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Questions Of The Day (7-12)

APEC - Tauranga Nurses Strike - CIA and Norman Kirk - PMs Mistakes - ACC Premiums - Human Capital In IT Sector

Questions For Oral Answer Wednesday, 1 September 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.

Annabel Young to the Minister for International Trade Lockwood Smith:

Q: What reports has he received on the progress that APEC member economies are making towards the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment?

A: APEC economies are progressing towards the goals. At the recent APEC ministers meeting in June 14 economies announced moves towards the Bogor goals. Recently China also announced wool and wine tariff changes to our advantage. I would like to challenge Jim Anderton to say where he would impose tariffs if elected.

Q: (Jim Anderton - Alliance) Why is he not pushing for a minimum wage across APEC economies?

A: At this stage APEC has 410 co-operative projects underway. I have a challenge for that member. The public deserves to know what they will have to pay more for if the Alliance is ever in government. (Later) With Korea we have agreed that meat tariff quotas will be removed by 2001. This change is very advantageous to the meat industry.

(Jim Anderton - leave sought to respond to the challenge. Leave granted - again rather ODDLY.)

JIM ANDERTON: I will challenge the minister to debate the tariff issue in any election in the country….interrupted

Speaker - Jim Anderton seeks to respond contrary to the leave so it is withdrawn.)

Question 8.

Phillida Bunkle to the Minister of Health Wyatt Creech:

Q: Has Pacific Health been funded sufficiently to provide nurses at Tauranga Hospital with a five percent pay rise?

A: (Georgina Te Heu Heu on behalf) Pacific Health is funded to provide quality health services to Tauranga. The HFA and Pacific Health have recently concluded negotiations for the funding round . As Minister of Health I do not approve of strikes by nurses. Any disagreement should be dealt with by way of negotiation. Patients should be put first. (To Phillida Bunkle - Alliance - who asked whether she knew nurses had received only 2% increase in wages in five years and who were told last year the hospital could not afford a pay rise.) These are operational matters subject to negotiations between the hospital and nurses. The government is concerned about the care of patients but that is being taken care of. The government recently announced funding for a new mental health facility in Tauranga.

Question 9.

Hon. Richard Prebble to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Has the Labour Party President supplied her with information to support his reported belief that the CIA was possibly involved in the death of former Prime Minister Norman Kirk and that she should ask the United States President for the CIA files on the matter; if not, what action is she proposing to take?

A: No the President of the Labour Party has not supplied me with any information. Meeting with the President of the US is a great opportunity for New Zealand. I do not allow the paranoid anti-american sentiments of the President of the Labour party to clutter the opportunity. I do not intend to take any action in relation to he matter whatsoever.

Q: (Richard Prebble - ACT) Is she aware that the CIA would probably have been keen to keep him alive to stop people like the current leadership of the Labour Party from achieving office?

A: If Norman Kirk was alive today he would be appalled at the statements from the opposition on defence.

Q: (Helen Clark - Labour) Is he any worse than Richard Prebble who made up a story about the Wool Board?

A: You have to judge people by the people the associate with. The member has an associate that hugely embarrasses her. Who takes off his clothes and expresses his anti-American sentiment in public.

Question 10.

Hon. Jim Sutton to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: When she said on television this week that she had made mistakes this year, which specific incidents was she referring to?

A: He is the member who asked the President to stay away from APEC and then changed his mind. There are many members in the house who sometimes make mistake. But some of us can claim that we have many achievements as well.

Q: Do her mistakes include failure to act promptly on information on David Bale's salary?

A: I welcome the member providing any evidence that supports the claim he has just made. I also welcome the opposition to agree on where this issue came from. We decided in March 1998 to disclose salary levels. We think this is important information that the public is entitled to. Helen Clark is been making lots of mistakes - labour relations - Timberlands.

Question 11.

Warren Kyd to the Minister for Accident Insurance Murray McCully:

Q: What changes to ACC premiums are currently the subject of public consultation?

A: The government is currently consulting on options that include reductions of levies of 21 per cent. Total savings in accident insurance to employers due to the reforms are $500 million over the next two years. Having expected a reduction from 67 cents to 50 cents in the levy for the claims tail, employers are very pleased that it may in fact fall to 39 cents. Employers have also expressed stunned disbelief at news that Labour will roll back the changes. The government has in every respect under-promised and over-delivered. ( To Laila Harre on Palmerston North Women's Collective case) I have no information about that case. I suggest she bring it to me. I also warn members that if people do not investigate claims then they run a risk, like TVNZ, of having to make an apology.

(Laila Harre - leave sought to table three documents - leave granted.)

(Trevor Mallard - please table the letter from TVNZ - letter tabled.)

Question 12.

Pete Hodgson to the Minister for Information Technology Maurice Williamson:

Q: Does he accept the criticism of the Information Technology Advisory Group that the Government has not provided leadership in the development of human capital which is pivotal to a knowledge economy; if not, why not?

A: The knowledge economy report last night contains clear support for the government's Brighter Future policy. I do not accept it is a criticism , quite the reverse.

Q: (Pete Hodgson - Labour) Why did he fail to implement key policies in the ITAG report concerning accelerating depreciation and full expensing of research for tax purposes?

A: It did not ignore those recommendations it said that as long as the tax implications could be dealt with it wanted to pursue those objectives.

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