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Questions Of The Day (7-12)

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 7.

Belinda Vernon to the Minister for Enterprise and Commerce Max Bradford:

Q: Has he received any reports on the effectiveness of subsidies to employers to encourage them to take on industry trainees?

A: (Nick Smith on behalf) Subsidies of this type are ineffective. In surveys 90% of employers say they would have taken on the trainees anyway . Plans to reintroduce them show how Labour wants to take a huge step backwards. It was them that abolished them in the 1980s. Industry training numbers have trebled under National where they fell under Labour. Industry training is making progress and it would be a giant step backwards to take the approach of Labour.

Question 8.

Hon. Jim Sutton to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Is she satisfied with the behaviour of all her Ministers; if so, why?

A: (John Luxton on behalf) Of course.

Q: (Jim Sutton – Labour) When the Minister of Transport told the LGA conference that he gets “really pissed off with the news media” was he explaining government policy on selling TVNZ?

A: He would claim that he is very passionate about improving New Zealand.

Q: (National) What have your ministers achieved recently?

A: My ministers have achieved many things. My Deputy Wyatt Creech has recently announced improvements to health care delivery in Wellington and Auckland. My treasurer has announced lowering taxes and healthy surpluses and my Minister of Food and Fibre has introduced legislation to improve the health of the dairy industry.

(Speaker – “We haven’t got time to go through the whole cabinet.”)

Question 9.

Eric Roy to the Minister of State Services Simon Upton:

Q: What steps is the Government taking to improve the governance of Crown entities?

A: The government has unveiled today sweeping changes to governance of crown entities. Ministers, Departments, Boards and CEOs will be left in no doubt about their respective roles. The government’s explicit policy is that severence payments to board members will not be allowed . Models for payments to CEOs on early departure will also be standardised.

Q: (Michael Cullen – Labour) Why have you been left to clean up the PM’s mess?

A: An own goal. The programme announced today was commenced by Mrs Shipley as the minister of State Services two years ago.

Q: (Patricia Schnauer – ACT) How much has been paid over the last nine years in golden handshakes under this government?

A: I don’t know and that is the problem. From here on all severance payments will be disclosed. We can’t give a dollar figure at the moment. I would add that it is not nine years it is several decades in some cases and in many cases dates back to the mid 1980s. This is not just a prurient exercise in getting inside employment contracts. Some should be subject to political control – others shouldn’t .Working through 160 entities isn’t something that is done on the back of an envelope.

(Rana Waitai – leave sought to table document concerning redundancy payments made under former Auckland hospital commissioner Harold Titter – granted.)

Question 10.

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

Q: With general practitioner groups stating that patients are spending longer in doctors' waiting rooms and paying up to $40 more for injury treatment because of time-consuming new paperwork as a result of the Government introducing private competition into accident insurance, what action is he taking to ensure patients do not continue to be faced with these additional charges?

A:. We will work to improve the forms. The forms are available electronically and filing will be able to be done electronically. Some spokes-people for practitioners are less than pleased with the fact that a new purchasing arrangements have been put in place. I have greater confidence in the literacy and numeracy skills of medical practitioners than spokespeople in the media.

Q: (Jerry Brownlee – National) Is he concerned about false claims creating unnecessary fear?

A: I was concerned about the claim from Ruth Dyson in this house that a Palmerston North employer with a blind employee had their ACC premiums doubled. There is no evidence that this is true. The employer concerned received quotes which halved her levy and that is the sort of thing that is going to get that member sent to the privileges committee.

Question 11.

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

Q: What steps is he taking to ensure dairy farmers have adequate time to debate and respond to the proposed changes to the dairy industry?

A: Over the past 10 months the Dairy Industry has been involved in an extraordinary level of consultation. There have been more than 60 farmer meetings and close consultation between officials, consultants and the industry . The decision is now ultimately for the farmers . Farmers will vote within their cooperatives to approve the Mega-coop proposal and a 75% majority will be required in each case. Never before has there been such an extraordinary consultation in a primary industry and never before has there been such a great opportunity.

Q: (Jim Sutton – L:abour) Why did the minister not consult farmers first and then legislate?

A: Essentially this legislation is at the request of farmers and there has been an extraordinary level of consultation right down to the grassroots level. The government’s aims are to reposition the industry to generate more wealth for farmers in the New Zealand economy. I challenge the opposition to outline its vision for the future of the Dairy Industry. The industry has asked us to pass this urgently as it is creating commercial risk while it remains un-passed and because it is costing a $1 million a day every day it is delayed.

Question 12.

Marian Hobbs to the Minister of Education Nick Smith :

Q: Is he satisfied that the restructuring proposals due to take effect at the end of this month are in the best interests of the maintenance of a comprehensive National Library collection; if so, why?

A: No final decisions have been made. Before I make such a decision I want to meet with the National Library trustees. I have been unable to meet because I have had the flu. I will meet them shortly. The length of consultation that has already gone into these plans is considerable. It is my intention to meet with trustees and further consult on the plans. I have heard claims about the books and find them extravagant. The library has 1.6 million books and acquires 60,000 books a year. All these books haven’t been taken out for 10 years. If the biggest issue the opposition can find is this non-issue in the National Library they the education system is in good heart. I am satisfied the funding to the National Library is enough.

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