INDEPENDENT NEWS

Q+A Labour Leadership Debate

Published: Sun 1 Sep 2013 02:55 PM
Q+A Labour Leadership Debate
Sunday 1 September, 2013
HIGHLIGHTS FROM TV ONE’S Q+A DEBATE
ON NEO-LIBERALISM
DAVID “Don’t believe that free markets on their own are going to deliver nirvana for ordinary working people for two reasons.
CORIN But you won’t do away with the free market, will you?
DAVID No, but we’ll regulate it and bound it.”
ON FISCAL MANAGEMENT
SHANE Number one, I will not write one single cheque the Labour Party cannot cash. Get that right from me. Secondly, there are some bastions that need to be overcome. The brown shirts of the food industry are the supermarkets. Under my leadership, they will be reviewed, and if it’s necessary to regulate them to bring the cost of food down, take my word, we will do it.”
EMPLOYMENT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
CORIN So would you make employment a focus of the Reserve Bank?
GRANT Absolutely, I would. That would be part of changing that agreement that the Government has.
CORIN I want to touch on this idea of— So you’re going to target employment in the Reserve Bank. What are the consequences of that, Shane Jones? That’s higher interest rates, that’s higher inflation – that’s going to hurt the working poor.
SHANE No, not necessarily. If you’re asking me how I would target employment, in every region I would ensure that if you invest in a region, for example, around Marsden Point, that I would actually change the tax system to attract investment into those regions. It’s done in other OECD countries. Give some jobs, some industry and some hope to the regions of New Zealand, rather than Auckland bulging at the seams.
DAVID I do agree that we need a really strong regional development programme. We need to get government off the sidelines, into the game, new partnerships with our communities, whether it’s aquaculture in the Eastern Bay of Plenty or a rail link to Whangarei Port so we can get more jobs up north. Some things only the government can do, and if we put the weight of the state behind the aspirations of our provinces, we will lift the game, and then we will get more people into jobs.
TAX
DAVID I’d raise the top tax rate, and I would also bring in a capital gains tax. And I would also close tax evasion and avoidance loopholes. Of the hundred wealthiest New Zealanders, the IRD says less than half of them are even paying the top tax rate.
What we did last time round was 39 cents with a pretty high threshold of $150,000, so we weren’t hitting middle New Zealand. We had a top rate for the wealthiest. We’ve got to be very careful to make sure that the trust rate is at or close to the top marginal personal rate, because we don’t want to create an avoidance-
SHANE I will make no commitment in terms of final tax policy until I build my team up, because I know that Labour has not only to distribute the pie unless we grow our New Zealand pie, and why should Labour be seen as disdainful to growing the pie?
GRANT I’m completely committed to having a fair tax system where people do pay their fair share, and I think the top rate can go up to the 39 cents. But in the end, taxation’s only part of the picture. Capital gains tax, sure, but we have to make sure that the economy’s growing right across New Zealand, not being driven by speculators in Auckland and not relying on an earthquake recovery. It’s got to be proper economic development.
LIVING WAGE AS MINIMUM WAGE
GRANT Do you know, most people running those small businesses actually already pay above the minimum wage? It’s actually the bigger corporates that don’t.
And what those small businesses want to know is that there are good schools producing people who can work for them, with high skills, that have been trained well, that there’s support for apprenticeships.
SHANE Yeah, I mean, it’s a bogey figure. There are other ways we can assist small business. But if you want to know where the real brown shirts are, they’re in the big end of town, who treat— who treat ordinary garden variety Kiwis as commodified labour—
CORIN Like who?
SHANE Supermarkets for a start.
DAVID I’m absolutely committed to seeing the sixth Labour Government roll out a living wage as a minimum for public servants and as we can afford it, through our contracting process.
I launched the idea of having an accreditation system where living-wage employers could get a preference in government procurement. That’s the incentives.
COALITION PARTNERS
DAVID I think we will be a coalition with the Greens, but we’re here to be the lead party of Opposition, the lead party of government. We’re going to turn out the enrolled non-vote. We’re going to reach back to the centre. We’re going to win in 2014.
SHANE A party I lead will have the four in front of it, and if it comes to pass that we’ve got to partner up with the Greens, then let’s work that out when the chips fall.
GRANT I’m about maximising the Labour vote, but let’s remember there’s never been a single party government under MMP. We will have to work with somebody. We’ve got a lot in common with the Greens, and we’ve got differences with them. We’ve got a lot in common with New Zealand First, and we’ve got differences with them. The voters will decide, but I’m with Shane. There has to be a four at the start of the Labour vote.
Q+A, 11-midday Sundays on TV ONE and one hour later on TV ONE plus 1. Repeated Sunday evening at 11:30pm. Streamed live at www.tvnz.co.nz
Thanks to the support from NZ On Air.
Q+A is on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/NZQandA#!/NZQandA and on Twitter, http://twitter.com/#!/NZQandA
CORIN Three candidates and only one role, so who will be Labour’s new leader and maybe prime minister after next year’s election? Standing for the top job – Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson, New Lynn MP David Cunliffe and list MP Shane Jones. For the first time within Labour, the leader will not be decided by just MPs but by party members, the unions and, of course, caucus. So let’s meet the candidates and find out what they stand for. Good morning to you all. If we could start first with a 30-second opening from all of you – why you want this job. I’ll start with you first, Shane Jones.
SHANE JONES – Labour List MP
Kia ora, good morning. Well, without a doubt, I believe I’ll be the people and the public’s champion. And once the members of the party see of the three of us I’m the one capable of bringing votes from one side of the aisle to the other with the style, personality and ability to appeal to a wider, broader than— wider range of Kiwis than has recently been the case. I believe I’ll be able to kick that goal.
CORIN David Cunliffe, why do you want the job?
DAVID CUNLIFFE – Labour MP, New Lynn
I think I’m ready to win. I can unify the caucus, the party and the broader Labour movement so we’ve got an unstoppable force for 2014. I can connect with hard-working New Zealanders so they will get out and vote next year. I’ve got the experience both in business and in government to lead the sixth Labour Government to victory and have the economic credentials to hold the course. Finally, the vision to make New Zealand a fairer and better place – a fair day’s work, a fair day’s pay and and fair share for all.
CORIN Grant Robertson, why do you want the job?
GRANT ROBERTSON – Labour MP, Wellington Central
I think I represent a new generation of leadership for Labour. I can unify the party, and I think I can lead us to win in 2014. I’m a person who can communicate clearly and directly, talk to New Zealanders about how Labour’s vision, Labour’s values, Labour’s policies will make their lives better, talk to them about jobs – how there will be jobs and opportunities for their kids and their grandkids – talk to them about a fair society and one where we look after our environment and our people. I can take Labour to victory in 2014.
CORIN All right, David Cunliffe, I want to start with you first. There has been some criticism of your style in the past. How can you unite this caucus? Why is it that there is this persistent criticism, that there are members of your own party who can’t work with you?
DAVID I don’t think that’s really the case. I think we are all committed to working with whichever of the three of us is elected by the broader party, by the caucus, by the affiliate members. I think it’s really important to say that I have taken a lot of learnings out of the last year or two, and I think all of my colleagues would say that I have been listening and being absolutely collective and supportive of our leader and our caucus over the last year.
CORIN Grant Robertson, it is often said that you are too focused in Wellington, that you’re not well known in the regions. How are you going to connect with people out in the wider public?
GRANT By talking to them about the things that matter in their lives – you know, are there jobs out there for them, what kind of school do their kids get to go to, has it got the best teachers in it with the best technology in it, what kind of opportunities are there for people in their communities? If we talk to people about the issues that matter to them, they will see that Labour has the vision and the policies to make it work. And I can do that. I grew up down in Dunedin. There’s a community that’s been abandoned by this government – the highest unemployment in 20 years. I know that community. I travel all over New Zealand just like Shane and David do, and we can talk to New Zealanders about Labour’s values.
CORIN Shane Jones, you’ve made a bit of a pitch about trying to connect with voters that have abandoned Labour, and you almost by implication gave a bit of a kick towards the so-called urban liberals, if you like. Why are you trying to alienate those—?
DAVID Nothing wrong with them, is there, Shane?
SHANE Look, I’m from Kaitaia. Not many cafes in Kaitaia. Lots of voters. The reality is that of the 3.2 million Kiwis with the right to vote in our country, we could only get 18 per cent of them to come out and vote at the last election for Labour, so I think it’s totally legitimate to run the sort of line that I’m running, to say to our own members and to the New Zealand public we are going to rejuvenate Labour, not just—
CORIN At the cost of those urban liberals?
SHANE Absolutely not. Absolutely not. They are committed to fairness, inclusiveness, and they actually tell me they constantly want to change the country. Well, you cannot do that from Opposition.
CORIN There’s a lot of votes in Herne Bay too, isn’t there, David Cunliffe?
DAVID Oh, well, if you can’t vote them out, well, move them out.
CORIN Listen, if I could get a strength or weakness from you? I’ll start with you, David Cunliffe. Can you give me one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses?
DAVID Well, I think a strength is that I’m a robust and clear communicator. I can take the fight to the Government in the House. I can do it on the hustings. Hopefully, on a good day, I can really inspire people, and I can communicate emotion to our voters that will get them out to vote next year, get those enrolled non-vote out of bed, unify our party—
CORIN And the weakness?
DAVID The weakness? Sometimes I move a bit fast. If you’re going to take the initiative in a race, occasionally you’ve got to stop, pause, listen to around you, and I’m going to be determined to be listening to my colleagues, and this is going to be a collective effort.
CORIN Shane Jones?
SHANE Well, without a doubt, I put my ability to communicate up with anyone in Parliament. I’ve got a very good education, but more to the point, I’ve got the common touch and I would say a rather unusual feature in the Labour Party since Helen Clark’s time. Weakness – well, unfortunately for me, they’re fairly public.
CORIN Fair enough. Grant Robertson?
GRANT I think I can communicate clearly and directly, and I can unify the party. We’re only going to win if we bring the party together, and that means the caucus and the members of the party as well. I believe I’m the person who can do that.
CORIN You’re all talking about communication. Is it simply a case that David Shearer couldn’t communicate the values of Labour? Or has Labour lost touch with New Zealanders? David Cunliffe?
DAVID I think it’s a whole package. I think we’ve got to be really clear about what our core policies are. They’ve got to be strong on industrial relations. We’ve got to restore decent workplaces and employment rights. We’ve got to be strong on full employment, making sure that every New Zealander who wants to work can work.
CORIN I’m going to pick you up on this, because both you and Grant Robertson talked yesterday about doing away with neoliberal politics.
DAVID That’s right.
CORIN Getting rid of the free-market ideals. What actual bits would you do away with?
DAVID That’s not new for me.
CORIN I need to know— I want to know what some of those sacred cows are.
DAVID I’ve been saying it for years. Absolutely. Some of those sacred cows are don’t believe that free markets on their own are going to deliver nirvana for ordinary working people for two reasons.
CORIN But you won’t do away with the free market, will you?
DAVID No, but we’ll regulate it and bound it, like I did with—
CORIN Give us an example.
DAVID Like, well, when I busted up the Telecom monopoly to get all New Zealanders faster, cheaper broadband. We could see that that one company was so dominant in the marketplace that it was really taking away Kiwis’ rights to cheap broadband.
CORIN All right.
DAVID So we split it in three.
CORIN Shane Jones, are you on the same page here in terms of wanting to break down these neoliberal ideas around inflation targeting and a floating exchange rate? What are we talking about here when we say we’re going to do away with this?
SHANE Number one, I will not write one single cheque the Labour Party cannot cash. Get that right from me. Secondly, there are some bastions that need to be overcome. The brown shirts of the food industry are the supermarkets. Under my leadership, they will be reviewed, and if it’s necessary to regulate them to bring the cost of food down, take my word, we will do it.
GRANT Corin, we’ve got to put jobs at the centre. That’s one of the fundamental differences that I think is if we say that the economy—
CORIN Okay, let’s—
GRANT Hang on, let me finish. Let me finish. If the economy is about people – fundamentally, it is – it’s about whether people have jobs, whether they’re being paid sufficient wages to put food on the table, and have they got something to look forward to?
CORIN So would you make employment a focus of the Reserve Bank?
GRANT Absolutely, I would. That would be part of changing that agreement that the Government has. But in addition to that, let’s look at where— let’s look at where this kind of laissez-faire policy has left us. Pike River – lack of regulation – lack of proper regulation – is costing people’s lives at Pike River, in the forestry industry. We have to turn all of that back around and put people—
CORIN I want to touch on this idea of— So you’re going to target employment in the Reserve Bank. What are the consequences of that, Shane Jones? That’s higher interest rates, that’s higher inflation – that’s going to hurt the working poor.
SHANE No, not necessarily. If you’re asking me how I would target employment, in every region I would ensure that if you invest in a region, for example, around Marsden Point, that I would actually change the tax system to attract investment into those regions. It’s done in other OECD countries. Give some jobs, some industry and some hope to the regions of New Zealand, rather than Auckland bulging at the seams.
CORIN Do you believe that, David Cunliffe?
DAVID Well, I do agree that we need a really strong regional development programme. We need to get government off the sidelines, into the game, new partnerships with our communities, whether it’s aquaculture in the Eastern Bay of Plenty or a rail link to Whangarei Port so we can get more jobs up north. Some things only the government can do, and if we put the weight of the state behind the aspirations of our provinces, we will lift the game, and then we will get more people into jobs.
CORIN Does—?
DAVID The issue is you can’t just get jobs by saying you’re going to. You’ve got to have a plan. You’ve got to have economic development, regional development, good economic management and—
CORIN But does government create jobs, or does business create jobs?
GRANT Government’s got to be at the table, Corin, and that’s the problem with this government – the National Government. They’ve taken their hands off. They’ve said, ‘No, we’re going to leave it to the market.’ We all know that if government is acting as a partner, then industry will flourish. Look at Hillside Workshops, which I grew up down the road from. High-tech, high-skilled workers there abandoned by the Government because of their ideology. They should still be there making those wagons right now.
CORIN Haven’t we done—? Haven’t we effectively subsidised work programmes in the past? Isn’t that what Richard Prebble effectively did away with?
DAVID Well, that’s not what I’m talking about. I am no way talking about subsidised work programmes. I’m talking about regional and economic development where the state is a business partner. I was a business consultant before I was a politician, and I understand from working in the boardroom and the smoko room that if you put capital, ideas, passion and ingenuity together, you can make great things happen. So we have to dream big dreams. We have to see what’s possible. We have to knock over—
CORIN Shane, you laughed there.
SHANE Oh, look, it’s kind of weird that David is on my left, which is probably where he belongs.
GRANT I definitely don’t belong here.
SHANE I’m surprised to find Grant on my right.
DAVID There’s no one to the—
SHANE I tell you the key determinant that will get Labour power is economic stewardship. Get economic stewardship wrong and watch the Kiwis flee from Labour.
GRANT Yeah, but here’s the thing – what is the economy to most people? It’s whether they’ve got a job, it’s how much money they’re getting in their pay packet, it’s whether their kids are going to have opportunity in the future. Labour has to be talking to that part of people’s lives. We can debate monetary policy, and we should, but ultimately the economy comes down to whether people feel better off. And I think the package of policies we’ve got – they will be better off. We have to communicate it—
CORIN All right. Let’s get to dividing up the pie, then. David Cunliffe, you’ve obviously made some statements about tax.
DAVID Sure.
CORIN Can you just explain what—? Would you increase the top tax rate? Would you put in a wealth tax? What are you looking at doing?
DAVID I’d raise the top tax rate, and I would also bring in a capital gains tax. And I would also close tax evasion and avoidance loopholes. Of the hundred wealthiest New Zealanders, the IRD says less than half of them are even paying the top tax rate.
CORIN All right, so you stomp on those. What rate would you put the top tax at?
DAVID Well, that’s a matter for discussion with the caucus in modelling in our numbers.
CORIN You’re not ruling out putting it higher than what it perhaps has been in recent years?
DAVID What we did last time round was 39 cents with a pretty high threshold of $150,000, so we weren’t hitting middle New Zealand. We had a top rate for the wealthiest. We’ve got to be very careful to make sure that the trust rate is at or close to the top marginal personal rate, because we don’t want to create an avoidance—
CORIN Okay, I need to get an answer from you too as well. Shane and Grant, what would you do? The same?
SHANE You know, we’re doing two things here. We’re running for the leadership of the Labour Party, but most importantly, we’re running to be the next prime minister. So I will make no commitment in terms of final tax policy until I build my team up, because I know that Labour has not only to distribute the pie unless we grow our New Zealand pie, and why should Labour be seen as disdainful to growing the pie?
DAVID Yeah, exactly. We’ve got a very good record.
GRANT I’m completely committed to having a fair tax system where people do pay their fair share, and I think the top rate can go up to the 39 cents. But in the end, taxation’s only part of the picture. Capital gains tax, sure, but we have to make sure that the economy’s growing right across New Zealand, not being driven by speculators in Auckland and not relying on an earthquake recovery. It’s got to be proper economic development.
CORIN But, Shane Jones, you’re saying you don’t want Labour to be targeted as just not interested in growing the pie, but you’ve got a big gap in this country between the wealthy and the poor. What would you do to close that?
SHANE There’s only one remedy. There’s only one elixir to that, and that’s industry, jobs and employment and training. We’ve got a $70 billion budget each year. Not enough of that actually goes into training people to get skills that industry is looking for.
CORIN So what are the industries that you think we could grow?
SHANE Oh, the first thing I’d do is I’d grow our forestry industry. I’m sick to death of seeing all the logs disappear over to China and the young Maori men—
CORIN But that’s been—
SHANE No, no, listen. And the young people in the forestry sector dying – more than Pike River – under this government.
DAVID What about—?
SHANE I can’t wait to wipe off Simon Bridges’ smirk every time he says he’s not going to do anything about it.
DAVID What about a new civilian conservation corps to use carbon credits to subsidise the planting of trees up and down some of those dry areas on our east coast? We could get a whole lot of young New Zealanders out there on the hills planting trees and creating the Kaingaroa of tomorrow. The economics are pretty good if you get a carbon price of around $20. I think that’s a project worth pushing.
GRANT There’s also a huge group of young entrepreneurs in New Zealand working in the digital space, and we can’t afford to ignore that. There is enormous potential. Now, what the government does, then, is create the infrastructure. We’re the people who say, ‘Yep, we’re going to get another cable so we can actually attract those sorts of businesses into New Zealand.’ Industry development isn’t a dirty phrase.
DAVID It sure is not.
GRANT The government should be there as a partner, making it happen.
CORIN What—?
GRANT It’s not happening today in New Zealand.
CORIN Okay, what about the small business running the fish and chip shop, and you guys have all basically said you’re going to put the minimum wage up to 15 bucks and they have to sack someone because of it?
GRANT Do you know, most people running those small businesses actually already pay above the minimum wage? It’s actually the bigger corporates that don’t.
DAVID That’s right.
GRANT And what those small businesses want to know is that there are good schools producing people who can work for them, with high skills, that have been trained well, that there’s support for apprenticeships. That’s what the small business people say to me, and that’s what Labour has traditionally delivered.
CORIN Shane, what do you think about that?
SHANE Yeah, I mean, it’s a bogey figure. There are other ways we can assist small business. But if you want to know where the real brown shirts are, they’re in the big end of town, who treat— who treat ordinary garden variety Kiwis as commodified labour—
CORIN Like who?
SHANE Supermarkets for a start.
CORIN Okay, David Cunliffe, we also heard yesterday talk about the living wage – this idea adopted from London, I think. Is that something you would support? It was Grant’s idea. He came up with it yesterday.
DAVID Well, I don’t think it was Grant idea.
CORIN So whose idea was it?
DAVID It’s been pushed by a living-wage campaign led by my own union, Service and Food Workers.
CORIN Well, he announced it yesterday.
DAVID Well, I think—
GRANT What I announced yesterday—
DAVID It’s been a campaign that’s been going on in New Zealand for some time. I’m absolutely committed to seeing the sixth Labour Government roll out a living wage as a minimum for public servants and as we can afford it, through our contracting process. And yesterday—
CORIN So what you’re talking about here—
DAVID I launched the idea of having an accreditation system where living-wage employers could get a preference in government procurement. That’s the incentives.
CORIN Okay, let’s hear from Grant.
GRANT What I was talking about yesterday was the fact that at the moment the person who cleans John Key’s office gets paid just over $13.75 an hour. I think that’s wrong, and I think what the Government can do is show some leadership and say, ‘We’re going to set a timeline for all people who work for the government and the contractors who contract to the government to pay that living wage.’ It’ll take a little bit of time, but it’s setting the standard, setting the direction and the Government showing leadership.
CORIN Costings? What are we going to call? What’s this going to cost?
GRANT Well, look, Auckland Council, say, about two and half million for them to do it for them, so we can extrapolate out from that. But what’s the cost of not doing it, Corin? That’s the answer.
CORIN Yeah, but—
GRANT What’s the cost? What’s the cost to those families?
CORIN There’s the civil service being looked after, but what about everything else?
GRANT No, it’s quite a wide group of people. We’re talking about the cleaners who work for the contracting firms who go in there—
DAVID Spotless.
GRANT We have to set the standard. The whole point of the living-wage campaign is that it’s about saying as a community we’re going to take ownership of this. This is me saying that under a Labour Government, the Government will show some leadership. What’s the biggest problem for New Zealanders going to Australia? Wages, because there are higher wages over there. If we’re going to be saying we’re going to do something about it, we’ve got to be practical.
CORIN Isn’t it productivity that creates higher wages?
SHANE Yeah, look, I was just about to say— You’ve probably heard enough from the left for the while. I was just about to say, without productivity— without productivity, New Zealand’s long-term wealth will not change. This Labour rejuvenation we’re going through, unless it’s got a 10-year vision, unless it embeds Labour in the psyche of the voter, this is the party that’s going to be around for 10 years. Now, you can do that not only by rewarding the key members of our party and their advocacy for a decent wages, and, indeed, unless you do that, poor New Zealand is a bad New Zealand. But we’ve also got to grow the pie—
CORIN How do you make the private sector pay the higher wages?
DAVID Okay, so there is no opposition, in my view, between the commitment that Grant and I have espoused to fairness and a living wage and the realism that Shane is bringing to the idea that we need productivity. And my experience shows I have done both, I will do both. Productivity comes from investment and innovation in R & D, and we need the state to be investing more in that. We need to use our strengths and our brand and clean technologies and renewable energy, whether it’s geothermal, wind power, new renewables – we need to be at the forefront of that revolution. Now, we can’t build the future that we all want and New Zealanders all want simply by milking a few more cows or digging up more national parks and turning them into open-cast coal mines. Now, we’re not against mining, but that’s nobody’s idea—
GRANT Well, I don’t—
DAVID It’s nobody’s idea of a—
SHANE I know my answer.
DAVID If I can just finish that sentence. It’s nobody’s idea of a strategy. If we want high-value jobs and we want to be able to pay the living wage, we need a high-value economic structure.
CORIN Okay, is it a strategy, though, Shane Jones?
SHANE You know, Labour’s got to be careful that our words don’t just disappear into palaver. In the minds of the 82 per cent of New Zealanders with a right to vote who don’t vote Labour or don’t vote at all. I think that if you want innovation and investment, you use your tax system to reward it, number one. Number two, if you want smart people, you go out of your way to invest in the skills that the economy needs. And with that skill base – human capital – you grow the worth from natural capital, and you certainly grow the extent of financial capital.
GRANT New Zealanders already work longer hours than almost any other country in the world, so productivity comes down to being smart and getting that skill base up. We actually need to invest more into training, into apprenticeships. I mean, Labour had a great policy in the last election of converting the dole for 18- and 19-year-olds into a subsidy for apprenticeships. That got lost in the mess, and one of the things that we have to do is be much clearer and more direct about how that policy links up to the productivity you’re talking about.
CORIN I accept that. I’m just picking up a difference here, though, Shane Jones. You seem to be saying that tax is an incentive. That seems to not quite marry up with the others, who are— well, certainly David Cunliffe, who is talking about putting up taxes.
DAVID Oh, no, I would use tax incentives for increasing R & D.
CORIN Well, incentives is to be, as I’ve said, up.
DAVID As I said, for R & D. No, no, you can be lowering the tax for R & D tax incentives.
CORIN And is that what you do?
DAVID You could be giving a tax credit for clean, green technologies, even particularly for reducing carbon emissions.
CORIN Would you do that?
DAVID I’d certainly consider it, and it’s actually been in our policy last time round that we would use tax incentives for R & D. So Shane’s not wrong. The question is the mix—
SHANE Shane’s never wrong.
DAVID …and the common theory— Shane never thinks he’s wrong, which is part of the charm, right? But the trick here is in the mix, and what’s common between the three of us and what will be common in a government that I will lead is that Labour will be on the front foot. Labour will have the active role of the state that will bring together the power of the private sector and the power of the government sector and use it for the benefit of all New Zealanders.
CORIN So you’re all going to be Third Way, is that it?
DAVID No, no, no, no, no. The First Way was—
GRANT Corin, it’s got to be—
DAVID The First Way was before the global financial crisis.
GRANT It’s got to be something completely new, Corin.
DAVID The Third Way was before the GFC (Global Financial Crisis), Corin.
CORIN What’s different here? Because I’m hearing you’re intervening, but you’re not breaking down—
GRANT No, no, no, listen—
CORIN …any of the current sacred cows. They’re all still there.
GRANT Look, attaching a label like Third Way or neoliberal for me is completely wrong for what I think the Labour Party is about.
DAVID Two different things, though.
GRANT Well, no, they are two completely different things, David, but the point is they’re the epitaphs that get chucked at us, what we’ve got to do is build a Labour brand that says we’re about people. That’s what— When you go out to New Zealanders what they say is John Key’s Government—
DAVID They want to know—
GRANT …’John Key’s Government’s looking after vested interests; who’s looking after my interests.’
CORIN Yeah, but you guys are going into your meetings, talking to your Labour Party members and saying, ‘We’re going to do away with the neoliberal agenda. We’re going to do away with laissez-faire economics,’ but you’re not. Those things are going to stay.
GRANT No, absolutely not.
DAVID Nobody is saying that we won’t have a mixed economy. It’s a question of getting the role of the state into gear, getting the New Zealand economy out of neutral or out of first gear, and using the state to help do that. Of course there will still be some markets that are free, but when they stop working properly, we will then—
GRANT Does any New Zealander think the electricity market is actually working for them? No, they don’t. The power companies are creaming huge profits, and that’s why we have a policy like NZ Power that is quite different from that laissez-faire style, so we can be different.
SHANE Corin, Corin, Corin. You see a key difference between the three of us. Greatest respect to my colleagues. Lots of historical Labour noise. We need clear thinking and direct speaking. The reality is unless we build investment in New Zealand, train people and reward people, we will not grow our economy.
CORIN I want to shift the game a little bit here. Let’s talk a little bit about foreign policy. David Cunliffe, you first. What would you do with the current situation in Syria? Would New Zealand go with the United States and help them in some sort of attack there if need be?
DAVID This is going to be an air war when it’s launched. New Zealand doesn’t have the kind of capabilities that would allow us to participate—
CORIN Morally? Even if it’s moral support?
DAVID Morally, New Zealand has a proud record as being a supporter of international peacekeeping with a UN mandate. That’s what I’d be looking for. I’d see New Zealand playing its part under a UN mandate.
CORIN Shane Jones?
SHANE Look, I’m in the midst of two diplomats. Helen Clark said to me, ‘Shane, of all your attributes, diplomacy’s not one of them.’ But the reality is that we’ve had a proud record of standing with the UN, and I have little doubt in my mind that a Labour Party that I lead will want to move too far away from our proud credentials as to where the UN is.
CORIN Grant Robertson?
GRANT But it has to be UN mandated. But let’s be honest here – the use of chemical weapons is abhorrent, and the UN needs to move much more swiftly than it is. One of the most consistent bits of New Zealand foreign policy has been no to the veto in the Security Council, and that’s what’s happening now. Russia and China are blocking this. If New Zealand can get on to the Security Council, we can start making that change.
CORIN A quick question for all of you. We’ve got to be quick. Can you get to a position where Labour can govern without having to have the Greens in coalition?
DAVID I think we will be a coalition with the Greens, but we’re here to be the lead party of Opposition, the lead party of government. We’re going to turn out the enrolled non-vote. We’re going to reach back to the centre. We’re going to win in 2014.
CORIN Shane Jones, can you govern without the Greens?
SHANE A party I lead will have the four in front of it, and if it comes to pass that we’ve got to partner up with the Greens, then let’s work that out when the chips fall.
CORIN Grant?
GRANT I’m about maximising the Labour vote, but let’s remember there’s never been a single party government under MMP. We will have to work with somebody. We’ve got a lot in common with the Greens, and we’ve got differences with them. We’ve got a lot in common with New Zealand First, and we’ve got differences with them. The voters will decide, but I’m with Shane. There has to be a four at the start of the Labour vote.
CORIN All right, we’re coming to the end. I want to do another 30 seconds from each of you to finish. This time I’ll start with you, David Cunliffe. How can you potentially beat John Key?
DAVID We can beat John Key by being a unified Labour Party and a unified Labour movement led by a leader who can communicate and connect with all New Zealanders. That leadership has to have the experience and the economic credentials to make a difference for all New Zealanders and help grow the pie for everybody. I would stand for a strong set of industrial relations policies that restored decent workplace rights and decent wages, and I would grow the pie through an active programme of economic development for all.
CORIN Shane Jones?
SHANE Oh, I’ll beat John Key on the hustings, on the debates, by winning back New Zealanders to the rejuvenated brand of Labour. Unless we improve and increase the appeal of our brand to the 82% of New Zealanders with the right to vote who did not vote or did not turn out for Labour, that’s the focus. Sure, we’ll argue with him in Parliament, et cetera, but after that pantomime’s over, it’s the hearts and minds of ordinary Kiwis I will win back.
CORIN Grant Robertson?
GRANT I can beat John Key, and I’ve shown in Parliament that I can put him under pressure, and that’s what we’ve got to do. 54 per cent of New Zealanders say they don’t believe John Key. We’ve got to get in there, capitalise on that, be up front, be honest with New Zealanders, be clear, be direct and show them how our values, our policies will make their lives better. If we do that, we will win, because pound for pound, our team’s better than theirs. I’m contributing a few too many pounds at the moment, but as a team, we can beat John Key.
CORIN Grant Robertson, thank you very much. Shane Jones, thank you very much. David Cunliffe, thank you very much.

Next in New Zealand politics

Shots fired to warn fleeing driver in Huntly not justified
By: Independent Police Conduct Authority
Gordon Campbell on Kiwis being the Aussies’ Pacific go-fers
By: Gordon Campbell
Trades Hall bombing case re-opened, evidence released
By: RNZ
Govt targets fewer deaths on the road
By: New Zealand Government
Teachers unions to take legal action against Novopay
By: RNZ
Gordon Campbell on what’s wrong with Wellington
By: Gordon Campbell
Consensus reached on reducing agricultural emissions
By: New Zealand Government
Greenpeace tower climbers unfurl first banner
By: Greenpeace New Zealand
Greenpeace climbers scaling Wellington’s tallest building
By: Greenpeace New Zealand
Greenpeace protest is ignorant grandstanding
By: PEPANZ
Police accepts IPCA findings
By: New Zealand Police
Officer accused of sexual assault and breach of privacy
By: Independent Police Conduct Authority
Police pursuit in Auckland that resulted in collision
By: Independent Police Conduct Authority
Speech: Ardern - Why does good government matter?
By: New Zealand Government
Prime Minister to visit Australia
By: New Zealand Government
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media