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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 14 March 2002

Today’s questions concerned: NCEA – Community Services Card – Centres of Research Excellence – Manaia View School T-shirts – Rugby World Cup – Maori Television Service – Operation Pacman – Tourism – Health and The Treaty – Rural Courts – John Banks – NZ Post.

Questions Of The Day - Thursday, 14 March 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.



Questions to Ministers

Question 1.

Hon BILL ENGLISH to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: What assurances can he give to parents of over 56,000 level 1 National Certificate of Educational Achievement students that their children will receive their full school qualification, following the announcement by the PPTA that teachers will not pass on marks to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority from next Monday, and that teachers will refuse to comply with directives and timeframes relating to assessment from the NZQA from the middle of April?

A: I give an assurance to parents that this Government is prepared to negotiate a fair settlement with teachers, including super and a pay offer ranging from 3.5 to 10 percent.

Q. Why hasn’t he been able to resolve dispute?

A. We are still nine months short of the time taken by the last government. I am seeking a bit more in the budget.

Question 2.

Hon KEN SHIRLEY to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: How many new low income workers will have access to the Community Services Card as a result of the threshold changes announced yesterday?

A: Raising the Community Services Card threshold will result in 22,957 low income earners receiving or continuing to receive low cost GP visits and prescriptions.

Q. Why for 2nd year in a row is she penalising low income workers and favouring beneficiaries and superannuants when in many cases they earn more than low income workers?

A. The member has just made the case for getting rid of the card, it is on its way out.

Question 3.

TIM BARNETT to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:

Q: What initiatives have the Government taken to support the development of Centres of Research Excellence?

A: Last week I announced the establishment of five centres receiving $60m between them, promoting co-operation and collaboration across the country from 12 tertiary institutions and three Crown Research Institutions. The fund will stop the best graduates from going overseas and entice others back.

Question 4.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: What funding criteria and process was followed in deciding that Manaia View School required $10,000 for school t-shirts, and which of New Zealand's other schools will be eligible for such a grant?

A: I approved the money from an EDI system set up last year, it is available for schools that merge or those who receive pupils form schools that close.

Q. Can he confirm there was no process, no criteria and the only reason this school got the money was because he happened to be visiting?

A. If I was involved in pork barrel politics I think I would have given money to a community that wasn’t already 100 percent Labour.

(leave denied to present the Minister with a Santa hat and beard)

Question 5.

LUAMANUVAO WINNIE LABAN to the Minister for Sport, Fitness and Leisure Trevor Mallard:

Q: What is the Government doing to advance New Zealand's position on the world sporting stage?

A: I am extremely pleased to say the Government is offering 433 Prime Minister sports scholarships to a wide range of our most talented athletes.

Question 6.

Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU to the Minister of Maori Affairs Parekura Horomia:

Q: Can the Minister confirm reports that a Canadian, Mr John Davie, is being appointed as chief executive of the Maori Television Service; if so, can the Minister explain the benefits of appointing a non-Maori to this role?

A: I understand that the chairman of the Maori Television Service board will be making an announcement later today. The need is to ensure the infrastructure capability is of a high quality and I understand that is what the person is being appointed for. I believe the board should appoint the best person for the job and at the moment it requires a person with commercial skills.

Question 7.

GEORGINA BEYER to the Minister of Fisheries Pete Hodgson (Parekura Horomia):

Q: What prompted the Ministry of Fisheries to mount Operation Pacman, which has uncovered extensive illegal operations?

A: Intelligence indicated the overall scale of the poaching and blackmarket trade of paua and crayfish was increasing and that the potential scale of illegal take threatened the sustainablilty of stocks, this prompted an investigation of not just the poaching but illegal distribution. Over 100 alleged offenders have been targeted and over 50 people have been or are in the process of being charged. There has been an assumption that the illegal catch has been as large as the legal catch.

Question 8.

DAMIEN O'CONNOR to the Minister of Tourism Mark Burton:

Q: What reports has he received on the contribution of overseas visitors to the New Zealand economy?

A: Spending by foreign visitors was up by 9.8 percent compared to the previous year, the number of visitor was up 6.9 percent and they spent $5.2 billion into our economy, an increase of $469m on last year, which would have been even more impressive if it were not for the impact of September 11th.

Question 9.

Hon MURRAY McCULLY to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Mark Burton:

Q: Is he completely satisfied that PriceWaterhouseCoopers received all appropriate information prior to completing its report on the operations of New Zealand Post Ltd subsidiary Transend, and does he have complete confidence in that report?

A: PWC have confirmed today that they received full cooperation and consequently I have no reason to doubt the robustness of the report.

Q. Is he aware of reports of mass shredding of documents?

A. No evidence of mass shredding has been put before me.

Question 10.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: Further to my oral question No 5 of Wednesday 13 March 2002, why is it that she is able to answer questions regarding funding details for specific areas of health such as dental and Pacific Island health services, yet is unable to provide details of expenditure in regard to Maori health initiatives, even after having been subjected to the annual budget round process?

A: If the member wanted specific information on Pacific Island and Maori health initiatives it is available and I am happy to provide it. We provide for Maori under disability support, mental health, public health, the clinical training agency, family and personal health and Maori health to a total of $181,000,561.

Question 11.

SHANE ARDERN to the Minister for Courts Matt Robson:

Q: Following my question in the House on Tuesday, has he asked the Department for Courts to check whether timelines have been produced for public consultation over the closure or downgrading of rural courts, and whether any timelines have specific dates for legal downgrading and physical moving regardless of the consultation; if not, why not?

A: I am aware that there is an indicative timetable for the proposal. The Department is still consulting and no final decision has been made. There will be full notice taken of all consultation, timelines are drawn up and timelines change.

Question 12.

KEITH LOCKE to the Minister of Local Government Sandra Lee:

Q: Will she undertake an investigation into whether the chairing and decision-making at the Auckland City Council's meetings of 28 February and 13 March 2002 complied with the requirements of the Local Government Act 1974 and other relevant legislation; if not, why not?

A: (Matt Robson answering). It is not the role of the Minister to monitor in detail the actions and procedures of local government meetings.

Questions to Members

Question 1.

RODNEY HIDE to the Chairperson of the Finance and Expenditure Committee Mark Peck:

Q: Has the committee released the evidence on the financial review of New Zealand Post Ltd that was reported in The Dominion today?

A: No. I have written to all members of the committee reminding them of their responsibilities under privilege.


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