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Questions Of The Day (7-12)

Immigrant Employment - ECA Row (continued) - Maori Reserve Land - Pilot Strikes - State House Sales - Defence 2000 Report

Questions For Oral Answer Thursday, 2 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.

Hon. Peter Dunne to the Minister of Immigration Tuariki Delamere:

Q: Do his department's current procedures for recognising overseas-gained professional qualifications of new migrants work effectively?

A: Yes. Since 1995 where registration is a statutory requirement to practice in a profession registration is required before residence is approved. There remain problems with people granted residency prior to 1995. I am not considering making the NZQA solely responsible in this area.

Q: (Laila Harre - Alliance) Does he accept he has failed in his promises in this area?

A: We are putting forward some proposals for next years budget that will hopefully ease some of the problems with medical practitioners.

Question 8.

Rodney Hide to the Minister for Enterprise and Commerce Max Bradford:

Q: Does the Government have any plans to change the Employment Contracts Act 1991 to allow sympathy strikes; if not, why not?

A: Certainly not. It is clear that allowing strikes in favour of multi-employer contracts would destroy much of the gains achieved in recent years. The policy on the other side of the house would have a profound impact and would force some NZers to join unions.

Q: (Rodney Hide - ACT) Does he agree that the statement from Michael Cullen on Ansett and Air New Zealand pilots is a recommendation for sympathy strikes?

A: It proves to me that Labour has a hidden agenda…. (answer ruled out of order as minister is not responsible for Labour party policy.)

Q: (Pansy Wong - National) What has been the frequency and cost of strikes under the ECA and how does that compare with the period before?

(Considerable objection from Labour members to the question - the Speaker eventually ruled it out after much discussion - Max Bradford then objected to the ruling to no avail.)

Q: (Laila Harre - ) Can he confirm that it would at present be legal for Air New Zealand pilots to take sympathy action provided they were engaged in their own negotiations at the same time?

(Rodney Hide - leave sought to table a Michael Cullen transcript - granted.)

Question 9.

Hon. Jim Sutton to the Minister of Maori Affairs Tau Henare:

Q: Will the Government carry out Schedule 5 of the Maori Reserve Land Act 1955, which gave an undertaking to Maori to deal with the historical grievances from not obtaining fair market rents for their land, before the next general election; if not, why not?

A: I am aware of the obligations and can advise that government is addressing those issues.

Q: (Jim Sutton - Labour) Why is he not replying to letters from Maori lessees on the subject?

A: I believe that in the next three months we will do a lot in relation to Reserve Lands and also a lot to prevent Labour getting on the Treasury benches. The government will endeavour to work through the issues. I believe we are not far from a resolution and I commend those in this house who support a resolution to this issue.

Question 10.

Alec Neill to the Minister of Enterprise and Commerce Max Bradford:

Q: Have Government policies assisted New Zealanders in their travel plans when strikes have affected airline timetables?

A: Definitely. Our policies have encouraged consumer choice. When strikes effect travel they have a choice of travel providers. This will disappear if Labour is elected and allows multi-employer strikes as it says it will.

(Trevor Mallard - Labour - we have had several explanations in recent days and the minister appears to be slow in picking up the fact that we will not allow sympathy strikes.)

The simple fact is that allowing multi-employer strikes will take us back to where we were in 1991……interrupted by jeers… gosh they don't like questions on industrial relations do they…..

(Speaker - I expect more restraint please

Trevor Mallard - Labour - referred to speakers rulings.

Speaker - we are not talking about a report and he is not answering a report. He was put a hypothetical factual situation.)

In a situation like this Air New Zealand pilots could participate in a strike which has nothing to do with them and that would see the system collapse back to a situation where there would be strikes in both companies and that would disrupt travel for New Zealanders.

Q: (Pete Hodgson - Labour) Can he confirm that given that Ansett and Air New Zealand are both in negotiations at present that they can both strike now if they want to? And why aren't they?

A: I can tell you why. Because the Air New Zealand pilots don't want a bar of the Ansett dispute.

Question 11.

Graham Kelly to the Minister responsible for Housing New Zealand Ltd Murray McCully:

Q: Will the Government guarantee that no further bulk sales of State houses will occur before the election; if not, why not?

A: Housing New Zealand is continually involved in rebalancing its stock to serve its clients I understand that there are no bulk sales presently under consideration. (To a supplementary from Kelly) I am happy to concede that the description of rat-infestation in state houses is one that would apply to the housing stock in 1990 when it had been in the care of the Leader of the opposition.

Q: (Grant Gillon - Alliance) Can he confirm that Housing NZ is purchasing houses from Auckland city and give an undertaking that they will not be on-sold to private interests?

A: I am not aware of such negotiations. Auckland is clearly a part of NZ where there are population pressures. My advice is that 297 contracts have been signed in the early part of this year for the acquisition of new housing.

Question 12.

Annabel Young to the Minister of Defence Max Bradford:

Q: What reports has he received on the effects of adopting the majority report of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee on its Inquiry into Defence Beyond 2000?

A: I am aware of two effects. Our international influence would be severely diminished and our allies would be sorely disappointed. This was confirmed strongly by the Australian reaction to the reports of Labour Party policy yesterday which was in very strong terms. If we were to pursue this course every Aussie would see NZ welching on its burden for defence of the region. The head-in-the-sand pacifist attitude of the opposition would undermine our relations with Australia and the US. There is a contradiction in the report in that it suggests we strengthen our relationships with several countries when those countries want us to maintain the forces that the report suggests we get rid of.

Q: (Derek Quigley - ACT) Has the minister read the report?

A: Yes. Unfortunately.

Q: (Rod Donald - Green) Are we prepared to take part in a peace-keeping operation in East Timor?

A: Yes. God forbid that we have to though and if we do we will use all our defence capabilities.

(Max Bradford - leave sought to table transcript of interview with Australian defence minister - granted.)

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