Viewers per dollar for current affairs shows

December 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Have been looking at how many people watch various current affairs shows on television, and how much of a subsidy they get from taxpayers through NZ on Air.

The funding figures for the four shows (from NZ on Air website) are:

  • The Nation $899,000 for 40 hours
  • Q + A $845,000 for 40 hours
  • Backbenches $606,000 for 20 hours
  • Media Take $482,000 for 10 hours

Cost per hour:

  • Media Take $48,200
  • Backbenches $30,300
  • The Nation $22,475
  • Q + A $21,125

Average viewers per episode (based on Nielsen data):

  • Q+A 99,000
  • The Nation 49,000
  • Backbenches 25,400
  • Media Take 1,900

So the cost per viewer hour is:

  • Media Take $12.68
  • Backbenches $1.19
  • The Nation $0.46
  • Q&A $0.21

It is hard to believe we are spending close to half a million dollars a year on a show watched by fewer than 2,000 people a week. In fact the taxpayer subsidy may be even greater than that as it shows on Maori TV, and they also get $55 million a year.

Q&A is the most watched show, and the one you can justify the easiest. The Nation has half the audience for a slightly larger budget. Would we be better served by having just one show, and giving it more resources so it can do more in depth?

I’m a big fan of Backbenches but an audience of 25,000 is pretty small for a cost of over $600,000.

NZ on Air funding should not just be about ratings, but on the other hand funding shows that fewer than 1% of NZ watches (or for Media Take fewer than 0.05%) suggests a problem.

Key and Cunliffe on Q+A

September 14th, 2014 at 1:41 pm by David Farrar

I thought the two leaders on Q+A was a real contrast. If you didn’t watch it live, you can watch online. John Key is here and David Cunliffe here. Have a watch, and comment what you think.

1983 – Back in the Day

April 8th, 2014 at 10:00 am by Kokila Patel

In David’s absence, I’ll be posting a few items in Kiwiblog fashion – focussed on politics

Q+A are researching the political news archives and looking back.  This snippet from last Sunday

The Labour Opposition Chief Whip Jonathan Hunt had refused to provide Ruth Richardson a voting peer.  Richardson, then a young mum needed to be absent from the house so she could breast feed her newborn baby.  In 1983, Richardson’s vote was essential due to National’s slim majority.

Response from Sir Robert Muldoon

“Jonathan of course is an elderly bachelor, and probably doesn’t understand much of these things, but there must be someone on the other side of the house who has got some compassion for Ruth and the problem in which she finds herself”

I’m cynical enough to believe that Muldoon in needing the vote, found the compassion for a mum on his side of the house (and there’ll be plenty of insiders who can correct this assumption), but what is more interesting is that it is the Labour Chief Whip who did not.  Even so, an invigorated Labour Party would have started to smell victory, and hard to imagine that any breastfeeding mother wouldn’t be bulldozed in that path.

I don’t know the exact legislation or regulations Richardson was helping National to maintain, but during the days of price freezes, ever spiralling inflation, some if not all of the voting must have been through gritted teeth!

Key and English on Q+A

November 11th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A Q+A interview with John Key and Bill English:

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?

Q+A interviewer seeks to stand for Labour

May 14th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

Broadcaster Shane Taurima is considering a move into politics and has spoken to the Labour Party about running in the Ikaroa Rawhiti byelection next month.

Mr Taurima confirmed he had been approached about standing and was considering it, but was yet to make up his mind.

“It is a huge decision.” He is expected to raise it with his bosses at TVNZ this week.

He was promoted this year to head TVNZ’s Maori & Pacific Programming after working as a journalist and presenter on programmes including Te Karere, Marae and Q+A.

TVNZ seems to be a good recruiting pool for the Labour Party!

Key on Q+A

April 15th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

John Key was on Q+A yesterday. A number of interesting aspects of the interview:

JOHN KEY – NZ Prime Minister 
 Well, I think that’s the, sort of, $64 million question or maybe the 1.35 billion question, given the number of people here.   I mean, what we know is we produce what they want to buy.  That’s the really good news part of the story.  Fundamentally, they want food, whether it’s ultimately aquaculture or dairy, meat, it doesn’t really matter.  They want that food.  They want the quality of that food.  They want the assurance that the food will be of a standard that they expect.  Secondly, they want to educate their children, and they want to come and travel.  And there are specialist areas where it can be a niche in the Chinese market, like, say, Rakon is to New Zealand, for instance.  But in this market, you know, a niche can be a very, very big order for New Zealand, so there’s lots of potential.

CORIN Tim Groser – I heard him say on this trip New Zealand’s trade to China – China could be our biggest trade partner within two years at current growth levels.  What does that mean for New Zealand longer term?

It means we may be not so fucked as the rest of the world when Europe crashes 🙂

JOHN  Well, I think the good news part of the story is, I mean, we’re here and we promote this relationship and the trade aspects of this relationship because we genuinely believe it means better jobs, it means more jobs, it means, you know, greater opportunities for New Zealanders.  I mean, the challenge always for New Zealand, I think, is a) making sure that we maintain our brand and quality, maintain margin so we make money, and the second thing is we don’t want to become solely China dependant. I mean, this is a market that could at one level buy everything New Zealand produces, but the reason we go to Latin America, as we did a few weeks ago, or we sell to other markets and focus on them is that in our history, we’ve been solely-

While China will become our largest trading partner, we must make sure it doesn’t become our only one.

JOHN Okay, but let’s put that in a bit of context.  If you take the situation where Ian Fletcher was appointed, so, you know, we had significant media coverage and, you know, a lot of very, very& highly critical claims being made personally directed at me, right? 
CORIN But you did not make it clear when you were asked that you had shoulder-tapped Ian Fletcher.

JOHN  I was asked a specific question in Parliament not with any warning, as a supplementary question, didn’t even know it was coming, it bore very little relation to the primary question at the end of a parliamentary question session, and, actually, the answer I gave was perfectly correct.  Now, if the test is I’ve got to give you absolutely all of the full information – it comes back to the point I was making last week – then I need to actually slow that process down so that I can be- you know, I can meet the people’s expectations-

CORIN Did that episode get to you, though?  I mean, you only a couple of times in your whole time as Prime Minister have you lashed out at the media.  Were you genuinely wounded by that?

JOHN  Well, firstly, it wasn’t at all media, and secondly, the point is that my view was that there wasn’t balance on the way that that was being reported. I mean, you had the State Services Commissioner coming out totally supporting what I was saying, and, actually, that wasn’t always fully covered in that way.  My reputation matters to me because, you know, I am honest and I am up front.  I also am way more accessible than virtually any other leader in the world, so if you want to go and ask other leaders, you have a limited number of questions, you have lots of warning what they’re going to ask them about, they have lots of time to prepare questions.  I do two or three stand-ups a day, and I’m asked questions about a huge number of issues. 

It is a fair point that Key as Prime Minister is more accessible than not just any of his foreign counterparts, but also I think more so that any of his predecessors.

Helen Clark, to her credit, did re-institute the formal weekly press conference, and was more available than her predecessors. But I’m pretty sure that she didn’t do anywhere near the number of media standups that Key does – a lot of her engagements would be photo ops only.

They collect and publish data in the US on how often the President has done press conferences, interviews and gaggles or stand-ups.

It would be fascinating if anyone collated and published the same data on NZ Prime Ministers.

On the wider GCSB issue I’m one of those who said I thought the phone call to Ian Fletcher was unwise, and I stand by that. It would have been better to have just passed the details onto the SSC.

But one has to understand how different PMs have different styles, and they come with both pros and cons – and you generally can’t just choose part of a style.

Some refer to Key’s style as CEO style. He is constantly engaging with people, including (very importantly) those outside Wellington. He talks constantly to numerous leaders in business and other areas. He is very focused on getting the job done, more than process.

What this means is that sometimes he’ll not get the process right, and make a mistake.

But you know what. If I have a choice of a Geoffrey Palmer type Prime Minister who is a stickler for proper process at all times or a John Key type Prime Minister who actually gets things done, I know what I’m happy with. Now that’s not to say it is a choice between too extremes. In no way am I saying process is not important, just that you have to accept different leaders have different strengths and weaknesses.

CORIN Do you still want to do this job?

JOHN  I do. 
CORIN Do you want to carry on?

JOHN Well, look, you know, the thing is I’m actually enjoying it.  As Prime Minister, what are they going to remember when they look back?  And the answer is going to be is the economy strong, does the education system work better, does health system work better, is New Zealand a stronger, more confident country?  I’ve been Prime Minister for four and a half years.  My own personal view is that we are building that sort of New Zealand.  Now, you know, is there perfection?  There will never be perfection in politics, but you can do your very best and you can see the course, and that’s what we’ve done.  I really believe passionately that- And again, I’ve read lots of stuff in the media that I’m not going to be there in 2014, I’m not going to run National in the election, that’s not true.  None of that is true.  I’ll be there.  As long as National wants me there, I’ll be there in 2014.  Why?  Because I don’t think we’ve actually finished the job yet. And, you know, there will always be some weeks that are better than others, but for the most part I’m in an incredibly privileged position.  You know, I’m the 38th prime minister of New Zealand, and I’ll always be grateful to the New Zealand public that they gave me that chance.

If anyone thinks that John Key won’t lead National into 2014, they’ve either been having too many drinking sessions with David Shearer’s office (as Mr Robins at The Standard appears to have done) or they’re deluded.

If National wins a third term, it would not be guaranteed that Key would want to lead National into a 4th election. But that falls into the category of “nice problems to have and resolve” if National gets re-elected in 2014.

Next month, National and John Key will have been in power for four and a half years – half the nine years of the last Labour Government. I’ll blog some interesting poll comparisons comparing the parties and leaders at the 4.5 year marks.

Wood interviews Shearer

April 7th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

People may be interested in this transcript from Q+A. The video at the link is even better:


On Friday we found out some of the details about the partial sale of Mighty River Power. The price range for the shares estimated to be between $2.35 and $2.80. That should bring around $2 billion into the government coffers.

Good morning, David Shearer.


Good morning, Susan.

SUSAN         $2 billion on schools, on things that are public good. Money well spent?

DAVID          No, because you also miss out on the revenue over a longer period than that, and as soon as you do that, 50 per cent of your revenue goes, and over time, obviously, that’s nonsensical. But the other thing about selling these shares is that a small group are going to get ownership of those shares-

SUSAN         400,000 people is not a small group of New Zealanders.

DAVID          Well, if you actually add it up, it’s going to be well less than 10%. More than 90% of New Zealanders will not have the opportunity to buy shares, and they will lose, in a sense, what they already owned before, which is a national asset.

SUSAN         So without selling assets, and we know you don’t want to, how will you balance the books without borrowing?

DAVID          Well, what we had been saying before is a whole programme of economic development, capital gains tax, and in the short term-

SUSAN         So tell me how you’ll raise $2 billion. This government’s raising $2 billion doing it. How will you come up with $2 billion?

DAVID          Let’s start from the beginning, then. Do we need to have exactly that $2 billion or not? The way the government’s put its books in order, or not in order, is by putting forward an argument that we need to sell our state-owned assets. I don’t believe that that’s the way that we should be going forward. There are other alternatives.

SUSAN         Do you agree, though, that the government should be running a surplus? They should not be in deficit? Households have to tidy up their act. Do you agree that the government books should be in surplus?

DAVID          Well, of course we should be in surplus, and that’s what the Labour government did for nine years while it was in government, and that’s what it handed on to the National government – government books that were in surplus.

SUSAN         Yeah, but to be fair, there’s been a GFC.

DAVID          When you sell a state-owned asset like Mighty River Power you forego the income that that brings in.

SUSAN         I understand that.

DAVID          So what you’re effectively doing- It’s like selling your business, putting an extension on your house – you feel much better for that, but you lose the income from the sale.

SUSAN         OK, but they are getting the books back into surplus. They are getting their house in order. Give me a few ideas of how Labour would get the house in order without borrowing more money.

DAVID          Well, at the moment we don’t have a growth agenda in New Zealand. We are not growing our economy as we should.

SUSAN         But give me some specifics here of what you would do. We know what this government is doing. How would you raise a couple of billion to get the books back in balance?

DAVID          Well, what I’m saying is that what we need to do is to grow the economy in a way that it’s not growing at the moment, and we’ll be talking about Tiwai Point in a little while…one of the big problems about – no, no, let me finish – one of the biggest problems about that is that the exchange rate is so low that we’re seeing many of our businesses actually going out of business because they’re not being able to succeed. We’re not putting our money in the profitable sector; it’s going into the property market because we don’t have a capital gains tax that will help us direct money into those areas. And if you’re wanting to raise money, then at least put money into businesses- invest in businesses through the incentives of capital gains, and that brings, obviously, money into the government as well.

SUSAN         Let’s talk about the GCSB spy boss, Ian Fletcher. Is he the right man for the job?

DAVID          I don’t know Ian Fletcher, but I can say that the way he has been appointed-

SUSAN         No, no, there is nothing negative about him, is there? There is no suggestion that he is not the right man for the job. Let me phrase it that way.

DAVID          Well, let’s put it another way. Just last year, when the whole Dotcom issue was running, Ian Fletcher was the person who went to the prime minister and said, ‘Sign this, because I want to cover up the fact that we’ve been illegally spying on Dotcom.’ That was the ministerial certificate that Ian Fletcher took to the prime minister. Now, I don’t think that was a good move. I don’t have an opinion of him per se, but-

SUSAN         Well, you don’t like that.

DAVID          Of course I don’t. No, I’ve just said that. But what I don’t like is the way that he was interviewed and the process that went through. I don’t like the idea-

SUSAN         But hang on-

DAVID          Hang on, no, no, just let me finish- John Key has shoulder-tapped one person, put him into that position. We now have in our most secret agency in New Zealand a friend of John Key’s who reports directly to him. John Key is the only person who has democratic oversight over that agency.

SUSAN         And it’s his right. It is his right to select whoever he wants for that job.

DAVID          There is a real problem in New Zealand now with the confidence that we have in our intelligence agencies, and if I was coming into office, I would have a full independent inquiry into our intelligence agencies to restore that confidence, because if we don’t do that we will not be able to hold ourselves up as the transparent nation that we are.

SUSAN         Rebecca Kitteridge has been looking into it.

DAVID          That’s an internal report. I would want this to have a terms of reference that would be agreed by parliament. It would report back to parliament so that we all have confidence in it. It’s something the Australians did a few years ago when there was a crisis in their intelligence agencies, and they’ve had regular independent outside reviews going on. Now, we have the SIS at the moment. The SIS is about to look at its legislation, reform its legislation, and I think that we need to have that independent review before we get to that point.

SUSAN         Much made this week of the Prime Minister’s memory loss. You, of course, have had your own memory loss over that $50,000 US or more, how much was it?

DAVID          I’m not going to say. It’s my family business. I don’t talk about my savings online, but I do-

SUSAN         Tony Ryall said in the house it was a couple of hundred thousand dollars US. Is that correct, or is it more than that?

DAVID          I’m not going to say. It’s my family business.

SUSAN         Didn’t you lose your right for privacy around it when you forgot to declare it? When you broke the rules and did not declare it?

DAVID          No, I absolutely did not. I said that I made an error. I myself came forward and corrected that error. I took it on the chin and said ‘here it is’. And I expect that to be the standard by which all politicians operate if they do make a mistake.

SUSAN         That’s what John Key did this week. He said he’d made a mistake and he fessed up. Exactly the same scenario.

DAVID          I think what John Key was doing this week-

SUSAN         He came forward.

DAVID          No-

SUSAN         Yes, he did. He came forward and he said, ‘Actually, I’ve checked by records and I did call Ian Fletcher.’ He came forward.

DAVID          What he was doing this week was that he was deliberately trying to move opinion away from and deflect opinion away from his friendship and relationship with Fletcher.

SUSAN         Is your problem with this money- Is your problem with this more than $50,000 US in the bank, is your problem that there is so much money there that it would not resonate? You would not resonate? I mean, Michael Cullen very famously called John Key a ‘rich prick’. Are you, Mr Shearer, a rich prick?

DAVID          Look, I worked for my money working for the United Nations in Iraq. I put it in the bank. It’s my family’s savings. I didn’t put it on my pecuniary interest. I declared that and I came forward and I was honest about it.

SUSAN         And you were very well paid in that job, sometimes up to half a million Kiwi dollars a year.

DAVID          No, I think you need to do your research on that, quite frankly, Susan. But, look, working in Iraq, where we lost 25 people, there was a- people do get paid hazard money in those situations.

SUSAN         What’s the money sitting there for?

DAVID          Look, it’s my family- Look, people put money in the bank for any- Look, this is my private savings, my family’s savings. Do you ask John Key what he does with $50 million when he comes on to your show?

SUSAN         John Key actually does have scrutiny over his money all the time. There are reports about how much money he has; he’s on the NBR Rich List – all those sorts of things. So, yes, he does have the same sort of scrutiny.

DAVID          Well, I haven’t heard you asking the same sorts of questions-

SUSAN         I haven’t had him on the programme yet, but when I do, I will ask him. So, are reports that it’s around $1 million correct or incorrect?

DAVID          Look, I am not going to put a figure on it, and I resent the fact that you are asking me to reveal how much is in my bank account. Nobody needs to do that. I have done-

SUSAN         You do need to.

DAVID          I have done what I was obliged to do under parliamentary rules, which is to declare any account that had more than $50,000 in it. I did do that. I regret, obviously, not putting that on my pecuniary interests, and that’s where it stops.

SUSAN         So you’re not a rich prick?

DAVID          I’m- Obviously, as a New Zealander, I’m fortunate, but I’m not in the same league as our prime minster, no.

SUSAN         Tiwai Point – what would you do if you were in government?

DAVID          Oh, look, Tiwai Point needs to be negotiated. It obviously needs the government to have a look and see what it can do.

SUSAN         What would you offer, though? Would you be offering Rio Tinto some sort of extra funding to stay here?

DAVID          Oh, look, I think what we would need to do is take a look at what’s on the table, and I don’t know what’s on the table.

SUSAN         Nothing’s on the table. The government’s pulled it off the table, haven’t they?

DAVID          We don’t know how far apart they are. We’ve only just got indications about that. I think what we need to do, though, is look at the national interests about what this means to New Zealand, what it means to Southland, what it means to jobs. And at the moment the government is not in the business of creating jobs. There are jobs going and for Southlanders obviously they are very, very –

SUSAN         I think you could actually say that the government has played Rio Tinto pretty well on this. And the numbers – let’s talk about them. $250 million a year they pay for power. That’s about a quarter of what you pay for power, of what all of our viewers pay for power. They pay one quarter. They then return about $150 million. Effectively, we’re giving them a $750 million discount. Should they even be here? I mean, what are they really adding?

DAVID          Well, that was what they were set up for, obviously, and they were guaranteed that power for a long time. I mean, you have to play out what does it mean for jobs, what does it mean for the Southland economy, what does it mean for our current account deficit? But the bottom line is you would try to, obviously, secure a deal-

SUSAN         Really? Because those numbers I’m looking at there, there are other things you could do. The power could be in other uses.

DAVID          But you wouldn’t be going into a negotiation with a blank chequebook.

SUSAN         And the government hasn’t. They’ve walked away.

DAVID          Well, the government, what it did, was it was trying to-

SUSAN         The government put pressure on Rio Tinto.

DAVID          What the government was trying to do was actually get the sale of Mighty River Power across the line and reduce the uncertainty around the electricity price. That’s what it was trying to do, and that’s why it went into negotiations. Now, it went into negotiations with Rio Tinto aware that the government was wanting to do that. So it went in with one hand tied behind its back.

SUSAN         Well, they haven’t paid it one cent, which I think would be the public mood at the moment – no mood to give a lot of money to a foreign multi-national. One final question – there is some confusion around Labour, and I’ve been trying to press you during this interview about what you would do differently. So let me give you a specific example. You’re a 26-year-old woman. You’re living in Auckland. You’re earning $65,000 a year. You’re paying off your student loan. You’re renting. What would Labour do for this woman that National is not doing?

DAVID          Well, two things – first of all, we would have a healthy home guarantee to make sure that where she’s living, in the rental accommodation that she’s living in, is actually up to scratch; it’s both heated and it’s insulated. The second thing that we would do is we’re building 10,000 houses, affordable homes, a year, and that would enable her to have an opportunity to get on to the housing ladder. So there are two specific things that I believe that would help that case.

 SUSAN         Thank you for your time this morning.

DAVID          Thanks, Susan.

I like how Labour goes from condemning the Government for negotiating with Rio Tinto on Tiwai Point, to complaining they didn’t secure a deal.

Q+A: Sunday, March 17 2013

March 22nd, 2013 at 8:20 pm by Kokila Patel

On Q+A this Sunday, NZ’s in the midst of a drought so how will it affect you and me and our pockets? We speak to the Finance Minister Bill English, and a climate scientist who says we have to no option but to adapt.

Also on the programme, is New Zealand set to become a world leader in energy? We speak to visiting economic geologist Dr Scott Tinker.

And the Catholic Church has a new Pope, we hear the view of a Kiwi Catholic.

On the panel this week is political scientist Dr Raymond Miller, former Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, and Tower Investments’ CEO Sam Stubbs.

Join host Susan Wood and political editor Corin Dann on Q+A at 9am this Sunday on TV One.

Q+A – Sunday, March 17 @9am on TV ONE

March 15th, 2013 at 10:44 pm by Kokila Patel

On Q+A this Sunday, NZ’s in the midst of a drought so how will it affect you and me and our pockets? We speak to the Finance Minister Bill English, and a climate scientist who says we have to no option but to adapt.

Also on the programme, is New Zealand set to become a world leader in energy? We speak to visiting economic geologist Dr Scott Tinker.

And the Catholic Church has a new Pope, we hear the view of a Kiwi Catholic.

On the panel this week is political scientist Dr Raymond Miller, former Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, and Tower Investments’ CEO Sam Stubbs.

Join host Susan Wood and political editor Corin Dann on Q+A at 9am this Sunday on TV One.

Farewell to The Nation

December 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

UPDATE: The story is false. NZ on Air is funding The Nation in 2013. This is not a good look for a news site whose tag line is “Informed, Influential, Indispensable”

NZ Inc reports:

Meanwhile, news spread last night that The Nation has missed out on funding for 2013 from New Zealand on Air’s Platinum Fund.  The Nation is the flagship of Richard Harman’s Frontpage stable.  Under Harman, The Nation produced comprehensive current affairs stories as well as the big interviews. It also cemented host Rachel Smalley as a force to be reckoned with.

The Nation’s competitor – TVNZ’s Q&A – is expected to resume again next year but without founding host Paul Holmes who has retired for health reasons and also without producer Tim Watkin who wants his weekends back. No news yet on Holmes replacement but Watkin is expected to move to a new role at TVNZ.

This is a real shame. I have enjoyed having two in depth current affairs and politics shows on TV. They have their distinctive styles and I especially enjoyed the Ralston and Edwards segment on the media on The Nation. I also think Rachel Smalley had matured into an excellent interviewer.

It will be interesting to see what Q+A does next year with a new host and producer.

Tamihere on Labour front bench

October 7th, 2012 at 6:13 pm by David Farrar

John Tamihere on Q+A:

PAUL Yeah, but we’re now 2012, as I say. I mean, do you think David Shearer’s got to really reshuffle that front bench? I mean, you can’t honestly look at that front bench and think they’re performing well as an Opposition.

MR TAMIHERE That’s true, but he’s also got to look to 2014 for the list. 

PAUL It’s critical, because this week – you take this week. Bad week for the government. Should have been. More Dotcom coming left, right and centre at the Prime Minister.

 MR TAMIHERE You’ve got me. There’s no doubt—

 PAUL Wilkinson’s reversal on Mike Tyson.

 MR TAMIHERE Front bench is not firing.


 MR TAMIHERE Across the whole line, whether it’s health, welfare or education, and those are the biggies.  …

I’m surprised Tamihere named specific portfolios where he claimed Labour front benchers are not firing. That will not endear him to Maryan Street, Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta.

Jim Anderton on Q+A

June 24th, 2012 at 5:30 pm by David Farrar

Some words of wisdom from of all people Jim Anderton on Q+A:

Well, there’s no question climate change is the number-one issue facing the future of the world.  I don’t have any doubt about that, but you’ve also got to have the ‘glass half empty, glass half full’ thing.  I mean, our major emitter, methane gas, for example, is our agricultural community.  50% of all our emissions come from there, and this is a very important exporting-food nation, so we live by exporting food, and yet we’ve got a big problem with the method of doing it.  So we’re putting a lot of research into that.  We’re encouraging farmers, and farmers have stepped up to the plate too.  I get— As a townie, but former Minister of Agriculture, I get a bit tetchy with the green kind of approach to this – that all farmers are dirty farmers and all the rest of it.  They are not.  There are thousands of young farming families in New Zealand that are putting their best endeavours into making their streams on their farms fenced off and planted and making sure that their farms are in better shape environmentally than anything they inherited from their parents and grandparents.  And sometimes we have to celebrate that instead of bashing into them.  And when we get into the clean-energy thing, well, try and dam a river these days.

This is the contradiction the environmental movement has. They want more renewable energy, but they oppose all and any law changes to make it easy to consent renewable energy projects such as dams.

Some sense on Crafars

April 8th, 2012 at 11:53 am by David Farrar

Q+A interviewed David Mahon, a Kiwi who has lived in China for the last 25 years and invests there. Some extracts from the interview:

SHANE      So can you tell us exactly what China wants? Is this just one deal or the start of China targeting our resources?

 DAVID       China actually wants resources – whether they’re fibre, timber, wool – or whether it is protein. In the case of the Crafar farm deal, it’s a search for protein. The Chinese aren’t looking to buy land and to own land around the world; they’re looking to secure the resources that their own narrow agriculture base doesn’t supply them. And given the fact that Chinese are urbanising in such great numbers, and the demand for food is increasing, there is an urgency for the Chinese to secure good lines of supply.

Jenny Shipley has said the same thing. They basically just want secure supply of food, to feed their own population. This is an opportunity, not a threat.

If you look at the Crafar deal, already these farms have been owned by Australian banks. Effectively you’re transferring Westpac debt, largely, into Chinese equity. So the land was already lost to New Zealand by the time the company went into receivership. 

Exactly. The farms are now effectively Australian owned. Those who oppose the sale then are not really against foreign investment – just Chinese investment.

Q+A 11 March 2012

March 9th, 2012 at 11:03 pm by Kokila Patel

On the first Q+A of 2012 this Sunday (9am, TV ONE), new Labour leader David Shearer gives his first extended television interview as he starts re-positioning his party for a new era. What does he – and his Labour party – stand for? What’s his vision for New Zealand? And does he have the chops to take on and defeat John Key’s National-led government? David Shearer is live with new Q+A interviewer Shane Taurima.

Then, the Ports of Auckland dispute – is it over or has it just begun? And what roles does Auckland City have in this destructive industrial battle? Paul Holmes talks to Maritime Union boss Gary Parsloe, Ports of Auckland Chair Richard Pearson and Auckland mayor Len Brown. What’s behind this dispute and what’s next?

Our new political analyst Raymond Miller is joined on the panel by former major party presidents Mike Williams and Michelle Boag

Goff on Q+A

November 20th, 2011 at 1:45 pm by David Farrar

Incredible. For the third time Goff is unable to answer the CGT question about in what year does it first bring in revenue.

You can see it in the video above, by Whale. After muffing it in The Press debate, and then muffing it on The Nation on yesterday, how on God’s earth did he not look up the policy. We all make mistakes, but to not be able to answer the question after two previous maulings is just idiotic.

Goff was also very unimpressive on other details. Couldn’t say how the Capital Gains tax would work, had no numbers around jobs, and in the finale refused (three times) to say whether or not he trusts Winston Peters – whom is his only lifeline to power.

Can you imagine a Labour-led Government with Phil Goff needing to get the Greens, Maori Party, NZ First and Mana to agree to every budget, and every law? It would have no stability and definitely no direction.

UPDATE: Transcript below:

GUYON Okay, the capital gains tax is part of a major tax switch, isn’t it, which includes the increase in the top tax rate, the GST off fruit and vegetables, etc. Under your plan, what is the first year you gain any additional revenue from your tax switch and how much do you get?

PHIL Well, from 2015, 16, we’re back into surplus, and by 2021, we’ve paid off the debt a year faster than National.

GUYON What is the first year that you gain any additional revenue from your tax switch and how much is it?

PHIL I think it’s about 2016, 17. Again, I don’t carry all those figures in my head.

GUYON Well, it’s 2018, 19. It’s a long way off.

As Guyon points out, that means it is two full terms of Parliament before their “tax switch” actually brings in additional revenue.

Q + A 25 September 2011

September 23rd, 2011 at 2:24 pm by Kokila Patel

Coming up this Sunday on Q + A

On Q+A this Sunday morning we have an exclusive interview with the man tipped to be Pakistan’s next Prime Minister – cricket legend Imran Khan.
In a frank interview with Guyon Espiner, Khan talks about his ambitions, the crooks that run Pakistan, America’s drones, the failed war against terrorists and his very personal and candid account of having to face death.

Last election it was the three strikes law. What will ACT’s law and order policy be this time?
Paul Holmes previews Don Brash’s big law and order speech with the ACT leader. Do we need to get even tougher on crime? Or have we tipped too far already?

And then one of the most hotly contested debates this election, Social Welfare.
So before the politicians start campaigning, Guyon Espiner talks to Peter Hughes, the outgoing head of the Ministry of Social Development. Named public sector boss of the year two years running and the man who does the hard work of helping struggling Kiwis find work, we’ll talk about the difficulties of getting people off welfare and what needs to change.

Joining Dr Claire Robinson on the panel this week are political strategist John Pagani and former ACT MP Stephen Franks.

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE.
Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 10.10am and 2.10pm Mondays on TVNZ 7

Q+A – 4 September 2011

September 3rd, 2011 at 7:22 pm by Kokila Patel

Q+A kicks off with a 90-second news update at the top of the programme, with all the latest from overnight.

Then our two biggest cities go under the microscope. First, we’re live in Christchurch on the first anniversary of the first quake with Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee. In front of the iconic cathedral, Guyon Espiner will ask the minister about the government’s performance so far and where it goes from here?

We’ll also hear briefly from Clayton Cosgrove about what Labour thinks should be happening in the garden city.

Then, Auckland’s big dream.  The new super city council has a draft plan for the next 30 years – who pays and can it deliver? Has it got its priorities right? Mayor Len Brown is live in the studio with Paul Holmes.

Finally, just days out from the Rugby World Cup, the head man Martin Snedden joins us to talk about the impact the next six weeks of rugby will have on this country. Are we ready and excited? Or have the recent corporate controversies taken a toll?

Joining Dr Jon Johansson on the panel are Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Barnett and former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore.

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE. Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 10.10am and 2.10pm Mondays on TVNZ 7

Q+A – 27 August 2011

August 26th, 2011 at 1:02 pm by Kokila Patel

On Q+A this week: The Spirit Level has been one of the most influential political books of the past decade, even if strictly speaking it’s not about politics. Its thesis: That the gap between rich and poor is making us sicker, sadder and more violent. So with inequality set to become a major election issue, we speak to the author of The Spirit Level, Prof. Richard Wilkinson. Will reducing inequality reduce our other social problems? Or is it more complicated than that? And does such intervention risk stifling entrepreneurship, creativity and individual freedoms?

Then, tens of thousands of tourists will touchdown in New Zealandover the next few weeks, expecting a 100% pure experience. What will they make of our polluted lakes and rivers? Is the farming that drives our economy now putting our prosperity in jeopardy? Is it time to ask more of our farmers? We’ll debate the issue with Federated Farmers President Bruce Wills and Environmental Scientist Mike Joy.

On the panel this week, Political Analyst Dr Claire Robinson is joined by Chief Executive of the Waipareira Trust and former Cabinet minister John Tamihere and Business New Zealand CEO Phil O’Reilly.

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE.  Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 10.10am and 2.10pm Mondays on TVNZ 7       

Q+A 21 August 2011

August 20th, 2011 at 11:26 am by Kokila Patel

On Q+A this Sunday… National’s partial state assets sales are shaping to be one of the most contentious issues of this year’s election. So sensitive, National refuses to debate them. ACT and Labour will, however. So live this Sunday with Guyon Espiner, ACT leader Don Brash and Labour’s Finance Spokesman David Cunliffe debate the pros and cons of selling shares in three power companies, a mining company and an airline. What do we stand to gain… and lose? Will we be better off with the cash or the assets?

Then, John Minto is putting aside the placard and megaphone to stand for parliament on behalf of the Mana Party. Thirty years on from the Springbok Tour that made him a polarising national figure, why has he chosen this election to seek office? What does he stand for now? And what are his chances?

Finally, Mark Sedwill was NATO’s civilian boss in Afghanistanand is now Britain’s Special Representative on Afghanistan/Pakistan. He’s in New Zealand next week to brief our government, but will speak to Paul  Holmes via satellite from London. With the fighting season in full swing and casualty rates in the past year at record highs, what’s the plan from here? And what message will he be delivering to theNew Zealand cabinet?

Joining Dr Jon Johansson on the panel will be CTU President Helen Kelly and former National Party President and PR consultant Michelle Boag.

Q+A 5 August 2011

August 5th, 2011 at 1:47 pm by Kokila Patel

This week on Q+A, the price of milk, the high dollar and the future of emissions trading.

As milk price rises and calls for action grow louder, Guyon Espiner speaks with the two decision-makers at the heart of the issue – Fonterra Chief executive Andrew Ferrier and the Agriculture Minister David Carter. Why has the price leapt so high in the past three years? Who has the power to act? And what can be done for Kiwi families? Also, with the dollar around post-float highs, how tenuous is life for our exporters and what should the government do to help, if anything? And with Fonterra this week questioning agriculture’s planned inclusion in the Emissions Trading Scheme, is a government u-turn imminent?

And later, millionaire businessman Colin Craig has formed a new party to challenge ACT and National for the right wing vote. What are his ambitions? What does he stand for? And who’s standing with him? He’ll speak with Paul Holmes live in the studio.

Joining Dr Jon Johansson on the panel are NZ Food & Grocery Council CEO and former National MP Katherine Rich and former Labour and Progressive party strategist and columnist John Pagani.

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE.  Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 10.10am and 2.10pm Mondays on TVNZ 7       

Q+A 31 July 2011

July 29th, 2011 at 3:44 pm by Kokila Patel

Q+A features leading scientists Robert, Lord Winston and Sir Peter Gluckman on protecting our most vulnerable children this Sunday.

Following the government’s controversial green paper this week, we’ll ask what can be done in those early years and what science can teach us?  Then, the politics. Labour is pushing a child-centred policy, so what solutions can deputy leader Annette King offer?

Paul Holmes looks at the battle for the presidency of the Maori Women’s Welfare League that’s gone all the way to court. Destiny  Church leader and presidential candidate Hannah Tamaki talks about her aspirations and the controversy that’s dogged her campaign.

Joining Dr Jon Johansson on the panel are Maxim Institute Chief Executive Greg Fleming and former Human Rights Commissioner and academic Ella Henry.

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE.  Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 10.10am and 2.10pm Mondays on TVNZ 7       

Q+A 24 July 2011

July 22nd, 2011 at 9:50 am by Kokila Patel

TVNZ preview

Q+A has an American special to mark John Key’s visit.

Guyon Espiner is in the United States, and will be conducting three interviews.  He will  start by speaking with the Prime Minister on the continuing NZ-USA trade talks, as well as this week’s allegations of Israeli spying in NZ.

Then Guyon will talk with US Congressman Rick Larsen; to get the American perspective on NZ-US relations and trade – are the Americans prepared to relax their agricultural tariffs, will they play hardball on reducing or even eliminating the role of Pharmac?

And finally we get an update on the current situation in US politics with ABC News’ Senior Political Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

Paul Holmes will be moderating the panel live in Auckland and be joined by Dr Jon Johansson and Fran O’Sullivan.

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE.  Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 10.10am and 2.10pm Mondays on TVNZ 7

The nonsense about prejudicing a police investigation

March 27th, 2011 at 11:48 am by David Farrar

Phil Goff keeps repeating that he didn’t take any action against Hughes, as it would prejudice the Police investigation. This is frankly a bullshit argument (and also against what he has argued himself in the past). I’m amazed the media do not challenge him more on this point.

John Key sacked Richard Worth, while he was under investigation by the Police over a sexual offence complaint. This did not interfere with the Police investigation. And in fact Richard Worth was not charged by the Police.

Likewise it is entirely common for an employer to take disciplinary action against an employee in regard to alleged criminal offending, without waiting for charges to be laid.

Helen Clark took action against several of her MPs, who were under Police investigation. And again this did not interfere with the Police investigation (her staff buring forged paintings did, but that is another matter).

The panel on Q+A is flailing Goff for his inaction. It’s almost brutal.

For the sake of any future party leaders, here’s the general guide to how a party leader should handle allegations against an MP of this nature.

  1. When the MP first tells you, immediately bring in a witness to your conversation – probably your chief of staff
  2. Do not make any commitments to the MP. Tell them that you need to gather pertinent information before you make a decision.
  3. Tell the MP that you want them to tell the Chief of Staff everything that happened. Warn them that they must be 100% truthful, no matter how embarrassing, and that if they omit any pertinent details, then they will have lost your confidence and will be sacked.
  4. The CoS interviews the MP. The MP should firstly be asked to detail what happened from their perspective, and also what the complainant is alleging. If they have been interviewed by the Police (as Hughes was), then they will be fully aware of what the allegations are.
  5. The MP should also be asked what witnesses, if any, there are to some or all of the incident.
  6. If possible the CoS should talk to some of the witnessees if they are friendly to your party – ie other MPs, staff, activists.
  7. The CoS then reports back to the Leader with two scenarios – the “best case” scenario of everything the MP has told you is true, and the “worst case” scenario being that everything alleged is true.
  8. The CoS should also report on how many people probably know of the incident, which will give you an idea of how likely it is the incident will become public – or more realisticaly simply how long it will take.
  9. The Leader then looks at the best case scenario. Assume the MP’s version of events is 100% correct. Ask yourself whether even their version of events is survivable. In the Hughes case, it would be “Regardless of consent, can you politically endure an incident where a naked 18 year old, less than three months out of school, ran naked out of the house of your deputy leader at 5 am after going home with your chief whip after ten hours of drinking”
  10. If it is clear it is not survivable, then you discuss exit strategies wiht the MP.
  11. If the MPs version of events is survivable, then you look at the worst case scenario – are the allegations against your MP so bad, that they couldn’t do their job until the Police decide whether to charge or not. If the MP is accussed of murder, rape or other extremely serious crimes, then you have them step down until the Police make a decision.
  12. If the allegations against the MP are not the worst type of criminal offending, but more “minor” offences such as assault, then it may not be necessary to have them step down. However you would probably urge the MP to front-foot the issue, rather than keep it quiet until the media find out.
  13. Once the Leader has the report from their Chief of Staff, they should also brief appropriate people on what has happened and the leader’s proposed course of action. This would normally be the Deputy Leader, Chief Whip and Party President.

As far as I can tell Goff did none of this. They just sat on it for three weeks and hoped it would go away.

Note that nothing in the above involves the Leader having to make a judgement on who is correct – the MP or the complainant. It is all about just considering the best and worst case outcomes.

Q+A Tomorrow

March 26th, 2011 at 1:48 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ says:

Q+A kicks off with an exclusive interview with Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd.

Weeks ago Rudd was leading international calls to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, so we talk to him about the unfolding conflict there and how it all might end. Has the West got its approach right in relation to Libya and other countries in the Middle East facing popular uprisings? And what’s the state of NZ-Australia relations?

Later, in a tale of two cities, Paul Holmes interviews the mayors of Auckland and Christchurch, Len Brown and Bob Parker. Our two largest cities are facing fresh starts, so what’s planned and how will they pay for their mayoral visions? Is it all hot air? And are some tough choices ahead?

Joining Dr Jon Johansson on the panel will be the Rt. Hon. Sir Don McKinnon, former Commonwealth Secretary-General and Chair of Auckland’s Regional Facilities organisation, and Unite union leader and newspaper columnist Matt McCarten.

Q + A is broadcast live 9-10am Sunday on TV ONE and repeated at 9.10pm on Sunday nights and 10.10am and 2.10pm on Mondays on TVNZ 7. 

(TVNZ 7 screens on Freeview Channel 7 and Sky TV Channel 77)

Rudd should be interesting on Libya as he has partly led the charge there. I imagine they will ask him a bit about the results of the NSW State elections tonight also.

Q+A returns

March 17th, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ proclaims:

Paul Holmes and Guyon Espiner return to co-host TVNZ’s flagship political programme in this crucial election year along with Victoria University’s Dr Jon Johansson who will lead the panel of expert political analysts. 

 The new series of Q+A kicks off with a feature interview at 9am this Sunday with Prime Minister, John Key, looking at our new world after the earthquakes.

 We have a television exclusive with renowned author, film-maker and political campaigner Tariq Ali, about the jasmine revolutions in the Middle-East, what has sparked them and what’s likely to emerge to replace the dictatorships.  Tariq is visiting NZ and will be live in the Q+A studio on Sunday morning.

 Q+A returns to its usual slot – LIVE on TV ONE 9-10am Sundays.

I must set the My Sky!