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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 29 March

Today's questions of the day concerned: Energy Efficiency – Maori Lease Tax Bill – Gisborne Cervical Inquiry – Women In The Police – Historic Places Trust Row - Business Migration – Police Association Complaints – Police Computer Security – Cull Report – Social Policy Agency Reform – Global Dairy Company:

Questions Of The Day - Thursday, 29 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.

SCOOP COVERAGE BEGINS

Question 1.

DAVID CUNLIFFE (Labour) to the Minister of Energy Pete Hodgson:

Q: What is the Government doing to improve New Zealand's energy efficiency and give effect to the Government's commitment to a sustainable and efficient energy future?

A: Today I launched the first ever draft energy efficiency strategy. The $20 million figure in strategy is the sort of figure that would need to be put forward by central government, perhaps in partnership with others. If the target is achieved the savings for the NZ economy could be $900 million a year. Now there is a figure worth quoting. It is clear that the government needs to get its own house in order, and to lead from the front. We have committed ourselves to doing so. This is not a supply side strategy, it is a demand side strategy, the first this government has ever seen.

Q: Is their potential for conflict in this strategy between EECA and the energy industry?

A: It is true that energy companies can make more money by selling more energy. It is also true that energy companies can make money out of energy efficiency services.

Question 2.

RODNEY HIDE (ACT) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: Why did the Government introduce the Maori Reserved Land Amendment Bill on Monday and advise the Business Committee that it intended to pass the bill through all stages this week, and what has now changed that the bill has been "scrapped"?

A: (Parekura Horomia on behalf) The government has now received further advice and has an agreement with the lessees that allays our fears about the tax impacts on cashflows being taken into account.

Q: What will he be doing about the poor advice he received?

A: The Minister will be doing something.

Q: Why was it important that the tax impact on cashflows be taken into account?

A: For equity reasons. To have treated the 170 lessees differently to the 2000 who have already received compensation would be unfair. Dr Cullen has now been congratulated for getting to the bottom of the matter by farmers.

Question 3.

Rt Hon WYATT CREECH (National) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: Is it correct that the final report of the ministerial inquiry into the under-reporting of cervical smear abnormalities in the Gisborne region is already in the hands of the Ministry of Health; if so, why is the public release being delayed until 10 April?

A: No. The information the member has is incorrect.

Q: When was the report received by the Ministry of Health?

A: The report has not been received by the Ministry of Health. I will be travelling to Gisborne on 10th of April to release the report to the women involved.

Q: Why has the report not been released immediately? Why is it being spun?

A: The report has not been received yet. I expect to receive it this weekend.

Q: Will recommendations in the report be able to be implemented in this year’s budget?

A: I cannot answer questions about the report until I have received it.

Question 4.

JANET MACKEY (Labour) to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: Has he recently received any information on the opportunities available for women within the New Zealand Police; if so, what does it say?

A: Yes. Today I can announce the appointment of two new deputy commissioners, including the first ever woman deputy commissioner.

Q: Why has the Government gone outside the police to make an appointment?

A: To ensure the police have the skills necessary to prevent anything like INCIS ever happening again. Women presently represent 16% of the police force, this is the highest percentage ever.

Question 5.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National) to the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Judith Tizard:

Q: How does she reconcile the Minister's corrected answer to written question No 21052, with regard to "golden handshakes" by the Historic Places Trust, that "Two confidential settlements for termination/redundancy were made to former employees by the Historic Places Trust between 1 November 1999 and 24 November 2000 with a total value of $30,500." with her answer yesterday "The Historic Places Trust has told me that the information is correct, but that the other part of the settlement is confidential."?

A: I have been assured by the HPT that the answer is correct.

Q: Is the figure inclusive of all costs? And if so why has she conditioned her answers?

A: All parts of the settlement are confidential. If the member has more information than I do, then I invite him to release it. I understand this matter has been referred to the Audit Office and I look forward to the report.

Q: Why did the PM amalgamate three answers to written questions on this last year?

A: Because the State Services Commission advised her to do so. Remember this agreement is to protect the employee’s privacy.

Q: If the confidentiality agreement is for the benefit of the employee then why has the HPT written to the employee threatening them?

A: Again Mr Smith appears to have more information than I. If he has information I am very happy for it to be put on the record. I have no other information than I have already given.

Question 6.

CHRIS CARTER (Labour) to the Minister of Immigration Lianne Dalziel:

Q: What impact is business migration having on the New Zealand economy?

A: Business migration approvals have been increasing significantly in recent months. I understand that in one week alone recently there were applications lodged to invest more than $40 million in NZ by migrants. The backlog has now been dealt with and cases will now be processed more quickly.

Question 7.

Hon TONY RYALL (National) to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: What did he mean when he described the Police Association as giving "the impression of a bunch of complaining misinformation merchants"?

A: I am disappointed when members of the Police Association attack their colleagues.

Q: Does he accept the concerns of the Police Association that his police cuts to frontline staff are having a negative effect on morale? And will he accept responsibility for attacking a decorated police officer?

A: Earlier this week Greg O’Connor came to my office to thank me for getting more money for the police. We are proud to be standing alongside the police rather than attacking them.

Q: Has he received a letter from the Police Association recently?

A: Yes I have received a letter from Greg O’Connor thanking this government for spending more money on the police.

Q: Did he recommend that his colleague Clayton Cosgrove ask a question about how many arrests had been made by Te Rapa Police Association representative Senior Constable John Gower?

A: My job is to answer questions put to me. I do that. I would acknowledge that Mr Gower is a fine police officer and has been decorated.

Q: Who is the biggest misinformation merchant, Mike Wall or Senior Constable John Gower?

A: I am delighted to tell that member that the Police Association have never had it so good because we are funding the police far better than the government he supported ever did.

Question 8.

RON MARK (NZ First) to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: Is the information contained on the Police computers unable to be accessed under any circumstances by non-Police personnel?

A: Police confirm that non-police personnel can not access police computers.

Q: Can he then explain why the High Court has been told that a police informer, a former Mongrel Mob member, had access to the police computer?

A: I would advise the member to ask another question if he wants an answer to that question. And I would advise him to be more direct in his initial questions in the future.

Question 9.

JUDY KEALL (Labour) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: Has she received the Cull report on the review of the processes concerning adverse medical events; if so, what does it say?

A: (Tariana Turia on behalf) I have received this report. Its main recommendation is for a one stop shop for medical complaints.

Q: How did the review arise?

A: It followed from events in Northland. I commissioned Helen Cull to review several aspects of medical disciplinary procedures.

Q: When will we see more resources for the Health And Disability Commissioner?

A: The Ministry of Health is looking at future funding issues.

Question 10.

BOB SIMCOCK (National) to the Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey:

Q: What advice has he received regarding the proposal for amalgamation of the Department of Work and Income, the Ministry of Social Policy and the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services into a single Department of Social Welfare, and what is his response to that advice?

A: (Tariana Turia on behalf) I have received no advice on that. Ministers have begun to think about whether the present configuration of departments in the social area is appropriate.

Q: Is this Heather Simpson’s idea?

A: I agree with the PM that fragmentation of the public service can in some circumstances be a problem. As promised in the Labour Party manifesto, detailed decisions about changes in the public service in the future will not be made without consultations with both the employees in the public sector, and with the PSA.

Q: Was it wise of the PM to raise this matter?

A: I suggest the member put that question to the PM.

Question 11.

JEANETTE FITZSIMMONS (Green) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Will she convey outrage to President Bush over his unilateral abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change because of his refusal to commit the United States to reducing the climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions?

A: (Pete Hodgson on behalf) New Zealand shares concerns of many nations that recent statements from the Bush Administration may indicate a change in policy on climate change.

Q: Is he concerned that other nations may follow the US?

A: It may be that other nations will join the US, but there are no signs of it yet. Not one Western Nation has come out in support of the Bush position yet.

Q: What recent contact has there been on this?

A: Last week we hosted a meeting of the umbrella group here in NZ, a group the US is a member of. I made our views very clear to the US representative at that meeting. Our view has always been that there should be simple and easy to follow rules.

Q; Does this change NZ views on energy efficiency?

A: No. Energy efficiency brings very substantial economic gains.

Q: As the Washington Post says ratification would harm the US economy, will our ratification harm the NZ economy?

A: One can make money by being energy efficient. If a nation is part of the Kyoto Protocol it will be part of the innovative future.

Question 12.

GAVAN HERLIHY (National) to the Minister of Agriculture Jim Sutton:

Q: Does he intend introducing a bill to give effect to the formation of the Global Dairy Company; if so, when?

A: (Pete Hodgson on behalf) The government is yet to decide whether to introduce such a bill.

Q: Is he satisfied that farmers long term interests have been taken into account. And that domestic competition issues have been addressed?

A: If we were satisfied about those things then we would have made a decision. We haven’t, so clearly we are not.

Q: As this is very important, can the Minister assure us this will be scrutinised by the Commerce Commission?

A: That is one of the issues we are considering.

SCOOP COVERAGE ENDS

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