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Key and Goff Breakfast Interviews

Tuesday 6th September, 2011

TRANSCRIPT: Prime Minister, John Key interviewed on TV ONE’s Breakfast at 7:20am Monday the 5th September & Labour Leader, Phil Goff interviewed on TV ONE’s Breakfast at 7:20am Tuesday the 6th September.

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

JOHN KEY interviewed by PETRA BAGUST (5th Sept)

Petra: One year and more than 7500 shocks on from the first quake, Canterbury region is a region still struggling with regular shakes. Today Cabinet will hold a special meeting in Christchurch to commemorate the occasion. Prime Minister John Key joins us from Christchurch now. Good morning Mr Key. How did you sleep last night sir?

John: I've gotta say extremely well actually. I wasn't in town when the jolt took place I think it was about ten to eight, but no it was a very quiet night to the best of my knowledge anyway last night, but a beautiful day here in Christchurch.

Petra: So this is a significant occasion, the first time Cabinet's met outside Wellington in 16 years, and you’ve chosen to do that on the anniversary of that first quake to hit Christchurch. Are there going to be any post Cabinet announcements for Canterbury?

John: Yeah there will be some today, so the purpose of the Cabinet Meeting is firstly symbolic, again just to show a sign that the entire government, I think all of New Zealand feels for the people of Christchurch and the surrounding areas. But also there's a practical element to it. It gives an opportunity for all 20 Cabinet members to together collectively hear the thoughts of those leaders in Christchurch who are really making a difference in terms of the rebuild. So obviously the Canterbury Forum, or the Christchurch Forum which is from the community here, we're having morning tea with them. We've got Bob Parker coming in to see us. We've got CERA and Roger Sutton. We've got a range of different interested stakeholders coming in to talk to the Cabinet, and from there this afternoon we'll have one or two announcements to make.

Petra: So any clues as to what we can hope for in those announcements?

John: Look it would be better if we wait, I want to work one or two of them through the Cabinet actually, so we'll just have to wait till this afternoon.

Petra: There has been talk over the weekend by obviously parties concerned that there is a need for a Christchurch or Canterbury CA, at the moment with Roger Sutton and CERA, Bob Parker as the Mayor, and obviously Brownlee as the Earthquake Minister, that really there isn't a single header, people are not getting the cut through that they need at this stage of the process.

John: Yeah look I mean there's always challenges and you by definition will have a number of multiple parties that have a genuine stake. So the government actually gave effectively the Christchurch Earthquake Authority enormous powers through the legislation that we passed earlier this year. But we do need to recognise the interests of those that are democratically elected, as Bob Parker and the Mayor, and obviously the Minister in the form of Gerry Brownlee, also represents very much the interests of the government. Now I mean while they're separate and distinct groupings if you like they're also very much on the same page, they want to see Christchurch rebuilt, they want to see confidence restored to the city. There are big challenges here and I think you know you see these things on your nightly news all the time about the complexity and the scale of this disaster, but it's worth remembering for instance that we haven’t seen a natural disaster have a bigger impact on developed economy in sort of economic terms than this one. It's running a probably around about 10% of GDP. So this is an enormous deal that we're actually having to cope with.

Petra: It is it's absolutely massive. Then wouldn’t it make sense for the buck to stop with one person who is in charge in Canterbury?

John: Yeah but I think ultimately the issue isn't necessarily that there's one or two or three people that might have to engage on different issues, and yes of course there’ll be a range of views, but even if there was just one person, then that one person ultimately would still have a lot of interested parties that would want to have input. So I'm at the end of the day actually CERA's powers are extremely wide ranging, they give them an awful lot of authority to do things and you’ve seen that, you seen tremendous cut through. I mean the people of Christchurch actually have got on with what's happening here. You know 480 odd buildings have already been taken down in the CBD. We've worked out what's happening at least to 6,100 homes, may not be perfect, but there is at least finality when it comes to that. Yeah I think if you get to a situation for instance where we're not happy that the release of land is moving fast enough, CERA's powers are such that they can fast track that. So I think you know within the various different parties there is the capacity to make this thing go faster if we need to.

Petra: And are you concerned about further budget blowouts? We know the High Court in Wellington ruled that the Earthquake Commission is liable to cover multiple disaster claims on one property now.

John: Yes, I mean it's kind of a good news bad news story, depending on how you look at it. The bad news is it means EQC's liability is rising, and we don’t know by exactly how much, but it's hundreds of millions of dollars. Secondly I guess from the good news perspective it may give some more confidence to private reinsurers, and stay engaged with Christchurch. That’s one of the big issues making sure that people actually can get insurance and that’s been quite tricky, depending on your circumstances. Look at the end of the day we don’t really know the total cost of this thing. As I say you know is it 20 billion is it 25 billion, I mean no one's entirely sure. It'll be over a reasonable period of time. All I can say is that the government has a very strong balance sheet. One of the reasons we've worked very hard to not allow debt to blow out, because we need to be able to pay for these things. Budget 2011 as you remember was a zero budget despite being election year, to provision five and a half billion for Christchurch. So look I'm confident we'll get through it.

Petra: Finally on a different note, will you consider releasing Jean Hubbard from statutory management after the developments over the weekend?

John: Don’t know the answer to that. I'm gonna get an update at Cabinet. I mean basically what's happening from here is that the Minister who has responsibility for that, Simon Power, I know met with Crown Law over the weekend. We need to work our way through those issues, and see what sort of happens next.

Petra: Is that a possibility though for her to be released?

John: I don’t really know. I didn’t have any advice on that yesterday afternoon when I was talking to Simon. I mean it's again quite a complex issue there. Our deepest sympathies obviously go with the Hubbard family, it's a very difficult time for them, but you'll appreciate that there's also an awful lot of taxpayers' money involved here, and we are trying to protect the interests of the New Zealand taxpayer. Now, whether that position has changed effectively in terms of the necessity for statutory management, because of the tragedy of the accident on Friday night, I'll have a bit more information about that this afternoon

Petra: Prime Minister John Key, thanks for your time and all the best for the Cabinet Meeting in Christchurch today.

PHIL GOFF interviewed by PETRA BAGUST (6th Sept)

Petra: It's a year since the first quake in Christchurch which devastated much of the city and surrounding suburbs. So is the region on track for getting back on its feet again. Joining me now is Labour Leader, good morning Phil. There seems to be an issue and no doubt you heard Corin's chat with Roger Sutton, that the insurance companies, if you can't get insurance for a new building you're not going to rebuild. Does the government need to step in and do something? What would Labour do?

Phil: Well I think Corin's right. If there's a market failure and the insurance companies aren’t doing anything about it, and the rebuilding process simply isn't getting underway, then the government's gotta look at how it can intervene to deal with that market failure.

Petra: So we've be potentially talking about a public private partnership, is that something you'd be in favour of?

Phil: Well I think you know they’ve got all the information and unfortunately that information isn't being shared with us. But what we'd imagine is that the government would be able maybe to be the insurer of last resort, just to get over that period of time. You're talking not about building on ground that’s risky but building in the areas that are zoned green. But there's an enormous amount of frustration that I noticed when I was down there over the weekend, about the slowness with which everything is happening. There's concern about you know the lack of training, that you know here we are a year out from the earthquake. I welcome the 500 extra training positions, but the industry's telling me that it needs 30,000 people and Canterbury people were telling me why have we got 10,500 young people unemployed in Canterbury but will be importing most of our skilled labour? So there's some planning aspects too that you'd expect the government to be involved in, in a more hands on way.

Petra: So what would Labour do?

Phil: Well I think there's a number of things that need to be done. I mean on the down side I think it was really unfortunate that people had their expectations raised, that if they'd spent $60,000 on renovating their kitchen or their bathroom, they'd be compensated for that. The Minister promised them that and then he said look he can't deliver. Well maybe he can't deliver but in that case the promise shouldn’t have been made. So let's set expectations realistically. You can't do everything. But let's get the government in to make sure that that land development's happening, that we can stagger the start of the new building, so there's not a huge bottleneck, that we should have had a lot more training happening now so Cantabrians can rebuild their own city. And the other thing I'd just mention is people were really frustrated that they're not getting the geotechnical information that the Minister has, to know what they should be doing about their home if they're in a dodgy area.

Petra: Right, so you're saying if it's bad news just tell the people and trust them to be able to handle it?

Phil: Well I think Clayton Cosgrove has said that, you know tell the people, trust the people, give people the maximum information that you’ve got available. They’ve got a right to that information, it's their lives we're talking about. Canterbury people have been remarkably resilient but they do need a helping hand, and they do need that information.

Petra: Alright, Chris Carter's valedictory speech in parliament today, are you looking forward to that?

Phil: Oh look I probably won’t be there, I've got a fairly busy afternoon. He's going off to start a new career, good luck to him in that.

Petra: Alright, Phil Goff Labour Leader thanks for joining us this morning


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