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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day - 27 June

Today’s Questions concerned the subjects of:. Kyoto Protocol – Clark On Dover Samuels – Immigration Consultants – Children’s Trusts – Whale Sanctuary – Phillida Bunkle On John Howard – Airways Coup – ERB – Biodiversity – TEAC – Public Transport – Northland Health

Questions For Oral Answer - Tuesday, 27 June 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.


Question 1.

Jeanette Fitzsimons (Green) to the Minister for the Environment Marion Hobbs:

Q: Has the Government changed the previous Government's negotiating instructions to officials involved in climate change negotiations; if so, what were the key changes made?

A: Yes we have undertaken to ratify the treaty by 2002.

Q: Has the position changed?

A: NZ is very clear that domestically NZ will not use its forests as a carbon sink and there are no truth to rumours that targets will be changed.

Q: Is she considering dietary changes for cattle and sheep?

A: Methane emissions do make up part of the problem. And research is being done into this and what effect diet changes could have, but there is no talk of compulsion. NZ’s CO2 emissions have increased by 19% between 1990 and 1999 compared to 14% from 1980 to 1989.

Q: Does she agree that most of our trading partners are not involved?

A: The question of the G77. Some of them are victims of climate change, and to expect them to contribute to the costs of dealing with what we put into the air is gross injustice.

Question 2.

Rt Hon. Wyatt Creech (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Did she receive any correspondence relating to the sexual allegations against Hon Dover Samuels before the letter from the ACT leader; if so, on what date and what action did she take?

A: Yes. I was faxed on 16 June. My staff handed the matter on to the police.

Q: When was it transferred to the police?

A: As I said the letter was received on Friday. Staff contacted the police. On Friday they were in contact to the police. On Monday Mr Samuels heard from the Holme’s show raising the matter. On Tuesday I received Mr Prebble’s letter. By that stage it was clear that it was becoming public.

Mr Prebble in his letter asked me in writing to set up a formal inquiry into the matter under a judge.

Q: Winston Peters (NZ First): Can the Minister confirm reports that Mr Prebble boasted last week that he would have a member out of the house in a week? And that concern for the victim was not the primary concern of that member?

A: I have no doubt that that was not the primary concern of the ACT leader.

Q: What events caused the PM to change her view?

A: None of those events. I am aware of concerns within Maoridom that progress for Closing the Gaps in Maoridom not be impeded because of these events and those are what we are considering now.

Question 3.

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban (Labour) to the Minister of Immigration Lianne Dalziel:

Q: Has she received any complaints about immigration consultants; if so, what steps is she taking to address these complaints?

A: I have been advised of a number of practices that are not satisfactory including cases in which refugees have not been informed that refugee applications were being lodged in their names . I am releasing a discussion document on enforceable standards in relation to immigration consultants. The document will be sent this week to relevant groups. Anyone who has anyone with experience is welcome to make a submission – personal stories included – submissions should be in by late August. It is appropriate that these be circulated in offices overseas also. We want to affect the behaviour of overseas consultants and their misrepresentations. We also want to stop the lodging of cases clogging up the system and preventing real cases being dealt with.

Question 4.

Annabel Young (National) to the Minister of Revenue Michael Cullen:

Q: What is the difference between a child's income from a trust, taxed at a flat rate of 33%, and a child's income from a bank account, taxed at the appropriate marginal rate?

A: Trust beneficiary income is quite different than having lots of money in bank accounts.

Q: Is he sure his trusts bill complies with the Bill of Rights Act?

A: That is up to the attorney General

Q: It is ridiculous for so many children however to be receiving over $700 a week from their trusts and thereby minimising tax.

Q: Rodney Hide ACT: Is he worried about the orphans?

A: Issues relating to exemptions will be dealt with in the discussion paper, handicapped children and some others should not be included, and that will be covered in the discussion document.

Question 5.

Kevin Campbell (Alliance) to the Minister of Conservation Sandra Lee:

Q: What action will she take as a result of a Greenpeace petition she received yesterday for a South Pacific whale sanctuary?

A: The petition presented by GreenPeace is supported by NZ. Next month NZ and Australia will be jointly proposing the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary at the International Whaling Commission meeting where I will be representing NZ.

Question 6.

Hon. Dr Nick Smith (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark :

Q: Does she agree with the Minister of Consumer Affairs that the Australian Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, is an "alarmist fearmonger" in relation to the cost of labelling for genetically modified foods?

A: I wouldn’t use those words. But I would say that the costs of labelling are thought to be 0.9% of the total food bill accord according to the latest research from KPMG and not the figures used by some.

Phillida Bunkle has spent a lot of time on these issues for a lot of years and she follows them closely. NZ and Australian Ministers are due to meet at the end of July to progress the issue.

I am advised that the Australian commonwealth position at this time does not appear to be popular internationally. I am not aware of a trail of inaccurate allegations by the Minister.

Question 7.

Rt Hon. Winston Peters (NZ First) to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Mark Burton:

Q: Was an Airways Corporation Air Traffic Management Review released in September 1999; if so, does it provide the criteria to be followed when considering the installation of new operational equipment, including the process and timing for tendering?

A: I am advised that Airways has released no such document.

Q: When was this denial made by Airways, when the report does exist, and in fact includes expression of the dangers involved in buying a system which might not fit the method of operation.

A: I would be happy to receive any document the member has. The member may be referring to an October paper that was for internal discussion only, it was not circulated and did not contain an agreed policy.

In accordance with the SOE Act , SOEs are not required to conduct purchasing decisions by tender. I am satisfied that the board acted within its legal powers in this purchase.

Q: Can he confirm whether this was written about in correspondence between the industry and the board of the SOE?

A: I do not have correspondence between the board and the industry. As Minister I would not expect to see that sort of correspondence

Question 8.

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

Q: What organisations and individuals has she consulted within the last month regarding changes to the Employment Relations Bill?

A: Several including the CTU and the Employers Federation.

Q: Will she heed the calls from several organisations calling today for parts of the bill to be changed who have not been consulted.

A: I have seen the statement by the named organisations. The Select Committee has received 18,000 submissions and heard 400. It really is for the Select Committee to consider whether it wishes to hear more submissions or not,

Q: Is she satisfied there will be adequate scrutiny by the Select Committee?

A: Yes. And then after reporting back it will go through its committee stages and third reading and that will also provide adequate time for consideration.

Q: Max Bradford (National): Given that she has not met with these organisations in this latest round of consultation, why will she not meet with them?

A: I have met with several organisations and with the retailers. Staff have met with manufacturers and several others. The fact remains however that it is not a decision for me or the government to make, it is a decision for the committee to decide how to report back the bill.

Question 9.

Jill Pettis (Labour) to the Minister for the Environment Marion Hobbs:

Q: What commitment has the Government given in the Budget to the protection of biodiversity on private land?

A: The government will spend $37 million on private land through several mechanisms.

Q: How will this help?

A: The funding will allow the QEII trust to respond to the backlog of applications who want to voluntarily protect their land.

Q: Will she provide money for fences?

A: That is something I would support but funding would by a question up to the Ministry of Finance.

Q: When will final decisions be made on this?

A: Before any decisions are taken on this I need to wait for the Ministerial discussion group to report back. To ignore that would be to make the consultation futile.

Q: Eric Roy: What about Silna?

A: I would defer that question to the Minister of Forestry.

Question 10.

Stephen Franks to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:

Q: How does he intend to decide which competing courses and institutions to close when competition between tertiary education institutions is stamped out as reported in the Otago Daily Times of 23 June 2000?

A: (Liane Dalziel on behalf) The government will be making comment after the TEAC has reported, it would be premature to comment before then.

Q: Stephen Franks (ACT): What about Otago?

A: Overarching decisions will not be taken until TEAC has reported. I intend to work alongside all institutions to find solutions. The proliferation of tertiary courses has not decreased costs but has increased them. Many institutions have been in financial distress recently. I am advised that 8 institutions may be reporting a deficit this year. TEAC is consulting about this and the government is watching.

The reality is that the Education Act 1989 provides for operational decisions to be made for the right reasons – listed - and that is the balance I intend to strike. I believe that TEAC has been set a task. Of course it is going to look at international experience. I look forward to its report.

Question 11.

Harry Duynhoven to the Minister of Transport Mark Gosche :

Q: What is the Government doing to increase public transport usage?

A: The artificial cap has been abolished. From October we will provide a fund that provides funding on a per-passenger based rate to regional councils. We estimate that it could rise from $46 million last year to $96 million over three years. We have a strong commitment to public transport.

Q: Roger Sowry (National) Will the minister ensure some of the money is used to purchase the rail corridor in Auckland?

A: A deal has been agreed by Auckland local authorities and Tranzrail, we are awaiting the details of that, before we make any decisions.

Q: What about passenger directed funding.

A: The new method of funding will provide incentives for initiatives such as integrated ticketing.

Q: Will Transfund be able to make the decision on the rail corridor?

A: Having met with local government on Friday I can say it is clear we are a party that can work with the community. The member might be interested to know that lawyers for Tranzrail and the Government are yet to sign the deal themselves, let alone send it to us for consideration.

Question 12.

John Carter (National) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: Has she received any reports about reductions in funding for Northland Health for the next financial year?

A: I have received no reports.

Q: Given the verbal assurance that there will not be a cut, why will she not allow CCMAU documents on this to be looked at to see if the capital adjuster for the Northland Hospital will be funded?

A: I am happy to tell the member that the one line rural adjuster for Kaitaia has gone from 1.8 to 2.4 million. That is for Kaitaia. For many rural hospitals there are problems. I have asked for services at Kaitaia to be improved. This government is committed to improving services in rural NZ.

Q: Sue Bradford (Green): What about Northland Mental Health?

A: Where there is a lack of service additional funding will be forvided to improve their services.

Q: Muriel Newman: Will she give an assurance that Northland health funding will be increased?

A: The number on the table now is an increase. The adjusters that are being negotiated around are being negotiated around because his (John Carter’s) government put them there.


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