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Questions Of The Day (1-6)

Questions For Oral Answer Wednesday, 30 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. Winston Peters to the Minister of State Services Simon Upton:

Q: Does he expect officials and departments to always act truthfully and within the law; if not, what action would he take against individuals or departments who flout or are found to have broken the law?

A: Yes. And if not breaches are taken very seriously and are dealt with by the law following substantiation of the facts.

Q: (Peters - NZ First) Does the government condone the behaviour of some IRD officials?

A: I do wish I could oblige the member on his question. Unfortunately however his first question was too oblique. Could I ask the member to put his question again.

Q: (Peck - Labour) Has any complaint been lodged with the police concerning any IRD employee?

A: I am unfortunately unprepared to answer the specific case you are concerned with.

(Winston Peters sought leave to table several documents - leave granted.)

Question 2.

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

Q: Does she stand by her statement of 14 October 1998, with respect to the deregulation of producer boards, that "It is up to each industry to decide how they are going to look forward."; if so, what weight did her Government give to the unanimous request from New Zealand hop growers to continue with a statutory authority for the export of hops from New Zealand?

A: (Wyatt Creech on behalf) Yes the PM stands by her statements. A group of ministers is working with the boards. No papers have come to cabinet on this issue yet and submissions are given the weight they are due. The fact that the heartland tour is causing so much angst to the Leader of the Opposition proves it is doing the job it is supposed to. (Answering Ken Shirley - ACT) I am not aware of the detail concerning the Hops Board however it does indicate that the issues are not simple. The government's position all along has been that we will work with these industries to ensure they have a profitable, secure and vibrant future.

(Helen Clark - tabled minute of Hops Marketing board.)

Question 3.

Ian Revell to the Minister for International Trade Lockwood Smith:

Q: Has he received any reports of the outcome of yesterday's APEC trade talks in Auckland?

A: (Don McKinnon on behalf) Yes. The talks in Auckland resulted in a decision to support industrial products to be added to the WTO agenda. Nearly everything NZ produces will now be included in the agenda for WTO negotiations in Seattle. From the point of view of the EU you can see tradeoffs between cuts in agriculture and cuts in tariffs on industrial goods. We are always very conscious of movements in tariffs of our trading partners. We still watch with some concern what may or may not happen out of the oval office on sheep meat. I would have thought it was very obvious that we have achieved what we have using whatever leverage we have. The fact the other countries have come with us clearly indicates we have got leverage.

Question 4.

Trevor Mallard to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Were any of her media staff approached by Television New Zealand staff to inform them that television news was running an item related to allegations centering on her comments following the Crossfire programme, and did she have an opportunity to refute those allegations at a media conference on Thursday afternoon?

A: (Wyatt Creech on behalf) I refer the member to my personal explanation to the house yesterday. And to TVNZ news head Paul Cutler's confirmation in the New Zealand Herald that I had not been told what would be in the bulletin.

Q: (Mallard - Labour) Does she understand that the public thinks she has a veracity problem?

A: Yesterday she made a very clear statement on the matter. That statement stands. The leader of the opposition herself has described this matter as a storm in a teacup. I agree and wonder why the opposition are indulging in political dirt. Could it be because they have no alternatives to offer?

Question 5.

Tukoroirangi Morgan to the Minister of Maori Affairs Tau Henare:

Q: What did he mean by his comments that "publishing a race relations Agenda, which virtually invites people to vote for multi-culturalism, is like changing our constitution under the covers"?

A: New Zealand is founded on an agreement between two parties. This constitution means that the government must ensure that Maori culture remains strong here. What is clear is that the public has no right to take away Maori rights to cultural protection. New Zealanders will understand the reasons for cultural survival when they realise that that is why they fought two world wars. The drive for cultural survival is such a potent force for all people that it has to be carefully attended to. It is why the treaty was signed. After seeing the launch of a CD-Rom today I would expect that every school and every school child should get a copy of the CD as it would enhance their understanding. I will attack anybody and any organisation which undermines the Treaty of Waitangi. Even those members on that side who believe they have the conscience of Maori people at heart. They do not and they never will.

Question 6.

Hon. Phil Goff to the Minister of Corrections Clem Simich:

Q: Are prison processes and facilities at Auckland's Paremoremo Prison deficient; if so, what steps will he take to remedy them?

A: Auckland Prison operates according to national policies and procedures. There is no current indication that processes are deficient. Auckland prison was identified in the 1997 security review as requiring some improvements. $25 million was given to provide this. Initially priority was given to other prisons' improvements which were believed to be of higher priority. Security improvements at the West Wing of Paremoremo are due to begin shortly. The absence of the inmate was not noticed for some time because of human error not because of deficient systems.

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