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Questions Of The Day (1-4)

Questions For Oral Answer Tuesday, 24 August 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.

Rt Hon. Helen Clark to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Does her statement questioning why we do not have "mums and dads who care enough about the health status of their kids to take them to the doctor or to the dentist" mean that her Government does not accept any responsibility for the lack of improvement in child health status in South Auckland since 1994; if not, what responsibility does her Government accept?

A: The government has made a huge effort to work with agencies over the last five years. The study released earlier today indicates progress is being made. There are free services for health care, dental care and immunisation.

Q: (Helen Clark - Labour) Does she agree with the Bishop of Christchurch?

A: There are a number of areas where we are not satisfied with the progress. I encourage the member to tell the whole story not just part of the story.

Q: : (Richard Prebble - ACT) Does she agree that now it is free there is no excuse not to take

A: This government has made huge strides towards free medical care for children. And that report released yesterday does have some very positive information that this Parliament should be proud of. (To Sandra Lee - Alliance) Housing is always and issue but it is not the only issue. But where services are free we should encourage every mum and dad to take their kids to the doctor. (To Winston Peters - NZ First) I recall very well that the Minister of Health at the time agreed with the Under-sixes policy - it was strongly supported by many members of the coalition. Cot deaths are down. A specialist mental health service no longer has a waiting list and immunisation rates have gone up.

Question 2.

Hon. Denis Marshall to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Tony Ryall:

Q: Are there any proposals to chip the West Coast beech forests owned by Timberlands?

A: There are no proposals to chip wood from the West Coast beech forest the plans are based on low impact extraction of one tree per hectare per year. This contrasts with Labour's Party's plan to clear-fell and woodchip 20 Hectare blocks under a previous government. When the decision to stop the over-cut. Today I have advised Timberlands that extraction is commercially viable - this is good news for the West Coast.

Q: (Jeanette Fitzsimmons - Green) When an overseas company purchased a processing plant in Christchurch did he think it was hypocritical to then tell people there would be jobs on the coast when in fact they were on the other side of the island?

A: What is most important is that NZers love native timbers and if they cannot get them here they will get them from clear-felling in overseas rain-forests. (To: Damien O'Connor) The member should be supportive of that. The Beech scheme will cost only one job on the coast and that is of the member - Damien O'Connor. I can give this message to the West coast is that he and Jim Sutton say one thing to them while Helen Clark says something different to the sandal wearing in Auckland.

Question 3.

Jim Anderton to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Does she stand by her answer to written question No. 5619 due 15 July 1999?

A: I have seen nothing to change my view on this.

Q: (Jim Anderton - Alliance) On the six occasions since is she saying she did not know about those contacts. I have nothing to add to the answer to the original question it is an accurate answer to the question as put.

I have seen reports quoting the Paraniod and over-reacting to a perfectly reasonable relationship - Rex Jones has said that speculation is overclouding the real issue which is the right of West Coasters to work.. It is the leader of the Opposition who wants to deny West Coasters the right to work.

(To Michael Cullen - Labour) I invite the member to read the text carefully - I absolutely stand by the answer given to the written question.

Question 4.

Rt Hon. Winston Peters to the Minister of Revenue Sir William Birch:

Q: When he said on National Radio yesterday, with respect to the Magnum transactions investigated by the inquiry into certain taxation matters, that "the National Government has long since closed those loopholes by changing the law", what loopholes was he referring to, and what law changes was he talking about?

A: Lets start by getting the facts straight. Sir Ronald was exasperated at the end at the absence of any evidence of tax evasion or fraud. Since the winebox deals were constructed under the Labour Government there have been numerous changes. International Tax. Loss Transfer Legislation. Accruals Rules. Removal of Intercorporate dividend exemption. The only legislation not passed are matters waiting with the Finance and Expenditure Committee. I wanted to progress these in march 1998. Winston Peters wrote to me not to further consider the anti-avoidance clauses until the proceedings Mr Peter was involved with were completed.

Q: Why does he not understand that there never was a loophole, and that substance always prevails over form when the Privy Council and now the High Court keep saying so?

A: The member would benefit from reading the advice which was given in 1994 on these amendments which were designed to firm up S.99 to make sure that the commissioner could pursue international tax credits of the kind used in the Magnum case. The government has now spent $8.5 million $5.9 by IRD and SFO $1.4 million on other costs and $1.5 million on Mr Peters Lawyer. The government intends to maintain the legal requirement that it is for the Commissioner to make the decision on what action is to be taken in the prosecution of tax matters.

Q: Richard Prebble - ACT:

(Point of order - Peters interrupts seeking to stop question. The Minister of Revenue has said that I aided or abetted foreign companies in tax evasion. My question was what loophole? - Speaker - this is not a point of order - Prebble - I think I can help, I found the answer given by the Minister of Revenue quite extraordinary and I should be allowed to ask the question and then we can find out whether Mr Peters was actively trying to stop the closing of loopholes.)

Q: Would he clarify his answer, was the house correct in taking from his answer that the amendment introduced in June 1994 to stop tax credit schemes did not proceed is because Mr Peters wrote him a letter saying he didn't think there were any loopholes?

(Winston Peters - I contend that that is an allegation..Speaker - lets have the answer)

A: The member did understand my reply correctly. The letter I referred to was written by the Deputy PM and Treasurer dated 10 March 1998. Quotes from the letter. ."Until the current High Court proceedings are resolved I would ask you to request that the select committee not further consider the bill."

(To Jim Anderton - Alliance) The decision paragraph 96. Declarations 1-4 are not expected to contend that there is fraud and incompetence. The IRD would have pursued and prosecuted the people if it was possible to recover that tax a long time ago.

Q: (Winston Peters) How can you say that when the Solicitor General successfully argued in Branigans (sp) case that the transactions could all be read together.. Minister there never was a loop-hole and you should resign?

(Speaker - the second part is out of order.)

A: We are all well used to Mr Peters extravagant claims. I invite the member to re-read the decision and the advice to the committee in 1994.

(Minister tables letter and information given to the FEC in 1994 which sets out rules to prevent the abuse of foreign tax credits.)

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