4 Jul 2023

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins wants to meet with Kiri Allan face-to-face, supports her taking time off

9:08 am on 4 July 2023
Chris Hipkins and Kiri Allan.

PM Chris Hipkins said he has been advised that the complaints against Kiri Allan were historic and had been dealt with at the time. Photo: RNZ

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says he will not express confidence in minister Kiri Allan until he can meet with her face-to-face.

The East Coast MP is taking a break over the school holidays amid allegations she mistreated staff more than a year ago.

Chris Hipkins told Morning Report the advice he had had was that the allegations were historic and were dealt with at the time.

Hipkins said Allan indicated she wanted to take some time off and he supported that.

"I had several phone calls with Kiri yesterday in which she indicated she was taking some time off this week to spend with her whānau, I agreed that that was a good thing for her to do this week and the logistics of that mean that we'll catch up when I get back from the NATO summit which will be late next week or early the week after."

It was important that people were able to take a break when they had been under a lot of pressure, he said.

He said before expressing confidence in Allan it was important to have a face-to-face conversation with her.

"Ultimately these are historic issues, the feedback that I've had were that they were dealt with at the time - and so there are some other issues at play here including the fact that Kiri has indicated that she wants to take some time off which I support - and so that's the current situation."

Hipkins stopped short of expressing confidence in Allan and said he would not do so until they had met when he got back from Europe.

"With all ministers when issues are raised of this nature then yes I'll sit down and have a conversation with them about it, you know that's what anyone I think would expect the prime minister to do in a situation like this - but you know I'm not going to do that when someone is indicating they'd like to have a little bit of time off over the school holidays."

New approach to cataract surgeries to be rolled out 'as soon as possible'

In his interview on Morning Report, Hipkins also said a more consistent approach to providing surgeries was needed and a move to try and standardise access for cataracts surgeries announced yesterday would be rolled out as soon as possible.

More people will become eligible for cataract surgeries under the first move to standardise access across the former district health board regions, the government yesterday said.

While the move would mean more people joining waitlists, the government also promised to take steps to complete another 3500 surgeries over the next 18 months, to bring those waitlists down.

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall yesterday announced that former district health boards had used a point system which led to different access to cataract surgery based on where people lived - known as "post code" health.

Hipkins said currently if you live in Auckland for example, then the threshold for getting cataract surgery is lower than it is if you live in Dunedin.

"That's not acceptable, so I think wherever you are in the country if you have the same clinical need you should be able to access that care, so this standardisation of that approach means that everybody gets treated the same regardless of where in the country they are."

That sat alongside funding announced in the Budget to increase the number of surgeries that were being done, he said.

Hipkins would not give a date as to when the new approach would be in place but said it would be rolled out as soon as possible.

"There's always a process when you're rolling things out, that doesn't guarantee everyone's going to get their surgery on day one."

Rent controls 'not a policy that I would support' - Hipkins

Hipkins said he did not support a policy to limit how much landlords could increase rents by each year.

Rental controls were part of the Green Party's pre-election housing policy which was launched this week and promised to introduce rent controls to limit how much landlords could increase the rent by each year, with a cap that would never be higher than 3 percent.

Hipkins said Labour had not considered rent controls, nor would it be willing to.

"International experience suggests that rent controls actually really have a constraining effect on the number of rentals available."

"We're obviously always looking for ways that we can make life easier and better for renters, but a rent control which reduces the supply of rentals isn't going to make life better for renters."

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