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John Key interview on TVNZ's Breakfast - Mon 4th April

John Key interview on TVNZ's Breakfast - Mon 4th April

Monday 4th April, 2011

TRANSCRIPT: Prime Minister, John Key interviewed on TV ONE's Breakfast at 7:20am this morning.

The full length video interview can also be seen on tvnz.co.nz at, http://tvnz.co.nz/Breakfast

JOHN KEY interviewed by CORIN DANN

Corin: Well we've heard the rallying cry from the workers from Christchurch just a few moments ago but with the government listen? The Prime Minister joins us now, good morning Prime Minister, Mr John Key good morning.

John Key: Good morning Corin.

Corin: So the unions we just heard from there representing the Casino workers who are effectively being offered a sort of redundancy deal, but that seems to be at dispute as well but what they seem to be calling for is more help for workers, some sort of labour force commission, does that sound like a good idea?

John: Firstly, just on the Casino issues for a few moments, I think Sky City are doing a very good job here. They're paying, they paid their workers for six weeks, secondly they're saying stay with us take annual leave if you can while we do everything we can to get the Casino open and they hope to do that by the end of May now they can't guarantee that because there are issues with the Copthorne Hotel over the road which looks likely that it will have to be pulled down. So the issue here is, they're saying to them if you do leave at any time and you take your annual leave if you decide to leave we will still give you four weeks redundancy. In defence of Sky City they're doing everything they can.

Corin: The unions they say why don't they get the redundancy deal that you would get if you were working in Auckland, which is what 16 weeks or something like that?

John: Oh look I don't know the particular details, I mean that's something they have to sure go through. But back to their main point, look I don't whether you need a commission, personally I get a bit nervous when you have too many commissions, I'm not sure they achieve a lot, but this is what the government's doing. We put about eight or nine million dollars into a workers' support if you like and people's support after the first earthquake. This one after 14 weeks we will have put a quarter of a billion in. So we're certainly putting a lot of cash in to try and help those workers. Now that's a temporary fix, it's a sticking plaster while those companies try and stay together and look at where they can relocate. We've also funded a lot of business mentors, so we're going in there and saying look you've had 14 weeks and you can't get into the CBD, you can't get into your business, how are you going to operate, what's the plan, how many staff do you have, where could you operate from, what could we do to support you. So there's a lot of things in that area, and there's more things to come in that space where we're trying to help those companies.

The third thing I think that you're seeing, which is very sensible, is the private sector actually stepping up for the likes of Coke saying we're gonna rebuild our plant and do more actually in Christchurch. You know ASB 200 million dollars lending to the SME sector, small business sector, for a year at 0%. So quite a lot of things.

Corin: The anger that seemed to be coming this morning from the Service and Food Workers Union was that they didn't feel that unions are being involved, that it's not coming from the grass roots, that the workers aren't being involved. They want to have more say on things like redeployment and those sorts of issues.

John: Well if you go back to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority that is going to have a wide reach into the community to make sure that everyone is listened to. Now that in fairness is more about the rebuild of Canterbury and of Christchurch. But there is a community forum there, there's a cross party forum there. So there is opportunities there and look we listen to people as much as we possibly can, we also work through those circumstances as quickly as we can to try and get people back to work. So everyone understands the frustrations but there's a limit to how quick you can go.

Corin: The Casino is a classic example, they can't really move can they because they've got a site specific license. I mean is that something would you look at a dispensation for them, I mean they're stuck there?

John: Well technically we could do that, the legislation will allow us to do that. The question would be how long they'll be out of action on that site? Now that's the unknown factor at the moment, but say for instance it was years it could be that the Casino would turn around and say okay look maybe I can move some tables and therefore get some people back employed working on different site for a temporary period of time, six months to 12 months. But generally speaking that would be expensive for them probably come with other concerns that the community might have. So our number one preference is to try and get them to be able to reopen like other businesses around Christchurch, as fast as they can.

Corin: Alright, the bullying issue. You climbed into that last week, sent a letter out to schools. Some criticism of that over the weekend in some of the papers suggesting that you were bullying yourself.

John: Yeah I mean that is ludicrous isn't it, that as Prime Minister of New Zealand you get out there and say I'm gonna ask all boards of trustees to go to their principals and make sure that there's a proper plan in that school for bullying but they take care of that issue if it presents itself, that they take it seriously, and that they provide a safe environment for our kids to go to school in, and that they understand that the government expects them to take that issue seriously, as somehow bullying is just claptrap to be perfectly honest.

Corin: Does it reflect in some ways the level of emotion that is in this debate. I mean it's a huge issue for New Zealand isn't it?

John: Yeah I think the bigger issue here is, well can we fix it? I mean that's the more valid criticism. So does a letter to the Board of Trustees do anything? In the first instance it's a starting point. So we send the letter and we hope that leads into meetings with the staff and the students actually about what can happen, how we can provide a safer environment. Anne Tolley the Minister is also having a meeting of all the relevant parties to say well have we got world's best practice here, but what I can say is some schools have gone out there and they've really walked the talk, they've said it's zero tolerance, they've treated it as such, they've built good will in the community from the students to the staff...

Corin: Do those schools run from wealthy to the poorer schools, it's not a reflection of wealth, the ability to deal with bullying?

John: No I don't think so. I think that they're right across the community, but it's where they've said look this is the number one culture and philosophy in the school, we're not gonna turn any blind eye to it. Now everyone accepts this is a really difficult environment. Some of the bullying happens outside of school. Modern technology, mobile phones, internet, makes it sort of worse. Sometimes kids are glamorising it. I mean it's not that all the blame can be laid at the foot of I think the schools, they are the ones having to deal with the situation. But all I'm saying is you know as parents and as a parent I want my children to be able to go to school and learn there and enjoy their time there and feel comfortable in that environment. I don't want my kids coming home bullied, and on that basis I don't want other kids either.

Corin: Just finally, the crime stats were a positive, you know crime coming down. That's a good thing, but I noticed there was some concern around rising violence from youngsters, that sort of ties into that bullying thing as well doesn't it?

John: Sometimes you wonder whether these things get reported a little more actively, I'm not quite sure of that. I mean as government we've made a number of changes here. We've widened the jurisdiction of the Youth Court and lowered the age that the Youth Court could hear people for more serious crimes. We're also doing a number of other things in terms of social workers and schools and various other things who are trying to make a difference. But I think all of us again would acknowledge that actually crimes are happening at a very young age now, and there's a variety of factors. Some people will blame what kids see on TV and the internet, others will blame lack of parental control. I suspect there's a whole range of different issues and reasons in there.

Corin: Prime Minister John Key, thank you very much for your time.

ENDS

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