Q + A
Interviewed by CORIN DANN
SUSAN Colin Craig is shaping up as a real contender in any post-election coalition talks. His party has reached 3% in the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll, and other polls have been trending upwards too. He's gunning of the same voters as New Zealand First and we'll also be talking to its Leader, Winston Peters, shortly. First Corin is with the Conservative Party Leader, Colin Craig.
CORINThank you Susan, Colin Craig good morning, thank you for joining us. Now Colin have you heard from John Key on this campaign at all?
COLIN CRAIG – Conservative Party Leader
No, not at all, and I'm comfortable with that, we're doing this campaign as the Conservative Party not as some sort of prop for somebody else, so we're quite happy that we haven't. After the voters have spoken well then of course we'll be talking.
CORINDo you think though as you get closer, I mean you're 3% in our polls, other polls have got you a little bit higher. Now do you think you might start to hear some endorsement perhaps from John Key in this final week?
COLIN Well look I don’t know, we're comfortable that we're doing our job well. More and more New Zealanders supporting us, polls are going up, that’s what we need to be doing. I don’t know what National are thinking.
CORIN What about Winston Peters? Can you work an arrangement where Winston Peters might be supporting a centre right government?
COLIN Oh I don’t have any particular problem with Winston Peters, whether he can work with me is probably actually the question. But we're about getting a good sensible stable government going forward, and that’s a centre right government, and that’s what we're about. Now if he can be part of that then I'm sure we could.
CORIN Have you completely ruled out working with Labour?
COLIN Well the reality is it's not working with Labour, if it's working with the Greens and it's working with Mana Internet, then yes we have ruled that out.
CORIN So no centre left government. Is it fair to say that this issue of binding referenda is this the thing that you really want to get some progress on?
COLIN It is the thing that we have made our number one, and I think people need to know who you're going to work with and what are you going to prioritise, and so we've made that very clear. We've had five referendums in this country, overwhelming supported by the public, always denied by government.
CORIN I want some details, how does it work. Are we talking about the same referendums we've got now, but making them binding is that it?
COLINWell some slight changes. There are a couple of changes that need to be implemented. One is that questions need to be simple. The second thing is if they’ve got a financial consequence you’ve got to explain how they're funded.
CORIN So is that a financial veto?
COLINIt could be. Alternatively you say well we want to get this done and we want to fund it doing whatever. But the thing is it then doesn’t leave the government in an impossible position.
CORIN How does it work though? Does the public have to bring the question up, or do you ask for the questions in negotiations?
COLINWell I doesn’t mean we wouldn’t ask the questions in a negotiation, but the reality is, this is about what the public want, and what's of interest to them. And at the moment once every four years the public of New Zealand on average have got motivated to say hey we want a say in what's happening. I think that’s totally legitimate. This is about making sure that the government responds…
CORIN Just clarify though. You could ask for a set number of binding referenda in the term, in your negotiations?
COLINWell in our negotiations maybe we will say hey here are a couple of issues that we want.
CORIN Well what happens if the public say for example push for a referendum that says we want to cut taxes to 10%?
COLINWell the reality is that’s never happened. It's not going to work because you're going to have to explain because there's a financial consequence, you're going to have to explain how you're going to fund things, that’s not going to happen.
CORIN You can't go to the public though and say that your referendums they're going to have their wishes carried out, you can't guarantee them that.
COLINNo what we're saying is if there's a financial consequence, they're going to have to explain that in the question, and that’s why nowhere in the world, and many many many countries in the world have referendum that are binding. Nowhere in the world has that ever been proposed ….
CORIN I just wonder if it's more social issues that you're more interested in here, in particular the anti-smacking legislation. Is that something you would ask for in a negotiation to have a binding referendum on?
COLINOh well if the government can't accept that 87½% of people voting in that referendum deserve a law change, then I think we've got a problem with government.
CORIN Is that something you would push for, is that where we're going?
COLINOh look I'd certainly push for that, just as I'd push the other ones, you know tougher law and order, reducing the number of MPs. New Zealanders were very clear what they wanted…
CORIN On that anti-smacking legislation you're number five on the list, Dr Edward Saafi, who is a very esteemed medical professional, he has made comments quoting Fairfax Media suggesting that the anti-smacking legislation is leading to a higher incidence of suicide amongst Pacific Island children.
COLIN That’s a bit of a beat up, what happen there was he was discussing in Tongan with Tongan folk.
CORIN Well the quote's pretty clear here…
COLINI know, and we've raised that issue.
CORIN Do you agree with that sentiment?
COLINNo. There's no connection, and he's a very very accomplished researcher. I've spoken with him. He knows there's no connection.
COLINWell he says it pretty clear that he thinks that there is.
COLINIn terms of their community, in terms of the Pacific Island community. They do see a number of things that are concerning to them. Of course this is one of the issues that concerns them. But the discussion as it was relayed to me is that there are a number of concerns and they see them connected with the concern about the anti-smacking law, concern about family breakdown, the concern about having a future for their children.
CORIN One more issue before we go on the issue of candidates. Steve Taylor No.8 on your list, there's another article about him. He wants to come into parliament to name people with name suppression, in parliament, using parliamentary privilege, he's also being accused of his website having some abusive language on it. What's your reaction to that?
COLINWell my reaction is that the current name suppression laws are allowing people to not be held to account.
CORIN So you're happy for him .. to use parliamentary privilege to undermine our courts.
COLINNo we're not saying that, and I was very clear on that, that while he might wish to do that, there's not a legal provision to enable that at the moment, and I made it clear that he can't do that, and he's accepted that.
CORIN Well what about the abuse on his website, or alleged abuse on his website?
COLINWell look we're looking at that alleged abuse, but the reality is that he is somebody who has advocated for victims, and on these blog sites people do get fairly wound up and fairly intense. I'm having a look at it, I don’t think there's much in it.
CORIN Colin Craig thank you very much for your time.