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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 27 February

Today’s questions concerned: Health System Responsibility – TOW & Police Expenditure – Orthopaedic Outpatient Waiting Times – Economy – OECD Status – Motorway Evictions – Brian Rees Payout – Whanau Care – Injury Rate – Aquaculture Moratorium – Tourism Initiatives

Questions Of The Day - Wednesday, 27 February 2002

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.

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

Q: Does she stand by her statement about the health system that "the buck does stop with me and that's why I spend so much time out on the road taking responsibility"; if not, why not?

A: Yes.

Q: Why then did she write to the editors of the NZ Herald, the Press and the Dominion saying she is not responsible for any delays in heart surgery?

A: It might have been more appropriate to quote the full text of the letter to the papers.

Q: Is she considering withholding dialysis treatment from Pacific Islanders who cannot pay?

A: No. A decision has not been made on that. But the Ministry of Health is working with foreign governments on appropriate protocols to deal with that issue.

Q: Does she agree with lawyers that DHB members might be taking on responsibility for deficits personally?

A: That is not right.

Q: Do we have a first world health service?

A: I made the statement about the buck stopping on June 21st last year during a debate with Jenny Shipley. I stand by that statement and compare it with Bill English’s statement around the same time that Jenny Shipley would be the leader at this upcoming election.

Question 2.

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

Q: What is the total value of every element of expenditure within Vote Police that is derived from the Treaty of Waitangi principles, and what are the principles against which such expenditure is approved?

A: Police do not keep the information in the way it has been requested. I therefore cannot provide information I don’t have.

(Long point of order discussion on whether or not Hawkins should provide a long answer to the question that he advised the Speaker he was going to give.

The speaker ruled that he didn’t have to presently, but reserved his final ruling till later in question time.

RULING: The speaker cannot put words into the Minister’s mouth. I thought the answer would be long but as far as I am concerned, this is a matter for the minister. If it is inadequate he can expect to be criticised.)

A: The strategic plan makes it clear that Treaty principles must be incorporated into all activities. Therefore it is impossible to answer the question.

Q: Can the Minister tell the house, given the considerable detail given in the annual report for the police (quoted from extensively), that he has no idea what the costs have been of this, nor what the impact has been on real policing?

A: While the member is correct about all the things being done, they are not itemised in terms of funding. I would like to say that the police are doing very well. And they don’t separate people out on the basis of race.

Q: How has responsiveness to Maori improved?

A: 34 Iwi liason officers have been established. And many more things have also been done. But these things have not been separated out in terms of cost.

Q: How can the Government budget for principles that the Government cannot define?

A: I am advised that the Police define the treaty principles as follows. Under article one…. Article two…. Article three…. This information is available on the police website.

Q: Nandor Tanczos (Green): How does the racist application of the law by some members of the police comply with the Treaty?

A: If the member has specific examples I will look into them.

Q: How many of the Iwi liason officers are European?

A: I don’t know.

Q: Is it consistent with the Treaty for the PM to allege racism in the shooting of Steven Wallace?

A: We have moved on from that now. That’s the reality.

Question 3.

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

Q: Why, as at December 2001, had the number of orthopaedic outpatients waiting for first specialist assessment at the Canterbury District Health Board increased by 318, and the number waiting for surgery increased by 558, compared with the numbers in December 2000?

A: The Canterbury DHB advises that it anticipates not being able to deliver on its budget for orthopaedic services.

Q: Is it true that waiting lists are now spiralling out of control?

A: If she reads other comments from surgeons, also in the Press article, she will find that putting one-off money in leads to greater demand which often cannot be met. We have put money into baselines which is a much better way of funding services. It has been reported that last year 733 hip replacements were delivered, up 72 on the previous year.

Q: What about the credit card pledge?

A: I would be very happy to table the last quarterly report on assessments which shows there are sizeable reductions both in first assessment and operation waiting lists.

Q: Is this the result of ageist health policies in a second world health system?

A: No and No.

(Nick Smith - leave sought to table a letter to a 77 year old woman who has been told she must wait five years for an assessment – granted.

Annette King – leave sought to table letter to the editors of papers – refused.)

Question 4.

MARK PECK (Labour) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: What reports has he received on the state of the New Zealand economy?

A: At the time of the DEFU there was concern that global economic conditions could be a source of risk to the fiscal outcome. Since then those risks have dissipated thanks to positive economic outcomes.

Q: What about Government finances?

A: The operating balance is marginally higher than forecast and tax revenues are up.

Question 5.

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

Q: Does the Government have a target date for returning New Zealand back into the top half of the OECD; if not, why was the goal of being in the top half of the OECD by 2011 included in the Prime Minister's document Growing an Innovative New Zealand?

A: We do not have a target date for reaching the top half of OECD. A date appears in an illustration in a document that was not cleared by ministers.

Q: Is the minister saying that this graphic, contained in a document with the PM’s face on it, is not a statement this government is prepared to stand by?

A: The printed text was cleared by ministers. That particular illustration was not cleared by ministers and doesn’t have the PM’s picture anywhere near it.

Q: Why do you not have a date?

A: It would not be credible or sensible to have one. There are two many variables involved. It is not only dependent on how fast we grow, but on how fast all other countries in the OECD grow.

(Rodney Hide – but it does have the PM’s picture next to it.

Speaker – that is a debating point.

Michael Cullen – can I take it that the member only looks at pictures. And I never said it didn’t have the PM’s picture in it.)

Question 6.

SUE KEDGLEY (Greens) to the Minister of Transport Mark Gosche:

Q: Why has Transit New Zealand issued eviction notices, which took effect yesterday, to commercial and residential tenants in the path of Wellington's proposed inner city bypass, when Transit New Zealand has not yet applied for funding to build the project and has yet to gain authorisation from the Historic Places Trust?

A: Transit issued the notices before Christmas. This was pursuant to an Environment Court decision requiring the moving of historical buildings before the bypass can be built, I understand a Historic Places Trust Decision is due in May. No action will be taken before that decision.

Q: Why then were notices issued?

A: Transit decided last year to issue notices so it could start work before winter.

Q: How much have delays on this cost the economy?

A: I understand there are arguments about congestion, and that there is a benefit for motorists of 90 seconds in this project.

Q: Can he confirm this bypass has been in the planning stage for 20 years?

A: This current project was put together in 1994 as I understand it.

Q: Is he prepared to release any and all reports from Transit and Treasury relating to the bypass?

A: As is usual those requests can be made to my office. I understand documents have already been released.

Q: In light of the fact that one tenant is barricaded into his property, and that services have been cut off. What is Transit doing to avoid unnecessary confrontation?

A: I understand two properties have people in them and 10 have been vacated. I will look into it.

Question 7.

Hon TONY RYALL (National) to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: Why did he not advise Cabinet of the payout to Brian Rees, and which matter or matters was he referring to when he told the House yesterday "The Prime Minister is not right on every matter."?

A: I could not advise Cabinet about this case because I did not know about it. And I am pleased the member brought it to my attention. In regard to the second question I am sure he would agree that both he and I are also not always right, but that the PM is more often right than either of us.

Q: When did he find out about this payment? And how many more payments doesn’t he know about?

A: I learnt about this payment when the question was put down yesterday. The other nine payments I haven’t been advised about either, but I am asking about them.

Q: What is he doing about this incident?

A: I have asked for a full report into this case and other cases. I am assured by my department that they will try harder in future and also that they will keep me better informed.

Question 8.

DAVID BENSON-POPE (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:

Q: What initiatives has the Government taken to provide community level access to tertiary learning?

A: I am pleased to say that two centres will be built shortly, in Kaitaia and Porirua for students who need extra help. We have committed $1.75 million to this pilot. The proposal for this came from the TEAC. The Far North and Porirua were identified as being areas of low take up of tertiary education.

Q: How can the Government claim it is behind tertiary training for the disadvantaged when he has frozen PTEs?

A: I am sure the member would be pleased to hear that existing PTE courses are not frozen in terms of numbers.

Question 9.

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

Q: How can he reconcile his reported comment that his Associate Minister, the Hon Tariana Turia, had never said at-risk Maori children should be placed exclusively within Maori families, with her comments that "I am totally opposed to children being raised outside whakapapa links" and that at-risk Maori children should never be allowed into "stranger care"?

A: The Associate Minister Tariana Turia is a staunch upholder of the CYF Act which states that the interests of the child are paramount.

Q: Does he agree with the recent report that says there should be a balance between section 5 and 6?

A: I do agree. And I repeat that the Associate Minister also agrees with the Act.

Q: Given that the buck rests with him. What steps has he taken to assure the Associate Minister of that fact?

A: I am the responsible minister and the Associate Minister supports the letter of the law to the letter.

Q: Bob Simcock (National): Would he accept that the best way to clean this up would be for the Associate Minister Turia to make a statement saying she has changed her views on this?

A: On the radio, as the member well knows, Tariana Turia said that wherever possible children should be placed in kin based care, where it is safe. Those are her words.

Question 10.

HARRY DUYNHOVEN (Labour) to the Minister for Accident Insurance Michael Cullen:

Q: What is the Government doing to reduce New Zealanders' injury rate?

A: Today I announced the first major step in the development of an injury prevention strategy with the appointment of a group to look at it.

Q: Why is a prevention strategy needed?

A: It emphasises prevention rather than focussing on how not to pay for the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. We are doing something about it.

Q: Is she aware that ACC has been receiving 500 claims a week for sexual abuse since people have realised that claims need not be proven?

A: The no-fault basis for claims to ACC has not changed. The member’s implication that women make up claims of sexual abuse and rape is not helpful.

Q: Is the minister aware that ACC’s Darren Goulding recently said that there has been a massive 25% increase in accidents resulting in injury in the first quarter of this year?

A: It was anticipated that with the removal of experience rating that a more accurate rate of reporting would occur. Reporting of injury creates a better environment for prevention.

Question 11.

Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU (National) to the Minister of Fisheries Pete Hodgson:

Q: Has he been advised that the proposed moratorium on aquaculture resource consents would halt a large number of projects initiated by Maori organisations, many of which have invested large sums of capital, and that thousands of jobs are now in jeopardy; if so, what representations has he made to have the Resource Management (Aquaculture Moratorium) Amendment Bill modified?

A: Yes I am aware of those facts. As for those projects being halted, that is based on the assumption that those projects will proceed. In fact legal problems mean many of them may not proceed.

Q: In light of the negative impact on Maori Development aspirations what representations have Labour Maori MPs made to him?

A: The bill is before the Select Committee. The Committee is due to deliberate and report shortly.

Q: Is a blanket ban on aquaculture consistent with innovation? If so how?

A: The ban is being introduced to secure the bright future of aqauculture. If nothing were done then a snarl up would occur and already high court costs would go even higher.

Q: When does the Minister expect the first regional council to amalgamate an AMA into their regional plan?

A: I have no doubt that within two years councils who want to do so will have a plan in place.

Question 12.

DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Labour) to the Minister of Tourism Mark Gosche:

Q: What recent initiatives have been taken to support the tourism sector?

A: I have with the Tourism Board’s Sean Murray recently released a tourism development strategy for the sector. The provision of quality research and forecasting is vital to this sector. This strategy is part of the excellent work being undertaken by Sean Murray and his team. Auckland Mayor John Banks has recently praised this government for its commitment to partnership comparing it to the previous government’s carping negativity.

Q: How will another strategy help grow tourism? Does he agree that doing nothing is the way to grow?

A: On the contrary. The previous government had this portfolio in total chaos.

Q: Peter Dunne (United Future NZ): What about Ansett air points?

A: That specific matter hasn’t been raised with me.


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