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New Government in disarray

Wednesday 9th Feb 2000
Richard Prebble
Media Release -- Other

The new Government which is just had its third day of questions in Parliament is in disarray, says ACT Leader Richard Prebble. "In my 21 years in Parliament I have never seen a government in this sort of confusion so early in their administration.

"The day's been a disaster, starting at 7 am, when the Minister of Defence Mr Burton told the nation on radio that he had no knowledge of any proposal by the Philippines government to purchase the airforce's Skyhawks. At midday today the Philippines embassy confirmed that they were negotiating, something the Minister of Defence either didn't know or couldn't remember at 7 in the morning.

"Quarter of an hour later the day got worse, when the Associate Minister of Accident Insurance told the nation that a reduction in accident deaths wasn't sufficient reason for the Government to reconsider renationalising ACC.

"Then at 10.30 am the Opposition learned from Parliament's clerk's office that Ruth Dyson, while in receipt of a Minister's pay, an office in the Beehive, a Ministerial state house, a self drive car and LTD, and stationery that claims she is the Associate Minister for Accident Insurance, had not in fact received any legal delegation, and from Parliament's point of view is not responsible for the subjects for which she speaks.

"At 2 pm the Deputy Prime Minister had to admit that although the Government's been running three months, no delegations had been given to any Associate Ministers (it was big of him to take responsibility but of course Ministerial delegations are the sole responsibility of the Prime Minister and in every government I've been in, have been done in less than 10 days). The Government compounded their embarrassment by refusing leave to allow the Associate Ministers to answer for themselves. Both Ruth Dyson and Mr Horomia who the Government concedes has been entrusted with the important job of school buses, were not allowed by their own colleagues to speak for themselves.

"This lack of confidence by the Leader of the House and his colleagues apparently extends to the Prime Minister, since Michael Cullen insisted on answering questions that have been addressed to her.

"I cannot imagine Norman Kirk, David Lange, Geoffrey Palmer or Mike Moore sitting in Parliament silent and allowing Michael Cullen to answer questions directed to them.

"It became clear the real reason Helen Clark wouldn't answer is that her claim that international evidence supports monopoly state funders as being cheaper than competition and choice can't be substantiated.

"Question time ended with Annette King admitting that the $3-4 million estimate of the cost of disestablishing the Health Funding Authority is just the redundancy costs. She then attempted to explain to the House why $3-4 million exit payments to staff under Labour are redundancy but under National were golden handshakes.

"It's hard to see how this Government can last 3 years."

ENDS

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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