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Questions Of The Day (3-7)

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 3.

Gerry Brownlee to the Minister for Enterprise and Commerce Max Bradford:

Q: Has the Government considered introducing a minimum of four weeks' annual leave, as proposed by the Alliance's spokesperson on industrial relations; if not, why not?

A: No. We want to create jobs. We do not want to impose conditions which impose costs - particularly on small businesses. We believe it is more appropriate for employers and employees to arrange leave arrangements between themselves and decide whether they wouldn't like to take benefits in another form. The cost of the proposed reform would be born mostly in the low skilled area. The direct costs of another week statutory leave is between $320 and $480 million and that would fall mostly on small businesses.

(Laila Harre - Alliance)- leave sought to table discussion documents which proposed to cut annual leave entitlements by a week - refused.)

Later: It is quite different to say that we proposed and to say that it was in a discussion document.

Later: Bradford approved of a proposal put by an ACT spokesperson.

Question 4.

Hon. Annette King to the Minister of Health Wyatt Creech:

Q: Is the Health Funding Authority contracting for homecare workers to carry out complex personal care including the administration of pre-rectum medication, enemas, catheterisation, manual bowel evacuation and monitoring diabetics' blood sugar levels; if so, is it now Government policy to allow untrained people to carry out procedures previously only performed by trained health professionals?

A: No it is not government policy to allow untrained people to carry out procedures. I am advised that all people who conduct invasive surgery do so with appropriate supervision in the presence of a registered nurse. I am also advised there is one case in the South Island where surgery has been provided to one person. In this case before the person who is doing it has been trained to do it and is working under a registered nurses supervision. In this case the family the patient and the healthcare worker all agree that in this case it is the best option. I would have thought if all of those people agreed it would be good enough.

(Annette King - Labour - leave sought to table Nursing journal article which shows there are 11 such contracts. - refused)

Question 5.

Tony Steel to the Minister of Education Nick Smith:

Q: Has he been able to identify any areas of saving within his education portfolio arising from Government reforms that will enable more resources to be spent on children?

A: There is a net saving of $8.2 million from ACC reforms and this will be reinvested in education. This is a lot of money. It is the salaries of 150 people or 3000 computers or thousands of places in early childhood centres. The Labour party would abolish the gains in ACC in the education sector.

POO: (Jonathan Hunt - Alliance) this is news to us will the Minister table the document?

A: I am more than happy to table the circular to education workers on their insurance cover.

Question 6.

Liz Gordon to the Minister for Tertiary Education Max Bradford:

Q: Is the Government considering selling student loan accounts to the private sector?

A: Over the past few years there have been a number of offers to buy. The government is not interested in selling this debt.

Q: (Liz Gordon - Alliance) Can he confirm that he has rejected Education Ministry advice on this five times?

A: I do not recently recall receiving advice on this issue and I have nothing on my desk on this matter.

Q: (Trevor Mallard - Labour) Has the transfer to WINZ of the student allowance scheme worked well.

A: It is now. It wasn't at the beginning.

Question 7.

Owen Jennings to the Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control John Luxton:

Q: Can he confirm that the Wool Board has collected over a billion dollars in levies in the last 20 years while the real price of wool has slumped from over $11 per kilo to less than $4; if so, what is he intending to do about it?

A: (David Carter on behalf.) The NZ Wool Board's levy on wool ammouted. The price of wool at Auction in 1978 in real terms was $11 clean. The price in 1998 was $4 million. Discussions between the government and the board are progressing well.

Q: (Owen Jennings - ACT) As the board has several members on it who have promised to resign if Fernmark did not work, and $300 million has been spent with no gain, will the government approve golden handshake payments to Wool Board members who now choose to resign.

A: I have no responsibility for Wool Board financial arrangements. The process of reviewing producer boards has had a positive effect of prompting the industries to look at the future. Over recent months farmers and many boards are coming to the realisation that structures of the past are no longer appropriate. The government and the boards are making very positive progress in this direction. We now need to establish an industry structure appropriate to take us into the 21st century.

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