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Questions Of The Day (1-6)

Questions For Oral Answer Thursday, 26 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.

Dr Wayne Mapp to the Treasurer Bill English:

Q: How much did work stoppages cost the country in 1990?

A: (Bill Birch on behalf) I am delighted to reply that in 1990 the country lost over 330,000 working days in stoppages. That cost $48 million in wages and salaries. In comparison in 1998 only 11,800 working days were lost. That is a 96% reduction in working days lost. The cost of those days lost was just $2 million.

Q: (Wayne Mapp - National) What risks are there for NZ from fewer work stoppages?

A: Very obviously the repeal of the ECA and the return to secondary strikes..

(Michael Cullen - the minister should stop lying about Labour party policy. Speaker "that is not so Mr Birch")

On radio this morning the opposition said on the radio something. if that is not a secondary strike what is.

Q: (Michael Cullen - Labour) Was the number of days lost a minute fraction of the number of days lost due to the failure of Think Big to produce 410,000 promised jobs?

A: Prior to 1990 the people of NZ had their ordinary lives disrupted because unions went out in support of other unions and the Labour party want us to return to that.

Question 2.

Hon. Dr Michael Cullen to the Treasurer Bill English:

Q: Has he received any reports from the Treasury indicating that plans to reduce income tax rates over the next three years should prudently include a combination of some or all of: expenditure reductions; removing the tax-favoured status of some activities; and/or increasing the rate of goods and services tax; if so, which of these options is Government policy?

A: We have received treasury advice on tax reductions and this has been released. The government is planning on continuing to improve the quality of spending. With respect of GST we have never considered increasing the rate above 12.5%. We will continue our efforts to close loopholes and pursue a broad-based low tax system.

Q: (Michael Cullen - Labour) Did the Minister of Maori Affairs get any other goodies?

A: The Minister of Maori Affairs has a genuine understanding of fiscal policy and appears to understand it better than Mr Cullen. Priorities in tax include simplifying the system at a cost of $400 million and benefiting all taxpayers who earn over $9500 a year.

Q: (Winston Peters - NZ First) Does he support tax cuts or does the Treasurer?

A: The member appears to be confused as always.

(Winston Peters - just answer the question.)

Q: (Rodney Hide - ACT) Will he give an assurance the $15 million spend up assured to Tau Henare will not be spent on $89 dollar underpants and consultants?

A: I am not aware of the spend up referred to.

(Winston Peters - Rodney Hide just gave Tau Henare the fingers is that appropriate?)

Question 3.

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

Q: How many jobs have been created since 1990?

(Trevor Mallard - is this question in order? - Speaker - yes it is. )

A: We have experienced sustained employment growth over the past decade. There has been a net increase according to the Household Labour Force survey of 267,000 jobs an increase of 18.1%. The Labour Alliance promise to change the ECA will threaten this sort of result in the future. I can confirm that 110,000 jobs were lost under the Labour government and that well over half of the jobs created in the last nine years are full time jobs.

Q: (John Wright - Alliance) If the government is doing such a good job why treasury predicts 6% employment through the next 50 years?

A: It is an awful lot better than the 13% we had when we came into power in 1990.

Question 4.

Hon. Jim Sutton to the Treasurer Bill English:

Q: Will the $15 million that has been earmarked to the Minister of Maori Affairs for Maori initiatives in return for support for tax cuts be calculated as part of increased social spending to match the tax cuts commitment he made earlier or will it be additional expenditure?

A: (Bill Birch on behalf) No final decision has been made on the timing of the tax cuts legislation nor on any extra spending. We will of course continue to discuss both tax cuts and further spending with those who support the government. I can not give any rational explanation as to why Jim Sutton keeps asking such mindless questions. It is the government's intention to keep lowering income tax, pay down debt, run fiscal surpluses and to target good quality social spending.

Q: (Sandra Lee - Alliance ) Why is the $15 million conditional on the sale of Airways?

A: No decision has been taken yet. Of course we continue to discuss things on this side of the house.

Question 5.

Gerry Brownlee to the Minister of Education Nick Smith:

Q: What initiatives are there in the Bright Future package to reward and encourage our best and brightest secondary students?

A: The government recognises that while it has been important to recognise those with special needs we also need to recognise the needs of our best and brightest. The package supplies 12,000 scholarships and programmes to build teachers abilities to help these students. The funding for these programmes is coming from the significant ACC savings made in the education sector.

Question 6.

Sandra Lee to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: What reports has she received about the ability of her Government to meet social and economic needs, homelessness, poverty and increasing disparities of wealth in Auckland?

A: (Wyatt Creech on behalf) The government is constantly monitoring progress in all regions. We have delivered real improvements through a number of programmes. I haven't seen the report referred to by the member but I can confirm that we have made improvements in a number of areas. While there are still difficulties a balanced person would also see there are some improvements. Household incomes have been growing nationally since 1991. There has also been significant improvement in income disparity for women and Maori.

Q: (Steve Maharey - Labour) Has she seen reports quoting the Bishop of Christchurch?

A: The difficulty with these quoting statements from particular individuals and contending they are factual when they are not.

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