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Questions Of The Day (1-6)

Questions For Oral Answer Tuesday, 29 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.

Rt Hon. Helen Clark to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Does she stand by her reported statement that she was happy with the role the Race Relations Office was playing; if so, has she spoken to the Minister of Maori Affairs about his concerns with the role of the Office?

A: Yes I do. And I am happy to talk to the Minister about this or any other concern he may have.

Q: Is Mr Henare in any way speaking for the Government when he says the office is "undermining" race relations.

A: The Minister's comments do not reflect the Government's views. While some issues the office covers are contentious the office enjoys the full support of the Government.

Q: (Sandra Lee) Is it true that the office has had lots of overseas trips and that it then closed the Christchurch office at a time of increasing ethnic tension in the city

A: I do not understand the question. I note that the race relations office has just opened a new office in Christchurch and I know the people of the South Island will welcome that. The modern New Zealand is multi-racial. Maori hold a special place. This area raises complex issues.

Question 2.

Gerry Brownlee to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: What evidence does she have that the ACC reforms are working?

A: The regulator estimates that employers will save $500 million over the next two years in accident insurance premiums. I know employers will want to bank these savings. Because this Government has wisely pursued this course ACC costs are also falling for the State Sector - SOE savings of $4.2 million are estimated - govt department savings of $25.7 million and total savings for crown entities is estimated at $45 million. This Government is delighted to tell NZers that the Government is able to deliver. I note also that the Opposition is promising to reverse this change and rob New Zealanders of these savings.

Q: Laila Harre: How does she reconcile Section 4 of the Act?

A: My understanding is that the transitional provisions cover the issues the Member raises. I am sure the Minister would be happy . The health question the Member asks will be answered tomorrow when the Minister announces the savings in the health sector.

Question 3.

Matt Robson to the Minister for International Trade Lockwood Smith:

Q: Will the Government use APEC meetings in New Zealand to promote an increase in the minimum wage around the region to International Labour Organisation recommended levels?

A: (Don McKinnon on behalf.) No. Simply because the ILO does not recognise individual wage levels. Clearly we all take the view that labour issues are best dealt with by the ILO. APEC is a trade related meeting and other issues such as Labour can be dealt with elsewhere. The Minister of Labour was at the ILO meeting less than two weeks ago and I suggest he ask the Minister of Labour.

The principle objective in APEC is to run a series of effective meetings in Auckland this year. We also want to make it easier for New Zealand businesses to trade.

Question 4.

Hon. Richard Prebble to the Minister of Health Wyatt Creech:

Q: What does the discussion document on the new Wellington public hospital recommend?

A: Wellington needs a new modern hospital. The discussion document puts out all the issues. A technical advisory group has been set up to assist the consultation process over the next six weeks. I hope we will be able to make an announcement on the new hospital in September.

Q: Should there be widespread support for an immediate start in Wellington. Can the Minister give an OK?

A: The consultation process will conclude with a report from the technical advisory team for the Government of August 31st recommending size, services and location. I hope Cabinet would be able to decide shortly after that. Money is already set aside for a new hospital for Wellington. I have spoken to the head of CCMAU - the member misunderstood - the official himself says that given that CCH hadn't had a track record it might be worth looking at an alternative organisation to build the hospital. No recommendation had been put to Ministers at that time. The decision on whether a different organisation will build the hospital has not been made as yet. At this stage we are deciding on the size, services and location of the hospital. The discussion document explains what would have to be put in place to move the hospital away from its present site. [To Phillida Bunkle] The appropriations are for ongoing revenue items. Capital items are accounted for separately. There will be a range of public occasions for Wellingtonians to express their views on the hospital over the next six weeks.

Question 5.

Trevor Mallard to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Did she tell Television New Zealand personnel that she "made up" her comments about a one million dollar package for John Hawkesby?

(Question Ruled Out by Speaker Geoff Braybrooke - The PM having denied having said these words in an earlier personal explanation this question is now out of order.

Point Of Order: Trevor Mallard: The PM did not at any stage deny using the words. She had the opportunity. She chose not to.

Speaker Ruling - The PM definitely stated that she did not make up the comments and that she could not recall the expression attributed to her. I have ruled Question 5 out. [After further argument from Helen Clark - seeking to defer the question.] The PM having denied having made up the comment I accept the Members word and Question 5 will remain ruled out.

Point Of Order: Trevor Mallard: I say sir we have already had people listen to the tape. I say she has not denied telling TV personnel that she made it up?

Speaker: Cited Speaker Ruling 104(2). I am not I have two pairs of very good ears and that is good enough for me.

Further Point Of Order Helen Clark - I have had staff listen to the tape two minutes ago.

I understand the feelings raised by this but my ruling stands

(Roger Sowry: Trevor Mallard has just shouted at the Clerk of the House and now he has accused me of telling lies. That behaviour is offensive and I ask it to be withdrawn.

Speaker - I have just spoken to the Clerk and there is no reason to take this further.

Speaker then threatened to chuck out Trevor Mallard.

For the fourth and final time I would like Mr Donnelly to ask his question?

Question 6.

Hon. Brian Donnelly to the Minister of Education Nick Smith:

Q: Why was a secondary teacher moved from the unqualified teacher scale to step 8 without any verification of his qualifications by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority?

A: Mr Reedy started his employment in 1989 prior to the registration board. The assessment was provided in 1989 and his. This is an extremely serious matter. I have asked the Ministry of Education for a full report. I have also asked the Immigration Service and police to inquire into this matter.

Q: (Donnelly - NZ First) Why was he on an unqualified teachers pay scale in 1995?

A: That is a very good question and we will know when we receive the report. On the surface it appears that that the NZQA accepted the documentation from the Departmental days.

The new contract sets ongoing professional appraisal as part of the pay system. This case illustrates the need for this development in education.

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