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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day

Today’s questions of the day concerned: Urgency – Brierley’s Fish –Waitara Shooting – Regional Development – Maori Spectrum – Waitara Shooting Comments From PM – PM On Rimu Contracts – Waitara Shooting – Kyoto Protocol – Brian Edwards Media Training - Employment Relations Bill And Select Committee x 2

Tuesday, 9 May 2000 - Questions For Oral Answer

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.


SCOOP COVERAGE BEGINS:

(Richard Prebble (ACT) – could you advise of the subject of extraordinary urgency to be taken after Question Time.

Speaker - I know there is to be extraordinary urgency too but I have not heard it announced yet. I imagine it is something to do with the budget or a cabinet decision but I do not know what.)

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Question 1.

DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Labour) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: Has he received any advice in relation to delegations made to the Overseas Investment Commission by the previous Government?

A: Yes I have received advice that previous delegations given by the Previous Minister and Treasurer may be ultra vires . The former fisheries Minister said the delegation was intended as an interim measure. The OIC reject this advice completely.

Q: John Luxton (National – the former fisheries Minister.): Why has it taken two months to find there was a problem with this delegation?

A: The delegation was supposed to be interim but that is rejected by the OIC and no interim nature is noted on the delegation.

Q: Is this a dereliction of a Minister’s duties?

A: The delegation contains an assumption that approval will be given and that is what is considered ultra vires: The decision to revoke the delegations was taken before the advice that the delegation was ultra vires was received. The delegations in general now clearly have to be revisited and redrafted.

Q: John Luxton: Given the suggestion is that there is something wrong with the delegation why has nothing been done till the last few weeks.

A: At 6.30am on Monday he supported the sale but by 9.30am he had changed is mind.

Question 2.

Rt Hon JENNY SHIPLEY (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Does she stand by the statement in relation to the Waitara shooting, attributed to her last week, that relationships between the police in Taranaki and Maori "undoubtedly had a bearing on this tragedy"?

A: Yes. I believe such incidents have to be seen in their broader sociological context?

Q: Does she stand by comments that the shootings were like events in the streets of London or New York?

A: My references were to broader inquiries around such incidents and broader inquiries will always take into account the broader background.

Q: Why is it important to say these things.

A: It is important because if we do not acknowledge the issues seriously we will not address them.

Q: Did she talk to George Hawkins?

A: I did not make that statement.

Q: Jenny Shipley (National): Did this confusion result in someone having their notebook checked in the Press Gallery by her media minders.

A: I did wish to have the quote checked when it was not made. I am happy to say that I spoke to the same reporter on Monday morning and I would invite the member to be as free with her personal time as I am with mine.

(Richard Prebble - tabled a copy of the Evening Post – objected to)

Q: Did she know the Policeman was Maori?

A: I can not confirm or deny whether the policeman is Maori.


Question 3.

WILLIE JACKSON (Alliance) to the Minister for Industry and Regional Development Jim Anderton:

Q: What regional development initiatives will be taken this month?

A: This government is prepared to get involved in partnership with the region of Te Rawhiti. Iwi will have more than an input we will work alongside them. We will work with people on the ground in Te Rawhiti and with local authorities.

Q: What progress has been made on his initiative on the West Coast?

A: When the National Party can produce any package of $120 million that they have ever given anyone then I will take them seriously.

Q: How does the West Coast package compare to other regional development initiatives?

A: The package for the West Coast is an adjustment package. The problems in East Cape and Northland have been created by years of neglect. This government intends to address them.

Question 4.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Minister for Economic Development Jim Anderton:

Q: Given his concern "that we never get a long, sustained period of economic development because monetary policy is used to kill it off", what role does he intend playing in the upcoming review of monetary policy?

A: I worked with the Treasurer to develop the terms of reference for the review. We published a detailed critique of monetary policy in 1998.

Q: Rodney Hide (ACT) Is the minister satisfied with Monetary Policy so far?

A: I am a lot more satisfied with the policy than I would be if Mr Hide was anywhere near it. I am satisfied that review terms of reference give adequate scope to examine monetary policy in the past and in the future. I am not happy with interest rates going up. The Governor is independent but that does not mean he is immune to being examined.

Question 5.

MAHARA OKEROA (Labour) to the Minister of Communications:

Q: What reports, if any, has he received on proposals to encourage Maori economic development as a means of closing "the social and economic gaps between Maori and other New Zealanders"?

A: (Trevor Mallard on behalf) – the acting minister has received advice on this. The minister has also received a report from Jenny Shipley on this.

Q: Lockwood Smith (National) Is the government proposing to provide special access to resources to a privileged group?

A: I find that an interesting approach. He is joining his leader in saying this is a dangerous path when it was his leader that pandered to Tuku Morgan, Alamein Kopu and others. The acting minister has seen a report that says Mrs Shiipley is a hypocrite and he agrees with it.

(Speaker – withdraw and apologise.

Trevor Mallard – I withdraw. But does that mean I cannot quote from a report.)

Mrs Shipley says Maori - who are over represented among low income people and under represented - are a privileged group in society. That is why she is over there and we are over here. We are trying to slightly tilt the table towards Maori because they are the people who have been left behind for ages.

Q: Jenny Shipley (National): Can the Minister confirm that this is the first time this has happened?

A: Spectrum is not only subject to a claim it is subject to a decision.

Question 6.

Hon TONY RYALL (National) to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: What did he mean when he said, of the Waitara shooting, "I believe it is inappropriate for politicians to interfere, whether by comment of known facts or opinion, while the investigations are underway"?

A: I meant exactly what I said.

(laughter)

Q: A most helpful answer. Did he share his advice with the PM and the Minister of Maori Affairs and if so what was there response?

A: I think the real issue is why is the leader of the opposition attempting to make political capital out of the tragedy at Waitara.

(Roger Sowry – If you are going to allow an answer that is deliberately provocative and not expect a response then I think you are asking – quite frankly – too much. Trevor Mallard and Lianne Dalziel have been yelling their heads off and people should be treated equally.

Speaker – I couldn’t hear the answer so I do not know how provocative it is.

Trevor Mallard – I have been on my best behaviour all day and I take offence.

Speaker - on this occasion the Minister may be right but on many others he hasn’t.)

The PM was commenting on the background to the incident and not on the incident itself.

Q: Why is the minister not commenting?

A: I believe that as police minister I should not be involved in day to day operations of the police.

Q: Tony Ryall (National) - Why are Minister’s still commenting?

A: Some of them are making comments because reporters keep asking them.

Question 7.

JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Green) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: With reference to Hon Dr Michael Cullen's statement on Thursday 4 May that "nobody in the House is now arguing for an immediate cessation of the rimu contracts", will she confirm that in all communications with her the Green Party has argued for a prompt and urgent end to all rimu logging by Timberlands West Coast Ltd?

A: Yes I am happy to confirm that at all times the Green Party has argued for a “prompt and urgent” cessation. That does not mean immediate.

Q: Given the assertion that the contracts were signed in a rush can she get confirmation that his MP did not pass on discussions in the Labour Caucus on this issue to Timberlands?

A: I have no knowledge of that allegation. I would like to know why a dying government signed contracts they could not see through.

Q: Have the Greens gone feral?

A: In probably every meeting I have had with the Green Party they have made clear their view that there should be a prompt and urgent end to logging.

Q: Jeanette Fitzsimmons (Green): With Timberlands accelerating its harvest in Orikaka is there no reason that it should not cease immediately after a Cabinet decision.

A: We would be concerned if there was an increase in the logging rate. As I have said in the house before time has moved on since 1986 – thank goodness – and our policy has changed.

Question 8.

Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (ACT) to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: Does he believe that the police homicide inquiry, the Police Complaints Authority investigation and a coroner's inquiry will be able to adequately report on the Waitara shooting; if not, why not?

A: I expect that each will carry out there respective roles appropriately and report accordingly.

Q: Does he agree with the PM that race was a part of the shooting?

A: What I agree with is many comments in the media appear to be more fiction than fact. I am unable to give the time frame of the investigation but it will be full and thorough and not subject to any delay.

Q: Will he confirm some of the comment is irresponsible?

A: I am aware of allegations about this sort of thing. Some are valid, some are not.

Q: Does he disagree with Helen?

A: I was saying that some of the newspaper articles are more fiction than fact.

Question 9.

JILL PETTIS (Labour) to the Minister of Energy Pete Hodgson:

Q: What steps has the Government taken recently to meet New Zealand's obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change?

A: As announced by the PM yesterday a Ministerial group has been appointed to handle climate change. Our intention is to ratify the protocol around 2002.

Q: What topics will the reports cover?

A: Firstly what non-price measures can be implemented immediately. The second will consider the main roles that price controls to be implemented from 2008 to 2012 will be used to make NZ comply. It is our view that Europe is likely to ratify in June 2002. I think it is reasonable to assume others nations will also be ratifying around that time. A carbon charge is certainly in our tool box. But it is also certain that a carbon charge alone will not achieve sufficient reduction in emissions. We will follow practical measures not ideological ones. This is one of the biggest issues in the world and we will not be having a one-dimensional approach to this. Estimates of cost are all around, one of $13 a kg of carbon seems to have currency at present.

Question 10.

Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National) to the Minister responsible for Ministerial Services:

Q: Is it correct that she is offering media training by Dr Brian Edwards and Judy Callingham to her Ministers?

A: I am advised that no such contracts are underway. However it would be quite proper for budgets to be used for this purpose and I would be surprised if the previous government did not spend money on media training.

Q: Helen Duncan (Labour): Is it normal to have media training?

A: It certainly is and some seem to get greater benefit from it than others.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT) Can she assure the house that we will get value from money given she was trained by Mr Edwards and how she has performed in the last week?

A: The question is a masterpiece of misrepresentation. If Logos did the training of the last government they didn’t do a very good job.

Question 11.

GRAHAM KELLY to the Minister of Labour:

Q: Has she received any reports regarding representations on the Employment Relations Bill?

A: I have met with many organisations over the Bill. In many cases I have been able to clarify misunderstandings.

Q: Can she provide examples of misunderstandings?

A: They consistently misinterpret clause 6 of the contract. The clause allows people to seek determination if that is what they want. The mistaken interpretation is leading to a lot of unnecessary concern.

Q: What about Sharemilkers and Real Estate Agents, and why is she changing the bill?

A: I never believe there is no room for improvement. What I am endeavouring to do is allay the fears . As I have said from the outset I do not believe there is any lack of clarity in this issue. But as I have said, if to them it is not clear, then it is our responsibility to make it clear. A normal rule of statutory interpretation would make general legislation subservient to specific legislation such as the Sharemilker and Real Estate acts.

Q: Peter Dunne (United): What about direct marketers?

A: Clause six was drafted to clarify an uncertain position. The rule in the past has been left to the common law and judges. As a result of this a great deal of uncertainty has been created. This legislation attempts to provide clarity and consistency by directing the court to take into account specific factors. The examples you suggest would not prima facie be covered.

(Max Bradford – I asked for leave to the Minister to be directed to appear before the select committee rather than take up the time of the house as a whole.)

The bill is not intended to change existing relationships. It is only if one party finds they feel injustice then we have provided an opportunity for that to be tested on its facts.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT): Will she allay concerns by providing what amendments she is proposing?

A: I am quite happy to provide a seminar to update the members knowledge of law in this area. I will give it personally without charge. The point I am making is that the interpretations are clear. They may not be to you Mr Bradford – but you are hardly the norm. But what I have said is that if there is any way we can clarify the obvious then we will do so.

Q: Gerry Brownlee (National) (After seeking leave to ask….) Given her indication that Clause 6 should be clear. What does she mean in written answers that the appropriate measures will be recommended to the Select Committee?

A: I could explain the section again.

( Max Bradford: I seek leave for the house to instruct the Minister to appear before the select committee – refused.)

Gerry Brownlee – leave to table written questions – refused.)

Question 12.

Hon MAX BRADFORD to the Minister of Labour Margaret Wilson:

Q: Will she seek to delay the implementation date of the Employment Relations Bill to allow submissioners to present their oral submissions?

A: No it is for the Select Committee to determine its own timing.

Q: In that case will the Minister agree to delay the implementation till October to enable all sumissioners who wish to be heard to be heard.

A: That is up to the committee.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT): Given she has offered me a personal seminar will she appear in front of the committee?

A: I think all members are entitled to hear the answers to these questions. My understanding is that the priority should be given to submissioners. Why should I take up the time of the committee. I am sure that there is adequate time for submissions to be heard. I am appalled that the honourable member wants to delay the implementation of a piece of legislation that will benefit so many . I do not accept that submissioners will only get nine minutes. That shows a remarkable lack of lateral thinking.

( PERSONAL STATEMENT TONY RYALL: I had no involvement in the timing of contracts for the West Coast rimu logging. It is my understanding that 1994 contracts expired in 1999. Contracts were prepared from early last year. Tender documents were delivered in June. In Mid August contracts were signed. There was no haste. And no involvement from myself as Minister. The contracts are all for sustainably harvested timber.)

SCOOP COVERAGE ENDS

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