Q+A's Panel Discussions with Paul Holmes, Dr Jon Johansson, Ella Henry & Michael Barnett.

The panel discussions have been transcribed below.

Q+A is repeated on TVNZ 7 at 9.10pm on Sunday nights and 10.10am and 2.10pm on Mondays.  The full length video interviews and panel discussions from this morning’s Q+A can also be seen on tvnz.co.nz at, http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news

PANEL DISCUSSIONS led by PAUL HOLMES

Response to SIR GEOFFREY PALMER interview

PAUL So Sir Geoffrey seems to speak some good commonsense there, we’ve gotta save the Whaling Commission, we may have to allow Japan to commercially whale, we bring Japan into the fold, we’ve  been screaming at Japan for years to no avail, what do you think Jon.

JON JOHANSSON – Political Analyst
Well first off you’d have to concede I think that a strategy rethink was necessary, I mean what’s going on down in the southern ocean every year is just – it’s like an annual season of Russian roulette, so a strategic rethink was in order, but I’d be very surprised if the New Zealand public is very supportive of, as Guyon said, this notion that you have to kill the whales to save them, because it’s such an emotive issue.

PAUL But they’re killing them no you see with the so-called scientific whaling, what do you think Ella?

ELLA HENRY – Former Greenpeace Director
Well I think whaling like Dolphins and Anti Nuclear is part of the New Zealand culture, it’s part of our psyche to defend these creatures, and I think most New Zealanders are appalled that the killing is going on in a sanctuary, that’s got to be illegal and we’ve got to make a stand on it, I’m just saddened that it’s NGOs and not GOs that seem to be doing the best work.

JON I hear you.

PAUL Michael.

MICHAEL BARNETT – Auckland Chamber of Commerce
It seems strange to me that we have a moratorium that hasn’t worked, and so we’re now going to put up something else and expect it to work, you know that seems to me the public’s perception of this – it’s almost we’ve got a set of values, we’ve stated those values, but we’re prepared to prostitute those values and I don’t think that that will fit.

JON And the route cause is really the Japanese cultural chauvinism over this, and really I think the only effective thing that’s ever gonna reduce the whale kill is when the Japanese consumer, but even now the Japanese consumers are not you know embracing this product, and less and less, and yet the Japanese government is completely stubborn.

PAUL I suppose bringing Japan and Norway and Iceland, the whaling nations, back into the fold, might be useful, but they might also see it as license?

ELLA Absolutely and I think that would be an appalling message to send, and I think the demonising the great mass of Japanese and Norwegian people has not worked either.  Really I think the money’s gotta go in, these enormous amounts of money for international meetings should be going into re-education programmes because you’re right, the consumption of it is going down in those countries.

PAUL He made a point of saying, there is not point approaching this whole issue with religious zeal.

MICHAEL There isn’t, but I still believe that a country like New Zealand should be able to state its values, agree that there are differences and not compromise those, it sends the wrong message.

Response to TIM GROSER interview

PAUL Well he seems to speak a lot of sense Mr Groser?

ELLA It is, unfortunately I’m old enough to remember 25 years of New Zealand’s trade liberalisation, and I’m still waiting for the benefits to trickle down to the Maori communities that I interact with.  So I’ll wait with baited breath.

JON Well he’s out there doing as one of my colleagues would say, doing God’s work in the sense that he’s trying to create opportunities for New Zealand business and that should be applauded.  I am more pessimistic however on the TPP front, just because of the circumstances in America that any deal can pass the US Congress, so I think a lot of effort’s going to go into this, but whether that’s ever going to see the light of day is a more open question.

PAUL Yes I mean essentially they’re not absolute free traders, the Obama regime are they?

JON Oh far from it and in a climate where you’ve got basically 10% unemployed, even if the Republicans took over the Congress where you would think would be more conducive to free trade, I think they’re just too worried about their own constituency.

PAUL And of course in his own home town Chicago, African Americans maybe 25 to 30% unemployed.

JON Yeah it’s huge.

PAUL Michael Barnett, yes these free trade deals, do they benefit us?

MICHAEL I think so but if I look at it you know from my helicopter view, all my life I’ve heard governments talking about export recoveries and I think when we have a look at the work that’s happening by successive governments, we’ve been given improved accessibility to various economies, I think that’s great, so the platform’s set so now we talk about possibilities and we talk about potential.  I actually think that the business community in working with government is yet to get off the mark, I think there’s a whole lot of things that we can do in respect of changes in behaviour, changes in focus, and we’re not doing that.

JON So what holds that back?

MICHAEL I look at – it always staggers me for example that we don’t have an agency – if exporting is so vital to us – we don’t have an agency that’s got the word export in it.

PAUL It’s terribly difficult to export if you’re a small operator, it’s terribly difficult to roll up with your trolley in a market you know, and get people to buy your stuff.

MICHAEL It is and I think that the table has been set to assist the larger organisations who to a larger degree can help themselves, but unless we purposefully turn round and doing something that’s going to help the smaller entrepreneur to go offshore, to play in the trade fairs, to be able to participate, have Ministers open doors for them and create possibilities, it’s not going to happen, we really do need to make a difference.  I look at KEA you know the Kiwi expats abroad, they’ve just got a thing that they’re starting, it’s associated with the Rugby World Cup, it’s called Pass it On, but they’re looking at the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders offshore, how can they help small guys back here, how can they give them contact, how can they help them, it’s that sort of initiative…

PAUL How can we establish New Zealanders offshore help the new ones coming?

PAUL India, let’s see what Tim Groser said about India.

Tim Groser:
‘I don’t have much taste for these sort of figures although they seem part of the deal that you have to do these estimates, I think it’s more important for us to focus on the big picture, New Zealand needs trading opportunities, this is the second giant developing country in the world, let’s do a deal.’

PAUL Let’s do a deal, one of the biggest giant developed countries in the world – sensible?

ELLA I think so, and particularly because we have a very strong Indian community in New Zealand which I think bridges gaps into that community, it fosters understanding, I think they’re natural partners in many ways.  I worry about their lack of environmental and labour standards though, that’s a great concern.

PAUL When you say you’re waiting for these free trade deals to trickle down to the Maori community, I’ve gotta pick you up there, couldn’t the Maori community go offshore in export as well?

ELLA I think that’s beginning to happen, certainly in the agricultural domain, but the great mass of Maori in this country are still under employed, under educated and overly poor.

JON And it still requires those networks that Michael is talking about as well.

MICHAEL I was with the Minister when they signed the ANZFTA agreement up in Kuala Lumpur, and there were some young Maori entrepreneurs up there, and they were using the platform to be able to open doors and do stuff, so while I don’t disagree with it, all I’m saying is I think we could be doing a lot more to expand.

PAUL He was canny when he was talking about India, he was canny about whether an impediment, you know whether environmental or if you like child labour, low wage concerns, are going to be an impediment to doing a deal with New Zealand, make that decision later.  What did you make of that?

JON Ah it’s a suck it and see isn’t it?  You know we’ll confront that when we have to confront that.

MICHAEL The biggest barriers that are going to occur with India are going to be the same that have occurred in China and Korea and Japan, and that’s going to be agriculture.  It’s the protection that’s there.

PAUL So we don’t hold any immediate hopes for the Trans Pacific Partnership, is that right?

JON It’s staying busy until the over arching international framework changes, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing any time soon either.

ELLA I agree, I agree, and I think – I mean New Zealand does have to be participating in these international fora and I’m glad we have got a strong presence, I guess I am parochial in my view, I keep asking what does this mean for my community.

MICHAEL But of the eight you know that we’re going to, we’ve got four of those countries already, we’re going to eight, the only big catch for New Zealand is going to be the US who have played hard to get for the last years.

JON Why is it the big catch?

MICHAEL As I say the only country that we don’t really already have either agreements with or possibilities with I’m saying that for years we’ve been saying that we needed to get alongside the United States, it is a big market, it would be a big catch.

ELLA We just have to be sanguine I mean the reality is America’s the most protected market in the world in terms of the man perspective.

PAUL Particularly agriculture.

JON It’s the holy grail.

ELLA It is.

PAUL And the pork barrel politics are so ingrained.

In response to DON NICOLSON AND RUSSEL NORMAN interview

PAUL Is water the answer to all of our prayers?  Yes here’s what Russel Norman said about the value of water to us, let’s just remind ourselves.

Russel Norman: ‘Or do we try to compete on the basis of a brand of integrity like Peter Townsend CEO of the Chamber of Commerce in Canterbury has been saying, in which case we have good animal welfare, we have good food safety, good environmental performance, and then that’s the basis on which we compete New Zealand products in the world, and that’s how we make money without trashing our environment.’

PAUL And of course water’s already very valuable I spose in tourist receipts and as Russel Norman says in terms of exports, what do you make of our water policies.  Are we late out of the gate?

JON Yeah we’re late out of the gate I mean I think one of the fundamental problems is how we think about it from a government level, so we don’t think of it as perhaps our most strategic resource in this century.  So if you look at the number of ministries that have some implication with water, so across government there’s about you know six to ten different ministries associated with water, we don’t have a Minister of natural resources, and then likewise vertically between central government, local and regional, again there’s no great coordination and so we start out with this hotchpotch and we can see from these reports that our brand truly is at threat because of the declining water quality in both city and country.

ELLA Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more.  I mean I’m still uneasy about the commodification and profiteering of natural resources, that’s always gonna be a rocky road that you have to negotiate,

JON Well who owns it Ella?

ELLA Who owns it exactly, I mean to me it’s Nga Atua, but there are policies, there are  policies like every stand alone house in this country should be subsidised to have a tank, all our black water and grey water should come off our rooves, but of course because we charge water rates by what we flush that throws a spanner in the work of that equation.  I mean we need permeable paving, the water should be able to get back in the earth because there’s only so much water on the planet, it hasn’t changed in millions of years, and if we pollute it, we endanger our future.

MICHAEL Basically before I comment on that, I’m going to comment on Russel’s thing there that the farmers of New Zealand are out of New Zealand sailing around the world.

PAUL One particular one, one farmer is sailing around the world in his boat.

MICHAEL And of course what they’re really doing is providing a backup plea for the two million dollar Greenpeace protest boats, but anyway.  I think that what New Zealand has come to do over the last little while is understand the consequences.  If we have a look at 2009 you know the big issue for the start of our recession was the drought, right, so it’s the economic value, you know we deprive people of jobs, opportunity exports and so on, and it’s not just the farmers, you know you can have a drought by not having access to water because of pollution and so on, that can be as much of a community issue as it is a farming issue, so I think Jon the same as you’re saying, a whole of government approach on this, I think a whole of New Zealand approach to this, just because we’ve got it and we’ve got it in abundance in parts we shouldn’t waste it we should be looking now to save.

PAUL Fair to say though isn’t it, the government is steering a pretty nice middle road at the moment, I mean Nick Smith virtually side swiped the McKenzie Country development in a very neat way it has to be said, but at the same time John Key has said in his statement of intent, parliamentary statement, but he’s determined that Canterbury will have water, he said he’ll remove the roadblocks, so they do seem prepared to tackle some of the big concerns.

ELLA We’re not though confronting what I usually call mid term inertia, I mean the government seems to be paralysed by so many issues, that everything is at a wait and see mode on water.

JON Well water is hugely complex right, and because it’s town versus country, Maori potentially versus Pakeha, conservationists versus farmers, but you know what’s worrying in that latest report Paul was that you know you have a core of like about 15% of our farmers you know God bless the rest of them right, that are doing good practices but 15% that just won’t be told how to run their farms.

PAUL Serious offending, that’s right.  Just very quickly who owns water in New Zealand by the way?

ELLA Nga Atua of course because of the cycle, it comes down it goes into the ocean, it goes back up through you know…

PAUL Can we see any case or claim coming towards the Waitangi Tribunal?

JON There’s already been cases.

ELLA Watch this space.

PAUL Alright the week ahead what are we going to be looking ahead to this week Michael Barnett?

MICHAEL Look I thought about this and I really couldn’t think of anything, so having watched the programme earlier on, I thought to myself that what we will see is Air New Zealand announce a crèche area on all the plains, it’ll be glassed in, it’ll keep people quiet, so it’ll go back to the old adage of you know children being able to be seen but not heard.

JON Big moves policy announcements from government to reclaim the agenda, I think we’ll see this week, but the big action is over in the US and health care on Monday.

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