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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 15 August

Today’s Questions concerned the subjects of: Dover Dirt Digging – Community and Voluntary Sector - ACC Premiums – Air Pollution – Stigleygate – Guardianship Custody And Access - Fourth Treaty Article – New Settler Integration – Petrol Prices – Special Education - Taffy Hotene (Kylie Jones Murder) – ACC Premiums

Questions For Oral Answer - Tuesday, 15 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.

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

Q: Is she satisfied that her statement on 23 June 2000, that "You can't go rummaging around people's lives, getting information that's covered by Privacy Acts etc.", has been followed by her, her staff and members of her Government?

A: I am not aware that the privacy Act applies to matters on the public record such as convictions or jail sentences.

Q: Will she deny that she discussed with Bob Harvey criminal matters relating to Dover Samuels between the 23rd of June and the 28th of June?

A: Of course I discussed the situation around Mr Samuels with Mr Harvey . That was not the allegation made by the Leader of the Opposition. She said I had run him to ask him to dig dirt. She should repeat that outside the house. I am aware that the Leader of the Opposition has a Party Conference this weekend and she is going to have a hard job explaining what she has been doing for the last eight months. I am not aware of any staff breaching the Privacy Act.

Q: Winston Peters (NZ First): Could she explain what happened between the 23rd and 28th of June that justified refusing Dover Samuels the right to natural justice?

A: I have spoken in this house on a number of occasions on this matter. I said he was in the midst of a swirl of allegations and that he could not function therefore as a minister.

Q: Jenny Shipley: Did she discuss speaking directly with the ex-police officer who informed Mr Harvey?

A: I do not recall that suggestion being made in that manner suggested on those dates. Mr Dallow volunteered information to Mr Harvey. He is signing an affidavit to that effect. At a later point I was offered the opportunity to talk to Mr Dallow. I did not take up that offer.

(Mark Peck – Labour – I understood the leader of the opposition would table something today…

Speaker – that is not a point of order.)

Question 2.

Tim Barnett (Labour) to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Steve Maharey:

Q: What action has he taken to strengthen relationships between Government and community and voluntary organisations?

A: Today I am establishing a community and voluntary working sector group. Members are drawn from around the country to this group. Maori and PI and grassroots experience people are on the group. The group is necessary because after nine years the sector has been in a parlous state. We will establish a compact with the sector.

Question 3.

Hon. Ken Shirley to the Minister for Accident Insurance Michael Cullen:

Q: Why have wool scourers reportedly emerged as one of the biggest losers from the renationalisation of ACC, with premiums up 129 percent on what they paid privately last year?

A: ACC looked at the rate of claims. The rate was based on the claim information for the group.

Q: What’s the problem with offering them the opportunity to look around for a better deal?

A: They can if they are large enough to apply under the accredited employer scheme. 384 levy classes have had a reduction in rates under the new classification rates. Early childhood rates are higher because Early Childhood work is more hazardous. I will be discussing the change in this sector with the corporation. Self-employed farmers on low incomes will see an increase, the majority will see a decrease.

Question 4.

Keith Locke to the Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs:

Q: What practical steps is the Government taking to tackle Auckland's air pollution problem and what is the timeframe for these actions?

A: Government assistance involves several ministries. The Ministry of Transport is providing tools for measuring emissions that are easier to use.

Q: When will all seven points in Labour Party policy be implemented?

A: Those seven points are being worked on by a number of ministries and your question should be addressed also to the Ministry of Transport.

Q: Simon Upton: How far will the Ministry’s $10,000 go in a city of close to 1 Million people?

A: The Ministry’s $10,000 will go towards roadside billboards. There will also be labels for dashboards. You may laugh but any attempt is better than no attempt.

Q: Peter Dunne (United): Is it ironic that these billboards will be viewed by gridlocked motorists?

A: Yes it would be if that was all we were doing. We are also encouraging the use of public transport.

Question 5.

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

Q: Does she stand by her statement of 6 August that she enjoyed "a constructive and compatible working relationship" with Local Government New Zealand; if so, how does she reconcile it with Local Government New Zealand papers released over the past week which describe serious difficulties in the relationship?

A: My relationship with LGNZ is a constructive and compatible one.

Q: Is she aware that by June of this year that LGNZ was so happy with the relationship that LGNZ decided to approach Mark Burton, Peter Hodgson and Bob Harvey behind her back to discuss the relationship?

A: I reiterate that I have a compatible relationship. The President has stated in a recent press release that a whole new relationship is just beginning. We have established working groups to work on the Local Government Review in a cooperative manner. We have also been working on developing politician to politician partnership between the sector and Government. Officials from LGNZ and from my office are working constructively on an ongoing basis. Over the last few days understandably there has not been a lot of personal contact with me. According to the Christchurch Press I received spontaneous applause when I spoke to the LGNZ Conference.

(Murray McCully – leave sought to table a paper from LGNZ - granted)

Question 6.

Dianne Yates to the Associate Minister of Justice Margaret Wilson

Q: What action is the Government taking to review the law and practice relating to guardianship, custody and access?

A: The Government has described to review the law and practice in relationship to guardianship and access. We have issued a discussion document. The paper sets out the policy framework and identifies key issues. It has always been Green, Alliance and Labour policy to have a review in this area of the law. Proof that more than one person can have a good idea. Submissions for the paper close at the end of November. They will be analysed and considered with reference to the issue of whether there should be legislated changes.

Q: Why is she not being so cautious in her treatment of Matrimonial Property legislation changes which will effect the same people?

A: The Property Relationships Bill deals with property. I do not see any contradiction between the two initiatives. Rather they are complementary.

Question 7.

Rt Hon. Wyatt Creech (National) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs Parekura Horomia:

Q: For the purposes of Government policy, how many articles does the Treaty of Waitangi have in both the English and Maori versions of the Treaty of Waitangi?

A: Three in each.

Q: Will he then discuss with his colleagues the fourth article mentioned in papers he has before him on disability services?

A: The document hasn’t been released and there isn’t a fourth one. The main difference between the English and Maori versions is that the English version cedes sovereignty where the Maori one cedes something less than that.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT) Are health services mentioned in the treaty and if not then why are they in this legislation?

A: Most members understand that Maoris die a lot earlier.

Q: Wyatt Creech (National): Will he stop officials discussing a fourth Treaty article?

A: That document hasn’t been delivered yet. And there are ongoing discussions between Ministers to ensure it is correct.

(Wyatt Creech tables document)

Question 8.

Graham Kelly to the Minister of Immigration Lianne Dalziel:

Q: What is the Government's attitude towards the integration of new settlers into New Zealand society?

A: The government believes employment is important for resettlement. That is why we grant six months work permits to people with enough points to immigrate to find a job. I have seen some proposals for excluding Foreign Nationals from some provisions of the Employment Relations Bill. These would actively encourage sweatshops of foreign workers. Those who support this proposal support exploitation.

Q: Is the settlement grant provided by the government adequate?

A: I haven’t got that with me.

Question 9.

Hon. John Luxton to the Minister for Industry and Regional Development Jim Anderton:

Q: How much have petrol prices changed since he started calling for lower petrol prices, and what impact are any changes having on regional economic development?

A: International crude prices are the same as they were in March. Pump prices are 12% up. Regional development is undermined by higher petrol prices. I have noticed that in some regions up to 16% more is charged where there is no competition.

Q: Will he consider a rebate of the windfall tax gains from high petrol prices?

A: If we were to do as the member suggests there is no guarantee that the money would be passed on to the motorist. We would be in effect subsidising petrol companies at the expense of essential services and this government would never do that, unlike the Shah of Matamata. Whenever anyone suggests lowering revenue they have to explain where they will get the money from.

Q: John Luxton (National): What is he doing about it?

(Jeers – Nothing)

A: We are sticking up for ordinary people in opposing the increases (Laughter!!!) The reaction shows out of touch with reality the Opposition now are…

(Later: Jim Anderton - Leave sought to table a graph of oil prices… granted.)

Question 10.

Helen Duncan (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education Lianne Dalziel :

Q: What steps is she taking to progress the recommendations of the Wylie review into certain aspects of Special Education 2000?

A: The recommendations that relate to the specific terms of reference will be implemented. I am calling on submissions on some of the recommendations. I am keen for decisions to be made by the end of October to provide certainty for the sector.

Q: Nick Smith (National): Noting the reports author is an avowed opponent of Tomorrow’s Schools is she moving power away from parents to bureaucrats?

A: The feedback I have had on the Wylie report is that she had been able to listen to the concerns that had been raised with her .

Question 11.

Stephen Franks to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: In reply to my supplementary question in the House on Wednesday about offending by violent criminals on parole without supervision that ensures compliance with parole conditions, on what did he base his statement that "many of those cases are rare"?

A: I based my statement on the fact that all parolees are under the supervision of the Parole Service. Electronic monitoring is being considered for monitoring some paroled criminals on an ongoing basis 24 hours round the clock.

Q: Why did the police tell the family of Kylie Jones they knew of 30 other men like this in the community?

A: If the police have this information I would presume they would pass it on to the Minister or to me.

Q: Why is there no more money for more Community Probation officers in the budget?

A: Staff numbers, training and resources are all issues in the CPS. We have money in the budget for all three areas.

Question 12.

Gerry Brownlee to the Minister for Accident Insurance Michael Cullen:

Q: What is ACC's estimate of liable earnings and premium income in the accident insurance market for the year 1999/2000 (excluding self employed), and ACC's forecast liable earnings and premium income (including and excluding self employed income and premiums) for 2000/2001?

A: Based on information from the regulator… (wheeled off a long list of figures.)

Q: Could the Dr explain that this means that there have been two different calculations on the premium rate?

A If the member were a mathematician then on the basis of that question he should become a carpenter. Comparing like with like there has been a reduction in premiums from $526 million to $485 million.


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