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Jim Sutton And ENZA Chairman Tony Gibbs - Presser

Transcript Of Press Conference By Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton And ENZA Chairman Tony Gibbs

Q: what happened in the meeting?

Tony Gibbs: I don't want to go into detail about what we said to Jim Sutton. It is helpful to have the Government involved. We're setting up processes to get this resolved.

Q: what processes?

TG: some growers are taking us to arbitration. That process has started. It's not ENZA's choice. We'll be making comment on the deductions later this week.

Q: what comment?

TG: this is neither the time nor place for that. We're on the right track. The processes are being put in place.

Jim Sutton: ENZA have briefed me on the situation as they see it. There is a significant number of consultations with other parties to be carried out. I've indicated that I and the Government are ready to support a process of resolving problems for industry.

Q: Did you talk about the legal opinion?

JS: I have shared the Crown Law Office opinion with ENZA and that really is as far as I want to go with that.

Q: what happens now?

JS: ENZA will continue consultations with other parties. I'm of course waiting for that considerations of the other parties as well. I'm hopeful we can move these things forward over the next week or so.

Q: How about you, Mr Gibbs, when do you think it can be resolved?

TG: I hope we can resolve this in the next fortnight or so.

Q: What options do you have?

TG: I don't want to go into options. I want to try and avoid that. Arbitration is obviously one option. I'm not happy about that. Q: will you release the legal opinion?

TG: I won't release the legal opinions at this stage.

Q: will you avoid arbitration?

TG: We have no choice about getting into arbitration.

Q: question about liabilities?

TG: The contingent liabilities were in the accounts, in the annual report. The contingent liabilities then were $70 million, they're now $55 million ? they've gone down since we got in, not up like everyone says.

Q: Can the Government resolve this?

JS: If I have anything to do with it, I will. I'll help to the extent we can.

There is a realistic possibility but people have their legal rights. I've indicated that only in most extraordinary circumstances will the Government intervene to prevent people accessing the rights provided for them in law.

Hope can be meeting of minds with parties that provides a good way forward.

Q: will you help facilitate meetings between growers and ENZA?

JS: I don't know if my assistance is needed to facilitate meetings between growers and ENZA, but I will help if required.

Q: Jenny Shipley has promised to back legislation on this

JS: It's nice to know we have the confidence of the parliamentary opposition. I would say that legislation over the top of people's existing legal rights is not responsible Government.

Q: Mr Gibbs, will you be meeting growers and PGNZI for their support?

TG: I'm sure I will be meeting growers. Their support depends on what region they're in. Nelson meeting, a strawpoll had no-one in opposition; in Hawkes Bay, there were a lot of loud people.

Q: what's the next step?

TG: the next step is consulting with , putting processes in place, and we'll be making further instalments later this week.

Ends


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