Interview the leaders III: Labour

Written By: - Date published: 5:14 pm, April 7th, 2008 - 62 comments
Categories: greens, helen clark, interview, labour - Tags: , , ,

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A big thanks to Progressives’ leader Jim Anderton for being the first participant in our ‘Interview the leaders’ series. The quality of his answers has set a standard for the others to emulate. Our next leader is Jeanette Fitzsimmons of the Green Party.

The general question remains:

Of which of your achievements in politics are you most proud?

For the two other questions we’ve gone with Robinsod’s question:

If the Greens had the opportunity to implement one core policy without compromise what would it be?

and Insider’s question:

You and the green movement has been politically active for nearly 40 years, yet still gain only marginal support (both here and overseas). What is holding you back from greater electoral success (if that is an objective) and what lessons have you learned from that?

While we haven’t been able to cover everything you asked we have emailed Jeanette a link to the questions post so she can have a look at your issues. We’re expecting to post her answers on Monday April 14.

In the meantime our next leader is the Labour Party’s Helen Clark. You can place your questions for her in the comments section of this post. Reminder: tough but fair.

62 comments on “Interview the leaders III: Labour”

  1. r0b 1

    Here’s a few. (Disclaimer, I am a member of the Labour Party).

    (1) After three terms in office, haven’t you achieved all you are going to achieve? Isn’t it time for a change?

    (2) Your government has recently passed two particularly contentious pieces of legislation, the repeal of Section 59, and the Electoral Finance Act. What lessons do you draw from the public reactions to these events?

    (3) Labour have started talking about the steps required to tackle climate change, but so far there is more rhetoric than substance. Isn’t it time to take bold action to truly address the issue?

    (4) Free education. Why not?

  2. To Prime Minister Clark.

    In regards to Auckland International Airport.

    “What right do you have to tell me who I can or cannot sell my shares too?

  3. randal 3

    the right to protect the strategic assets of a soveriegn country and if you dont like that then go somewhere esle and invest in their strategic assets.

  4. Dean 4

    (1) What do you see as the way forward for Labour in the next 10 years? How will a Labour government you lead address the challenges New Zealand will face in that period?

    (2) What are the proudest moments of the administration you have lead, in terms of policy or achievement?

  5. Roark 5

    Helen, do you think that the massive reaction against your government intervening in people’s lives with things such as the anti-smacking legislation, the anti-smoking legislation, the refusal to reduce tax, school zoning and the EFA is warranted or do you simply believe the view of this vast section of the population are best ignored?

  6. ak 6

    Helen, do you think the mindless ravings of partisan tory hacks like Roark and their gross misrepresentations of your exemplerary record of leadership of a highly successful and respected government warrant any consideration whatsoever, or do you simply believe the views of this crass section of the population are best ignored?

  7. IrishBill 7

    I have to say that given the energy burned in criticising the government in the blogosphere, I’m disappointed to see such a poor showing from the right when offered the chance to ask the PM a hard question. Anyone who didn’t know better would think you lot were all bluster and no substance.

    It’s probably against the rules for me to comment here but my question to Helen would be why, under a Labour government, have we seen profits grow so much while wages grow, by comparison, so little? Is it time to abandon the “grow the pie and we all get a share” approach that has seen business get all sorts of tax-breaks while maximising profits and start compelling business into sharing the pie with ordinary New Zealanders by providing stronger bargaining rights for workers?

  8. Roark 8

    AK, I know you don’t want to believe it but the views I hold are held by a lot of New Zealanders and a lot of them are people who have voted Labour in the past. Whether you and your hack mates like it or not these people exist and I want to know whether their only chance to be heard is going to come through a change of govenment This is supposed to be a “robust” forum isn’t it?

  9. IrishBill 9

    As much as I hate to admit it Roark has a point, ak. We’ve asked for hard questions and they will come from viewpoints we don’t agree with.

  10. ak 10

    Oh you were serious Roark – ok, sorry, when you used terms like “anti-smacking”, “refusal to reduce tax” and “intervening in people’s lives” I thought you were just trying to score political points. Apologies. I hope Helen gives your question all the serious (and robust) consideration it deserves.

  11. r0b 11

    Rorak, much as I’m tempted to respond like ak, instead I’ll try to offer some constructive comments that I think would improve your question.

    Helen, do you think that the massive reaction against your government

    There hasn’t been a massive reaction against the government, its support is similar to what it has been in the last 3 elections. What has happened is that the anti-government support has consolidated around National (at the expense of smaller parties). So perhaps you could phrase this as “Do you think that the current poll ratings reflect…”.

    or do you simply believe the view of this vast section of the population are best ignored?

    No politician is going to admit to ignoring a “vast” section of the population. Surely it would be more interesting to ask about a specific response. In short, I would suggest phrasing your query as:

    “Do you think that the current poll ratings reflect a reaction to the government intervening in people’s lives with things such as the anti-smacking legislation, the anti-smoking legislation, the refusal to reduce tax, school zoning and the EFA? If so, how does Labour plan to respond?”

    By the way IrishBill, I don’t think editors should be banned from asking questions – liked yours! – though of course they should not also be part of the process of choosing the final set.

  12. insider 12

    Hey I’m just stoked my question was considered good enough for the Greens.

  13. r0b 13

    Anyway, what’s wrong with the Righties here? Usually full of bluster about the evils of the Labour government, but strangely silent when they get the chance to ask serious questions! Huh.

    Here’s one:

    “Why have Labour led governments never reversed the benefit cuts of the 1991 budget?”.

  14. Dean 14

    “”Why have Labour led governments never reversed the benefit cuts of the 1991 budget?’.”

    Everyone knows the reasons for that.

  15. r0b 15

    I didn’t get the memo Dean, could you enlighten me?

    Your questions above are not at all what I would have expected from you Dean!

  16. Dean 16

    Rob:

    “I didn’t get the memo Dean, could you enlighten me?”

    Well, I’d say it’s quite simple. Reversing the benefit cuts is economic suicide. Much like tax cuts at this stage of the proceedings. We aren’t wealthy enough as a country to afford either.

    “Your questions above are not at all what I would have expected from you Dean!”

    What were you expecting?

  17. r0b 17

    Reversing the benefit cuts is economic suicide.

    Well I haven’t done the math, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t affordable (or at some point during the time of large suprluses hadn’t been affordable). Especially as there are fewer on benefits, and the economy and the tax take have grown substantially.

    What were you expecting?

    Frankly I was expecting somthing a bit more aggressive, along the lines of Rorak.

  18. Dean 18

    “Well I haven’t done the math, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t affordable (or at some point during the time of large suprluses hadn’t been affordable). Especially as there are fewer on benefits, and the economy and the tax take have grown substantially.”

    They’d be way too inflationary. Just like tax cuts. Which is something we just cannot afford at the moment.

    “Frankly I was expecting somthing a bit more aggressive, along the lines of Rorak.”

    I’d rather hear what Clark had to say rather than the question being regarded as loaded to begin with. A little sugar catches a fly a lot easier than vinegar, or something along those lines.

  19. r0b 19

    Just like tax cuts. Which is something we just cannot afford at the moment.

    Interesting perspective from a right winger!

    A little sugar catches a fly

    OK, fair enough.

  20. Roark 20

    AK and Rob: Funny how in your rush to mock my question you proved my implicit point about Labourites’ habit of arrogantly dismissing the views of those they disagree with as worthy only of sarcastic or condescending ridicule. How about this question for your beloved PM instead: why do you think middle New Zealand has turned against you when your government has spent so much time and money trying to keep them onside?

  21. r0b 21

    worthy only of sarcastic or condescending ridicule

    Actually Rorak, I think you’ll find that I genuinely tried to make constructive suggestions. But, you know, whatever.

  22. Occasional Observer 22

    Here’s one.

    “What do you most admire about John Key?”

  23. Razorlight 23

    Prime Minister,

    You have been in power for over 8 years and governed during a time of economic prosperity where we have seen record government surpluses. Despite these record surpluses your government consistently argued against personal tax cuts. You have now changed your policy at a time when the economy is slower and the surplus only a fraction of what it was.

    Why has this Labour Government changed their policy on personal tax cuts in 2007/8 after years of aguuing against them?

  24. hmm 24

    Given that you yourself voted for the passage of the Electoral Act in 1993 and have for the past two years told us that those who transgress electoral law should feel the force of the law do you think that the Police should have prosecuted your Chief of Staff, Heather Simpson, over the pledge card issue; if not, why not?

  25. Hey guys – thanks for putting my question up. I quite like the greens but find they articulate the detail of their view really badly. From reading the MSM you’d never actually know the detail of any of their policies.

    My question for Helen is why has her government continued with the neoliberal system of monetary policy rather than move to a less blunt system that can target particular causes of inflation?

  26. AndrewE 26

    I have to admit I’m particularly impressed by Rob’s questions. Not the patsy questions I expected at all! 😉

    My question(s) would be:

    I’ve always voted Labour (was even a member of the party) but this year I’m planning on voting National as I’m very concerned by the erosions in our freedoms that have happened under your watch. Why am I wrong?

  27. Interesting question AndrewE – but I’m not sure what you mean by “erosions in our freedoms” as I feel a lot more free than I did in the 90’s – especially in terms of financial freedom.

  28. Occasional Observer 28

    “In 1999 you promised that you would raise New Zealand into the top half of the OECD. Are you happy with the progress you’ve made towards this goal?”

  29. r0b 29

    Now we’re starting to get somewhere! OO has asked a couple of beauties. (And welcome back Robinsod).

    I have to admit I’m particularly impressed by Rob’s questions. Not the patsy questions I expected at all!

    To move forward the left has to engage in constructive self criticism. (Contrary to right wing spin we are not all drones that mindlessly follow The Party line!). Besides, I’m confident that HC can respond to whatever we throw at her.

  30. Cheers Rob – I just want to say the standard deserve huge ups for this – I mean to get all of these leaders (especially the Prime Minister!) to post on your blog is bloody impressive and I imagine it took quite some setting up!

    Oh, and no hard feelings about my ban…

  31. Phil 31

    “why has her government continued with the neoliberal system of monetary policy rather than move to a less blunt system that can target particular causes of inflation?”

    Sod, you can find that out for yourself by looking at the RBNZ’s submission to the recent Monetary Policy witch-hunt/’inquiry’

  32. insider 32

    I think there has to be something on strategic assets and foreign investment. I note Vector’s wellington lines business is potentially going to be sold to a Chinese company.

    “How does your govt define strategic in terms of asset sales, and do you think last minute rule changes around Auckland Airport send confusing signals when you seem to be wanting to encourage investment through things like the China FTA?”

  33. Phil 33

    Question for the PM;

    It is generally accepted that the economic reforms of the 1990’s, have contributed positively to the prosperity New Zealand has enjoyed in recent years. Given that, what (if anything) would the Labour Party have done differently had you been PM during that decade?

  34. Phil – I have looked at the submission and I don’t agree with it. Given the fact Labour has been willing to intervene (and rightly so) in banking, superannuation, childcare, parental leave etc I can’t understand why they are ignoring the 900lb rightwing gorilla in the room. I heard Joe Stiglitz commenting on the foolishness of the single lever inflation policy so I figure I’m in some pretty good company on this issue.

  35. Sam Dixon 35

    Do you regret causing the collapse of society by legalising civil unions?

  36. battyleftie 36

    Are you gay
    [Not a political issue, battyleftie. Keep it above the belt. Also, questions have question marks. SP]

  37. Sam Dixon 37

    seriously though: “Do you consider the end of cheap oil a threat to New Zealand’s prosperity and what can be done about it?”

  38. WendyC 38

    Will you cut taxes enough to close the wage gap with Australia?

  39. r0b 39

    Wendy – even if we all paid zero tax it wouldn’t close the wage gap with Australia (at least, not completely, if that was what you were asking?). Surely the only way to close the wage gap is for employers to raise wages.

  40. Sam Dixon 40

    Do you see a case for New Zealand regaining control of more strategic assets?

  41. Mike Collins 41

    Part of the MMP environment is working with other parties to form a government. At what point could you rule out working with another party based on their stated policies? Do you consider that statements emanating from New Zealand First regarding asian immigration are concerning enough to exclude them from present and future governments? Do you consider it difficult for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to adequately discharge his duties given that the party he leads has espoused views that many consider to be racist and will be voting against a major foreign relationship enhancement in the China FTA.

  42. Matthew Pilott 42

    Do you think the introduction of MMP has strengthened or weakened New Zealand’s Democracy?

  43. Hey look – KiwiBlog talking points! Mike mate – you may find this hard to understand but the fact that Winston is keeping his own positions on these issues while remaining in the cabinet is a sign of a healthy MMP govt. If big parties try to shove their agenda down the throats of their smaller partners you get meltdowns like the Winston first/Shipley one. Davey knows that full well but will ignore sensible analysis in favour of oppositional stirring every time.

    Come to think of it why is the king of the political blogosphere not asking a question here? Surely he’s got some clever question he’d like to put to the PM???

  44. r0b 44

    the king of the political blogosphere

    Well I didn’t vote for him!

    http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/writings/being_repressed.htm

  45. Mike Collins 45

    Sod – irrespective of what DPF has blogged about today this is a question I want an answer to. If you had been an observant wee chap you would have noted my comments the other day here: http://www.thestandard.org.nz/?p=1568#comments

    And I thought the point of submitting questions for answer was that we weren’t derided for asking them. People here complain that those on the right are not asking tough questions – well I think this is one. I want the PM to answer this question not you sod. Her answer is the one I am interested in, not some apologist’s.

  46. Billy 46

    My question is for the Prime Minister and asks (BTW: why do they say that – you are asking, not the question?):

    Given that you were part of the most right wing government in New Zealand’s history, and now lead a government that you take pride in being described as left wing, what do you say to people that accuse you of being in politics for the sake of pwer above all else?

  47. Occasional Observer 47

    “What has been the biggest error of judgement of your premiership, for which you take personal responsibility?”

  48. insider 48

    How about:

    After you left government in 1990, the government accounts were found to be in a more precarious state than indicated, including the state of the BNZ. Can you guarantee that, if Labour is not in government after the next election, there will be no such economic surprises.”

  49. Nick 49

    My question to the Prime Minister is this:

    How do you justify the double standards inherent in contrast between the labour party’s incessant rhetoric about sustainability on the one hand with the expansion of coal mining and exports by Solid Energy and the expansion of intensive dairy farming by Landcorp (both State Owned Enterprises) on the other?

  50. higherstandard 50

    What do you believe has been the major reasons for Labour’s decline in popularity in the Maori seats ?

  51. Steve Pierson 51

    Some really good questions starting to come through.

  52. Higherstandard 52

    Has inter party co-operation improved or deteriorated under the MMP environment. What do you think could be done to improve cooperation amongst political parties on major economic, social and environmental issues.

  53. Dean 53

    Rob:

    “Interesting perspective from a right winger!”

    I’m afraid not everyone who doesn’t think Labour have performed admirably is also a right winger.

  54. Lady Leftie 54

    The British Labour Party has attempted to refresh themselves with the endorsement and subsequent selection of a new Prime Minister to replace Tony Blair. Is this an approach you would consider taking in order to continue returning a Labour-led Government?

    (note: also a member of the LP asking here!)

  55. Razorlight 55

    Will you be asking for the resignation of your Foreign Minister now that he has stated he will advocate against aspects of your governments Foreign Policy to Foreign Governments?

    If not, Why not?

  56. higherstandard 56

    As the Trans-Tasman regulatory authority has not come into being and our Medicines Regulatory Authority (MEDSAFE) is currently in a state of disrepair can you confirm if a Labour led government would revisit legislating for the JTA next term or failing that how would you propose solving the current crisis at Medsafe.

  57. Paul Robeson 57

    >quotequote

  58. outofbed 58

    Seeing The National Party policy platform is almost the same as Labour’s
    Have you ruled out a grand coalition ?

  59. outofbed 59

    Given the last cab on the rank maybe the one to get you home,
    Do you think you could have The M P as part of A HC led Government

  60. Ari 60

    OoB: I like that first one 😉

    Here’s mine:

    Your government’s policies have been typically quite friendly to feminist and queer voters in the past, however this has drawn criticism that Labour is involved in social engineering or pushing a radical homosexual/feminist agenda. How do you respond to that sort of criticism?

  61. Jum 61

    (Razorlight
    Apr 8th, 2008 at 3:05 am

    said “Why has this Labour Government changed their policy on personal tax cuts in 2007/8 after years of arguing against them?”)

    Razorlight

    Let me show you
    1. The Prime Minister’s take on tax, and
    2. The dishonesty of ‘honest’ John Key

    Noted in a John Armstrong column (10/11/07 Beehive Diary)

    John Key quoted Helen Clark (2000 speech to Labour party conference) as saying:

    “Tax cuts are a path to inequality. They are the promises of a visionless and intellectually bankrupt people.’

    He deliberately omitted the “and underdevelopment in today’s circumstances’ and added an ‘a’ to imply she was speaking about New Zealanders.

    Helen Clark actually said this in 2000, “Tax cuts are a path to inequality and underdevelopment in today’s circumstances. They are the promises of visionless and intellectually bankrupt people.’ which meant they were not appropriate at that time, which then suggests that there is a time for them.

    They did not therefore refuse to accept a place for tax cuts in the future.

    John Key is guilty at the very least of manipulation of the truth and since tax cuts seem to be important to some/many/85% New Zealanders, it was damaging to Helen Clark. At the very least he should be made to apologize.

    Then he followed up with the “we would love to see wages drop’ speech and following cover up.

  62. Jum 62

    Prime Minister,

    Income splitting.

    I believe it is important, as you once said, that if women with children want to go out to work, it should be made easier for them to do so. You followed that up recently with 20 hours free child care legislation, and other earlier enablers.

    Personally, I believe women need to have the wherewithal to make financially independent decisions for themselves and their children and I congratulate you on making that easier during your tenure.

    But, when women choose for all sorts of reasons, and that is what feminists always fought for – choice – to stay home because they feel it is the best for them, won’t the income splitting idea help them financially?

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