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NZTE and Minister need to answer to Parliament

Mark Blumsky National Party MP

26 February 2006

NZTE and Minister need to answer to Parliament

National Party MP Mark Blumsky wants Trevor Mallard hauled into line and has lodged two complaints about the way the Minister is ducking parliamentary questions about significant spending by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Mr Blumsky has written to commerce select committee chairwoman Katherine Rich complaining about the answers to 81 written parliamentary questions about NZTE he lodged with Mr Mallard's office.

"The public have a right to know what's going on at NZTE. For a Minister who is supposed to be so concerned about spending following his announcement last week of spending reviews, it defies belief that he's not interested in finding out where taxpayer money is going in the agency he's responsible for.

"Mr Mallard's reply to the 81 questions reads: 'The Ministry of Economic Development and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise are focused on economic transformation and facilitating exporting. They do not have the resources to research answers to the approximately three hundred questions submitted by the member and I therefore suggest that he avails himself of more appropriate processes to lift his level of understanding in this area.' "

"This shows Labour's utter contempt for parliamentary democracy and process," says Mr Blumsky. "I've also written to the Speaker asking her whether she considers the replies are acceptable.

"I have asked legitimate questions about economic development policies and NZTE's activities. Parliamentary questions are an important source of information for the Opposition and such answers by the Minister are completely unacceptable.

"NZTE has been subject to a number of less than positive reviews and reports. Mr Mallard is clearly not keen to answer questions on this organisation - but we fully intend to.

"A select committee report tabled on Friday criticises another agency - the Ministry of Economic Development - for the way it also answers parliamentary questions. MED also comes under Mr Mallard's responsibility.

"That report says: 'The committee was concerned with some of the responses to our questions which directed members to source information from the parliamentary library, previous reports and other sources. It is the right of select committees, in accordance with Standing Orders, to expect answers to be given in full.'

"The report also says the ministry has taken a passive role in monitoring NZTE." Ends Inquiries: Mark Blumsky

********

122 (2006). Mark Blumsky to the Minister for Economic Development (14 February 2006):
Further to the answer to question for written answer 09582 (2005), what is the breakdown of the establishment fee for the New Zealand Focus Store in Hong Kong as at 31 December 2005?

Hon Trevor Mallard (Minister for Economic Development) replied: The Ministry of Economic Development and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise
are focused on economic transformation and facilitating exporting.

They do not have the resources to research answers to the approximately three
hundred questions submitted by the member and I therefore suggest that he
avails himself of more appropriate processes to lift his level of
understanding in this area. I am, however, prepared to brief him on policy
matters.

ENDS

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