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Agenda Highlights: Michael Cullen & Rodney Hide

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Agenda Transcript: Michael Cullen & Rodney Hide

A Matter Of Confidence And Supply – Cullen

Finance Minister Michael Cullen says legislation to retrospectively validate election campaign spending found illegal by the auditor general will be a confidence measure.

Speaking on TVOne’s Agenda programme, Dr Cullen said he had a report from Treasury which said the Government had to pass validating legislation because Treasury's clear advice was that refunding the money by itself would have no impact on the original conclusion of unlawfulness by the Auditor General.

The Minister linked the move to declare the legislation a confidence issue to the failure so far by New Zealand First to commit to voitng for it.

Dr Cullen said he was not certain he had the numbers to get the legislation through and he will need New Zealand First votes if he is to pass the Bill.

He said he he hoped New Zealand First would recognise it was important to move to rectify the issue around the Public Finance Act and the annual accounts.

"It is an appropriation bill, therefore by definition it can be regarded as an issue of confidence and supply. It relates to the putting in order of the public accounts for 2004/5. "

"Treasury's very strong advice is that this must be passed and this is the only remedy. Repaying the money in any shape or form does not render what the Auditor General considers to be unlawful."

The Minister would not comment on whether Labour would be seeking the help of National to get the legislation through the house should its coalition partners abstain.

Two of Labour’s supporting parties; the Greens and New Zealand First have so far failed to indicate they will support passage of the legislation.

The Greens say they will abstain and NZ First says it may seek a legal appeal but Dr Cullen said he hoped they'd recognise in the interim it was important to move to rectify the issue around the Public Finance Act and the annual accounts.

“As long as that doesn’t happen then a pall is cast over the public accounts for 2004/5 in particular, but also we have significant problems around current expenditure because the test the Auditor General is now applying is actually very vague and very difficult to apply in practice.”

National's Lost It's Direction - Hide

Act Leader Rodney Hide says National has been changing their position on their election promises.

"I don't know what Don Brash and John Key stand for - we've actually heard them backing away from the election promises that they said heading into the last election."

In a surprising move, Mr Hide says he is would be willing to work with Labour should they be willing to give tax cuts.

"We're not tribal; we don't say National right or wrong Labour right or wrong what we says is... who's got the best policies...If labour will deliver tax cuts i'm in favour of that."

When asked if he thought if National was moving closer to Labour he said, "I think that's very clear."


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