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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 5 September

Today’s Questions concerned the subjects of: ACC and Child Abuse – Tariana Turia And The Holocaust – Health Boards – Economic Activity – Public Service Commuting – Housing For The Needy – Auckland Power – Fiscal Surplus Concerns – Income Related Rents – Tame Iti’s Art – Public Trust – Health Funding – Relationships Property Bill Consideration

Questions For Oral Answer - Tuesday, 5 September 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

Question 1.

Steve Chadwick (Labour) to the Minister for Accident Insurance Michael Cullen:

Q: What steps has ACC taken recently in relation to helping to prevent child abuse?

A: The corporation has provided CYFS and the police with the names of 236 children who have had more than 10 accident claims accepted while under the age of 5.

Q: Why were doctors not consulted?

A: Permanent protocols have not been finalised. ACC will be meeting with the Medical Assocaition and Police to discuss privacy issues.

Q: Liz Gordon (Alliance): Why has this not been done before?

A: The recent case in the Wairarapa has served as a wake-up call on the issue of child abuse.

Q: Stephen Franks (ACT): Did the ACC say it did not want to publicise this to protect children who might otherwise not be taken for treatment?

A: There is always concern in that area and a difficult tradeoff to be made. And sometimes – the member is quite correct – information being in the public arena can be a deterrent.

Question 2.

Rt Hon. Jenny Shipley (National) to the Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia:

Q: Does she agree with the statement by the Prime Minister yesterday that her speech last week to the Psychological Society undermined the Government's efforts to deal with the issue of abuse and of closing the gaps between Maori and non-Maori?

A: I accept that that was the way it has been interpreted by some people. I will be making a statement at the end of question time.

Q: Jenny Shipley (National) Has she seen a statement made by Nelson Mandela talking about extremists and is she an extremist?

A: Can I remind the member that it is not long ago that that party called Nelson Mandela a terrorist.

Q: What is her minder’s job?

A: I am more than happy to have my colleague assist me in the position that I hold in this Parliament. I have had many messages of support from thinking NZers who read the speech (applause from the galleries – Speaker warns people to be quiet).

Q: Winston Peters (NZ First) Is the member aware of a National Party commissioned report into the way Maori were treated using the word holocaust?

A: I have read the Waitangi report into the Taranaki claim. And in terms of what happened in Taranaki I agree the word’s use was appropriate.

Q: How can she reconcile the comments that thinking people liked her speech and the criticism of her colleagues.

A: I really do believe that intelligent NZers are capable of understanding the trauma of a group of people at the hands of another.

Question 3.

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

Q: What steps has she taken to ensure a wider range of skills are present on Hospital and Health Service boards and how will this benefit the establishment of District Health boards?

A: I have appointed more local, Maori, Pacific Island people and more women to Health Boards who will be more representative. The delay in appointments was due to the high level of interest from over 2000 applicants. Of these 198 were interviewed.

Q: Wyatt Creech (National): What about the large number of Labour Party cronies?

A: The group brings a wide range of skills. They went through a process of assessment and for the members interest it was the National Party that appointed Louise Rosson.

Q: Wyatt Creech (National): What does Dave Morgan bring to Wairarapa Health?

A: Mr Morgan went through the same process as every other board member. And he is quite as bright as Wyatt Creech.

(Speaker – will the Minister withdraw and apologise.

Annette King - I withdraw and apologise.)

Question 4.

Hon. Bill English to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: What did he mean, in relation to economic activity, when he said "There are some people still in grieving mode - what I might be inclined to call post election traumatic stress disorder among one or two people - and I think we've got to overcome that still."?

A: The comment was made in relation to some business people not in relation to economic activity.

Q: What good is his stream of smart-alec comments doing in relation to international investment? And will he be continuing to use such language while on his overseas trip?

A: No not at all. I might add that I will never be as boring as he or his immediate two National Party predecessors.

Q: Rodney Hide (ACT): What will he do about the Dominion editorial suggesting Phil Goff replace him as Treasurer?

A: I notice that that members leader has a 70% disapproval rating in recent opinion polls. Winston Peters was a brief shining light in terms of wit in the role of treasurer, who unlike Bill English, Bill Birch and Ruth Richardson did not believe he had to bore people into being happy about the economy.

Q: Can he confirm the editorial did not come from Channel 9.

A: I certainly can. Dominion Editor Mr Richard Long has never supported the Labour Party on any issue I can remember.

Question 5.

Clayton Cosgrove (Labour) to the Minister of State Services Trevor Mallard:

Q: In what circumstances is it appropriate to pay for travel and accommodation costs for public servants who are working away from their home base?

A: Departments are expected to have systems to ensure travel arrangements are approved. Commuting between cities at departmental expense can only be justified in some circumstances. Examples of acceptable use include IRD which has been bringing people to Wellington to help with tax simplification. An example of an unacceptable contract is a contract for the district commander of police for Counties Manakau. He lives in Wellington and commutes. That was a contract that dates from the previous government, with a sunset clause. The person is in a permanent position and it will not be renewed by this government.

Question 6.

Hon. Tony Ryall (National) to the Minister of Housing Mark Gosche:

Q: Does the Government stand by the Labour Party's pre-election policy that "Labour will work to ensure that an adequate supply of housing is available, particularly for low and modest income families in areas of the country where it is needed."?

2. A: Yes we do.

Q: Why then are the PM, Phil Goff and Mr Cunliffe all opposing state house developments.

A: The first one is an interesting example of something that is not what it appeared to be. The development was not a home for the needy as the Sunday Star Times reported. Mr Goff is concerned about the nature of a high density development that was signed up to by that Minister(Tony Ryall) in June 1999. In the Glen Eden case the elderly residents are complaining about the fact that a supermarket that they use is being bowled. We are trying to work with these communities to ensure that appropriate housing is provided. State rents soared by 106% under National. For low-income tenants this has led to overcrowding and disease. This government has already added 417 houses to the housing stock and plans to spend more.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT) Isn’t it a fact Labour are happy to have housing for the needy, just not in their electorates?

A: If that member could hold on to an electorate seat for long enough, then maybe he would know what it is an electorate member does. (Later asked by Speaker to answer the question properly)

Q: Phil Goff (Labour): Is it not a fact that the housing proposed in my Electorate is Terrace Housing and that Labour policy is not to promote high density housing such as this?

A: We would like to both work with the public and the community, and see an increase in housing stock.

Question 7.

Jeanette Fitzsimons to the Minister of Energy Pete Hodgson:

Q: What contribution has the splitting of ECNZ into four competing power companies made to the risk of blackouts in Auckland this summer?

A: There is no reason to expect black-outs in Auckland this summer. Transpower is warning us and have done a service by so doing.

Q: Jeanette Fitzsimons (Green): Can the minister confirm that Genesis and Mighty River have no economic incentives to help prevent a crisis?

A: On the contrary. Taupo inflows have been low and so has generation in the last few months. We will look next week at removing risks there are several ways this can be done and these will be explored. We are also talking to local authorities.

Question 8.

Rodney Hide (ACT) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: What risk is there that, as projected by the Bank of New Zealand recently, he will oversee New Zealand's first fiscal deficit since 1993, and what impact would such an outturn have on international confidence in our economy?

A: I note that the BNZ has not made such a projection. Treasury has advised me that the central forecast remains the most probable outcome with a $1 billion surplus this year. I note further that there is no BNZ forecast as the member claims – there is just a note. The August reports of most banks still have a surplus forecast.

Q: Now there are questions about the fiscal position, as well as the lowest dollar ever, has the member been attending caucus sessions to bone-up on business?

A: There are no forecasts questioning the fiscal surplus.

(Later: Rodney Hide: Leave to table BNZ forecasts – granted.

Michael Cullen – leave to table BNZ forecasts too – granted.)

Question 9.

Taito Phillip Field (Labour) to the Minister of Housing Mark Gosche:

Q: What progress is currently being made with regard to the implementation of income-related rents for State house tenants?

A: Last week all South Island tenants received information packs. This week North Island tenants will receive their mail-out. More than 4000 tenants have already applied in the first seven days.

Q: Will WINZ be able to process these 60,000 applications in four weeks?

A: We have every confidence that the WINZ computer will be able to handle this. Systems have been properly tested and we are confident they will work.

Q: Muriel Newman (ACT): Is his income related rents programme reducing house prices?

A: I suppose the ACT party would put the blame on all sorts of things. The fact is some people are paying 50% of their rents. I understand there are some problems in construction but that is a result of an economic situation that we inherited.

Question 10.

Hon. Dr Nick Smith (National) to the Minister of Conservation Sandra Lee:

Q: Has the Department of Conservation made any payments to Tame Iti for any contract, consultancy services or travel expenses, or paid for any travel taken by Mr Iti since December 1999; if so, for what purpose?

A: (Jim Anderton on behalf) The Minister of Conservation has never sought any contract or travel for Mr Iti. However DOC has confirmed to me that the East Coast conservator Peter Williamson authorised travel payments to Mr Iti concerning organising the display of the McCahon mural.

Q: Is it appropriate that Tame Iti be paid travel costs when local Iwi have not been consulted?

A: The minister had nothing to do with this decision. (Leave sought to table a letter from DOC – granted.) The minister had never communicated with Mr Williamson till just over two weeks ago. After the Dominion led with a banner story every media in this country looked at documents but not one media came to the same conclusions as the Dominion.

Q: Did the Minister instruct DOC to buy Mr Iti’s art?

A: The minister never made any instructions Tuhoe are well known for their contemporary artists and there are many great Tuhoe artists other than Mr Iti.

(Nick Smith: Leave to table a series of documents from Peter Williamson saying he was under pressure from the Minister – granted.)

Question 11.

Kevin Campbell to the Minister in charge of the Public Trust Office Jim Anderton:

Q: What progress has been made in planning to modernise the legislation governing the operations of the Public Trust Office?

A: Legislation modifying the framework will be tabled before Christmas. Many things make it difficult for the Public Trust to operate including for example an inability in some circumstances to easily change interest rates – without an order in council. The annual report of the Public Trust will show a loss in the last financial year. The last government did not care about the Public Trust. I believe Public Trust has been operating for two long with its hands behind its back. The Trust will get new legislation and I expect it to do well.

Question 12.

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

Q: Does she agree with the assessment made by her colleague, Hon Phillida Bunkle, that hospitals have received too little new funding in the Budget to cope with junior doctors' pay claims?

A: No.

Q: Do reports of angry words being exchanged between Phillida Bunkle’s office and hers pertain to advice from health officials that the rate of increase in health expenditure this year is the lowest ever?

A: The funding that went to the hospital sector was above the rate that went to health overall. Last year the previous government reversed a requirement for HHS’s to discuss employment settlements with the SSC. I do not know why. The government reversed this instruction this week.

Q: Sue Kedgley (Green): Given that many HHS’s have stated that they will reduce services to cope with Doctor’s pay settlements, will she be finding out what services those are?

A: No HHS has advised me that they will be cutting services. They have said that they may have to spend less of their capital budgets.

Tuesday, 5 September 2000

Question to Member

Question 1.

Anne Tolley to the Chairperson of the Justice and Electoral Committee Tim Barnett:

Q: How many submissions have been received on Supplementary Order Paper No 25 relating to the Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill?

A: 700 substantive and 800 form submissions have been received. 91 submissions have been heard. Several petitions have also been received.

Q: How many of these submissions are for or against the proposals? And can he confirm that they are running 5 to 1 against?

(Speaker – the chair is not responsible for that.)

Q: Stephen Franks (ACT): Will experts be brought back to discuss those parts of the bill that the Minister has told officials that they should not comment on?

A: That is a matter for the committee to decide not for me.

SCOOP COVERAGE ENDS

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