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Questions Of The Day (1 and 3- 6)

Ministry Of Fisheries Travel Claims - Tax Cuts -Housing - Asbestos - Tertiary Education Funding

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 1.

Rt Hon. Winston Peters to the Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control John Luxton:

Q: Are the monthly travel claims and credit card expenditure of senior managers in the Ministry of Fisheries required to be approved and signed off as part of internal procedures designed to prevent inappropriate activity; if so, have there been, in the last five years, departures from this requirement or any irregularities with respect to travel and expense claims or credit card abuse?

A: All claims are approved by each employees managers. I am informed that two years ago there was a case of irregularity and that it was dealt with.

Q: (Winston Peters - NZ First) What was that action? And secondly what was the cost over the last five years of excessive expensive travel and entertainment by Ministry managers?

A: The employee was dismissed after pleading guilty. I am also informed that there is a review of recent travel claims currently underway. The preliminary view is that the scale is not a concern but the review is not yet completed. To date no allegations have been proven and I am anxious not to pre-judge the situation. However if there is a problem we will deal with it.

Question 2.

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

Q: As Treasury has advised that the tax cut legislation should be in place before the election if there was to be enough time for new rates to come into force on 1 April next year, why has the Government decided not to progress such legislation?

A: The leader of the opposition has made a mistake again. In a report of the 30th of June we were advised that it is normal practice to pass legislation such as this before an election. In July they subsequently advised that it is possible to implement the changes before April 1 with legislation next year if it is placed high on the legislative programme.

Q: (Helen Clark - Labour) Does he accept the criticism of being two-faced over the negotiations with Mauri Pacific?

A: There is nothing two-faced about guaranteeing tax cuts. My message to NZ is we will bring taxes down after the election. Labour if elected will put them up, NZers face a stark stark choice. This government has reduced taxes consistently. A truck driver on $30,000 with two children is $100 better off as a result of this government. There is evidence and reports that show very clearly that an incoming National Government could implement these cuts by April 1. We are not prepared to pass legislation when we are under no pressure to do so just because other unreasonable demands are in the wind.

Q: (Richard Prebble - ACT) Is the house correct in assuming that National and ACT support tax cuts and Labour and the Alliance tax rises?

A: Yes.

Q: (Helen Clark - Labour) How much did she offer Tau?

A: We have worked successfully to manage the economy. We decided not to progress this issue because three members of Parliament asked for things we were not prepared to do.


Question 4.

Hon. Annette King to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Does she stand by her statement of last October that "The raft of housing initiatives announced by the National minority Government this week will help to ensure that low income New Zealand families have affordable and suitable housing." in the face of reports that Auckland residents are paying market rents to live in rat-infested, unhygienic and overcrowded State houses; if not, why not?

A: As usual the opposition is not telling the full story. The report in the Herald today provides a number of constructive recommendations many of which are being taken into account and are being dealt with at present.

Q: (Helen Clark - Labour) What is suitable about 2000 damp cockroach plagued dumps in Otara?

A: In the area she talks about $4 million has been spent on maintenance this year. Can I remind the house that on the 26th February 1988 she as housing minister was asked about housing and she admitted that the same problems existed. A half billion has been spent on housing maintenance in the last five years.

Q: (Grant Gillon - Alliance) - Something about an allegation about TPK bailing out subcontractors?

A: If there is a problem it will be dealt with.

Question 5.

Rev. Ann Batten to the Minister for the Environment Marie Hasler:

Q: Has he any plans to announce a decision allowing polluters of contaminants such as asbestos to be sued?

A: Under the provisions of the RMA polluters are required to clean up contamination provided it occurred after 1991. Historical contamination issues are under consideration by the government.

(Trevor Mallard - Labour - does the member have an interest in this matter as a person who wanted to subdivide some contaminated land?

Speaker - issues of declaration of interest are up to the member concerned.

Bill Birch - Trevor Mallard leases an offer from the fire service and he asks questions about the fire service?

Mallard - Personal explanation - that is not the case. My concern is that as a subdivider she has a different interest, a greater interest, than a ratepayer.

Speaker - this nevertheless fails the test of direct financial interest.)

Q: (Anne Batten - Mauri Pacific) When will an announcement be made on this issue?

A: The issue of historical site contamination is being considered and a decision will be made in the near future. The issue of liability is being considered and an announcement is due shortly.

Q: (Tau Henare - Mauri Pacific) Has anyone other than Anne Batten been standing up for residents on this issue?

A: I don't know of anyone.

Question 6.

Trevor Mallard to the Minister for Tertiary Education Max Bradford:

Q: Has he considered the reported comments by the Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University that "The new money coming into the university sector is a pittance and the main effect is to reshuffle existing funding."; if so, how will this promote a knowledge economy?

A: (Maurice Williamson on behalf) Recent funding announcements incorporate part of the additional funding. Because there is an expected growth there is an increase in baseline budgets there is also new money for scholarships and various other things.

Q: How can he say that with knowledge that the ministry of education has slashed $1603 for study right students at Otago.

A: We have for years been turning out more lawyers and commerce graduates than scientists. We are attempting to address the imbalance. The vice-chancellors of Massey and Waikato have made positive comments on the announcement. The universities appreciate that the cost and importance of doctoral study is recognised.

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