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Labour Leader, Phil Goff interviewed on TV ONE’s Breakfast

3rd August, 2011

TRANSCRIPT: Labour Leader, Phil Goff interviewed on TV ONE’s Breakfast at 7:20am Tuesday morning the 2nd of August.

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

PHIL GOFF interviewed by CORIN DANN

Corin: Well with just under four months until the election it's no surprise to see Winston Peters has hit the campaign trial, but what is a little bit surprising is seeing Labour and whether they will refuse to do a deal with him to win a seat. Labour Leader Phil Goff joins us this morning. Good morning Mr Goff. So just explain to us you will work with Winston Peters presumably if he can get back into parliament, but you won’t help him get there via seat.

Phil: Well we're not about doing deals, I don’t think the electorate wants that. In fact I think you know there's been a real wrought on the MMP system that ACT and National have been doing. They’ll make sure that there's a candidate that gets in for ACT in Epsom and then they’ll coat tail three or four other MPs into that seat, even though New Zealanders don’t really want ACT to be represented in parliament. I think that goes against the spirit of MMP, I think it goes against what New Zealanders want. Labour will be standing candidates in every seat. We'll be going for the party vote and we'll be going for the electorate vote.

Corin: Alright so it's good luck to Mr Peters getting his 5%?

Phil: Well he's gotta take his chances along with every other party there, and that’s what he be going for, but we're not looking at standing candidates aside, or having make believe candidates that stand up there and say just give me the party vote. We're going for both votes.

Corin: Yeah I think there is a good point about these deals, or people have called them the dirty deals in particular electorates. Is this what in some ways the referendum is all about when we look at MMP? One of the issues with MMP that perhaps if voters decide to keep MMP could be changed in the future?

Phil: Yeah look people don’t like to see stitchups and the Epsom seat most certainly is a stitchup. You get John Banks running, former National Party person, now pretending to be an ACT candidate. The National candidate, that’s his political biographer saying don’t vote for me, just so that they can get Don Brash back in parliament, where nobody wants Don Brash back there. Look after the MMP referendum, and I'll be voting for MMP, we have to review it, and one part of that review should be to remove the provision that if you don’t get 5% you don’t coat tail other Members of Parliament in on the back of somebody that gets an electorate seat because there's been a wrought between two parties like National and ACT.

Corin: Mr Goff, the New Zealand dollar is tracking very high at the moment as we know. Do you think that the government or in fact the Reserve Bank, by an extension of say a directive from the government, should be trying more to try and bring it down? I mean it is getting to levels that are going to really hurt New Zealand companies.

Phil: Yeah it is going to really hurt our export sector and we can ill afford that. I was talking to a chief executive of a timber company the other day, and he says look if we hit 90 cents there will scarcely be a timber mill in the country that will be able to survive. I mean that would be a disaster for New Zealand.

Corin: The thing is though, and Labour has talked about this. You’ve gotta break with convention here, because all the orthodox thinking is no no no we just have to leave it alone, that’s essentially what the government is saying. Would Labour be prepared to throw the copy book out the door?

Phil: Well you're not gonna do anything stupid here, but what you are going to do, or what we're going to do is change the legislation so the Reserve Bank it maintains its independence, and I think that’s really important, but the Reserve Bank has wider objectives which include protecting the export sector against the sort of damage that can happen temporarily. The dollar might be high temporarily but if you collapse these companies they're gone forever. So we can't afford to do that.

Corin: So you're saying we should tolerate a little bit more inflation, essentially that is what that would be?

Phil: Well you know inflation is still going to be your major goal, keeping inflation at a low level, but every other Reserve Bank in the world just about has wider objectives that looks at the overall wellbeing of the economy, employment, the health of the export sector. We'd broaden the objectives of the Reserve Bank, and thinks like you know the Capital Gains Tax would also stop in the future, house prices pushing up interest rates, pushing up the exchange rate. That’s what's done so much damage in the past. That’s why we're fundamentally rethinking some of those monetary and taxation policies, to try to get economic recovery, to give New Zealanders jobs, to have an economy that provides higher incomes and more jobs. That’s critical.

Corin: The cost of living is another big issue I know Labour's been big on, you’ve talked about removing GST on fruit and vegetables etc, we're talking about milk this morning. What I can't understand is why when there are issues around the cost of living it's clear that we've got poverty issues in this country. That’s not reflected in your polling when you're pushing that issue. They're happy with the government despite those cost of living issues.

Phil: I think the thing is that Labour is getting traction on some of those issues. Labour has acknowledged that the cost of living is really squeezing people, middle and low income, and you know the first $5000 tax free, that’s another 520 bucks a year to every individual.

Corin: But 29% of the polls across the board suggests you're not getting traction on this at all?

Phil: No, I think it takes time, you know I think we've got the right policy prescriptions. We care about what's happening to New Zealanders. We're going to be out there, we're going to be campaigning. The campaign period comes up, every Labour MP will be out there, we're around the country now. We've gotta get our message across very clearly, but you know I'm really confident that we're standing alongside New Zealanders on issues like asset sales that they oppose, and we will stop – on the cost of living, where we will provide some assistance to low and middle income people. You know Corin I just want to say this point. Last week we saw the top 150 people in this country increase their wealth by seven billion dollars and we saw an every growing number of kids going to school hungry, and without breakfast. That’s not the New Zealand I believe in. We're gonna change that.

Corin: Okay, can I get a very quick answer for you on the issue of Kronic. You'll support this temporary legislation going through the House?

Phil: Oh yeah look, I think we talked about this in a previous programme and I said the government needed to act. You can't have product out there with potentially damaging effects. You should ban the product until they can prove it's safe.

Corin: Phil Goff, Labour Leader, thank you very much for your time.

ENDS

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