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March 10, 2008 | by  | in News |
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An Interview with Rodney Hide

Emma Daken, Politics Reporter, dances with a star of parliament this week when she tangos with Rodney Hide.


What did you want to be when you were growing up, and why?

I wanted to be a truck driver originally, like my father. I thought if I could get some money I could by a Ford Consul 315. I thought if I could afford a car, I could perhaps get a girlfriend. And so my whole sort of planning of my future life was based around the prospect of getting a girlfriend. I doubt I would even have had the courage to ask someone out even if I had a car! My father said he wanted me to get a trade first. So I went off to find out about training to be an electrician. The money you got for being an apprentice was so low, that it was actually better off going to high school and working over the weekends and holidays. Sixth form was a career changing experience and life changing event. I turned up and found it quite tough. I fell in love with science. It always amazes me that the decisions that would have such an impact, like being a truck driver or an electrician or going on to university to study science, are based on the flimsiest of things [to get a girlfriend]. When you’re a young man the hormones rage.

Can you tell me about your life before politics?

I went straight off to university and did a science degree. When I finished I worked labouring jobs, did a stint with New Zealand Forestry. Then I went overseas and travelled throughout Europe, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia. I was very fortunate in that I worked in the North Sea on oil rigs. This enabled me to save a lot of money so I could have a year travelling on my own. I returned to university for a Master’s in environmental policy science which I then taught along with economics. I then shifted to Auckland and worked with Allan Gibbs, a merchant banker / businessman. This was great ‘cause I hadn’t been exposed to business, and how businesses operated. It was very exciting as an economist, because business was solving problems which economics in text books was struggling with. It was marvellous. Then I met Roger Douglas and got elected to Parliament. So that’s me!

When did you first become interested in politics, and who were your political influences at the time?

I had never been interested in politics as politics, I thought it was pathetic, and in a way I still do. I am a bit of an individualist. I got interested in politics in the 80s, because I started to realise that I was working in science, and that environmental management in policy mattered. I started to follow policy and economics, and of course that led me to watch what politicians were doing. But the behaviour of politics and political action never interested me – Until I got to help Roger [Douglas], and got to stand. I thought ‘Gee whiz, this is exciting!’

Other than having a successful election, what other political or personal goals have you set yourself for 2008?

Well my big one is the Regulatory Responsibility Bill, which is before the commerce committee. This is a huge bill, and will have a huge impact. I think we rush to pass legislation all too quickly, and without much thought to the consequences. My big thing is to go into a meeting and ask someone to put their hand up if they haven’t broken the law today. And no one can, cause you wouldn’t know. I am sure I break the law every day when I walk down the road. I want to clean up so we have clearer, simpler laws. Red tape is out of control.

Any personal goals?

For 10 years I just had political goals, and so I devoted myself totally to politics. We took such a drubbing in the 2005 election, that it sort of forced a great rethink. If you put all of your heart and soul into one thing, and you don’t do well at it, you tend to think you’re a total failure. So what I have done since 2005 is work with the party to rebuild it and rethink our strategy while also taking time out to do things that I enjoy. I lost weight, I got going to the gym, I eat better. And as a part of that, I get invited along to a lot of interesting events. So I did a short triathlon for the first time, I couldn’t believe I did that! This weekend I have got the Motutapu Ice Breaker. I’m doing the King of the Bay swim – I did one last year, across the harbour, and then they do one the same distance at Takapuna. I’m loving it ‘cause I have never done sport, it wasn’t my thing. So I’m finding it quite good that I had this break. I learnt to dance. I’m taking dance lessons, have a great dance partner, and we dance once or twice a week, and we get invited to do the odd show.

Is there a certain accomplishment in your political career that gives you the most pride?

Turning the IRD around [With Dave Henderson – check out the movie ‘We’re Here to Help’]. That wasn’t easy, and everyone said that couldn’t be done. It was literally a lone mission and I did that pretty early on. And through MMP I established a culture which meant that parliament was going to address the issue of accountability for MPs’ expenses. Now I can set my sights higher with things like the Regulatory Responsibility Bill. I think we can do so much better as a country, and that means having a government and a parliament that performs. Not like some 19th century talk fest, that lives in the past with its ideas and attitudes. We need a well functioning institution and organisation, whoever is in charge. And I think we can just do a lot better.

What is the best advice you have ever been given and who gave it to you?

Richard Prebble said, in politics you have to be very nice to people on your way up, because you will meet them all again when you are going down.

Who are 3 people you would like to meet?

I would like to meet Arnold Schwarzenegger! Everyone thinks he is an idiot, well then you think, hang on, he’s the governor, he was a champion body builder and then he was a highly paid movie star! I would like to shake Bill Gates’ hand – as much as Microsoft products piss me off. I think it’s amazing you can take a bit of code, and build a business out of it. I am just trying to think which musician and artist I would like to meet. I think, off the top of my head, it would be Paul McCartney, the songs they gave will live forever. They provided such happiness and joy through making music.

Week on the Blogs

It had to happen. Jackson’s spelling and grammar improved marginally this week, however a fight broke out between him and ex-News Editor and award winning journalist Laura McQuillan. This week Jackson poked fun at Jack Nicholson, gave into his capitalistic nature and encouraged you all to buy worthless consumer crap, and plotted ‘Guy Fawkes Style’ mass murder.

Conrad — the hyperactive gun slinging, post-centrist fascist wrote about why VUWSA shouldn’t be a breeding ground for dirty, dirty student politicians to launch their careers in tyranny. He also suggested that the Workers Party might soon be breaching the Electoral Finance Act.

Hugh regurgitated Milton ad nauseam — as well as talking about Roger Douglas’ return to the fold of ACT, insider trading, and about the evil of the Buy New Zealand campaign.

Emma posted an unedited version of her interview with Nathan Guy. As usual it was brilliantly awesome – and an example of proper journalism, rather than rabid craziness like the rest of her blogging counterparts.

Comment of the Week

Hypocrite, On Should VUWSA be political at all? “I notice that there are 4 main bloggers and is good to see so much blogging, but are they affiliated/partisan in any way (come on you should wear it on your shoulder and PROUDLY! like Joel does) i.e. from what I read of your profile are you of the Michigan Militia Conrad? I take it Jackson Wood is a Helen Clark supporter from his enthusiasm of Billary (i.e. translates to wishing to see Helen and Billay cosey up at APEC forums… not that it’s likely either will be in office then…), are you Peter’s brother Hugh? come on we want more goss…”

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