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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day - 20 September

Today’s Questions concerned the subjects of: Overstayers – Emigration and the Economy – Overstayers – NZ Post and the Kiwi Bank – Wairarapa Polytechnic - Capital Flows – ERO Review – TVNZ, Sky, TV3 and Parliamentary Broadcasts - Treaty Clauses - Nurse Pay Claims – Closing The Gaps For Pacific People - Treaty Clauses

Questions For Oral Answer - Wednesday, 20 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.

CHRIS CARTER (Labour) to the Minister of Immigration Lianne Dalziel:

Q: How many people are likely to qualify to apply for a two year temporary work permit under the October 2000 transitional policy announced by the Government yesterday?

A: It is estimated around one third of overstayers may be eligible. There may also be others legitimately here on work permits who are eligible under the new scheme. People who have sought and been declined refugee status are excluded. As Minister I retain the discretion to consider individual cases on humanitarian ground. Strict new laws will apply from 1 October and will be enforced?

Q: Keith Locke (Green): Why is the minister so worried about Samoan overstayers when there is a net migration outflow?

A: This particular policy is available to all people here prior to 1 October last year, it does not discriminate on the basis of race.

Q: Winston Peters (NZ First): What part of yesterday’s policy fits any strategy?

A: The announcements we have made are about making the new laws. which take effect from 1 October. meaningful.

Q: How many Asian people will be eligible?

A: We have not made an estimation of that. I suspect a significant number will qualify under this policy.

Question 2.

Rt Hon JENNY SHIPLEY (National) to the Treasurer Michael Cullen:

Q: Has he received any advice on the economic effects of long-term net emigration?

A: Yes.

Q: Does he agree with ABN Ambro that house prices will fall?

A: I have seen that report. This report is a shocker. It gives a number of interesting statistics. It says people are leaving NZ for tax rates when overseas tax rates are higher.

Q: Rodney Hide (ACT): Does he have a concern that we are losing skilled people and replacing them with overstayers?

A: The member should be careful not to quote gross immigration figures rather than net. The profile of immigrants tends to be similar in a skill sense to those who are leaving.

Q: Will he be doing something?

A: Yes.

Q: Will he be lowering personal income tax?

A: No. But having said that we are considering a number of measures to make NZ attractive for innovators.

Question 3.

KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the Minister of Immigration Lianne Dalziel:

Q: Will she lift the 1 October deadline by which overstayers in New Zealand for less than five years lose their appeal rights, and will she be developing a more family-centred immigration policy with a Pacific access category?

A: As I explained at the briefing yesterday the 1 October deadline remains. The only people who will lose appeal rights are those who fail to lodge an appeal by that date. I am still working on a family and Pacific Access Category.

Q: Keith Locke (Green) Why is it fair to boot out hardworking Samoans without appeal rights?

A: These laws were passed in October last year. I believe the five years is an appropriate cut off period.

Q: Why is the five year period not being applied to some groups?

A: It was my view that there would be problems if parents of NZ children were shown on TV being dragged off and sent home leaving crying children behind.

Q: What time will she give those overstayers who have to leave to leave? And will they be able to return?

A: Those overstayers who do not qualify will be required to leave. If they have a removal order against them already then their obligation to leave is now. If there are individual circumstances when people need extra time then the immigration service can look at those on a case by case basis.

Q: How many people have been expelled since she has been a minister?

A: I don’t know. Over the last nine months I have received letters and requests from every political party, from Church leaders and from employers asking me to intervene on behalf of individuals.

Q: Is she planning to accelerate the family and Pacific Access category to give certainty to Fijian refugees?

A: This is a matter I am looking at seriously.

Question 4.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Mark Burton:

Q: How does the loss of $3.8 million for the quarter to 30 June 2000, announced by New Zealand Post yesterday, compare with the projections in the company's business plan, and what advice has he received as to the prospects of New Zealand Post meeting its forecast profits for the current year?

A: The quarter was a tough one with mail volumes down 5%. Current forecasts have been tabled in Parliament.

Q: Can he confirm that the board if NZ Post is meeting today to ram through the People’s Bank’s proposal?

A: Yes the board is meeting today. I am more than satisfied that the Kiwi Bank proposal is being put through robust analysis. If and when the Post Board wishes to bring a proposal to shareholding ministers I will consider it.

Q: Does he accept the proposal will see NZ Post losing more money?

A: Ministers will consider proposals when they are brought to them.

Q: Can he confirm that the Chairman of the Board has spent most of his adult life trying to get National into Government?

(Speaker – that is not relevant.)

Q: Will he be consulting with the Deputy PM about NZ Post losses?

A: I do not tell boards what to tell me. I will listen to proposals when I receive them.

Question 5.

JILL PETTIS (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education) Steve Maharey:

Q: What is the Government doing to secure the provision of tertiary education within the regions?

A: Today I have announced that the Wairarapa Polytechnic will be merging with a Palmerston North institution. This will make the Wairarapa Polytechnic viable. The people of Wairarapa are applauding. Tertiary Institutions should feel assured that this Government will not sit on its hands – like the previous government.

Q: Maurice Williamson (National): Why was Labour MP Georgina Beyer formerly opposed to this? And is this another example of the Maharey principle in action?

A: We had 27 submissions on this merger, 25 in favour – including many from Mayors, and one from Wyatt Creech.

Question 6.

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

Q: Given New Zealand's low dollar exchange rate, does he still stand by his statement on 3 September 1998 that "New Zealand should now be seeking to take a firm lead on the world stage, in conjunction with like-minded countries to deal with the issue of excessively mobile short-term capital"; if not, why not?

A: (Trevor Mallard on behalf) Yes.

Q: Will he give an assurance that there will be no foreign exchange controls?

A: That is not what I advocated.

Q: What has the Minister done to raise this issue?

A: I recently co-chaired the APEC finance minister’s meeting in Brunei. We issued a communique saying we wanted broader debate of financial issues.

Q: Can he confirm that in his IMF speech he said, “the NZ government should not just lay back and think of the IMF”? And is this going to help NZ’s international reputation?

A: No. NZ is working in a number of areas on these issues.

Q: Are Tobin Taxes under active consideration?

A: No.

(Rodney Hide – Leave to table two press releases dated September on the IMF about lying down – granted.)

Question 7.

Hon BRIAN DONNELLY (NZ First) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: Is he proposing a review of the Education Review Office in the near future; if so, how much money has been budgeted for it?

A: Yes. A review of the ERO has commenced. I am sorry the member has not seen the announcement. The advice is that it will cost less than what has been budgeted.

Q: What further insights will this review produce after so many have already been done?

A: I do not have a preconceived view on this. Margaret Austin’s review was not allowed to consider the independence of the ERO office – that is what this review does. The purpose of the review is to enhance education through focussing on the review and on follow-up actions. It is really important that we have good information. I have an open mind on the issue.

Q: What progress has been made so far?

A: There has been an extensive literature review so far. The committee has been appointed. Terms of reference have been developed and submissions have been called for from over 3000 organisations including schools.

Question 8.

Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National) to the Minister of Broadcasting Marian Hobbs:

Q: What reports has she received on negotiations towards a closer commercial relationship between Television New Zealand and Sky TV?

A: (Trevor Mallard on behalf) None.

Q: Murray McCully (National) What are the reasons for TVNZ providing expensive footage to Sky TV free of charge so Sky TV can charge the 15% of people who subscribe to Sky TV to view it?

A: If the member watched free to air TV every now and then he would agree that the figures he quoted are inaccurate for most of the year. I would have thought the Opposition would support the broadcast of this, and that it would cooperate on this.

Q: Murray McCully (National) Did the minister know TV3 was negotiating with Sky to provide this service for a considerable fee when TVNZ offered to do it for free?

A: No.

Question 9.

JANET MACKEY (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Justice Margaret Wilson:

Q: Since 1 January 1991 how many pieces of legislation have been passed that have a Treaty of Waitangi clause?

A: (Phil Goff on behalf): At least 30 Acts mention the Treaty, most of which were passed by the National Government.

Q: What recent Acts have clauses?

A: Since 1996 the HASNO Act, The Ngat Tahu Settlement ACT, the 1998 Crown Pastoral Land Act and the Waitutu Settlement Act all contain Treaty clauses. (To Tony Ryall – National) Quoted John Luxton saying that the government needed to move on towards working with Article Three issues. (Applause).

Q: Stephen Franks (ACT): Do these provisions help close the gaps?

A: What is important is that Governments actually work to close the gaps, and I welcome the support of the member in that regard.

Q: Nandor Tanczos (Green): What other option is there to give the Treaty status other than referring to it in statute?

A: None.

Q: Winston Peters (NZ First): Why is he engaging in a social experiment?

A: I would remind the member – who has clearly forgotten – that when he first stood, he stood in Northern Maori.

Q: John Luxton (National): Given that Article 3 guarantees equal rightsm why are preferential rights being added?

A: Equal rights are the objective. None of the clauses are designed to give preferential rights except to acknowledge that Maori are doing a lot worse at present than Pakeha.

Question 10.

Dr LYNDA SCOTT (National) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: Does she accept the statement from the chief executive of the Nurses Organisation that there had been little improvement in the pay and working conditions of nurses since the coalition Government came to power, and will she support the Capital Coast Health nurses' claim for a 7% pay increase?

A: I accept the view of the CEO of the Nurses Organisation that I have inherited this situation and that it will take more than nine months to address.

Q: How are hospitals supposed to meet the increased costs of wages as well as all the other costs they have to bear?

A: This government put an additional $412 million into health. I would say – how would National have managed with just $175 million, the figure they campaigned on.

Q: Does she agree other CCH nurses deserve the 7% rise that intensive care nurses have been given?

A: These are operational matters subject to negotiation between hospital management and nurses.

Q: Does she agree nurses have a strong pay equity claim?

A: Within the funding given to hospitals funding is available to increase the pay of nurses.

Question 11.

LUAMANUVAO WINNIE LABAN (Labour) to the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Mark Gosche:

Q: What progress has the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs made with regard to the closing the gaps strategy?

A: (Trevor Mallard on behalf) We have held nationwide Fono to talk about capacity building. For the first time PI communities have been given the opportunity to work on solutions for their communities. I would like to acknowledge the work of Bill English in setting up PI health services. Closing the gaps is about just that – not about closing the window at night to Islanders who might climb in the window – as Jenny Shipley would have it. Today the Government has decided to offer scholarships to trainees in the early childhood area with PI language abilities.

Q: Keith Locke (Green) Is the policy announced yesterday of kicking out thousands of PI families part of the plan to close the gaps?

A: I think sometimes that member should have a bit of generosity of spirit. There is an enormous about of work being done in the PI community and that member should say “well done”.

Question 12.

Hon TONY RYALL (National) to the Associate Minister of Justice Margaret Wilson:

Q: Does her comment that "obviously if you've got legislation relating to education or housing, you may wish then to see the relevance [of a Treaty clause] and how it would apply" indicate that the Government plans to include Treaty of Waitangi clauses in future education and housing legislation; if not, what does it mean?

A: (Phil Goff on behalf) No decisions have been made in these areas. As I said in the article the objective is to close the gaps between Maori and non-Maori achievements and living standards.

Q: Doesn’t Article 3 of the Treaty guarantee equal rights already, and why then are these clauses needed for Maori but not for non- Maori?

A: The public have a right to be cynical about politicians who do one thing in government and pretend to believe another in opposition. The clause is designed to close the gaps and not to grant preferential treatment. In 20 years Maori and PI people will make up 30% of the population. We need to avoid this leading to a sharply divided society and an unstable society in conflict with itself. It is wrong that ethnicity should be an indicator of life expectancy and educational achievement. I would like to congratulate Georgina te Heu Heu who has described her own party as divisive.

Q: Winston Peters (NZ First): Where is the evidence that this will work?

A: The member who asked that question was in government off and on in the 1990s. At the end of that decade there was a higher proportion of Maori leaving school with no qualifications than there was when it began. It is true.

Q: Tony Ryall (National) Will these new clauses be a target for judicial activism as similar clauses have been in Canada?

A: There is always a risk of litigation. I do not believe litigation will help.


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