is there not a danger, though, that you end up with the rhetoric about immigration, it becomes an immigrant-bashing exercise for your own political purposes?

WINSTON No, no. I’ve been saying this for a long, long time – we want a focused immigration policy that brings people here that we need, not people who need us. Look, half the world’s a hellhole. Treasury came out six months ago with the fact that we’re bringing in so many low-skilled people. You’ve got people like Kerry McDonald saying it now who should not be ignored, and we’ve got a whole lot of other commentators talking about it, including now the OECD, pointing out the level of disparity in the rich countries between the rich and the poor. Now, that’s the rich club’s think tank, the OECD, but what we’ve got here is mass denial. And if you carry on with mass denial, the consequences are enormous loss to the New Zealand economy and the New Zealand people.

CORIN Do you think globalisation has failed?

WINSTON Of course it has. Because, see, it’s not so much about free trade, so to speak; it should be about fair trade, and there’s a world of difference.

CORIN What is the alternative to globalisation if you believe that it’s failed? Is it a return to protectionism, nationalism?

WINSTON No, no, it’s not. It’s being like Norway; it’s being like Switzerland; it’s being like Taiwan. It’s being as smart about protecting the interests of the economy you’re trying to build rather than just going along with being told internationally what you must accept. There’s a world of difference, and right around the Western world, there is a coming now rejection of the neoliberal experiment after 30, 35 years. It is under serious challenge now.

CORIN Mr Peters, globalisation has lifted millions and millions of people out of poverty. It’s brought New Zealand great diversity; it’s brought us all of the mod cons that we take for granted – our phones – everything like that. Hasn’t globalisation been great?

WINSTON You’re just confusing sound trade arrangements with globalisation. Globalisation in the UK consequence meant they were being told, out of the European Commission – unelected, in the UK Parliament – they were being told how their laws would be. 55% of the laws in the UK were being dominated out of Brussels. Now, no self-respecting country’s going to take that.

CORIN But isn’t the danger here, with the attack on globalisation, that you throw the baby out with the bathwater, that you see extremes in politics on the right and left and you throw out the good stuff as well and you go back to protectionism, we see Britain become a fortress; we see Australia become a fortress. For a country like New Zealand, a trading nation, that’s a disaster.

WINSTON No, no. With the greatest respect, that’s the very reverse of what you’re going to see. What are the Brexit campaigners saying? “Well, we can get out of this mess of 28 countries where we’re being dominated by one group, in the European Parliament. We can now trade,” they said, “with the rest of the world.” The problem with this argument is there are far too many people engaging in deceit to protect, as the Aussies have just said, their trickle-down theory of how life works. Democracy is about the mass interests of the great majority, not the few and the very few, or as a famous American president, Theodore Roosevelt said – the older Roosevelt – “These over-mighty subjects that think they can run and dominate everything.” That’s what these campaigns are about. And, look, I make one promise to the people out there looking at New Zealand First, and that is these three words – “We hear you, the rest don’t – and as clear as daylight – on the issue of immigration.”

CORIN So what would it be? Give me a sense of what would be your immigration policy right now if you were in government. Would you cut it right back to what? Give me a number.

WINSTON Oh, well, I’ve said that. I’ve said between 7000 and 15,000 maximum is what we could take. You’ve got a housing crisis; an infrastructure crisis; you’ve got a health crisis, education. Everywhere you look, you’ve got a crisis. Police numbers are capped, and there’s Mr Key saying, “We want more.” Three times the number, in real terms, the UK was taking. They couldn’t stand it, and nor can the majority soon of the New Zealand people.

CORIN It is obviously forecast to come back to 12,000, isn’t it? So what’s the problem?

WINSTON Mr Key just told you that if he was in charge, it would not. And I asked Mr English that question in the select committee. I said, “Where did this forecast come from, Mr English, of it going back? Did you subscribe to it? Where are your background papers?” And he denied it as well. So, no, this is a sort of mushroom time when it comes to this very serious issue.

CORIN Thank you very much, Winston Peters, for your time on Q+A this morning.

WINSTON Thank you.


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