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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 25 July

Today's Questions concern: Heart of the Nation Report – Superannuation x 2 – Helen Clark on ERB – Clark On Samuels – Homework Centres – Heart Of The Nation Report - Paliative Care – Treaty Settlements – Student Fees – GM Food Labeling – Health Reform Costs

Questions For Oral Answer - Tuesday, 25 July 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

(Personal Statement from Dover Samuels MP concerning rape allegations against him. Mr Samuels denied the allegations completely.)

Question 1.

Hon. Richard Prebble (ACT) to the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Judith Tizard:

Q: Did the taxpayer get value for money from the $225,000 Heart of the Nation report; if not, what responsibility will she take?

A: Yes. Second part doesn’t apply.

Q: Can we take it then that the report found that Labour’s Arts policy is the same as National Government’s before it.

A: No.

Q: What is the value of the report?

A: The value of the report is that it has involved a vast number of NZers. It looks at better investment and better relationships and highlights the potential of the sector.

Q: Simon Upton (National) How much glory has been purchased for the PM?

A: I believe the PM and this government will be covered in glory by recognising the importance of this sector.

Question 2.

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

Q: What recent proposals has he seen regarding the future of New Zealand superannuation?

A: I have seen proposals to blow the fund and to spend this on tax cuts. This could be characterised as a party now hangover approach later (To Bill English) I know this policy is a real loser and please run it. I understand Mr English is considering post-funding as opposed to pre-funding.

(Max Bradford the Minister has no responsibility for National Policy.

Speaker – perfectly correct.)

Q: Rodney Hide (ACT): Is he committed to Credit Card commitment 4.

A: I am very hopeful that the government will set aside money into a fund for payment of super in the future.

Q: Will he provide tax incentives for savings schemes?

A: An interesting question. It is the government’s responsibility to secure the first tier of funding. We must then address the question of the savings regimes.

Q: Bill English: Given the complexity of the issues raised by his proposal. And the need for political certainty will he provide sufficient time for a widespread. We plan to legislate for a fund starting July next year. There is no rush. To deal with private superannuation might take longer and I would welcome contribution on this from all members.

Question 3.

Rt Hon. Jenny Shipley (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Does she support Dr Cullen's superannuation plan as announced on 19 July 2000 and his desire to have a referendum to entrench the scheme?

A: Dr Cullen has my complete support. I know of no such contradictions.

Q: Jim Anderton (Alliance): Has she seen any reports concerning Bill English expressing support for NZ First’s super policy.

(Speaker – no responsibility – question not allowed.)

A: This government intends to secure funding for super in the future. Labour will need support from a third party to pass legislation however. Every member of the house is aware that as the baby boomers retire the cost of super is going to rise. We need to arrange some method of pre-funding.

Q: Jenny Shipley (National):When will the PM reply to our letter seeking to play a role in policy development?

A: I am happy to reply to the members letter and when I do so I would like to ask her if she agrees with Mr English’s plans to spend the fund on tax cuts, and then cut the value of super.


Question 4.

Peter Brown (NZ First) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Do the comments by the Treasurer in a speech of 6 July 2000 and the Minister of Labour in a speech of 20 July 2000 represent her Government's intentions and does she believe the proposed changes therefore represent very significant change to the Employment Relations Bill in the minds of many?

A: Yes and Yes. Nobody could say that this process has been rushed. The underlying presumption of the bill is the present law is unbalanced and it needs to be changed to give workers better access to protection. Matters have been raised with us concerning the bill. We said we would address them and we have.

Question 5.

Hon. Tony Ryall (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: How does she reconcile her statement yesterday that "No journalist could honestly say that I have discussed matters (that are) before the Police concerning Dover (Samuels) with them on any occasion." with her statement reported today that "From time to time one gets caught up in conversation about it.", and will she now assure the House that neither she nor her Ministers nor her staff have leaked details about the Police inquiry to the news media?

A: The statements are easily reconciled. Neither I nor my staff nor any Minister have had any briefings on this from the police.

Q: How can she say that in light of Mr Morrison’s broadcast that he had discussed this matter with the ninth floor?

A: It is my understanding that the matters mentioned by Mr Samuels today in his personal explanation were not known to my staff.

Question 6.

Helen Duncan (Labour) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: How can communities and schools work co-operatively to close the gaps in educational achievement?

A: Communities and Schools have got to work cooperatively to close the gaps. We are encouraging cooperation by providing $7.5 million for support of homework centres.

Q: How will the scheme foster cooperation?

A: Preference will be given to joint applications from community groups and schools

Q: Tony Ryall (National): How will legalising cannabis help close the gaps?

A: I understand the decision to review the cannabis law was a unanimous decision of a committee chaired by his colleague Brian Neeson.

Question 7.

Rt Hon. Simon Upton (National) to the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Judith Tizard:

Q: On what dates between 30 March 2000 and 31 May 2000 did she meet with the Heart of the Nation panel, or any representative group of that panel, and on which of these occasions did she express concern or remind the panel of the need to adhere to the terms of reference?

A: I had such meetings on six occasions – two in June. And on all occasions we addressed the terms of reference. What the panel chose to do was to provide a broad ranging report rather than a specific strategic plan. That was their choice. I discussed my specific concerns after seeing a draft of the report.

Q: Will she withhold some of the money given she hasn’t got what she wanted?

A: The final payments for the report are being discussed by the panel and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.

Question 8.

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

Q: What commitment has the Government made to improving palliative care in New Zealand?

A: This government has provided the single largest increase in Paliative care. $3 million plus $4.5 million. This money is needed to implement the Paliative care strategy announced last week. The strategy sets in place a focus on ensuring that people who are dying have access to quality and culturally appropriate services.

Question 9.

Hon. Georgina te Heuheu (National) to the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Margaret Wilson:

Q: Is there any fiscal limit to the amount the Crown will pay to settle all outstanding Treaty of Waitangi settlements under her new policy announced last week?

A: (Paul Swain on behalf) As the minister has announced this government has moved aside from the fiscal envelope approach. The government has allocated $400 million for settlements up to 2003 and 2004.

Q: How will she explain that the sky is now the limit for claims in her education plan?

A: We will certainly not be saying that. There is no open chequebook here. We will be fiscally responsible. This government has adopted a principles based approach. We want fair, durable and timely settlements.

Question 10.

Nanaia Mahuta (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:

Q: What funding increase has he offered the tertiary sector and how has the offer been received?

A: After a decade of cuts under the previous national government. …

(John Carter (National) – we object, he has no responsibility…

Deputy Speaker Geoff Braybrooke – The member cannot answer like that.

Trevor Mallard – I understand we can draw attention to a change in policy.

Deputy Speaker – The point in the point of order is well made.)

This government has offered 2.3% increase in EFTS funding for a fee freeze. Otago, Massey, Auckland and Victoria and several other institutions have agreed to stabilise fees in line with our offer.

Q: How many courses have been cancelled at Victoria to accommodate this policy.?

A: To my knowledge none. They are, I understand, making arrangements. They would have had to make cuts however under the previous government.

Question 11.

Sue Kedgley (Green) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: Will she confirm that at the Australia New Zealand Food Council meeting on Friday 28 July the Government will stick to its pre-election commitment to label any food derived from genetically modified organisms, and will not agree to exemptions for processing aids, additives, highly processed sugars and oils and over-the-counter food; if not, why not?

A: The answer to the first part of the question is yes. We are working towards a common position on GM food which will provide consumers with as much information as possible.

Q: Sue Kedgley (Green) If a majority of the Australian states vote for a standard that is unacceptable and reneges on previous undertakings will NZ opt out of the Food Standards Agreement?

A: No NZ would not go it alone. That would be silly. At the end of the day we have to deal in the real world and trade in the real world. We will do all we can to get a labeling regime in the interests of NZ. This is an issue of consumer information. It is NZ’s hope and desire that we will conclude an agreement at this meeting but the member will know that we are just one of ten members on the committee. Members attending the conference on Friday will try to get a position that is useful and inline – as much as possible – with the EU and with CODEX. There has been a report prepared by KPMG that said that the impact on prices could be between 0% and 6%. Unfortunately they also said the costs would fall disproportionally on people of low income.

Question 12.

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

Q: What are the specific one-off costs and ongoing fiscal impacts of the proposed structural changes to the health sector?

A: As all decisions have not yet been made I can not give a definitive answer. I would point to the $20 million on contingency funding for this purpose in the budget.

Q: Wyatt Creech (National):Why will she not release all advice so people know what it will cost?

A: All advice received by this government will be released in time for members to analyse and look at. A number of papers will be released on this shortly.

Q: Wyatt Creech (National): Why did she then write to me saying she would not release reports to me for various reasons?

A: The member has already been given a paper that sets out costs and savings for the next three years.

(Wyatt Creech – leave sought to table 1.5 pages of materials on costs – granted.)

SCOOP COVERAGE ENDS


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