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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – July 26

Today's Questions concern: Adult Literacy – Dover Samuels And Al Morrison – John Tamihere – Housing Women’s Refuges – Humans, Cows And Maori – Homework Centres – Rural NZ – Heart Of The Nation – Pacific Island Consultations – Maternity Care – Construction Contracts - ERB

Questions For Oral Answer - Wednesday, 26 July 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.

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

Q: What reports has he received regarding adult literacy problems?

A: I have seen reports quoting a National member saying the budget contained no funding for three projects (listed).

Q: Why does this suggest an adult literacy problem?

A: Because $22 million has been provided for these projects. And if the member had been able to read he would have realised this…

(Speaker… that’s enough of that.)

Question 2.

Gerry Brownlee (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: In order to assure herself that no Minister was implicated in leaking details of a police inquiry, has she taken any steps to investigate the assertions made by the political editor of Radio New Zealand on Monday 24 July that he was told by a Labour Party politician that "the reason the Police report into Dover Samuels was held up was because a new allegation of rape has been made and that that was being investigated"?

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A: No Minister has been briefed on the details of the inquiry which means no minister could have leaked this information.

Q: Is she concerned that Mr Morrison also said that the person involved was close to her?

A: No person other than Mr Samuels has had any briefing from the police on this. No Minister and no staff member.

Q: Winston Peters: What about former commissioner Peter Doone?

A: My understanding is that Mr Doone has a short time to run in his current job. I would be very surprised if he was involved in this. I have had no briefing on the matter.

Question 3.

Rt Hon. Winston Peters (NZ First) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Does she stand by her statement on TVNZ's Face the Nation, 13 July 2000, with reference to the member for Hauraki "John Tamihere discloses absolutely and I commend him for that"?

A: I have seen his police record. It does show he has four drunk driving convictions. He has one fine for careless use and one for speeding. I challenge other members to reveal their convictions for those offences. Approximately five years ago there was a case involving fraud. I have seen the statement of defence in relation to that matter.

Q: John Tamihere (Labour): Will the PM bring an investigation against the Member for Tauranga perverting the course of justice….

(Winston Peters - I want an apology?

Speaker – the member will apologise.

Tamihere - I withdraw and apologise. Can I ask another question.

Speaker – no.)


Question 4.

Hon. Tony Ryall (National) to the Minister of Housing Mark Gosche:

Q: How many Community Housing Ltd properties are rented to women's refuges?

A: There are 54 properties rented to National Women’s refuges and 20 more to independent refuges.

Q: How many weeks rent for those refuges will go towards paying for the glitzy live jazz and fondue birthday evening Housing New Zealand has planned.


Speaker – Order – I understand that the mention of fondue causes outrage – I invite the Minister to reply.)

A: I suggest that the Member brings his glitzy candle and puts it under the fondue.: Women’s refuges have been under a strain under the market rents policies. Today we are setting up a $3 million fund to enable organisations like Women’s Refuge to pay lower rents. $3 million Mr Speaker.

Q: Does he consider it appropriate that thousands are being spent on PR glitz campaigns?

A: Yes I will inquire into the costs. But what I am more interested in is that we are spending more on housing than the previous government did.

(Winston Peters – The PM says she has read a statement of defence. He pleaded guilty. There is no statement of defence when there is a guilty plea.

Prime Minister: It is five years ago that now Justice Baragwanath gave papers to me on this. I no longer have those papers They appeared to be statements in Mr Tamihere’s Defence. I certainly saw full court papers submitted in respect of Mr Tamihere. If there is some technical error I have made in describing those papers I apologise.

Winston Peters: This is getting worse…

Speaker: This can be raised in the General Debate more appropriately.

Ron Mark: But we don’t have a slot in the General Debate.

Speaker: I will not allow this now.)

Question 5.

Sue Bradford (Green) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs Parekura Horomia:

Q: Will he confer with the Minister for the Environment on the Environmental Risk Management Authority's decision to allow the insertion of human genes in cows, which overrides the advice of the local hapu Ngati Wairere and ERMA's Maori advisory committee?

A: No. I understand that as ERMA has already made a decision there is no avenue for Ministerial intervention in this particular occasion.

Q: What steps will he make to defend articles 2 and 4 of the Treaty?

A: No. I do not consider ERMA has the expertise to decide matters such as those raised in those articles. These are matters that the crown and Maori should consider.

Q: What about Science and Reason?

A: Tikanga and culture recognise the role of science and we do understand that. While I do not believe there is any avenue for intervention at present, it is vital that ERMA be given direction that the Maori Perspective be given appropriate consideration in future and I intend discussing this with the Minister of the Environment.

Question 6.

Donna Awatere Huata (ACT) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: How will he know whether "homework" centres have made any difference to gaps in educational achievement when there are apparently no benchmarks, no standards, and no national assessments?

A: Schools and parents need adequate assessment tools. That is why I am investigating means of assessing school performance by means other than making young children sit an equivalent of Junior . Not every childs parents can provide study support. I am surprised that people like Donna are attacking the study and support centres.

Q: What evidence is there that the centres will work?

A: Not a lot. But there is some evidence that the centres will work. One school in Rotorua thinks it has improved reading levels by two years – that is a good start. It is fair to say that schools have responded enormously to this initiative. We have had lots of calls to the Ministry of Education on this.

Question 7.

Damien O'Connor (Labour) to the Minister for Rural Affairs Jim Sutton:

Q: What reports has he received on the past and current situation of rural New Zealand?

A: I have recently received two MAF reports on this. One on the influence of social factors and one on the economic situation.

Q: What are the key messages?

A: The social factors report is gloomy. It highlights that govt policies have had a detrimental effect on the Rural areas. The Economic Report showed very positive trends forecasted for everything but pip-fruit. Massive forecast rises in income are forecast. I have also recently seen a MAF report on telecommunications competition in rural NZ.

Q: What is he doing about 21% rises in ACC costs for farm employees?

A: I would suggest the member get his facts right.

Question 8.

Rt Hon. Simon Upton to the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Judith Tizard:

Q: What is the nature of the discussions she referred to yesterday in the House being conducted between the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Heart of the Nation panel, concerning final payment for its report?

A: The Ministry is seeking information on the costs of the project and the approved budget.

Q: Why are their discussions when she said yesterday that the report represented value for money.

A: The cost of the project was within a budget, but actual payment is being worked out against costs in the budget. The government agrees with Simon Upton that the report has brought together lots of basic information which will be useful for policy development.

Q: Why then did she make reference to those discussions in relation to a question about her concerns about the report?

A: I don’t know what was in the mind of the questioner yesterday. In my mind there is no contradiction. The terms of reference were broad. The report covers some of them better than others. I am happy with what I have bought.

Question 9.

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban (Labour) to the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Mark Gosche:

Q: What actions has he taken to ensure that Pacific communities in New Zealand are informed about the Government's closing the gaps strategy?

A: We have an ongoing programme of meeting with the PI community.

Q: What has been the response?

A: Many communities say they have never met the Minister of PI Affairs before. We are placing emphasis on capacity development in the communities. It is vital that Pacific people have quality schools and the commitment of the Minister of Education to this is obvious.

Q: Arthur Anae (National): How will new zoning provisions help close the gaps?

A: What we want to see happen is that Mangere College and Otara College are as good Auckland Grammer. I want to thank Arthur for his statements that this was a good budget for Pacific Peoples.

Question 10.

Dr Lynda Scott (National) to the Minister of Health Annette King :

Q: What factors did she take into account when allowing Wairau Hospital to lease a ward to a private trust?

A: None. The decision was made by Mrs Shipley in 1995.

Q: Why should women in Blenheim have an option women in Auckland will not have with the closure of the Cornwall suite?

A: As I understand it the Blenheim facility, the Churchill Trust – unlike the Auckland situation –is not one where the facility was set up to compete with the private sector because the private sector received public funding. That is the sort of nonsense we want to stop.

Q: As the suite is so popular why should it not be up to the people of Auckland whether they want to keep it?

A: A handful of women can afford the price of a bed in the suite. Not every woman can afford it. With the redevelopment and upgrade of National Women’s I hope all women will have an upgrade in surroundings for births – not just the few that can afford it.

Question 11.

Kevin Campbell (Alliance) to the Associate Minister of Commerce Laila Harre:

Q: What progress is being made to improve the security of payment of subcontractors in the building industry?

A: I am considering a report on this. Members of the working party have worked quickly to bring together the parties to reach consensus. Since the repeal of the Statutory Lien’s Act many long standing businesses have gone into liquidation when building contracts have gone sour. I hope to be able to solve this problem sooner rather than later.

Q: Pansy Wong (National): When will this report be shared with us?

A: I am very willing to share the findings of the working party with other members. This is not something we should be playing politics with. The industry has taken just two months to reach a consensus on this – much faster than in Australia. And this bodes well for early resolution. The way risk is allocated in the industry will have no impact on activity in the industry as a whole – that is affected by factors ou. What we will do is to try to fix who will feel the full force of failures so it is fairer.

Question 12.

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

Q: Does she intend to circulate a Supplementary Order Paper, when the Employment Relations Bill is reported back to the House, that will require employees who are union members to be covered by a collective agreement, or will union members be able to be covered by an individual agreement as the bill presently provides?

A: No.

Q: Then does she agree with the Minister of Education who has told the Northern Kindergarten association that members will have to be covered by the national NZEI agreement and will not be able to have a specific contract for their workers?

A: I have no knowledge of the comment attributed to the member. In the bill there is choice for a worker on whether there is to be coverage and choice on who that is provided by. Union membership does not necessarily mean that a member is bound by a collective agreement. And even if they are a member of a collective they can negotiate additional clauses with their employer.

While I have only been here a short time, one thing I have learnt is that one does not instruct the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard.

(Max Bradford – leave sought to table a letter from the Minister of Education to the Kindergarten association – objection, first, then permission.)


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