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PM 24/7/17: Boris, Infrastructure, Immigration, Drugs

PM's Press Conference: Boris, Infrastructure, Immigration, and Drugs

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Prime Minister Bill English opened today's post-cabinet press conference by revisiting the announcement of 'Crown Infrastructure Partners' a vehicle for Government and private investment in infrastructure for housing, which allows councils to fund projects outside their normal debt limits.

During questions the PM accepted lowered land values from extra development would have to be greater than the extra costs (through targeted rates or user charges) to decrease housing costs. "That's what we're testing," he said.

English will meet tomorrow with UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson. The PM said putting forward the work rights of Kiwis in the UK would be a priority, and argued the case for a UK/NZ FTA, but said we had to be 'practical' about what priority New Zealand might get as Britain deals with leaving the European Union. He did not consider Johnson's comparison of the hongi with a headbutt offensive.

On reports the government plans to was back on proposed immigration changes, English said there may be changes to 'parameters' rather than wholesale change to the scheme. He said we needed workers for jobs that needed doing right now but employers in industries like horticulture and hospitality were learning it wasn't the government's job to provide them with a workforce. He expected to announce the final plan in the next few weeks.

The Prime Minister said deaths attributed to illegal synthetic cannabis were a real tragedy and the response was assertive policing and "don't take the substances". It did not make him more likely to revisit current policy on new psychoactive drugs or the legality of cannabis.

Other topics included Todd Barclay (expected to attend Parliament tomorrow), New Zealand First's position on organized fight tournaments between gangs, the possibility of Gareth Morgan standing in Epsom, dealing with the closed Manawatu Gorge road, proposals for GP training, and English taking time out from Parliament to watch his son play rugby.

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