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Q+A's Paul Holmes Interviews Progressive Party Leader, Jim Anderton

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Jim Anderton
Jim Anderton

Points of interest:

- Progressives will stand electorate candidates in 2011 but not list candidates

- Progressives are "good neighbours" to Labour, but will remain distinct

- The party's $164,000 for party and electorate expenses is for the "1500 constituents who pass through" his office each year

- "The National Party is not as secure as commentators think"

- Anderton hints at standing again in 2011: "It's a great privilege to be a Member of Parliament at 71 years young I look forward every day to the work I do

The interview has been transcribed below. The full length video interviews and panel discussions from this morning's Q+A can be seen on at,


PAUL: There was a fairly dramatic development at the Labour Party Conference this weekend, for the first time in 21 years Jim Anderton addressed a Labour Party Conference and told them they could win at the next election. Jim Anderton, leader of the Progressives, is with me now from Christchurch.

JIM: Good morning Paul.

PAUL: Now you told the Labour Party Conference they could win the next election in 2011 as long as they follow your organisational advice.

JIM: Ha-ha. Well, I've had a bit of experience winning electorates and any analysis of the election result last time would show that the National Party is not as secure as commentators think. For example, they have nine electorate seats that come within a two party swing of less than 3%, now that is relatively easily won in a contest like this. And you only need Wigram on top of that and one more seat for Labour to hold more electorate seats in Parliament than National. I don't think that's a common understanding of the election system at the moment.

PAUL: No, let's be clear about that. National have nine seats and was left with less than a 2000 majority

JIM: that's right, that's less than 2000 votes.

PAUL: but to change the government the Nats have to lose 4,000 votes in each electorate is what you also told them, then it starts to look a bit harder doesn't it?

JIM: No, well that's the total, but actually on a two party swing National only have to lose 1900 votes and Labour gain 1900 votes so that's not as big an order as it looks in the first instance. Look, Paul, all I'm saying to you is that I ran an election in 1981 with Bill Rowling where the Labour caucus had a coup against Bill Rowling in the middle of an election campaign and we still ended up winning more votes than National but we lost the election because there was no proportional representation system then.

PAUL: Your first address to a Labour Conference in 21 years as a former Labour Party president, did that feel like coming home this weekend?

JIM: Well, I wouldn't say coming home - we're good neighbours, we sort of live next door to each other. I haven't rejoined the Labour party, I was invited to speak to the conference by Phil Goff and Andrew Little and that's the first invitation I've had and I was pleased to accept it. We're working closely together in opposition as we did in government for nine years so there's no reason why I wouldn't be able to talk co-operatively with Labour on any occasion.

PAUL: But essentially you have come home haven't you, Progressives can now joined the Labour Party as well as the Progressives and Progressives are not going to stand in Constituency seats in the next election.

JIM: No, they're not going to stand as a List but we can stand in constituents like mine for example. I've based this on the hope that many of our talented and I think very able candidates, would have a shot at the next election of getting into winnable seats and they can do that if they're members of the Labour Party as well as the Progressives, and if you look at the UK for example the co-operative party there has 25 to 35 members of parliament who are co-operative party members but they also work co-operatively with the Labour party.

PAUL: So can I just clear this up - will Progressives stand as Progressives in the next election?

JIM: That's my intention at the moment Paul, I always believe that we'll be standing at the next election

PAULas Progressives?

JIMthat's right. And I want to make sure that we're in good shape to do that, and we'll be making those final announcements next year.

PAUL: But with Progressives now being able to join the Labour party, essentially you've rolled over haven't you, I mean it's the beginning of the end for the Progressives. The only reason the Progressives still exists, or are going to continue to exist can I suggest to you is that the public pays the party $164,000 of taxpayers money for the Party expenses and you get $13,000 more for being the leader. Isn't that the only reason for the continuation of the Progressives?

JIM: No, you're absolutely wrong Paul. The Government or the Parliamentary Services Commission pays no money for the Party, the Progressives pay their own money, and the money that's paid to me as an Electorate MP and as Leader of the Progressives in parliament is for Parliamentary purposes, that's for the work that I do, I have 1500 constituents coming through my electorate office each year and we help them sometimes in matters of life and death - and it's a privilege to do so - and that's why my electorate office is funded and why my parliamentary office is funded.

PAUL: But $164,000 for the Progressive Party as long as the Progressive Party continues. That's the only reason you're continuing surely?

JIM: That's rubbish. I continue because people in Sydenham have voted for me for 25 years, I probably hold the Guinness Book of Records for representing the largest number of parties in the same electorate, increasing my majorities most of the time. The people of Sydenham have the right to say that and that's what they've been saying.

PAUL: What about yourself Mr Anderton, are you going to stand at the next election?

JIM: That's a decision you have to make at the time Paul. I'll make that decision in good time - by the end of next year. It's a great privilege to be a Member of Parliament, I read an article recently by one of the former Labour members who was moaning and grizzling about the workload and all the rest of it, but at 71 years young I look forward every day to the work I do. I've got a lot of projects on, a dental health system for all New Zealanders, a decent housing programme which I'm working on in my own area of Christchurch and the whole issue of alcohol is a very big problem with the major drug influence in New Zealand. So there's plenty of work and I'm happy in my role as Agricultural Spokesperson for the Opposition, and as long as I feel as good and strong as I do now I'm willing to serve the Electorate and the Country for as long as they want me.

PAUL: Thank you Mr Anderton.

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