• Jenny Shipley
Prime Minister


Mr Speaker, though the situation which developed last night is unusual, no constitutional crisis of any kind is involved for the Government or New Zealand.

The constitutional position of the Government is absolutely clear. The Government is assured of supply. The Government has the confidence of the House.

There have at this point been no changes of ministerial portfolio responsibilities.

Ministers, Chief Executives and Departments have full authority to continue their business as usual.

This is not just my personal opinion as Prime Minister. It is the independent, impartial and formal advice to me, to Parliament and the nation, from the Cabinet Office.

To my knowledge at least eight civilised governments in Europe are in precisely the same position, successfully operating minority governments or minority coalitions without agreement.

In the modern world of MMP this is the norm, not the exception. It does nothing to limit the growth or prosperity of those countries.

There is absolutely no reason why a minority government in this country cannot deliver stability, quality programmes and strong ongoing social and economic progress and that is precisely what I intend now as Prime Minister.

Last night, in a letter to the Leader of New Zealand First, I advised that, in my view, the failure of New Zealand First's Cabinet Ministers to fulfil their constitutional responsibility under the Cabinet Manual, is a "fundamental dispute" in terms of the Coalition Agreement.

That letter advised that I am now referring this matter to the Coalition Disputes Committee as a dispute under paragraph 13.3 of the agreement.

The agreement requires that the Leaders, Deputy Leaders and Presidents of the Coalition parties, shall negotiate in good faith to resolve the dispute. This process can take whatever time is required to get resolution. If we need that time, we will take it.

The agreement further provides that if the Disputes Committee cannot resolve such a matter, any party to the Coalition may then give written notice, that unless the matter is resolved within seven days, the Coalition will be terminated.

Mr Speaker, New Zealanders can be assured that good government and political stability will continue. We intend to manage this situation properly. Government in New Zealand will not be paralysed, it will be enhanced.