Post-Election Interviews on Q and A
Sunday 27th November, 2011
Q+A interviews – Steven Joyce, Tariana Turia, Dr Don Brash, Grant Robertson, Metiria Turei & Winston Peters
The interviews from this morning’s post election Q+A have all been transcribed below. The full length video interviews and panel discussions from this morning’s Q+A can be watched on tvnz.co.nz at, http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news
Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE.
Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 9:05am and 1:05pm
Mondays on TVNZ 7
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Good morning, Mr Joyce, and congratulations on your result last night.
STEVEN JOYCE - National Campaign
GUYON Um, Matt McCarten’s right, isn’t he, that if the specials reduce National to 59, you’ve got one seat from United Future, one seat from ACT - that’s a one-seat majority. The broader point being how crucial is the Maori Party in all this?
STEVEN Oh, I think the Maori Party, United Future and ACT are all crucial. It’s pretty obvious. And, uh, in that respect, it’s not that much different to last time. In fact, Parliament, Paul said, would look quite similar - it’s just the coalition or confidence and supply partners would be a little bit smaller But the Prime Minister will be determined to seek to work with all three of those parties. There’s been a bit of spinning like tops on that table [panel table] over there this morning because the reality is with a 48% party vote, it’s a pretty strong endorsement of where the government sits, and we’re comfortable we’ll be able to build the relationships needed to go ahead with the programme.
GUYON Sure. Well, let’s pick up on that programme, because can you actually guarantee that the mixed ownership model, as you like to call it, or the partial privatisation of those five state-owned companies will go ahead?
STEVEN Well, I think the reality is all across the programme we’ve still got to get everything through the Parliament. That doesn’t change. The whole point of the Parliamentary process is it tests the executive of the day. So I think you’ve got to work your way through all of those things. Obviously we’re in a pretty strong position, but each vote happens in the Parliament, and it has to be endorsed. But I think the key point about the mixed ownership model is it’s a key part of the programme, but it is not the whole programme by any manner of means. But it is an important part.
GUYON It’s a $5 billion to $7 billion part of that, and that connects to the-
STEVEN It is a very important part, and I think people have endorsed it on that basis. If you look at it, about 48% of the voters have said actually, whatever their judgements have been made about the merits or otherwise, the package is an appropriate package for NZ at this time, and that’s a pretty strong endorsement
GUYON Sure. Is it on the table, though, in terms of negotiating with the Maori Party? You conceded that they are a crucial element of the next National-led Government. Are you open to saying, ‘Well, we’ll put this on hold or we’ll alter it in order to gain your support on confidence and supply’?
STEVEN I don’t get any sense of that at all, but these discussions will take place, as they always do, between the leader and deputy leader and the two co-leaders of both parties. But I think we’re pretty confident about our position in relation to those things, but, as you know, last time the Maori Party sat down with us and we came up with a confidence and supply agreement. They didn’t agree with everything that we proposed to do, and they didn’t vote for some of it, but they voted for confidence and supply. So that’s the sort of relationship we’d be looking to form, but those discussions have to take place.
GUYON Can I put it this way - can you credibly lead a government without the Maori Party being involved as ministers on confidence and supply?
STEVEN Well, I think it all depends on the numbers. As it’s been noted, we’ve currently got 60. We need one further vote to be able to have a majority in the Parliament. The Prime Minister spoke with both United Future and ACT last night and secured that vote, but he’s also keen to speak with the Maori Party, but that will be an additional buffer.
GUYON When you look at those two support partners - ACT and United Future - just one seat. They didn’t bring anyone with them other than their electorate seats. Does this present a longer-term problem in terms of National having a partner, and does perhaps the partner support for National lie with the Conservatives in the future or another force emerging on the centre right?
STEVEN I think it’s too early to say, Guyon. I think we’ve only have the 2011 election. We’ve got to be careful not to start doing the 2014 one, you know, day one after the 2011 one. A number of things could occur. You’ve just given a couple of scenarios. ACT could rebuild itself. Obviously there will be a lot of desire to do that within the ACT Party given what’s happened to them in this last election yesterday. All sorts of things. You’ve mentioned the Conservative Party. I just think it’s a bit too early to write those things. You can control what you can control, and in our case it’ll be delivering a programme that delivers the economic future that New Zealanders are looking for, and everybody else will work out their position around that.
GUYON I appreciate the details are obviously yet to be worked out, but would you envisage ministerial positions for Peter Dunne and for John Banks?
STEVEN I think it’s important that I don’t sit here as campaign chair writing the strategy for the negotiations over the next couple of days. But, um, the Prime Minister wants to be inclusive, and he’ll work his way through that with Bill English and our team.
GUYON Final question for you: Winston Peters. How much of a problem, or how much more difficult does it make life for a National-led Government having him back in Parliament?
STEVEN I think the question really is how much more difficult does it make it for the Labour Party. I mean, we have the memory of 2002 when we’d got down to a reasonably smallish number in the house, and then there was a jostling of other parties that were on our side of the fence at that stage, including NZ First, as to who was the true Opposition leader. So I suspect you’ll see a bit of that over the next three years, and Labour will have to sort out and elbow their way above that again, just as we had to in 2005.
GUYON All right. Better leave it there. Thanks, Steven Joyce, for joining us.
So, Tariana, we’ll get to asset sales in a second, but firstly, and more broadly, do you consider the Maori Party a crucial part of this next National-led Government?
TARIANA TURIA - Maori Party
Well, I think it will depend on the special votes. I mean, at this point in time they’ve got enough votes themselves to govern alone with the other two.
GUYON So what’s the likely position, then? Are you likely to join as a minister again and give that confidence and supply support?
TARIANA Well, we’ve got to decide that. We’ve got to meet today to talk about what our position is going forward, but, more importantly, we do go back to our electorates to talk with them as well to see what it is that they would expect us to do. The message in the past is you can’t make the gains unless you’re sitting at the table of the government, and we took that into account last time. Who knows what their situation will be this time, uh, because we lost a lot of votes.
GUYON So is it a finely balanced call for you?
TARIANA Well, it always is because we’ve got people from one end of the spectrum to the other. We’re not a left or a right party. And within Maoridom, we’ve got people with huge assets, and we’ve got people who have got nothing.
GUYON You talk about needing to be at the table to make the gains. What are those gains that you want? What are your priorities should you go into a relationship again with the National Party? What do you want?
TARIANA Well, the first time round, I think we were quite politically naïve. We were new. We’d never been engaged in negotiations prior to that, and so we went for some short-term gains, I believe, even though Whanau Ora was a long-term gain for our people. This time we’ll be looking at some structural change, because we think that in the end, that’s where we’ll get the most gains. Because if you go for short-term gain, you don’t really change anything.
GUYON What do you mean by structural change? Do you mean the constitutional review? What do you mean?
TARIANA Well, the constitutional review will continue this time through, but we’re looking at the role of Te Puni Kokiri and whether that should be transformed into something quite different. We’re looking at a Treaty Commissioner. We think the government should be held to account - all their agencies in terms of our people. So those are two things in particular that we’ll be looking at this time through.
GUYON Can I flip this around - what would you gain from being in Opposition?
TARIANA Well, nothing.
GUYON So it’s case solved, isn’t it?
TARIANA Well, that’s for our people, as I said, to decide that. We would hope that they would be looking at politics quite differently to how they have done in their voting pattern this time.
GUYON Just to close this up - asset sales. Will you try to block the asset sales programme? What is your position?
TARIANA Well, we’ve always been quite clear that we were opposed to the asset sales because we believe that New Zealanders own the assets now. What we’ve got, of course, though, is iwi saying to us, ‘If asset sales is put onto the table and it looks as if it’s going to go through, we expect to be big players in that.’
GUYON So could you vote in a Budget including what they call the mixed-ownership model as long as iwi were given a good crack at it?
TARIANA Well, we weren’t expecting them to be given a priority, but I have attended a number of hui where they are saying that collectively, if they come together, they could be major players and hold those assets in NZ.
GUYON All right. We better leave it there, Tariana Turia, but thanks very much for joining us this morning.
DR DON BRASH
Welcome to the programme, Dr Brash.
DR DON BRASH - ACT Party
Good morning, Guyon.
GUYON This was an unmitigated disaster, wasn’t it?
DON Uh, no, it was not. We won the seat of Epsom despite all the pollsters and all the pundits saying we could not retain that seat. The fact that they were saying we would not hold that seat is a major explanation for the fact our party vote collapsed. People who wanted ACT in there-
GUYON So you’re blaming the media?
DON No, no. I’m simply saying there was a perception that we could not hold Epsom, and the consequence of that perception is that people decided not to give their party vote to the ACT Party.
GUYON But the truth is you could only hold it with a massive bailout from John Key.
DON Well, you say that, but in 2005, the ACT Party won the seat of Epsom without any hint from the National Party leader at all, because I know - I was the leader at that time.
GUYON That’s looking backwards. Looking forwards, I mean, isn’t this a spent force now, the ACT Party? One MP; an MP who’s not really holding the ideology of the ACT Party.
DON Well, I don’t accept that. I mean, basically John Banks campaigned hard for the ACT Party policies and principles, and I think he’ll be a great standard bearer for the ACT Party in Parliament. Clearly we have to rebuild from this point. Neither John Banks nor I are under the age of 50. We clearly do need to get some younger people in. We’ve got some very good people on our list - David Seymour, Stephen Whittington, Chris Simmons - all much younger. That’s the new generation of ACT Party leaders.
GUYON Would you expect, um, that John Banks will get a ministerial position in this National-led Government?
DON Oh, look, I can’t comment on that. I did get a call last night from John Key who confirmed the fact that the ACT Party would be supporting a National Party Government. Of course, we’d said that in advance of the election. I was happy to confirm that. And whether John Banks gets a ministerial role depends very much on the Prime Minister.
GUYON Would you expect him to, though?
DON I think there’s a good prospect of that. I mean, he’s been a minister previously for six years, in fact. He’s had good ministerial experience. 18 years in Parliament. I think he’d make an excellent minister, but, as I say, finally that’s for John Key and John Banks to decide.
GUYON And, look, it’s only one vote, one seat, but it is a relatively crucial one. What is it that ACT wants to get in return for its support? What are your priorities?
DON We have to negotiate that confidence and supply agreement in detail, clearly, but we are desperately concerned about the state of the economy. The government’s borrowing $300 million a week. One in four teenagers is unemployed. I mean, there are some serious issues in a global context which are very worrying indeed. Nobody’s talked about that, but that’s the ominous cloud hanging over everything.
GUYON Can I just ask you whether you’re done with politics and ACT, or do you see potential for another force emerging on the centre right that you perhaps want to be involved with?
DON Look, I think ACT is the right party on the centre right. I think it’s got the right principles. It’s the only party on the political spectrum which says that our problems are too much government, too much bureaucracy, too more government taxation.
GUYON Ok, and is that it for you? Over and out?
DON Well, I have no plans to come back. I was heartened the other day to see that the new prime minister of Egypt is 78, but I don’t plan to come back.
GUYON All right. Thank you very much, Dr Brash.
Grant Robertson who’s been the campaign manager for Labour joins us from Wellington. Thank you very much for joining us, Grant.
GRANT ROBERTSON - Labour Campaign
No worries. Campaign spokesperson, not manager.
GUYON All right, I stand corrected. Um, but, really, look, you know, lowest result since 1928 - whatever. The historians will argue about that. But would you accept this was a disaster for the Labour Party?
GRANT No, I don’t accept it was a disaster. I mean, obviously we’re disappointed with that result, and we’re going to lose a lot of very good MPs as a result of it. But I thought we fought a good campaign. I thought we put out there the issues that effectively dominated the agenda, and some of those are those hard calls which John Key doesn’t want to face up to, but if we want superannuation to be sustainable, then we do have to look at lifting the age. We’ve got to look at changing the tax system, and the capital gains tax is a good idea there. So we put some good ideas on the table in this election. The result didn’t go the way we wanted, but I think we ran a good campaign.
GUYON Ok. Last time when you lost the 2008 election, it’s been well traversed, this issue, that the baton was simply passed to Phil Goff. There was not really a contest over the leadership. Do you expect this time to have a genuine contest for the soul of the Labour Party?
GRANT Oh, look, we’ve got to give Phil some space and time, and he’s going to come to Caucus on Tuesday and talk to us about what his decision is. But I think the soul of the Labour Party’s very strong. I mean, we’ve had fantastic activists out there during this campaign, really proud of the policy platform we’ve put forward. It’s one of the most progressive policy platforms that I’ve seen the Labour Party put forward, and I think we’ve got a great base to go on from a policy point of view.
GUYON Do you want to be the leader?
GRANT Oh, look, it’s way too early on a Sunday morning to be talking about that, Guyon.
GUYON Well, it’s only two days out from that Caucus meeting you’ve talked about, and I know it’s an uncomfortable question for you, but I’m asking it. Do you want to be the leader of the Labour Party?
GRANT Look, I’m not giving thought to that at the moment, Guyon. What I’m giving thought to is that Phil Goff ran a good campaign. He wants to come to the Caucus meeting on Tuesday about his plans. I want to give him that space because I think we owe it to him as somebody who led Labour through a difficult campaign, who’s given a huge contribution to NZ and to the Labour Party. We’ll make those decisions later on.
GUYON Can I ask it this way, Grant Robertson? Is there any prospect at all that Phil Goff can remain as the leader of the Labour Party?
GRANT Look, Phil’s going to make that announcement on Tuesday, and then we’ll respect the time he needs to talk to his Caucus colleagues. Um, I think he’s run a really good campaign, and obviously we’ll look to the future after Tuesday and make our decisions then.
GUYON And what does the next Labour leader need to do to bring that support back up into the 30s and even 40s?
GRANT It’s been a really difficult campaign. It’s obviously been a shorter campaign. We’ve had one where there’s been a global financial crisis, the earthquakes. All of those things have counted against us, and history’s counted against us. New Zealanders don’t vote out a government after one term. So the next Labour leader after whatever happens next week is going to have to sit down and think about a slightly smaller Caucus, but a really good policy platform that we can take forward, and we’ve got to get out there and connect with voters. But I think voters understand that NZ has to take some of these tough decisions that we’ve put on the table. We’re the ones who have set the policy agenda, and we can keep pushing that through the next three years.
GUYON All right, we better leave it there.
The Green Party will now have 13 MPs. Congratulations on your result last night, and thanks for joining us this morning.
METIRIA TUREI - Green Party
GUYON I guess the central question is what do you do with that power?
METIRIA Right. Well, we’ve worked in the memorandum of understanding with the National government before, and we’ve always said that we would be prepared to do something similar if National led the next government. We’re in no hurry. We’re not necessary for the formation of government. Last time we didn’t do it till after the new term of Parliament was resumed, so we’ll see how it goes.
GUYON So let’s just clarify that - that’s a definite no to confidence and supply?
METIRIA Well, we certainly aren’t necessary for the formation of government. We said it would be highly unlikely. We said it would be highly unlikely that we would be in a coalition arrangement with National, and I think that that’s the case.
GUYON Can you close that door this morning?
METIRIA I don’t think it’s necessary. I mean, we said it would be highly unlikely that we would be in any kind of coalition-type arrangement with National. We are not in a position where we are necessary for the formation of government, so that is not a decision that we need to present. But I will say we are talking with our executive today. That decision is yet to be made, but we always said it was highly unlikely.
GUYON Sure, and I don’t want to press this because time is precious, but we just get a clarification on that? Are you able to close the door completely on that this morning, or is it still highly unlikely?
METIRIA No, it’s still a discussion that our executive has to have, and we will do that this afternoon. But I do think that being realistic, we are looking at something like a memorandum of understanding, as we have had before.
GUYON Sorry, do you mean that when you talk to your executive that you’ll have a decision on that today, or will it be in time?
METIRIA We will be talking about how we proceed and what our decision is around the next stages. If we were to have any kind of confidence and supply type arrangement, we would have to have an SGM for our party to agree to that kind of agreement.
GUYON That’s some sort of collective meeting?
METIRIA That’s right. So, we would have a conference to do that. We’ll make some of those decisions this afternoon.
GUYON Ok. What is it that you hope to achieve or gain in the memorandum of understanding? What are your priorities?
METIRIA Sure. So, we would very much like to extend the home insulation programme. It was part of our jobs package, our jobs priority, and we certainly think there’s some possibility of continuing that. There are other projects like the toxics project, which has proved to be very useful with the issue that’s happened in Coromandel in the last week, so we’d like to see some progress on that too. But our priorities were jobs and rivers and kids. We have a programme of solutions. We would like to talk to National at some point about that and see what progress we could get. But, again, we’re still at early stages, and we’ll have to see how we go.
GUYON Can I just ask you finally, do you see yourselves as completely independent from the Labour Party, or do you see this as-?
METIRIA (LAUGHS) I can answer that and say yes, absolutely.
GUYON Yeah, but here’s my question - probably not very well phrased - but are you looking at building a potential coalition for 2014? Is there some room to work with Labour?
METIRIA Well, we do work with Labour. For example, Russel Norman worked with David Cunliffe on the banking inquiry. Sue Kedgley worked with Labour on the aged care inquiry over the last three years. So we have worked with Labour and National, but we are an independent political force in this country. We are cemented as the third political force based on our green principles of sustainability and caring for our people and taking care of a compassionate economy. So we are not in politics to be anybody’s mate; we are in politics to get stuff done.
GUYON All right. Thanks, Metiria Turei for joining us
Firstly, congratulations on your result last night, and thanks for joining us this morning.
WINSTON PETERS - NZ First
GUYON What are you hoping to achieve this term having got back into Parliament?
WINSTON We’re hoping that New Zealanders will better understand the state of our economy, which is not what came out in the campaign. There are serious storm clouds on the horizon. New Zealanders need to know about that, and they need to know you cannot have your cake and sell it too. So there are fundamental roles for an Opposition party to both propose and oppose, and we’re going to use them to the maximum.
GUYON So obviously that was a reference to the asset sales, which clearly you will oppose. What is it that you hope to work with any constructive element with the National-led Government? Are you hoping that there are some things that you can progress?
WINSTON Look, we have a Cullen Fund today because of NZ First and Winston Peters. We have the KiwiSaver because we put our votes to make sure it could stand up, and with the Kiwibank the same thing. So, you know, we’ve got a sound record of doing those things when the policies justified them.
GUYON What are your priorities this time? What are the things that you may hope the government might progress with you?
WINSTON Look, whether I was in Opposition or in Government, the greatest priority NZ First would have is trying to get ourselves through this current economic crisis. We are ill prepared for it. We have failed to take the warnings over the years. Now the day of reckoning has arrived, and we have got to get it through it. I suppose you’ve got to make that your number-one priority.
GUYON And what are the things you would actually materially try to do to mitigate that crisis or to try and improve the situation with the economy?
WINSTON Well, you know, New Zealanders need a savings programme where we are all contributing to free ourselves up from dependence on foreign money and foreign savings. Some of the fundamental things that economies like Singapore and Norway, two different economies, have been doing, we need to have learnt from them. Now, NZ First has said that for years now. So here it is. We are in 2011, I think, in the worst economic climate of my lifetime, and I don’t see us, sadly, prepared the way we should be. If we can contribute to that, we’ll do the best to do that. But selling assets, going into an emissions trading scheme which is highly expensive and which is not going to work in terms of sustainable decreasing of the problem - those are things we’re going to oppose.
GUYON So when the Parliament opens in February and a motion of no confidence is taken, um, are you eight votes opposed to the government?
WINSTON Well, you know, the first thing that happens in February is that the government announces its plan. We’ll wait till then to judge it. We won’t be crossing those bridges till we come to them.
GUYON You heard Metiria Turei, and they’re looking at a memorandum of understanding with the National Party. I mean, are you looking at any form of agreement at all?
WINSTON Look, Mr Key, on the most fictitious grounds, two weeks into an inquiry which NZ First was totally exonerated, said that we were guilty, and he made a judgement four years ago. We all know that. So he’s ruled us out, and that’s where things stand. Now, we’re going to do our job by the people of this country and ensure that there’s a huge quantum of sunlight on NZ politics now.
GUYON Just finally, why do you think it is that after three years you got back last night? What do you think changed things?
WINSTON Well, it wouldn’t be your polls, for a start, because they were 700% out again at the start of the campaign and the result.
GUYON Look, I’m not talking about the polls.
WINSTON Well, of course you wouldn’t want to talk about them. But we got back because we put in the hard yards, talking to people the old-fashioned way in country halls in places like Riverton all over NZ. You know, we didn’t kiss any babies or terrorise them. We didn’t go to schools where they didn’t vote. We did it the old-fashioned way, and had we got more coverage, we would have done much better.
GUYON All right. Thank you very much for joining us, Winston Peters.