7 Nov 2016

Politics with Mike Williams and Matthew Hooton

From Nine To Noon, 11:06 am on 7 November 2016
Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams

Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams Photo: RNZ/Dru Faulkner

Mike Williams and Matthew Hooton join Kathryn Ryan to talk about this year's Labour Party Conference, the Auditor-General's report on the Saudi sheep deal and Gareth Morgan's new political party.

Read an extract of the conversation

Williams was impressed by the Labour Party Conference:

“It was a large conference – as big as any Helen Clarke got together. There was a lot of new people and there was a lot of young people. The third thing you notice is there’s a lot of strong commitment to Andrew Little. He has certainly very successfully sold himself to the party members – and that of course is the first step to selling yourself to the public.”

Hooton finds party conferences are largely professional affairs:

"Andrew Little gave a speech that fired up the delegates, the Labour camp, and the left-wing bloggers are strongly in support of what he had to say…They had a successful conference and their leader gave a good speech that the delegates liked. But I don’t see that that a party conference is going to dramatically change perceptions of the party.”

Williams was interested to read in the press two completely different interpretations of the Auditor General's report on the Saudi sheep deal:

“There was Audrey Young in the Herald saying, basically, the government is off the hook. Then you’ve got Fran O’Sullivan – in a much longer and in many ways better thought-out piece – in the business pages of the Herald this morning, basically saying the government got dorked. They were shaken down. Millions of dollars went to this guy and they didn’t get out what they set out to get, which was a free trade deal.”

Hooton found the report revealed little beyond the finding Foreign Minister Murray McCully, who set up the deal, had not acted corruptly:

“The finding in the Auditor-General’s report that the government highlighted says nothing more than the fact that he is not liable to a term of imprisonment of up to 14 years. They’re saying there’s nothing in there that is a breach of Section 102 of the Crimes Act. The fact the minister doesn’t face 14 years in jail is, I guess, a good thing… but let’s be very clear that the report didn’t say anything other than that.”

Williams doubts Gareth Morgan will run for parliament with his new political party:

“What I would say is it’s much harder than it looks. Political parties that succeed under MMP are generally started by – as John Key pointed out – former MPs… If he does take votes i think it’ll be more off National than Labour, but I don’t know.”

Hooton is also doubtful Morgan's party will be successful:

“I think it’s most likely to end in a disastrous failure and embarrassment for Gareth Morgan… Like many people, he’s in a world where no-one contradicts him. He’s in a world where if he has some opinions about cats – or whatever it might be – people say ‘Good on you, Gareth.’ That is one of the hardships, if we want to use that word, of being a wealthy person running a foundation like this.’