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Questions Of The Day (8-12)

Questions For Oral Answer Thursday, 24 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 8.

Hon. Jim Sutton to the Minister for Enterprise and Commerce Max Bradford:

Q: What damage, if any, is being done to the rural economy by the Government's failure to introduce legislation to amend the Plant Variety Rights Act 1987 to comply with the requirements of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants?

A: I am not aware of any damage being done to the rural economy by the Act.

Q: What has been the minister's response to Federated Farmers claims that New Zealand is driving crop research off shore.

A: Since 1992 work has been underway to implement this treaty. But it has been delayed by Maori concerns over intellectual property rights.

Interjection: Rubbish

A: The member may say rubbish - how would he know.

There is no damage as under the present law you get 25 years protection right now.

Q: (Jim Sutton - Labour) - When will the Minister get his act together.

A: Man. its together now.

Question 9.

Eric Roy to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Tony Ryall:

Q: Has he received any reports on Timberlands West Coast Ltd's progress in developing high value markets for sustainable beech timber?

A: I have received one document which says industry players are concerned about purchasing logs. Those uncertainties and political uncertainties are having a detrimental effect on the job prospects of hundreds of West Coasters. I also note that Jill Pettis recently commented that she supported the views of her leader that the forests of the crown on the West Coast should be placed in preservation . In a bizarre twist Mr O'Connor has been charging up and down the coast trying to encourage sawmills to agree to take timber. He recently told the Greymouth post that Jill Pettis's comments were her personal views.

Q: Question from Ken Shirley concerning SILNA.

A: As the member knows those matters are under discussion. People cannot afford the risk of a Labour Alliance Bloc government under whom there will definitely be no jobs for West Coasters..

Question 10.

Trevor Mallard to the Minister for Tertiary Education:

Q: As Dr Blackmur has consented to the release of the details of his severance package, will he ask the New Zealand Qualifications Authority Board to agree to that release today; if not, why not?

A: That is a good question.

Q: The simple fact is that any release has to be considered under the privacy act regardless of whether the person involved himself is happy for the information to be released. I have to weigh up the various merits in the public interest. I have confidence in the Audit Office and I hope every member in this house has. The Audit office did a once-over lightly a few months ago and we have asked them to do another one. I also would like to say that the SSC is not able to deal with these matters effectively enough. The government will certainly not sanction unlawful or unreasonable payments. I have sought a Crown Law opinion on whether the payment he received confirms with the law. The Audit Office has been asked to review payments and authorisation systems at the NZQA.

Question 11.

Tutekawa Wyllie to the Minister of Transport Maurice Williamson:

Q: What are the Crown's obligations to Maori who have had land taken under the Public Works Act 1981 for the purpose of an aerodrome, once the land becomes surplus to requirements and is no longer used for the purpose for which it was taken?

A: If the Aerodrome Land was taken under the act the provisions generally applied are to offer the land back to the original owners. When land has been transferred to an Airport Company there is legislation that transfers the liability under the Public Works Act to the Airport Company.

Q: At the time Paraparaumu Airport was sold what attempt was made to contact the original owners. Particularly in light of the fact we may now have a Paikatore or Bastion Point on our hands.

A: Advice was sought on this from a number of ministries before the decision was made.

Q: (Henare - Mauri Pacific)What was NZ First's position on this when they were part of the government?

A: The Deputy PM Winston Peters was closely involved in the decision and I believe the land was transferred and the sale done in 1997. Section 40 contains the offer-back provisions. Section 41 contains provisions relating to Maori land. I can confirm that the proper procedures were followed and very serious advice was received.

(Tu Wyllie - Leave sought to table papers showing the decision was made in 1995 before NZ First was involved - granted.)

(Jonathan Hunt - later -Wanted to table a document dated 11 August 1995 from Maurice Williamson saying the sale had then been concluded. - granted.)

Question 12.

Matt Robson to the Minister of Corrections:

Q: Does the Government intend to spend $427 million building additional prison accommodation with associated annual ongoing operating costs of $137 million?

A: There are a number of factors. The muster number is one of the factors. At present there is no need to spend $427 million.

Q: (Matt Robson - Alliance) In light of the $838 million cost of Richard Prebble's Truth In Sentencing Bill does he agree there are better things to spend money on.

A: I am aware of estimates of the cost of Richard Prebble's Bill and the government will have to consider that cost when or if the bill became law.

Q: What is the corrections programme?

Corrections planning anticipates 1161 new beds over the next four years. This includes 230 youth beds in facilities throughout NZ. This is in part due to a growing population and in part because of tougher laws likely to be put in place by this government.

Later concerning the Truth in Sentencing Bill - the bill is presently before a Select Committee and it will be dealt with there correctly.

Q: (Frank Grover. - CHP) Why is the government apparently still favouring a site in Northland for a prison which is sorely opposed by residents when the there is another site where the local community supports it.

A: The government is not favouring one side over another. They have a short list and I am sure that in due course they will make an appropriate decision.

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