Today's questions of the day concerned: Aquaculture Moratorium – Zimbabwe – Parole Reform – Mental Health Patients In Jail Cells – Confidence In Ministers – Rodney Hide, Scams and Fiji Speeches – Palmerston North Home Care – MS Drugs – NZ Vs Australia Economically (Rodney Hide) - NZ Post Allegations Report – Regional Courts Review – NZ Post And The FEC x 3
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
Questions to Ministers
Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Minister for the Environment Marion Hobbs:
Q: Does the Government support the amendments proposed by the Primary Production Committee to the Resource Management (Aquaculture Moratorium) Amendment Bill which would now enable most of the applications frozen by the bill as introduced to proceed; if so, why has the Government changed its position?
A: The system was inadequate. We are supporting the industry to get its act into gear here. The moratorium is designed to help the flow to growth in this industry, to allow time for a new framework to be put in place. We want future for this industry, and we want a sustainable future.
Q: Is the Govt committed to secure property rights for marine farmers?
A: We are determined that there by secure property rights. The current process has no certainty as to either a resource consent or fisheries permit.
Q: (Green) How will allowing 100 more applications through help councils like Marlborough? Won’t it make it harder for them to prepare a coastal plan?
A: Yes it does hurt a council like MDC having 113 more applications to process. But we had to strike a balance. Which is what we have done.
Q: Bill English (National): Why the backdown?
A: What backdown. The moratorium is still in place. 140 applications will be processed, sure. But there is no guarantee that fisheries permits or consents will be granted to those applicants. Meanwhile this moratorium will prevent many more applications being lodged.
GRAHAM KELLY (Labour) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark :
Q: Is she satisfied with the outcome of CHOGM in light of the Government's position on Zimbabwe?
Q: What reports has she received?
A: We have received reports from High Commission people that rigging of the role was high and that there were also many problems on the day of the poll. Many abuses have been drawn to our attention, which make it clear a free and fair election is not being held.
Q: Has she received reports that NZers might be targeted due to her comments?
A: I have not. I have however received lots of comments from Zimbabweans of support for the NZ Government and Parliamentary position on this matter.
Q: Peter Dunne (United Future): What role did she play at Coolum?
A: There was lots of discussion in the corridors about what should be done. There are many of us who felt it would be better handled by CMAG. In the end there were key leaders who wanted something else however.
Q: Is this a consensus decision or not?
A: The statement that came out was the minimum acceptable to us. It seems to me we are able to express our clear view that the statement was not everything we wanted.
Q: What about fleeing white farmers? Will they have to become boat people to get to NZ?
A: There are international rules on refugees that we follow. All Zimbabweans are free to apply to come to NZ just like anyone else.
STEPHEN FRANKS (ACT) to the Minister of Justice Phil Goff:
Q: How many robberies, rapes and murders were committed by convicts on parole and early release respectively during the year to 30 June 2001?
A: The specific data sought is not available. However in the current year of the 203 inmates released on parole so far, 6% have committed an offence that put them back inside.
Q: Is there any evidence that his change will make any difference?
A: The parole board will have for the first time have safety of the community as a paramount priority. In my knowledge there is only one case where a convicted murderer has committed murder again. I am also aware of someone convicted of manslaughter who went on to commit a murder.
SUE BRADFORD (Green) to the Minister of Health Annette King:
Q: Why did two people who needed urgent mental health care spend 24 and 36 hours respectively locked in Henderson police cells recently, after mental health workers could not find acute care beds for them in the upper North Island?
A: Two people were detained in cells as there were no acute care beds available. Nurses were with them while they were in custody. This was the best option available at the time.
Q: Is she concerned that this is happening weekly?
A: Yes I am concerned. But this has been a long standing problem and we are rectifying it.
Q: What reports has she seen on funding for Mental Health services?
A: I have seen progress. The Northland Region will receive the bulk of new funding for the next two years – bringing it to two-thirds of the target level of funding for the region in the blueprint.
Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:
Q: Does she have full confidence in all her Ministers; if so, why?
A: Yes. Because they are all fulfilling their responsibilities.
Q: Does that mean she supports the Minister of Health on hospital chaplains?
A: I am not aware of any cuts. And I admire the chaplaincy service greatly.
Q: How does she measure her ministers?
A: There are lots of examples for comparison, Murray McCully, Tau Henare, the list is rather long.
Q: What about Trevor Mallard who doesn’t know how many pupils there are going to be at school.
A: I know it is a disappointment that people are flocking home to NZ to fill our schools. But they are.
Q: What about chaplains?
A: They do valuable work for the government. I don’t know about any cuts.
PHILLIDA BUNKLE to the Minister of Consumer Affairs Jim Anderton:
Q: Has he received any reports alerting New Zealanders to the operation of any companies that may impact on consumers; if so, what do they say?
A: Yes I have received a report about an investment seminar scam in Fiji, where people get offered 15% per month compounding interest. The Consumer Magazine reports that as many as 300 NZers have lost up to $10 million to this scam.
Q: What should NZers do about such scams?
A: We advise people to contact the Securities Commission about them. I am a very concerned that an MP has promoted these scams however. This MP appears to have attended a scam seminar and not to have alerted victims. The MP associated with this scheme is Rodney Hide. I am deeply concerned that in his speech he describes himself as part of the Government.
Q: Does he accept that a large number of these scams take place on the Internet and what will he do about the Democrats shabby web page?
A: I have no responsibility for the democratic party web site. But a blank page on the internet is a lot less sinister than the schemes Mr Hide is tied up in.
Q: Does he know how much the Australian SEC wants to sue Air NZ for?
A: I have no responsibility for Air NZ. But when an MP describes officers of the IRD as state sanctioned thugs that is a problem..
(Richard Prebble – He was asked a specific question. He refuses to answer. The biggest fraud in New Zealand is Air NZ.)
Q: Winston Peters: Can he confirm that Mr Hide’s travel was paid for by the promoters of the scam and that he stayed in Fiji at their expense?
(Speaker - That question is out of order
Winston Peters (NZ First) - This is a person who poses as an Economist. This is a scam in which an MP is involved.
Speaker - The Minister has no responsibility for who paid for his fair to Fiji.
Leave to table the Democrats web site blank page – granted.
Rodney Hide - Given the level of Interest I seek leave to read my speech to the house after Question time…. given there is such great interest in it.
Jim Anderton - If the member would seek leave to table the speech.
Rodney Hide – Yes, to the tape of the speech – granted.)
Dr LYNDA SCOTT (National) to the Associate Minister of Health Ruth Dyson:
Q: Why has the Ministry of Health asked Ministry of Health auditors to review the contracting process for home care providers in Palmerston North, and what assurances can she give to the public that this review will be independent?
A: Providers will be able to make submissions to the review.
Q: What about Healthcare NZ Limited? And has this process been to cut costs?
Q: Will the review cover pay?
A: I would welcome the members contribution to the terms of reference for the review.
Q: Is the Ministry happy with the uncertainty and disruption?
A: No. I can confirm that the local member has been involved with the clients and the providers since day one, and that he instigated the meeting. I am informed however that Roger Sowry said he would turn up and didn’t bother.
(Dr Lynda Scott - leave to table three documents – granted.)
JUDY KEALL (Labour) to the Minister of Health Annette King:
Q: How many New Zealanders suffering from multiple sclerosis were funded for beta interferon drugs when the Labour-Alliance Government came into office?
A: None. That is in spite of recommendation of funding from PTAC and select committee support for funding.
Q: We have been funding 180 sufferers so far. Now the funding cap has been lifted, another 50 patients will also receive treatment.
Q: What about Alzheimers drugs? Or Do the elderly not matter?
A: I refer the member to earlier answers. PTAC said the drug would not necessarily benefit recipients. The reason it is funded for anyone is because I directed it be so. The criteria for Beta Interferon is not set by me. It is set by PTAC.
Hon DAVID CARTER (National) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:
Q: Can he confirm media reports that he is relaxed about the picture of New Zealand as a branch economy of Australia?
Q: Is he giving up, rather than making NZ competitive with Australia?
A: I can only wonder whether it is now National Party policy to withdraw from CER.
Q: What is your strategy?
A: To promote growth in trade and innovation. We have always said so. I understand that Australia is now considering moving to an NZ ACC model even.
Q: Rodney Hide (ACT): Is he planning on hauling NZ back into a dank socialist cellar?
A: No. We have reduced expenditure as an percentage of GDP and run one of the most open economies in the world. We do not however support pyramid sellers or people who call the IRD officers “thugs” at overseas seminars on scams.
Q: What is your target for growth?
A: My ambition is to raise our growth rate to that of Australia or slightly above. That ambition would by definition involve climbing within the OECD rankings.
HELEN DUNCAN (Labour) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:
Q: What has the Government done to improve access to quality early childhood education?
A: We have kept our commitment to a level playing field through equity funding.
Q: Does he plan to change the system for any other part of the system.
A: I do not believe schools in poor areas are awash with cash. I will not take money from poorer schools and give it to the privileged. Bill English’s plans will result in standards falling at poor schools.
Q: How can he be taken seriously when he has severely restricted so many groups, private providers, from his equity funding package?
A: Easily, because the member is wrong.
RODNEY HIDE (ACT) to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Mark Burton:
Q: Has he been briefed on the contents of a report prepared last year by Cameron Mander of Luke, Cunningham and Clere for the Board of New Zealand Post Ltd; if so, what were the key findings?
A: Yes I have. The report led to an audit that highlighted some allegations that were found to be wrong.
Q: Would he expect to be closely briefed on this?
A: The work undertaken by Cameron Mander was to substantiate allegations anonymously made. He reported to an audit. I was briefed on this audit.
SHANE ARDERN (National) to the Minister for Courts Matt Robson:
Q: Was the Hon Jim Anderton correct when he told the House regarding the closure or downgrading of rural courts that "The fact that no final decisions have been made is indicative of the willingness of this Government to engage with small communities about such issues"?
A: Yes. We do engage with the community. I am pleased he has recognised this by
Q: What about submissions from people in Rangiora and Te Kuiti who say costs will be transferred to police and other agencies?
A: Of course I will take notice of submissions, that is why we hold consultations.
Q: Stephen Franks (ACT): What about the West Coast where new court fees are prohibitive, as compared to privileged urban lairs?
A: I find the question difficult to understand. I think the answer is to day go to the West Coast and see the glee that they feel about Government economic policies.
Questions to Members
Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National) to the Chairperson of the Finance and Expenditure Committee Mark Peck:
Q: Has the Finance and Expenditure Committee completed the financial review of New Zealand Post Ltd; if not, why not?
A: No. The report is required by March 19th.
Q: Will the delay be further extended, given the difficulty encountered in getting information from the Chairman?
A: This is a matter for the committee. I expect to meet the deadline.
RODNEY HIDE (ACT) to the Chairperson of the Finance and Expenditure Committee Mark Peck:
Q: How many times has New Zealand Post Ltd appeared before the committee as part of its financial review and how many requests for information have been made of New Zealand Post Ltd?
A: NZ Post has appeared three times. We have requested six sets of information and responses to all six sets.
Q: Is the committee satisfied?
A: That is a judgement that will have to be made by the committee.
RODNEY HIDE (ACT) to the Chairperson of the Finance and Expenditure Committee Mark Peck:
Q: Has he sought leave for a meeting on the financial review of New Zealand Post Ltd following New Zealand Post Ltd's response to my asking them for a copy of the report prepared by Cameron Mander of Luke, Cunningham and Clere; if so, why?
A: I am proposing to take leave this afternoon to discuss this at 3.30pm.
Q: Can he give an assurance we will get the report?
A: That is a matter for the committee to determine.