Whaleoil transcription: Mike Hosking & Jacinda Ardern on Pike re-entry, Sroubek, Spectrum 5G & the price of petrol

NewstalkZB news

Newstalk ZB 20 November 2018

Mike

Did you talk to Mike Pence about our trade tariff exemptions?

Jacinda

Yes, I did.

Mike

And he said, what?

Jacinda

It was too good an opportunity to miss. But I still like to think that doing it in such a way that doesn’t, of course, disrupt the, ah, you know the social occasion as well, and he said that was something that he would look at, basically.

Mike

Is that a fob off, or do you think something’s coming?

Jacinda

No, I think he was very genuine about it. I do know that our officials have been together [and] talking for some time.  It was… certainly, when I raised it with Donald Trump, he acknowledged it too.  And so we are not alone, there are a number of countries seeking reconsideration. I imagine we’re in a pack of others who are seeking reconsideration but regardless, I’ll keep raising the issue.

Mike

Does it get awkward given Australia’s got one now and we don’t?

Jacinda

I wouldn’t say that it’s awkward.  It is, I think in my mind it is an anomaly so it is worthy of being raised which is why I took the opportunity and raised it.

Mike

Is an apology coming from the government on Pike River?

Jacinda

Yeah. (Inaudible) You know, this question asked of me yesterday.  That hasn’t been the primary driver for us because the primary focus is on families and we’ve heard from families who are talking about re-entry into the drift and so rightly that’s been where our focus has been. I think there is a sequencing issue here, you know, getting back into the drift, doing that work, that’s what comes first.  But then I think there will be a time when its worth considering that apology and that being the right thing to do.  But first things first (inaudible)

Mike

What would you be apologizing for?

Jacinda

As Andrew Little has raised and talked about, you know, there are questions around the handling of the aftermath around prosecution, work safety (inaudible) and so on, but again that’s not the primary driver of our activity, we’ve focused on what the families are after which has been re-entry.

Mike

What’s your assessment of the risk in going back in?

Jacinda

We wouldn’t be doing it if we had not assessed it to be viable, of course, people will be looking to us if anything goes wrong so it’s not something we’ve taken lightly, it’s taken us a year to get to this point and we’ve… Andrew Little has had a separate advisor on it just to make sure that we are acting with good caution. But we wouldn’t have made the decision if we didn’t believe it could be done and look the families are focused for the families too, they don’t want any more harm to be done so we are being very cautious.

Mike

If something goes wrong do you resign?

Jacinda

Well, we have to take on board liability. Of course, you know because we are the ones determining that it can done. But my… our assessment is that it is achievable.

Mike

Of course, but under collective responsibility you signed it off.  If somebody loses their life because of your decision you would need as a government to resign on this, on the day.

Jacinda

I am not going to enter into hypotheticals on this or entertain the idea of a loss of life.

Mike

Have you not considered it?

Jacinda

Oh, of course, we have to consider making sure that this is safe, and that’s been the entire basis of this decision, Mike.  We’ve got to consider whether or not it can be done without any further harm and the judgement has been made with expert opinions that it can.

Mike

And no one has said that it’s 100% safe, have they? So therefore, you must have gone down the track of considering what to do if it’s not safe?

Jacinda

Of course, these things are difficult, mining is not a safe enterprise in the first place, but the judgement has been made that it can be done without that potential risk.

Mike

21st of November tomorrow which is the day for the Sroubek report now we won’t be getting it, will we?

Jacinda

You will have to wait for the final outcome. I am yet to be briefed on the final outcome, Mike.

Mike

So, the three weeks has (sic) come and gone, why?

Jacinda

No, no on the government side of course we have already given a progress report.  We’ve said we want it within three weeks to make sure that we’d done… that we’d reassessed the information that Immigration New Zealand had, we’ve done that.  That’s now… that work’s been done and now it’s in a legal process which is why I’m loath to comment too much because now it’s involving Sroubek’s legal team.

Mike

And so, they’ve asked for an extension, they’ve got it haven’t they?

Jacinda

I am not jeopardising this process Mike, by commenting on it.

Mike

So, when you said the previous Friday that three weeks was too long, you wanted it a lot faster, why didn’t that happen?

Jacinda

Oh, well because… it did Mike. That was the deadline I placed on Immigration New Zealand for getting our house in order; they did, now we are in a legal process with Sroubek’s legal team.

Mike

Will we find out what the magic is that Lees-Galloway holds that had him make this decision in the first place?

Jacinda

I will repeat that there was (sic) issues with there being contradictory evidence in the public domain versus what he had in front of him. So, I don’t want to pre-empt too much what we are going to be able to put out there once the process is finished, I want to just get this sorted first Mike.

Mike

Has something substantive come as a result of the enquiry?

Jacinda

Yes, again I think the public would appreciate that I don’t want to jeopardise this case. I will share what we are able to share once it’s done but at the moment, I want to get this sorted and I don’t want to jeopardise that by making comments prematurely.

Mike

When will we know?

Jacinda

Look I hope very soon. From my recollection I think it was something like a nine-day period from the time that Immigration were contacting (sic) but don’t quote me on that.

Mike

Which is roughly when though? So, if you got between a week and a half that is roughly nine days so it must be anytime now.

Jacinda

Not too long, I’d say Mike, not too long.

Mike

When’s the government holding their 5G Spectrum option?

Jacinda

Yes, so, I think Spark’s putting their own deadline, I’d need to check in with the minister on the option dates. But we do have a process as well where the Telecommunications Interception Act that ticks… that requires also a process for security reasons to be gone through so there’s a number of different layers.  I don’t think it’s fair to say that government is necessarily delaying things I think it’s just about making sure that we go through a process properly and that’s what we are doing.

Mike

Is Huawei a problem?

Jacinda

Again, that’s a legislative process that we go through, that’s not specific to vendor or country it just has a set of questions that we are obliged under law to ask and that’s what we do. That hasn’t concluded yet.

Mike

Within a margin, when are you holding your option?

Jacinda

I’d need to check with the minister on that Mike.

Mike

So, you got no idea, because he’s got no idea either, because they did ask him and he doesn’t know.

Jacinda

Well, as I say, there’s multiple processes. It’s not just about the spectrum being auctioned there’s multiple processes that we have to go through, but as I said to someone, a commentator in this space this morning, it’s not just about Spectrum it’s also about the available technology coming into play so there’s multiple factors at play, it’s not that we’re sitting here holding up people moving onto a 5G network.

Mike

With Waitomo Petrol offering petroleum at $1.99 a litre are we still being fleeced?

Jacinda

I think it does demonstrate the huge amount of variation.

Recording ends.

The interview starts at around 7:15


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