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Questions Of The Day (1-6)

Questions Of The Day Tuesday, 15 June 1999

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 some days after the event.

Question 1.

Hon. Ken Shirley to the Minister of Local Government Maurice Williamson

Q: Does he support the establishment of separate Maori seats on local authorities, as proposed by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council?

A: No I do not. And in any event the law does not allow this to happen.

Q: Does he believe the proposal will polarise the community.

A: As I answered the primary question, no I do not support the proposal. I guess I am not happy with the level of representation for Maori and women on local authorities but there are other ways of dealing with this. I certainly do not support the Tariana Turia line on 15 Maori seats in this house, and so far as I can see neither do her colleagues. I actually do not believe that the race of someone who represents me is that important. What is important is their views and policies.

Question 2.

Rt Hon. Helen Clark to the Minister Responsible for Radio New Zealand Ltd Marie Hasler

Q: Has the Prime Minister spoken with her about the conflict of interest which appears to arise on Radio New Zealand's board over the contracting out of news services; if so, has she satisfied the Prime Minister that such a conflict of interest has not arisen?

(Considerable disquiet from Labour - followed by multiple points of order - over having the question transferred from the Prime Minister. The question had been rewritten three times. )

A: I can advise the member that no conflict of interest exists on the board. An independent legal opinion has been obtained following allegations from the opposition spokesperson on RNZ. I understand this information was provided to the opposition on June 3 1999.

(Marion Hobbs says she has not received the opinion - but this not a point of order.)

Q: Has she seen the new structure which includes purchasing news from an existing supplier. If so why is Mr Rayner (sp) not in a conflict of interest as a director in Target?

A: There has been a legal opinion confirming there is no conflict of interest.

Q: (Particia Schanuer) Is this underhand politics again?

A: I am not able to interfere in operational matters. However I can say that I am advised that there are no plans to contract out news services other than those currently contracted out including Maori media, RNZ international and Today in Parliament, the show presented by Mr Tom Frewen.

Q: Has Mr Rayner absented himself from meetings.

A: Firstly there is no contracting out. Secondly there is no conflict. Thirdly I have received a letter giving me an assurance that if there are such discussions and a conflict arises then conflicted board members will absent themselves.

(Leave sought to table Mr Rayner's project document - "which show 2/3rds staff redundancies at RNZ" - granted. Leave sought to table letter to Marion Hobbs from board chairman of June 3 - granted.)

Question 3.

Dr Wayne Mapp to the Minister of Justice Tony Ryall:

Q: Why did the Government not accept officials' advice on the home invasion legislation?

A: Officials were of the view that there are no gaps in the current legislation. The government decided there is a need for the system as a whole to reflect the view that home invasion is a particularly abhorrent crime and that homes are places of sanctuary. Officials agree that this legislation will result in longer sentences. We know that when parliament lifts the maximum sentence the courts lift the length of penalties. Sexual violation reforms have effected the length of sentences.

Q: (Phil Goff - Labour) Having decided not to accept advice - why did he then decide to suppress that advice for six months?

A: Every member is aware that I have not taken the advice of my officials on this issue as I have said so several times. Home invasion is no small matter however. The impact is huge and many NZers have been victims. I was moved by the interview on Kim Hill last week with a woman who lives in fear following a home invasion and who has installed a battery of protection measures. We can think about the academics of the lawyers here, or we can think about the victims.

Question 4.

Peter Brown to the Minister of Police Clem Simich:

Q: What consolation can the police offer the 79-year-old woman who was the victim of the aggravated robbery and where the judge ruled the police case inadmissible, because of a failed police experiment in using videotape identification?

A: The outcome of this case is deeply disappointing. The police say they will investigate risk that investigations conducted in this manner will result in having evidence excluded before such investigation techniques are used again.

Q: Will she be reimbursed for the $7000 she has spent on security devices?

A: That is not appropriate and the situation does not arise. I have personal knowledge of this case as the woman is a constituent of mine and lives nearby. Shortly after the attack I visited the women in her home. I find the opposition's attempt to exploit this case for political gain distasteful.

Question 5.

Hon. Dr Michael Cullen to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Is she aware of concern amongst National Party backbenchers over the Government's performance in recent months; if so, what is her response to their concerns?

A: I can assure the member that my caucus has spent plenty of time talking about issues. And they are listened to. Unlike the opposition.

Q: Why does she still claim to run a well-oiled machine when she transfers all her questions?

A: My Ministers have the responsibility to speak for the areas they are responsible for. And I trust them to do so. Unlike the Leader Of The Opposition, who will never let any of her Opposition spokespersons speak out for fear of a conflict of opinion. She is right to be fearful due to the range of opinions.

Question 6.

Jim Anderton to the Minister of Communications Maurice Williamson:

Q: Will the Government use the Kiwi share to prevent Telecom charging Internet users two cents a minute for local calls?

A: The issue is closely related to the kiwi share. I have asked officials to examine this issue in great detail. When they have reported we will have a response. We did not implement Alliance commerce policy because it was daft. We are carefully considering a review of the Commerce Act and the Minister is progressing that. New Zealand has one of the most open markets in the world for telecommunications services. In the last few months we have seen a substantial range of low flat rate plans offered. Through free local calling NZers enjoy some of the cheapest internet access charges in the world.

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