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Questions Of The Day (1-6)

Employment And Economy - Ascot Hospital - Tony Ryall - Timberlands - Super Universities - Waitangi Tribunal And NBR

Questions For Oral Answer Wednesday, 25 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.

Arthur Anae to the Treasurer Bill English:

Q: What do recent economic reports he has received say regarding the outlook for employment next year?

A: Most economists predict unemployment will continue to fall through the coming recovery forecasts indicate 600 jobs per week will be created. We are committed to providing a stable economic environment and maintaining and strengthening the Employments Contracts Act. The leader of the opposition says this morning that she will repeal the Act but it will mean nothing..

(Jonathan Hunt - Labour - Leave asked to extend the General Debate by half an hour to allow the Minister's comments to be properly rebutted.)

Q: Has he seen the economic report by a bank that says that under Labour the recovery is not threatened and that a Labour government would mean more jobs?

A: There is every reason to believe the opposite would happen if Labour did what it says it plans to do - allow secondary strikes and repeal ACC reforms. The one thing that will turn the tide of migration away form New Zealand, and which is in fact doing so, is economic growth. I can assure the member that telling aspiring NZers that if they stay they will have their taxes increased will not help.

Question 2.

Rt Hon. Helen Clark to the Minister of Health Wyatt Creech:

Q: Is he satisfied that Ascot Hospital performed satisfactorily in all parts of its orthopaedic contract; if so, why?

A: I am advised that the HFA advises that accidents like this also happen in other hospitals. The contract requires notification of an actual breach of conduct. And that an appropriate investigation was undertaken by appropriate authorities.

A: (Helen Clark - Labour) Is he aware that this same surgeon also damaged the obdurator nerve of another patient - a constituent of mine - leaving her in chronic pain?

A: Obviously I haven't been briefed on every aspect of every case at Ascot hospital. This is one of those cases where the member could have helped getting information she wants by asking for it in the original question. The other accident, as I said, has been investigated and dealt with. Accidents happen in public hospitals too. What we should all be insisting on is the highest quality of operations wherever they are performed. Had the contract not been awarded these operations would not have happened.

Question 3.

Ron Mark to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Is she totally supportive of the views of her Minister of Justice and does she value his advice?

A: (Wyatt Creech on behalf) I have every confidence in the Minister of Justice and I most certainly value his advice. Sometimes his advice is also entertaining.

Q: (Ron Mark - NZ First) Why then does she disagree with him about the drinking age?

A: I would have thought that Mr Mark would understand that on conscience issues there are a range of views within a party. Only NZ First took the unusual step of taking a party position on this.

Question 4.

Jim Anderton to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Did staff from her office have contact with representatives from Timberlands West Coast twice in February 1998, again in March 1998 and in April 1998; if so, why does that contact not constitute involvement in relations between the Government and Timberlands West Coast?

A: (Wyatt Creech on behalf) I refer you to my answer to Dr Cullen yesterday. Mr Anderton should know that the Minister of SOE handles relations between the SOE and the government.

Q: (Jim Anderton - Alliance) When will she answer questions in an open way as this country expects?

A: The PM has answered the question appropriately she has said what the situation is. Timberlands has advised that up to 200 jobs could be created on the West Coast with investment in processing. I am sure the PM would be willing to debate this at any time with the Leader of the Opposition on the Coast only she won't go there.

Q: (To Michael Cullen) - referred to an interjection from the Minister of Conservation - inaudible - as being an appropriate response.

(Minister of Conservation Nick Smith seeks leave to ask a question of the leader of the opposition to explain just what her view is on Timberlands since she has given two answers.) As a result of this decision there will be a possibility of 200 jobs which otherwise won't be there. Under the alternative there is no possibility for the people of the coast to exploit natural resources in a sustainable way.

Question 5.

Steve Maharey to the Minister for Tertiary Education Max Bradford:

Q: Does his statement that he wants most New Zealand universities to scale back research and instead focus on teaching mean that he supports all current research funding being concentrated in two or three "super" universities; if so, how will this improve the overall quality of research and tertiary education in New Zealand?

A: The members question is built on quicksand. My concern is that if New Zealand is to have a sound knowledge base we need to get two or three universities up to world class standard in terms of research. This is not a new idea. There is an issue about sufficient bulk in research. Should we spread ourselves more thinly or centralise resources in centres of excellence.

Q: (Labour member) Will he give an undertaking that research funding will not be centralised in some degree conferring institutions?

A: I don't think even that member could give that guarantee even if he did become Minister of Education - which he won't. What I can say is that this government will not reduce the funding for university research. Full stop. There is a clearly a need and a recognition of a need for major change in the nature of how universities link to and leverage from business. I suggest the member, members, read the Education Review.

Question 6.

Patricia Schnauer to the Minister of Maori Affairs Tau Henare:

Q: Does he intend to look into allegations of conflict of interest in the Waitangi Tribunal, made in the National Business Review of 20 August?

A: (Attorney General Sir Douglas Graham on behalf) No. The matter is being considered by the Attorney General.

Q: How can he refuse to investigate when new evidence suggests Mr Durie has been involved in preparing briefs for cases later heard by the tribunal?

A: As I said the attorney general is looking into all of those matters.

(Some discussion about whether this question was in order..)

The minister later refused to answer a question from Sandra Lee.

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