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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day May 30

SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day May 30

Today's questions concerned the subjects of: Sporting Achievements - Fiji Crisis - ERB - GE Seed Imports - Fiji Coup And Maori - APEC and Trade - Health Reforms - STV and Local Government - ERB and The Treaty - Teacher Council - Overseas Investment (Cullen) - Technology NZ - Overseas Investment (Anderton) - ERB and Contractors - Employment Bill Committee x 2

Questions For Oral Answer - Tuesday, May 30, 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.

SCOOP COVERAGE BEGINS

(Richard Prebble (ACT): Labour member John Tamihere has attended a meeting in Auckland dressed in a black skivvy. I do not consider that proper Parliamentary dress. The rules are quite clear that dress at a Select Committee should be the same as it is there. Apparently there are other committees that people are turning up at not wearing a tie. Submissioners should be taken seriously and we should be properly dressed. As members of Parliament they are not entitled to wear whatever the want. It is defiance of the chair for member to chair the committee once it has been brought to

Speaker - What has happened in a committee should not be referred to in the house. The question of dress is a matter of order. In the house formality is insisted on. In a committee dress is a matter for the chairperson of the committee. There is no presumption that the same rules will apply in committees as are in the house. This can be considered later this Parliament by the Standing Orders committee. I thank the member for raising this matter before the house convened so I could seek advice.

Geerry Brownlee (National) - I do hope this does not become a means of manipulations of Select Committees.

Speaker - So do I.

Trevor Mallard (Labour) - Congratulations to rugby players, yachts-people, cyclists and others for sporting achievements. I understand that Waimakariri is now called Blackadder's Ville. I hope that members take care with the new All Blacks and that no-one be scared by them in the dressing rooms.

Jenny Shipley (National) - National supports the motion especially in relation to the Canterbury Crusaders. I would like to also share the delight of the Blackadders and observe that there was some justice in the Sevens victory.

Richard Prebble (ACT) - I am not sure that we add anything to these victories by talking about this. How come we have lost half of Team NZ - why isn't their a motion about that - we are losing talent here in sports just as we are in business. The Minister should take responsibility for the loss of half of team NZ - sports people are taking the money and running. I intend to continue Mr Speaker because I think the Minister of Sport should reconsider whether it is a good idea to put down motions like this.

applause.

Speaker - the member is going wide of the motion.

Winston Peters (NZ First ) - I for once agree with Mr Prebble. There is nothing more vulgar than members trying to rise and associate themselves vicariously with the successful. The reality is that we should at least thank the Argentineans for knocking Fiji out.

Speaker - motion passed.

Speaker - I am sure that Jane Clifton now has her column for tomorrow.)


Question 1.

CHRIS CARTER (Labour) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: How will New Zealand respond to the latest developments in Fiji?

A: From the outset NZ has stated that it wishes to see a resolution which is constitutional. If Fiji rejects a democratic solution Fiji will then have various sanctions imposed. The government has been very heartened by the response of NZ sporting bodies. The Rugby League has cancelled a tour and I understand that . Economic sanctions have not been considered to this point. It hasn't been the view that unilateral sanctions from one country can be effective. We would want to be in the company of several countries .

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT) Isn't a fact that economic sanctions would hurt the Indian community?

A: That is also true.

Q: Peter Dunne (Unitied) When will additional immigration measures be taken?

A: NZ Immigration officials are ready to issue visitors permits to NZ where people are in danger. Over time if it is clear that Indians have to leave, then I expect them to disperse to many countries.

Question 2.

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

Q: Can she explain the apparent contradiction between her reported view that employers who accused the Government of failing to listen to concerns about the Employment Relations Bill were "political enemies" with the recent statement by the Minister of Finance about beginning to build bridges to business?

A: Among the opponents of the bill are groups who have always been opposed to the Labour Party and always will be.

Q: Jenny Shipley (National) - Isn't the crisis of confidence in NZ Business her fault because of her failure to give Cabinet an appearance of collective responsibility?

A: The leader of the opposition may well take pleasure in doing her part to talk down business confidence it is this government's job to

Q: Does the government think it has a mandate to change the ECA?

A: Yes. And I note that the leader of the Opposition has admitted as much in a recent press statement.

Q: Richard Prebble (Labour) Why did the Minister of Finance make a secret visit to Auckland last week to visit business people to tell them they need not fear the Alliance.

A: There was nothing secret about the breakfast and lots of Mr Prebble's friends were there.

Later: (Michael Cullen Personal Explanation - I did not tell Employers and Manufacturers that they could ignore the Alliance as claimed by Mr Prebble.)

Question 3.

SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister for Biosecurity Marion Hobbs:

Q: Can she give assurances that no seed imported into New Zealand has been contaminated with genetically engineered seed following confirmation that contaminated seed has been recently discovered in Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Britain; if not, why not?

A: Jim Sutton on behalf - I can give an assurance that MAF has no evidence that any seed imported has been contaminated.

Q: If there was then who would be liable to the loss of income to farmers?

A: My lay understanding would suggest it would be a civil matter between the sowers and the sellers of seed?

Q: Will action be taken on this issue?

A: MAF will be liasing with counterparts to determine the scope of the problem in Europe. Systems will also be reviewed to deal with this problem.

Q: When will the Minister announce any initiatives to protect biosecurity?

A: We have already established a Royal Commission into Genetic Modification. In the meantime controls have been put in place to contain existing trials. A voluntary moratorium has also been negotiated.

Question 4.

Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National) to the Minister of Maori Affairs Dover Samuels:

Q: Was he correctly reported in this morning's Dominion as urging disaffected Maori not to be influenced by the Fiji coup leader George Speight; if so, why did he make that statement?

A: Yes. But not just disaffected Maori. I was thinking about Maori who were thinking of going to Fiji to support. I made the statement because I believe this is not a coup this is about one mans obsession for power at any cost.

Q: Mita Ririnui (Labour) : Can he guarantee the safety of Maori going to Fiji to support Mr Speight?

A: No. The government is urging all NZers including Maori not to travel to fiji at this time because it cannot guarantee their safety.

Q: Is Mr Tamihere preparing to go to Fiji?

A: I understood that my colleague was thinking of going to get a sun-tan. I understand he has now cancelled those plans.

Question 5.

GEORGINA BEYER (Labour) to the Minister for Trade Negotiations Jim Sutton:

Q: What issues are to be discussed by APEC Trade Ministers when they meet in Darwin in June?

A: Ministers will exchange views of members of APEC on the WTO and progress in freeing up trade.

Q: What is the benefit of being a member of APECsssssss?

A: APEC is the most important trading body to which NZ belongs. It accounts for 70% of our trade. It provides a forum for us to pursue trade goals and export markets for NZ producers. I have no doubt that this government's actions will be understood and sympathised with by my colleagues around the region. Many of my colleagues around the region have in fact said that NZ is so open that NZ is no longer an attractive country with which to negotiate. I will be holding bilaterals with the Australian trade minister and with a number of other officials and ministers from important trading partners including the US, China and Singapore. I will also be meeting Mike Moore the DG of the WTO. I have had nothing but enthusiastic support from all my colleagues in government.

Question 6.

Hon KEN SHIRLEY (ACT) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: Will she be introducing the Public Health and Disability Services Bill this month as outlined in the memorandum to the Cabinet Social Policy and Health Committee; if not, can she explain the reason for the delay?

A: The bill will not be introduced in May, however we are still aiming for the original deadline of November for passage of the bill.

Q: Ken Shirley (ACT) : Has her overseas jaunt contributed to the delay?

A: On the 15 days I was away flying I was very very busy. Meanwhile work continued here in NZ on the reforms. And any problems we have in the NZ Hospital service I blame clearly on the previous government.

I am pleased to inform that we have been working hard to meet the deadline of the end of the year. I am unwilling to compromise my expectations that the bill be of high quality prior to introduction.

Q: Wyatt Creech (National): Is he aware that it was the Alliance who drew attention to her overseas trip?

A : I have no account of that that I would take any account of anyway. I do understand however that Mr Hide was peddling some hideous (pronounced High-dee-us) notions.

Q: Rodney Hide (ACT): How did going to Cyprus help the people in pain on waiting lists?

A: I went to Cyprus at the invitation of the Greek Cypriot government -and they paid - because this house passed a unanimous resolution calling for the withdrawal of turkish troops from Cyprus. We have very good relations with the Cypriot government.

(Winston Peters - leave to table a Richard Prebble travel account - granted

Wyatt Creech - leave sought to table TV transcript - refused.)

Question 7.

GRANT GILLON (Alliance) to the Minister of Local Government Sandra Lee:

Q: Is it the intention of the Government to propose single transferable voting as an option for local authority elections?

A: Yes it is the intention of the government to make STV an option for local government elections. It may encourage voters to vote in greater numbers.

Q: Will it be available in 2001.

A: Some of the bills provisions will be in place in 2001 but STV will not be an option till 2004. To change the method at this late stage would be undemocratic.

Q: Has she abandoned plans for separate Maori constituencies?

A: It is not a question of abandonment. The issue of dedicated seats is a complex one. I understand a private bill will consider this area and the Select Committee will have the ability to look at this. : There is an issue for single councillor wards and Mayoral elections and they may be dealt with with simple preferential voting.

Question 8.

Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH (National) to the Minister of Labour Margaret Wilson:

Q: Does she support the recommendation to the select committee on the Employment Relations Bill that it should take into consideration Treaty of Waitangi issues?

A: I have not yet received any recommendations from the Select Committee on this. When I do I will consider them.

Q: Does she agree with cultural safety provisions in employment contracts?

A: I have no knowledge of such matters.

Q: Is the ERB consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi?

A: Both the bill and the Treaty are about co-operation and in that respect they are consistent.

Q: Will Maori trade unions be able to be formed to make workplaces culturally safe?

A: I was aware there was a submission made last night. I am not aware of the specifics of it.

I am in the process of considering settlement of claims. And one of the issues we are considering is transparency. We think the truth empowers unlike some members.

Question 9.

HELEN DUNCAN (Labour) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: Is the current Teacher Registration Board the appropriate vehicle for promoting standards and professional development in the teaching profession; if not, why not?

A: The board was established in 1989 for the purpose of managing registration. While what it does is helpful it neglects professional development issues. There is a gap here. We are putting together a discussion document in this area to talk about a Teachers Council.

Q: Nick Smith (National) How does this vary from the announcement made by the previous government last year?

A: Our policy on this was described in our 1996 policy. The National government took a good part of this. The main difference is that the council will be controlled by teachers not the government.

Question 10.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: Will his proposed changes to the way the Overseas Investment Commission deals with applications encourage inward investment?

A: The proposed changes to the delegation addresses problems with the previous delegation. Removing the problem will improve the reliability of the OIC.

Q: Is Jim Anderton's disagreement with him in this area encouraging inward investment?

A: I think it varies in terms of how these matters are transmitted. I am responsible in this area. The Alliance has a different view.

Q: Winston Peters (NZ First) : Why was the Lilybank Station owned by Tommy Suharto transferred to one dollar to a Singaporean and is that his idea of the National Party's idea of inward investment?

A: No. I do note that there are law changes in this area already passed which have not yet been brought into force. I am endeavouring to bring these into force now.

Question 11.

CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour) to the Minister of Research, Science and Technology Pete Hodgson:

Q: What evidence has he received that the Technology New Zealand programme is helping New Zealanders to create jobs?

A: Evidence that jobs are created by Technology NZ include the results of a random survey. In 65 projects 218 jobs have been created at a cost of $37,000 each.

Q: If the scheme is successful what is he doing to boost it?

A: We have approved some more funding support already, $2.5 million, and there will be more support in the budget.

The government is committed to transforming this economy and to making sure there is a greater chance for medium and high tech companies in this economy.

Q: How many scientists have quit in the last three months?

A: I can't tell the member the answer to that question. I can assert that the R&D effort in this country is growing. Technology does not necessarily mean ecological sustainability but often it leads to it.

Question 12.

Hon JOHN LUXTON (National) to the Minister for Economic Development Jim Anderton:

Q: Does he believe that international investment is generally good or generally bad for economic development?

A: Foreign investment that creates jobs and does not harm the environment is very helpful. Foreign investment that costs jobs and transfers jobs and profits overseas is not so welcome. We have had too much of the latter under National - we will strive for more of the former. In the last 2 days there was substantial positive investment in the Nelson region. If we go back to 1990 NZers owned $5.6 billion of the rest of the world and the world owned $13.7 billion of NZ. Now NZers own $40 billion of the rest of the world and the rest of the world owns $110 billion of NZ. This kind of growth in the investment gap under National is not good.

One of the key officials is meeting with Carter Holt Harvey tomorrow. I think CHH are getting very good attention from this government. The National Interest Criteria that the Minister of Finance has spoken about, and that is already in the OIC's brief, will indicate that overseas investors should also be subject to the same responsibilities as NZ investors. No more and no less. The Alliance has a long track record of supporting positive investment.

Question 13.

Hon MAX BRADFORD (National) to the Minister of Labour Margaret Wilson:

Q: What did she mean in Cabinet paper (00)10, when talking about independent contractors, that "… I propose that the legislation allows for the broadening of the current catchment of 'employees' by a targeted statutory provision so that the employment institutions can gradually shift the boundaries between who is covered by employment law and who is not. This approach would allow particular groups to be targeted.", and if this is still Government policy how will she carry out her statement to Alliance, Green, and New Zealand First members that "No one will be required to change their employment status unless they want to."?

A: May I repeat myself. No one will be required to change their employment status unless they want to.

Q: What did the PM mean when she said the bill would be independently appraised so the mess the Minister has made can be fixed up?

(Speaker - can that quote be verified.

Max Bradford - uses transcript to try to justify the question.

Speaker - the PM did not use those words. Next question.)

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT): In the same paper can the Minister confirm that in Queensland contractors do not have a choice about being declared employees?

A: We have looked at overseas examples. Queensland was one example. But we did not use it because it was not suitable. Can I repeat myself again. No one will be required to change their employment status unless they want to.

Q: Simon Upton (National) Which groups was she referring to in her comments on targeting in that paper?

A: The paper was about the problems in a general legal sense. No occupational group was targetted in an employment sense in the paper.

QUESTIONS TO MEMBERS

Question 1.

Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (ACT) to the Chairperson of the Employment and Accident Insurance Legislation Committee Graham Kelly:

Q: Why is the select committee holding meetings in Auckland this week?

A: Because there are a significant number of submitters from that area who want to be heard.

Q: Does the member agree that giving evidence on a bill that is to be amended is insulting to submitters and why can't we see what the changes are so submissions can be made on the real bill?

A: The committee's job is to hear submissions and that is what it is doing.

Question 2.

GERRY BROWNLEE (National) to the Chairperson of the Employment and Accident Insurance Legislation Committee Graham Kelly:

Q: Does he intend seeking an extension to the report back date for the Employment Relations Bill, as indicated by the Prime Minister? (amended by leave)

A: That is a matter that is on the agenda for the committee this afternoon. Has he had any discussions with the Minister of Labour or the PM on the changes that may be proposed. Since we have commenced hearings I have been in consultation with the minister and have informed her of the nature of some of the contentious issues.

SCOOP COVERAGE ENDS

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