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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 27 July

Today's Questions concern: Dover And Al Morrison – Petrol Prices – Human Genes In Cows – Apprenticeships – Waikato SuperDump – Te Reo – Child Assaulters Prison Sentence – Fiji Immigration Office – Hepatitis C Compensation – Sharemarket Confidence – Auckland Rail Proposal – Maori Community Capacity Building

Questions For Oral Answer - Thursday, July 27, 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.

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

Q: What steps would she take if evidence emerged that a member of her staff or a member of her Government had received information about new rape allegations against Mr Dover Samuels and leaked that information to a journalist?

A: No minister or staff member has been briefed. Which means no member or staff member could have leaked any official information.

Q: Can the PM categorically deny that the politician described as leaking the information to RNZ was a Labour Party Minister in her cabinet?

A: I can only repeat that no Minister has official information to leak.

(John Carter - National: She didn’t answer the question?

Speaker – it is my judgement that she discharged her duty.)

Question 2.

John Wright (Alliance) to the Minister for Economic Development Jim Anderton:

Q: What concerns does he have with the sustained high level of petrol prices and how do these prices impact on regional and economic development?

A: I am concerned that since the end of February prices have increased by 14% over the same period that crude prices have fallen 2%. I am concerned that companies are not passing on lower prices as soon as the could. Crude prices have been falling for some time and we have not had any petrol price falls in spite of undertakings from companies that they would do so when crude prices fell. I have recently seen full page advertisements for petrol companies engaging in re-branding. The best way to re-brand would be to lower prices. My office is investigating mechanisms for benchmarking that have been working elsewhere – in other countries. I also have my eye on Gull Petroleum and its expansion plans.

Q: Is the government going to collect an extra $60 to $90 million a year in petrol revenues?

A: The government is also going to lose money on the other side of the ledger for services that people cannot afford to buy. The Government is committed to providing a competitive environment in this market.

(John Luxton – National: Can I ask another question.

Speaker – I have allowed six already. Leave sought – granted)

Q: John Luxton (National): Is he concerned that very little has happened since he became Minister for Lower Petrol Prices? What is he going to do to compensate for $300 million sucked out of regional economies?

A: I will watch with interest the response of Petrol Companies to the lowering crude prices. I will watch that with interest. That was something the previous government was afraid to do but is something I am not afraid to do.

Question 3.

Hon. Dr Nick Smith (National) to the Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs:

Q: Does she stand by the decision of the Environmental Risk Management Authority to approve the field trial of cows genetically modified by the insertion of human genes; if so, why?

A: Yes.

(Rodney Hide – ACT: A question was asked – some members couldn’t hear because of Trevor Mallard.

Speaker – I agree. I appreciate that help and I will keep a tighter rein in future.)

Q: Does she agree with the Minister of Maori Affairs that ERMA hasn’t the expertise to deal with these issues?

A: I agree with my colleague that there are very real concerns in this area for Maori and that is why those concerns will be listened to by the Royal Commission. We have appointed an ethicist and a Maori to the Royal Commission and issues of this nature are within the Terms of Reference.

Q: Sue Kedgley (Green): Why does the Minister not direct ERMA not to approve the application?

A: The Minister has no authority to do so. To do so it would have to had to have been done in 1998 under the previous government.

Q: Does she know anything about the use of pig gene’s to make insulin?

A: No.

Q: Simon Upton (National): Is she aware of the agonised decision making process? And if she is not satisfied with the result then does she agree that the only way to get around this is to give the Maori advisory committee veto rights?

A: I am very aware of the agonised decision process that went on.

Question 4.

Helen Duncan (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:

Q: Is he satisfied with responses to the modern apprenticeships programme; if so, why?

A: I am absolutely delighted with the response to this programme. It has been outstanding.

Q: What has been the response from industry?

A: This policy was developed with industry partnership. The Employers Federation was very positive about it.

Q: Maurice Williamson (National): Are the vast majority of contracts in this scheme going to private providers?

A: Good question. This government values the work of private providers. But we have made it clear to them is that what we do not want is competition between the public and private sector. We want a complementary relationship and that is what we will get. We are planning to have 500 people in the scheme by the end of this year and 3000 by the end of 2002.

Question 5.

Dr Paul Hutchison (National) to the Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs:

Q: Which section of the Resource Management Act 1991 did she use to support her answer to the House on 6 July "that as Minister for the Environment I cannot ... interfere in individual cases", such as Hampton Downs?

A: My powers under section 140 which I referred to apply only to applications of national significance and must be made within five days of the hearing.

Q: How can she say this is not a National issue when it involves Auckland’s water supply?

A: My preference is to provide guidance through national guidelines instead of becoming involved in 100s of consent cases.

Q: Nandor Tanczos (Green) How does the super-dump proposal fit in with the waste minimisation strategy?

A: Waste minimisation is the first objective, but before we minimise we have to manage what is there.

Question 6.

Mahara Okeroa (Labour) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs Parekura Horomia:

Q: He aha nga mahi a te kawanatanga ki te whakatairanga i te reo Maori?
Translation: Q: How is the Government working towards the promotion of Maori language?

A: Delivered in Maori.
Translation: The pathway the government is proceeding on is by way of the Kohanga Reo, and other sectors to promote the Maori language?

Q: Translation: What is the job of Te Mangai Paho?

A: Translation: With regards to TMP they are receivers of funding to promote Te Reo.

Q: What new programmes and initiatives are being worked towards?

A: There are several new programmes in education at present. Some in mainstream schools and some with Maori Language teachers.

Q: Ian Ewen-Street (Green): Should the language be represented on our bank notes and coins?

A: There are others of us in our own language who understand what is going on – right back to the time of Apirana Ngata (whose face is on NZ bank notes – an addition to the translation made with the assistance of Trevor Mallard).

Question 7.

Dr Muriel Newman (National) to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: Can he confirm, as reported in today's Dominion, that the couple jailed for two years this week for assaults and neglect of up to eight of their adopted and fostered children, could be granted home detention and be back at home living on a benefit in as little as 15 days?

A: (Paul Swain on behalf) The couple can apply for Home Detention. The application will be considered on a number of grounds.

Q: Muriel Newman (ACT) How can he defend a policy that will allow the couple to serve their sentence for violence against children at home with children?

A: All people will be appalled at what happened in this case. It is up to Parliament to set the rules and the courts to administer them. The two should be kept separate. Home Detention is not a soft option and three out of four applications are declined.

Q: Nandor Tanczos (Green): Are there programmes in prison to help the couple?

A: There are a range of programmes in prison to help people address violent offending.

Question 8.

Hon. Peter Dunne (United NZ) to the Minister of Immigration Lianne Dalziel:

Q: Is she satisfied with the way immigration cases are being dealt with by the Suva office of the New Zealand Immigration Service?

A: Under the circumstances yes.

Q: Why then do immigration officials here say there is no problem in Suva, but my phone calls to Fiji are answered by an answerphone that says this office is closed to public access?

A: The office is closed to public access for security reasons but can be called on the phone from 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday. I can only presume the member hasn’t got the time difference right. Forms are available via travel agents and can be processed by mail or courier. There is no immigration service in Zimbabwe or the Solomon Islands.

Q: When was there a time difference introduced for Fiji? And when was this made public?

A: I am big enough to acknowledge that there was an error in my earlier statement.

Question 9.

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

Q: In light of Labour's pre-election commitment to provide "fair and immediate" compensation for people who contracted hepatitis C through blood transfusions, how does she respond to the Government's offer being rejected by the claimants who described it as "a breach of faith" and "a sham"?

A: (Ruth Dyson on behalf) I regret the fact that despite the resolve to settle this matter the offer has been rejected. We have doubled the offer. We have acted in good faith but we have not reached agreement.

Q: Is the offer is fair then why is the claimants lawyer saying that it was cynically designed with no real intention of settling?

A: I do not have responsibility for the view of the claimant’s lawyer. And I do not agree with him. The lawyers are charging 30% per person which in this case means $17,000 per person.

Q: Will she confirm that she has failed in her promise to sufferers to provide immediate compensation and what does immediate mean?

A: We have failed to reach agreement in seven months but we have not been put off a fair

Question 10.

Clayton Cosgrove (Labour) to the Minister of Commerce Paul Swain:

Q: What proposals does the Government have to improve confidence in the share market?

A: The house is driving a number of moves to help confidence. We are looking at a takeovers code, insider trading and securities rules. While the previous government was afraid of these areas we are not. The takeovers panel is consulting and will report by mid-August. We want a code in place by mid 2001. A survey of fund managers found that a code would increase the attractiveness of NZ investment. I intend to address insider trading issues in legislation to be introduced next year. The Security Regulations review is to reduce compliance costs and to improve information to investors. A discussion document was released earlier this month. This is very good news for business.

Q: Stephen Franks (ACT): Why haven’t his announcements affected confidence?

A: That member should support several of our proposed changes.

Question 11.

Hon. Murray McCully (National) to the Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Auckland Issues Judith Tizard:

Q: What advice has she given the Prime Minister in relation to the request from the Auckland Mayoral Forum for a $35 million contribution to facilitate the acquisition of the Auckland rail corridor as a key component of the regional transport strategy?

A: I have advised the PM that my colleague the Minister of Transport has recommended that more consultation needs to be completed. We are waiting for a detailed proposal that we will consider on its merits. I am also advised that officials remain in close touch with the parties.

Q: Should the government support the deal?

A: It is difficult to take a view on this particular proposal until a detailed proposal is prepared and considered.

Q: Murray McCully (National): Given she has lost a couple of her ministerial hats will she have more time available to help Auckland?

(Speaker – that question need not be answered.

Trevor Mallard – Point of Order.

Speaker – I think I know what it is going to be about – the Americas Cup.

Trevor Mallard – the former PM accused me of pinching the minister for Auckland

Speaker – I was right in what I was saying before.)

Question 12.

Georgina Beyer (Labour) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs Parekura Horomia:

Q: What response has he received from whanau, hapu and iwi regarding the Government's plans to develop capacity within Maori communities?

A: I have received very positive responses from a wide range of groups. Those responses have been received in person and in correspondence in my office. Capacity building has the optimum potential of releasing the resources of innovation and entrepreneurship in the community.

Q: Mita Ririnui (Labour): How will it be delivered?

A: TPK will be consulting from the 15th of August. Many other departments are doing the same.


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