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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day - 3 April

Today's questions of the day concerned: Defence Policy Criticism – Modern Apprenticeships – Waterfront Wars – Consumer Protection On The Net– NCEA Grading – Fishing Boat Servicing – Budget 2001 And Spending “Backfilling” – Single Sex Schools – Evan MacKenzie Vietnam Vet – Medical Complaints Procedures – TVNZ Charter – Violence In Families

Questions Of The Day - Tuesday, 3 April 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 Prime Minister Helen Clark :

Q: What reasons does she have for not supporting the call by two former Secretaries of Defence and four former chiefs of the defence forces to publish drafts of the Government's defence reviews so they can be "considered and discussed in full by the people of New Zealand who will have to live with the consequences"?

A: Because there has already been lots published. And because I have little interest in hearing more from the National Party’s acolytes.

Q: Why isn’t she taking notice of a

A: When the same kind of group attacked Lange’s government there were 17 of them, now there are seven. These people prefer National’s defence policy, the public don’t.

Q: Why is the PM using the Honourable Derek Quigley’s report as justification when he disagrees with the Government’s policy?

A: My comments are clearly directed to his work on the select committee. What friends he has made since then I clearly don’t know.

Q: Keith Locke (Green): Does the PM consider it odd that these people who were in the past highly secretive, are now championing transparency?

A: Indeed it is an incredible irony that these people who presided over defence policy in complete secrecy are now calling for a public debate. When decisions are announced in May a large number of relevant documents will be released. We have been far more open in releasing information about defence than any of our predecessors.

(Richard Prebble – we all know that Derek Quigley never changes his views, will the PM withdraw her remarks.

Speaker – if the remarks had been made about a current member then the member might have a point, comments on members of the public are a matter of judgment.)

Q: Why is she using Derek Quigley to strangle public debate on defence?

A: There has been far more debate in public as a result of his select committee work.

Question 2.

HARRY DUYNHOVEN (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:

Q: Is the Government's modern apprenticeship initiative meeting the expectations of the Government, employers and trainees?

A: Yes it is. Skill NZ has now completed an evaluation of the pilot. There were positive responses from employers, parents and young people. I will be releasing the evaluation in full towards the end of this week.

Q: How many modern apprentices are there now in place?

A: 518 were signed up by February 2001. We plan to have 3000 in place by March next year.

Q: Are ITO trainees getting equivalent resources?

A: We have been increasing resources for ITO trainees too.

Q: What is being done to encourage secondary school students?

A: We have introduced the “Gateway” programme to 22 schools as a pilot project.

Q: How many state sector apprentices have been signed up?

A: We have announced that the public sector will be involved in this programme and are working on it.

Question 3.

Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH (National) to the Minister of Labour Margaret Wilson:

Q: When will the mediator's report on the dispute between Mainland Stevedoring and the Waterfront Workers Union be completed and when will it be released publicly?

A: I have a copy of a draft report that has been sent to the parties. The mediator will after receiving feedback issue a final report to the parties and to me. I will then release it publicly.

Q: Lockwood Smith (National): What about the egg throwing today?

A: I am not aware of those events. I understand that protestors can protest as long as they do so legally. The careful approach of the mediator has enabled the complex issues in this dispute to be addressed.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT): But what about the egg throwing?

A: Of course I do not condone any conduct that is illegal.

Q: Can the matter be fast-tracked?

A: Yes I am concerned that it is taking a long time. I have asked to receive a final report by Easter. I do however trust the mediator’s judgement on this.

Q: Has her office been involved in delaying the report?

A: My office has not been involved in working on the report. I have not changed it at all. You cannot change facts.

Question 4.

LIZ GORDON (Alliance) to the Minister of Consumer Affairs Jim Anderton:

Q: Has he received any advice on new measures that will assist New Zealand consumers?

A: Today I will be announcing the formation of the e-marketing standards authority. The new authority has standards for e-retailers.

Q: Will industry support the new authority?

A: The new authority was initiated by the Direct Marketing Association and the Advertising Standards Board. This is an excellent example of industry self regulation. We expect this to work very well indeed, if it doesn’t then we will review the situation. This approach fits in well with the e-government strategy.

Q: Why isn’t Phillida Bunkle being reappointed? Is that also a measure to protect consumers?

A: I think the member just got up to criticise the PM for making personal statements about people outside the house, I would have thought he would follow that approach with members too. Phillida Bunkle’s reappointment or not has nothing to do with the launch of this standards authority.

Question 5.

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

Q: Does he agree with the Post Primary Teachers Association's claim that grade point averages for the National Certificate of Educational Achievement are "educationally unsound"?

A: No.

Q: How does he expect parents to have confidence in the new system when it has been criticised and misunderstood by so many people?

A: We could get a good summary of the confusion if we looked at the statements of the member. Last week he welcomed the changes. This week he is following the PPTA. He should make up his mind.

Q: Why did the Minister opt for the grade point system?

A: Because it will be familiar to parents.

Q: How will these grade point averages be computed?

A: (Explains in detail how to calculate the average.)

Q: Nandor Tanczos (Green): What about employers concerns?

A: I could arrange a briefing for the member. The Employers Federation has been one of the advocates for this system. This system will be valued by employers.

Question 6.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (NZ First) to the Minister of Fisheries Pete Hodgson:

Q: Is the New Zealand ship servicing industry losing to other Pacific countries opportunities for refit, survey or supply contracts to American tuna long line fishing vessels as a result of New Zealand's Commercial Fishing section 61 fees payable under clause 6(b) of the Second Schedule of the Fisheries (Commercial Fishing) Regulations 1986, Amendment No 23?

A: I have received a lot of correspondence on this from someone in Tauranga. I understand that the fee is used to finance a satellite monitoring system. I am aware of an assertion that there has been a $10 million estimate of lost income. I am not aware of any economic study about this.

Q: When were these fees last reviewed?

A: About 4 years ago. They will all be reviewed afresh before 1 October this year.

Q: Does he think the problem might be the viability of fishing?

A: When the economic commentator says that $350,000 refits are not going ahead because of a $3000 fee then he might be wrong. The member appears to want to lower compliance fees for foreign vessels. This government puts New Zealand first.

Question 7.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: Does he stand by his Budget 2000 statement that he spent $200 million on "spending cuts which had been built into budget baselines and which I have had to backfill"?

A: Yes.

Q: Why then is it part of his pre-budget spin that he has to go around and fill those holes again?

A: (Lists the components of the $200 million backfill including, IRD, Border Security, Police, INCIS and other things.) We are still digging up fiscal bones. The previous government had planned to cut $25 million from TB control programmes. We had a choice of either allowing a possum amnesty or putting this money back.

Q: Is the overseas downturn causing problems?

A: We expect the fiscal position to be well ahead of forecast when the next set of outcomes are released.

Q: Rod Donald (Green): Did the former government plan to collapse energy efficiency and environment funding?

A: Yes.

Q: Will the government be breaching his commitment to keep extra spending under $5.9 billion?

A: No. We will be so close to the bullseye that the member will not be able to tell the difference.

Question 8.

NANAIA MAHUTA (Labour) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: What is the expected impact of proposed amendments to the Education Act to allow single-sex schools to enrol students of the opposite gender?

A: This amendment is expected to reduce the bureaucratic back-flipping involved in enrolling children of the other sex for special programmes. I am a strong supporter of single sex schools. Some schools have welcomed this amendment. Others are concerned they may be forced to take students of the opposite gender – the answer to this is that they won’t be. A school will still have to seek approval from the Ministry of Education to change to coed. Only two schools have changed to coed in the last decade and I do not expect this to change.

Question 9.

RODNEY HIDE (ACT) to the Minister of Veterans' Affairs:

Q: What is the Government doing to help Vietnam veteran Evan McKenzie and his family?

A: (Michael Cullen on behalf) I can assure the house that considerable support has been provided to this family.

Q: Can the minister confirm that the PM has been very supportive of the need to do better for veterans, but that since a letter to the PM in November last year no assistance has been forthcoming?

A: No I can’t. Four members of the family are receiving funding support totalling in excess of $170,000 a year in addition to medical treatment costs. A member of the family wrote to the PM saying that Mr Hide was expected to interfere in their case and saying that his interference wasn’t wanted.

Q: Is it not a regrettable fact that Mr Hide and the ACT Party supported the National Government when they turned their backs on these people?

A: I think it is fair to say that NZ First championed these people and that the National Party turned their backs on these people when the coalition was dissolved.

Question 10.

SUE BRADFORD (Green) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: What steps, if any, is she taking in the wake of the Cull report, specifically to assist the many Northland women who have been adversely affected by the actions of Dr Graham Parry?

A: The Cull Report was commissioned to examine broader issues. We need to look at the report separately from events in Northland. I am advised that officials have been meeting with Northland women to discuss what should be done about their cases.

Q: Does the woman think that poor women should have to spend $700 on expert opinions to support their claims of negligence by Dr Parry.

A: As I said officials have been meeting with the women affected in this case.

Question 11.

KATHERINE RICH (National) to the Minister of Broadcasting Marian Hobbs:

Q: When does she intend to release the final version of the Television New Zealand charter and any plans to compensate Television New Zealand for costs associated with implementing the charter?

A: When Cabinet has approved it.

Q: Why has she suggested taxes on movie tickets, videos and broadcasting revenues?

A: Part of the responsibility for broadcasting has been to explore what other countries do. And that is what that was about.

Q: Sue Kedgley (Green): Does the Government accept it has an obligation to fund the non-commercial objectives in the charter?

A: We intend to implement the charter progressively which will allow costs to be managed.

Question 12.

MAHARA OKEROA (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment (Social Services) Tariana Turia:

Q: What is the purpose of the addressing violence in families programme that she launched yesterday at Terenga Paraoa Marae in Whangarei?

A: The programmes are designed to work with whanau as a whole and with fathers in particular to minimise violence.

Q: Why is this different?

A: This is an empowering programme that teaches all family members how to break the cycle of inter-generational transfer of violence.

Q: How will quality be guaranteed?

A: This will be ensured because this programme has an expert group of Kaumatua supervisors who will be responsible for supervising this.

Q: Muriel Newman (ACT): Is family violence linked to family breakdown and does she think strengthening two parent families is necessary?

A: I do not believe that having two parent families is necessary to get rid of violence.

SCOOP COVERAGE ENDS

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