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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day

Today's questions concern: Economic Development Ministry- Job Forecasts - Biosecurity And Used Cars - Jodi Ihaka Personal Grievance - Biosecurity And Used Cars - Paikatore And Tariana Turia Conflict Of Interest - School Cert and NCEA - Health Announcements - US Decision On Forestry - GE Food And Sheep - Spectrum Auction - Economic Development Ministry.

Questions For Oral Answer - Wednesday, 1 March 2000

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.

Mark Peck (Labour) to the Minister for Economic Development Jim Anderton:

Q: What reports has he received on the business community's reaction to the creation of Industry New Zealand and the Ministry of Economic Development?

A: I have seen a number of very encouraging reports. The Wellington Chamber of Commerce has congratulated the government on the form and structure of the new Ministry. Northern Employers and Manufacturers have called it a bright neon light of change. Partnership is crucial to the success of economic development. The board will be drawn from, but not exclusively, from the private sector.

Q: John Luxton (National): Has the minister seen the report that says there is no relationship between local authority business development programmes and economic growth in the regions.

A: It may have escaped the notice of the member but it is the coalition government that will set up this board and the money will be spent at the direction of the government not any local authority. It has been refreshing for this government that public servants who have survived 15 years of reform have turned their attention to the agenda of the new government.

Q: Rodney Hide (ACT): Is the minister aware that Treasury says that the "jobs machine" proposal is so vague they do not know how many jobs it will bring?

A: Fortunately the awareness of this government is far more enlightened than the views of any individual Treasury official. If we have strong regional economies we will have a strong national economy.

Q: John Luxton (National): Has he any reports on how many jobs his proposals will create?

A: It is a silly question to ask how many jobs at this stage. That said far more jobs than the people of NZ expected from the previous government.

Question 2.

Hon. Bill English (National) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: What are the most recent official forecasts he has received, as the Minister responsible for the economy, of the unemployment rate for the next two years, and what number of jobs will be created to achieve this?

A: The most recent forecasts I have seen are those which will be published next week in the Budget policy statement.

Q: Bill English (National) Do the forecasts include the 76,000 jobs promised by Jim Anderton?

A: The forecasts are forecasts, not targets. I notice that the opposition spokesman on Finance has supported the proposals on Economic Development and plans to assist Southland to benefit from them.

Question 3.

Ian Ewen-Street (Green) to the Minister for Biosecurity Marion Hobbs:

Q: What steps has she taken to implement the Labour Party's election commitment to "stop used vehicle and machinery imports from bringing pests into New Zealand by requiring mandatory, and audited, decontamination and inspection of such high-risk imports before they leave for New Zealand"?

A: MAF is undertaking a review of used vehicle imports. A document on this will be available for consultation mid march in accordance with the Biosecurity Act. Importers pay the full cost of biosecurity clearance - but there is an obvious public good component as well and it is appropriate that the public share some of the cost of some inspections.

Question 4.

Hon. Richard Prebble (ACT) to the Minister of Maori Affairs Dover Samuels:

Q: Why did he respond to my Official Information Act request for "all documents and information regarding the media management" of his portfolio with a letter dated 24 February 2000 claiming that "there are no documents" between himself and Ms Ihaka?

A: I responded in that way because you asked for documents between myself and Ms Ihaka. As I replied there are no such documents.

Q: Richard Prebble: Why did the minister not advise me of the oral communication between him and Ms Ihaka - and in particular his shouting and verbal abuse that has led to a personal grievance against him?

(Second part of the question ruled out of order as a personal reflection on a member - Richard Prebble objected to this and made a few more personal reflections before being warned not to. )

A: Now I am aware that the request is wider than simply documents I will consider it again.

Q: Trevor Mallard (Labour): Does he think it is responsible for a member of Parliament to beat up an issue.

A: It seems to me that the extinct member formally from Auckland Central (Speaker ruled this out of order too) is just trying to exaggerate and beat up a situation.

Q: Gerry Brownlee ( National): Is it true that the PM has put the minister on his final warning because she is so distressed about this matter.

A: I have never seen the PM so happy. She does not look distressed and neither am I.

Question 5.

Rt Hon. Winston Peters (NZ First) to the Minister for Biosecurity Marion Hobbs:

Q: Is she satisfied that every possible effort to minimise biosecurity risks associated with the importation of second-hand vehicles is in fact being made; if not, why not?

A: Yes I am satisfied that the proper steps are being taken.

Q: Winston Peters (NZ First) : How can she say that when a bus has been sitting on the wharf in Auckland for six days waiting for fumigation?

A: I am advised about this and that MAF officials are working to deal with the problem of un-fumigated cars sitting on wharves next to clean cars.

Q: Is the minister aware that all vehicles are inspected but that other cargo is not?

A: Yes.

Question 6.

Hon. Murray McCully (National) to the Minister of Maori Affairs Dover Samuels:

Q: Did his Associate Minister, the Hon Tariana Turia, attend talks convened by the Prime Minister last week over the future of Moutoa Gardens, in her official capacity?

A: Can I say to the member that no such meeting was convened by the PM. Tariana Turia did attend the meeting as Associate Minister of Maori Affairs and it was convened by TPK.

Q: Murray McCully (National) Given that she is a member of the claims group what steps has he taken to remove her from further discussions as a result of a conflict of interest?

A: I do not see any conflict of interest. Paikatore has been a burning issue for everybody concerned and I am pleased that we are moving to resolve it.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT): Why is this not a conflict of interest, and has he sought any advice on this?

A: My view in this matter is my view and it is as I said in an earlier answer. I concur with the PM's and Tariana Turia's views on this matter.

Question 7.

Helen Duncan (Labour) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: What were the potential risks of implementing the National Certificate of Educational Achievement this year and what are the benefits of extending the timetable?

A: NCEA is a huge change. To implement the change is going to need professional development and administration systems. I was not willing to risk students future because the previous government had not resourced the changeover. My advice on this matter was mixed but I decided it was better to be cautious.

Q: Nick Smith (National): Can the Minister assure the house that no less than 50% of the assessment will be by external assessment?

A: It is not my intention to make changes in this area.

Question 8.

Rt Hon. Wyatt Creech (National) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: When is the primary healthcare strategy going to be released, given that she missed the officially planned release date of 23 February?

A: There has never been an official release date. However the member may have confused this with an announcement that was to have been made on 19 February but which I could not attend due to a death in my family.

Q: Wyatt Creech: Is the widespread understanding that the PM held back release correct?

A: No.

Q: Why do we need a strategy?

A: This government believes that a strategic framework is needed to deliver better health outcomes and get everybody involved in the health sector to work together. Key aspects of the strategy include some very good things. I offer to give members a private briefing on this.

(Annette King - leave sought to table a longer answer on key aspects of the strategy - granted
Wyatt Creech - leave sought to table some papers with the date marked - granted.)

Question 9.

Damien O'Connor (Labour) to the Minister for Trade Negotiations Jim Sutton:

Q: What are the future implications for forestry exports following the United States Appeal Court's decision on import permits for non-tropical wood products?

A: The decision removes the threat of legal action to the further development of NZ's forestry exports to the US. Because this was a matter of domestic litigation we played no formal role. We did however work closely with the US Government on this matter.

Q: John Luxton (National): Does the minister intend to inform environmentalists that Radiata Pine comes from the US.

A: I am sure that environmental groups in the US want any further information on the low biosecurity threat posed by NZ exports then they will ask for them.

Question 10.

Hon. Dr Nick Smith (National) to the Minister of Consumer Affairs Phillida Bunkle:

Q: What has she done since becoming Minister of Consumer Affairs to make improvements to food safety?

A: I am pleased to be able to say that three significant steps have been taken. Firstly I have asked Consumer Affairs to establish a standard for organic food. Secondly I have asked officials to make delegations to CODEX which involve consumer views, especially on genetic modification of food. Thirdly I have asked ministers about the connection between anti-biotic use in food animals and human anti-biotic resistance.

Q: Nick Smith (National): Does the minister now support field trials of GE sheep in the Waikato?

(Michael Cullen - This has nothing to do with food - Speaker - the question is in order.)

A: My view and the policy of the Alliance is that where there is a demonstrable risk from field trials it would be wiser to halt those trials till the Royal Commission has reported.

(Roger Sowry - what is the government's view on this - Speaker - I cannot control what the minister says.)

Q: Nick Smith (National): Does the minister agree with the Minister of Agriculture on the sheep trials?

A: As a minister I do not have responsibility for these issues. I have had no input to this debate as a minister. My input has been as the Alliance health spokesman.

(Further debate over whether questions were in order concerning whether sheep are consumers and whether the minister is responsible for the actions of a previous minister. Diane Yates was thrown out of the house. Eventually the minister was allowed to answer a question from Winston Peters.)

A: I have not received any reports from the previous minister of Consumer Affairs on GE labelling.

Question 11.

John Tamihere (Labour) to the Minister of Communications Laila Harre:

Q: What action is the Government taking to promote the uptake of technology based development in New Zealand?

A: (Trevor Mallard on behalf) An auction of 2GHz spectrum will commence later this year. Part of this relates to third generation cellular capacity. The government will ensure competition in this new area by placing a cap on the amount of spectrum any one purchaser can purchase. We will have at least four competitors in this new market. Preferential access to one block of spectrum will only be available to those with a commitment to work with Maori. There is a fundamental difference in approach between this government and the previous government. We say that competition is important - we want the price down and the technology to be used.

Q: Lockwood Smith (National) Did he know anything about the Telstra-Saturn investment announcement before he announced the telecommunications inquiry?

A: No.

Question 12.

Hon. Max Bradford (National) to the Minister for Economic Development Jim Anderton:

Q: How many extra jobs does he expect the $100 million economic development fund to create, and in what areas will they be concentrated?

A: It is a mistake to think that $100 million is the sum total of investment in jobs in NZ. We need at least 100 new industries like Tait electronics. We won't get them immediately but we do have a chance which is something we didn't have under the previous government.

Q: Will he confirm that his inability to explain how many new jobs there are is because of costs imposed by ACC changes?

A: I remember a government in 1990 that said it would halve unemployment and then doubled it. Some of the new jobs will be in Rotorua and the member should consider that in light of his loss of 10,000 votes there. Jobs will be created in all regions of NZ and particularly in areas that have been in decline under the National government. I have said earlier that questions that ask exactly how many jobs will be created are as silly as the ACT policies that lost the member (Richard Prebble) the seat of Wellington Central.

Q: Chris Carter (Labour): What sort of industries will be invested in.

A: Job rich, high technology, high skilled, highly paid industries. It is clear that this government has far more public support than any earlier government.


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