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Transcript: Phil Goff interviewed on TV ONE’s Breakfast

Transcript: Phil Goff interviewed on TV ONE’s Breakfast

Phil Goff interviewed by Corin Dann,
Tuesday 17th May, 2011 at 7.20am

CORIN: Let's get into politics and of course the Budget this Thursday coming up. Labour Leader Phil Goff is with us now to talk mainly about the Budget. Good morning Mr Goff.

PHIL: Good morning Corin.

CORIN: I just wanted your take on the warm-up for this budget, because it's been pretty interesting I think. The government on the one hand last week was playing the negative card, we're all in trouble with the deficit, this week they're talking about strong growth forecasts, wage rises coming. Is that a credible position to take?

PHIL: Well if they're right on the latter then why are they doing the things that they foreshadowed last week? I spent the weekend talking to people who are in Kiwi Saver and they were angry. They were angry because they stand to lose something like $500 a year, but they're angry not just because of losing that money, they were angry because they thought the contract that they'd entered into they can't get out of it, they're locked into Kiwi Saver, had been broken from one side by government. That was the betrayal of the promises that both John Key and Bill English made right on the evening of the last election.

CORIN: And it sounds like they’ll have the option to presumably vote on the basis of that if they want?

PHIL: Yeah, well I think what this election will be about, it will be about John Key seeking a mandate to sell off our community and New Zealand owned assets. Most New Zealanders don’t want that. It'll be seeking a mandate to cut back a Kiwi Saver scheme that he promised he wasn't going to touch. I guess the real problem is this. In 2008 at the height of the global financial crises John Key promised to cut taxes by huge amounts and said at the same time I won’t be lifting GST, I won’t be cutting Kiwi Saver, won’t be touching Working for Families. All of those promises are broken, and why are they broken? They're broken because the economy hasn’t been performing. We have had no growth.

CORIN: But we have had also obviously a major global financial crisis, a couple of earthquakes and some finance company collapses. So the public is going to give him some grace on that isn't it?

PHIL: Yeah, but let's examine the things that you’ve just said. First of all the global financial crisis. We we're at the height of the global financial crises at the time John Key made those promises. Secondly yeah the earthquake has been a setback, but 10 billion dollars' worth of reinsurance money is going to be flowing back into New Zealand which will be helpful to us, and the problem was you know straight after the last budget last year, the six months after that, before we actually had an earthquake, our economy was stalled, our unemployment was going up, our inflation was skyrocketing.

CORIN: Okay, can you give us this morning an alternative budget, something that Labour would do differently to get us out of this mess that the economy is in?

PHIL: Yeah, well the first thing is you can't keep borrowing 380 million dollars a week. I think New Zealanders understand that. But there is a choice beyond simply lifting taxes and cutting spending, and that choice is about getting the economy moving. So what would I like to see in this budget if that’s what you're asking me? I would like to see a programme as the Employers' Federation Director has asked for, for addressing the skill shortage. Why have we got unemployment when we're short of tens of thousands of skilled trades people. I'd like to see investment in research and development, because we need a smart economy to go forward. I'd like to see a taxation and a monetary policy that actually built up the productive economy where you're producing real goods and services, rather than directing money into the speculative economy where you're just pushing house and farm prices up. That'd be a good start.

CORIN: A good start, but where is the policy that would eliminate our deficit?

PHIL: Oh look if you’ve got a 16 billion dollars deficit, you know that is after Labour produced nine budgets where there were surpluses, you’ve got a real problem, and you're not gonna get that problem to go away overnight, but you’ve gotta get that deficit down. Now if there is sacrifice to be asked for from New Zealanders, then I expect two things to happen. One I expect the leaders of this country to lead by example, that means you know not doing the stupid things like taking a $75,000 Air Force flight instead of a $4,000 commercial flight. But more importantly than that, the people that got the huge tax cuts, the people that got $1,000 a week in tax cuts, I expect them to play their part before you start putting the pressure on low and middle income people by cutting their Kiwi Saver.

CORIN: The reverse of that top tax cuts is a key policy?

PHIL: Look they’ve gotta pay their share. I'm not knocking people who've got big income, good luck to them, but what I'm saying is they’ve got to share in the sacrifice that needs to be made, and at the moment all I see is that burden being put on middle income people and low income people.

CORIN: Mr Goff you mentioned the $75,000 on the air travel and then there's the painting of the house, and there's the DPS stories. Quite a bit of criticism in some editorials over the weekend that Labour was putting too much emphasis on this stuff, that you should have in face been talking about what you’ve been talking about this morning, which are substantive economic issues and stop with the petty stuff.

PHIL: Well we have been talking about that, you know the very day that the media chose to focus on you know the BMWs I'd been asking questions in the House about Kiwi Saver, about overspending, but you know I can't choose what the media want to promote out of that. You know Opposition has two tasks, one is to put up the alternatives, I've given you a few of those alternatives today. The second is to hold the government to account and I do think New Zealanders feel that you know at a time of economic restraint, you’ve gotta show some leadership from the top, and if you're blowing out money on unnecessary plane or helicopter trips, it's hardly leading by example when so many Kiwis out there are really struggling to put together a budget at the end of each week.

CORIN: Opposition Leader Phil Goff, thank you for your time.

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


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