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Prime Minister on Fonterra | David Henry Inquiry | GCSB

PM on Fonterra | David Henry Inquiry | GCSB

PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference - 5 August 2013

Scoop Audio+Video+Photos

by the Hamish Cardwell and Alastair Reith

At his weekly post cabinet press conference Prime Minister John Key answered questions about the Fonterra botulism contamination scare and the release of Peter Dunne and Fairfax journalist Andrea Vance's emails during the Henry inquiry.

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Mr Key said there had been damage to both New Zealand and Fonterra because of the contaminated dairy products.

On Friday 2 August, Fonterra informed Ministry of Primary Industries that three batches of whey protein it had manufactured in May last year had tested positive for a food poisoning bacterium which can cause botulism.

MPU have issued a notice which said consumers should avoid all products labelled Nutricia Karicare Infant Formula Stage 1 for babies from birth, and Nutricia Karicare Stage 2 Follow-on formula for children from six months old.

Mr Key said in the long term he was comfortable that New Zealand could bounce back from the controversy.

There were questions which Fonterra needed to answer, particularly around why it them took so long to notify the Government, but “now was not the time for recriminations”, he said

MPI was putting officials into Fonterra offices and Steven Joyce had been sent to Auckland to meet with Fonterra management.

The situation was constantly evolving but the public would be kept up to date as new information came in, he said.

There would a a number of inquiries into the incident.

Mr Key was joined by Trade Minister Tim Groser and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye.

Ms Kaye said there were no immediate issues around supply of the infant milk formula.

Mr Groser said China had halted Fonterra products which contained whey and infant formula but that other Fonterra products were still being allowed through. However, Russia had placed a blanket ban on all New Zealand dairy products.

If the import block was limited to a few weeks and a small number of products, which he hoped to be the case, then the fallout for New Zealand would be small, Mr Groser said .

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Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in either
MP3 format or in OGG format.

On other issues, Mr Key said he was welcoming Prime Minister Peter O'Neil of Papua New Guinea to New Zealand later this week, with the visit aiming to strengthen bilateral relations and increase a trade relationship worth $250 million a year.

Parliamentary private secretaries are being appointed to assist the Canterbury earthquake recovery effort, conservation, local government and tourism.

Christchurch MP Nikki Wagner would be tasked with helping Gerry Brownlee with the Canterbury earthquake portfolio and would also work with Nick Smith on conservation.

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean will also assist Chris Tremain in local government and Mr Key in tourism.

The Prime Minister faced questions about the ongoing scandal over Andrea Vance, Peter Dunne and parliamentary services.

He continued to deny any wrongdoing, stating that the terms of reference for the inquiry into Peter Dunne and other ministers was made public and was entirely legitimate.

Mr Key said while parliamentary services stepped too far by handing over Ms Vance's swipe card and phone details he bears no responsibility for their mistake.

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ENDS

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