Salient interviews Sir Roger Douglas

An in depth interview with Sir Roger Douglas by Salient. Extracts:

Are you not concerned at all about any bad blood in the house?

(Laughs) What kind of bad blood is there?

Tensions between various other politicians…

Like who?

Well for starters Helen Clark and Michael Cullen…

Oh look, im not worried about Helen Clark or Michael Cullen, we are not going to agree anyway. How can I agree with them anyway! They are tearing the country apart! They have reduced our labour productivity to a third of what it was, multifaceted productivity is down to one seven of where it was. I’m not going to worry about what Michael Cullen or Clark think. They think as highly of me as I think of them.

And productivity growth is the long term key to closing the gap with Australia.

What is the single biggest issue facing New Zealand at the moment and how would you remedy it?

The level of government expenditure. This government has increased government expenditure over and above inflation. That’s about 17 billion a year. But in more practical terms, that’s $200 a week per family in New Zealand. The lives of families in new Zealand would be dramatically changed if the government had not taken that money from them and flushed it down the toilet because that’s essentially what they did. They wasted it.

There’s a whole lot of families out there that I used to represent, in Otara, who would feel a lot better about their lives today if they could keep that $200. This is supposed to be a government that cares about those kinds of people. They don’t care. They are chardonnay socialists. And in some ways I have nothing but contempt for them. Because they have usurped the people they claim to represent. They don’t even mix with those people. I’d mix with those people a lot more than they would.

That’s fighting words!

Why has John Ansell left the ACT team?

Well, I still talk to John. I think John probably from his point of view found there were frustrations, he wanted to control from woe to go. The problem in politics is you’ve always got that fine balance about aiming for perfection and when possibly 95% will do, and sometimes 95% is enough, you have a trade off there between speed to market and perfection. …

Id see something and say its great, but in John’s eyes it could be perfected by doing this or that. I’m sorry to lose him, hes a genius. And im hoping – I spoke to him yesterday – that he can do things for us. But, the other factor, and I don’t know if John really recognised, is the issue of the best use of his time. When you have a creative genius – which he is, you want him to work on projects that matter. Little projects aren’t as critical. Your better to keep him away from them really.

High praise for John.

So the consequence of that, apart from the years of 1992 – 2000 our productivity has been relative to other countries abysmal. We had higher productivity than Australia in 1992 – 2000 largely due to the changes Ruth and I made. During those years we were catching up. But apart from that we are going backwards. One of the other significant reasons is that you’ve had a public who have rewarded politicians who have lied to them. And the students are a typical group. They might be bribed again. I dunno. I hope not. I hope they’ve learnt their lesson. And the public have responded to politicians who’ve scratched every itch. So Winston Peters goes up in the polls when he becomes a racist. And I hate that.

Not the only one!

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