Selling Assets, Liberalising Marriage, Regulating Drinking
By Mark P.
Today the Prime Minister announced that he had received the recommendations of the Waitangi Tribunal and intended to have the government's response to those recommendations by next week.
The PM said that the government would take all recommendations into account and act in good faith but would still need to give its own interpretation and evaluation. He reiterated that the Crown position is that water does not belong to anyone and the government intends to proceed with the process of negotiations with Iwi on a case by case, waterway by waterway basis. He added that this approach was one which had been historically preferred by Maori and that he felt it to be most effective and fair.
The PM emphasised that the government still needed to work its way through the report and would acknowledge what the government believed to be genuine rights and interests based on its own interpretation of the law.
He then took a range of questions, dealing with aspects of the Waitangi Tribunal's report, the Pacific Forum, Afghanistan, and the regulation of alcohol and dangerous substances.
The PM was asked a range of questions about the implications of the Waitangi Tribunal report. He emphasised that his current statements were subject to more detailed consideration.
The PM was asked to what extent the government's timetable was flexible or whether delays would adversely affect the cost of the sales. He responded that the preferred timetable was suggested by Crown lawyers but that delays of two or three months would not cause additional costs. The PM was also asked whether he would want to float any two assets in any one twelve month period. He responded that it was certainly possible but ruled out releasing two in any one month.
The PM was asked about the immigration fraud case of Yong Min Yan and whether he thought there was a case for revoking the offer of citizenship to Mr Yong. He said that he was aware of the debate but said that it was important to see the Auditor General's report on the matter before passing judgement.
The PM was asked his response to the comments
by Barbara Sumner-Burstyn on the deaths of NZDF personnel in
Afghanistan and the furore caused by the facebook page set
up in response.
He said that Sumner-Burstyn's comments were "unfortunate" and he felt that people ought to consider their comments more carefully. He was also keen to condemn the threats which had been circulated in response.
The PM was asked about the threats to New Zealand soldiers purporting to be from the Taleban. He responded that from the information he had seen the threat was not necessarily a credible one but that the NZDF continued to take precautions to ensure the safety of New Zealand soldiers.
The PM was asked about the proposal to raise drinking ages. He said that he would favour a split age--18 in pubs and bars, but up to 20 to buy from Off-licences--as he thought this would be more likely to discourage younger teens from gaining access to alcohol.
The PM was asked how he would vote on the question of marriage equality and he responded quickly that he would be voting in favour.
The PM was asked what topics he would speak to Secretary of State Clinton at the Pacific Forum, if she does attend, and he responded that it was not confirmed that she would. Pressed further on specific questions he indicated that he would anticipate a wide-ranging discussion taking in matters of shared interest including the forthcoming US election and Afghanistan.
The PM was asked whether the government was considering safety regulations on the sale of Butane gas in light of the recent number of deaths from ""huffing". He said that he had not yet taken any advice on the matter but the government had not yet taken advice.
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