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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 2 May

Today’s questions concerned: Progressive Coalition - Sovereign Yachts - Training Opportunities and Youth Training - Maori Television Service - Suspensions Of Maori Students - Millennium People - Police Capital Projects - Progressive Coalition (2) – Deaf People’s Access To Telecommunications – Teacher’s Strike – Maori Education – Mental Health

Questions Of The Day - Thursday, 2 May 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.

SCOOP COVERAGE BEGINS

Question 1.

Hon ROGER SOWRY (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clerk:

Q: How will the formation of the "Progressive Coalition" impact on the stability and credibility of her Government?

A: (Michael Cullen answering ) It won’t

Roger Sowry: Given that her Ministers’, Jim Anderton and Sandra Lee, now have a website that promotes their independence from the Alliance and asks people to join their new party why is she still refusing to acknowledge that this won’t damage her government?

A: Mr Anderton has indicated he will not be joining any other party until Parliament is lifted and the Alliance continues to operate as a single party for parliamentary purposes.

Ken Shirley: In view of the fact she is responsible for Ministers and Cabinet how does she intend to resolve the open warfare between the factions of the Alliance?

A: The Cabinet continues to function well, indeed far better than when the leader of that party was last in it.

Roger Sowry: Given her continued defence of Mr Anderton can we take it as a given that she completely condones his actions which are a blatant manipulation of the Electoral Integrity Act?

A: The Deputy Prime Minister continues to provide his duties as a Cabinet Minister in an exemplary manner.

(Nick Smith ordered to leave the chamber by the Speaker during yet more questioning about how Jim Anderton can reasonably be considered the leader of the Alliance)

Question 2.

RODNEY HIDE (ACT) to the Minister for Economic Development Jim Anderton:

Q: Given his officials "are in regular contact with the company [Sovereign Yachts] and know well its progress and plans", does he know who owns Sovereign Yachts and what role Mr Bill Lloyd plays in the company?

A: Sovereign Yachts is a private company its ownership structure is not relevant to the Government what is relevant is that it has kept its promise to provide new jobs and development in Hobsonville.

Rodney Hide: Given his close relationship with Mr Bill Lloyd will he help the designer of the boat Cloud 9 to whom Mr Bill Lloyd owes US$1.5 million for the design? If he won’t what does it say about him and his Ministry who have brokered the deal that has seen the boat and plans shifted to New Zealand into a company which Bill Lloyd neither owns nor directs thereby severely limiting the legal options of those seeking payment for the design of that boat?

A: The Government has no responsibility for the structure of a private company. I am not a close associate or friend of Mr Lloyd I have met him on two or three occasions at official functions.

Question 3.

HELEN DUNCAN (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:

Q: What actions does he intend taking in response to the Report of the Review of Training Opportunities and Youth Training?

A: Training Opportunities and Youth Training provide foundation skills for people with low qualifications who face significant barriers in the labour market. Over half of the 32,000 participants last year were Maori or Pacific Peoples. Together these initiatives account for $164 million of investment. The government last year commissioned a review focussed on future objectives for these programmes in the context of ongoing changes in the labour market. The government is moving swiftly to implement the changes recommended by the review team.
There were 459 providers involved with these programmes last year. There will be no reduction in funding, these providers are not part of the moratorium which currently applies. I would note that the review team was very impressed by the providers.

Tony Steel: What new actions has he taken as a result of the TPK audit on training opportunities and youth training which was completed in November 2001?

A: Th e TPK audits of these programmes was built into the review I have just announced.

Muriel Newman: If the Government is making such good progress why is it that the number of people registered as unemployed for over two years has gone up by 30% since he has been Minister.

A: As the member knows overall unemployed is at a thirteen year low. We have been able to make progress at the entry end of the register, we have made good progress at the other end and are now making progress in that middle area.

Question 4.

KATHERINE RICH (National) to the Minister of Maori Affairs Parekura Horomia:

Q: Will he require the Chair of the Maori Television Service to stand down in light of the Government's inquiry into the Board's failure to do the recommended credit and security checks on Mr Davy?

A: No I will not, this matter is still under inquiry and will be one of the subjects of the Ernst &Young report.

Katherine Rich: Given Derek Fox’s admission that ‘somewhere along the line something slipped through the cracks’, how can the blame be apportioned to anyone but Mr Fox

A: It would be unwise to pre-empt any decisions, we await the report.

John Tamihere: Is the service getting on with the business of setting up the channel?

A: The week as been difficult but most certainly they are getting on with setting up the service.

Question 5.

NANAIA MAHUTA (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education Parekura Horomia :

Q: What reports has he received regarding the rate of suspensions of Maori students?

A: I have received the full report form the first year Suspension Reduction Initiative that we introduced in April 2001. The aim of the initiative was to reduce the suspension rate of Maori students to that of non-Maori students. The report showed that in targeted schools there had been a distinct and positive change in the direction of the suspension rate of Maori students. In those schools it was reduced from 76 per thousand in 2000 to per 56 per thousand in 2001. The main factors introduced by the initiative include involvement of the school community, schools clustering together and improved access to suspension data.

Tony Ryall: What was the suspension rate of non –Maori is in those schools?

A: They have not been moving down as quickly as Maori.

Nandor Tanczos: Given a high suspension for cannabis is he concerned some schools view carrying cannabis possession more seriously that possessing weapons?

A: No

Question 6.

KATHERINE RICH (National) to the Minister of Maori Affairs Parekura Horomia:

Q: Does he agree with Hon Dr Michael Cullen's comment that Millennium People are a "bunch of amateurs"; if so, why?

A: Of course I always generally agree with the Minister of Finance. The company could have been more rigorous in its investigation of Mr Davy’s background.

Q: Will he be reviewing all positions made by Millennium People to Government departments?

A: We await the report of Ernst & Young, which we expect by the end of tomorrow.

Question 7.

H V ROSS ROBERTSON (Labour) to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: What police capital projects have been embarked on since this Government took office?

A: July 2000 the Government has committed $91.7million to a capital expenditure programme. This progaramme includes $31.4m to vehicles, $24m on police property, $22m on information technology and $14.3m on minor and other capital works. Over the past 2 years the police have committed $24m on police property this compares with just over $1m spent on police stations during the last two years of the National government.

Tony Ryall: Does he also take responsibility for a 10 percent cut in frontline staff in Manurewa and a 15 percent increase violent crime in that area?

A: I take credit for huge police numbers at the moment and we have employed 200 extra non-sworn staff and another 60 on the way to help frontline police.

Ken Shirley: Why is the minister crowing about the inputs in the form of capital items when the outputs measured as crime statistics show an average 8.5 percent increase of violent offending across all districts?

A: We have cut burglary to a 20 year low.

Keith Locke: How many new community police stations have been built during the period of this government and has there been net gain or net loss.

A: There has been one closed because it was built on private land.

Question 8.

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

Q: Does she have any concerns about Hon Jim Anderton remaining as a member of the Executive, given his clear links to the "Progressive Coalition" party; if not, why not?

A: (Michael Cullen answering) I am satisfied the Deputy Prime Minister continues to be an effective minister.

Q: Is she concerned that the reputation of her government is being damaged when journalists are able to say that it is like Jim Anderton has committed a crime but we can’t pin it on him?

A: Journalists say many things.

Rodney Hide: In light of the Prime Minister’s support for Deputy Prime Minister and in view of recent events has the Prime Minister asked the Prime Ministers whether he read and understood the letter form Ponsonby Primary School that asked him to prepare as piece of work in his own hand and sign it and not autograph it?

A: The Prime Minister accepts the members word on that matter.

Q: Will the Prime Minister be asking the Secretary of Cabinet to have a discussion with Mr Anderton about his breach of the cabinet manual and require him to remove his image form this website which clearly breached the cabinet manual?

A: My understanding is that those images have already been removed

Question 9.

STEVE CHADWICK (Labour) to the Minister of Communications Paul Swain:

Q: What is the Government doing to ensure people who are deaf, or have hearing or speech impairments, have access to telecommunications services that meet their needs?

A: Today the Government has announced that a relay service is be to be established which will allow deaf people to converse via text, an intermediary converts the spoken words into text and vice versa. Such a service is long overdue. The service will reduce the health and safety risks and increase deaf and disabled people’s employment and social opportunities, we aim to have the supplier by the end of the year and it will begin shortly after that.

Question 10.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:
(Allowed back into the chamber to ask his questions)

Q: Does she have confidence in the Minister of Education, Hon Trevor Mallard's management of the teachers' pay claim?

A: (Michael Cullen answering) Yes

Nick Smith: Does she like the Education Minister think that teachers claim of 3.2 percent is excessive given that she has had a 5.5 percent increase herself?

A: The offer made to teachers contained a considerable number of other elements including staffing. I don’t recall the MPs pay package including an increase in the number of MPs.

Ian Ewen Street: Does the Prime Minister believe that the teachers pay and conditions claims are reasonable and if not in what why does she consider it to be unreasonable.

A: Reasonableness is on the eye of the beholder, we are determined to seek a fair and just settlement

Question 11.

Hon BRIAN DONNELLY (NZ First) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: Does an agreement exist between the Ministry of Education and Ngai Tahu containing a provision requiring Maori students within the geographical boundary of Ngai Tahu, to achieve at a level equal to or better than those drawn from the general population by 2008; if so, from which principle of the Treaty of Waitangi is this derived?

A: (Parekura Horomia answering) There is an agreement between Ngai Tahu and the crown to reach that goal which is drawn form the principle of self management.

Brian Donnelly: Given the in the last four weeks we have four versions of the principles of the Treaty is the government now saying it is committed to a pick and mix policy?

A: There is one set of principles published by the fourth labour government in 1989.
They are:
The principle of government, the government has the right to govern and make laws
The principle of self management, Iwi have the right to organise as Iwi and under the law manage their resources as their own.
The principle of equality, all New Zealanders are equal before the law
The principal of reasonable co-operation, both the government and Iwi are obliged to accord each other reasonable cooperation on major issues of common concern
The principal of redress, the government is responsible for providing effective processes for resolution of grievances in the expectation that reconciliation can occur.

Gerry Eckhoff: Will the ministry achieve this agreement by faking the figures or by treating some Maori pupils better than their classmates?

A: Definitely not.

Question 12. SUE BRADFORD (Greens) to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: Do news media reports that mentally ill inmates in Christchurch are being locked in concrete isolation cells with no furniture for 23 hours a day with no human contact confirm that there is a crisis in mental health services in New Zealand; if not, why not?

A: The Government agrees that prison is not the proper place for the mentally ill. The long term solution is to move them out of prison into specialist mental health beds.

Sue Bradford: Does the minister stand by his statement that mentally ill people have been inappropriately imprisoned

A: I do stand by the statement that prisons are an inappropriate place. Some people are housed in prisons because there are a shortage of specialist mental health beds. They are placed in round rooms for their safety, round so there are no sharp corners for suicide or self harm attempts.

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