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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day May 25

Today's questions concerned the subjects of: Prison Sex - Fiji Crisis - Prison Sex - Police Computing - Prison Sex - Tourism - ERB and Independent Contractors - Prison Education - Armageddon Economic Analysis - Gambling - Defence Review - Income Related Rents - Labour Minister's Select Committee Attendance.

Questions For Oral Answer - Thursday, 25 May 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.


(Grant Gillon - question is factually incorrect it is not the Minister's policy to allow conjugal rights..

Speaker - I will hold over that question.

Richard Prebble - I saw the Minister saying that on TV. And when a Minister says that is what he plans to do then we are entitled to ask questions of him.

Roger Sowry - As you know the question has been authenticated - this question has been asked on the basis of Minister's statements on TV. He is charged with and is carrying out his responsibilities. The fact the Government had to put out a Press Statement after questions were lodged shows they know the question is acceptable.

Speaker - I saw the broadcast too and I am going to allow it.)

Question 1.

Tony Steel (National) to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: How is his policy to allow conjugal visits to prisoners consistent with the 91.8% "Yes" vote in the referendum resulting from Mr Norm Withers' petition?

A: As I have said it is not policy. I do have a practice of looking at international research and literature. Anything that reduces reoffending and lowers the impact on victims is consistent with the referendum.

Q: How will the victims of rape feel?

A: I know what is worse is cowardly policies which ignore international research for political reasons.

Q: Is the issue Alliance of Govt policy?

A: No it is not. But it is part of my ongoing research into ways to reduce re-offending.

Q: Where is his mandate to offer milk cuddles and sex in prisons?

A: I haven't said it is government policy. But the member should not join the book burning brigade. And I believe it is appropriate to

(Richard Prebble - I do not want to be associated with Communists and Nazis. I want an apology.

Speaker - apologise - complied with)

Q: Will allowing wives and children assist families to not become victims of crime?

A: The evidence is mixed on that question. However there is evidence that consideration of this is worthy of evaluation.

Q: Will we end up with two men with their adopted children living in prison and having sex?

A: There is nothing in Alliance policy on this. It would be helpful if the member has constructive advice to put it in a constructive way.

Question 2.

Chris Carter (Labour) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Phil Goff:

Q: What assessment has he received of the current situation in Fiji given the events of the last 24 hours?

A: Visits yesterday by McKinnon and de Mellor was useful. The visit to hostages was also important. We hope President Mara would be able. We are concerned that the Great Council of Chief is considering offering Speight a role in the new government. These proposals would be unacceptable to NZ.

Q: Would these be acceptable to Commonwealth membership?

A: As a fundamental equal rights are given to all people in Commonwealth countries. The proposals being considered are counter to the principles. This government believes the government is the legitimate government and it should

Q: Can he confirm a new provisional government has been approved as of 2pm.

A: At 2pm I was in the house and 5 to 2 I had no such reports.

Question 3.

Hon. Richard Prebble (ACT) to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: Given his reported statement on allowing sexual relationships for prisoners that "some of them might just want to have a cuddle and a glass of milk", can the House take it that cuddles, milk and sex are to be part of New Zealand's prison policy; if so, what happened to punishment for crime?

A: No.

Q: Can the minister clarify the answer and assure that punishment

A: My definition is that Prison is a punishment. There is debate over what policies should be followed in prisons. I seek advice and read a great deal and I put forward ideas for discussions.

Q: What policies are working?

A: My department currently runs a range of programmes which are assisting us to reduce offending and victimisation.

Q: Did he consider the referendum when he came up with this idea?

A: In the totality of what I am doing of course I am aware of that.

Q: Will his sex in prison philosophy and will he allow prostitutes?

(Speaker - question

Is he saying that not allowing sex in prisons is a cowardly policy?

(Speaker - question ruled out.)

Q: What evidence does he have that allowing women in prison

A: I have some evidence from Victoria and NSW that there can be benefits and evidence from Mexico that runs contrary to that.

Question 4.

Ron Mark (NZ First) to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: How will front-line police enter and access information currently provided only via INCIS once the mainframe has been sold, and on which computer will that information then be entered and stored?

A: Selling the Mainframe will not make any difference and the sale will include the ability for the critical applications to still be run.

Q: Will he give an assurance that applications will remain

A: The costs of maintaining the mainframe are huge around $500,000 a month. This diverts resources from where it should be.

Q: Was the firearms database relying on the INCIS computer.

A: INCIS stage one can deal with the information he is talking about. That will be transferred across.

Question 5.

Hon. Tony Ryall (National) to the Minister of Justice Phil Goff:

Q: Does he plan amendments to the Victims' Rights Bill to ensure that, before prison inmates receive conjugal visits or entitlements to their children being in prison with them, their victims are consulted first?

A: The Government has no plans to make changes to conjugal benefits. It is neither Labour nor Alliance policy so the issue does not arise.

Q: Does he support the policies?

A: I am not in favour of conjugal visits. Or kids behind bars. I do not however mind that my colleague is exploring ways to reduce reoffending. Home detention may be able to be used to enable women not to be separated from their children. Both Labour and the Alliance are committed to improving victims rights.

Q: Can he say whether Matt Robson consulted him on his cuddles milk and sex policies for prisoners?

A: The Minister has never used those terms. There is no doubt about what policy is. It does not include conjugal visits but any member is entitled to discuss any policy and saying that is so is the equivalent of doing what the Minister said before - burning books.

Q: Can we have an assurance no children will be brought up in prisons.

A: No means no.

A: To Nandor: Anyone in this house would be interested in looking at restorative justice. Commitment to that will be shown to the member in due course.

Question 6.

Steve Chadwick (Labour) to the Minister of Tourism Mark Burton:

Q: What reports has he received on the outlook for tourism in New Zealand?

A: Surveys show lots of good news in tourism.

Q: I announced several new initiatives at the TRENZ conference. I am aware of some concerns raised by the TIA. We will engage seriously with the industry and ensure their concerns are dealt with. I see the expansion of the industry is in the hands of those in the industry. Over 400 international buyers doing $1 billlion in business with the active support of this government.

Question 7.

(Max Bradford - leave sought to defer till next week…. Granted.)

Hon. Max Bradford (National) to the Minister of Labour Margaret Wilson:

Q: What did she mean in Cabinet paper (00)10, when talking about independent contractors, that "... I propose that the legislation allows for the broadening of the current catchment of 'employees' by a targeted statutory provision so that employment institutions can gradually shift the boundaries between who is covered by employment law and who is not. This approach would allow particular groups to be targeted.", and if this is still Government policy how will she carry out her statement to Alliance, Green, and New Zealand First members that "No one will be required to change their employment status unless they want to."?

Question 8.

Nandor Tanczos (Green) to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: Has the Government stopped funding and tutor support for inmates aged 19 and over wishing to study anything other than the National Certificate in Employment Skills; if so, why?

A: The government continues to fund assistance to inmates. The NZCE focusses on employment based education. We will also be working on literacy, School Cert and Bursary examinations. No funding decisions on these later programmes has since been done.

Q: When did these changes come into effect.

A: I am advised that in December 1998 the decisions were made and that they come into effect in March 2000. If he is concerned about anomalies I invite him to come and see me. By educating inmates the Government hopes to help towards the broad policy goal of closing the gaps.

A: Facilities for youth offending is a key goal for this government.

Question 9.

Hon. Bill English (National) to the Treasurer Michael Cullen:

Q: What examples can he give of the "endless stream of what I will call Armageddon economic analysis", referred to in his speech to the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce?

A: Some has come unprovoked from the Media. The Herald saying the economy has taken a nosedive was fairly annoying. Mrs Shipley saying that the country was turning into a banana republic was what really got me going.

I am not backing down on anything but I am very happy to talk to business about issues they may raise.

Q: Does he agree it was his comments?

A: After a missreport of my remarks the dollar dipped and then rose again. Whatever the government would have done the market was in a mood to lower the dollar.

Question 10.

Grant Gillon (Alliance) to the Minister of Consumer Affairs Phillida Bunkle:

Q: What consumer protection issues were raised during her recent trip to Australia to deliver the keynote address at the First International Gambling Impact Conference?

(Max Bradford - I withdraw)

A: I will be making submissions to my colleague to undertake an immediate review of the Casino Control Authority and to reassess every license where the Former National Party treasurer Michael Cox had the casting vote. I have responsibilities to protect the interests of consumers and am doing so.

Question 11.

Dr Wayne Mapp (National) to the Minister of Defence Mark Burton:

Q: Has the Government abandoned its commitment to a comprehensive defence review and does it now plan to only have a defence policy statement; if so, why?

A: The government will produce a goal statement prepared from out of the thoroughly consulted Select Committee defence report.

Q: Why is the government not planning to have a public review like Australia.

A: It is clear that the ANZAC relationship has never been stronger. Our working relationship in recent months has reached a new higher level of interoperable capability. I expect to have full and frank discussions with the Australian minister shortly.

The document will be released when it has been fully considered by Cabinet.

Q: Can we take it that this means that pay for Junior ranks will not be re-considered?

A: No. I made no reference to pay and conditions in anything I said.

Q: Is he saying he will discuss it with Mr Moore before the policy is divided or that he will be advised after Cabinet makes its decisions.

A: I will take the opportunity when meeting with Mr Moore to have discussions. But I would remind the member that NZ's defence policy is first and foremost a New Zealand matter and I would think it would be more of concern if I were to consult widely around the world before I consulted my own colleagues.

Question 12.

Jill Pettis (Labour) to the Minister of Housing Mark Gosche:

Q: How will the Government's income-related rents policy contribute to closing the social and economic gaps within New Zealand?

A: Studies show that market rents left around 70% of State House tenants in poverty. Thousands were left paying more than 50% of their income in rents. Research confirms that more than 70% of housing NZ tenants experience poverty compared to 30% of private tenants.

Q: What will he do for the majority of PI familes who do not live in state houses?

A: Does he support the property investors guild who want $260 million more spent on . Around 8000 PI households support it already. Is Mr Anae saying that the National Government would like another $260 million more spent on the Accommodation Supplement.

Q: Will he please explain the Cash Assets Test?

A: For the second time it is nothing to do with entry into houses. We have not put that into place. We are trialing the entry criteria between now and late this year.

Thursday, 25 May 2000

Questions to Members

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----

Question 1.

Hon. Max Bradford (National) to the Chairperson of the Employment and Accident Insurance Legislation Committee Graham Kelly:

Q: Does the chairperson intend to request the Minister of Labour to appear before the committee, as the Minister indicated she would have no objection to doing so in the House on Tuesday 23 May?

A: As the Minister has been in close in consultation with the Department of Labour I am satisfied that they will be able to deal with all outstanding issues as well as the Government. So no I will not be inviting her.

Q: Is he blocking this or has the Minister got cold feet after saying she would come last Tuesday?

A: I suggest the member reads the transcript because she didn't give an indication she would come. She put a qualification on it. I believe the Select Committee have the ability to deal with this in a professional way.


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