KEITH LOCKE (Green)
to the Prime Minister: Will he follow the example of world leaders Barack Obama and Angela Merkel and congratulate the latest Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo; if not, why not?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister):
Yes, the Nobel Peace Prize* is a prestigious award, and I congratulate those who are honoured with receiving this award.
Will his Government be making any official representations to the Chinese Government in this particular case for the release of this brave human rights campaigner?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY:
New Zealand officials have previously raised the case with Chinese authorities. We have different views from those of China on some human rights issues. We have a good and robust relationship with China and we are able to raise those issues constructively. Those concerns are raised on a regular basis in China, including during the most recent high-level visit by the *Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Dr Russel Norman:
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was a forward-looking one. It was about whether the Prime Minister would be raising this particular case. The Prime Minister quite rightly gave an answer about what has happened in the past, which was useful, but we are interested in whether he will be raising the issue in the future.
I thought that the Prime Minister said that it is regularly raised.
Dr Russel Norman:
No, he discussed what had happened in the past. He did not address the question as to whether he would raise it in the future—and that was the specific, very focused question.
Members have to be reasonable and not be too pedantic. I may not have picked up the gist of the Prime Minister’s answer accurately, and I apologise if that is the case, but I thought that the Prime Minister told the House that the matter was raised regularly. And if it is being raised regularly and nothing happens, then it is likely to be raised again—that seemed to be the purport of his answer. I may have got that wrong, but the Prime Minister does not appear to be indicating that I have.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think it could be clarified quite easily if the Prime Minister would just say that the Government will be raising this issue in the future.
I do not think we need to get as pedantic as that. As I indicated, my interpretation of the Prime Minister’s answer was that the matter had been raised on a regular basis and likely would be again, and the Prime Minister seemed to concur with my interpretation, which means that the member’s question has been answered—in that if nothing happens it probably will be raised in the future. It is not possible with hypothetical questions to get too specific. I think the Prime Minister gave a reasonable answer. The member ought to be happy that it seems it has been raised and will be raised.
I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not want to get too picky but you referred to a hypothetical question. This was a very direct question, not a hypothetical one.
: Members have to be reasonable. I have been pretty tough on Ministers answering questions when I believed that the question involved information about which there should be an answer. But on this occasion the Prime Minister indicated that the matter is being raised and has been raised regularly, and there was no indication that it would not be raised again if nothing happened. The Prime Minister nodded to the House as I indicated my interpretation of his answer. Therefore, I believe that the member has an answer to his question—if nothing changes it is likely that it will be raised in the future. To try to get too picky over answers makes it too difficult altogether.