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Questions Of The Day (7-12)

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 7.

Hon. Katherine O'Regan to the Minister of Health Wyatt Creech:

Q: How much are hospitals expecting to save as a result of the ACC reforms?

A: I am advised that preliminary data indicates very significant savings in ACC costs. Savings are initially estimated at $11 million. Each hospital will be working on how to spend the savings they make. They are significant sums. $11 million is enough to pay for 1014 knee replacements or 4706 cataract operations. The member is indulging in some flights of fancy. What I can say to the member is that as a result of the ACC reforms there will be considerable savings to the HHS's.

(Leave refused to Annette King to table something - "you can't take the truth".)

Question 8.

Jim Anderton to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Tony Ryall:

Q: Will the Government use the $70 million special dividend from Television New Zealand to make children's television commercial-free?

A: The dividend that has been paid to the shareholder has been paid on capital gains from TVNZ's involvement in Sky and Clear.

Q: This money has been made out of broadcasting so why doesn't this government spend it on broadcasting?

A: The money is more likely to be spent on new schools, police or repaying debt. From August TVNZ will begin screening a homegrown children's show similar to Barney and Telly-Tubbies. The programme is called Bumble. From my own observation TVNZ already screens toddlers TV without adverts.

Question 9.

Hon. Ken Shirley to the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Doug Graham:

Q: Does the Government accept that Maori have an interest akin to ownership in rivers?

A: In the sense of concepts of ownership as defined in the law of England - no. It is not for me to reconcile statements made by the Tribunal with some other tribe. Suffice to say that all river tribes would claim to have a trusteeship role with rivers. I would hope that most New Zealanders would share their concerns. This country has got to learn to work together for the preservation of rivers. Waikato Maori have a different approach to Whanganui Maori. If we agree on what we are trying to achieve then the semantic arguments over river banks may become less important. It is certainly true that Maori people have their own law. Our task is to meld that with our law to the benefit of everybody. The government has yet to consider the report released last Saturday. The report is not entirely consistent with the Mohaka and Ika Whenua reports. So far I am impressed with the manner in which the report has been received. At the end of the day the question is what are Maori trying to achieve that is contrary to the interests of non Maori? The answer is very little if anything.

Question 10.

Harry Duynhoven to the Minister of Transport Maurice Williamson:

Q: (Murray McCully on behalf of)Is it Government policy that a person whose vehicle registration expired in June must pay an extra $47.50 to re-register the vehicle on top of the current registration fee; if so, why?

A: No.

Q: How does he recognise this with the fact that Post Shops are already charging an extra $49.50?

A: I am advised that the crucial issue is when the current registration expires. If the current registration expires in June the cost has not changed. If the registration expires after July 1 then the extra is charged.

(Leave sought to table a list of registration sales places who each gave different answers on what the charge was.)

Question 11.

Gerry Brownlee to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Tony Ryall:

Q: To whom did TVNZ sell a large parcel of Sky TV shares yesterday and at what price?

A: I can advise the house that TVNZ has told me it sold its 46 million shares in Sky to INL. The price was $2.75 per share. Management of the sale is the responsibility of the board.

Q: What is he going to do about the $23 million discount?

A: This decision was made by the board. I am advised by TVNZ that they did receive other offers. But when the price was concluded at $2.75 the price in the market was $2.85. TVNZ has an important relationship with SKY TV. They have several commercially sensitive arrangements in place.

Q: Were their any bonuses paid out in relation to this deal?

A: None that have been advised to me. And I would be very surprised if there were.

Question 12.

Marian Hobbs to the Minister of Education Nick Smith:

Q: Did he give his consent to the sale of almost 32,000 books from the general collection of the National Library to a secondhand dealer; if so, why?

A: No specific consent was given by me. Decisions are made by the library staff. These 32,000 books are all older than 20 years. None had been used more than once…[interrupted] and none are New Zealand originals. The library has a collection of over 1.5 million books and it acquires an extra 60,000 each year. It makes sense to review the collection. The law does not require the Minister to individually approve the sale of any books. The removal of an entire collection does require the approval of the minister. I refer the member to the consultation that took place in 1996 on the future of the libraries collections.

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