Questions of the Day (5-8)
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.
Hon. Dr Michael Cullen to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:
Q: Does she stand by her answer to written question No. 5619 that staff in her office had not been involved in any way in relations between Timberlands West Coast and the Government; if not, why not?
A: I would like to invite the member to contact the sources who provided the original questions and give him the questions to which he refers so he can see what my answer meant.
(Conservation Minister Nick Smith sought leave to table transcripts showing the Helen Clark contradicted herself.)
Patricia Schnauer to the Minister for Accident Insurance Murray McCully:
Q: Has he done any costings or received any reports of the impact of returning the employers' scheme to a state monopoly?
A: I have not received any formal costings on this. I can advise however that very substantial costs would be incurred by Labour party policy. I have also seen a statement from various sectoral interests including the MIA and Sir David Beattie calling on the Labour Party to rethink their promises made earlier this year. In Sir David's press release he talks about Labour's $1 billion pledge.
Q: (Ruth Dyson - Labour) Can he confirm a report that says that any reduction in premium has always been followed by large increases. And that their own report shows that cost of delivery is lower under a state monopoly?
A: No I can't but I can say that TVNZ repeated the most recent allegation made by that member and they have now written me a formal letter of apology saying that they now agree that allegations made by that member are untrue.
There are strong indications that risk-sharing will be further enhanced next year. I can also announce that the levy to fund the tail will be reduced substantially next year. I had thought it would fall from 67 to 50 cents but now forecasts indicate it will fall to 39 cents. This is a substantial saving to business.
Warren Kyd to the Minister for Enterprise and Commerce Max Bradford:
Q: What is the Government doing to ensure New Zealand prospers in the "knowledge age" of the 21st century?
A: This country won't move ahead by standing still. Last week the government announced a package of 31 measures which will lead to New Zealand utilising kiwi creativity better. The package includes new money for scholarships and teacher development. It enables initiatives with new ideas to get new funding quicker, and to make doing business more simple. The Labour party criticised the package because it dared to be different. The AUS attacked the package three days before it was announced. - which is typical. Others liked the package.
Hon. Annette King to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:
Q: Is she still "personally angry" that a national database for immunisation has not been established, and is that why she is now "incredibly frustrated" by a report which shows a deterioration in children's health status in South Auckland?
A: I want to see rates improve and that this be monitored. This year the funding package includes a requirement that HFA's report on progress. I draw the member's attention to the South Auckland Health report. In the report it is clear that over the last four years the immunisation rate has risen from 55% in 1995 to 64% now. While it is not high enough it is clearly an improvement.