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PM Press Conference – Syria | Living Wage | Asset Sales

PM Press Conference – Syria | Living Wage | Asset Sales Referendum- 2 September 2013

Scoop Audio+Video+Photos

By Hamish Cardwell


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At a short post-cabinet press conference this week Prime Minister John Key discussed New Zealand's potential involvement in the civil war in Syria and Labour leadership candidates' call for a living wage for all government staff.

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Scoop coverage began after Prime Minister finished his prepared remarks. Mr Key said the unfolding conflict in Syria as a “great human tragedy”.

He said New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully had had talks with United States Secretary of State John Kerry over the weekend, during which, Mr Kerry had asked for New Zealand's moral support in any military interventions in Syria.

Mr Key said New Zealand would debate any potential involvement in the war in parliament but the final decision would rest with the executive.

Mr Key said the triggering of a postal referendum on asset sales, which had announced earlier that day, would be “an utter waste of money” and would likely only be filled in by critics of the programme.

National had the mandate to carry out its asset sales programme after winning the 2011 election with the largest share of the vote in MMP history in NZ, he said.

The government would seek advice on timing of the referendum from the Electoral Commission, and he could not yet name a date.

Mr Key was critical of calls from Labour Party leadership candidates for a living wage of $18.40 to be introduced for all government employees.

He said Labour "clearly had no understanding of economics".

The policy would cost the government $2.5 billion dollars and lead to 26,000 people losing their jobs.

He said he fully accepted that New Zealand did need a wage boost, but to do so it needed to make the economy more competitive rather than legislating for higher wages.

The government provided support for low income workers through initiatives such as kiwi saver, he said.

Mr Key also answered questions about the Trans Pacific Partnership and Pike River coal mining disaster.

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ENDS

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