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Post-cabinet: TPPA, Family Violence and Solid Energy

Post-cabinet: TPPA, Family Violence and Solid Energy

By Megan Gattey

Photo: Francis Cook

Prime Minister John Key discussed the current situation on the TPPA, Solid Energy and the upcoming discussion document on family violence in a post-cabinet press conference today.

The TPP agreement was unable to be concluded over the weekend, and Key said there were a few challenging issues still remaining.

“There is a finite window where if we can’t complete the deal in that time, it becomes for difficult for the United States and others,” he said.

The offer on dairy was “not close enough for a deal to be concluded”, he said.

“We want to get the best deal for New Zealand, but not at any cost.”

Key said he was confident the twelve countries involved would reach an agreement that would be in the best interests of New Zealanders.

“We won’t get rich selling to ourselves.”

Ultimately the TPP agreement would diversify the economy by building stronger trade links, investment, and economic ties around the world, Key said.

"An agreement would give New Zealand exporters and investors access to more than 800 million customers in 11 countries across Asia and the Pacific, including the giant economies of the United States and Japan. That's important in supporting more jobs, higher incomes and a better standard of living for New Zealanders."

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Justice Minister Amy Adams will soon be announcing a discussion document about family violence and how New Zealand should address the issue.

Key said: “Family violence in New Zealand is far too high and this government is committed to addressing the longstanding issues.”

The intention of the discussion document is to spark debate and nationwide conversation about how New Zealand should address family violence, Key said.

“It’s going to be quite a wide-ranging debate from what I can see.”

The government would potentially be willing to put more funding towards addressing family violence, he said.

"There are some potential costs, but it's also mainly about the impact on the victims. And that's where the big payback comes, if you like. If we can reduce the amount of family violence, and have a safer society, then we're a much better society for that."

Singapore are set to celebrate 50 years of independence. Key is travelling to Singapore this week to attend the festivities. The trip will also be commemorating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and New Zealand.

When Key was questioned about Philip Blackwood and whether or not he missed out on getting released from prison in Myanmar, Key said the government was keeping a close eye on the situation.

“However, we want to make sure that in doing so, we don’t potentially make the situation worse.”

7000 prisoners were released from Myanmar prisons on Thursday, but Blackwood, jailed for insulting religion, was not one of them. He was jailed in March this year for posting a promotional picture of Buddha wearing headphones on the Facebook page for his bar.

Solid Energy was also a topic of discussion, and Key said the company was in a "precarious position".

“Quite a bit of work is happening behind the scenes to see what the next step in the process is.”

The debt essentially belonged with the banks in the end, Key said.

“We’ve made it clear to the banks that they need to sort the situation out. They’re leading the process, but the Crown is an interested participant and is actively engaged in those conversations.”

Liquidation of the company was not the preferred option, but it could not be ruled out as a possibility, Key said.

Solid Energy is in a “very delicate stage at the moment”, Key said.

The government was not planning to invest more capital to keep Solid Energy going.

Winston Peters made comments recently that Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-liga was partially qualified for the position simply because he was Polynesian.

Key addressed this, saying: “People should be chosen on ability, not ethnicity”.

“It’s very difficult to know whether he was trying to be provocative or whether he was standing up for someone he has a bit of a liking to. Winston Peters is known a bit for standing up for people that he likes.”

When asked about potential GST charges on digital services and goods purchased online, Key said he had not discussed the issue at Cabinet, but that New Zealand officials were working closely with Australian officials.

“We are confident that we are marching towards a potentially successful outcome from the government’s point-of-view where GST can be applied fairly.”

If New Zealand followed Australia by changing the tax rules for imported goods, the two nations' threshold limits might also be similar, Key said.

Key said New Zealand officials were still working on how best to implement these changes.

Last week, Key said he believed Māori Language Week was important for New Zealand, but that it did not need to be extended to a full month.

He stood by his comment in the conference today, saying Māori week garners more intensity in the shorter time period.

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