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Interview the leaders IV: ACT

Written By: - Date published: 3:06 pm, April 14th, 2008 - 33 comments
Categories: act, helen clark, interview, labour - Tags: , , ,


A big thanks to Greens’ co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimmons for participating in our ‘Interview the leaders’ series. Her answers provided an insight into how the Greens view themselves as influencing political culture as much as promoting specific policies. Our next leader is Prime Minister Helen Clark of Labour.

The general question remains:

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

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

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

and Andrew E’s question:

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?

While we haven’t been able to cover everything you asked we have emailed Clark 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 21.

In the meantime, our next leader is ACT’s Rodney Hide. You can place your questions for him in the comments section of this post. Reminder: tough but fair.


33 comments on “Interview the leaders IV: ACT”

  1. gobsmacked 1

    Question to Rodney:

    In TVNZ’s “Kingmaker” debate you said that in post-election negotiations, a “bottom line” would be the removal of the top tax rate of 39 cents.

    Do you mean “removal” or “reduction”? And if it is a “bottom line”, does that mean you would vote against either National or Labour if they do not agree?

  2. Steve Pierson 2

    Given that you oppose Working for Families, what do you say to the 70% of families with dependent children who get a tax credit through the scheme, including those that pay no net tax as a result?

  3. WendyC 3

    Would you insist on asset sales as part of a National-led Government?

    or, what will your bottom lines be in any post-election talks with National?

  4. r0b 4

    (1) If the next election produces a National / ACT government, what do you think that government should try and accomplish in its first term?

    (2) Do you believe that the Earth’s climate is warming? If it is, is the warming dangerous? if it is dangerous, what does ACT believe we should do about it?

    (3) If America invades Iran, should New Zealand send combat troops?

    (4) Which state assets should be sold? Are there any assets that should not be sold to overseas buyers?

    (5) Why does ACT poll so appallingly badly?

  5. Rebel Heart 5

    What do you think Heather Roy’s chances are against Stephen Franks in WC?

  6. Phil 6

    Maybe it’s just me, but those questions to HC are a bit, well, mild. While the others have challenged leaders to defend their position in a direct manner, these are wishy-washy and bland. Part of me supects this was intentional on your part, but I would like to hear more about your selection criteria…

    For instance, own r0b came up with four much better ones in the very first post.

  7. Robinsod 7

    Rodney – should we realy be asking Roger these questions?

  8. Rebel Heart 8

    (3) If America invades Iran, should New Zealand send combat troops?

    Don’t bother asking this one, Rodney was on Radio Live a few weeks ago and I called up asking him whether ACT’s position was still the same as in 2003 – he replied that ACT have retracted from that stance and admitted that Clark’s decision not to support the war back then was right.

  9. Phil 9

    Q’s for Roddy

    1) How do you react to criticism that this parliamentary term has seen you focus more on dancing than politics?

    2) What does Roger Douglas actually bring to the ACT party?

    3) Poll results suggest that more than one minor party is likely to be required for either National or Labour to govern. Assuming ACT sides with National, which otehr parties do you feel you can work most constructively with?

  10. Ohh – good questions Phil. Especially the last one.

  11. Tane 11

    Phil, in answer to your query, we wanted the questions to be topical and to speak to a broader issue. They also have to be questions that one could give a reasonable and intelligent answer to.

    The question about erosion of freedoms fits this category because it speaks to the EFA, the section 59 debate, smoking in bars etc. It’s a major and topical issue that will impact on the election, and I’d be interested to hear what Clark has to say about it. It’s hardly a patsy.

    The MMP question is also topical, given the disquiet from the recent disquiet from the right on the issue, and I think it’ll generate an interesting answer.

    While we all have our biases, we will endeavor to make sure all the leaders interviewed are treated fairly.

  12. Millsy 12

    My question:

    To achieve your ‘bottom line’ of a removal of the top tax rate, what cuts to social services, (health, education, welfare, state housing) will you make to pay for this?

    (BTW: Nice blog!)

  13. Matthew Pilott 13

    What would your ideal government look like, and how is this reflected in your policies? To what degree do you feel political pragmatism is required to help ACT appeal to voters?

  14. AndrewE 14

    I’ll release my question for any of Robs! They were much better than mine.

  15. MikeE 15

    Reminder: tough but fair.

    Would be nice if the left wing politicians had this requirement rather than the patsy ones.

    I think this would give the standard much more credibility on this series (which I think is a good idea, providing all the leaders are aksed the hard questions).

  16. AncientGeek 16

    The MMP question is also topical, given the disquiet from the recent disquiet from the right on the issue, and I think it’ll generate an interesting answer.

    Especially since Helen (from memory) was against MMP in 1993. I was as well – but I’ve come to rather like its peculiar charms. It seems to have made an almost eternal political conversation starter at dinner parties. It is the political equivalent of who is going to sleep with whom… 🙂

  17. r0b 17

    I’d say ask your questions AndrewE. I tend to think other people’s questions are much better than mine – I think we all do that. Let the editors decide – they need plenty to choose from!

  18. Phil 18


    Thanks for the clarification. I think my concern is mainly the “why am I wrong?” element of the question. Maybe all it needed was a bit of rewording?

    Regardless, i’m still eager to see the response


  19. Steve Pierson 19

    The wording of questions isn’t always optimal but we wouldn’t change them because that would juat get attacks from the right too.

    We aim to have one question from the right and one from the left. They have to be answerable (not just attacks or patsys), and not answerable in one-word. we also look for topical ones.

  20. pixie66 20

    Imagine Act finds itself in a coalition which also includes the Greens. Where, if anywhere, would you find the common ground between the two parties?

  21. Mr Hide…

    “What right does the government have to tell a private shareholder who they can or cannot sell their shares to? and “Do you think the government decision will give New Zealanders second thoughts about investing in the stock market?

  22. Matthew Pilott 22

    Brett, I thought we weren’t after patsy questions – would you be volunteering to give Hide a back rub after asking this one? 😉

  23. Steve Pierson 23

    Brett. Why don’t you ask, ‘what is the place of government in the marketplace?’ or ‘what would be your priorities in government in terms of commerical regulation’

    those are rightwing questions, he’ll give you the kind of answer you’re looking for but it’s not a patsy.As your question standas, you’ve practically written the answer for him in the question and just plain given him a stick to beat the government. we’re looking for more interesting questions than that.

  24. Freelander 24

    Do you consider yourself a libertarian? If not, why not? If so, why do you not work more closely with the Libertarianz?

  25. MikeE 25

    Another question for the standard – have any of the leaders actually been asked about this? or is the standard just making a represeantion that the party leaders are all on side with the “interviews”

    [we contacted about half the leaders’ offices before launching the series so we knew we would have responses. Our email to the leaders with the questions also explains the series and links to the interviews, so they have time to learn about it and ask us any questions before supplying their responses, which are due a week later. We never made a “represeantion that the party leaders are all on side with the “interviews”” but we believe all leaders will respond, and if they don’t their responses will be published blank. why such a grump, mike? SP]

  26. Jum 26


    With Roger Douglas on board, will you be implementing his – and Act’s? – intention (written in one of his books) to close down women’s refuges, if you get into government?

    (I can supply the title and the page number if necessary).

  27. burt 27

    Question for Rodney

    Would ACT implement tax deductibility for private health and education fees in recognition that by purchasing these services privately tax payers are funding a system that they do not use?

    [lprent: perhaps you should rephrase that sentence – I’m pretty sure that you have achieved the exact opposite of what you intended.]

  28. burt 28

    Steve P

    Actually it might be a good idea to couch that question to Rodney in the context of a school voucher system. School zones and classroom sizes are a natural compliment to that discussion. I’d be interested to know if Rodney supported current classroom sizes as acceptable and if he thought teachers should be paid a lot more to stop them leaving NZ.

  29. burt 29


    Would ACT implement tax deductibility for private health and education fees in recognition that by purchasing these services privately tax payers are funding the public system that they do not use.

    These tax payers are already providing capacity for others who are not paying their full share of social policy costs so do ACT think it’s fair to let them deduct additional health/education expenses from their gross income.

    To be fair the question was worded poorly. It’s a question to see how well thought out ACT policy is on creating some equity in the govt funder/provider split. How committed they are to move away from the current system where everybody pays for it, not all use it. People who do use it (less people than pay for it) are meet with long waiting lists/large classroom sizes. Meanwhile people who can afford to pay for private services pay the additional costs using tax paid money.

  30. lprent 30

    I know. Just thought I’d better point out the wording before someone else did.

    The origional wording implied that you were paying for private health insurance and education fees without using them.

  31. Gooner 31

    Rodney, if you had to vote in favour of one policy you were stridently against in order to get one of your policies implemented, could you do it, and if so how would you sell that pragmatism to your supporters.

  32. Rodney – given you are an advocate of user pays health and education but having been in receipt of both yourself will you be writing a cheque to the state to cover these costs any time soon? And if not why not?

  33. Tane 33

    MikeE – all you’ve done on this thread is bitch and moan. Why not be constructive and ask a question?

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