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Questions Of The Day (7-12)

Questions For Oral Answer Thursday, 1 July 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.

Jeanette Fitzsimons to the Minister of Defence Max Bradford:

Q: Has the Ministry of Defence decided to engage a public relations company to produce a special promotional video for the army; if so, how did it decide which one to engage?

A: The NZ army has engaged a PR company. It was not offered to public tender but the approval is in order.

Q: Is the firm involved Communication Trumps?

A: Yes. And no there are no genetically modified people in the New Zealand defence force.

Question 8.

Rodney Hide to the Minister of State Services Simon Upton:

Q: What action, if any, did the State Services Commissioner take in relation to the admission by the Commissioner of Inland Revenue that his department had entered into illegal installment arrangements for tax debts over $50,000?

A: Since this matter has come up the SSC and the Commissioner of IRD have discussed the matter. In summary the Commissioner of IRD told the SSC that he was taking steps. The SSC advised me he is happy with what the Commissioner of IRD is doing. As I understand it the Commissioner of IRD is acting with prudence and good sense. I understand at present that the department is forwarding all such cases to the minister for approval at present.

Question 9.

Trevor Mallard to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: What are the details, including the time and location and her response, of any Television New Zealand approach to her last Thursday relating to her off-air comments on the Hawkesby package, and how many times was she questioned on this between then and 6pm on that day?

A: I refer the Member to by personal explanation and other releases and reports.

Q: (Mallard - Labour) Is the PM aware that she is on record refusing 14 questions on this matter at the Choudry press conference and that this is causing her to suffer from a veracity problem?

A: I refer the Member to the three documents referred to early. This is a matter that has been put to the Deputy Speaker and I am pleased to announce that he has ruled it is not a matter of privilege. (Speaker - the PM will not do that - refer to that matter here.) We have spent the first half of this year listening to the Labour Party using dirt rather than politics.

Q: (Mallard - Labour) Is the PM now once and for all prepared to tell the House that she did not tell TVNZ staff that she "made up" the Hawkesby comments?

(Several points of order…)

Q: (Mallard - Labour, reasked) Has she at any time or in any place denied saying that she "made up" her comments?

A: I have made very clear on several occasions the circumstances surrounding my appearance on Crossfire.

Question 10.

Rev. Ann Batten to the Minister of Communications Maurice Williamson:

Q: Has the Waitangi Tribunal found an aspect of the Radiocommunications Act 1989 wanting; if so, is the Government giving consideration to that aspect?

A: (Doug Graham) The majority finding of the Tribunal was that the Crown ought to consult with and allocate a fair amount of frequency to Maori. The government is considering the report. The government has conceded anything. This is not entirely a matter of Te Reo. This report goes into the allocation of resources.

Q: (Lee - Alliance) Can he remember the Privy Council decision on this?

A: The question of whether the spectrum is needed to promote the Maori Language is the second limb in this case. The first limb is whether the spectrum was known to and valued by Maori in 1840 - and the tribunal was divided on this point.

(Richard Prebble objected to ACT not having an opportunity to ask a supplementary question.)

Question 11.

Ruth Dyson to the Minister for Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Murray McCully:

Q: Is it Government policy to allow work accident insurance levies to be based on the characteristics of individual employees within a firm?

A: Government policy encourages premiums based on the safety record and attention to safety of employers.

Q: (Dyson - Labour) Concerning a blind person in work in Palmerston North and very high premiums offered to the employer.

A: I am unable to answer a specific question as I have not got the detail.

Over the next few years employers will save $500 million in premiums. Fletcher Challenge have announced savings of $50 million. The Labour Party is promising a whole range of things all without raising premiums…

Q: (Dyson - Labour) Is it Government policy to double the premiums of employees who are blind? Yes or no.

A: If the Member was genuine…(chastised by Speaker - all members are genuine) if members are more interested in grandstanding for cheap political point making then we will draw our own conclusions.

Question 12.

Bob Simcock to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Tony Ryall:

Q: What are the projected savings that will be made by State- owned enterprises as a result of the Government's new workplace accident insurance plan?

A: The latest report today shows SOEs will save at least $5 million. The response of businesses has been good. Several are paying half and two one third of their previous ACC costs. I expect the $5 million to be paid to the government as a dividend and then invested in important things like police and education.

Q: (Dyson - Labour) Does the minister support small businesses who have been quoted three times their present ACC levy?

A: I can report that I support the policies because they deliver reductions in levy for most businesses. It is great news in the Bay of Plenty.

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