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Questions Of The Day (1-6)

Questions For Oral Answer Thursday, 15 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 1.

John Wright to the Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control John Luxton:

Q: What is the maximum proportion of New Zealand's total dairy exports which will eventually be able to be owned by foreign-controlled companies under his proposed restructuring of the dairy industry?

A: The Bill does not change in any way the position relating to foreign-ownership of diary cooperatives in New Zealand. The decision on whether to establish the Mega Coop, and the terms on which it is established, are matters exclusively for New Zealand dairy farmers to decide.
The Bill does not establish the Mega Coop. It facilitates four issues which would be necessary if farmers decide to go ahead with the Mega Coop. The issues covered by the Bill are tax, quotas, industry good activities, conversion of the Dairy Board and the repeal of the Dairy Board legislation. None of this will happen unless the Commerce Commission, the Dairy Cooperatives and most importantly the farmers give the go ahead.

Question 2.

Tony Steel to the Minister of Education Nick Smith:

Q: How much funding is the Government putting into the school sector, and how much funding is contributed by community fundraising?

A: The claim of 10% used by the Labour Party and NZEI is very misleading. This includes overseas student and tuckshop income.

Question 3.

Hon. Dr Michael Cullen to the Treasurer Bill English:

Q: What public policy concerns led the Government to determine not to sell Television New Zealand before this election and what factors would need to change to remove those concerns?

A: (David Carter - on behalf). The policy of this government is to examine businesses case by case and sell what is in the public interest.

Q: Was he (Bill English) reported correctly in the Southland Times that if National were reelected NZ Post and TVNZ would be sold?

A: Unlike the previous Labour government which campaigned twice in 1984 and 1987 not to sell assets and then did the government policy on asset sales has been clearly expressed in the1999 budget . The government has announced the scope of Met Service and Vehicle Testing NZ. The legislation was passed on budget night to enable the sales of these.

Question 4.

Mr Frank Grover to the Minister of Women's Affairs Georgina Te Heu Heu:

Q: What actions will she or her Ministry be taking in relation to the concerns raised in the recent Waikato University study of New Zealand's birth rates which show rates are falling to below replacement levels?

A: The Ministry is extremely interested in the research. The survey results are of interest to a number of agencies. It will enable work to be done on plans relating to a very wide range of subjects. The time use service will also enable us to achieve positive outcomes for women.

Question 5.

Hon. Phil Goff to the Minister of Health Wyatt Creech:

Q: How does he reconcile his reported statement that "The old chairs were going to HFA regional offices" with the reported statement by Rob Eaddy of the Health Funding Authority that "The rest have gone or are about to go under auction."?

A: (Georgina Te Heu Heu on behalf) I have been advised that some of the surplus chairs are being considered to be used regional office particularly in Dunedin. Some serviceable items from regional offices have been reused others have been sold.

Q: (Phil Goff – Labour) Why have chairs auctioned off for $65 each been replaced with very expensive chairs when there are lots of people on the waiting lists.

A: $9.5 million was saved in the merger. Over three years, savings of $40 million will be saved enough to pay for 16,000 cataract operations.

Q: (Phillida Bunkle - Alliance) Disputed the $40 million savings figure.

A: The actions the HFA will have undergone were done to make savings for spending on health services. That is the goal of this government.

(Phil Goff Labour sought leave to table Hansard of an earlier answer from Wyatt Creech. – refused)

Question 6.

Peter Brown to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: What degree of financial control and accountability does she expect her Ministers to exercise over their allocated portfolios?

A: (John Luxton on behalf) The requirements are set out in the public finance act and the cabinet manual.

Q: (Peter Brown – NZ First) Does there need to be more ministerial responsibility?

A: This government is always looking at ways of improving accountability right across the public sector. Tight financial control has delivered six years of budget surpluses. Lower taxes. Low interest rates, jobs and growth. Restructuring the HFA has freed up $40 millions for services. That is better value for the taxpayers. I am aware that the Department of Inland Revenue is saving $10s of millions in overheads if that involves a few consultants then maybe it is a good idea..

(Rodney Hide – ACT – leave sought to table document showing IRD consultant paid $600,000 for 900 hours consultancy.)

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