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Q+A interview with Winston Peters

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The interview has been transcribed below. The full length video interviews and panel discussions from this morning's Q+A can be watched on tvnz.co.nz at, tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news

Q+A, 9-10am Sundays on TV ONE. Repeats at 9.10pm Sundays, 9:05am and 1:05pm Mondays on TVNZ 7

WINSTON PETERS interviewed by GUYON ESPINER

PAUL Until a few weeks ago, New Zealand First was written, really. But the polls now have it anywhere between 2% and 5%. Political editor Guyon Espiner is with the New Zealand First leader, Mr Winston Peters.

GUYON Thank you, Paul, and thank you, Mr Peters, for joining us. We appreciate your time. Times are tough, money's short - I want to look at the cost of some of your big policies. You are promising a New Zealand First dollar-for-dollar payment on student loans. For every dollar the student pays back, the government would pay back that equivalent amount. How much is this policy-? How much have you estimated this is going to cost?

WINSTON PETERS - Leader NZ First

Nothing.

GUYON How is that?

WINSTON Well, if you've got six billion of 12 billion that is bad debt appearing on your books as an asset, then you're involved in accountancy fraud. We're recognising that and we are saying if you stay in New Zealand, work in New Zealand, work for our economy, then we'll meet you dollar for dollar.

GUYON So there's roughly about $15 billion worth of student debt.

WINSTON 12.

GUYON Okay, let's take your numbers - $12 billion. If everyone took up your offer, then the government would pay $6 billion, right?

WINSTON Look, you've got people overseas who are never going to pay, you've got bad debt now recognised by the Treasure at this time. That was the forecast of 1991 when we brought this policy from America. It would be the biggest debt we have. Now, let me just say this-

GUYON So it would cost you six billion?

WINSTON Let me say, I've said six billion. I've told you that figure right now is 12. Half is not being paid back. Let's stop this fraud on their books which says it's an asset and meet this people halfway and keep them in our country.

GUYON GST-

WINSTON And bring them back from overseas.

GUYON GST - you are promising to reduce that to 12.5%. What would that cost you?

WINSTON The same amount it increased when it went up to 15%

GUYON How much?

WINSTON Well, that depends on the total.

GUYON Roughly-

WINSTON Well, it depends on the total GDP, as I told you.

GUYON And how much have you estimated?

WINSTON About three months ago-

GUYON How much have you estimated that, Mr Peters?

WINSTON Well, I'm just telling you it all can be exactly worked out on GDP, and if you don't know what the GDP is, then you cannot make that assessment.

GUYON Well, how much would it roughly cost-?

WINSTON Which is what I told you about five months ago.

GUYON How much would it cost, Mr Peters? You can't go into elections promising things you can't cost.

WINSTON With respect, you asked me that question five months ago-

GUYON Well, you've had five months to think about it. What's the answer?

WINSTON Look, you can trip Mr Goff, but please don't trip me. I'm trying to answer you, and I don't want it halfway through your question.

GUYON Tell us the-

WINSTON Well, I'd like to if I get a chance, all right? The fact is I said then that you have to work it out on GDP, but you have your approximate by what was the increase when you took it from 12.5 to 15. That's pretty certain.

GUYON So it's roughly $2.5 billion?

WINSTON Well, no. It could be higher or lower.

GUYON So how are you going-?

WINSTON Depending on your GDP.

GUYON How are you going to pay for that?

WINSTON Well, we're going to pay for it by ensuring that we don't do what Mr Key did - tell the people it had to go up because of circumstances and then give the benefits to the rich in huge tax cuts so that some people like the head of, for example, the ANZ Bank got $5000 a week.

GUYON You-

WINSTON Mr Key wants to know where the money is - that's the answer Mr Goff should have given him - your mates have got it.

GUYON Do you accept that New Zealand First, if those policies were brought in, would have to borrow billions and billions of dollars more than is currently the case? You're promising a universal student allowance, you're promising to subsidise-

WINSTON In the long term, yes.

GUYON Yes. Roughly how much?

WINSTON Well, the universal student allowance was a policy we've always believed in, and we said we're going to try to introduce it.

GUYON So you accept you'd have to borrow billions more? How much would you have to borrow?

WINSTON What you've got here is you're coming in here with calculations based on Treasury that are absolutely fictional. No, just stop a second. In February, Mr Goff- Mr Key was saying he's going to sell down debt- sell down assets to pay debt.

GUYON I don't want to talk about Mr Key today. We've had our chance with Mr Key.

WINSTON Look, could I just-

GUYON We're talking about you.

WINSTON You may not want to talk about it. I want New Zealanders to understand one thing. You started in February saying you're going to pay down debt, your Budget's based on that, your preview that's just a few weeks ago is based on that, and in the closing weeks, he switches to hospitals and schools. So your whole budget-

GUYON Let's forget about Mr Key for a second. What I'm asking you-

WINSTON Your whole budget is fallacious, and we're going to demand straight after the election that the books be opened, because I don't think New Zealanders are being told the truth.

GUYON Before we leave these fiscals, why don't you cost any of your policies on your website? Why not?

WINSTON Because we have worked it all out as-

GUYON And why don't you tell people?

WINSTON We worked it out on the basis of a percentage of GDP with a long-standing Treasury official, now retired, behind us, and we know what we're talking about. You've got your figures wrong, for example, on student debt by three billion. You've got your debt also wrong as well.

GUYON Where do you put these numbers out? Because they're not on your website.

WINSTON Well, they don't have to be on my website, but we have many ancillary documents, to which we've got a 170-page manifesto. All of that, if you were interested, was available to you.

GUYON Let's talk about coalitions, because we've only got a couple of minutes left. Is your policy to withhold confidence and supply to either side?

WINSTON That's what I said.

GUYON So you would vote on issue by issue?

WINSTON That's what I said.

GUYON So-

WINSTON I'd vote for good policy and will oppose bad policy.

GUYON So you won't give confidence and supply to any side?

WINSTON That's what I said. And remember this - you've misinformed Mr Goff in your last interview. We said, and it's all there in 2005, that we would give confidence and supply to the party that could form a government, and that's what we did.

GUYON So you've changed your policy this time and you wouldn't give confidence and supply at all through that term, so if you-

WINSTON For the third time, Guyon, yes.

GUYON I'm getting this clear. So on- If you did hold what you call the balance of responsibility or accountability or whatever, you would make sure that that Budget - every time you would decide on whether or not you like the Budget or not? You wouldn't give confidence and supply throughout the term?

WINSTON Well, I've said that. That's pretty clear. We're not out there campaigning for people to vote for us so we can prop up another party. That makes us unique and different. We believe Parliament's a powerful instrument and a powerful institution for democracy. For the first time for a long time, it'll regain some of its power.

GUYON Let's say you get 5% on the night and you get back into Parliament - six MPs. You're the first one. Who are the other five MPs that would be in Parliament?

WINSTON Well, there'd be many more than six MPs.

GUYON Well, let's just get us a top five.

WINSTON All right, I'll give you it. The number two is Tracey Martin, number three is Andrew Williams, the number four is a man, Prosser, from Christchurch.

GUYON Sorry, who's that?

WINSTON From Waimakariri.

GUYON Who's your number four?

WINSTON Richard Prosser. Number five is an experienced Parliamentarian - Barbara Steward. Number six is Brendan Horan from Tauranga.

GUYON All right, we'll see how it goes-

WINSTON Number seven is a lawyer out of Christchurch as well.

GUYON Thanks very much. I've just asked for-

WINSTON There are many more you should hear about, because I think they're going to make it to Parliament.

GUYON Thanks very much.

WINSTON Thanks for your time for the first time during the last three years.

GUYON Oh, I thought I saw you the other night.

WINSTON Yes, I know. At last.

GUYON Thanks, Mr Peters.

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