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Questions Of The Day (7-12)

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 7.

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

Q: How many of the major hospitals in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin have signed their contracts with the Health Funding Authority or will have signed by the 30 June deadline, and does he stand by his reported comment that he believed progress had been "not too bad"?

A: I think progress with contracts has been significantly better this year than last. There was a delay for a period in March as the HFA worked out an agreement on how the round would be conducted. I understand that agreement will be reached with most hospitals over the next two weeks.

Q: Can he confirm that nine hospitals have not signed last year's contracts?

A: We are not worried about the unsigned contracts. Any impartial analysis of the way the round is progressing would have to accept that it is proceeding well this year. The Member may not accept that. But it is true.

Question 8.

Belinda Vernon to the Minister of Finance Bill Birch:

Q: What is the significance for the Government's fiscal forecasts of the growth in the gross domestic product of 0.7 percent in the March 1999 quarter?

A: The improvement in growth is reflected in the fiscal out-turn. It shows tax revenue ahead of forecast. Results for the first seven months are due on Friday. These are expected to show further improvement in the operating balance. It is now very clear from the latest data that we have a trend. The latest figure follows figures of 0.6% in September and 0.9% in December. The rate of growth is running well ahead of present forecasts. The small deficit forecast next year is increasingly unlikely. This would not be the case if we had the high tax high spending policies advocated by the Labour Alliance bloc. On this side of the house the National Government is firmly committed to tax cuts and we will do them as soon as circumstances permit. Later in response to supplementary: The merchandise trade balance has been in positive for 12 years.

(Jim Sutton - leave sought to table a Reuters report. Leave denied.)

Question 9.

Lianne Dalziel to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Has she warned Canterbury mayors that she will use "all my ability and resources" to influence the decision-making process in a local authority planning matter; if so, does she believe it is appropriate for central Government to involve itself in a local authority matter in this way?

A: I suspect the Member has been a list member for too long. I am proud to say I am a constituency member in Canterbury. I will also say I am not going to stand by and see the aquifer of Christchurch polluted by a landfill. I suggest the Member become involved in this issue.

Q: (Dalziel - Labour) How does she respond to Mayors' criticism?

A: My letter is signed the Member for Rakaia. I encourage the member to get the full information on the landfill site. There is a comprehensive file of reports and letters on this matter. The Member should stop pandering to political groups in Christchurch and be concerned about the health and welfare of the people of the city. There are several sites currently being discussed. 250 of my constituents met recently in Darfield and they were very concerned about the possibility of pollution to their water supply. There are a lot of people on the Canterbury plain.

This Government's record on environmental issues speaks for itself. A lot of progress has been made. Just because I am PM I am not going to suspend my judgement and allow a landfill site to be established directly West of Christchurch. This issue has been going on since 1995. Had he been following this issue he would know that the area has been struggling to find a site since 1995. I was on the council that this aquifer is involved with - which is one of the reasons I have taken an interest in the matter.

(Leave sought to table Mrs Shipley's letter - granted. Leave also granted for tabling of a document from Tranzwaste.)

Question 10.

Arthur Anae to the Minister of Immigration Tuariki Delamere:

Q: What standard of information does he expect from members of Parliament who make immigration representations to him on behalf of constituents?

A: When receiving representations I expect to be given all the facts known to the MP. Virtually all MPs have reached this standard.

Q: Has anyone fallen below these standards?

A: Over the last few months the MP Rod Donald made representations concerning the Schiers. Mr Donald had been aware of the information concerning the cannabis charges and chose not to tell me. He appears to support the Schier's making a mockery of our immigration laws and our drug laws. Rod Donald's actions are an appalling example of a fall in standards of conduct. [Speaker drew him up..not a speech.]

Q: (Rod Donald - Alliance/Green) Does the Minister think it is appropriate for his Press Secretary to bail me up in Pickwicks and tell me that because of the cannabis charge I had no chance...[interrrupted]

Speaker - the Minister has no responsibility for actions of his press secretary in Pickwicks.

Q: (Donald - Re-asked) Did he advise his press secretary that the Schiers had no chance because of the cannabis charges prior to receiving an application from the Schiers under the business migration scheme?

A: No. And concerning the allegations that appeared in the media yesterday concerning my press secretary are absolute lies. Nothing but lies.

(Personal explanation Donald: My recollection of events is that the member for West Coast Tasman advised me in March about the cannabis matter. I understand the Minister also knew at this time. I was not aware of the detail of the charge as I have not read the file. I did ask Petra Schier. It was not until the Ministers statement that I became aware of the firearms charge.

Minister in reply: I deny I knew anything about the cannabis matter till April. Quoted from letter from NZ Police dated April 21st. "I have been asked to respond to a request for information concerning Mr and Mrs Schier. This is when I first knew of this matter.]

Question 11.

Rod Donald to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Will she be calling the Minister of Immigration to account for his handling of the Schier case, particularly for the press statement he issued after Petra Schier and her New Zealand-born children left the country, which has been described in this morning's Press editorial as "a gratuitous attempt to smear the couple's reputation"; if not, why not?

A: The Minister fully weighed up the questions relating to the public interest in deciding to release this information.

Q: Does the PM agree that a person is innocent until proven guilty?

A: As I understand it the member believed it was important public information and that is why he released it. The Minister has assured me he made the decision before he received the information on the cannabis charges.

Question 12.

Mr Dover Samuels to the Minister of Maori Affairs Tau Henare:

Q: What advice, if any, has he received on the impact of market rents on Maori families, and does he now believe that income-related rents for State housing tenants would be preferable?

A: Advice I have received includes the following. Lists several documents. I believe that any assistance to state housing tenants should be targeted to those in need and not in a one-size-fits all manner. Targeted assistance is in my view the way to go.

Q: (Dover Samuels - Labour) Why then does he support market rents?

A: Rather than parading myself in front of Parliament with a mirror and a hat - I decided that being part of government was the best way to make an impact - that picture in the Evening Post is not going to get that member re-elected. Targetted intervention is the only way to go. One-size-fits all does not work.

(Leave refused to Tau Henare to table an article for the Evening Post on the wearing of hats.)

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