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Prebble Waives Privilege To Fight Gagging Order

Prebble Waives Privilege To Fight Post Gagging Order

ACT Leader, Hon Richard Prebble, told a press conference today that he had decided to waive his Parliamentary immunity from being served.

“It appears that New Zealand Post is in breach of Parliament's rules, but at this stage I do not intend seeking the assistance of Parliament's Privileges Committee.

“I have contacted the lawyers for New Zealand Post and told them I will agree to waive Parliamentary protection and be served with the Court papers at 1.30pm on the steps of Parliament.

“I have studied the papers filed by New Zealand Post and they are a constitutional outrage.

“The State-Owned Enterprise is not seeking to just protect what it claims is commercially secret information. New Zealand Post is seeking an order from the Court:

1. that I ‘be restrained from disseminating, publishing, copying, or otherwise making use of the Business Case or any extracts from that document.’

2. that I ‘deliver up by 5pm Wednesday 21 February 2001 to’ NZ Post’s ‘solicitor all copies of the Business Case for the NewBank, dated September 2000 (“the Business Case”) and any extracts from that document which are in his possession or control.’

3. that I ‘file and serve upon the solicitor for’ New Zealand Post ‘by 5pm Thursday 22 February 2001 an affidavit identifying: a) the documents delivered up in terms of order 2; b) the individual or individuals from whom’ I ‘received the Business Case or extracts therefrom, and indicating the date on which such material was provided to’ me; c) any individuals or entities, as the case may be, to whom’ I have ‘provided a copy of the Business Case or extracts therefrom.

4. that ‘the costs of and incidental to this application be awarded to’ New Zealand Post.

“New Zealand Post ‘claims the sum of $4055 for costs of and incidental to issuing this proceeding.’”

“New Zealand Post is clearly trying to intimidate me.

“If a State-Owned Enterprise can get court orders against an MP, ordering the MP to hand over all information that the SOE claims it did not mean to make public, to get the MP who has the information to name sources and to pay damages, there will be no free press.

“MP's will not be able to be the public's watchdog.

"If MPs have to engage a law firm like Rudd Watts and Stone, it would financially cripple Members of Parliament. I therefore refuse to have a lawyer and will go to court myself to defend free speech.

“The New Zealand Post business plan is a large document. Only parts of the document could be described as commercially sensitive. Neither I nor Hon Jenny Shipley have released any sensitive commercial information.

“Other parts of the document cover policy issues that even New Zealand Post concedes are legitimate matters for MPs to raise, but New Zealand Post still demands that it be suppressed.

“The document does not appear to have been stolen. It is clear that some person who is concerned about the public policy issues involved in the People’s Bank has passed over these documents. This is whistle blowing, which the government says it supports.

“I will make these points. Parliament is being asked by New Zealand Post for $80 million dollars. I am entitled to ask how it is being spent. When I have information that contradicts claims by Ministers, I have a duty to point out those contradictions.

"It is clear from the business plan that this so-called people's bank:

*Will not open new branches in rural areas where today there are no banking facilities;
*The new bank is targeting ‘middle’ New Zealand and not the little people.
*The bank will compete unfairly with New Zealand owned community financial institutions such as the Taranaki Savings Bank, the Southland Building Society, the PSIS and credit unions.
*One day training for staff cannot be enough.
*New Zealand Post's postal customers may be cross-subsidising the new bank. *There are legitimate security concerns.
*This is a risky venture using $80 million dollars of taxpayer's money that could be used for the Police or teaching children to read.

“I will continue to scrutinise this substantial expenditure of taxpayers’ money. In Parliament this afternoon I will use my right of free speech to show that there are reasons to doubt the credibility of assurances given to the Green Party, in order to obtain their support for the new bank.

“As there is a considerable amount of public interest in this matter I am releasing all documents to be served on me by New Zealand Post, Hon Richard Prebble said.”

ENDS


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