PM's Post-Cabinet Press Conference 26/3/18: Nurses Pay Negotiations, Charter Schools
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened her press conference with a summary of her plans for the week ahead including the launch of a Topp Twinns monument at the National Library, attending the reopening of Trades Hall in Wellingtin after earthquake strengthening, attending the Pacific Youth Awards and on Thursday meeting with the Kingitanga movement leaders in Turangewaewae.
Nurses Pay Negotiations
The PM also discussed the announcement today that the nationwide DHB nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants, who are party to the DHB MECA have voted not to ratify the DHB employer offer. She stated that the latest offer was for a 2% increase across several years.
The PM stated that clearly the negotiations had not produced a deal acceptable to nurses and that it is her view that it is very important to both the public and the nurses to avoid industrial action.
The PM stated she would like to see the DHB put forward the idea of an individual panel to review the barriers and make recommendations to both parties to get past the impasse.
The Government’s policy is that the parties involved in this dispute deserve full support to resolve this issue. She has not ruled out the Government contributing to the costs of such a panel, however this will require the agreement of the Nurses and the DHB in order to proceed.
Ardern was also joined by Education Minister Chris Hipkins to discuss progress on the transition of Charter schools into the state system. The Minister announced that the Government has received an application from one school, Vanguard to establish their operation as a ‘School of Designated Character’.
The Minister also announced that they were in negotiations with all of the eleven charter schools and that a number were going through the Legal process to make this transition, with a couple more applications close to being lodged.
The Minister stated that Costs involved with this transition are not yet open, discussed the issue of property and stated that there may be a repurposing of the charter school contingency fund set aside by the previous National government to assist with costs of this process.
Other Topics Discussed
Other topics discussed in questions included:
An allegation by National MP Mark Mitchell claiming to have been told to back off from a funding project in Warkwarth. The Prime Minister was not aware of the specifics of this situation, but reiterated that eligibility for the Regional Development Fund does not not require political support for the Government. The Prime Minister stated that there are projects included in the fund that are championed by National and former national MP’s.
The Prime Minister was asked if Churches will be included in the State Abuse inquiry? She stated that the Terms Of Reference still being consulted on in order to flush out views from relevant parties on this and other issues and the Government will take those into account.
The Prime Minister stated on the Middlemore Hospital mold issue that to her knowledge there are not any other issues raised by DHBs specifically around leaky buildings, however many have raised issues relating to their cost capital squeeze. The Prime Minister said the Government is considering responses through the budget process across all issues including health and education, both of which have seen significant under investment over the previous government.
On the Mount Albert housing Development, the PM stated that the Unitec master plan will feature a mixture of quality urban design in medium density. She also stated it will be a mix of affordable and public and private housing starting at $600,000 and scaling down. The Prime Minister said she believes most Aucklanders realise that affordable housing can no longer be not expected to fit into the ¼ acre Kiwi dream.
The Prime Minister stated she thinks the Americas cup village choice is excellent and that huge work has gone into it. She believes this option takes into account maximising economic impact, minimising environment and leaving a legacy for Auckland.
On the possibility of a'Hit and Run' inquiry the PM stated that the Government’s set timeline of within a week or so is still the target for announcement on an inquiry.
On Tarriffs the PM said there is still no word so this issue is in a state of uncertainty .
The Prime Minister discussed the issue of Ball tampering in Cricket matches and believes it is not fair and that the outrage is justified.
On the issue of Chloe Swarbrick marching in the March for Life while in the USA as a delegate, the PM stated that delegates are not precluded from taking part in activities in their own time.