29 September 2016 Media Statement
29 September 2016 Media Statement
This government has dumped bad news on a Friday to try to avoid political scrutiny in Parliament, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker.
“Heron QC is to be thanked for a fearless report.
“After years of denials of problems, and attacks on those who made criticisms, the first independent report has turned up serious wrongdoing.
“The report says the cover-up of widespread quota fraud in the industry by senior enforcement personnel was partly caused by concern for their own reputation, after they earlier failed to enforce the law.
“New CEO Dunne is not at fault, but is wrong to say it is time to move on.
“The question of why there was systemic failure in the upper echelons of Ministry for Primary Industries enforcement has still not been properly answered.
“It is fair to question whether the Ministry is too close to the Fishing industry and have put commercial needs well ahead of environmental bottom lines.
“There are also serious questions about the actions of a number of officials over a long period and this needs to be investigated.
“The QMS population modelling used to assess remaining fish stocks may also be wrong, given that it was based on lower than actual catch data. There are many questions yet to be answered, David Parker says.
16 September 2016 Media Statement
The Government has now spent more than a year resisting disclosure of official information regarding whether there was legal advice supporting Murray McCully’s statement that the $4 million cash pay-out to a Saudi businessman was to settle “a legal claim”, Labour MP David Parker says.
“The media and the Labour Party have been seeking clarification through the Ombudsman under the Official Information Act of the existence, or otherwise, of documents to show whether this was true or just an excuse.
“The Minister has been supressing the documents.
“Murray McCully and the Prime Minister have repeatedly claimed the payment – made without Cabinet approval – was to avoid legal claims following New Zealand’s live sheep export ban. We still haven’t seen any evidence it was.
“Treasury couldn’t find any reference to legal proceedings in their advice.
“I suspect these long delays are to avoid admitting the ‘legal claim’ did not exist, and has been an excuse to justify a shabby, unprincipled deal.
“I do not believe there was any claim or any right of action. If there was, the official papers would show it.
“It’s time John Key and Murray McCully disclosed the documents, to show whether the ‘legal claim’ was real or made up,” David Parker says.
6 September 2016 Media Statement
New Zealand still needs legislation to ensure adult New Zealanders are not exploited by being taken on as contractors for less than the equivalent of the minimum wage, says Labour list MP David Parker.
“My Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill was defeated by one vote this week – 61 to 60. The National party voted it down. They acknowledge it happens, but say it is not widespread enough to fix. This is like saying it’s OK to have a few slaves, just not too many!
“It remains a travesty that adult New Zealanders can be engaged as contractors and paid less than the minimum wage. Other countries like the UK apply the minimum pay rate to work, whether as an employee or a contractor. My Member’s Bill did the same.
“Submitters made the point that closing the New Zealand loophole would help New Zealand meet its obligations as a member of the International Labour Organisation, whose rules member states should combat ‘disguised employment relationships’.
“There is rising exploitation of low paid workers in New Zealand. They are disproportionately young, women, Māori and Pacific Island people. The large number of work-permitted foreign students are especially vulnerable to exploitation. Some are not even paid the equivalent of the minimum wage.
“The sad fact is that in our country, which used to pride itself on being fair, it remains legal to exploit low paid workers this way. We will fix this when elected to government,” says David Parker.
26th August 2016 Media Statement
Documents released today confirm Treasury were not aware of any threat of legal action from a Saudi businessman to justify the Government handing over millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money, Labour MP David Parker says.
“Almost $12 million has been spent on equipment and sending sheep to businessman Hamood Al Khalaf’s farm in Saudi Arabia.
“Foreign Minister Murray McCully and the Prime Minister have repeatedly claimed a $4 million payment was to avoid legal action following New Zealand’s live sheep ban.
“The documents reveal that just a week after John Key claimed that payment was to avoid legal action, officials from Treasury couldn’t find any reference to legal proceedings in their advice.
“It’s appalling that the truth had to be dragged out of both Murray McCully and the Government. The Auditor-General is currently investigating and, if it’s confirmed the deal was improper, the Government needs to respond appropriately.
“These new documents only confirm what we have been saying all along – that this was a shabby, unprincipled deal that has wasted millions dollars of taxpayers’ cash,” David Parker says.
29 July 2016 Media Statement
29 June 2016 Media Statement
Crown solicitors have vented their frustration with funding cuts for prosecutions, including reporting they can be paid more to prosecute dog owners than murderers, says Labour’s Shadow Attorney-General David Parker.
“A Crown Law memo to the Attorney-General Chris Finlayson outlines a litany of concerns from solicitors for an agency that has faced ruthless cuts to its funding. The funding cuts were intended to average 25 per cent, and were predicted to be as high as 40 per cent for some firms.
“The documents obtained under the Official Information Act recorded one Crown solicitor stating the local Council paid a higher hourly rate to prosecute dangerous dog owners that the Crown did to prosecute murderers and that this likely not uncommon across the country. That’s astounding.
“One of the foremost duties of any government is to protect its citizens, including by enforcing the criminal law through prosecutions of criminals through the Courts. Crown lawyers have to be adequately funded in order to do that job properly.
“The memo contains other examples from solicitors:
Solicitors have retired their Crown warrant because of low fees.
Firms are unable to retain senior staff and struggling to recruit new people.
One solicitor said his office had cancelled the cleaning contract just to make ends meet.
The difference for one firm between being viable or not was changing the office lease.
Solicitors are seriously concerned about losing overworked staff to commercial law firms.
Concerns pressure will lead to mistakes by junior prosecutors.
“This prosecution system is clearly under extreme pressure. Legal counsel for accused criminals have told me their clients are pleading guilty to reduced charges,” says David Parker.