PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference – 27 May 2013
By Alastair Reith and Anne Russell
Today's post-Cabinet press conference was dominated by discussion of the Food in Schools programme. Prime Minister John Key says the government's food in schools programme will be comprehensive, but that it's primarily the responsibility of parents to feed their kids.
Details are being announced tomorrow, and Mr Key is keeping fairly tight lipped about the specifics until then. The plan differs from Hone Harawira's 'Feed the Kids' bill in that it will be run as a partnership with the private sector and community organisations.
The Prime Minister spoke briefly to reporters today about a range of government initiatives.
Harsher penalties for sex offenders and crimes against children are being introduced, with Justice Minister Judith Collins presenting the Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill to Parliament this week.
A $25 million action plan to tackle New Zealand's shocking youth suicide rates is set to be launched. The government will approach the issue by putting more resources into mental health programmes. Although Key referred to mental health issues as related to suicidality, social factors that exacerbate these issues were not explored. While suicide rates in Maori and Pasifika communities will be investigated by the action plan, other commentators have noted that the plan has no reference to queer suicide rates.
Mr Key praised the record of two new National MPs, with Paul Foster-Bell returning from a diplomatic posting in Saudi Arabia, and Claudette Hauiti moving into Parliament from roles in Maori radio and Auckland's Museum of Transport and Technology.
The Prime Minister is facing questions about Mighty River Power, which has seen its shares fall today to $2.37 – 13 cents below the list price of $2.50.
He shrugged off suggestions that New Zealanders were losing money as shares “took a hammering”, saying that Mighty River Power is a multi-billion dollar company and such fluctuations are normal.
Other topics addressed during today's press conference included the hold up of New Zealand meat at Chinese ports, the GCSB supreme court case and violent new entrants in Whangarei schools.