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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 6 September

Today's Questions concern: Tariana Turia – Child Abuse – Fire Service – Tariana Turia – BNZ Forecasts – E-Commerce Summit – The Cullenisation of the NZ Economy – Exhaust Emissions – DOC and Tame Iti’s Bridges – Burmese Drugs – Youth Parliament And Cannabis – Disability Discussion/Health Funding.

Questions For Oral Answer - Wednesday, 6 September 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.

Rt Hon JENNY SHIPLEY (National) to the Associate Minister of Health Tariana Turia:

Q: Does she stand by her answer to a supplementary question to oral question No. 2 yesterday that the use of the word "holocaust" was "appropriate" in terms of what happened to the Taranaki people?

A: (Michael Cullen on behalf): I refer the honourable member to my statement. I will desist from using that term in the future.

Q: Can she confirm she was on the brink of resigning last night?

A: I repeat. I accept the PM’s edict that Ministers should not use this term.

Q: Has the minister seen the comments on the Waitangi Tribunal report into the Taranaki Claim – which mentions the “Holocaust” - made by John Luxton and Doug Graham?

A: I believe the minister has.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT): What is her job?

A: In terms of this question the Minister’s job is Associate Minister of Health.

Q: Winston Peters (NZ First): What about the Moriori of the Chathams Islands?

A: The minister accepts the edict of the PM.

Q: Peter Dunne (United NZ): What does this mean. Does she repudiate her comments made last week or not?

A: It means the Minister accepts the PM’s edict – which is a very wise thing to do.

Question 2.

TAITO PHILLIP FIELD (Labour) to the Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey:

Q: What is the Government doing to help prevent child abuse?

A: The government is committed to doing as much is it can to prevent child abuse. I have asked MOSP’s Margaret Bazeley to look into recommendations in the James Whakaruru report of the Children’s Commissioner. Protocols are under development with a number of groups. Child Youth and Family is working lots with protocols now and effort is being made to develop protocols with schools. This government inherited a post-election briefing saying that there was potential for funding to be withdrawn from CYFS, a problem which meant it was hard to retain and recruit staff. That is the National Party’s legacy. We have put $36 million into the base-lines of CYFS so it can begin to rebuild itself.

Question 3.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (NZ First) to the Minister of Internal Affairs Mark Burton :

Q: Are professional fire-fighters able to enter into contracts with the Fire Service to service and maintain fire appliances during their off duty hours?

A: I am advised by the Fire Service Commission that some work of this nature has been contracted in the past. I am advised that this practice is going to stopped.

Q: Is this subject to tender?

A: The fire service is moving to regularise the process for this kind of work. It has been the practice for quite inappropriate informal arrangements to be made.

Q: What is he doing about the situation in Hamilton?

A: I have received an interim report saying that the Fire Service has instructed an independent QC to make inquiries into the situation in Hamilton.

Question 4.

Hon ROGER SOWRY (National) to the Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey:

Q: What steps has he taken to fulfil his reported brief from the Prime Minister to act as minder to the Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment (Social Services), Hon Tariana Turia, and has he received any assessment from the Prime Minister as to his performance in his first day in the role?

A: In the weekend I have spoken to the PM about this. Subsequent to that I am now meeting with Tariana Turia regularly. We met on Monday, and yesterday and things are working out extremely well.

Q: Will the Minister make sure all speeches and statements of the Minister will not embarrass the PM?

A: There is no need to ensure that kind of control of this minister. Speaking as an academic I would give Ms Turia an A for effectiveness. In fact it is testament to the effectiveness of this Minister that the National Party seem determined to play the race card…

(Speaker - apologise

Maharey – I apologise.)

Q: Can we take it from the fact that question 1 was answered by Michael Cullen that he has failed as a minder, and has been replaced with Michael Cullen?

A: Last night Michael Cullen and myself met with Tariana Turia, and the minister released a statement in which she says she accepts collective responsibility and that is where the issue lies.

Q: Why can’t she do the job by herself?

A: Tariana Turia is quite capable of working on her own but this Ministry works collegially – that is we work together.

Question 5.

RODNEY HIDE (ACT) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: Does he stand by his statements to the House yesterday in relation to the Bank of New Zealand's forecast of a fiscal deficit this financial year, that "the Bank of New Zealand did not make such a projection", that "There is not a Bank of New Zealand forecast as the member claims.", that "the Bank of New Zealand does not have a formal deficit projection", and "I repeat to the member that there is no forecast anywhere showing a deficit for this current year"; if so, why?

(Speaker – final warning given to interjector.)

A: My statements were based on the comments of the economics observer. This was supplied by the Treasury and was on the BNZ’s website.

Q: How can he be taken seriously when he hasn’t seen something that was reported in the Dom?

A: The forecasts by Mr Mason show a deficit of 0.1% of GDP. This forecast is out of step with all other fiscal forecasts. I was not aware of this forecast when I answered the question yesterday.

Q: Bill English (National): Given forecasts that growth will be lower in the second half of this year, when is he going to own up to problems with fiscal numbers?

A: The latest advice from Treasury is that there is no reason to expect a deviation from the central budget forecast and that taxation receipts are in-line with that.

Question 6.

CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour) to the Minister for Information Technology Paul Swain:

Q: What are the aims of the Government's e-commerce summit scheduled for November this year?

A: The aim of the summit is to encourage e-commerce. The summit will help business and government to work together for the country. By the end of the summit we would like participants to understand the impact of e-commerce. We will have also distributed a brochure. My advice to the National Party is stop running NZ down and get in and support it. Leadership and partnership are the key. The summit will help to ensure NZ can become a leader in an online world.

Question 7.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: How will he promote the New Zealand economy in his upcoming overseas trip when he has overseen the lowest ever level of the New Zealand dollar and likely negative growth?

A: Firstly, by getting the facts correct. The NZ Dollar is not near its lowest ever level against the Australian Dollar. And secondly even in the BNZ forecast – so popular opposite - has March 2001 YoY growth of 2.1%.

Q: Is this the Cullenisation of the NZ economy?

(Speaker – that is out of order.

Roger Sowry – but this could be a term of endearment like Rogernomics?

Speaker – members are addressed by their names and fun should not be made of names. In this I am following the rulings of previous speakers.)

Q: What will he tell investors who now hold negative views?

A: I will tell them there is no chance of a lazy National Party being the government again for a very long time.

Q: What will he do about the current account?

A: We are determined to fix what is wrong. The NZ is the same against the Euro as it was in November last year. Against the Australian it is well above its all time lows which occurred under the stewardship of Richard Prebble.

Q: Rod Donald (Green): Will he be attending the WEF? And does he believe the venue – a Casino - is symbolic of the fact the participants will be gambling with the world’s resources and future.

A: I am planning to visit briefly the WEF, but my travel plans are such that if the venue is surrounded by large numbers of hairy unwashed persons then I may not make it. I am not speaking at the WEF I am speaking at a meeting organised by the Economist magazine.

Question 8.

HARRY DUYNHOVEN (Labour) to the Minister of Transport Mark Gosche:

Q: Has he received any recent reports with regard to vehicle exhaust emissions in New Zealand; if so, what do they say?

A: Yes. I am pleased to have received a major new report highlighting problem areas and addressing strategies for reducing emissions.

Q: What is the government already doing about environment and land transport?

A: Lots of things. Listed.

Q: When will new emission standards be introduced?

A: We are planning to develop one by the end of the year which will be checked at the point of entry.

Q: What about traffic jams?

A: We are working on that too. The police are working on better ways of enforcing emission laws. At this stage using the WOF inspection is not considered cost effective.

Question 9.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH(National) to the Minister of Conservation Sandra Lee:

Q: How does she reconcile her statement to the House on 23 August that "the bridges on that road during the member's time were unsafe", with the Department of Conservation's report to her on 13 January this year which states "the last DOC engineer inspection found the bridges safe" and the report by Opus Engineering Consultants who state "Bridge does not appear to be under any obvious stress - functioning adequately." and "Results indicate bridge can accommodate 60% of Class 1 loading, and DOC should advise users accordingly."?

A: I have no difficulty reconciling these. The member has quoted selectively from the report. If the bridges were always safe then why did DOC when he was Minister erect signs on these bridges say they were dangerous?

Q: Why is the Minister giving such weight to the views of Mr Tame Iti on this?

A: DOC has received numerous submissions on this issue from local Iwi. It has also received legal advice internally warning it of liability that could result from these bridges. I have a 1999 legal opinion dating from when Nick Smith was Minister (quoted from extensively). Thanks for the legacy!

Q: What other concerns are there about these bridges?

A: I have another letter that says that members of the public have a statutory right to enter the park and the bridges are unsafe.

Q: Can she guarantee that similar efforts will be made to help other private land owners gain access to their land?

A: The road does not lead to Mr Iti’s private land.

Q: Why then did the East Coast Conservation Board recommend not upgrading this road?

A: The first person to raise this issue for me was in fact the chairman of the board.

(Nick Smith – leave to table two reports – granted

Sandra Lee – leave to table a letter, a legal opinion - granted.)

Question 10.

KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the Minister of Police George Hawkins:

Q: Is the Government still supporting Myanmar as the host country for this year's annual meeting of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies and sending a delegate to the meeting; if so, why?

A: The NZ Government attaches highest priority to fighting the spread of drugs. At the 23rd meeting delegates voted unanimously to meet in Burma. NZ will be represented by two delegates from Police and Customs.

Q: Does she agree with the US Secretary of State that the Burmese regime profits from the drug trade? And will she support European and US efforts to move the meeting?

A: NZ is also disgusted with the involvement of governments in the drug trade. It is interesting however that the US’s DEA has two agents in Burma who have been there for the last 18 months.

Question 11.

SIMON POWER (National) to the Minister of Youth Affairs Laila Harre:

Q: Will she respect the 69-47 vote by the Youth Parliament against the partial decriminalisation of cannabis by instructing the Ministry of Youth Affairs to adopt this policy position and by advocating this position to her Ministerial colleagues; if not, why not?

A: It would be completely inappropriate for me to tell my officials what advice to give me. I will be considering the findings and outcomes of the Youth Parliament when I make decisions.

Q: Why won’t she admit that she is not listening to youth?

A: I do not know why the member thinks I am not taking the Youth Parliament’s findings seriously.

Q: Given that at a meeting I attended the Green Party wanted to distribute more pro-reform material circulated to youth MPs – does she think the result would have been different if permission had been granted?

A: We agreed at that meeting to distribute a range of material to Youth MPs. I think that the youth MPs carefully and well debated the issues involved.

Q: Nandor Tanczos (Green): Does she agree there were a range of reasons people voted against the bill?

A: Yes. The numbers themselves are not that significant. The Select Committee found in favour of some change. And yes I personally agree that there were some who believe the reform option on the table was inadequate.

Question 12.

JOE HAWKE (Labour) to the Minister for Disability Issues Ruth Dyson:

Q: What steps has the Government taken towards achieving Labour and Alliance pre-election promises to reduce the barriers to people with disabilities participating in society?

A: I am proud today to launch a discussion document on this.

Q: What evidence does the Minister have that barriers to disability have not been addressed?

A: There is lots and lots of evidence. Transport barriers are common. 26% of Human Rights Commission complaints related to disability issues.

Q: Wyatt Creech (National): Why then do we have the smallest increase in disability funding we have in five years?

A: I regret the member is misinformed. Respite care funding and vocational services have been funding as promised by the Labour and Alliance parties. The strategy will be finalised by early next year. We will lead by example and do everything we can to influence attitudes of society as a whole.

Q: Has she read the Select Committee report showing there is a lesser increase in spending than in the last five years?

A: Yes I have.


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