Tweeting for The Nation

March 12, 2016

I’m on The Nation’s Twitter panel at 9.30 this morning.

#nationtv3

… In the week that Landcorp pulled back on dairy, the milk price dropped and the Reserve Bank cut the OCR to a record low, we bring together the leaders of Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens to debate the state of the economy. How worried should we be? Or is it just a blip? Labour’s Andrew Little, New Zealand First’s Winston Peters and the Green Party’s James Shaw are live with Lisa Owen.

Then, an exclusive TV interview with Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta. New Zealand spent millions and lost five soldiers helping bring peace to Timor Leste, then East Timor. What difference did we make? How real are concerns that it could become a failed state inside a decade? And does Helen Clark have much chance at getting the top UN job?

And, we look at the battle over Auckland housing. Is it being driven by NIMBYism or are we trying to cram too much into our biggest city? Phil Vine reports on the inter-generational battle for the soul… and density… of Auckland.

We’ll discuss all this and more with our panel: economist Shamubeel Eaqub, NZME Business Editorial Director Fran O’Sullivan, and Sunday Star-Times Editor Jonathan Milne.


Plan A is working

August 18, 2015

One message from CEOs last week was the government needs to form Plan B in case the dairy slump worsens.

Lisa Owen put this to Finance Minister Bill English on The Nation and he responded:

. . . We run economic policy that underpins a flexible, resilient economy, so if prices are down in one area, we would expect people to— we’ve got a set of rules that enable them to react fairly quickly to that, and we don’t try and hide the message the world is sending us, for instance, about dairy prices. And lots of other countries, they’re increasing subsidies to farmers in order to brush over and hide that price signal. So this economy will diversify if there are other markets which are willing to pay more for our products. That’s where the investment will flow. And the good news on the horizon is that the US economy is recovering. It’s the world’s largest economy. It’s showing signs of sustainable growth. And that New Zealand businesses are responding to that positively, and I don’t agree with politicians—

But, Minister, that’s your plan A. That’s your plan A. Where’s your plan B?

Plan A is a flexible, resilient economy. If plan B is about politicians sitting on the sideline deciding where hundreds of millions of investment should go next, then we’re not interested in that sort of plan B. It will fail, as it’s failed in the past.

But business people who are on the front lines – 75% of the top business minds in the Mood of the Boardroom – they want you to have a plan B. Are they wrong?

Well, I’ve asked them about what their plan B is, and none of them have a plan B. They’re certainly inviting—

Maybe they’re relying on you for plan B, Minister.

They’re certainly not inviting politicians to say, ‘Right, we’re going to shift a couple of hundred billion— a couple of hundred million of investment from industry A to industry B.’ They are backing the Government approach, which is to ensure that we keep our costs down, the Government invests in infrastructure, because no one else can do that, we work on the pipeline of skills into the labour market so there’s people there that they can employ, and they make their risky commercial investment decisions, and that’s what they’re doing right now. Right around the country, businesses will be thinking about where to direct their investment, given that dairy’s not looking so good for the next year or two; tourism, wine, ICT is all looking better for the next two or three years. And they’ll make those decisions a bit more precisely and more sensibly than government would. .  .

Plan A is what got New Zealand through the GFC and the economy growing again.

We need more of it  – lower government spending, concentrating on addressing the causes of welfare dependency, investing in education and infrastructure, opening more trade opportunities . . .

That’s the business of government and private enterprise isn’t as Mike Hosking reminds us:

What’s a bloke buying a farm got to do with the government?
What has any person setting up a business got to do with the government?
When a shop closes is it the government’s job to mop it up?
When a factory down sizes… Is the govt supposed to do something?

Dairy, like all business products and markets is beyond a government scope.

A government is there to provide over arching policy direction… Like tax and trade deals and welfare.

It’s not there to milk the cows, man the tills and set the price for commodities. . .

If the CEO’s know what’s good for them and their businesses they won’t be asking government to get involved in them.

We don’t need Plan B and we definitely don’t need government minding the business of business.

 

 

 

 


Tweeting panel

August 8, 2015

TV3 asked me to join The Nation’s tweet panel with Generation Zero co-founder Kirk Serpes this morning.

It was an interesting exercise.

Good interviewers listen to what interviewees say and base their next question on what they hear. I tried to do that with my tweets but kept missing the next point as I was tweeting on the last and trying to keep up with other tweets coming in.

Lisa Owen interviewed Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings talking about the farm gate milk price announcement today. This was followed by  reporter Torben Akel discussing governments appointing ex-MPs to government boards and an interview with American journalist Ben Taub who’s been writing about why teenagers’ journeys to jihad. 

The studio panelists were Heather du Plessis-Allan, Jacqueline Rowarth and Bernard Hickey.

Having Heather on the panel was very good marketing for Story which she’ll be co-hosting with Duncan Garner. It starts this Monday.

You can see the tweets here.


Craig’s injunction blocks debate

August 8, 2014

Colin Craig has won an interim injunction against TV3 after it refused to include him in a debate between leaders of the minor parties:

. . . Leaders from ACT, United Future, the Greens, the Maori Party, NZ First and Mana are scheduled to appear in the 34-minute debate. 

“The debate this weekend is part of a series of more targeted debates running on The Nation, and involves minor parties who have seats in Parliament and have been in Government or Opposition during the past three years,” a TV3 spokesperson said this morning. 

Mr Craig’s lawyer, John McKay, said his client had been excluded from a “vital part of democracy”.  

“It’s about voters,” Mr McKay told the court.

He said it was “extraordinary that TV3 had chosen leaders to appear on the debate based on their place in Parliament from the last election, rather than current polls”. 

Part of the issue was the show’s studio could only accommodate six lecterns for leaders, not seven, meaning there wouldn’t be enough space for Mr Craig. A wide shot can also only accommodate six people, as can the studio’s lighting. 

“There must be a trade-off between comfort and the importance of the occasion,” Mr McKay argued. 

TV3 lawyer Daniel McLellan acknowledged Mr Craig had a right to be included in televised debates in the heat of the election campaign, but tomorrow’s minor debate was not that important. 

Mr McLellan said it was “not likely to have a significant impact on the 2014 general election”, and media have a right to decided what is newsworthy without having it “dictated” to them. . .

I don’t like the idea of politicians dictating what media does and how it does.

But when TV3’s lawyer admitted Craig had a right to be included he weakened his case for his exclusions considerably.

It might only be political tragics who are fully engaged in the election campaign.

But it is only six weeks to polling day.


Which election is Labour trying to win?

March 3, 2014

Last Monday when interviewed by Kathryn Ryan, Labour leader David Cunliffe said:

“We all know the Government is going to change. It’s either going to change this time or next time. I think it’s more likely to change this time, and if it does, the question in front of New Zealanders is what is the composition of that new government going to be?”

For a leader to suggest he’s focussed on anything other than a win in the next election is unusual.

Could it be that he has a two-election strategy, to increase Labour’s vote at the expense of the Green Party this year in the hope that will give him a really strong foundation to win the election in 2017?

His interview on The Nation adds to that suspicion:

• Cunliffe refuses to guarantee the Greens’ place in Labour-led government – “that depends on how the voters decide.”
• Withdraws promise by previous Labour leader David Shearer that Greens will get a proportionate share of Cabinet seats – “we’re different roosters, I’m not doing it that way” – and won’t discuss coalition deals before election.

How the voters decide is the sort of game-playing Winston Peters indulges in.

Giving voters a good indication of what sort of government their votes might result in gives them the power. This shilly-shallying leaves the power with the parties.

But Cunliffe is firing a warning shot across the Green’s bow on purpose.

Voters in the centre aren’t keen on the radical left policies of the Green Party and many would prefer a strong National-led government than a weak Labour-led one beholden to the Greens.

All polls put National well ahead of Labour which would need Green support to govern, and probably some of the other minor players as well.

If Cunliffe could suck votes from the Greens on its left flank it wouldn’t increase the left-bloc but would make Labour stronger.

The swapping of votes within the left wouldn’t be enough to win this election.

But a stronger Labour Party would have a much better chance in the next one if it relegated the Green Party to a very distant third and therefore a much more minor player in government that it would be on current polling.

The trick for Cunliffe would be to lose but not so badly that he’d be deposed as leader.

That would be a delicate balancing act at the best of times and will be even more difficult if the ABC –  Anyone But Cunliffe – decide they’d prefer a big loss and the chance of a new leader.


NZ will win with TPP

October 14, 2013

Trade Minister Tim Groser said there was no need for concern about the content of the Trans Pacific Partnership:

“When this deal is done, I am certain that I and the Prime Minister will be able to come in from of New Zealanders and say: ‘this is virtually all upside’.”

“In relative terms, New Zealand will gain more than any country in TPP … the structure of these massive protective barriers that will come down will benefit New Zealand more than any country in this negotiation.” . . .

. . .  Mr Groser . . . said concerns about intellectual property and patents under the TPP had been “wildly exaggerated”.

He said the United States is the “most innovative country in the world” so their intellectual property law could hardly chill innovation.

New Zealanders would not be paying more for drugs as a result of TPP, Mr Groser said.

“I’ve said categorically Pharmac is not on the table.”

ANZCO Foods chair Sir Graeme Harrison said New Zealand has a lot more to gain from the TPP now Japan’s in the negotiations.

He said:

New Zealand could bring in $5 billion per year in our exports now Japan was involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), compared to $3.5 billion without Japan.

The increase in exports to Japan could mean a 2% gain in GDP, with many of the gains in the primary industries, he said. . .

He said Japan’s inclusion has made the TPP more worthwhile for the United States, which in turn will work in New Zealand’s favour.

“All of this comes together with two countries, the world’s first and third largest economy, both believing in a rules-based trading system, that are on our side, and we can have quite an influence in that process.”

Both were speaking on The Nation yesterday. You can watch the full interviews here.

New Zealand has a very small domestic market and we have one of the most open economies in the world.

We’ve already gone through the hard part of giving up protection and puts us ahead of most of the other countries which are negotiating the TPP.

We have a lot to gain and very little to lose from the successful completion of the TPP agreement.


Which PM would they emulate?

September 2, 2013

Sean Plunket, interviewing Labour’s three leadership contenders on The Nation  yesterday, asked them which leader they would emulate.

David Cunliffe opted for Michael Joseph Savage, Shane Jones and Grant Robertson both chose Norman Kirk.

Interesting that Helen Clark wasn’t chosen, and in fact was criticised by Jones:

“Now the thing about Helen, she was into social provision and anti-discrimination, Labour can no longer have that as its dominating brand,” said Mr Jones.

The other two didn’t comment on this, but their enthusiasm for a 50/50 gender split in caucus suggests they don’t agree.


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