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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day –3 August

Today's Questions concern: Queen Mother’s Birthday Today! - Tax Changes - Health Reforms And Maori – East Timor and Indonesia – Mark Todd – National Testing for 9-year-olds – Fridge Magnets – WTO Lamb Dispute With US – Maori Fisheries Commission – Singapore Free Trade – Health and Apartheid – Overstayers – Scientific Whaling

Questions For Oral Answer - Thursday, 3 August 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.


(Motion congratulating the Queen Mother on her 100th Birthday. Michael Cullen. Jenny Shipley. Peter Brown “A lady of the people”. Richard Prebble “Another 100 years”. Georgina te Heuheu “Maori hold in deep regard those who live to such an age”. Peter Dunne “There can be few people who can look back on over half a century of dedicated public service…there is a valued role for older people…not only has she had a long life she has had a life she has enjoyed and good luck to her”. Applause. A copy of the resolution passed will be conveyed to her urgently.

Winston Peters – I seek leave to raise a matter before a select committee - refused.

Winton Peters - Leave to make a personal statement – granted.

Winton Peters - At the Law and Order Select Committee the SFO head and the AG appeared. It has since come to my knowledge – I have a tape - that during the questioning of Mr Bradshaw the tape reveals very clearly that the Attorney General was whispering directions to Mr Bradshaw…

Speaker – this is not a personal explanation – you can write a letter about this.)

Question 1.

Mark Peck (Labour) to the Minister of Revenue Michael Cullen:

Q: What tax changes is the Government making to encourage medical research in the knowledge economy in New Zealand?

A: We have introduced legislation to zero-rate the cost of research conducted in NZ for offshore purposes. The change has been welcomed by Merck Sharp and Dome. This will boost their research funding in NZ by $300,000 and make them more competitive to tender to conduct research here.

Q: Is he winning or losing in his battle with the PM on deductibility of research costs?

A: The minister will accept all good ideas to encourage R&D. Any company that undertakes research for off-shore companies will qualify for this new change.

Q: Rodney Hide (ACT): Why is he making retrospective changes to the GST Act relating to boat importers?

A: If the ACT Party continues to support those who want to rip off the NZ taxpayer by collecting GST refunds on expenses never incurred then make my day!

Question 2.

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

Q: Why did she decide to propose a generic Treaty clause for "interim inclusion" in the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Services Bill, and does this mean the Government will propose further amendments in relation to this aspect of the proposed legislation?

A: (Margaret Wilson on behalf): The government has been giving careful thought to this issue. This is an interim decision. The final decision will be in a later release. This government is committed to improving health outcomes for Maori.

(Michael Cullen – Richard Prebble can’t use the term apartheid!

Richard Prebble - It is a perfectly appropriate term to use.

Speaker – epithets are out, the word is to be ignored by the person giving the answer.)

Q: How does the Treaty justify a health system based on separate racial development?

A: It is widely known that there are a considerable range of views on the meaning of the treaty in differing circumstances. That debate is healthy. When the full papers are revealed then you will see how these clauses were developed. It has been an iterative process with input from several groups.

Q: Did the Associate Minister storm out of caucus in tears as reported?

A: That question even defies my capacity to answer a non question.

(Wyatt Creech – National: The question was, is there any basis to media reports?)

A: I have not read the article nor was I at caucus when these alleged events took place so I am unable to answer.

Question 3.

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

Q: What approaches has he made to the Government of Indonesia with regard to the armed militia following the death of Private Leonard Manning and what was the response?

A: Last week I raised the issue at the full session of the ASEAN forum. I received the support of the forum. I was promised a strong Indonesian response to find those responsible. The issue was also raised with the army commander and others and everybody has promised to find those responsible. The Indonesians have also undertaken to close the refugee camps in West Timor. Our challenge is to see that this now occurs, and in a sensible fashion.

I spoke recently with the UN chief in East Timor. He has submitted warrants for the arrest of 10 people thought to be involved in the killing of Private Manning. He has sought the extradition of those from West Timor to be tried in East Timor. We have a defence attache in West Timor monitoring the investigation.

Steps are currently being taken to acquire new equipment – APCs - for our troops, however none of that would have been any use in the circumstances that Private Manning was killed. I have confidence in the intentions of the President of Indonesia and the Foreign Minister, the head of Armed Forces and the commander in West Timor – I am not confident however in some members of the TNI lower down the ladder.

Peter Dunne: What could international forces do?

A: The challenge that Indonesia faces is that while it is adopting a different policy there is a real problem in ensuring that instructions from Jakarta are followed in the field. There is not really any opportunity for an international role in Aceh or the Mallaccas however.

Ron Mark: Will he discuss using Falantil to help protect or acquire information for NZ Forces?

A: There is an UNTAET effort under way to form a Defence Force. We will help the development of a new Defence Force out of Falantil if asked to do so.

Question 4.

Rt Hon. Jenny Shipley (National) to the Minister for Sport, Fitness and Leisure Trevor Mallard:

Q: Will he be making any representations to the New Zealand Olympic Committee on issues relating to New Zealand athletes at the Olympics meeting the Olympic drug-free standard?

A: I have no current plans to have any further discussions on this issue?

Q: Given the remarks of the PM and Deputy PM what steps will be taken?

A: I have sought and obtained explanations that any breach alleged of Mr Todd will not result in the stripping of his medals. Any alleged breach in April or May will not count in this area. It is important that as NZers we do not add to the muck that has been raked by a rent-boy in London.

Q: What would result in a withdrawal of funding?

A: The events that would be relevant so far as the Sports Foundation is concerned - that would result in suspension of funding - are a positive test, or a conviction . Neither of those have occurred with Mr Todd.

Q: Once a neither confirm or deny policy was unacceptable to Labour? Is the glitter of gold too alluring or is the question to curly?

A: Unlike the question of Nuclear Weapons we have in NZ, and England, a right to silence. I would like members to reflect on the impact of this sort of nonsense on the lives of Mr Todd’s family.

Question 5.

Helen Duncan (Labour) to the Minister of Education:

Q: Has he abandoned the pilot study for national testing of nine year-olds; if so, why?

A: We are not going to introduce 9-year-old school cert. We want to assess literacy and numeracy on a diagnostic basis that is helpful. I have released a set of tools to schools which will provide far more useful information tool than the School Cert for 9-year-olds approach. This will be externally referenced and it will not be the trite nonsense that the previous minister tried to make political points with. Initially resources will be available on a CD Rom. At a click of a button at any time of the year a test will be able to be generated for their use. The tools will enable schools to gather high quality externally referenced information which is useful for planning teaching. The resource banks already established are very good. We are continuing to build them up and in the long term we hope to be able to integrate these into the online solution – along with the work of a team in Australia that Dr Lockwood Smith was very keen on.

Question 6.

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

Q: On what basis was the decision made that the fridge magnet contained in the Employment Relations Bill mailout complied with Cabinet Office guidelines?

A: (Michael Cullen on behalf) On the basis that it does.

Q: How is a magnet a pamphlet or a document or printed material?

A: On the basis that it is printed material. I note with regret however that it has a grammatical error.

(Speaker – I was concerned about that.)

Q: Why has this been sent to businesses?

A: (to a heckler: Can I suggest to the member that he chills out. ) In part to counter false statements made about the ERB by ACT. One small fridge magnet will outweigh a large set of nonsense. It is rumored that some of the fridge’s will have salmon inside.

Question 7.

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

Q: What stage has been reached with the World Trade Organisation panel investigating New Zealand's lamb dispute with the United States?

A: The second panel hearing took place last week. The next stage is for a confidential report to be issued to parties in mid-October.

Q: When will it be resolved?

A: The panel’s result is expected to be issued in mid-December. We would request immediate implementation of any finding.

Q: John Luxton (National): Is this still the ugly face of America and is it worse than the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior?

A: My remarks at the time were well justified by a thoroughly unjustified imposition by the US. NZ has achieved a considerable run of success at WTO panels recently.

Q: Can he confirm that this case was initiated by National Government?

A: I kind of gathered from an earlier question that the National Government would have liked to have lent a blind eye to this.

Question 8.

Hon. Georgina te Heuheu (National) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs Parekura Horomia:

Q: Has he received any representations from his Maori colleagues and the urban Maori authorities on the Commissioners to be appointed to Te Ohu Kai Moana; if so, what were those representations?

A: I am carrying out my responsibilities. I am consulting with those who are likely to be beneficiaries. Dover Samuels consulted with Urban Maori Authorities. I have read these consultations. I will consult with my caucus colleagues at the appropriate time.

Q: Why has he not consulted with his colleagues yet?

A: I have every confidence that I will and I will also take time to talk to that member.

Q: How urgently does he want the appointments process completed?

A: As soon as possible.

Q: How will the appointment of new commissioners resolve the long-standing dispute. Certainly I intend to give direction. The tension that has been there has been there under successive government’s over many years.

Question 9.

Rod Donald (Green) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Will she seek leave of the House for a debate to decide whether New Zealand should enter into a free trade agreement with Singapore in recognition of any such agreement's significant strategic and economic implications for our sovereignty as a nation; if not, why not?

A: (Michael Cullen on behalf) Decisions on treaties are the prerogative of the Government. This government will at a minimum however allow the treaty to be considered by a select committee.

Q: Has she consulted her coalition partner on this?

A: The position of the Deputy PM is well known. We are yet to discuss that with him, but I am sure that any discussion will be an amicable one. Negotiations were completed on the 15th of July. Work is ongoing and when it is completed a paper will go to Cabinet. There has already been a consultation process with Maori. There will also be consultations with the Alliance and Labour Maori caucuses.

Question 10.

Dr Muriel Newman (ACT) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs Parekura Horomia:

Q: Is it Government policy to treat all Maori equally; if not, why not?

A: Yes.

Q: Muriel Newman (ACT): Does he agree with Tariana Turia or John Tamihere?

A: I have always considered different opinions not necessarily to be naieve. Everyone has a whakapapa.

Q: Georgina te Heuheu (National): If there is an emphasis on Mana Whenua in the legislation, how does he reconcile that with an intention to treat all Maori equally?

A: If that member reads the legislation she will see that it is intended to work to enhance the role of all Maori organisations.

Q: Ron Mark (NZ First): Is he concerned about problems in mixed-race families?

A: No.

Question 11.

Arthur Anae (National) to the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Mark Gosche:

Q: Did he or his officials assist or advise on the preparation of letters distributed, as reported in today's Dominion, by a Government Minister to Pacific Islanders regardless of whether or not they were New Zealand citizens and which warned of the dangers of deportation for illegal overstayers?

A: No.

Q: Is he concerned about the distribution and will he apologise?

A: Mr Mallard has stated it was a bad error and has apologised to the Pacific Community for that mistake. I know that will be appreciated by the Pacific Island community – an apology from a Minister for a genuine mistake.

Q: Can the minister explain how such a gross insult helped close the gaps and when will dawn raids begin?

A: If the member reads the Dominion he will see that the mistake was genuine and that a genuine apology has been made.

Q: Was it his work on this issue that stopped him attending a conference in the Hawke’s Bay today or was it urgency?

A: I am required to be here today for the third reading of a Housing Bill

Question 12.

Liz Gordon (Alliance) to the Minister of Conservation Sandra Lee:

Q: What actions has she taken on Japanese plans to expand their so-called scientific whaling programme in the North Pacific?

A: I have recently attended an IWC meeting at which we co-sponsored a resolution against scientific whaling plans. In addition the PM has expressed with the US and UK her strong opposition to whaling.

Q: How much support did we have?

A: A resolution condemning the Japanese whaling plans was carried by a two-thirds majority at the IWC.

Q: Why cannot the Japanese be convinced to conduct their research in a non culinary and non-posthumous fashion?

A: I do not know why the Japanese conduct their research in the way they do. I know that 70% of the income of the Japanese Whale Research Institute came from the sale of whale meat last year and that may be part of the reason.

Q: Peter Dunne (United): Why do we not ban all vessels from companies connected to commercial whaling from our EEZ?

A: That is one proposal we are considering. I have reported in full to cabinet on this matter.

Q: Jeanette Fitzsimmons (Green): What is being done to protect the Hector’s Dolphin?

A: We have a reserve at Banks Peninsula. The serious problem in the North Island is being highlighted and we are working on that. I would happily provide a briefing for that member on what we are doing about this.


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