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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day

Today’s questions of the day concerned: John Tamihere apology/speakers ruling – Community Work Scheme x 2 – IRD Funding – Nauseating Treatment Of Children – BIL Selling Fish Overseas – Pesticide On NZ Roads - Maori On Health Boards – Mental Health Funding – The ERA And Export Competitiveness – Students On School Boards – Bulk Funding – Millennium Kauri Forest – Advice MPs are not “Pigs And Dogs”.

Questions For Oral Answer - Wednesday, 29 March 2000

The following are paraphrases of today's questions for oral answer. They are not complete or official, the official record of Parliamentary proceedings is Hansard, which is not finalised some days after the event.

Questions For Oral Answer - Wednesday, 29 March 2000

Questions to Ministers


(SPEAKER – Yesterday a point of order was raised in Maori. Interpretation was not complete at the time. I have examined a translation and have found that it was not a point of order. He did not direct the chair he addressed another member. Points of order can only be made through the speaker. Members must not address members in the first person in the house. Secondly – it is quite outside order to raise matters which should be raised in a debate not a discussion of order. It reflects badly on the house when this happens. I ask MP John Tamihere to withdraw and apologise.

John Tamihere: I withdraw and apologise.

Jim Anderton –yesterday I raised a question concerning the placement of the Leader of the Opposition’s question now there is

Speaker that is the precisely what I mean when I said there should be no frivolous points of order.
… warning Gerry Brownlee….I made a ruling saying that there should not be frivolous points of order. The member will withdraw and apologise.

Jim Anderton – I apologise.)

Question 1.

Hon. Roger Sowry (National) to the Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey:

Q: Why did he say that the report he released on Sunday was an evaluation of the community work scheme?

A: On Sunday I released a report of an expanded community task force scheme which said the scheme would not work. It was this report that the Community Wage scheme was based on.

Q: Roger Sowry (National) How can he say it is on the community wage scheme when it says it is about community taskforce?

A: Mr Squeaker… no not Mr Squeaker : --- not with that powerful voice – I want to remind the ex-minister…. that the previous minister knew before he forced people into this scheme that it was a complete waste of taxpayers money.

The government will be advancing a strategy towards making WINZ more responsive this year.

Q: Roger Sowry (National) Can he inform the house that a social scientist is misrepresenting this report?

A: I trust the analysts from the department that agree with me and not the ex-minister.

Question 2.

Mark Peck (Labour) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: Has he received any submissions from the Inland Revenue Department on the consequences of continuing with the present baseline funding for the department?

A: Yes. The previous government approved a reduction in funding for the IRD - against advice - that will have an adverse impact on expected tax revenue.
I have received no specific report on recommendations [in a report referred to by Peter Dunne] but understand some of these recommendations to be being actioned.

Q: Were there other items of underfunding by the last government’s accounts?

A: Other items of major underfunding by the National Government included $60 million for the police, $30 million IRD and $30 million for youth justice initiatives.

Question 3.

Hon. Roger Sowry (National) to the Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey:

Q: Is it correct that "he is not similarly nauseated" at what his Associate Minister has described as the Child, Youth and Family Services' "downright prejudice"?

A: Yes.

Q: Does the minister believe that comments such as those made by his associate minister (Tariana Turia) affect the morale of the service.

A: My associate minister was addressing her frustration and anger at nine years of neglect under that member’s government. That anger will fuel her work over the next 18 years to improve it. I am proud of the staff of child youth and family. In Tauranga 50 children will become guardians of a Iwi trust shortly this is the sort of cutting edge stuff the department is involved in.

…The government is not promoting a bill recently referred back to the house referred to by Brian Donnelly…

Q: Is Roger Sowry’s asking these first two questions an indication of an upcoming bid at the National Party leadership?

(Speaker – that question is out of order.)

Q: Simon Upton (National): What will he do to put the denigration implicit in the associate minister’s words right?

A: The extraordinary anger felt by Maori that his government refused at act on these issues is what is fueling changes which will make it better.

Question 4.

Rt Hon. Winston Peters (NZ First) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: Has the Overseas Investment Commission received any applications seeking consent in principle to own or hold fish quota currently held by Te Ika Paewai Ltd; if so, who lodged that application?

A: Yes. One application fits the description in the question. The applicant subsequently decided not to complete the application.

Q: : Winston Peters: Can he confirm that it was not the company Te Iika Paewai Ltd that applied for this and that the OIC was dealing illegally with this issue?

A: It is true that there has been an argument and that now it is understood that only Te Ika Pawai can make such an application?

Q: Rod Donald (Green) Will the minister address the weakening in the OIC provisions implemented before the election and restore rules relating to the value of quota and the size of land which need not seek permission.

A: There is no proposal at this stage to do so. I have inquired however as to why an amendment passed in 1998 had not been brought into force until immediately prior to the election.. It would be inappropriate to change legislation in midstream.

Q: Winston Peters: How can you say that when BIL is claiming abroad that it has OIC permission to sell this quota.

A: I am not aware of that.

Question 5.

Dr Muriel Newman (ACT) to the Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey:

Q: When will he make public a thorough and correct analysis of the community work programme?

A: It is not my intention to undertake further analysis of the programme as research already undertaken is clear in its findings.

Q: Murieal Newman: Did he intend to deliberately mislead when he released a report on the expanded….

(Speaker… out of order).

Q: Did he intend to deliberately confuse the house when he released the report on the taskforce not the commuinity wage and then referred to the community wage scheme?

A: The research shows the scheme does not work.

Q: What was the research done for?

A: To assess theoperation of the commmunity taskforce programme which is very similar to community wage and on which community wage was based..

Q: Belinda Vernon (National) Can he confirm the control group was not kept separate?

A: There were two efforts to get this research done. The first was based on experimental sampling which was rejected, the second report was based on other research and its findings are the same.

(Steve Maharey - leave sought to table press release from the minister – refused.)

Question 6.

Sue Kedgley (Green) to the Minister of Transport Mark Gosche:

Q: Is he concerned that Transit New Zealand sprays more than 10 tonnes of chemical herbicides alongside roads, including a herbicide that contaminates groundwater and herbicides associated with a range of health effects; if so, what does he propose to do about it?

A: As I advised the member in replies to written question I am concerned about pesticides and I have asked for a briefing on the matter.

Q: Sue Kedgley: Will he instruct Transit New Zealand to implement a pesticide use reduction strategy such as that successfully implemented in Auckland which is now using 95% less chemicals.

A: I am prepared to consider such options.

Q: What standards are Transit contractors required to meet with the use of pesticides.

A: They must have accreditation and comply with codes of practice for the various herbicides and pesticides they use.

Q: NICK SMITH (NATIONAL): Is he aware that payments are being withheld from contractors who refuse to spray as directed by Transit onto open waterways?

A: No. The government is not aware of that and would welcome further information on it.

Question 7.

Rt Hon. Wyatt Creech (National) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: Will Maori be given an equal level of representation on district health boards with non-Maori?

A: The government has determined that Maori will have equitable representation on boards.

Q: Wyatt Creech (National) What does equitable mean?

A: It means fair and just. Equal means equal numbers.

Q: Will Maori be involved at other levels in health policy and decision making?

A: This government is interested in Maori involvement more than just on health boards . Maori in South Island may want to implement a model in the South Island on the basis of a memorandum of understanding.

Q: Wyatt Creech (National) How does she explain how this is in balance with Tariana Turia who says that the reforms will fail if Maori are not given an equal say?

A: I know my colleague would like to see equal representation she would also like to ensure they have a say on the boards and this government is committed to that. In the next few weeks Cabinet will be advised on whether or not the level of interest on boards could be based on a population based forumla. The government would also likely to ensure Pacific Island communities are represented on boards and we are also taking advice on this.

Question 8.

Judy Keall (Labour) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: What progress has the Government made since the election to improve mental health services?

A: This government is committed to improving the range of services available. An agreement was made today on the timetable for Mental Health decision making. We are committed to implementing the blueprint for mental health and we have continued the life of the Mental Health Commission to ensure this happens. More announcements on Mental Health will be made in the budget.

Q: Wyatt Creech (National) Why does (Named a Mr Walmsley ?(sp)) person consider that it will be bad for patients if the reform proceed as planned.

A: That is one opinion. In Auckland a memorandum of understanding has been negotiated and in the South Island good work has been done by HealthLink South.

Question 9.

Hon. Max Bradford (National) to the Minister of Labour Margaret Wilson:

Q: Will she regard the Employment Relations Bill as unsuccessful if it makes it more difficult for New Zealand exporters to rapidly adjust to international competition?

A: The bill will not make it more difficult for employers to respond to international competition. It will assist in improving productivity and increasing economic growth. The comments of Standard and Poor are not necessarily determinative on this. We note that there will also be strong economic growth over the next two years in most economic forecasts. The bill will strengthen relationships between employers and employees.

Q: Max Bradford (National): How does she reconcile this with the comments of Dick Hubbard that the Food Workers Union were using his factory as a test case in advance of the end of the ERA?

A: I also note the comments of Mr Hubbard that he expects there will be a resolution between him and his workers of the dispute.

Q: Max Bradford: How can she say that when this morning the RBNZ governor directly disagreed with her answers here today?

(Mark Peck – that was not what Mr Brash said?

Speaker – were those the exact remarks?

Bradford - I am quoting from an NZPA report from this morning.

Speaker – the minister may answer?)

A: I thank the member for that information. I will take it up with him [Dr Brash] and offer him a briefing.

(Bradford – leave sought to table report from NZPA – granted.)

Question 10.

Mahara Okeroa to the Minister of Education:

Q: What action, if any, has the Government taken to improve student representation on secondary school boards of trustees?

A: As part of the Education Amendment Bill introduced yesterday there are provisions for student representation on all boards . In 1991 the government decided that the people who were being educated were not on boards as of right and as a consequence they are not represented on many boards. The Human Rights Commission told the government at the time that it was a breach of international standards on rights. We are going to put this right.

Q: Why is it not more appropriate to allow boards to decide their own membership?

A: Because 27% of schools have chosen not to allow their students to be involved. Students should make that decision not their parents. We have decided to allow for a transition period in the implementation of this policy.

Question 11.

Hon. Dr Nick Smith (National) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: What evidence does he have to back up his claim in the House that there is a trend for bulk-funded schools to employ "cheaper, less experienced teachers rather than the right teachers for the jobs"?

A: The member appears to be confused by my statement that there was an “incentive” to employ less experienced teachers.

Q: Has he passed on his claims to the Minister of Health that this is the case and commented on her plans to bulk fund nurses?

A: No.

Q: Do bulk funded schools employ more teachers?

A: No. In fact on average centrally resourced schools employ more teachers and it does not lead to more experienced teachers being employed either.

Q: What is the difference between nurses and teachers being bulk funded?

A: If that member can’t tell the difference between a nurse and a teacher then I am sorry for him.

(Nick Smith - leave sought to table press statement – granted.)

Question 12.

Mita Ririnui (Labour) to the Minister of Internal Affairs Mark Burton:

Q: What benefits to conservation and recreation does he see in the establishment of the Millennium Kauri Forest he opened in Northland yesterday?

A: The millennium forest will be a habitat for Kiwi and the park will have public access and remain open in perpetuity as a symbol of our commitment to nature in the new millennium.

Q: What public invovlement will there be?

A: Hands on involvement will be considerable particularly by youth and local Iwi. These will be the guardians of the forest in the future.

Q: John Carter (National): Given that Kauri trees take 1000 years to mature does he hope to see the project completed by the time he retires.

A: I, like the member, could only hope that I could do so, and live to celebrate the forest in this house.

Q: (Jeanette Fitzsimmons) Does he agree that the $50 million biodiversity policy announced today should be fully funded so more projects like this can take place?

A: Much of that question would be better directed at my Parliamentary colleague (Finance Minister Michael Cullen) and I invite the member to do so. I have been interviewed today by the BBC world service on this.

(Trevor Mallard - Dr Nick Smith has just tabled part of a Hansard reply from me from some time ago - the word incentive was left out of the question – more care should be taken as questions are approved by the clerk.

Speaker – I have here………PAUSE…….. Order. Order. People should have the manners to wait while I get advice….

Speaker: Yes it appears the question from the member did not have the word incentive in it.

Trevor Mallard: Why was this question not checked. A group of words were taken totally out of context.

Speaker: The quotation as such is correctly taken but I am happy to consider this further. I accept responsibility for the actions of the clerk in this regard.

Speaker - sought leave of house to read out the question. – denied.

John Tamihere….Leave sought to table a series of documents relating to the Te Waipareira Trust – granted.)

Wednesday, 29 March 2000

Questions to Members

Question 1.

Hon. Max Bradford (National) to the Chairperson of the Employment and Accident Insurance Legislation Committee Graeme Kelly (Labour):

Q: Has the committee given any consideration to dates and times for hearing submissions on the Employment Relations Bill?

A: The committee has set a closing date of May 3. We will start hearing submissions before then if we receive some.

Q: Max Bradford (National): Will he arrange union submissions during the day from pro bill submissioners and against the bill submissions at night to ensure media coverage of union submissions? And will he ensure there are meetings held in other centres of population? These comments were made by the chairman at 5 CTU arranged meetings held recently.

A: I addressed a meeting of union delegates and suggested how best they might make their submissions be heard. I also suggested they make submissions during the day as well as at night. And I have had discussions with the secretary on travelling to other cities to hear submissions so more people can be heard.

(Lianne Dalziel I think allegations that members of the public would be invited to intimidate witnesses are very serious and that the member should be asked to withdraw and apologise

Graham Kelly – I have never said anything about stacking meetings and I have never said anything about intimidating other witnesses and if that is the level of debate we can expect on the committee then that is bad for democracy and bad for New Zealand.

Speaker – member asked to restate his question.)

Q: Max Bradford (Natioanl) Will the member allow the Select Committee Meeting to discuss a comment that he made at a meeting that unionists should not refer to opposition MPs as “dogs or pigs” and that they should not lose their tempers?

A: Any advice I have given to anyone attending meetings has been that they should not alienate others by using extravagant language.

(Max Bradford - I think there should be an investigation into this.

Speaker - I think the questions and answers were in order. )

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