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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 9 October

Today's questions of the day concerned: George Bush’s Phone Call – The War Against Terror – National’s New Leader (And Economic Development) – Air NZ Bailout – World Economic Slowdown – Plunket – War Against Terror – Otago DHB Funding Shortfall – Lake Alice Settlement – PPTA Strike x 2 – Parallel Justice For Maori

:Questions Of The Day - Tuesday, 9 October 2001

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 till some days after the event.


Question 1.

CHRIS CARTER (Labour) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: What recent reports has she received regarding the international campaign against terrorism?

A: I spoke with President George Bush in the early hours of the morning. He said he expected the campaign to be a long term campaign. He is determined to see the campaign through.

Q: Did he ask about the SAS?

A: Yes he did. He was very complementary about their reputation and I repeated that we were ready to allow them to be used.

Q: Max Bradford (National): What about Alliance fears about an SAS deployment?

A: The only message the Alliance has sent about this has been through this house when it voted to send the troops.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT): Would the PM care to comment on how she was told about the attack 24 hours after it started?

A: In fact we were told before it started.

Q: Keith Locke (Green): How many civilian casualties have there been? And how many thousands of new refugees are there?

A: I have seen a report that there have been 8 deaths. Unfortunately even with carefully targeted attacks you cannot guarantee there will be no casualties.

Q: Ron Mark (NZ First): Why did she say an attack on America was an attack on humanity?

A: If the member doesn’t agree would he care to explain why?

(Ron Mark - Leave sought to explain – refused.)

Q: In light of reports that the FAA is extending check-in procedures to six hours. What is being done here?

A: I have no specific advice on that. I can say however that we are in touch with international agencies.

(Max Bradford – leave to table an NZ Herald report on the Alliance – granted.)

Question 2.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Is her statement that "The Government believes that today's military action is justified under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter which enables a nation to act in self-defence." fully supported by all members of the Government?

A: Yes. This is a matter of Government policy.

Q: What then is her reaction to the statement by Matt Robson on his disarmament tour contradicting her.

A: Obviously the matter has been discussed with Mr Robson and I can advise that unrestricted unlimited force has not been unleashed.

Q: Why isn’t a more specific resolution required from the UN?

A: Article 51 allows self defence. The US and NZ believe that the magnitude of the WTC attacks justify an attack in self defence.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT): What about the Greens?

A: I have no responsibility for the views of the Greens.

Q: Jeanette Fitzsimmons (Green): In what way does the bombing of one of the poorest countries in the world constitute self defence? Especially given that it is likely to lead to further retaliatory attacks against the US?

A: The US was the victim of a terrible attack a little over a month ago. It has acted in self defence. The Greens have a concern about international law. I happen to have a different view on how the law applies.

Q: Bill English (National): What about a further statement from Matt Robson? Does that mean she is relying on the National Party to support this war?

A: It would be a silly person who ever relied on the National Party.

Question 3.

GRANT GILLON (Alliance) to the Minister for Economic Development Jim Anderton:

Q: What new challenges to New Zealand's economic development has he identified?

A: One of the greatest challenges is the need for certainty and clarity. I think that everyone will now be wondering how much security and clarity is provided when a member pledges support to his leader and then two weeks later mounts a coup. The National Party can’t pay for its promises and will wreck the NZ economy trying to do so.

Q: Given the incompetence shown in relation to Air NZ, and the run down of the health system, surely the biggest threat to NZ’s economy is the Labour/Alliance government?

A: I was at the airport on Sunday and discovered that the new leader of the National Party had arrived late for his plane because he did not take account of daylight saving. Clearly he does not know which way is up.

Question 4.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Has she asked her Minister of Finance to reconcile his reported comment that Air New Zealand might need up to $150 million more with his later comment that "There is no reason to believe that any more money will be required."; if so, which is the correct position?

A: No.

Q: Given that differences in negotiating strategies have already cost millions of dollars….

(Michael Cullen – statements of facts can only be given if they relate to the question. That is a disputable fact. It is not in order…

Speaker – if I had to rule out everyone of these I would be ruling out everything.)

Q: Why isn’t she talking to her Finance Minister about the deal.

A: The Minister of Finance said the sum was the “best estimate at the current time”. In the IV quoted from Dr Cullen stressed there would need to be a new business plan. He was very confident that Air NZ would continue.

Q: Richard Prebble (ACT): Should the $885 million turn out to be inadequate will the Government give an assurance it will put the necessary amount in?

A: I have no reason to think it will not be enough.

Q: Bill English (National): Did the PM learn from her own experience that when she says contradictory things it upsets the markets and the flying public?

A: Has the member learned from his own experience when he said just two weeks ago that he fully supported his leader.

Question 5.

MARK PECK (Labour) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: What advice has he received on the best means of reacting to the slowdown in the world economy?

A: I have received a great deal of advice. Mr English for example said we should lower the bar and reduce government spending.

Q: What would the effect of this be?

A: It would aggravate the effect of the slowdown. The National Party appear never to understand this.

Q: On whose advice did the government decide to invest millions in airlines and railways and banks instead of health and education?

A: We have decided to invest only around $1 billion, not billions, clearly the member is planning on making things up.

Q: Rodney Hide (ACT): Has he seen G.W.Bush’s advice on cutting taxes?

A: If George Bush isn’t spending more money I will eat my hat. He is spending billions of dollars for a start on subsidising airlines.

Question 6.

Hon PETER DUNNE (United Future NZ) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: What new initiatives, if any, is the Government planning regarding support for Plunket?

A: We have completed negotiations for the 2001-02 year. This contract will continue funding at present levels.

Q: Are there any new initiatives planned.

A: The government is doing a lot of work on the primary health strategy. This will include well child visits, but not only ones provided by Plunket.

Q: What has been the reaction to the government decision to fund Plunketline for 24 hours a day?

A: There have been 95,000 inquiries answered.

Question 7.

Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (ACT) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: At what time and by whom was she advised of the American/British air strikes on Afghanistan?

A: The CEO of Department if PM and Cabinet Dr Mark Prebble telephoned me at 5.10am on the morning of the attacks. I cleared the message at 5.30am.

Q: How come John Howard was rung by Vice President Dick Cheney and you weren’t?

A: I place no significance on that. I received a call today on the same day as President Jiang Zemin of China. Dr Prebble was advised through official channels.

Q: When Tony Blair left us off his list of countries that had helped, did he do this by himself, or did he do it because our offer was pathetic?

A: I find it extraordinary that a former Minister of Defence would refer to the SAS contribution offer as pathetic. NZ was listed in a copy of Newsweek as one of only five countries that had made a specific offer of military assistance. There are plenty of countries that have offered assistance that Mr Blair did not mention.

Question 8.

Hon ROGER SOWRY (National) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: When will the Ministry of Health meet with the Otago District Health Board to discuss the $1.1 million funding shortfall for acute services at Dunedin Hospital, and is the Ministry prepared to offer more funding than the $500,000 it offered last month?

A: I am advised that Ministry Officials will meet the ODHB next week?

Q: Is the Minister aware that the ODHB is also expected to cover a $750,000 shortfall in funds for cancer drugs?

A: The member is wrong. We have put in money to fund that.

Q: Has ODHB had funding problems in the past?

A: In 1997 7000 people marched in the streets of Dunedin over funding concerns only to be told by Bill English they were the lucky ones.

Question 9.

JUDY KEALL (Labour) to the Minister of Health Annette King:

Q: What are the agreed terms of the recently announced settlement for former patients of Lake Alice Hospital?

A: $6.5 million will be distributed to 95 former patients. The PM and myself acting on behalf of the crown have apologised to the former patients for unacceptable treatment.

Q: Why has this taken so long to resolve?

A: Because of the previous government.

Q: What is the total amount set aside for other Lake Alice patients?

A: Those who are not part of this settlement will have their claims looked at individually.

Q: Winston Peters (NZ First): When will the Government compensate the bad blood victims?

A: This government provided funds last year for bad blood victim compensation. We doubled the offer from $20,000 to $40,000, we widened eligibility, and we provided more money for legal fees – many people have accepted the offer.

(Annette King – leave to table a Bill English statement from 1997 – granted.)

Question 10.

GERRY BROWNLEE (National) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: Is he concerned about any adverse effects the planned Post Primary Teachers Association strike on Thursday may have on the education of senior students; if not, why not?

A: Yes.

Q: In light of the fact we are only a few weeks away from bursary and scholarship exams, what will he do about it?

A: The last PPTA claim was litigated for 18 months not six. And secondly it might be easier to deal with if that member had not supported the $250 million pay claim. There will be three types of industrial action between now and the exams. I wonder why the Opposition spokesman on education encouraged the teachers to take action at the PPTA conference.

Q: How can he claim he doesn’t have the money when his government is spending so much on railway tracks and airlines.

A: I would be happy to offer the member a briefing on the difference between operating and capital expenditure.

Q: Does he dispute the claims of the PPTA that there are teachers supply problems?

A: I do reject the claims that more teachers are leaving that previously. The figures show this. However there are some shortages in subject areas and particular regions.

Question 11.

DIANNE YATES (Labour) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: What actions are schools taking to ensure the safety of secondary school students during the teachers' strike on Thursday?

A: The government believes the needs of students are paramount. We have advised schools and boards of trustees on what they should do. I expect that schools will provide supervision for students for which other arrangements cannot be made.

Q: What is holding up settlement?

A: Several things are being discussed (listed). The government has been taking steps to address concerns of the PPTA in a number of areas. I understand however that issues relating to pay increases and non-contact time remain unresolved.

Question 12.

Dr WAYNE MAPP (National) to the Minister of Justice Phil Goff:

Q: Does the Hon Tariana Turia's comment that New Zealand "should consider the possibility of establishing a parallel system of justice that recognises the Treaty of Waitangi" represent official Government policy?

A: No.

Q: Why then is Tariana Turia allowed to continually speculate on this issue?

A: If the member were to look at the words he quoted he would see that they include the phrase, “consider the possibility”, clearly that does not represent Government policy. When a cultural dimension can be used to reduce reoffending then that is appropriate. However I can not claim to have invented that, policies like this were pursued by the previous government.

Q: Nandor Tanczos (Green): Is he aware of evidence that restorative justice works?

A: Yes I am.


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