Brian Edwards Media

Who won? A question by question, answer by answer, analysis of Sean Plunket’s ‘The Nation’ interview with Phil Goff. [Spoiler Alert: Definitely not the viewers!]







Sean Plunket is an intelligent and informed interviewer but seems more preoccupied with confirming his reputation as a tough  interrogator than with asking questions  that are relevant to voters six months before a general election. It would be hard to imagine a week in which the political pendulum has moved so quickly or so far, yet in his interview with Phil Goff on Sunday’s The Nation, Plunket spent almost 90 percent of the time nitpicking his way through the Labour Leader’s past history.

Like all interviewers of this stripe – and we have more than our fair share of them in New Zealand – what Plunket was looking for was ‘the king hit’, the knockout question that leaves the interviewee floundering and defeated. As I indicated in a previous post, Goff is no great television performer, but his stubborn refusal to yield to any of Plunket’s propositions, combined with Plunket’s seeming inability to provide supporting evidence for those propositions, left the interviewer with only one avenue of attack – to keep repeating the  question in the hope, one presumes,  that Goff would eventually tire of denial and give way. He didn’t.

What follows is a transcript of the interview with my comments. I identify seven basic propositions which Plunket puts to Goff: 

Proposition 1: You inherited Helen Clark’s caucus.

 Sean Now for the latest in our extended interviews with influential New Zealanders. Joining me is the Labour Leader Phil Goff. Phil Goff welcome to The Nation. Some criticism there in the piece we ran, I’m wondering your views on Michael Basset’s claim that you inherited the leadership of a party with a caucus which perhaps was more designed for the glorification of Helen Clark than to advance the Labour principles which you have held so dear for so long.

Phil  No totally disagree with that. I think that reflects more on Michael’s relationship with Helen. There’s no suggestion that I have anything other than great confidence in the people that I have in my caucus, they’re able, they’re talented, a good mixture of experience and freshness and dynamism.

Sean You didn’t pick them though, you inherited them.

Phil No, but a third of that caucus is new since 2008, so they’re fresh faces, they’re people that I’ve got enormous respect for. I can see the core of the next Labour government in that caucus, people that are talented to be Cabinet ministers, people that work hard in their electorates.

Proposition 2: The Consistency Pitch – You were a Rogernome in the 4th Labour Government, now you’re [pretending to be] a proponent of traditional Labour Values

Sean You’ve been in politics essentially your entire adult life, and as we heard even from your student days it has been a passion for you. In your maiden speech in parliament you quoted Michael Joseph Savage, you talked about social justice, but in 1984 you found yourself implementing policies that I’m sure Savage would have been spinning in his grave over. How did you make and why did you have to make that transition from what some would call core traditional Labour values to essentially the creation of a free market economy in New Zealand?

Phil Well I think my values have stayed pretty consistent actually all the way through, and it is a strong belief in social justice, a fair and a decent New Zealand where everybody gets opportunity. We have basic security around issues like health and education and housing, but most of all you have opportunity because that’s what the legacy of the Savage government gave to me a working class boy, able to get a university education to make his way forward in life.

Sean But you were sitting round a Cabinet table implementing policies that were promoted and endorsed by for example the Business Round Table.

Phil Well actually if you look at my portfolio of Housing at that time, you’ll actually see a pretty left wing position on housing. We built more houses.

Sean Were you a voice in the wilderness during the Douglas years?


Phil No no, because I understood as most New Zealanders understood that the legacy of Muldoon was policies that might have related to the 1950s but didn’t relate to the 1980s. We had to make changes. Many of those changes were right, some of those changes were wrong, and my experience of life is that when I find out that something’s wrong I change my position. What do you do?

Sean Fair enough to say David Lange replaced you as Minister of Housing with Helen Clark because he considered you to be too free market?

Phil Oh I don’t think that’s true at all.

[Housing 1st denial]

Sean He did replace you?

Phil Well of course, I went on to two other portfolios, and the Housing portfolio was given to Helen who was then a new minister, but I’m proud of what I did as Minister of Housing in those days, getting a lot of families into homes of their own, and getting a lot of families that needed social provided houses.

[Housing 2nd denial]

Sean Did you for example though support Roger Douglas’s proposal to sell the state houses?

[First of a series of questions in which the word ’support’ is ambiguously used: as a Cabinet Minister Goff could not have spoken out publicly against a Cabinet decision; this does not mean that he was personally in favour of that decision or did not speak out against it in Cabinet. Plunket essentially exploits this ambiguity.]

Phil No, I never supported that, and you can go back through my track record and have a look at that. We increased the level of state housing from the past Tory government that had run it down, and that was important to me. I represent an electorate that has a significant chunk of state housing. I grew up in that electorate, I know how important housing is as a base ….

[Housing 3rd denial. Plunket loses interest and tries a different example: flat tax.]

Sean Did you support flat tax which was voted for and approved by the Cabinet?

Phil I supported the Cabinet decision on it, I didn’t have any involvement with it.

Sean So you were part of the decision for flat tax?

Phil Insofar as I was a Cabinet Minister.

[Plunket tries a different example: American warship visits.]

Sean Alright, did you support inviting an American warship to visit?

[Note the ‘Alright’, normally indicating a concession.]

Phil No I did not support…

[US Ship Visits 1st denial.]

Sean You weren’t part of that Cabinet decision?

Phil No I did not support…

[US Ship Visits 2nd denial.]

Sean You weren’t part of that Cabinet decision?

[Sophistry. Unless he was absent from caucus, Goff must have been part of the decision.]

Phil I was part of that Cabinet decision and we determined that New Zealand would be nuclear free, free of nuclear power, and certainly free of nuclear armaments, and I’m proud of the position that government took.

[US Ship Visits 3rd denial.]

Sean Alright but you were in the Cabinet that invited the warship, you were in the Cabinet that ….

[Factually incorrect question. Note the ‘Alright’.]

Phil No no no no no I’m sorry. We did not invite the warship. That was the whole basis of the breakdown of the ANZUS Treaty, Labour as a Government determined that we would be nuclear free.

[US Ship Visits 4th denial.]

Sean There was a split there and the invitation was extended, was going to be extended though.

[Plunket changes his incorrect question from an invitation ‘having been’ extended to ‘was going to be extended’.]

Phil No. The decision of the Cabinet was that there would be no warship invited and that’s what led to New Zealand having a very openly independent foreign policy.

[US Ship Visits 5th denial. American warship question answered. Plunket decides to give flat tax another outing.]

Sean Okay. Flat tax, you were in the Cabinet that supported that?

[Note the ‘Okay’, normally an indication of concession.]

Phil Yeah, I wasn’t an economic minister and I think in retrospect it was a crazy idea.

[Flat Tax 1st outright denial.]

Sean So what? You weren’t there at the time, you weren’t listening that day?


Phil Oh no no no, I was there, I take collective responsibility but it was the wrong decision, as was the decision to sell state assets. Both of those decisions were wrong, we did not repeat those mistakes in the fifth Labour Government.

 [Goff repeats his earlier answer about collective responsibility. Unequivocally says flat tax and sale of state assets were wrong.]

[Flat Tax 2nd denial; State Asset Sales 1st denial.]

Sean Okay but the 1984 government you’re saying all the asset sales were wrong?

[Note the ‘Okay’]

Phil Oh I think the asset sales were wrong. I agree with the process of commercialisation.

[Asset Sales 2nd denial.]

Sean But Mr Goff I’m sorry, you were painted as a supporter of Roger Douglas and his free market reforms. Are you saying that he got it wrong for all those years.

[Plunket moves from fact to media portrayal. ‘Painted’ by whom?]

Phil I supported the decision of the Cabinet that I was part of, I’m collectively responsible for that.

Sean But you’re now walking away from that collective responsibility.

[Meaningless question since his collective responsibility for those decisions ended when  Labour lost the 1990 election.]

Phil No I’m not now walking away Sean, I decided more than a decade ago that flat tax didn’t work, in fact we decided that as a government in the 1980s. That was the beginning of the division between many in Cabinet and Roger Douglas, and I certainly am absolutely opposed to the sale of state assets, and you know look recall the fifth Labour government, there was a nine year Labour government between the fourth Labour Government and now, we didn’t sell a single asset, in fact we bought back Air New Zealand, we bought back New Zealand Rail, and we set up Kiwi Bank and I strongly supported all of those decisions.

[Asset Sales and Flat Tax: 3rd denial.]

Sean But which side were you on when that bust up came?

[Question has relevance only to consistency, no relevance to current politics.]

Phil Well I didn’t want the bust up. I thought that both Lange and Douglas had a lot to offer New Zealand. We showed that in our first three years and that break up was the beginning of the end of that Labour government.

Sean Alright but which side were you on Phil Goff?

Phil Oh look I have my own position on those things.

Sean Could you tell us what it was please?

Phil Yeah yeah yeah, I mean in a lot of areas I supported David Lange, but I didn’t support David Lange’s decision unilaterally to change decisions that Cabinet had agreed to.

Sean Like flat tax?

[One more bite at flat tax.]

Phil Yeah I mean there was another way of doing it. He went away over Christmas, decided that was wrong and I think for probably good reasons, but the way that he handled that was not to work through the Cabinet process.

Sean Alright, you had some time in the wilderness, you come back and it would seem that in some ways your star waned somewhat. Would you agree under the leadership, or in the years say in the mid 90s?

Phil Oh no look I was out of office for three years. I think that sabbatical actually did me a lot of good, gave me a chance to get out and do some of the things, promoting New Zealand education internationally, attended Oxford University. I worked at Auckland University of Technology. But I came back and I came back with new portfolios. I did well in those portfolios, I was promoted to the front bench obviously and I became Minister for Foreign Affairs and for Justice and I’m proud of what I did in those years.

Proposition Three: You were a challenger for Helen Clark’s job

Sean And you did well enough to be considered as a challenger to Helen Clark in 1995?

Phil No, that’s where I think it was it Michael Basset or Jonathan Hunt is quite wrong.

[Challenger 1st  denial.]

Sean Well Phil Quinn’s written about …

Phil He’s wrong, he’s wrong.

[Challenger 2nd denial]

Sean Are you saying these people are lying about ….

[A common interviewer ploy: Suggest that saying an opponent is wrong (acceptable)  is the same as calling them a liar (unacceptable).]

Phil No I’m saying they’re wrong. I was never a challenger for Helen Clark. I went to see Helen with a group of people privately to say that I didn’t think that she was gonna get it up, at that point she was 1% in the polls, Labour was 14%. We did not have an alternative candidate, that’s where Jonathan Hunt is right, but I was never a contender in that contest.

[Challenger 3rd denial.]

Sean No one ever discussed with you being a contender?

Phil No, never. I was never, I never had my name in the ring formally or informally.

[Challenger 4th denial]

Sean Did anyone ever talk to you about putting your name in?

Phil No, no. I was never interested in doing it at that point.

[Challenger 5th denial]

Sean So you had no leadership aspirations in 1995?

Phil No, I was not interested in being the leader at that point.

[Challenger 6th denial]

Proposition Four: You did a deal with Helen Clark – In exchange for your support, she would offer you the leadership when she stepped down.

Sean Alright. Did you reach any accommodation with Helen Clark about leadership, because clearly you were in the frame?

[Note the ‘Alright’.]

Phil Yeah no absolutely I supported very strongly Helen’s leadership from that time through to the end of the time that she resigned from her leadership.

[Accession Deal 1st denial.]

Sean Did you reach an arrangement with her about accepting her leadership and your possible political future?

Phil No, no.

[Accession Deal 2nd denial]

Sean It was never discussed?

Phil No, no that wasn’t part of the discussion.

[Accession Deal 3rd denial]

Sean Well okay, was it part of any other discussion with anyone?

[… in the world, the universe, with one of your children at a birthday party? And note the ‘Well okay’.]

Phil No, no. No, I was firmly a supporter of Helen Clark, I still am, I think she did a great job as Prime Minister of this country.

[Accession Deal 4th denial]

Sean Okay, you say it wasn’t part of the discussion, what was the discussion about the arrangement with leadership and support?

[You’ve probably sussed the OKs by now, so you’re on your own.]

Phil Well Helen was the unquestioned leader of the Labour Party through that period of time in government. She worked hard she had the support of the Cabinet.

Sean Did she specifically ask you personally or privately to pledge your support?

Phil No, no of course not. The understanding we reached after 1996 was that she was the leader. I said after we’d approached her if you want me to go on the back benches I’ll do so, no she said I respect the ability that you have I want you on my front bench, and I agreed and our working relationship was excellent.

[Accession Deal 5th denial]

Sean Okay, did that create an expectation that when she went she would hand on to you in some way?

Phil No there wasn’t that expectation there until after she had made that announcement on the night of the election.

[Accession Deal 6th Denial]

Sean She never discussed …

Phil No, we never talked about that, she was leader of the party and I supported her in that role.

[Accession Deal 7th Denial]

Sean And she never discussed with you what might happen if you lost that election, and where you might be in that?

Phil No, when you go into an election you don’t have a plan B you go in to win.

[Accession Deal 8th denial]

Proposition Five: You assumed you would be the next leader.

Sean Okay tell us then about the process of her resignation on the night, did it surprise you?

Phil I guess it didn’t surprise me because she’d reached the pinnacle of her position in politics, she’d been Prime Minister for nine years. Nobody much likes the job of Leader of the Opposition, and I didn’t anticipate that she’d want to go back to it.

Sean Okay but you must have anticipated that you would be next cab off the rank once she went?

Phil Right up until election day I was working to re-elect a Labour Government.

[Next Leader 1st denial]

Sean Mr Goff, you know a politician might say that but the reality is come on.

Phil Well a politician might say that, no the reality is that’s exactly what I did.

[Next Leader 2nd denial]

Sean So you never considered, you never had – you seem to be telling me throughout this interview you’ve never really had any leadership aspirations.

Phil No, well look when I see a person is doing a job I get in behind and I support them, and Helen was doing a good job and I did support her.

[Next Leader 3rd denial]

Sean Okay, and you’d never thought about leadership in 95?

Phil No I was not interested in…..

[Proposition Two – 7th denial]

Sean And you hadn’t thought about leadership before the loss in 2008?

Phil No I was supporting Helen in that position and that was the appropriate thing to do.

[Next Leader 4th denial]

Sean Okay so did it come as a huge surprise then that you found yourself Leader of the Labour Party? [Sarcasm]

Phil No it didn’t come as a surprise, at the Cabinet Meeting of the outgoing Cabinet after we’d lost the election we had a meeting of our Cabinet as we did every week, Helen proposed me as her successor and there was unanimous support of the front bench.

Sean Okay did that come as a surprise to you or had she indicated in previous conversations that she was going to nominate you?

Phil No she hadn’t indicated that prior to that point.

[Proposition Four 9th denial]

Sean You’d never had any discussion about that? No understanding?

Phil Not prior to the election, after the election ….

[Proposition Four – tenth denial]

Proposition Six: Helen Clark handed you the leadership

Sean Okay so before that meeting she’d actually said she was gonna hand on…

Phil Oh she’d obviously contacted me and said I think that you should be the Leader of the Labour Party, that you should succeed me in that position, that you are the best placed person to do that role, and I said thank you for your confidence and I accepted the nomination.

So at the end of the day Phil Goff you did not go out, seek, fight for the leadership of the Labour Party, it was given to you by Helen Clark.

Phil Well it wasn’t given to me by Helen Clark, it was actually agreed to by the whole of the front bench in caucus unanimously. There’s a difference.

[Handed Leadership 1st denial]

Sean But Helen Clark still had a fair bit of sway around that table the day that meeting was held. So I’m sorry I come back again Mr Goff you were given the leadership of the Labour Party by Helen Clark.

Phil No, let me reiterate you are wrong. Every member of the caucus has a vote on that, any member of the caucus can nominate for it, unanimously they decided that I was the best person to lead Labour.

[Handed Leadership 2nd denial]

Sean But when it’s a caucus as Michael Basset would attest that was selected for the greater glorification of Helen Clark, one presumes she can make suggestions to that caucus as to who in fact is its next leader.

Phil I said before that’s Michael’s opinion, I don’t agree with that. It was a caucus in which Helen obviously has and had strong influence, but every member of the caucus is capable of making up their own mind and did.

[Handed Leadership 3rd denial]

Proposition Seven: Helen Clark is still running the show.

Sean You said has strong influence

[Freudian slip by Goff or just a mistake? Good listening by Plunket who picks it up.]

Phil Oh had strong influence.

Sean Well I still hear stories for example, and I don’t want to go into the details of the issue in the Darren Hughes affair that many senior members of your caucus were still taking phone calls and in direct contact with Helen Clark in New York who was proffering advice as to what to do.

[Unspecified ‘stories’ in place of fact and no details offered. The interviewer would not allow his guest away with that.]

Phil No look I have conversations with Helen from time to time, I respect her judgement, but if your suggestion is that she is somehow directing the way in which the Labour Party is going, no that’s quite wrong and you won’t find any caucus member that agrees with that.

Sean So does Helen Clark advise you now?

Phil I talk to Helen, I talk to a lot of people. That’s what you do when you’re a Leader of the Opposition.

Sean And you don’t mind her talking to other members, senior members of your caucus?

Phil Of course not, they’re her friends, why shouldn’t she?

Sean Well because she lost the election in 2008 Mr Goff and lost the election by sticking with Winston Peters in a side show that you admit was one – you admitted in 2009 at the party conference that she got embroiled in side shows which detracted from the achievements of the Labour Government.

Phil I think after nine years in office the cycle turns, it was time for a change and yes we were portrayed as being focused on issues that weren’t at the central focus of most New Zealand voters’ concerns. That’s why we’re now focusing on issues like the cost of living, employment and so on.

Sean It was Helen Clark’s leadership that allowed the Labour Party to be disconnected from the electorate though.

Phil No I think that’s often just a process of time. When you’ve been in office nine years in this country you generally lose office and we did.

This is where the interview should have started. Interestingly when the ‘did/didn’t’ examination of ancient history is dispensed with, both men do better. By my assessment Plunket has Goff on the ropes over his willingness to deal with Peters but not Harawira. Goff, however ends well with a strong statement on corporate bludgers.

Sean Okay, you also said in that 2009 speech that you would spend every day of your leadership listening.

Phil And I do.

Sean Looking at the poll results are you listening hard enough or is it just a question of time and the whims of political fortune?

Phil No look I think time and circumstance obviously plays a part, but we can help determine those circumstances. When I’m out there in the community as I am every day of the week, I’m listening to New Zealanders talking about the pressure that they’re under, because of the cost of living. Middle class New Zealanders who are now the working poor, lower income New Zealanders who are actually thrust into a position of poverty, I’m hearing what they’re saying about those things. I’m hearing what people are saying about the threat to the security of their employment. I’m hearing mums and dads talking about how they can’t afford to get their kids early childhood education.

Sean Okay so you’re listening, but the polls would suggest that the people of the electorate are not listening to you.

Phil No I think when people focus as we build up to the election on the things that matter in their lives, they’ll see that Labour is standing alongside them in their concerns and in their interests and National isn’t, and that’s why we’ll win this election.

Sean I want to have a quick look at the political landscape which is changing fairly quickly or altering fairly quickly at the moment. Let’s start with Winston Peters, you said in 2009 the Peters’ side show was one of the issues which cost Labour support, yet still you say you would deal with Winton Peters?

Phil I’ve said I’ll wait till the people make their decision and then I’ll decide how I put together a coalition government.

Sean Okay but you haven’t said that about Hone Harawira, you heard earlier on this programme holding out the olive branch to you?

Phil Yep.

Sean A man who hasn’t been found by parliament’s privilege committee to have lied to it.

Phil Let me say this. John Key brands Don Brash as an extremist but said he’ll get into bed with him. I regard Hone Harawira as having extreme views and I won’t get into bed with him.

Sean And do you think Matt McCarten does as well, and Annette Sykes?

Phil Yeah I think that that is a party that is well out of the mainstream of New Zealand.

Sean And you will have nothing to do with it?

Phil No I don’t see myself as being able to form a coalition both on the grounds of different policies and on the grounds of reliability. I’ve said that and I stand by it.

Sean Alright and you’re not gonna let the people decide on that one and then make your decision?

Phil Oh the people will decide whether they want to support a Maori Party that’s now discredited or a more radical party that I don’t think will have widespread support.

Sean But you find Winston Peters a man essentially found by the privileges committee to have misled parliament and his colleagues is a more reliable person to do a coalition deal?

Phil I’ve said I’ll let the public make the decision, as the moment it’s hypothetical. If Winston is back then we’ll look at it.

Sean Well the Privileges Committee finding against him wasn’t hypothetical, it’s written there in the parliamentary record.

Phil Yeah, look I’m not going into past history on that, Winston Peters has got a long history in politics and people will judge him on the basis of that history.

Sean Alright so you’re not gonna deal with Hone Harawira, the jury is out on New Zealand First. I want to ask you about the Maori Party, do you think there is a need for a rapprochement with the Maori Party?

Phil Look I think the Maori Party has done exactly what I predicted at the time that they went into a supply and confidence agreement with National. They’ve supported National on things that have hurt working and middle income New Zealanders. They supported the rise in GST, they supported the taxcuts for the most wealthy, they’ve supported things that really haven’t advanced the interests of Maori people. I’m not at all surprised that there is a movement in Maoridom away from re-electing the Maori Party to parliament.

Sean Okay but you’re not gonna support the new party, Hone Harawira’s party.

Phil No I’m putting Labour up as the alternative to either of those parties, as a party that has a track record, and standing beside working people Maori and Pakeha, and working in their interests.

Sean So as far as you’re concerned it is them or us with the Maori Party for Maori voters?

Phil Well the public will make their mind up, they will decide whether they want to put Maori MPs back into Parliament, whether they’ll put the new Hone Harawira party into parliament, or whether they’ll come back to Labour, and the feedback that I’ve got as recently as last night at a very big meeting I did in Tauranga, was that the Maori voter’s coming back to Labour, and I welcome that.

Sean Alright, even though you now face the prospect Hone Harawira says vote Mana for the party, vote Maori Party MPs in your electorate.

Phil Yeah well I think that he’s gonna be in isolation, and I don’t think that he will be able to take the interests of Maori people forward. Maori people are interested in unemployment because that hammers them, the young people, young Maori women are one in two coming out of school, going on to unemployment and not going on to earn and to learn. The wages in Maoridom and working New Zealanders falling behind the cost of living, people are hurting, they’re not able to make ends meet. Those are the things that I think will bring people, working and middle income New Zealanders back to Labour.

Sean Phil Goff, I want to come back to that quote from your student days, ‘corporate bludgers outweighing dole bludgers’.

Phil Yeah, they’re still there and they’re still doing it.

Sean Isn’t it the truth that many might see in this 21st century that through welfarism and I’m sure the right and Don Brash would argue this, what Labour would seek to create is an economy where beneficiaries of one side or other completely outweigh and drag down those who create wealth.

Phil No, you know the great thing about having a Labour government was that we took the people on the unemployment benefit down to 18,000. It’s now 68,000. There’s now 158,000 New Zealanders who want to work and can’t, and I saw that in my own electorate when the New World supermarket opened 150 jobs, 2700 people lined up desperate to take on that work, and Paula Bennett and John Key says those people, they’re unemployed as a lifestyle choice. I reject that, I have never accepted that, I don’t accept bludging, either from people that want to beat the benefit system, or from the bludgers that live in 30 million dollar houses while they rip off the investors.

Sean That Mr Goff is a long way away from Rogernomics, isn’t it?

[I think this is where we came in!]

Phil No look I’ve been very consistent on that. All of my life I’ve worked hard for what I’ve done, I’ve put myself through university, I come from a family that worked hard, working class family, they worked for what they got. I don’t accept for a moment the people that bludge off our system at the top levels, who don’t pay their taxes, and I don’t accept those that rip off the system at the bottom level. I said that early on my political career, and I stand by that today. Absolutely consistent.

Sean Phil Goff I thank you very much indeed for your time today.

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  1. The Douglas years will always make interesting reading as it represented a huge conflict in our country.Although Sean continued this line of questioning I think Phil Goff should have dismissed it as immaterial and not answered the barrage of questions relating to it.I agree with your point as to where the interview should have started.Im also confused when Sean asks his last question and Phil Goff answers with a no,did he mean yes?

    BE: “I’m also confused when Sean asks his last question and Phil Goff answers with a no,did he mean yes?” Not quite sure what you’re referring to there. Phil, like many Kiwis, says ‘Yeah’ at the start of many answers. It’s a noise basically, meant to convey ‘I’ve heard the question’ rather than to indicate agreement. In at least one place, his answer begins ‘Yeah, no..’ That’s again commonplace in everyday speech.

  2. Was irritating and pointless display by Plunkett. Going on and bloody on being ‘incisive’. Except it wasn’t, was just dreary. We know times have changed. Goff handled himself well

    Plunkett had become a bore on Morning Report, with what he thought skillful questioning actually being pointless haranguing. Same on the telly now

  3. i also thought Phil did well and really came right when he started to get irritated with Plunket….i think that’s Phil’s problem…he tries to be too reasonable…needs to access his ” inner mongrel ” a bit more..

    BE: A very astute observation.

  4. 4

    Lustic Bountifuls

    All old hat. No one much cares about the past; it’s the present and the future, which counts.
    Every time I hear the name of that Minister of Sloth, Taxis, Wine and Cheese, and Sheer Uselessness; I want to vomit up.

    A quick glance through the transcript, does not lead me to believe that Sean Plunket is an “intelligent and informed interviewer”. Quite the opposite. He’s about as bright as a comfort night light in a restless child’s bedroom.

    Sean Plonker’s talents are best suited as a deckhand on a barge, dredging up the muck out of any waterway. He’d be good at that.

  5. ditto Kerry. Plunkett’s done. Only he doesn’t know it.

  6. Good interview by Phil – John Key would never have been able to take that sort of hostile interviewing about past decisions. I doubt Key could stick to a single story under pressure.

    Plunkett, sorry dude, for a person hosting a show about current politics, your interest in events over 20 years past seemed excessive.

  7. I think that Phil handled that so called interview well. His answers were clear and unequivocal. If there is ever a head to head Key V Goff interview the clarity of Phil’s answer would be a beacon against the fluffed mumbles of John. (John if ever asked the rare searching question says, “Now lets back up a bit there, er now umm years ago ……,”so that leads to the question unanswered and unchallenged by matey interviewers.)

  8. The best display of why Labour should (and most likely will) lose the 2011 election. Brian, your (and the commenters above) sycophantic Labour spin is truly cringeworthy.

    The entire thrust of Sean’s interview (which he could have articulated better at the start) is that Goff was an enthusiastic supporter of Douglas in the 1980s, and has said little to change his or Labour’s adherence to Rogernomics. Plunkett was trying to establish that Goff was a Rogernome, and if he still is, and if Labour still is.

    By questioning Goff about his support for Rogernomics then and now, Plunkett revealed that Goff is:
    – opposed to asset sales, but supports commercialisation (a follow up question on PPPs would have been good there)
    – supported flat tax (ie GST) in the 80s, but immediately realised it was bad (but then did nothing until last year to back away from GST, and then only on fruit & veges)

    These are very current issues, and are at the heart of voters inability to understand what Goff and Labour stand for today.

    Goff campaigns against Key’s rise in GST from 12.5% to 15%, but won’t agree to lower it back to 12.5% (or lower) if Labour becomes the government (the failed ‘Axe the Tax’ bus tour). Yet Goff claims that ‘at least a decade ago’ he was against that ‘crazy idea’ of a flat tax at all. Go figure what Goff’s real position is from that…

    Oh, and Labour’s dishonest reliance on the shameful myth of ‘Cabinet collective responsibility’ is well exposed here. Goff refuses to tell us whether he backed Douglas or Lange, or voted for selling state houses or not. Unnecessary, and it would be so much more honest if Goff said he backed Douglas, but doesn’t now.

    The presence of different party’s MPs in coalition government has proven that you don’t all need to ‘lie in unison’ about Cabinet decisions. Own up to what you said and voted for, and justify it to the public.

    Labour’s problem Brian, is that Goff and co. are still telling us they are listening, but they don’t actually reflect any of our concerns in actual concrete Labour policy. Just meaningless (and ‘vague enough to be deniable’) statements like “…working New Zealanders falling behind the cost of living, people are hurting, they’re not able to make ends meet.”

    Clark and Goff cast themselves as weather forecasters predicting a drought, but never tell us what they will do to help us stave off the drought’s effects.

    Sigh. I’m just surprised Hone hasn’t ruled out working with Goff yet, on the grounds of trustworthiness ;(

    Gen X lefty.

    P.S. You know, if Goff had any talent, and didn’t want to rehash his past for most of the interview, he could have just cut in on Sean at the start of the questions about the past, and said ‘Sean, there are so many urgent issues in 2011 and I’d love to talk about Labour’s policies to address these issues, instead of rehashing ancient history…’. Plunkett would have shifted to present day issues for sure.

    P.P.S. This interview is actually a useful resource, as Plunkett does extract some ‘old’ and some ‘current’ positions from Goff. National, ACT and Green Party researchers will no doubt be fact checking what Phil said for accuracy….

  9. Well, we got a lot of our chests here, didn’t we,Bob?
    “The best display of why Labour should (and most likely will) lose the 2011 election. Brian, your (and the commenters above) sycophantic Labour spin is truly cringeworthy.
    “These are very current issues, and are at the heart of voters inability to understand what Goff and Labour stand for today.

    It seems that you only hear what you want to hear.
    Goff actually told his story pretty clearly.So you feel aggrieved because it doesn’t square with the way you’d like things to seem regarding Goff & Labour apparantly.Clearly you with your messianic vision understand Labour’s limitations but unfortunately the “voters” ( poor stoopids) can’t.

    BE: Uninformed abuse in place of informed argument. Perhaps you’d like to quote the parts of what I’ve written about Goff that are sychophantic. Or maybe you could type ‘Goff’ into the search panel and read what I’ve written about him previously. We’ve had some intelligent comment on this post. Your mindless bluster isn’t it.

  10. Bob’s right about Labour weather forecasters and a smarter Goff cutting off past questions and addressing relevant current issues. Are you still doing media training for Labour Brian?

    BE: Not really sure that my business is any of your business, Frank. But, since you ask, Judy and I have not been contracted to the Labour Party or any of its members since election night 2008.

  11. “….i think that’s Phil’s problem…he tries to be too reasonable…needs to access his ” inner mongrel ” a bit more..”
    I absolutely agree Rob – Plunket was just being a pugilist plonker – I wonder how Hone would have handled an interview like this or Helen Clark for that matter.

    JC: Check out Hone’s interview with Guyon Espiner on Q+A and you’ll see!

  12. Yes, Plunket does let his desire to be seen as a ‘tough interviewer’ get in the way of a good interview.

    Just as – in my opinion – Kim Hill’s desire to show herself as intellectually superior to many of her interviewees (or intellectually equal to a select few of them) often gets in the way of her interviews. She is also prone to interrupting her interviewees,(or was, back a few years ago when I regularly listened to her programme). Not nearly to the same extent as Plunket, though.

  13. @ Brian – I think you meant to put your response under my comment, not Galeandra’s.

    My comment was based on your post, so I don’t know how it can be construed as ‘uninformed’. And it was all informed argument – my theme being that Plunkett was trying to link Goff’s past support for Rogernomics to his ‘hard to pin down’ positions today.

    I even gave the excellent example of the Axe the Tax campaign, where Goff and Labour vacillated and left us voters struggling to understand why Goff opposes something but won’t promise to fix it if he wins power.

    Obviously putting up a hypothesis and examples to support it constitutes ‘mindless bluster’.

    I accept you have posted constructive criticism of Goff in the past (pity he didn’t listen eh?). So why do I label your post ‘sycophantic spin’? Because you framed Plunkett as:
    – “confirming his reputation as a tough interrogator”
    – not “asking questions that are relevant to voters” just before an election
    – nitpicking over Goff’s past
    – being pointlessly or unfairly repetitive in his questioning (to portray himself as a tough guy)

    This all avoids the simple truth that I pointed out, as have soooo many other lefties and media people – that we would just like some straight answers from Goff and Labour about their policies. Goff gave a couple (asset sales, flat tax … kindof). Your post fits the same model that has been coming from Goff for 2 1/2 years – framing the media as ‘out to get him’ when they are really just frustrated he won’t give straight answers.

    Goff is in danger of having the same toxic relationship with the media that Winston developed. Media viewing him as slippery – how ironic given Labour’s attack line on Key ;) That came through strongly to me in Plunkett’s interview – did it not to you?

    I even suggested an option for how Goff could have brought focus on to present day issues and what he wanted to talk about – you ignored that comment. I guess it was just my mindless bluster, huh?

    @ Galeandra – so “Clearly [I] with [my] messianic vision understand Labour’s limitations but unfortunately the “voters” ( poor stoopids) can’t.” It seems that – like me – the voter’s really can’t understand Labour and Goff, even with the help of the Messiah. Which is why Goff and Labour are at record lows in the polls sweety ;)

    BE: A ‘sycophant’ heaps fawning praise on another person. To support your argument of my ‘sycophantic spin’ you refer to my criticism of Plunkett. The connection is beyond me. In any event, each of those criticisms was justified.

    ‘Leftie’ is a disparaging term, dismissive of a whole range of people who have a quite genuine belief in certain core social principles. It’s about as useful as being describing everyone on the right as ‘Tories’ of ‘the idle rich’.

    I didn’t hear Goff attack the media. Perhaps I missed something. From my perspective he answered all the questions. He interviewer did not seem to understand the concept of ‘collective cabinet responsibility’ which prevent every cabinet minister from openly criticising a cabinet decision.

    I could see nothing ‘slippery’ in Goff’s answers.

  14. My final comments on the matter Brian:
    – you (unfairly in my view) criticised Plunkett, which painted Goff in sympathetic light (as having been hard done by by the unjust media). Hence spinning to Labour’s advantage.

    – I described myself as a lefty, so I would hardly be using that term as an insult, hmmm? I’ve heard lots of people on the left describe themselves as lefties, and never disparagingly. My second use of the term described ‘lefties’ as agreeing with me – again hardly an indication I’m trying to insult!

    – I didn’t claim Goff attacked the media; I said Goff was “in danger of having the same toxic relationship with the media that Winston developed” (Winston because he baits the media, Goff because he slips away from their questions – see below).

    – Goff answered all questions – he did not address many at all! Those familiar with Parliamentary question time (as I’m sure you are) will know the distinction. Like I originally said, Goff only gave us 2 concrete positions (on GST and asset sales). If he addressed the question, I’m sure Plunkett would have moved on far quicker.

    It’s not just me who is frustrated by Goff and Labour’s approach in the media Brian. Labour appear to be playing a whole bunch of long-games; in their relationships with the Maori & Mana Partys (waiting for them to vanish so Labour can reclaim the Maori electorates), with the Greens (waiting for them to drop under 5%), with the voters (waiting for us to return out of frustration with National, even if Labour have not changed at all).

    If Goff and Labour don’t want to change – as I feel his interview responses show – then maybe we voter are wasting our time even picking up the phone when Labour call… :(

    Thanks for the conversation.

  15. 15

    Kerry you are so right. Plunket had become an arrogant bore on Natrad. He is no different now.

    He has grown fat and lazy on a questionable reputation.

    Real journalists look around the real world to see what stories might be out there.

    They do not preen their egos as “tough guys” demolishing and demoralising politicians.

    A good interviewer is trying to elicit information from the interviewee, not promoting their own “brand”. Plunket lacks the wit and humility to understand this.

    He, like Paul Henry, is another show pony.
    Anything they do is all about them.

    To hell with any story.

  16. BE: Uninformed abuse in place of informed argument. Perhaps you’d like to quote the parts of what I’ve written about Goff that are sychophantic. Or maybe you could type ‘Goff’ into the search panel and read what I’ve written about him previously. We’ve had some intelligent comment on this post. Your mindless bluster isn’t it.

    Read it again,Brian.”Uninformed abuse” is hardly an appropriate response to my quoting of and disagreement with another poster.
    ‘Mindless’ and ‘bluster’ it ain’t.

  17. Since listening to (link attached)- two vastly different styles of interviewing from Plunket, I’m left disgusted by his style. Bullying and condescending to a young student who’s inexperienced with the media, yet all power to him, is passionate about his cause, then contrastingly in the next interview on the same topic, Plunket – easy, reasonable, even pleasant, to a CEO of a major company well versed with media. He got his “king hit” with the student, but did it do his reputation any good? Did it leave listeners thinking -what a great interviewer? It left me thinking – what an arse.