CORIN Do you ever have any big disagreements though on direction in terms of whether you’re going far enough to the right or whether you should be pushing harder on something?
JOHN I’d say no. One of the big advantages is that we’re both central-right, so I think we’re smart enough to work out that if we want an enduring policy, then we need to make change that we can take the public with us. And over the course of the five years, we’ve demonstrated that. So if you look at the Business Growth Agenda, you know, that’s our economic framework. That is 366 individual changes that we’re making. None of them we would, in isolation, argue is going to turn the dial, but in totality, they are turning the dial significantly in favour of NZ being a higher-growth, competitive economy.
CORIN Do both of you want to stay on right through next term if you win?
I think there is no issue that they want a third term. I’m not sure if they get a third term, that the PM would seek a fourth term.
CORIN You two don’t have a Brown-Blair agreement when it comes to potential succession?
JOHN No. And the truth is that we’ve got a broad caucus, and there’s lots of people you could point to that actually could come through, depending on the timing. I think there’s a range of people, both on the front bench and people who are emerging.
CORIN Could I pick you up on that? So we’ve got Steven Joyce and Judith Collins. They’re both frontrunners. Have you got any preferences?
JOHN Uh, well, a) it probably almost certainly wouldn’t be our choice. If you’re talking about the leader, it wouldn’t be my choice, because I wouldn’t be part of the caucus. The caucus would be making that decision, and if they were doing a coup, then they wouldn’t be coming to consult me on it, so we’re not too worried about that.
I like how the PM just talks openly about the reality that incumbent leaders normally don’t get a say in their successors. However that does change if the leader leaves on their own timetable.
CORIN Prime Minister, what about you? If you didn’t get across the line, is that it for politics for you?
JOHN Well, I don’t have a plan B. In other words, what happens if we lose the election? I’m totally focused on winning the election. But I’ve been reasonably upfront with people, saying that, you know, eventually, if you lose an election, generally there’s a change of leader. If there’s a change of leader, I don’t think it’s actually healthy to get in the way of the next leader. And most prime ministers that have lost elections haven’t stayed around long, long-term. But in the end, I hope we win, and I hope we get to stay there, because it’s very much unfinished business.
I don’t think anyone expects the PM would stay around if he lost the election.
CORIN The election next year; are we looking at a November election, essentially?
JOHN Uh, not guaranteed. I mean, we’re certainly picking an election at the back end of the year. There’s no reason to go early, but we’ll just need to think about that window of when it would make perfect sense. There are issues that we have to consider. Australia hosting the G20 at the end of the year, bits and pieces like that. So we’ll just sort of think that through, but, look, it’s in that window, I think, of sort of September to November roughly, but we’ll make an announcement sometime next year.
The G20 is mid November so that might discourage a November election. However we do not normally attend the G20. Maybe we will get a special invite as Australia is hosting it?