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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 20 March

Today's questions of the day concerned: Foot and Mouth – ACC Double Payments - Beehive Timber – Health Research Decisions (Peter Davis) – NCEA Compromise - Saltmarsh Mosquitoes – Pharmac Inquiry Costs – Police Cars - Air Force Resignations - Home Detention - Health Board Transitional Funds - Export Year Proposal.

:Questions Of The Day - Tuesday, 20 March 2001

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 till some days after the event.


Question 1.

Rt Hon JENNY SHIPLEY (National) to the Minister for Biosecurity Jim Sutton:

Q: Can he guarantee that the Government is doing everything it can to prevent an outbreak of foot-and-mouth in New Zealand, in light of the escalating crisis in the United Kingdom?

A: All realistic measures are being taken to ensure measures against Foot and Mouth are effective?

Q: What about allowing a woman who walked on Dartmoor to walk through customs without a by-your-leave, in spite of the fact she had made a full declaration on her card?

A: I am happy to make inquiries into that case if the member wishes. We will be holding a chicken disease simulation exercise next week.

Q: Will he do everything he can? And why won’t he institute instant fines?

A: I can reassure the member that such a system is under preparation and will be introduced.

Question 2.

GEORGINA BEYER (Labour) to the Minister for Accident Insurance Michael Cullen:

Q: What action is he taking to correct the overcharging problem which came to light when employers were required to square up their accounts prior to the privatisation of workplace accident insurance?

A: ACC is putting in place a system to deal with this.

Q: Who will be affected?

A: People who were in business in 1980 or 1979, and changed their business prior to 1999, and who did not receive a credit prior to this change.

Question 3.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Why did she blame parliamentary officials for the use of African rainforest timber in the Beehive refurbishment and accuse them of not following a Cabinet minute when her Cabinet's instruction of officials was only that no native timbers were to be used?

A: (Michael Cullen on behalf) The government said no “new” native timbers were to be used, therefore we expected it not to be.

Q: Will he apologise to Parliamentary Services?

A: : As NZ First pointed out last week, native woods come from all around the world. There are ample supplies from NZ and elsewhere of plantation timber.

Q: Will she reinstate Jim Sutton as forestry spokesman?

A: Mr Sutton is doing a superb job in the several roles he has at present. His hands are rather full.

(Nick Smith – can I invite the acting Environment Minister to apologise for accusing Te Papa of using African wood…

Speaker – that is not a point of order.

Nick Smith – leave to table schedule of woods from Te Papa – granted.

Roger Sowry – oughtn’t the minister correct the record. I think the issue we now face with Pete Hodgson is that an answer was given that was incorrect, is he required to correct.

Speaker – eventually the Minister should correct, yes. There are other avenues for an affronted member.

Winston Peters – why can’t we call it a lie then?

Pete Hodgson – the information I have received I have checked. Notwithstanding the tabled paper. I am hoping to get clarity on this. I am not yet clear. The truth is there is strongly contested advice on this point.)

Question 4.

JILL PETTIS (Labour) to the Minister of Research, Science and Technology Pete Hodgson:

Q: How have publicly-funded research decisions been made under successive New Zealand Governments?

A: Successive Ministers of Science have jealously guarded the independence of research organisations in their decision making. I deeply regret the attacks made recently by Wyatt Creech, who understands this, on the Health Research Council.

Q: Are their any other attacks on the independence of research decisions the Minister knows about?

A: There have not been any attacks of this nature in the past decade that I know of. Sometimes questions are raised, but until now no-one has questioned the independence of a purchasing decision.

Q: Wyatt Creech (National): What about the Cabinet manual? Shouldn’t those standards be followed elsewhere?

A: The distance between this decision and the Cabinet could hardly be wider, and that is precisely the point.

(Wyatt Creech - leave to make a response – granted.

Creech - Where potential conflicts of interest may arise it is my view that any agency ought to consider them, the HRC did not, that is my point.)

Question 5.

GERRY BROWNLEE (National) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: Does he agree with the National Party's position that marks should be awarded to students seeking secondary school qualifications?

A: I have made no decisions that have changed anything that wasn’t approved by National in 1998.

Q: Why then does the NCEA update say there will be no grades in NCEA reports?

A: Because that is a decision taken by the National Party. I have sought a bipartisan, compromise approach on this so people can have some assurance about the longevity of the new qualification system. So far it has been refused. I am however leaving the window open for a further week in case the National Party see some sense.

Q: Gerry Brownlee (National): Can he confirm that he made his offer today at midday, and that there was no negotiation involved?

A: If that was the case, then I would have thought the member would have asked for more time. He told me he would come back with a decision in half an hour.

Question 6.

IAN EWEN-STREET (Green) to the Minister for Biosecurity Jim Sutton:

Q: What factors will the Government take into account in deciding whether to abandon or intensify efforts to eradicate the saltmarsh mosquito, which can carry the debilitating Ross River virus?

A: Whether it is feasible, whether it is likely to be successful, and how much it would cost. First however we need to assess the extent of the mosquito infestation, which is why we are conducting a delimiting survey. Progress of eradication near Napier is going well at present. Whether the mosquito can be eradicated altogether or not will depend on the results of the latest delimiting survey.

Question 7.

Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: What fees and costs did Dr Joel Lexchin and Hon David Caygill each receive as independent reviewers of Pharmac's policies, and what was the total cost of the review?

A: I have been advised that the costs are yet to be established. The fee for Lexchin was Canadian $500 a day plus travel, the fee for David Caygill was $1500 a day including travel. These costs compare favourably with the Helen Cull inquiry into chest therapy in Auckland which were $2000 a day.

Q: Winston Peters (NZ First): When will this Former Cabinet Minister David Caygill be weaned off the state’s teat?

(Speaker – that question is wide of the mark.

Richard Prebble – why can’t she say how much it cost?

Annette King – I requested an answer to this question. The information was held by the HFA. Most of the information was held offsite in Dunedin and was not available. As soon as I have the information I will give it to the member.)

Q: When was Caygill added to the inquiry?

A: After the 17th of July. After consultations with the RMI.

Q: Will he make the terms of reference available?

A: Yes. The house will be interested to know that they were set following consultations with the RMI.

(Winston Peters – why cannot we scrutinise this person by way of Parliamentary Question. Why does this person keep getting appointed to various things.)

A: The Hon. David Caygill was appointed, not by the government, but by the HFA.

(Roger Sowry – so the answer is in a box in storage. I understand that. We only get four or five questions a day. What is the process we will now go through to get that information.

Speaker – I accept the ministers word that it will be provided.)

Question 8.

JANET MACKEY to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: How much is the Government spending on the Police vehicle fleet and why is this spending necessary?

A: I have announced this today. Around 404 new six cylinder vehicles will be purchased. These will be new LPG vehicles and come out of $13 million of extra funding provided by this government. There are also lots of other new cars being used by the police. The new vehicles are needed because the police fleet has aged recently because of limited car purchases.

Q: ,Did the Hon. Clem Simich announce the purchase of 405 cars in his last year?

A: The only reason they bought new police cars was to impress President Clinton when he was here for APEC.

Q: Did he consider fuel savings issues when buying these cars?

A: Yes we did. These will be dual fuel, LPG and Petrol, cars. And like the National Party, they come equipped with air bags.

Q: Tony Ryall (National) - What about his promise of 660 new cars?

A: There is more good news to come. Just be patient.

Question 9.

OWEN JENNINGS (ACT) to the Minister of Defence Mark Burton:

Q: What assurances can he give that the Royal New Zealand Air Force is able to deliver its strategic defence role, the policing of our exclusive economic zone and undertaking search and rescue?

A: (Michael Cullen on behalf): The Ministry is able to meet all requirements in its purchase agreement.

Q: What about all the pilots leaving?

A: The report in the Dominion is incorrect. We will have sufficient crews to maintain service.

Q: Is the resignation of pilots new?

A: No. It has been happening for a long time.

Q: Wayne Mapp (National): Can we defend the country?

A: I am advised that the baseline budgets that we inherited in no way allowed for the commitments the previous government had made.

Question 10.

KEVIN CAMPBELL (Alliance) to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: What advice has he received on the progress of home detention?

A: 186 offenders are on home detention at present. More than 800 prisoners have been through the programme.

Q: Has the opposition criticised the programme?

A: Yes. Brian Neeson has suggested that three instances of removal of anklets should lead to a review of the criteria. This is just 0.37% of home detention cases and beats targets set by the previous government.

Q: Brian Neeson (National): Are the sort of people described in the Dominion report appropriate candidates for home detention?

A: The district parole board determines who gets this. If there are problems with the criteria then there is an opportunity for the member to fix it with the new bill coming before the house.

Question 11.

Dr LYNDA SCOTT (National) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: What transitional cost funding has been given to the 21 district health boards for their establishment in the 6-month period 1 January to 30 June 2001?

A: The total funding for DHBs is $10,024,000 GST exclusive.

Q: How will Auckland fund its more than $1 million shortfall in funding and will it cut services?

A: Negotiations are continuing with some DHBs. Meanwhile 10 DHBs have agreed to their funding. 10 of the 21 say they can manage within the funding available. None say the deficits will impact on services.

Q: If services won’t be cut, then where will funding come from?

A: Negotiations are continuing. I draw the member to the comments of a spokesman from one of the largest DHBs, that has a $500,000 shortfall, but thinks it will hardly have any impact.

Question 12.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (NZ First) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Given the importance of exports to New Zealand's economic survival and the state of our balance of payments, does the Government intend to declare and support an "export year" project in the near future?

A: Every year is export year under this government. That is why exports are growing at 25% year on year.

Q: Has he read the proposal for export year?

A: Yes. But simply declaring it an export year will not necessarily mean anything.

Q: When will the Government implement a Buy NZ Made policy?

A: It is clear to this government that the future of this nation does not lie in a fortress NZ policy but in being a high value export economy.


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