Article – Mark P. Williams
The Prime Minister was joined at his regular post-cabinet press conference by the Hon. Bill English to discuss the Waitangi Tribunal’s ‘shares plus’ proposals. Both Mr Key and Mr English stated that the government had heard nothing during the hui …
Security Train Wrecks: Dotcom | MSD | Huawei
PM Post-Cabinet Press Conference – 15 Oct 2012
By Mark P. Williams
The Prime Minister was joined at his regular post-cabinet press conference by the Hon. Bill English to discuss the Waitangi Tribunal’s ‘shares plus’ proposals. Both Mr Key and Mr English stated that the government had heard nothing during the hui on Maori rights and interests in water to dissuade the Crown from its stance regarding the floating of Mighty River Power and, consequently, the sale will be pressing ahead. He said the government will not undertake the ‘shares plus’ and will not negotiate further regarding the concept.
The Prime Minister stated that the government’s position remained that in common law no-one owns water.
He indicated that the Maori Council and others have expressed an intention to take court action, he said that this “is entirely a matter for them”.
Mr English spoke on the matter and then he and the Prime Minister took questions before the Prime Minister turned to other business of the day. He said that he had attended the half-dozen hui across the country and received 32 written submissions but that they did not affect the Crown’s view. He added that the government’s meetings with leaders in the EU and elsewhere had led the government to believe that the most important matter was reducing external debt and that the assets sales would have that desired effect.
Questions to Mr English
Mr English was asked whether court action might cause problems for the assets float. He responded that it would be better to get on with any court action and set aside the uncertainty as soon as possible.
Mr English was asked whether court action might hurt the value of Mighty River Power. He said that this was believed to be unlikely.
Mr English was asked what advice he had taken about the timetable for the assets sales.
He was pressed on whether court action might affect the proposed March-June timetable.
Mr English was asked if he was confident that the government would win a court action. He responded that the Crown believed it had a strong position on the matter.
Mr English was asked what other options the Crown would employ to recognize Maori rights and interests. He and Mr Key discussed examples such as the Waikato river claim which the PM had raised as an example in previous press conferences on the matter.
Mr English and the PM were then asked whether the Crown would legislate to overrule court verdicts if they went against the government. The PM responded that the Crown recognizes that Maori have a historical claim but not a contemporary claim over water rights and reiterated that any belief that this would constitute ownership to be compensated was, in the government’s view, simply mistaken.
The PM then spoke about his activities for the rest of the week, including the review of Veteran’s pensions to provide more for War Disablement and widows’ and relatives veterans’ pensions. He said that he would be welcoming two international visitors, the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi of Samoa and President Benigno Aquino of the Philippenes. Bills being read before the house include the Customs and Excise Tobacco Products Amendment Bill and the Minimum Wage Startout Amendment Bill. He then took questions.
The PM was asked how he would like the public to judge him on the apparent “train wreck” of the on-going Kim Dotcom affair; whether this should be through the polls, through ballot boxes, direct feedback or some other measure. The PM said he would leave that up to the public.
The PM was asked whether the public could trust government departments with private information in the light of the recent security breach at the MSD.
The PM was asked, given that this breach had occurred with a new system, how people could be confident that it would not happen with other departments since similar measures were being rolled out for other government departments.
The PM was asked whether the Ministry of Social Development’s problem might be connected with the cuts to back-office staff. He responded that he was hesitant to jump to conclusions in this case.
The PM was asked which auditing company was involved and explanation he had been offered thus far for the security breach. He responded that the company involved was KPMG and that he did not yet know as it was too early to tell; he knew that there was an audit in February and that we would have to wait and see.
The PM was asked about David Shearer’s allegations regarding recordings of the PM commenting on Kim Dotcom before the PM stated that he had heard of Mr Dotcom. He responded that he had waived his legal rights regarding any alleged recording and invited Mr Shearer to produce it.
The PM was then asked whether he had released all of the staff of the GCSB from their legal rights given that it is understood that they are contracted not to comment to the press. The PM responded that Mr Shearer had alleged that there is a clandestine tape and invited him to substantiate his allegations by producing it. He was pressed further to acknowledge whether there were witnesses to the alleged event but declined to comment on the possibility, concentrating instead on the alleged recording.
The PM was then asked again about whether he maintains that he cannot recall making a comment on Kim Dotcom in February or whether he is asserting that he did not make such a comment. He responded that he often speaks off the cuff and cannot recall details from a general speech he made to staff at the GCSB eight months ago.
The PM was asked whether the allegations against Huawei by the US and others were a cause for the government to reconsider its broadband policy and whether it was increasing the security risk to New Zealanders.
The PM was asked again about his position on the Kim Dotcom affair and whether he or anyone had given an instruction that he not be informed about the matter. He responded that the statements he has made are accurate as he can recall them.