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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day –15 May

Today’s questions concerned: Who Is The Alliance Leader? – Caregiver Support – PM’s Art Works – Jailing Truant Parents – Australian Relationships – Student Allowance Campaign – Sacking MPs – Teacher Screening – PMs Art Work Police Investigation – State Housing Availability.

Questions Of The Day - Wednesday, 15 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.


Question 1.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: In light of her Cabinet containing Hon Jim Anderton, who describes himself as the Parliamentary Leader of the Alliance Party, and Hon Laila Harré, who describes herself as the Leader of the Alliance Party, which of these two does she regard as the Leader of the Alliance Party for the purposes of coalition management, and why?

A: Mr Anderton because he is.

Q: Because he is what? Why does the PM not accept the word of her cabinet colleague Laila Harre?

A: I accept Laila Harre’s word that she will not contest Jim’s word that he is Parliamentary leader of the Alliance.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT): In light of the fact that Jim Anderton has given publicly his reason for splitting that it is necessary for stability. And if we now have stability thanks to Laila Harre, then should Jim not apologise and rejoin the Alliance?

A: Right now everybody is giving the government the support it needs.

Q: Bill English (National): Why is she allowing this calculated deceit when she campaigned on electoral integrity?

A: This pointless relitigation of these points is doing the Opposition no good whatsoever.

(Gerry Brownlee – now we have evidence that Jim is pulling the wool over Michael Cullen’s eyes can we send this matter to the Privileges Committee?

Michael Cullen – it does not matter how many times the point is made, it is still invalid. The issue is clear. Mr Anderton is the leader of the Parliamentary Alliance party.

Speaker – I recognise party groups in according to the standing orders and there is nothing further to rule on.

Roger Sowry – My question is. Given the public quote this morning attributed to Laila Harre that she and Jim have come to an agreement to “avoid standing orders”. Is that not enough to raise your interest in this matter. Is this not an agreement outside this chamber to subvert standing orders. At what point do you get interested in this?

Michael Cullen – The standing orders are clear. Your interest is aroused when you receive a letter from a person with the appropriate standing.

Gerry Brownlee – That is quite wrong. He is talking about the Electoral Integrity Act. Your responsibility is to uphold the integrity of this place.

Michael Cullen – Your interest is aroused, either under standing orders or under the Act, when you receive a letter from a person.

Speaker – People are entitled to organise their affairs in light of the standing orders. Of course I am upholding the integrity of this house.

Nick Smith – Why in the previous Parliament was a case accepted in relation Alamein Kopu?

Speaker – That is not a point of order.)

Question 2.

DIANNE YATES (Labour) to the Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey:

Q: What is the Government doing to provide support for caregivers?

A: Today I announced additional support to be announced in the budget. The Labour/Alliance government is committed to supporting families and children. This reflects that. Of the $2.339 million extra over four years a total of $1.4 million will go to three agencies (listed). This is backed by $1.095 million invested in CYF.

Q: Will this be available to all caregivers or only to those who belong to his favourite agencies?

A: Each of those organisations will take offence at that question.

Question 3.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Do the six or so works of art that it is reported she has confessed to signing but were produced by others include the moa picture purchased by the Grey family of Dunedin?

A: Yes, in 1995, for a very good cause.

Q: Is this one of the six she has admitted to faking? And can she now reassure the house that she has stopped faking paintings?

A: Yes and yes.

Q: Can she give us a full list of the faked paintings?

A: I said some time ago that there were probably around five or six. Members will be aware that members do all sorts of dopey things for charity including running the risk of breaking other peoples front teeth.

Q: Does she recall being concerned about swirling allegations against Dover Samuels? And will she step down till she is cleared by the police as he had to?

A: I have had overwhelming feedback to the effect that this is one of the most trivial matters they have seen the Opposition taking up.

Q: Why did she tell the Dominion yesterday she did not recall the painting?

A: I told the Dominion no such thing. Several days ago the ODT rang up, we asked them to send their picture up, I have now seen the drawing.

Question 4.

DONNA AWATERE HUATA (ACT) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: How many parents of long term truants has the Ministry of Education prosecuted for failing to send their children to school in the past two years?

A: One.

Q: Is it not true that the children of prosecuted parents stop truanting? And if so what is he going to do about it?

A: There are two classes of truants. Enrolled students and moving students. For enrolled truants, these are all followed up. Moving children are also followed up. In 2001 5300 students were tracked and found. We are ensuring all truants are found and go to school.

Q: Who initiates prosecutions for truancy?

A: The primary responsibility for this lies with School Boards of Trustees. A number of prosecutions have been made by them and by police. About 20 prosecutions have been made in total over the past two years.

Question 5.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: What has happened to the trans-Tasman relationship since she became Prime Minister which means she now considers it necessary to lead a "relationship building" trip to Australia?

A: The relationship needed strengthening long before I became PM. I am doing something about it.

Q: Did withdrawing the Skyhawk squadron, and the warnings to Australians politicians to butt out of NZ politics help or hinder the relationship? Or were these things the things that knocked over the fences she is now planning to fix?

A: Those things did far less damage than Sir Robert Muldoon’s remarks on the impact on the collective intelligence of immigration.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT): What about Dick Seddon’s remarks, will she be mending the damage done by them? And Phillip Ruddock’s, who said that thousands of 3rd country migrants were taking advantage of NZ immigration as a launchpad to Australia?

A: Mr Ruddock’s concerns have been eased by some responsible social security arrangements.

Question 6.

STEVE CHADWICK (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education Marian Hobbs:

Q: What is the Government doing to meet the needs identified in the Adult Literacy Strategy?

A: Yesterday we announced $8 million of extra funding for adult literacy.

Q: Why?

A: Because we need concerted action to raise adult literacy. In the past we could only reach one quarter of the estimated working adult illiterates. This funding will reach out to the rest of the 100,000.

Question 7.

Hon MAX BRADFORD (National) to the Minister of Defence Mark Burton:

Q: Has he seen or asked for any reports from the Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson, on the additional information he has which Mr Carruthers did not have on the Gordon letter; if not, why not?

A: I have been briefed on this and I am advised that he has no additional information. What he meant was his managerial information and his own managerial judgment was what he was relying on.

Q: Given that he used this information to roundly chastise the Army leadership at the time. Why does he not release this information.

A: It is time to move on Mr Bradford. Time to move on.

Q: Can this Minister remember expressing confidence over and over again for Major General Dodson? And will he reconsider the decision to purchase 105 LAVIIIs when this was advocated by General Dodson against the advice of the Secretary of Defence and the CDF?

A: A number of things asserted are factually incorrect.

Q: Does he agree that there was a political motive for the leaking of the Gordon letter to Mr Bradford?

A: There is in the Curruthers report an indication that this misguidedly written letter was used politically.

Q: Will he now cancer the LAV III purchase?

A: No.

Question 8.

NANDOR TANCZOS (Green) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:

Q: Does he support a universal student allowance as proposed by the New Zealand University Students Association; if not, why not?

A: The issue of eligibility is being considered at present. If he looks at the NZUSA media statement he will see that is what they were asking for.

Q: Is he aware that only 29% of students receive support from their parents?

A: Yes I am. We are currently looking at all aspects of student support. All those issues are in the melting pot. So we are actively considering them.

Q: Does he accept this is the top concern of students?

A: In 1999 fee increases and interest on Student Loans were the top issues. We have dealt with those issues now. They have now moved on to their other top issue.

Q: Noting that this Minister has been thinking about this for 11 years, when will he state the Government’s position on student support.

A: If the member goes back to Labour Party Policy he will see that all the issues we said we would deal with have been dealt with. We are ready for the next election when it comes.

Q: What about the doubling of student debt? And the rises in average student debt?

A: The top issue for students is allowances because they think student loans have been dealt with.

Question 9.

Hon TONY RYALL (National) to the Associate Minister of Justice Margaret Wilson:

Q: Was the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2001 intended to apply to members of Parliament who change parties in the period after the House adjourns but before an election; if so, were such provisions included in the Act?

A: As previously noted the provisions do not make a distinction about this.

Q: Has she then told Laila Harre that she can then sack Jim Anderton before the campaign begins?

A: No I have no responsibility to write to Laila Harre on this. She is perfectly able to read the legislation for herself.

Q: Under the legislation if the speaker receives advice after the house is adjourned is he obliged to act on it?

A: No. The provisions do not apply after the dissolution of Parliament. This is covered in the Electoral Act.

Q: Does she regret the passage of this act? And if not what contribution can she point to that it has achieved for integrity?

A: No I regret very little in my life and this doesn’t feature at all.

Q: Has the Act helped?

A: Yes it has. Despite obvious leadership difficulties the National Party continues to vote together.

Q: Will Laila Harre be given sufficient notice of the election date so as to be able to sack Jim within the 21 day time limit, and deny him of his Parliamentary benefits during the campaign?

A: Ms Harre in all my dealings has always indicated that she is highly numerate.

Question 10.

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

Q: What processes and procedures are in place to ensure candidates unsuitable to take on teaching careers are screened out before they commence attendance at a teacher training college?

A: Teachers need to gain approval to be admitted into a training programme.

Q: What action would he demand from a college that has allowed an adult convicted of assaulting a child with a weapon to enrol to train as a teacher?

A: I would take such a matter extremely seriously.

Question 11.

Hon KEN SHIRLEY (ACT) to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: Can he give an assurance that the police investigation into the complaint involving the Prime Minister's fake artwork is proceeding without any improper interference from Ministers or officials?

A: Yes.

Q: Can he advise whether the police followed the correct procedures on informing ministers in this case, or whether the SFO followed the correct procedures?

A: I have sought no advice on this.

Q: Since the PM already has an opinion from Crown Law on this, can he give an assurance that the police will ask for an opinion from someone else?

A: I am not involved in operational matters of policing.

Question 12.

TAITO PHILLIP FIELD (Labour) to the Minister of Housing Mark Gosche:

Q: What commitment has the Government made to assisting low-income New Zealanders into decent affordable State housing?

A: Last Thursday I announced extra money for housing. By the end of this year we expect to add 1600 extra houses for low income NZers. Over the next four years we expect to provide over 2400 new houses for low income NZers.

Q: How many people are waiting for a state house?

A: 11,000 compared to 13,000 when National was in power. Of the 11,000 a significant number are seeking transfers into either smaller or larger houses.

Q: What about healthy housing?

A: Lots of money is going into that too. This housing budget provides support where it is most needed.

Q: Why does the Government not introduce fixed term tenants?

A: Many of our tenants are elderly. The stock presently turns over at 17% per annum. The average stay in a house is 7-8 years. We believe security is important especially for the elderly.


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