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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 20 February

Today's questions of the day concerned: Principles Of The Treaty Of Waitangi – DHB Coordination – Dunedin Cardiac Services - Alliance Ructions – East Coast Farm Advice – Palmerston North Policing – Police Drug Searches – Kiwibank – Teachers Council – Government-Gang Cooperation – Gaming Bill - Aquaculture Moratorium

Questions Of The Day - Wednesday, 20 February

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.

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

Q: Further to my questions of 13 and 14 February 2002 relating to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, will she now advise what the Government understands those principles to be, and if not, will she advise how many governmental and quasi-governmental organisations are having regard to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi as is required by various enactments?

A: (Margaret Wilson on behalf) I presume the principles referred to are those formulated by the 4th Labour Govt in 1989. I am happy to make them available to the member. I note also that the Cabinet Manual requires the principles to be taken note of. The principles are subject to ongoing discussion and interpretation by the court.

Q: What about Maori tertiary education and claims of Tino Rangitiratanga in that sector?

A: I am happy to table a copy of them as they were formulated. They are a bit long to read out. The purpose was to follow the Treaty of Waitangi and put the principles into operational form.

Q: How are they being applied?

A: The Government expects all departments to keep up with the principles, and give effect to them when making decisions. Currently there are 30 pieces of legislation referring to the principles. Many more references are also contained in subordinate legislation. There is no specific reference to Tino Rangitiratanga in the principles at present.

Q: Surely Mr Peters has a point that we are putting into law something that no-one can define?

A: There is no confusion. The only confusion arose because we did not know which set of principles were being referred to.

Q: Nandor Tanczos (Green): Does the Govt. accept that in International Law the indigenous language version takes precedence?

A: Yes in some circumstances.

Question 2.

Hon ROGER SOWRY (National) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: Which specific health services, currently provided by the Auckland District Health Board, did she mean when she referred to services “that are not high-tech and specialised but are things that could be done by other health boards”, and can she guarantee that access to these services will still be available?

A: This government is committed to a coordinated health service. Sharing resources is something we believe in. We want to better coordinate services across DHBs.

Q: Given that answer, can she inform the house whether she is concerned that her directive to Auckland DHB to live within its means is likely to mean that there are tradeoffs between high tech services and primary services?

A: What it means is that the Auckland DHB is likely to look at the range of services it provides. I recently announced a three year funding package for health in which Auckland will receive its fair share.

Q: Have medical professionals raised concerns about splitting up highly skilled teams?

A: No I am not aware of that.

Q: Are we now second world in terms of health care in NZ?

A: I don’t know of any rule that says I have to agree with the head of Auckland DHB.

Question 3.

DAVID BENSON-POPE (Labour) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: What reports, if any, has she received regarding plans to close Dunedin’s cardiac unit?

A: I have seen only one report. A press release from Roger Sowry. Nothing could be further from the truth. I note today that the ODT says that Mr Sowry appears to be confused on this issue. I note the clinical director of South Island cardiac services is not concerned about being wound up and says that the organisation is only there in order to resolve a political stoush in the past.

Q: If everything is so rosy. Why has the contract been amended given that it only started two months ago. Or is the cheap path being taken?

A: The member is confused again. I am about to announce a programme that will be long-standing for the South Island, and not political.

Question 4.

GERRY BROWNLEE (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Is she correctly reported as saying she was not concerned about the Alliance ructions, as long as its four Ministers wanted to continue working in the Government?

A: (Michael Cullen on behalf) The stability of the Government is always a matter of concern for any PM. However there is no suggestion that the stability of this Government is an issue.

Q: Is she concerned about Laila Harre no longer being needed by Jim Anderton?

A: Mr Anderton never said anything of the sort. Mr Brownlee however has frequently suggested he should be the leader of the National Party.

Q: Jim Anderton (Alliance): Has the alleged stability problems of the Government led to a change in support for the Labour-Alliance Government?

(Brownlee – How can we have questions from the Acting PM to the PM, and answered by the deputy leader of the Labour party?

Speaker – the PM is still in the country.

Ron Mark – I am sure I heard Jim Anderton tell the country on the radio this morning that he is the Acting PM.

Jim Anderton - this morning I said that later on today I would be the Acting PM. I am not so yet. The PM is still in NZ.)

A: I have seen reports that combined support for the Labour/Alliance Government was 47% at the last election, recent polls show it at 52%, so the answer is no.

Q: Can the PM confirm that the Electoral Integrity Bill means that no-one in the Alliance can now leave, and that the ructions will therefore continue right to the election?

A: The effect of the Electoral Integrity Act is that if someone leaves their Parliamentary party then they cease to be a member of their party.

Question 5.

JANET MACKEY (Labour) to the Minister for Rural Affairs Jim Sutton:

Q: What progress has been made on the Government’s advisory scheme for underutilised land on the East Coast?

A: Great progress. Hard work by the farm advisor appointed by MAF has paid off with increased productivity and profitability for East Coast farms. The programme was funded by the reducing inequalities contingency fund. The success shows that problems of multiple ownership of land can be overcome.

Q: What did he say to the farm advisor in question’s complaints about the RMA?

A: I recall no such comment from the gentleman named.

Q: Owen Jennings (ACT): What would he say to Rex and Angela Brown who spent years fighting the Maori Land Act?

A: He should put down a question if he wants an answer.

Question 6.

Dr WAYNE MAPP (National) to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: Further to his answer in the House yesterday, how is “The Government … supporting the police and the community.” during the current gang tensions in Palmerston North?

A: The police have all the resources they need, and all they have asked for.

Q: When Labour’s 1999 justice policy said pressure needed to be kept up on gangs, did this mean pressure on Government agencies to help gangs?

A: I am advised that 30 people have been arrested so far in Palmerston North. The police have all the equipment they need, and what they appreciate is the support of Government ministers.

Q: Muriel Newman (ACT): Am I right to say that he has promised the police what they want, that Steve Maharey has promised the community what they want, and that Tariana Turia has promised the gangs what they want? And if so which part has priority?

A: The member has it wrong.

Q: Given that 30 gang members have been arrested. How can it be appropriate for a Minister to be helpful to gang organisations?

A: I have never said that and nor has any of my colleagues.

Question 7.

NANDOR TANCZOS (Green) to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: What actions are the Police taking following the statement accompanying the finding of Judge Gittos that “the conduct of … a ‘sweep’ by a Team Policing Unit may involve Officers engineering opportunities to conduct personal searches of persons minding their own business in a public street at random or on a purely speculative basis” and that “such conduct would manifestly contravene the provisions of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act”?

A: The decision will not be appealed by the police. It is viewed as a timely clarification of the law.

Q: What will be done to ensure the Bill of Rights is complied with in the future?

A: The Auckland District Commander has said that the case has caused them to reexamine their practices.

Q: Will the police be able to continue to search people who smell strongly of cannabis?

A: There have been around 5000 searches in the last 12 months and in 80% of cases the searches were justified.

Question 8.

RODNEY HIDE (ACT) to the Minister for Industry and Regional Development Jim Anderton:

Q: Has he received reports on the regional economic impact of Kiwibank “opening somewhere between 300 and 340 branches throughout New Zealand this year”, as he claimed in the House yesterday; if not, why not?

A: Yes. The most recent report I have received is that if 300 branches open, then the economic impact will be “brilliant”.

Q: How does he square his statement with comments of Kiwibank CEO Sam Knowles who told me, when he rang to make an appointment for me to open my account, and said he had no idea where Mr Anderton had got his figures from?

A: I can’t verify a conversation anyone has had with Mr Hide. I can say that in the business plan it was projecting 322 branches. It seems odd now that the ACT Party think that 250 branches is not enough. It is a commercial decision for operators of Post Shops to make on whether or not to open a branch.

Q: What has been the impact of bank branch closures in the past?

A: Between 1993 and 1999 550 bank branches were closed with a severe impact on regional communities.

Q: How many of the branches will be opened in communities which presently have no banking facilities?

A: 20 communities with Post Shops presently have no banking facilities. All of the 300 plus communities where branches may be opened, all will benefit greatly.

Q: Rodney Hide (ACT): Will he back his confidence that there will be more than 300 branches with a promise to resign if there are less than 300 branches?

A: That is a ridiculous request. I do not understand why an MP is seeking to sabotage a bank owned by NZers.

Question 9.

HELEN DUNCAN (Labour) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: What has been the response to the launch of the New Zealand Teachers’ Council?

A: The response has been very positive. It is a first for the teaching profession in NZ. Teachers will take a primary responsibility for setting standards in their profession. Research and best practice will inform their decisions. The makeup of the council recognises that there is a professional link between teachers and teaching in both the early childhood and school sectors.

Q: Nick Smith (National): Does he accept this is a National Party idea announced in 1999?

A: There was widespread support for the council. It is notable that special support was there for Kura to be covered, something that National opposed, and support was there for early childhood services to be covered, something that National opposed.

(Speaker – did the member accuse the minister of not telling the truth.

Member – I withdraw and apologise.)

A: I also note that the Tories didn’t even turn up to the launch.

Question 10.

Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National) to the Minister of Maori Affairs Parekura Horomia:

Q: What steps does he or his Associate Minister propose to take following the invitation of his Associate Minister to the Black Power and Mongrel Mob gangs to think of ways in which the Government could “be more helpful” to the two gangs?

A: The offer to the gangs was to meet with my colleague the Associate Minister to discuss these issues. Since the hui my department has been in contact with the gangs.

Q: Can he assure the house that what he and she have in mind will be consistent with the Labour Party Policy to “keep the pressure up” on gangs?

A: I note that the late PM Robert Muldoon set up a scheme to help gang members into work.

Q: Will he assure the house that we should not reflect the Associate Minister’s comments as meaning that Gang interests will take priority?

A: We are on about the communities best interests, not the scratch back session that he gets into.

Question 11.

DIANNE YATES (Labour) to the Minister of Internal Affairs George Hawkins:

Q: What are the community concerns that led to the introduction of the Responsible Gambling Bill yesterday?

A: There are a number of concerns. Everyone wants assistance for problem gamblers. The bill addresses these concerns. Profits from non-casino machines will continue to be distributed locally.

Q: Will the $5.8 million problem gambling levy be increased to over $20 million to fund a health ministry initiative?

A: Our concern has been to recognise that people with problems are treated.

Q: Why when the TAB and Lotto are expanding, are pokie machine operators being stifled?

A: Lotto is not expanding.

Q: Given that existing Casinos will have effective monopolies will a specific monopoly tax on casinos be considered?

A: No.

Question 12.

ALEC NEILL (National) to the Minister of Maori Affairs Parekura Horomia:

Q: What steps does he propose to take to safeguard the interests of the many Maori interests affected by the moratorium on aquaculture resource consents, in light of the report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research which assesses the economic cost of the moratorium as being in the hundreds of millions of dollars?

A: Government expects a speedy progression of the bill through its stages. I have encouraged Maori to make submissions during its hearing.

Q: Is he concerned that the Whakatohea Iwi says that its application will bring 400 jobs to an economically depressed area? And if so what will he do about it?

A: I find it difficult to answer the question because I couldn’t understand the pronunciation of the Iwi that is referred to. (later after clarification….) It is important to understand that few Iwi are as advanced as that one, and that on average it is taking 8 to 10 years for applications to proceed to development.

Q: Maharoa Okeroa (Labour): What are the benefits of the proposed reforms for Maori?

A: The key benefit is that certainty will be brought to the application process. It is in everybody’s interests for the aquaculture industry to be able to develop faster.

Q: If the minister is concerned about submissions to the Select Committee, what will he do to protect the interests of Ngati Koata Iwi who are upset about the moratorium?

A: They have been in the fishing business for some time and will be assisted by this legislation.

SCOOP COVERAGE ENDS

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