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Questions Of The Day (7-12)

Questions For Oral Answer Wednesday, 28 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.

Hon. Brian Donnelly to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Would she condone any of her Ministers behaving in a manner inconsistent with the Race Relations Act?

A: No.

Q: How then does she reconcile Tau Henare's decision to refuse leave to Trevor Mallard to speak in yesterday's debate. (Question ruled out - Ken Shirley from ACT then had another shot - this time at Tuariki Delamere and though the Speaker said she needn't the PM agreed to answer.)

A: We do not support quotas for employment levels in the public service - we have a proactive policy and it is working well.

(Michael Cullen - leave sought to table another copy of a letter from Tau Henare with Ministerial Letterhead attached - refused.)

Question 8.

Hon. Annette King to the Minister of Health Wyatt Creech:

Q: Does he stand by his statement that "the Government has offered to Plunket the funding needed to fully replace the sponsorship and other sources of funds Plunket used to fund the Plunket Line"; if so, can he confirm the Government-funded Plunket Line will operate for 16 hours a day as it has previously?

A: Yes I stand by the commitment. The government agreed to appropriate the sum spent by Plunket on the service namely $600,000. I understand the HFA and Plunket are close to an agreement on finalising the agreement.

Q: Can he confirm that the HFA is negotiating for 12 hours a day service not 16, and that it is only for 12 months?

A: I said in answer to the first question that we appropriated $600,000. This being the sum Plunket said it used to fund the service. In spite of what has been said publicly this was not a political decision. The question asked if we had provided the funding and we have. I am further advised that we recently agreed to the establishment of a health-line telephone service for triage which will be piloted in four regions.

Question 9.

Patricia Schnauer to the Minister of Justice Tony Ryall:

Q: Can he confirm that between 1993 and 1996, one person was released on bail on 23 occasions during which time he committed 85 offences, including threatening to kill or causing grievous bodily harm?

A: Yes.

Q: (Patricia Schnauer - ACT) Because of concurrent sentencing in this country. Can the minister advise whether this man or any others spend no additional time in prison and that they have in effect received just paper sentences for their crimes?

A: It is difficult for me to comment on the specific case of one person mentioned by the member. The government has already changed the law to move the presumption to grant bail away from serious violent offenders who offend on bail. We intend to extend this further. I look forward to the member's [Phil Goff's] support but I am not holding my breath. This government is also planning to simplify bail laws by bringing them all into one Act.

Question 10.

George Hawkins to the Minister of Police Clem Simich:

Q: Was funding for police gang surveillance equipment deferred in the 1997/98 year due to cost overruns in the INCIS project; if so, why did Commissioner Doone deny on the radio this morning that this was the case?

A: It is my understanding that no funding for electronic surveillance has been diverted to INCIS. I understand that today the member has referred to a letter to the Auditor General. The reference contained in the letter was simply a proposal. Expenditure on further surveillance equipment will be programmed over the next three years.

(George Hawkins - Labour - leave sought to table Auditor General's letter - granted.)

Q: What responsibility does he take for the fact the police have gone for two years without the equipment they need when even the Police Commissioner says gangs are getting more sophisticated?

A: We do have considerable action in respect of gangs. The police have had electronic surveillance capability at all times. They wanted to enhance that - but that has not been possible up to this time. But wlectronic surveillance is taking place - go back and do your homework. The police are arranged in a whole range of activities against gangs. They have increased intelligence, surveillance operations, fence removal operations, hundreds of gang members have been arrested, charged and are now incarcerated.

Question 11.

Rana Waitai to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Is she satisfied that there is as an appropriate level of transparency for golden handshakes to publicly funded Maori authorities as that applied to the public service departments?

A: Any agency whether public, private or voluntary is responsible for money they have.

Q: (Rana Waitai - NZ First) How concerned is she about the payment made to Labour Candidate John Tamihere out of government funds?

A: I am not aware of that.

Q: (Winston Peters - NZ First) How concerned would she be to learn that the sum was $280,000 plus a Toyota Pajero and that the sums came from government funds?

A: I have no idea where the revenues come from that the trust uses to buy its services. I do not know whether they have their own sources of funds. If such a payment was made then the payment would be something they would want to explain both to the public and to the purchasers of their services. I have lots and lots of reports on Golden Handshakes in my office - none of them concerning John Tamihere - however I wonder whether the Labour Party would be concerned at this.

(Winston Peters - NZ First - leave sought for further questions - granted.)

Q: (Grant Gillon - Alliance) Is the PM satisfied with the golden handshake style payments made to Fisheries Commissioners without them even leaving?

(Speaker - ruled out question - "when questions are put down there is a requirement to produce evidence - the same applies also to supplementaries - but often allegations are out before there is any chance. In recent times it seems any source will do. I am becoming increasing troubled. We are going to require authentication if people are going to make imputations, particularly involving people outside this house. I invite the Standing Orders Committee to consider this matter.")

(Roger Sowry: Leave sought to table a letter from TVNZ to the Alliance saying that they did not hire a corporate table as alleged by Alliance members. Also a letter of confirmation from WINZ that they did not have a table at the meeting either. - granted. Grant Gillon - personal explanation - I was not aware of any matters involving TVNZ until reading the Dominion this morning.)

Q: (Winston Peters - NZ First) Is the PM aware that this trust has also given out loans to two trustees and funded several people's university studies?

A: The member brings more significant and serious allegations to the house. I invite the member to bring that information forward in writing. If it is as alleged and if the trust receives money only from the Government then it may be a serious issue.

Q: (Michael Cullen - Labour) Could the PM give an assurance that she will provide that information to the Leader of the Opposition?

A: I would be happy to consider a reciprocal arrangement in those terms. I will consider to whom I provide the information after I have received it.

(Winston Peters - NZ First - leave sought to table the accounts of the trust - granted)

(Winston Peters - leave sought to change allegations about a Pajero to a Cherokee Jeep - leave not needed.)

Question 12.

Tim Barnett to the Minister of Justice Tony Ryall:

Q: Will the Government consult opposition parties on the appointment of the new Chief Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission; if not, why not?

A: Yes.

Q: NZ is a signatory to an international agreement requiring consultation and will the minister comply?

A: My answer to the first question is yes. Y. E. S.

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