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PM's Presser: Nuclear Power, Defence & Police Rape

Nuclear Power, Defence & Police Rape
Prime Minister's Press Conference – August 30th 2004

By Kevin List

In this edition:
Environment Canterbury's Nuclear Power Investigations
Holidays Act Anomalies and Glitches
The Decline Of Kiwis In The Military
Inquiries Into Historical Rape Allegations In The Police


Environment Canterbury's Nuclear Power Investigations

Answers relates to an Environment Canterbury Councillor's suggestion the council should consider the possibility of nuclear power as an alternative energy source in a series of debates and workshops on energy options for Canterbury. However given the lack of enthusiasm shown by the Prime Minister to the idea yesterday, it is unlikely Homer Simpson will be utilising his skills on the mainland anytime soon. (See also… Green Party release Labour pro-nuke-move - Clark will not be amused)

"I don't think it is a useful exercise. There are huge issues in New Zealanders minds about nuclear power, not least what you do with the waste – so I wouldn't have thought it was a particularly fruitful use of their time."

Answer relates to whether central government would step in should local government go nuclear.

"I'm sure it would"


Holidays Act Anomalies and Glitches

Where the Prime Minister assures the assembled press that drafting anomalies in the recently passed Holidays Act are being remedied, ironed out, tidied up and generally sorted out.

"It was never the intention to have it [the Act] mean time and a half on top of time and a half. There are some anomalies that are being dealt with."

"The idea was to ensure that those that did work on public holidays would be properly remunerated but [the remuneration would] not to come in on top of already generous provisions."


The Decline Of Kiwis In The Military

Newly released figures show that the kiwi soldier may be facing extinction and one solution may be to draft in imported varieties of the species homo-militarus. The Prime Minister answered a variety of questions on this topic, and implied that the chance to enjoy overseas travel in places such as war torn Iraq and Afghanistan was a definite advantage in selling the military lifestyle to a new generation.

Answers relate to whether the New Zealand Defence Force has enough personnel to meet current and future requirements.

"If you compare the number of land based personnel we've got away at the moment it pales into insignificance compared with the three years in East Timor. It does appear that when unemployment is low the armed forces will have greater difficulty recruiting."

"I think with the navy you'll find that the change from the Canterbury to the multi-role vessel will involve a reduction in personnel, but of course there are the two medium range vessels to staff as well. Their [the new boat's] arrival isn't imminent so the navy has time to work up to recruiting and staffing at appropriate levels. For the army, really you can't predict where a crisis might break out. But we are certainly not involved in anything like the scale of Timor at the moment. Obviously the involvement in Afghanistan doesn't roll on forever. I would assume that the army will be able to [recruit and meet the correct levels of] staff to ensure that it uses its equipment."

Answer relates to whether, given the supposed pressures of market forces on the NZ Defence forces, a pay increase may be necessary.

"We've funded a couple of significant pay adjustments for armed forces personnel in the last four and a half years. They had been pretty static for some time before that. I guess they will have to be kept under review. Clearly when unemployment is low there is greater difficulty for the armed forces in recruiting. I do think when people are weighing up careers they need to weigh up the whole package, and the whole package for the armed forces can be a very generous one – people get their university education courtesy of the armed forces – they often get subsidised accommodation, then there's an opportunity for offshore deployment and travel."

Answers relate to questions regarding the NZ Defence force recruiting personnel from overseas

"There are always some overseas personnel who express an interest in coming to New Zealand. When I was in New Zealand House last, visiting Defence Force offices in London, they told me they have a steady series of enquiries from UK personnel, particularly naval personnel, who have similar traditions and quite like the thought of coming to join the New Zealand forces."

"It wouldn't be untoward for them [the defence forces] to be bringing in people from offshore. I understand for example that the British Army has picked up a lot of Fijians."

Answer relates to whether numbers in the New Zealand Defence Force's have dropped since New Zealand's involvement in Afghanistan and subsequently Iraq

"I couldn't tell you, what I know is that the deployments have been good for recruitment - but there may also be a tendency once people have had the deployment to think. ' well, I've had that now maybe I could get on to other work'. Paradoxically it seems to work a bit both ways - people like the thought of going, but once having gone, that they have satisfied the desire to be deployed."


Inquiries Into Historical Rape Allegations In The Police

Answers relate to questions regarding the inquiry into historical rape claims made against a number of serving and ex-policemen.

"My understanding is that their concern is not do anything which might prejudice a criminal prosecution."

"They may well have to hear [evidence] in private – if they were running it simultaneously – but then make everything available publicly."

**** ENDS ****

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