PM Presser: Maori-Mana Partnership? | A Third Bain Report?
PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference - 23 Jan 2013
By Mark P. Williams
Today the Prime Minister held his first post-cabinet press conference of the New Year. He spoke briefly about the announcement of $80m investment in irrigation infrastructure earlier today by Primary Industries Minister David Carter. He described it as a significant part of the government's strategy for improving the New Zealand economy. He called the government's investment a means of encouraging further third party investment in irrigation infrastructure.
He briefly explained his activities for the coming week, including his attendance at the celebration dinner for this year's Prime Minister's Youth Programme participants in Auckland. He emphasised that all participants in the programme had overcome significant obstacles to make positive changes in their lives; he added that he was impressed by their attitude and determination.
The Prime Minister also noted that this Friday he would be delivering his first speech in Auckland, a speech with a strong economic focus. He also noted that there would be no post-cabinet press conference next week as there would be no Cabinet.
He then took questions from the press gallery.
Questions to the Prime Minister
The questions began with a variety of questions about the proposed deal between the Maori Party and the Mana Party and how it might affect the National Party's confidence and supply agreement with the Maori Party.
The PM was asked whether he felt that he could work with a Maori-Mana partnership. He said that there were too many details for him to discuss it in full, saying that the Maori Party had made their confidence and supply agreement with National for the three years of the Parliamentary term and that he was sure that whatever else they do it would be honoured.
The PM was asked whether he would rule out working with Hone Harawira. He replied that Hone Harawira had already made his own position clear and ruled out working with National, adding that "the feeling's mutual".
The PM was asked whether he would be happy for Pita Sharples stay on as Minister if the Maori Party stands him down as co-leader. He replied that it was something he would have to "work through" with the leadership of the Maori Party, adding that he would take "strong guidance" from the Maori Party about how to proceed, but also acknowledging that it would not be unprecedented (referring to Heather Roy and the ACT Party).
The PM was asked what was next for the government on the matter of compensation for David Bain. He replied that Judith Collins had delivered a brief update to Cabinet on the process but without drawing any conclusions, saying that she would be coming back with further recommendations to Cabinet on the 4th Feb.
The PM was then asked if he was concerned about
the expense of these successive reports.
He replied that, on the one hand he was concerned with the cost of these proceedings to the tax-payer, on the other, he was more concerned with doing it professionally, and getting a "robust conclusion" that was the right decision.
The PM was pressed as to whether Minister Collins' briefing meant that there would be a further report, in addition to the Binnie and Fisher reports, he reluctantly indicated that it would seem probable.
On irrigation, the PM was asked
why, if the irrigation concerns were going to be profitable
enterprises, it was necessary for the government to
He responded by explaining that it was a question of timing, of getting together lots of farmers to invest in such a scheme during the same time-frame. He said that the government money was to facilitate further investment.
The PM was asked how this was different from
the Govt putting seed money into new fibre optic cable links
for New Zealand.
He replied that the Govt is considered an investor hoping for a return on its investment of the initial outlay, but not necessarily for any significant dividend. He added that the Pacific Fibre cable investment proposals were simply not viable in the Govt's view and said that the subsequent failure to find any other investors vindicated the Govt's position.
On Novopay, the PM was asked about the possibility of strike action being raised by teachers. He responded by saying that the Govt had already put a more senior minister on to the matter and was taking action. He added that would strongly advise against strike action as the Govt was already taking action; he said did not know what a strike could accomplish in this instance other than "ripping up the scheme" which would result in "no-one getting paid" and suggested that the teachers considering striking ought to "cool their heels".
was asked whether he was concerned by yesterday's
announcement by the Bank of Japan that they would begin
unlimited money printing to devalue the Yuan, and whether he
felt it would result in tit-for-tat money printing by other
He replied that it was a concern but it was a matter for each government to consider in the ramifications for their own economy and said that it simply further indicated that the global economy was not yet "healed".
The PM was asked about the announcement of Australian PM Julia Gillard of a new National Security Strategy, focusing on combatting terrorism and cyber-security in particular. He responded that he was aware of this and would no doubt be receiving briefings on New Zealand National Security policy shortly but that he had no specific advice at present. He added that the Govt was aware of the importance of being attentive to cyber-security issues and that New Zealand was "singing from the same hymn-sheet" as Australia and the UK on cyber-security.
On Novopay again, the PM was asked if there was a chance that the system itself was so flawed, so full of bugs, that it cannot be fixed. He said he simply could not comment on that.
The PM was asked his position on the news that UK Prime Minister David Cameron was proposing an in-or-out referendum on taking Britain out of the EU and how that might affect the UK's links with New Zealand. He replied that it was something solely for the UK to consider and that it was not a straightforward decision. He added that although the UK was an important market for New Zealand, it was much less important now than ten years ago and significantly less so now than it had been before 1970.
The PM was asked whether a Maori-Mana partnership would be a deal breaker for National's present agreements with the Maori Party. He reiterated that Hone Harawira had ruled out working with National. Pressed further he said that we would all have to wait and see how things "play out".
Click for big version.