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Peters plumbs the depths

Tuesday, 16 October 2001 Media Statement

Peters plumbs the depths

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters’ statement today attacking the reputation of the chief executive of the Ministry of Fisheries is excessive, unjustified and irresponsible, says Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson.

“It is disappointing to see Mr Peters continuing to use his position as a Member of Parliament as a platform for wild attacks on people’s reputations,” Mr Hodgson said.

“His outburst against the chief executive of the Ministry of Fisheries today is yet another shabby attempt to grab attention by smearing someone’s name. Clearly Mr Peters has learnt nothing from his time in Court for defamation.”

Mr Hodgson said Mr Peters had grossly overstated the Appeal Court’s criticism of the ministry’s chief executive in judgments issued last week.

“For the record, I have confidence in the chief executive and the ministry and I certainly will not be heeding Mr Peters’ typically bombastic calls for dismissals and an inquiry.”

Many of the Court’s criticisms of the management of scampi arise from decisions taken in the 1980s, compounded by futher decisions through the 1990s. The present chief executive was appointed in 1995 when the Ministry of Fisheries was separated from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

The Court noted that “the Ministry’s officers are conscientious, well-intentioned and carry out their duties in good faith”. While finding that the chief executive erred in exercising his discretion, it noted that he “was at a disadvantage” as “his discretion fell to be exercised under Regulations which did not provide any criteria to guide him”.

Mr Hodgson said the Appeal Court’s judgments were being studied by the ministry.

“The ultimate solution to the problems the Court has identified with the management of the fishing permit system is the introduction of more species, such as scampi, to the quota management system. We now have the legal and logistical ability to do that since the full implementation of the 1996 Fisheries Act on 1 October.”

ENDS

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