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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 9 August

Today’s Questions concerned the subjects of: Nuclear Power And Kyoto - Carol Stigley – Tertiary Education – Taffy Hotene’s Parole - English As A Second Language Teaching – Carol Stigley – NZ Music On Air – Examination Fees – East Coast Computing – Junior Doctors Strike – Dover Samuels – Taffy Hotene’s Parole

Questions For Oral Answer - Wednesday, 9 August 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 of Energy Pete Hodgson:

Q: Can he assure the House that, in international forums, the Government is strongly opposing the inclusion of nuclear power in the set of mechanisms, including the clean development mechanism, available to countries to meet their obligations under the Kyoto Protocol; if not, why not?

A: (Marion Hobbs on behalf) The Government has stated clearly that it will not support the development of Nuclear Power by Annex Two countries - developing countries - and the association of these with the clean development credits.

Q: Jeanette Fitzsimons (Green): Will it actively oppose it?

A: NZ may agree not to buy credits itself from these sources. On the question of whether we oppose others doing it that is something we are considering options on that point.

Q: What will happen if the Green requests become reality over night?

A: I am not sure which request of the Greens he is referring to.

Question 2.

Hon. Murray McCully (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Did she at any stage tell Local Government New Zealand that she would not attend this year's conference of that organisation; if so, why?

A: There were discussions on this matter at staff level in April and May. I am advised that of April 14 it was advised that I could not attend on July 11th.

Q: Did she leave a message on Louise Rosson’s cell phone?

A: My office lodged a letter in June. I did leave a message with Ms Rosson saying I was concerned that my name was in the programme when I had advised I could not attend. I did go to the conference on 11 July. My message was that there were many issues we wanted to work with Local Government on.

Q: Did she say anything about Mrs Stigley in her message?

A: I do not record my own conversations. It seems to me that LGNZ have used this incident and others to justify their actions against Mrs Stigley.

Question 3.

Helen Duncan (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:

Q: What reports has he received on a strategic direction for tertiary education?

A: The Commission will present a major report in December and three reports next year.

Q: Does he agree with Nick Smith that there needs to be a radical rethink of past policy?

A: Yes I do. The reforms conducted by the previous government have not worked. I am heartened that the Opposition has done a U-Turn on its policy on this point. I am looking forward to consensus on Tertiary Education.

Q: When will we see some specifics?

A: We have already done lots of specific things. Frozen fees. Changing dentistry fees. Removed interest on Student Loans while studying and many other things. The difference between this and the green and white papers is that this outlines a cooperative model – which is incidentally – exactly what Maurice Williamson has asked for.

Question 4.

Hon. Tony Ryall (National) to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: Were there any gaps by his department in the enforcement of the parole conditions of Taffy Herbert Hotene since he was last released from prison?

A: Yes. As soon as I became aware of the circumstances I asked for a report. I cannot release that report at this time. There were gaps and those are being addressed. The gaps are there because that member let them develop.

Q: It was not my intention to blame the Minister. Does he consider it appropriate to apologise to the families for the inadequacy of the treatment of this mans parole.

(Speaker this case refers to a case presently before the courts – that question is not allowed.

Winston Peters – the absence of an appeal is not a good reason to prevent questions.

Speaker – the matter that is significant is the fact this man has not yet been sentenced. For fundamental justice reasons we must remain within the standing orders.

Winston Peters - in this case the person has pleaded guilty. Why does a Sub-Judicae rule apply?

Speaker – it applies to the use of the name.)

Q: Tony Ryall restated his question without the name.

A: I am considering a whole range of matters with this case. I will give to the house as much information as possible at the appropriate time. There is a need to go through thoroughly and fully all aspects of this case and there is still some way to go. From the reports that I have I am aware of some breakdowns. Where there are systematic problems we will take action quickly.

Question 5.

H V Ross Robertson (Labour) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: What changes is the Government making to school funding for teaching children with English as a second language?

A: Language is a severe barrier to education for many young children arriving in this country. This is particularly the case for refugees. We have increased funding for ESL teaching by more than $6 million over three years. The decision means that people who join their families under reunification will also get funding. Everybody will get funding for longer.

Question 6.

Hon. Murray McCully (National) to the Minister of Local Government Sandra Lee:

Q: Did she receive advice that she should not communicate with Rodney District Councillors while she was formally considering the appointment of a commission and did she ring the Deputy Mayor regardless of that advice?

A: I did discuss the merits of returning Mr Brosnan’s calls with staff. There were no legal bars on me doing so. I considered it a humane and commonsense action to return his calls. My judicial responsibility as a minister was not breached. There is no legal restraint on me returning a call made to me. I have seen reports quoting both Murray McCully and Lockwood Smith applauding my handling of the Rodney issue.

Q: Was she told to back off by the PM?

A: No.

Question 7.

Georgina Beyer (Labour) to the Minister of Broadcasting Marion Hobbs:

Q: What action has the Government taken to enable New Zealanders to hear more of their own music on radio and television?

A: NZ On Air has launched its Phase Four plan to increase NZ music airplay on commercial radio.

Q: Katherine Rich (National): Will she maintain her Harpo Marx approach and not talk to the media.

(Speaker – that is not a question

Sue Kedgley refused leave to ask a supplementary.)

Question 8.

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

Q: Will families be affected by any increased cost for sitting School Certificate or Bursary exams as a consequence of the claim, being promoted by the Concerned Teachers in light of the Employment Relations Bill, for a 70% to 100% increase in contractor rates for many School Certificate and Bursary markers, new allowances of $200 per week for the achievement standards, and a $10 to $50 rate per item for marking internally assessed work?

A: No such claims have been lodged with NZQA.

Q: Can he guarantee that the ERB will not increase costs to parents?

A: You have to have two members to form a union. I do not know if there are two members of this group.

Q: Is the cost of assessment covered by parents?

A: No the cost is shared with the government. We are putting $60 million into operations grants from next year to reduce the burden on parents.

Q: Can he guarantee there will not be an increase in fees for School Cert and Bursary under this government?

A: The rates have already been set this year and there will be no increase.

Question 9.

Willie Jackson (Alliance) to the Minister for Industry and Regional Development Jim Anderton:

Q: What progress has been made by the Tairawhiti Taskforce in promoting development initiatives in the East Coast region?

A: Among a number of important initiatives is a project to improve access to Information Technology on the East Coast. We have 2000 surplus government computers – some from WINZ - which we will be distributing to schools on the East Coast. This scheme is an example of who we are trying to solve problems. Many departments have surplus computers and we have found a great way to use them. Approximately 86 schools will receive computers under this project. I want to share with the house the fact that for the first time the task force is engaged with the Forestry on the issue of jobs. They have indicated in a report that if even half of the forests are fully utilised, 20,000 new jobs will be available in that region over the next 10 years.

Q: Sue Bradford (Green): What jobs will be created on the coast for the people with the computers?

A: We need resources on the coast to maintain these computers. We are going to train students to do this and establish a new computer maintenance industry on the coast. We will also be picking up infrastructure development on the Coast

Question 10.

Dr Lynda Scott (National) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: How will she guarantee patient safety if junior doctors go on strike?

A: (Trevor Mallard on behalf) Given the number of strikes under the previous government, the health sector has a well developed strategy for dealing with industrial action. We have instructed health organisations to negotiate in good faith and to consider alternative remuneration systems. There is clearly a problem here with getting a better supply of young doctors – we are working on this.

Question 11.

Rt Hon. Winston Peters (NZ First) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: As the Police will not be charging Dover Samuels on five counts as announced yesterday and as the Court of Appeal quashed an earlier conviction, what were the allegations she claimed were "swirling about" that caused her to dismiss Mr Samuels as Minister of Maori Affairs after initially saying that he was standing aside pending police investigations?

A: On the 28th of June I said that allegations had been put into the public arena. These included allegations concerning an imbalance of power, later there were also allegations of threatening to shoot and domestic violence. The principle I applied was whether Mr Samuels could be effective as a minister.

Q: Noting that the ERB says that reinstatement should be the primary remedy in instances of unjustified dismissal will she reinstate the Minister?

A: No member of Parliament has the right to be a Minister. It is the PM’s prerogative to ask for the removal of a warrant. I exercised that prerogative just as an earlier PM Jim Bolger once did for Winston Peters.

Question 12.

Hon. Ken Shirley (ACT) to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: Why was Taffy Herbert Hotene released from prison, after serving only two-thirds of his 12 year sentence for rape, assault with intent to rape and three charges of aggravated robbery?

A: Because the previous National Government provided for the automatic release of dangerous criminals without providing adequate resources to protect the community.

Q: How can we take that Minister seriously?

A: I have never suggested that serious rapists and violent offenders be released to home detention in the way suggested by the member. We support appropriate sentencing not inaccurate grand-standing on sentencing.

Q: Nandor Tanczos (Green): Would an extra 4 years in Jail have stopped this event taking place? And what steps is he doing to rehabilitate violent criminals?

A: The member makes an important point. It is not so much when a person is in prison, but what is being done with that person in prison, that matters. It is also important that when people are released, systems are in place to monitor them and ensure that it is appropriate for them to be released. All these issues are being addressed in the sentence review.

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