Recommended NZ | Guide to Money | Gimme: Competitions - Giveaways

'You have to engage' - Helen Clark on dealing with a grumpy business sector

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"Clearly there are elements of the business community which is grumpy, and they were grumpy in my time, but engagement is the key thing. They may not like the policies, but they like predictability; they like certainty; they like to know that they can have a dialogue with you. So I would just recommend engage, engage, engage."

Without doubt there’s a bias. It doesn’t apply to every businessman and every businessperson, of course, because Labour has also always had support in those quarters. But, you know, there is a vocal group that just doesn’t like Labour being in government, (LAUGHS) and they will continue to complain."

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark also told Q+A’s Corin Dann that New Zealand should look at Portugal’s approach to drugs.

"That would be the gold standard - to go to the Portuguese model, which is decriminalisation surrounded by massive harm reduction measures."

Ms Clark told Corin Dann she supports calls for a binding referendum on the issue in 2020.

"And for it to be binding you need to prepare the legislation beforehand so people know what they are voting on and you can have an informed debate."

When asked whether New Zealand should be doing more to take refugees from Nauru, Ms Clark said, "I don’t think New Zealand can do more. New Zealand’s offered. John Key offered. Jacinda Ardern has offered."

On the three-strikes law, Ms Clark said, "I’m personally totally opposed to three strikes and you’re out. I think that’s a ridiculous approach"

Helen Clark says she is concerned about the rise of populism, "you see, populists often undermine the institutions of a free society once they get their hands on power. Secondly we see them stigmatising and marginalising already-vulnerable groups, which may be migrants or other groups in the community. Thirdly we see them offering very simplistic ‘solutions’ to complex problems which, if implemented, can actually make things worse, and I think if you look at the trade issues and decisions coming out of D.C. at the moment, (LAUGHS) that’s arguably in that category."

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TVNZ 1 and one hour later on TVNZ 1 + 1.

Repeated Sunday evening at around 11:35pm. Streamed live at

All articles and comments on have been submitted by our community of users. Please notify us if you believe an item on this site breaches our community guidelines.