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Questions Of The Day (7-12)

Questions For Oral Answer Tuesday, 13 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.

Ian Revell to the Treasurer Bill English:

Q: What proposals does he have for changing tax rates?

A: We propose to lower tax rates and the next step in that process is a step of 20% up to $40,000. A person earning $35,000 was paying 33 cents in the dollar in 1996 Next year they will pay 20 cents in the dollar. Dr Cullen on the Holmes Show said last night that the PM will get an extra $102 a week. That is nonsense. The maximum is $10.

Q: (Cullen) The cumulative tax cut for the PM is $105 a week, I apologise for my error (said sarcastically)?

A: The Member has tried to make tax an issue for a small number of people in NZ. He bungled on Fringe Benefit Tax because that will effect more people than he expected . Now he is the member that wants to take two loaves of bread out of every supermarket trolley in the country.

Question 8.

Hon. Phil Goff to the Minister of Social Services, Work and Income Roger Sowry:

Q: Why was a boy with a track record of nine aggravated robberies left in the community to offend again?

A: Under the provisions of the Children Young Persons and Families Act the offender cannot be charged with these offences. He was not left in the community he was placed in family care. We have a review going on of this particular case. Suffice to say that because of his age he cannot be charged. That said we have a number of other options available for this kind of offender. I remind the member that in 1990 his Government closed hundreds of beds that were options for people like this. I also remind him that Labour MP George Hawkins has fought hugely against the conduct disorder house recently opened in South Auckland which is designed to provide other options to deal with children like this. In addition the age at which prosecution can be made against teenagers is under review also. Last year we went out to the public on the issue and got an overwhelming response that we should lower the age of prosecution which is why we are doing the current work.

(Disorder over whether Dr Michael Cullen is proud of the Children Young Persons and Families Act passed during the past Labour Government's term. )

These are exactly the same rules that Labour passed. The major solution to this problem would be for Phil Goff and Steve Maharey to talk to George Hawkins about enabling us to open more of the necessary sort of facilities.

My information is that the young offender in this case was adequately supervised. We have a shortage of programmes for this type of offender.

(George Hawkins refused leave to ask a supplementary leading to much grumbling.)

Question 9.

Liz Gordon to the Treasurer:

Q: Has he sought or received any advice that the $300 million of his proposed tax cuts which will benefit the top 15% of income earners could, if allocated to education, abolish approximately 75% of all tertiary fees?

A: Some benefits for all earning over $9500 and only under an Alliance Government would this be the top 15% of New Zealand income earners.

Q: Can he explain why students are paying fees and getting deeper into debt while others are getting tax cuts.

A: It is the case that we take a balanced approach to these issues. With respect to Tertiary Education we have decided that it is more important to provide wider access to tertiary education rather than pay more to those already involved. If the Member has a different view she is welcome to campaign on that.

Question 10.

Pete Hodgson to the Minister for Enterprise and Commerce Max Bradford:

Q: How does he reconcile his rejection of any need to toughen up legislation to deal with anti-competitive practices by retail electricity companies with the statement by Warren Kydd that "the Minister's fully in agreement with that change and so is the Government", and which of these positions reflects Government policy?

A: As is often the case the Member is behind the play. The Labour Party's decision today not to support the bill is an unbelievable act of treachery against NZ consumers - (much complaints and disorder) - I withdraw and apologise. The Labour party has denied NZers the chance to get lower power prices. And they have decided not to pass something they have supported for over a year. They are a duplicitous party.

Q: (Peter Hodgson - Labour ) Who has raised line charges and what planet is the Minister on?

A: Orion and United for a start have raised line charges. That side of the House stands for abuse of monopoly charges this side stands for consumer rights.

Question 11.

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

Q: What steps has he taken to satisfy himself that Television New Zealand's directors acted in the interests of taxpayers in selling its Sky TV shareholding for $30 million less than the current market price on the New Zealand Stock Exchange?

A: The sale of individual investments is the responsibility of SOE boards. However it is appropriate for Ministers to ensure the taxpayer is getting value for its assets. I am advised TVNZ agreed to sell at a 3.5% discount of the market price at the time. I am advised that they were encouraged by their advisers to do so to encourage a single transaction and quick sale. I am advised that only small volumes of shares are being traded at the current market price and it would be unrealistic to expect such a large number of shares to be sold at the current market price.. My research indicates that a higher offer was received, however it was received 2.5 hours after the closure of bids.

Question 12.

Mark Gosche to the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Tuariki Delamere:

Q: What evidence did he have for his statement, in regard to discrimination against the hiring of Maori and Pacific Island peoples, that "those employers who discriminate include the ministries and departments", and did he consult with the Minister of State Services before making his statement?

A: No I did not consult the Minister of State Services. First there is the evidence of my own eyes. Then there is anecdotal evidence from Maori and Pacific Islander. And then there is some studies. The reason for my comments was to highlight the need to find solutions to a problem which is serious. If the member had read the whole speech he would have found that it referred to "Parliamentary Colleagues" which includes some on that side of the house as well as on this side of the house. Today we have 60 government departments and ministries - we have had hundreds of permanent heads since the Treaty of partnership was signed with Maori. To my knowledge a Maori and Pacific Islander has never been appointed as a permanent head of a department or ministry. I am not sure of this, but I believe this to be the case.

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