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The Nation: John Key 'Meets the Press'

'The Nation'

John Key 'Meets the Press'

With Rachel Smalley – Alex Tarrant & John Hartevelt

Rachel Welcome to the programme and our interview special with Prime Minister John Key. First let's meet our press panel, Alex Tarrant from Interest.co.nz and John Hartevelt from the Fairfax Press Gallery. Welcome to you both, and our guest, Prime Minister John Key in the studio. Thanks so much for joining us this morning Prime Minister.

It's been an interesting ten days or so. You’ve had the U-turn on the class sizes. We've had a drop in the polls. We've had the ACC saga. We've got Auditor General now investigating the Convention Centre tender process. What's gone wrong?

John Key – Prime Minister
Business as normal I think. If you go and have a look at it, yeah look it's been a you know tough week. Some weeks are harder and some weeks are easier, but overall when you're pushing through an agenda like the government is, and trying to get on top of the economic situation that the world faces, and therefore that presents in New Zealand, there are of course going to be some weeks that are tougher than others. And you know as I said on the class size things, that was something we handled badly. We could have handled it better, and we've learnt some lessons from that. But it's not unique to governments, I fondly remember Labour having their own set of issues around closure of schools and fart taxes and all sorts of things that happen when you're in government. So look compared to hard weeks – hard weeks are Christchurch earthquakes, Pike River Mine disaster – much more significant issues from New Zealand's point of view.

Alex Tarrant – Interest.co.nz
Well Prime Minister something that is perceived to have gone wrong is this whole ACC fiasco. We've been through all the nitty gritty. Have you personally asked Judith Collins if she was involved in the referral of Bronwyn Pullar to the Police?

John Key Well I didn’t need to ask her because she actually came and volunteered that information to me.

Alex When was that?

John Key Yesterday I was having a discussion with her and as she pointed out it's well and truly spelt out on the ACC website. So what ACC's website clearly says is I think on the Tuesday or whatever particular day it was, they went off and had some discussions with the Police about a number of matters, and one of those was in relation to breach of privacy, the other was about you know potential claims or threats that they may have felt were coming towards the Corporation. It took six days for the complaint to be signed by ACC. That was led by ACC's Chief Executive and Chairman. The decisions were solely made by them. There was no influence by the Minister. I'm not sure she can recall whether they advised her or not, they probably did, that would have been under the no surprises policy…

Alex So if she hadn’t told you herself, were you going to ask her?

John Key Well I've been listening to her answers in parliament and they're the same answers that she gave consistently during the week.

Alex But one day she said she couldn’t recall, and then the next day was slightly different.

John Key She said she couldn’t recall whether she was advised by them under no surprises she probably would be advised. That sort of makes sense. I mean she meets with the Corporation very regularly, and I've absolutely no doubt that in all probability they would have said that to her, it's a significant event to be going off to the Police. But I think the important point with this is that the ACC Corporation took advice from Hugh Rennie QC. I haven’t seen the advice, I'm not sure if the Minister has, I think she may or may not have recently. But anyway Hugh Rennie QC gave the advice. Hugh Rennie is not going to be giving advice to the Corporation to file a Police complaint unless he feels very strongly that there is support for that claim. Now I don’t know the details of all of that, but it's not because a Minister says hey this would be a nice idea.

Alex Yeah but the perception is that the perception was I guess now that she may have been involved.

John Key She's made it clear to me she hasn’t.

Alex Okay but did you think it was serious enough for you to ask her yourself if she hadn’t done it?

John Key No because I was happy with the answers that she gave me. To be honest knowing Judith Collins I thought it was very unlikely she would have been pushing that case, but likely that she would have been told that they were doing it because she's a diligent minister, but look at the end of the day she mentioned that to me yesterday that that was fine.

Alex  Okay do you have full confidence in John Judge?

John Key Well I did in his job as Chairman, and he's obviously stepping down now, and I mean I think earlier on you said you know it's a bit of a fiasco or some words to that effect. I'd sort of take a step back from that. My own view is John Judge came in, the Corporation was in a real state of financial disrepair. We were having to increase levies significantly for New Zealanders, and actually I think John did a tremendous job economically turning that organisation round.

Alex Well there's ultra disrepair now isn't there, still there? What has been created?

John Key Well there are issues and the reason we know there are issues is yes they deal with a lot of claims, I think it's a million and a half claims a year, but in reality other insurers don’t seem to release private information in the public domain. Now I'm not saying by any stretch of the imagination that ACC deliberately did that, but clearly their systems aren’t great, and so I think what is required now is a different change, and there may be some minor cultural changes that are required. But you know I look at John Judge and say he was successful as Chairman of ACC, he did what the government asked him to do. But we're in a new phase now.

Alex Judith Collins has reserved some confidence in John Judge. This guy's going to be heading the country's biggest bank. Is it a bit worrying that the Cabinet Ministers work closely with John Judge, has reserved confidence about how he handles privacy matters, and he's not going to be heading one of our biggest companies.

John Key We need to raise that particular point with Judith Collins. I don’t know exactly why, but what I would say though is that – I think her point is that she's reserving judgement on some announcement until the Auditor General and the Privacy Commissioner's reports are back. That’s the issue there. But you know will John Judge be a good Chairman of ANZ? Well that’s a matter for ANZ's board to determine whether he should be in that job. But I personally have seen him operating and think his skills are very good.

Rachel Are you confident just finally Prime Minister, that you know everything that Judith Collins knows?

John Key Yeah well I mean she always been open and upfront with me and I've got no reason to doubt her.

Rachel Okay, let's move on and look at the Convention Centre, the Sky City Convention Centre. Do you have some unease if you like that the Auditor General is now investigating that tender process?

John Key No, actually I think it's a good thing. I mean people will say well he would say that. My view's the complete opposite. I think it's a good thing because there have been people making claims, and you saw it with David Shearer and to a certain degree the Greens on Thursday, making claims which are completely incorrect. And so the good thing about the Auditor General coming in is that assuming it comes through a clean bill of health, it won’t stop their criticism by the way, because what they say in Opposition and what they did in government are quite different things, but it will at least be able to put that to one side. Let me just take you through that for a moment. The involvement I had as Minister of Tourism was to go and talk to a number of critical players and as part of a general conversation say to them hey look New Zealand's interested in building a Convention Centre. I did that with Sky City. I did that with the people out at the ASB Centre, the Edge. I did that with Ngati Whatua. That’s not unusual. I mean and to argue that that would be unusual would be say well look I have discussions with people in Whangarei about building a Museum there, and I have discussions with people in Auckland about building a cycle way. So now what we're talking about is okay, was there undue influence or was the process correctly handled? That’s what the Auditor General is saying. So let me tell you this. For a start off okay, in terms of the expression of interest process my office had absolutely no involvement, no correspondence, no phone calls – absolutely nothing. So when the Auditor General comes in there will be no correspondence, no phone calls, no discussions at all. Zero.

John Hartevelt – Fairfax Press Gallery
Prime Minister the questions are actually here about the process before the expressions of interest. Isn't that the point that your Chief of Staff for instance had three meetings with Sky City before expressions of interest were even open. What was he doing talking to Sky City in those meetings?

John Key Well I can't answer all of those questions but they have ongoing discussions, there's always discussions between companies and offices, you know they will go and talk about things like that.

John H But were they talking about offering – when you had discussions with Ngati Whatua and other players, were you offering up legislation in those discussions. Did they know that legislation was a bargaining chip as well?

John Key Well in the case of Ngati Whatua they actually needed changes as well, because the land that they're talking about isn't in Ngati Whatua's control at this point, so yes they would have needed legislation, they would have needed their settlement legislation speeded up to get that through. So when you people say well you know should we have a discussion or not, and should we potentially say for instance have more pokie machines or an extension to the gaming license for Sky City, that’s exactly what the previous Labour government did in 2001. That’s exactly what happened. They signed off on 230 extra pokie machines.

Rachel They say that was the Casino Authority. Judith Collins was head of that at the time.

John Key Okay, they are an agency an agency of the government, and whenever agencies of the government – look the Overseas Investment Office recommended that Crafer Farms be accepted, and everyone said well you know they were up in arms about that recommendation, and by the way Helen Clark went to the opening and lauded how great these things were for New Zealand.

John H Prime Minister when the Auditor General looks at that tender process they're gonna look at how you weighed up costs and benefits. Did you consider the social costs and should social costs of more pokie machines be considered in the tender process?

John Key You see that’s where the whole debate is started to try and change right. So the first argument by some people have been that there was something shonky about it right? And what that process is going to prove it was utterly professionally handled.

John H Well that’s fine, I mean you’ve dealt with that, I'm asking you about social costs. Should that have been considered? Okay there's two arguments I accept that. Let's talk about this other argument, about social costs. Should that have been counted?

John Key Let me just cover off that first point. So people have made that case and unless there's something I don’t know about, but I feel completely at ease, that the Ministry of Economic Development people and the major official there that ran that process has had 30 years, and the bidders themselves you know with MED and with government, the bidders themselves came out and said the process was very fair. So some people have made a case oh this was all unfair, but actually now they're saying oh no no no that’s not right now. Okay it is all fair, but now it's about how you make the assessment. Well again the Auditor General will have to look at that. But if you go and have a look at say the social issue. So that’s I think at the heart of the issue, like in fairness to you John you were the first journalist and actually the only journalist who actually kicked up bobsydie about the thing right from the get go, right? Now you're actually entitled to do that and I think that’s totally legitimate. At least you had the courage of our convictions the whole way through. Most people wrote it up as a good thing to do. So fair enough for doing that.

John H Well the flattery's fine but this is a serious question isn't it, about that social cost aspect?

John Key No but this was gonna be my point. My point was that I always thought there would be people like you and other commentators that would come out and say I don’t like this particular trade off, which is a cross subsidisation of income. I accepted that. But you see when you say you look at the social costs we're also looking at an environment where we know the number of pokie machines now around New Zealand is reducing. So we know this year there’ll be 468 less, so that’s gotta be taken into consideration. Secondly, there are people that have problem gambling, you and I both know that, and that’s risky, but they could go to Sky City Casino or any other pokie machine anyway at the moment, and further by the way they could get on the internet as they're listening to this show and they could gamble 24/7. So there are ills there and there are ills with drinking, and there are ills with all sorts of things in the world. I can't necessarily stop them, but I think in the context of the harm minimisation which – the only thing I've ever said to Sky City is harm minimisation reduction is off the table, Len Brown won’t accept it and I wouldn’t accept it.

Rachel We have to move on. I just want to quickly ask you, the idea of the Convention Centre as Tourism Minister do you claim that as your baby?

John Key Yes, well insomuch that I can't claim complete victory for that, because that was the incoming briefing to me in 2008. But I tell you what, we've been arguing since 2003 about a Convention Centre. It's going to bring in you know the better part of eight or nine hundred jobs when the thing is operating. It's being 900 jobs to build it. It's going to bring in 160,000 visitor nights.

Rachel You're raising that issue now. Let's talk about the economy. This week the Reserve Bank forecast that a return to surplus could take another two years beyond what you would like to do. How wedded are you, how committed are you to returning the country to surplus?

John Key Well I'd like to do it by 2014/15, and that’s the government's stated aim and goal, and we're doing everything we can to get there. If you look at the start of this year I came out and gave a speech that said look, it is obviously very volatile internationally and Europe's going worse than we thought, and if I thought that getting back to surplus would make things much worse and drive the economy into recession, then we've given ourselves the political freedom if you like to take a step back from that, but we're not walking away from that 14/15 target unless we absolutely have to.

Alex You have indicated that you're willing to bridge another couple of years if that does happen.

John Key We had to yes.

Alex Can you commit then to no more cuts to the public service than what you’ve already asked the public service to do?

John Key You're talking about the 3% efficiency dividends that we're asking, well I don’t see a change in that, in other words that’s the dividend we've asked for, and that’s probably squeezing the lemon if you like as hard as we can.

Alex Has it been squeezed as hard as it can in budget 2012, so budget 2013 if that surplus track does go out which shows the bridging is all more borrowing, or …?

John Key There's two things going on isn't there? One is the amount of new budget spending, and in the last two budgets that’s been zero and prior to that it was a billion dollars a time. Contrast that with Michael Cullen spending well over three billion a year, every year for the last five years. The second bit though is that there's an efficiency dividend, in other words reduce the amount of expenditure you have. If you're asking me are we asking for bigger reductions, the answer at this point is Bill English has never mentioned that to me, I don’t think that’s likely. We have a new budget spending component of 800 million for 2013/14 budget, could we reduce that and have another zero budget? The answer is yes we could, but our preference would be to spend a little bit if we could, because we're pushing as hard as we can.

John H Well if you have another zero budget your problem with the teachers then, 114 million, which you're going to put that into that extra 800 million, so that creates another problem doesn’t it? You can't have another zero budget.

John Key We haven’t guaranteed that. What we've said is our preference is to find that prior to 2013's contingency, and we are looking for ways to find that 114 million, but we've said if we can't find it then we'll park it up against 2013.

John H Well you'll have to if you're gonna deliver a zero budget won’t you?

John Key Well if we can't find it though. So for a start let's say our first option or preference is to try and find it from savings now. If we can't well we'll put it against 2013. If we can't find it and we have to park it against 2013 you're absolutely right we'd have to have that as the bare minimum. Now in the real world I'd rather have a small contingency for 2013, because we've pushed hard. I mean we've literally spent 700 million extra over the course of basically four budgets, and that’s tight, that’s really tight, I mean Cullen spent about 20 billion in that period so that is a big contrast.

Alex The other side of the budget obviously is the growth forecast and we've been through the growth forecast, whether Treasury's right, whether Treasury's wrong. It seems though that when you came into power you were talking about rebalancing. Bill English had this fantastic chart, non tradable activity versus tradable activity and that’s why you needed to rebalance the economy. That doesn’t seem to be happening. The Reserve Bank in their Monetary Policy Statement made the comment that restraint in capital investment over the last few years had limited innovation and inhibited future growth. The budget had comments that the shift in the drivers you know is going to consumption, and the Reserve Bank said that, and in the budget the growth is being led by the Canterbury Rebuild, and the external sector, the export sector is going to be subdued. So that rebalancing hasn’t really been happening has it? And English even accepted that in front of the Select Committee. So does more need to be done and do you accept what English said that the rebalancing hasn’t been as sufficient as you'd like?

John Key Okay so firstly I mean I wasn't at his Select Committee, so I'm always reluctant to accept a version of what someone signs up to, it depends on the questions that are put to them. Secondly I'm not sure I'd characterise everything in that way, but let me give you my summary very briefly of what I think it looks like. Firstly, I think we are rebalancing and rebalancing quite well, so in fact overall exports have been growing. What is causing the Reserve Bank to have some concerns at the moment is not actually the volume of exports, it's the prices are backing off. So the Governor said to me look it's the terms of trade that are coming down which is the price of exports over imports. In fact actually you’ve seen Fonterra's last couple of options be better than people thought, but clearly the six before that I think were quite poor. So okay, or at least were declining. So what is driving that is real uncertainty about what's happening in Europe and the impact that’s gonna have on China. So all of those things might be of concern, but if you look at the general rebalancing of the economy we've had a number of things happen. (A) New Zealanders are saving. Now you know we can actually argue…

Alex Treasury thinks that’s gonna slow down now and part of the growth assumptions are based on New Zealanders spending more.

John Key Funnily enough actually I mean the one thing the Treasury Secretary said to me I think on Wednesday night when I was talking to him about it, is that they're still quite optimistic – they're actually saying for this decade New Zealanders are gonna save more than they – well spend less than they earn, so they're gonna have positive savings rates. So that is actually changing.

Alex By net international investment position and current account balance both forecasts deteriorate still.

John Key Yeah I mean we can get into really technical debates, but the current account for this partly is very narrow because of the Christchurch earthquake repatriations, it has some impact on things, but let me make this one overall point, and then we go from there.

Rachel I do have to interrupt you there, sorry Prime Minister we do have to go to a break, we will pick this up when we return with the Prime Minister John Key, we'll talk more about the economy, some of those elephants in the room as well – Christchurch and the Prime Minister's legacy.

Rachel You're back with The Nation and a special extended interview with the Prime Minister John Key. Prime Minister we've talked about growth in the economy where you think it may or may not come from. So much it seems is tied into growth forecasts associated with the Christchurch Rebuild, and although retrospect is a find thing Christchurch isn't occurring, the rebuild there at the pace that you would like it to is it? It's not contributing to growth as you would have liked?

John Key Well there's two component parts, I mean there's a lot of things we're doing to drive growth. I'm not gonna go through all of those today, but everything from literally wanting to get things like the Convention Centre to extending mining, right through to you know labour law reform, getting back to surplus. All those things drive growth, but the one thing that’s independent to the global economy is Christchurch. The thing that’s slowed things down a bit with Christchurch has been the issue of insurance, that takes a bit of time, and primarily actually the seismic activity. So every time you get a decent shock there it slows things down.

Rachel But hasn’t Bill English hedged his bets a bit against that rebuild occurring, and occurring now within this five year period?

John Key No I think what we're saying is look we can see this huge amount of economic activity, and you are actually I think someone like Fletchers came out this week or last week and said they're gonna run a job summit because they need people for Christchurch. You are seeing that economic activity happening and every week….

Rachel Slower than perhaps what was forecast to happen.

John Key Well we can't stop you know when you have a major shock like you had on Christmas Eve in Christchurch what that does is resets the clock, and so you’ve got – you know the government's taking all the right steps that it can. It's given itself a lot of power. It's got its own agency. It's now got 100 day programme. You saw Gerry Brownlee again last night talking about how they were dealing with some of the white zone issues. There's been a huge amount of buildings taken down in the CBD. So we are starting to make progress, but look this is the single biggest insurance claim for any one insurer in the world with EQC. It's the fourth largest earthquake insurance claim in the world since 1973. So only Kobe the California earthquakes and the most recent Japanese earthquakes are bigger. So you know I think in fairness to everybody in Christchurch we're going as fast as we can, but there are some things that hold us back a bit. But it is going to be a very large economic stimulus.

Rachel Given that though do you think you'll make the budget growth forecast? With all of these factors you're confident you will?

John Key Well as best I can do, I mean they’ve got the Greek elections in the weekend, they’ve got the French elections. There's all sorts of issues out there, but we've got a plan and we're executing the plan. Everything I see from Labour and the Greens is stop stuff. Even this week the Labour energy spokesman said probably oil will be there forever.

Rachel It's a pretty strong plan though, is there any flexibility there?

John Key Well of course there's always flexibility to respond and change, but I'm very confident we've got a plan, we're executing the plan and we're going well.

John H The speed of Christchurch, government has real ambition around the speed there and it's tied a lot up with that speed. Is that at the heart of tension with Christchurch City Council in that they are not able to meet what you need from them?

John Key To be honest I think it's just the sheer pressure on a small organisation. The one thing I've learned being Prime Minister is that government has frankly great officials, they have huge capacity to fund things, and they have the capacity to respond, and it doesn’t really matter whether it's a Civil Defence emergency or something else, they have the breadth and depth to cope. You're asking Christchurch, you know a council, it's a big council relative to New Zealand but it's still a small organisation, to deal with a massive event, and that’s what causes the tension.

Rachel I want to touch on Superannuation here Prime Minister. You’ve said you're happy to have the debate and you're happy to have the conversation. When does the debate stop and the decisions start?

John Key Oh, that'll be for every political party to have those. I mean we went into the last election with a clear policy, and we'll go into 2014 with a clear one, but that debate won’t stop, it's gonna carry on.

Rachel When will you have a decision though, when will you decide what you think should

John Key We've decided. So let me go through very quickly, cos this is where there's a lot of rubbish spoken about this stuff. Okay for a start off, no one from what I can see is arguing they want to raise the age of super between now and 2020.

Alex Well ACT is.

John Key Okay well so John Banks on his own is, okay well that’s good so there's still 120 votes you’ve gotta get from somewhere else. So basically the long and short of it is outside of ACT then nobody is arguing that they're going to raise the age to 2020. So no decision you make today is gonna have any difference on the Crown accounts, any difference on growth, any difference on anything costs we face. So that’s the first point. So we need to acknowledge that. So when people say oh by the way in a few years' time Superannuation will be two billion dollars' worth more or cost more. Well by the way that'll be the same for every political party. That’s the first thing. Secondly when Labour say raise the age to 67 they're being a bit disingenuous aren’t they? Because what they're really saying is they want to accept the Retirement Commissioner's position. Well good on them, but the Retirement Commissioner is saying this. Decouple from average wages to the CPI. That means not only do you have to wait longer from 65 to 67 to get it, you get less. And some people are also arguing means testing. That’s what Labour's really saying to people. They are saying to New Zealanders now, we want to spend more money, you work longer and you get less.

Alex So the age is one thing, and you dismissed it as quite a small thing in terms of dealing with the costs.

John Key In 20 years' time it makes .7% of GDP difference, but if you really want to address the cost you have to lower the amount of Superannuation you give New Zealanders.

Alex Okay but we're also discussing here the aging population, the cost of the aging population and what people should start planning for. Your answer is to grow the cake. But should there be more talk now about – should me and John be expecting higher taxes when we're your age, should we be expecting…

Rachel Planning and preparing?

John Key Maybe, maybe not, it depends on who the governments are when you guys retire. I mean for instance, let's just take this one step. When we came into office Treasury said by 2026 debt would be 60% of GDP. Today they are saying that it will be zero under this government. So in other words that’s 3% of GDP. We've made some hard calls and some tough decisions. We've done things not to rack up more debt. I mean we're in the middle of a mixed ownership model argument at the moment but the core part of that argument is, no extra debt for capital. So the point is we've made those decisions. So we've said to New Zealanders we think New Zealand Super is affordable without changes by making this set of choices. Labour are making other choices.

Rachel I want to bring in another point Prime Minister if I can. Let's talk about another area of possible growth, and that’s mining. You're pro mining.

John Key Yeah, provided the right conditions.

Rachel It's fairly central to the growth plan, but you're met with layer after layer of protests and litigation. If it's so important to growth, if it's so important to you, shouldn’t you as Prime Minister take a greater role in leadership on this?

John Key Ooh, last time I did that you criticised me around the Convention Centre. So okay I'm the Minister of Energy. Look I chair the Cabinet, I'm the central person that takes responsibility for setting the overall direction of course with the will of the Cabinet, and I have been very supportive of my Minister of Energy in wanting to expand our activities, and that’s because this country's earned four billion dollars in royalties so far, and it's our fourth largest export.

Rachel But look at Backhurst on the Denniston Plateau there's some 20 consents 14 months ago – I mean who would want to do mining in this country, it's a nightmare. Is there a limit to environmentalism?

John Key Well for a start off it's – oil is our fourth largest export, behind dairy and sheep meat and wood, it's our fourth largest export. So we're already doing a lot of it. You know gas has been a big part of the New Zealand economy for 30 years. What we've said as a government is look we accept all of the environmental concerns, that’s why we're putting through EEZ legislation so if there's deep sea drilling and the likes it's professionally done. But we've openly said we want to see more oil and gas exploration, potentially more coal mining in New Zealand. Potentially the use of lignite, certainly iron sands, and we've unashamedly said that we think we can balance that with the environmental concerns that people have to grow the overall cake. The people that are opposed are Labour and the Greens and they're the same people that are opposed to absolutely everything and then by the way David Parker gets up and says I'm sick of John Key talking about Greece. Well hullo-o. We live in the real world not Planet Labour, you know.

Rachel I know that the panel here wants to talk to you a lot about future. I'll just kick it off by saying if you get the largest section of the vote at the next election how are you going to form a government?

John Key Well I don’t know the players in 2014, there's a lot of fluid nature about that.

John H The voters are gonna need signals from you right, so there's a few polls now that are showing Labour plus Green getting past National alone, so you need to start signalling to people that if you're gonna vote for National it's gonna be a meaningful vote right. So what about New Zealand First? I mean he's come out today, he said 65 retirement age is the bottom line, which fits for you right?

John Key So this is my challenge to Winston Peters, you know I dare him to go out there and say he will not under any conditions form a government with Labour even if Labour's policy is to raise the Super age from 2020 not in the three year period from 2014/17. I dare him to say that. He will not, he will not, because he's tricky and he'll find a way around all of that stuff.

John H Well I dare you to say I won’t work with Winston again in 2014.

John Key So I do what I've always done, I've been the most upfront of any leader I think that’s been out there. I've spelt out very clearly before every election, and I'll be doing the same in 2014.

John H When?

John Key 2014, as we've done every time. The year of the election.

Rachel So you're not ruling it out?

John Key Well we've shown no interest to work with Winston terribly but in 2011, like we did in 2008, I will sit down with the New Zealand public and say to the best of the ability I have these are the players I can work with, can't work with, and might work with. I've been very clear about that.

Alex It's the man, not the party is it with New Zealand First?

John Key There's a range of different issues but I also accept this is a democracy, and MMP is designed you know to never get a majority. So that’s the way the system works. The thing I don’t accept by the way is that you know the Greens and Labour, okay look we need to put a bit of perspective around the polls. Yeah the polls have eased back a little bit, we all accept that, they might even ease back a bit more frankly over the next six months. That’s because you know the government's doing (a) some things that are edgy, mixed ownership model, (b) they're doing some things which are you know there's lots of challenges out there, but you have a look at it. We are polling on you know all the polls that I can see at the moment, clearly Roy Morgan late last week, TV3 and TV1, we are polling what we did virtually on election night. Since 2008 there's only been one European government that’s been re-elected, that’s the Germans. You know David Cameron's polling 28% Labour are polling 45% in the UK. In Australia Gillard's on her knees. So we're the only incumbent government in four years that’s held our numbers. That shows you for all of the claims that commentators make about our government, we are for the most part understood, not always universally popular in every decision we make, but I think supported that we're on the right track. And we are ambitious and positive and everything else we hear is negative, and I'm sorry I think that’s why it resonates with the New Zealand public.

Rachel Prime Minister we do have to leave it there. We very much appreciate your time this morning. Thank you, and to our panel Alex Tarrant form Interest.co.nz and John Hartevelt from Fairfax, thank you.


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New Zealand and the United Kingdom have agreed in principle the details of a historic Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which will further accelerate our COVID-19 economic recovery say Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor... More>>


Ombudsman: Launches Investigation Into MIQ Booking System
The Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier is launching a broad investigation into the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) booking system after receiving hundreds of complaints... More>>


Pay Cheque To Pay Cheque: Half A Million New Zealanders Have No Savings
New findings from the Consumer NZ sentiment tracker found that 15% of New Zealanders had no savings, and a further 27% were anxious about their level of savings and would like to have more tucked away... More>>

Government: Mandatory Vaccination For Two Workforces

Large parts of two workforces critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 will be required to be vaccinated, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Our education and health and disability workforces have done an incredible job throughout this pandemic to keep themselves and people safe,” Chris Hipkins said.... More>>

Green Party: Deeply Concerned Space Launches May Be Breaching Nuclear-free Laws

The Green Party is deeply concerned that space launches by Rocket Lab may be breaching nuclear-free laws, given our long-standing position as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty... More>>




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