PM Press Conference – 3 February 2014
PM Press Conference – ACT Leadership | Election coalitions | Waitangi Day - 3 February 2014
by Anne Russell
The Prime Minister met briefly with the press gallery today and discussed the upcoming election, the ACT Party leadership, the minimum wage, and issues around changing the flag, Waitangi Day and national identity.
The last 10 minutes of press conference are unavailable on video. You can listen to the full audio below.
The Prime Minister was asked questions on the new ACT leader, Jamie Whyte, and National's relationship with the ACT Party leading up to the election. Reporters inquired about the ethics of National propping up minor parties like ACT and United Future when their party polling is extremely low, accusing Key of gerrymandering. Key did not give much substantive feedback, telling reporters to ask about National's coalition prospects nearer to the election. They may yet work again with the Maori Party, despite the fact pointed out by a journalist that the Maori Party has voted against National on most issues during their coalition. Key said that while they were bound by a confidence and supply agreement on some issues, the budget for that may have to be increased in order to ensure the Maori Party as a future coalition partner.
Key was asked if his floated proposal for a referendum on the New Zealand flag was an election ploy for NZ first and conservatives. However, he said that the electoral implications were hard to read, and that the proposal was related to a nation-building exercise.
When asked about Waitangi Day celebrations, Key opined that most protesters were opportunists looking to be on camera. However, he admitted that those living around Waitangi in Northland may have some reason to protest, given that it is a predominantly Maori area with a lot of poverty. He thought that many of the protesters gave a poor image of what Waitangi Day is about for most New Zealanders. He did not give a definitive answer to how his aforementioned nation-building exercise intersected with ideas about Waitangi Day and racism.
Other topics discussed included raising the minimum wage, the Genesis announcement, and the Christchurch rebuild.
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