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PM's Presser: Civil Unions, Equity, Iraq & Winston

PM's Presser: Civil Unions, Equity, Iraq And Winston


Prime Ministers Press Conference June 28 2004
By Kevin List

In This Edition:
The Civil Union Bill
Pay Equity
The Changeover In Iraq
The Impact Of Urgency On Questions Of The Day
Allegations Concerning Rt Hon Winston Peters

*************

The Civil Union Bill

Answers relating to last week's vote on the first reading of the controversial Civil Union Bill. Some answers sepecifically relate to comments attributed to Labour MP Janet Mackey and Catholic Cardinal Tom Williams.

On conscience issues people often have a range of views. It is very important that everyone respects each other's views and positions and that caucus member's don't attack each other. I think the same applies actually across parties. That generally people should respect other people consciences and not engage in ad hominem attack.

A senior member has spoken with her [Janet Mackey] and that is the advice I have. I think it was probably a throwaway remark to the local paper that got a rather broader circulation than might have been anticipated. I understand that she's sorry this has happened."

We don't legislate morals. 19 years after homosexual law reform, Parliament is now tackling the issue of legal recognition of the relationship. I think from the nature of the debate in the House last week you would understand how deeply people feel about this.

I assume the same people wouldn't have voted for homosexual law reform 19 years ago. It is sad to listen to it all again. But that's life.

The conscience issue is one where members need to decide that issue for themselves.

I have enormous respect for Cardinal Williams but I found those comments a bit sad too. There are a range of views in the community, and I think the more respect and tolerance that is shown to those views the better.

*************

Pay Equity

Answers relating to questions regarding Government initiatives on pay equity.

As Minister of Labour I've brought legislation to Parliament in the past on pay equity. It was achievable at that time because there were nationwide awards that made it possible to compare occupations. That hasn't been the case since the early 1990s.

The Government has done two key things. One set up the Employment Equity Commissioner… and secondly the paper that was released recently about the review of the issues in the Public Sector. and how the Government may tackle those.

*************

The Changeover In Iraq

Answers relating to questions regarding the changeover in Iraq and any impact this may have on New Zealand's current military contribution.

The engineers come home at the end of September sometime. They are living in a high threat environment [the engineers] It is always dangerous. We deploy under national command. They have a senior officer there. They're responsible to him.

The administration [Iraqi] is also making the request that people carry on with what they are doing. I am not saying we have a request from the administration What I am saying is that every public utterance of the interim Iraqi administration has been to the effect of 'would people please not leave now'.

*************

The Impact Of Urgency On Questions Of The Day

Answer relating to a question about urgency and any possible impact on the questions of the day this move would have.

Well that's a matter between the Government and Opposition. If they are prepared to give guarantees on making sufficient progress questions are always possible. But we haven't been able to reach such understandings in recent times.

*************

Allegations Concerning Rt Hon Winston Peters

Answers relating to allegations from Ross Meurant's ex-wife (Meurant was employed by NZ First) in an affidavit alleging payments from Simunovich fisheries to Meurant, and now the subject of a defamation lawsuit [ taken by Peters against TVNZ].

As I said in the House last week - has there been a breach of Standing Orders? The Speaker is the only person who can rule on whether there has been a prima facie case made out, which should then be looked at by the Privileges Committee. The other issue is whether the allegations are of a sufficiently serious nature involving a suggestion of criminal offending that they would be picked up by the Police or referred to the Police.

My understanding is that the affidavit that was reported in last week was the same as that covered by Television New Zealand three or four months ago. No one in the last three or four months seems to have referred that to the Police which is interesting in itself.

Well in effect my comments to the House [on the allegations concerning Rt Hon Winston Peters] were 'put up or shut up'.

********* ENDS *********

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