Q+A transcript: Panel discussions October 7

Press Release – TVNZ

Q+A October 7, 2012 Panel Discussions Hosted by PAUL HOLMES In response to JOHN TAMIHERE and RUSSEL NORMAN interviews PAUL Time to welcome the panel. This morning, Dr Jon Johansson from Victoria University for the first time this year. Very nice …Q+A October 7, 2012

Panel Discussions


In response to JOHN TAMIHERE and RUSSEL NORMAN interviews

PAUL Time to welcome the panel. This morning, Dr Jon Johansson from Victoria University for the first time this year. Very nice to see you.

JON JOHANSSON – Political Scientist
Very nice to see you, sir.

PAUL Josie Pagani, former Labour candidate and political commentator is with us. And we have Michael Barnett, the head of the Auckland Chamber Of Commerce – the chief executive of the Auckland Chamber Of Commerce. Welcome to you all. Well, Russel was last up. Let’s talk about Russel Norman first of all. Quantitative easing – the printing of money. Mr Barnett.

MICHAEL BARNETT – Auckland Chamber of Commerce
No matter how you say it, he’s printing money. But, I mean, there is an issue, and I think we should start there. There is an issue.

PAUL Well, he says we’ve got to have the conversation.

MICHAEL Yep, and I agree with that. I’m saying that for our exporters when they’re exporting, they’re having a problem with our dollar the level it is, and it’s costing us jobs back here in New Zealand. For our importers, there’s import substitution happening, so our manufacturers here don’t have the jobs available to New Zealanders, so it’s costing us jobs again. For our tourism industry, people are coming here, they’re not staying at long, they’re not spending as much, so it’s costing us jobs here. But unfortunately, if this guy’s going to have the conversation on monetary policy, to me it’ll be about as successful as Winston Peters having a discussion on superannuation.

PAUL Nevertheless, he says go and speak to the governor of the Bank of England. Go and speak to the Federal Reserve governor. Go and speak to the Bank of Japan.

MICHAEL If I have a look at how their economies are going, yes, I’d go and have a talk to them. I don’t think I’d be changing much.

PAUL No. But nevertheless, the exchange rate – I mean, that’s got to be a problem to you. Your members must see it all the time.

MICHAEL Absolutely – importers, exporters and, you know—

JON Tourism.

MICHAEL Tourism. It’s affecting jobs back here in New Zealand. The conversation should take place. I don’t think it should be politicians. I don’t think it should be the Reserve Bank and Treasury and the boffins and the academics. I think the conversation should be taking place at a business level where the real cost is happening and job are being taken away from New Zealanders.

PAUL Nevertheless, we’ve probably got to do something quite quickly, because jobs are tipping over like flies at the moment. But I mean, you know, Bill English makes a point, doesn’t he, Josie? You know, the high exchange rate – it makes a nice new telly nice to buy. You can buy a car a bit easier. It makes the cost of living a bit more affordable for people.

JOSIE PAGANI – Political Commentator
Yeah, I mean, I think this debate’s been going on for a long time, and someone like David Parker’s been proselytising about changes to monetary policy for about three years now, and Winston Peters’ bill. The point is how many businesses have to fall over and exporters have to die, basically, before you change the parameters. I think the mistake he’s making here is that he as a politician is prescribing a tool—

PAUL Are you talking Bill English or Russel Norman?

JOSIE Russel Norman.

PAUL Righto.

JOSIE That he’s prescribing quantitative easing – printing money – rather than— What that actually equates to is taking away the independence of the Reserve Bank. Now, I think the Reserve Bank should be given wider objectives. It should be told that it needs to think about exporters, it needs to think about jobs. I don’t think it’s the job of politicians. Can you imagine Hone Harawira and Colin Craig, let alone Bill English – anybody, actually – a politician deciding which tools are the right ones to use?


JOSIE I mean, one more point I want to make, Paul, is that you listen to that speech. He didn’t once mention the word “growth”. And I think there’s a problem that when you’re talking about changing monetary policy, you’re actually talking about supporting exporters who create growth and supporting jobs. Half the membership of the Greens don’t actually want growth. They think it’s a bad thing, and that’s the problem he’s got.

PAUL He was actually— When you sit down and look at the detail of what Russel Norman was saying, he’s very vague. He had no real numbers on how much money you should print or what it would do to the exchange rate or whether it would ultimately keep the exchange rate down if that were your ultimate objective, and of course there’s inflationary concerns as well. Jon.

JON Yeah, I hear you, but is that a bad thing? I mean, I take Michael’s point, actually, that on a business level, that’s where decisions are made and discussion most needs to take place. But, you know, if you look at this wider question, and it does cascade into the Tamihere interview, is that we have had nearly three decades of the Rogernomics’ basic paradigm, and I really think that it is absolutely about time that all our old certainties and all our old orthodoxies are challenged. And it’s actually refreshing— I don’t think just because he’s a Green co-leader or, for instance, an economist nationalist party leader – Winston Peters. Just because they’re floating it, we shouldn’t just dismiss it as voodoo economics, because regrettably, and as Russel pointed out, that does fly in the face of actually what is now the orthodoxy, which is quantitative easing all around our partners.

PAUL Yeah, no, but we’re talking like we’re going down the toilet. We’re not, actually. We’ve got 2.5% growth at the moment. This is not bad, through this whole world environment. Tell me, what is quantitative easing doing to the European Union? What’s it doing to the American economy, Japanese economy? Do we know?

MICHAEL Well, when I have a look at all of those economies and where they sit, and then I have a look at New Zealand, I’m not that uncomfortable. I’m going to come back. I do agree with Jon. To me, this is about jobs here in New Zealand. Keep the language simple, but it’s about jobs back here in New Zealand, and that’s where we need to have the conversations, so I agree with you – we need the conversation.

PAUL Let me just move on to Russel Norman in terms of politician this week. He’s had a very good week taking it to the Prime Minister, hasn’t he? And, in fact, some are saying – and we observed at the top of the programme – that he looks more like the leader of the Opposition than the Leader of the Opposition at the moment. Josie.

JOSIE I think it’s interesting, though, why he’s wading into this issue now, because the reality is he’ll never be minister of finance. So why do the Greens not stick to their knitting, which is the environment? And that’s their niche. He is looking good—

PAUL Very good point.

JOSIE …in terms of coming out fighting.

JON It is the perennial point made by Labour Party people that the Greens have to know their place. Actually, who knows what the distribution of votes is going to be on election night 2014? And who knows what portfolios will be in discussion? It’s pretty amazing to me that it’s already been decided, has it?

PAUL Quick word before we go to John Tamihere. He’s worried about the lack of oversight of the GCSB. He’s right to be, isn’t he?

MICHAEL I think he is. Absolutely.

PAUL Spies running around spying on our own people.

JON Look, it’s a disgrace, and there is only one oversight here – effective oversight – and you just can’t, you know, sit through briefings with your eyes glazing. You have to pay—

PAUL The spy agency colluding with the police, who in turn were colluding with the FBI to spy on people with Kiwi residency.

JOSIE That’s the problem.

JON All I know is that if I’m prime minister and there’s, like, 11 operations going on or something, I sure as hell want to know why there’s this level of sedition going on in my country.

JOSIE That’s what we want an inquiry into, actually, is the governance of our spies.

PAUL Quick word before I cut away from this. John Tamihere – what are his chances?

JON Well, he is older and wiser, because that is a very a disciplined performance this morning, and you gave him lots of opportunities to get himself into trouble, and he turned every one of those down.

MICHAEL I think he’s done an absolutely superb job out in the Waitakere. I think he’s built a great constituency out there. He is older and wiser. The unfortunate thing is he shoots from the hip at times, and whether or not he’s moved on from there I don’t know.

JOSIE He sounds—

PAUL Or is he—? Sorry, no, go on Josie.

JOSIE I was just going to say he sounds like a working New Zealander, and they need voices like that in that Labour caucus, because there aren’t enough of them. And, you know, I think people are uncomfortable with some of his views on gay marriage, for example, but you can’t say, “I want your vote, working New Zealander. I don’t want your opinions.”

PAUL Would Labour necessarily want him or is he one of these political people who we like him or dislike him, irrespective of which party he’s with? Such as Winston, such as Tau Henare.

JOSIE I think he represents a Labour base, actually, and they’d be crazy not to consider him. But Michael’s right. He’s got a hot head.

MICHAEL He’s a likeable rogue, and so to me, I don’t put him National, Labour or anywhere. I just put him there. He represents the average guy in the street.

JOSIE He’s someone who joined Labour because he wants jobs and opportunity for everybody. That’s why he joined Labour.

JON But symbolically, too, he would be advantageous to the Labour Party.

PAUL And very quickly – yes/no answers from all of you – does the Labour front bench need a reshuffle?


JON It needs some work, yeah.

MICHAEL Yes or no, come on.

JOSIE That’s not a yes or no. Are you a politician? Yes. Yes, it needs a reshuffle.

JON Wasn’t that a yes?

PAUL Try and get Education off Nanaia.

JOSIE Yeah, well, you can’t cling to a portfolio with a sense of entitlement.

Q+A October 7, 2012



In response to JAMES CAMERON interview

PAUL Well, that rather spells it out regarding Dotcom. It spells out the movie industry’s position.

JOSIE It is a debate, isn’t it, between the Hollywood studios and the internet, actually. If you take Dotcom out of it, this debate’s been going on for ages. There was this SOPA legistlation – Stop Online Piracy. Basically, consumers like all of us, we want easy, cheap access to content, and there’s a debate about whether the business model has to change for big studios.

PAUL And are you going to be able to stop it, you see?

JOSIE Well, yeah, that’s right.

JON Well, the TPP, from what we’re hearing, is going to be one of the lead instruments in trying to do that. So there would have been a great deal of interest of discussions around that as well.

PAUL Not much doubt, though, generally, in terms of incentives for making films here, about what Hollywood wanted to hear from Mr Key.

MICHAEL We already have it. We have location, and I ask you, just look at the wave of tourists we got here as a result of Lord of the Rings. So we’ve got location. That’s in our favour. I think we have competency. We’ve got over 20,000 people working in this industry, over 1000 firms generating about $3 billion a year. This is big for New Zealand. So we’ve got location, we’ve got competency. To me, the foundation, the platform there for the movie industry is there, it’s solid.

PAUL Yeah, but, Michael, a lot of countries have got locations. There are many, many beautiful locations around the world. A lot of countries have competency. A lot of countries have stability. On Close Up the other night, one of the reporters – a reporter who was following Mr Key – made it clear that many, many, many countries are now bidding to make the big American movies. Michigan alone, apparently – Michigan alone is now trying to become the American movie capital. So we have got to compete. This is a reality – a hard—

MICHAEL We have to be at the table. We have to be at the table for the discussion. All I’m saying is our platform is there already. Now we’ve got to keep it.

JOSIE Going out and fighting for the film industry is a good thing to do, whether it’s John Key or whether it was Jim Anderton, you know, years ago, who actually introduced the 15% subsidy. And at the time, John Key said that was picking winners and railed against it. So I think the timing of this trip has been appalling, hasn’t it?

PAUL Well, he’s certainly come to the movie industry’s— He’s certainly come to the party for the movie industry. Has he got—? The question, I suppose, being has he got the political capital to do it again, to go further, should he have to?

JOSIE Well, it’d be nice if he could do with some other industries in New Zealand.

PAUL We’ll get on to that in a minute.

JON Well, the noises that are coming out of there is that it’s going to be less about offering enhanced subsidies for motion pictures, but to extend the scheme for television to try and attract more television so that there’s more sort of on-going work to keep jobs, you know, between these big motion picture events.

PAUL But again we have to say in praise of him – and I’m referred to Fran O’Sullivan’s column the other day – Key’s been very quick to jump on this. And we’ve got a situation in Wellington, I understand, where there are now 70 houses for rental in Hataitai in Wellington that were full, once, of movie people. Well, The Hobbit’s finished filming. The contracts are over. They’ve gone.

JOSIE Jon’s right. I worked as a focus puller for many years, and we would go from Xena or Hercules to a few commercials for a few days or something. So it is very contract-based work, and it’s the big television numbers that you want. It is actually the Hercules and the Xenas.

JON Why it is worth pursuing is because I do think it combines two real advantages in this country: one through Weta Workshops and Jackson and people like that – it projects us as being at the cutting edge of 21st century technology. And then that builds on our other great strategic advantage, which is our beautiful scenery.

PAUL Yeah, but it did look like Warner Brothers could go to the Czech Republic. It did look like they could go to Scotland.

JON Yeah, of course they can, and they will continue to try and extort us.

PAUL OK, let me talk about Dotcom. Is Dotcom hurting Mr Key? I mean, he’s going to have to correct the Hansard.

JON For the second time.

PAUL For the second time, yep.

JON Well, yes, and that’s why the timing of this Hollywood trip has been bad for Key, irrespective of whatever comes out of it. But on two weeks of the whole “see no evil” round Banks to then have another week of, you know, “see and hear no evil” from the GCSB – I mean, it’s just defying people’s normal sense of, you know—

MICHAEL Right from the moment this guy was allowed into the country, the decision was made that allowed him— And I go back to the comment that I made earlier on – of the thousands of people of choice that we have to come into this country, that we let in the margins absolutely defies me. So is he hurting Key? Is he hurting Banks? He’s hurting everyone he touches.

JON They’re hurting themselves.

PAUL Let me ask you this – what’s the end? How does this end? How does the Dotcom end?

JOSIE Yeah, how does it end? I mean, that’s a good question.

JON Perhaps in an extradition, but just as likely we fold, because we have done such a…

MICHAEL They’ll have to throw it out.

JON …manifestly hopeless job of everything associated with this.

JOSIE The more details we know about Dotcom and this story and who knew what when, the messier it gets. But I actually think this biggest thing that’s going to hit in the long-term, it’ll be the job losses that are happening at the same time.

PAUL I thank you very much. Good stuff, yes. And Tiwai Point may be doing the same as the film industry at Tiwai. Good stuff, Josie.

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