David Parker’s live Q & A at The Standard.
Thanks for the opportunity to join a Standard Q&A. Really looking forward to hearing from you.
I’m happy to chat about any questions and I’m really keen to hear from you about my belief that the way back for Labour is to focus on economic fairness for working New Zealanders. When working New Zealanders succeed they are proud to look after the vulnerable. It’s about working to ensure everyone’s getting a fair go.
And this is about us agreeing a central purpose to unite us all. My experience is that unity between members, Caucus and the Party is the cornerstone to re-engaging working New Zealand. That’s what’s needed to get confidence, trust and votes back.
Why did Labour do so badly at the last election, and how do we win the next one?
We’ve lost our connection with too many NZ’ers. Elections are win or lost on a combination of people, policy & presentation. We have to be willing to address all aspects of what we do.
We will not restore confidence until we are united in pursuit of a common purpose that we can rally around, and NZ’ers believe in. That purpose has to reflect our values, which have not changed. That purpose has to be relevant to NZ’ers, who have to see us as an extension of themselves. We have to share their hopes & aspirations. Be someone who’s looking out for them. Someone they can rely upon in the good times & when time are tough. We must become someone they’re proud to introduce their friends & neighbours to.
Labour was formed by and for labour.
We must concentrate on giving NZ’ers a fair go. This starts with recognising the aspirations of working NZ’ers to get ahead. Secure work, good pay, a decent stake in society, including home ownership, and a decent education.
To look after vulnerable NZ’ers, we need to be in government. To be in government, we need to be relevant to more than the vulnerable.
A fair go and a fair share!
Sounds like a continuation of election campaign slogans.
Secure work, good pay and a decent education available for all, are all very important.
What would you do for us life time renters?
Why do so many in the Labour Party put so much stress on home ownership, rather than focusing more on enabling affordable private and state owned rentals?
Increase supply, and regulate for a minimum standard of energy efficiency for starters.
could you please detail/specify for us what you would do in your first one hundred days as prime minister..
..to address the open sores of poverty and inequality…
..what will you do for the poorest..?
Issues that I believe we urgently need to address include affordable housing. We’d kick off with building more homes, and enforcing a healthy homes warrant of fitness.
We need to lift incomes. By the time of the next election, I want people when they hear “Labour” to think higher wages. Wages lifted immediately for the lower paid via minimum wage. Wage increases for others via better labour laws and a strongr economy investing in productive jobs rather than speculation.
Incomes for the poorest families need the likes of the Best Start package. Shamefully, the Nats equivalent deliberately excludes kids in beneficiary’s homes.
That doesn’t address the poorest, beneficiaries.
You spoke yesterday about unity. Were you, as the deputy, fully loyal to Cunliffe before and after the election?
(There were two lengthy questions/statements on issues related to support of Cunliffe, Parker just gave a brief response to this one).
Caucus members, including me, were loyal to David Cunliffe.
This brevity wasn’t well received.
[r0b: Part of this deleted – stricter moderation in this thread than usual.] You did not even care to answer my questions honestly with any integrity. I thought you were better than that. I am disappointed.
Why was Cunliffe put in a position to resign?
Why did he need to go?
Why were the whips changed by caucus even before Cunliffe resigned?
Parker didn’t answer the question.
Good on you, what Parker said was [r0b: deleted – I’m applying a stricter level of moderation to this post than usual].
What David Parker said was a lie.
He answered standard questions but did not answer the tough straight up questions about personal loyalty, betrayal, caucus crookedness etc with straight up answers. Not impressed about that. A leader should be able to handle difficult uncomfortable questions too, especially as he had plenty of time to think about the answers.
Back to questions.
What would you support to strengthened the role of organised labour in our economy?
Under my leadership, Labour would support the rights of workers. We always will. Collectivism is needed to counter the power of the employer and ensure fair outcomes.
We need to go further than traditional employment relationships and draw in tied contractors, by giving them rights (eg to give them statutory minimum wage, sick pay, holidays and the right to organise currently sometimes banned under the terms of their contracts).
The single biggest policy problem I had was the complusory Kiwisaver VSR. The reasoning behind this is that I felt it unfairly impacted on low to middle income families (and therefore not exempted) who would have a retirement fund but would have lived without nice things, holidays, and so until the age of 67.
People, say, like a solo mother with several kids who earns $50,000 and rents. She’d be able to survive, but maybe wouldn’t be able to take her children on holiday or buy them monthly books because she’s losing 3-4.5% of her income without giving her a choice.
Do you think the policy crossed the line of asking people to be austere in their prime to have a wealthier retirement? In effect, asking them to be worker drones till 67.
The underlying issue remains, but we’ve got to reflect on whether this is the right solution or the right process.
By the end of next year the NZ govt spends more on super than education. Its already more than all benefits combined plus the accommodation supplement and WFF tax credits.
But we’ve been rejected twice on this, and our promise to protect those who can’t work past 65 in their normal job did not cut through.
Maybe we should leave it to the people via a referendum.
My overriding objective is to protect super because I know the people we represent need it.
I think NZers should not be on the breadline. They should be paid enough to save a bit. They key lies in wage increase. At the bottom end, that means increase in the minimum wage (which also flow to other wage rates). In the end, wages are in part related to productivity, and savings help lift the sophistication and value of what we sell, and therefor the wages that can be paid.
The Aussie experience is that the contributions in part pay for themselves bc productivity increases flow to higher wages.
What weaknesses do you think that others perceive in you? And how will you address those weaknesses?
I have cultivated a bookish image in order to restore confidence in our fiscal credibility. Its time to cast that aside and show my passions.
I am driven.
I want Labour to win in 2017.
I am a builder.
I have experienced the joys and sorrows of success and failure in business.
I am a protector of civil liberties and the rule of law.
I am an environmentalist, and have a record of decades of advocacy for clean rivers, and clean energy.
I love the outdoors. I love the arts.
But most of all I stand for an egalitarian society.
The challenge for me is to display this to New Zealand.
If you win the leadership contest, how will you address the disunity in the caucus which, in my opinion, was a major factor in Labour’s poor election result and on-going low polling;; and, how would you go about building a stronger membership base?
We will unify around a clear purpose – see above.
Apparent disunity in caucus is one of Labour’s biggest problems. Not addressed.
And in relation to your plan to raise the age of superannuation entitlement, would you not concede that this impacts most unfairly on our Maori and Pasifika citizens who at this point have a lower life expectancy?
Absolutely acknowledge the need to be fair. And its about more than impacts upon manual labour (covered briefly above)
The most important thing is to continue to reduce that unfairness through the right health and work policies. My fear is that under the current government, with increasing inequality the life expectancy gap will again widen.
How is it possible to justify keeping more people in the work force for longer, when we are already short of roughly a quarter million full time jobs?
You touch on one of the biggest challenges facing social democracy world wide.
How do you fairly share work and income in the face of technological and demographic change?
Yes, part of the answer lies in economic development, but that will not be enough.
Unless we in social democracy get this right, we will see increasing gaps.
I just about wrote a book on this very issue about 20 years ago. Sharing available work through encouraging penal rates for overtime, sharing of jobs, care re immigration etc – its a complex picture that I am very interesting.
But spending ever more on super than education is not a solution.
This is a vague answer for “one of the biggest challenges facing social democracy world wide” that Parker has been aware of for twenty years.
Over and over the Labour caucus seems to have minimal patience for providing the support needed to keep Party Leaders around and enable them to hit their best. How would you seek to change this dynamic?
Leadership engenders trust. Success breeds success.
I think the key lies in agreeing our purpose and focus. That is not to deny the relevance of other issues, but you can’t emphasise everything.
Caucus will rally around whoever is selected as leader. The will too.
This will have to be seen to be much improved on how it’s been over the last few years but it’s unlikely to just happen.
Have you ever been a union member and where do you stand on awards or industry bargaining?
Yes, but in recent decades I’ve been self employed.
I want employers to invest in productivity and reward workers rather than competing down wage rates.
I agree with our policy to encourage industry bargaining.
As the UN declaration of human rights records, this is one of the most important human rights.
Do you support NZ parliamentary recognition of a Palestinian state? If so, how will you go about facilitating this?
Yes. I certainly think Palestine has a right to exist and to stop encroachments by Israel.
Do you support party members having greater say and participation with caucus? If no, why not? If yes, what more and what new initiatives would you promote?
In terms of day to day decisions, the platform already binds caucus. The party also controls who is in caucus. Caucus has the mandate and duty to take day to day decisions within these parameters, and I would not change that.
What affect is the democratization of our party having on the parliamentary wing.
It’s a bit messy at times like this, but overall it works.
Where do you stand on the subject of abortion and any potential reforms?
My mother was active in ALRANZ during my youth. I believe in the fundamental right of women to choose. The criminal code is out of date.
ALRANZ – Abortion Law Reform Association.
How urgent do you consider it to be to fix housing?
Would you start with a single parent/s in a boarding house with a young child/ren, (not at school) or with a family purchasing their first home or else where first?
There are two main part to solving this crisis.
Kiwibuild addresses one part.
The other is social housing. Boarding houses are part of it.
The thing that vexes me most is the plight of the mentally unwell, who need forms of secure and afford housing, with allied health services to help them and those around them. We have not got this mix right since de-institutionalisation, and it’s overdue.
HOW, to quote the great Sir Ed, to “knock the bastard off” and reclaim the govt, for not only Labour, but the wider ‘left’?
Hard work, focus, unity.
We have the opportunity to leverage off the 100th anniversary on the founding of the Labour Party.
Lets make it a milestone not a tombstone.
So many great achievements to celebrate and build upon.
If we can’t leverage off this, we should be sacked.
Using this disastrous election as a learning experience, how do you think the relationships between possible progressive coalition parties and Labour should be addressed by the Labour Party in next election period?
We have to give confidence in the left. That’s why DotCom was a disaster because that was an impossible task.
Respect and mature behaviour are important.
But we must never stop competing for votes, especially the party vote.
We cannot succeed (or maybe even survive) as a subset of a subset of a subset..
We must be the main party of the left.
This doesn’t acknowledge the nature of MMP.
Obviously Labour wish to remain strong, (large) however please consider the advantages of cooperation and not solely competition.
Dotcom was never going to be in parliament – that really should have been pointed out ad infinitum to the New Zealand public by members of the left.
New Zealanders are fed so much rubbish, it needs to be countered strongly, again and again – not responded to as though the propaganda has some truth, because it doesn’t
Please Mr Parker, and Labour, please look into stronger counter propaganda.
Maybe we would have fared better if Nicky Hager’s book had been titled “Abuse of Power”, or if it had been released earlier (perhaps impossible).
It is ironic that DotCom donated to John Banks, not Labour and that it was Labour that kept Internet Mana out of Parliament. And that the deals in Epsom and Ohariu Belmont were unprincipled.
The proposed sale of 20,000 state houses is a disaster. What action do you suggest the activists take to stop it?
The biggest action anyone can take is to help change the government. I want us all to rally to the cause. Activism is to be celebrated, and is what causes the media to keep interested. This will reinforce the concerns of many fair minded kiwi voters.
and that is an question not answered – spoken like a true politician.
we are still fudged.
The economy is a subset of the environment. Discuss.
I love that quote. A barren environment will not support any economy. Its as simple as clean water and the air we breath.
It comes from an economist at the World Bank – Herman Daly. I used it in a speech earlier in the year titled “You can have both – Labour’s Alternative to National Destructive Environmental Policies”
Are you aware that there is a conflict with centrist narratives being created by National, (propaganda based on people’s lesser natures and ignorance of wider issues) and left wing principles?
If so, how do you intend to address this problem?
Helen Clark took the centre and moved it. John Key has taken and moved it back.
My job is to reshape New Zealand’s political consensus, by reframing these narratives in a way that is consistent with Labour values, which are at their heart Kiwi values.
This means pushing economic fairness, which is not to deny the importance of other values. I set out my vision in my speech to congress earlier this year.
I am clear and resolute about this. I want us to stand for more than equality of opportunity (a term narrowed by the Nats). I want more equal outcomes.
If you do too, then vote for me to be your leader because I am confident I can carry the party and the country to this end.
Read more here:
How do you propose to bring into line the tiny handful of caucus leakers who, in my view, have done more to bring Labour into disrepute than anything or anyone else?
I maintain a high standard myself, and expect the same of others.
Integrity and discipline are fundamental. Unless we show unity, NZers will not trust us to unify the country.
I also believe that a high trust model more often succeeds than threats.
Where trust is broken, there should be consequences.
You failed to hold onto an electorate seat. Do you believe young politicians should have to fight in local govt and electorate seats before being given a good place on the List?
I arrived in parliament after the biggest upset win in the 2002 election. I am proud I took the Otago seat from the National. Knocked off their ag spokesperson!
I worked bloody hard to hold it. I increased my personal and party votes at the next election, but still lost in the face of the swing to National.
I think a range of life experience is important. We are weaker if we are all the same. Competence must always be the primary criteria. That includes organisational experience.
What is your stance on the TPPA?
Cautious. Acting in New Zealand’s best interest must be the fundamental duty.
Its the investment protocols that we must take care about.
Well aware of the many hooks. Investor- State dispute resolution, possible curbs on SOEs, improper extensions to scope and term of patents and copyright, rights to regulate.
ie we must protect our sovereignty.
If NZ cannot get good outcomes as per above, then maybe the best outcome would be a deadlock.
One million voters never voted (again) in 2014. What single issue/policy would you believe could get those “unknowns” to the polling booth in 2017 to cast a vote for Labour?
There is no single issue, but trust and confidence that Labour relevant to them are key.
Would you consider working strategically with the Greens in the next election to win electorates? What about Mana?
In my opinion Kiwis do not understand MMP and the primacy of the Party vote. Can we change that?
Which parties would you rule out of joining in a Coalition government?
Absolutely agree the lack of understanding re the Party vote. Fed also by the actions of our competitors.
We must communicate BETWEEN elections. Too many people hear nothing from us.
Our comms must include info about how the Party vote elects the government.
See above for my perspective on building our share of party vote and working with potential coalition parties.
What do you think of the solutions to inequality as proposed by Prof. Thomas Piketty, in his recent publication, “Capital in the 21st Century”?
Unless we tax all income (including capital income) the gaps will grow ever larger. A modern form of fuedalism, where concentrations of assets will substitute for large land estates, and wage earners and beneficiaries will become modern day serfs.
Hi David, do you like beer and rugby? Beaches and BBQs?
I hope the next Labour leader can show that s/he’s “one of us”
Bob Hawke would still scull a jug faster, but I have been King of the Table many a night at the rugby club.
I played rugby for many years, then soccer socially until I was elected. My tennis is OK. I tramp and I ski (downhill and back country).
I love a hot day watching the cricket with friends.
My surfing is pretty appalling, but I still try. I fish a bit, cut the grass and am a decent builder. I hate gib stopping, and don’t like painting much more than that.
I have a heavy traffic licence, and have had a wide variety of jobs.
I love art.
I love life and look forward to voters getting to know me better.
Has anyone ever referred to you as a quick thinker?
I must say I am impressed by the speed of your answers, yet they have some depth.
Duh. (note the proper punctuation)
Some openness about the problems you faced as deputy to DC would be appreciated. People can be pretty understanding if you’re open with them.
Not appropriate for me to reply. Sorry.
I’m interested in the balance between environmental imperatives (which require a long-term approach) and finance/employment/regional development agendas (which tend to be more short to medium term). What would a Labour Party you led do about things like strengthening our emissions trading scheme or introducing a carbon tax? How about pulling back the ongoing drive into more and more dairying? Giving more support to public transport…?
The ETS can be easily fixed, by making the price real (by excluding or restricting overseas emission rights, leaving the NZ emission rights short),
Both an ETS and a carbon tax can work. Indeed, they are very similar. The ETS is better then the Green’s version of a carbon tax bc of how it works in forestry (and therefor the balance between dairy and forestry).
I live in Dunedin. We feel like our services and high-value jobs are slowly being pulled away (e.g., the funding formula for health services does not work for spread out areas like the Southern District Health Board). I’m sure there are other small cities and regional centres that feel the same. Any comments?
Re services in the provinces, I agree. Efficiencies from IT do not mean that all the centralisation that follows should be to Wellington.