Today’s Questions concerned the subjects of: People’s Bank – E-Commerce Summit – The “H” Word – Industry Development – Mining On DOC Land – Te Reo At University – At Risk Children – Export Guarantees – Offending By Parolees – Hong Kong Trade Agreement – Maori TV Costs – Student Loans Administration.
The following are paraphrased answers to today's questions for oral answer. They are not complete or official, the official record of Parliamentary proceedings is Hansard, which is not finalised till some days after the event.
SCOOP COVERAGE BEGINS
JOHN CARTER (National) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:
Q: Does he agree with the reported comments of Professor Neil Quigley that the People's Bank is a "bad idea" that could blow $80 million of taxpayers' money; if not, why not?
A: I would like to start by congratulating the member on his promotion to the finance spokesmanship. As professor Quigley cannot have seen the business case I have serious doubts about his ability to make any judgments either way about the plans.
Q: Has he heard about a statement from the NZ Post CEO saying he cannot guarantee success of a bank?
A: No and I will not comment until I have. One of the conditions made by cabinet was that the business case be independently assessed.
Q: Can he confirm that NZ Post has been asking consumers about cheque free bank accounts?
A: That was part of an old proposal. I am aware of one problem with the bank proposal and that is that if Richard Prebble is ever back in government then he will probably sell the bank.
Q: Did the government investigate alternative means of establishing a bank?
A: NZ Post entered into discussions with a range of alternative partners.
Q: Can the minister guarantee the success of the bank?
A: When he has been
the finance spokesman for a bit longer the member will be
aware that it would not be responsible to guarantee any
government activities of this nature.
DAVID BENSON-POPE (Labour) to the Minister for Information Technology Paul Swain:
Q: What will be the Government's follow-up to the e-commerce summit held recently in Auckland?
A: I have indicated that I will be working on the strategy outlined at the summit. The summit was a success. Initial feedback has been very positive and this is indicative of an improvement in business sentiment. I have seen other reports – from Ashburton – that tossing negativity out the window is in order. This improvement in Ashburton sentiment may be related to the fact the Leader of the Opposition is now spending more time in Auckland.
Q: Maurice Williamson (National): Given the applause that came from the audience for business friendly tax and employment laws what will be done in this area?
A: I remember the member making the observation at the conference that more money is needed for education, and challenging the group to help.
Hon TONY RYALL(National) to the Associate Minister of Maori Affairs Sandra Lee:
Q: Further to her answers in the House on Tuesday, will she now accept the Prime Minister's "edict" or "strong advice" that she did not want to see Ministers using the term "holocaust" in a New Zealand context and causing offence, and will she now apologise for using the term despite the "edict" or "strong advice"?
A: As the member should already be aware the Deputy PM has spoken to me about this and he has said the matter has been dealt with – and that it requires no more action on my part.
Q: Was she aware of the PM’s edict not to use the word?
A: The PM has stated this week that she has not banned the use of any words by minister.
Q: Richard Prebble (ACT) Was she aware of the PM’s statement expressing concern about the use of the word “holocaust”?
A: As the PM has not banned any words it would be impossible for me to be aware of any statements banning the use of any word. I suggest that the opposition would be better off if they moved on.
Q: Why did the member choose to ignore the strong advice of the PM not to use this word?
A: The Deputy PM has suggested I should not use the word again. Mr Ryall would be well advised to gain a greater appreciation of otherness.
GRANT GILLON (Alliance) to the Minister for Industry and Regional Development Jim Anderton:
Q: What new programmes has Industry New Zealand announced to promote industry and regional development?
A: The Major Investment Service helps with investments for businesses with growth potential. The Business Growth Service will help businesses grow. This is a spring board for high value businesses to grow.
Q: What evidence is there that the jobs machine is working?
A: At least 10,000 NZers have jobs who would not have had them under the economic policies of the previous government.
Q: What is the name of the company that he has promised $5 million for?
A: The programme we announced yesterday was for grants of up to $5 million to businesses that will create $millions in revenues for NZ.
(John Carter – The member should play a straight bat when answering questions.
Speaker – Well we are never going to succeed in taking politics out of Parliament altogether – but I will keep an eye on him.)
Q: What has changed about the partnership for growth programme?
A: As far as I know this programme is new. This morning we met with local government leaders again.
Q: John Luxton (National): What did he mean in his press release yesterday?
A: Exactly what the press release said. I recommend the member read it again.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National) to the Minister for Industry and Regional Development Jim Anderton:
Q: How does his speech to the New Zealand Mining and Minerals Conference on how the Government can smooth the development of the mining industry match up with pre-election commitments by the Alliance to amend the Crown Minerals Act 1991 to stop mining in conservation areas?
A: The same way that the Minister of Conservation patiently explained to the member yesterday. I can give the member a copy of the minister’s Hansard if necessary. What I told the conference is that the government wants sustainable development and balance. And any obstacles to those should be removed by efficient processes. The Minister of Conservation is one of the most efficient processes that we have. I stressed in my speech that we are interested in building partnerships with industry.
Q: Jeanette Fitzsimmons (Green): Can the Minister confirm that mining on the Conservation Estate can be sustainable?
A; If mining on DOC land meets government standards for sustainability then yes. I do not see how anyone supportive of sustainability can be other than supportive of that.
Q: Nick Smith (National): Can he confirm that his party was founded on the basis of following its manifesto?
A: The Minister of Conservation has put an end to the torture of helpless fur seals – a practice that was allowed under National.
(Nick Smith – leave to table Alliance and Labour Party policies – refused.)
Hon BRIAN DONNELLY (NZ First) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:
Q: Is it Government policy that provision has to be made for assessments in te reo Maori for all tertiary courses?
A: No it is not.
Q: Can the Minister then explain why the Northland hairdressing school has been instructed by NZQA to provide for assessment in Te Reo Maori? And why has hairdressing been singled out?
A: As the member should be aware., since 1995 NZQA has required degree level courses to have provision for assessment in te reo Maori. PTE courses also have this requirement.
Q: Can he see the irony of asking private education providers to provide for assessment for Maori in hair dressing courses when the NZQA themselves have not even completed assessment materials in core school subjects in English?
A: Last time I looked Maori was an official language in NZ.
Q: Peter Dunne (United NZ) Can he concede it would be better to quit while he is ahead?
A: Maori is an official language of this country and choice should be offered to students. NZQA has required policies and procedures for Maori language assessment since 1995. This seems sensible to me given that Maori is an official language.
Hon JOHN LUXTON (National) to the Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment (Social Services) Tariana Turia:
Q: Further to her answers in the House this week, does the Government intend to change its current policy on the placement of at-risk children to the one she advocated over the weekend where at-risk children should always be raised within their whakapapa links?
A: I answered this question yesterday. Does the member require a translation.
Q: John Luxton (National): Will the Minister confirm that confusion over her speech relates to the fact that people do not know whether she was speaking as the Associate Minister or as one of her four tribal minds, none of which can necessarily agree with one another?
A: No the Labour Alliance Government has not changed its policies. This government is committed to strong families supported by strong communities.
DAVID CUNLIFFE (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Phil Goff:
Q: What progress is the Government making in the provision of better support for exporters, as promised on the Labour Party commitment card before the last general election?
A: Good progress. Yesterday I announced a new export credit guarantee scheme designed to increase exports by $100 million a year.
Q: Who will be eligible for cover?
A: Small to medium sized forms with the potential to generate new export income.
Q: What is the difference between this scheme and the scheme the Labour Government sold to State Insurance in 1990?
A: We are entering the market in conjunction with the private sector. To the best of my knowledge only Luxembourg has no state involvement in a scheme of this nature. And to the best of my knowledge the reason for this is nine long years of Tory rule.
Q: How many of these international funds have lost money?
A: Some have. Some haven’t. World trading rules state that schemes must not be used as Trojan horses for long terms subsidies to the export sector.
STEPHEN FRANKS (ACT) to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:
Q: Further to his reply to written question No. 18581 (2000) that 610 serious violent offenders are due for automatic release next year, and his answer to oral question No. 2 yesterday that 80 percent of these offenders can be expected to re-offend, what steps is he taking to reform parole; if none, why not?
A: I am currently working with the Minister of Justice on parole reform. We are looking at removing automatic release provisions to give the Parole Board more freedom.
Q: Stepen Franks (ACT): What should we tell the first victims of crimes committed by offenders who would not be released if my bill was allowed through?
A: Even if his bill was passed to the Select Committee it would take time to be considered. I will tell all victims that this government takes its responsibilities seriously and will not take part in a stupid law and order option. Information I provided to the member’s colleague Mr Shirley shows that most of the offences committed by those on parole are minor offences. I can guarantee to those who signed the referendum last year that we are taking these issues seriously, it is just that the solutions are often more complicated than some people in this house would like to suggest.
KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the Minister for Trade Negotiations Jim Sutton:
Q: How will the Government give effect to its commitment in the Speech from the Throne that "legitimate issues of labour standards and environmental concerns need to be integrated better with trade agreements" in discussions with Hong Kong over a free trade agreement?
A: The government is already actively implementing this policy in relation to multilateral trade agreements. We have agreed to hold exploratory discussions with Hong Kong. We will only enter an agreement with Hong Kong on the basis of a mandate agreed by Cabinet. Hong Kong’s commitments to ILO core conventions are in fact higher than NZ’s.
Q: What about labour and environmental issues in the Singapore agreement?
A: We were not successful in achieving our full objectives in relation to labour and environmental issues with the Singapore agreement. However standards in both areas in Singapore are high.
(Keith Locke – leave to table an AP news report – refused.
Jim Sutton – leave to table a submission on trade agreements – granted.)
Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON (National) to the Minister of Maori Affairs Parekura Horomia:
Q: What capital and operating costs have been identified in relation to the establishment of a Maori television channel early next year?
A: (Tariana Turia on behalf): The government has carried forward $8.98 million for capital and $16.7 million for programme funding.
Q: Can she guarantee no more money will be put into this?
A: The Maori Channel will be able to sell its airtime for the purpose of raising extra revenue.
Q: How can she justify such money gobbling?
A: I would hope that Maori TV would help the development of language abilities for all children.
HELEN DUNCAN (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:
Q: What has the Government done to improve the administration of student loans and allowances?
A: Problems with loans processing were severe early this year. We have provided $6 million for a package to stop this happening again.
Q: How will the improvements lead to a more responsive service?
A: DWI has been working with students and institutions to deal with this and has identified several ways of improving the services.
Q: How much did DWI ask for?
A: The mess-up by the National Party resulted in 43 recommendations from the consultant all of which are addressed in this package. Students should apply early and supply all necessary documentation.
(Steve Maharey – leave to table performance standard – granted)
Q: What if problems do arise?
A: We will work closely with students and providers. We also have a process for dealing with problems if they arise.