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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day –21 March

Today’s questions concerned: Alliance Break-Up - School Principals' Leadership - Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act – Protecting Native Birds – GDP Growth – Labelling GE Foods – Privy Council Ruling On Court Of Appeal – Housing And The Treaty - Health And Safety In Employment Amendment Bill – Export Markets – Economic Forecast

Questions Of The Day - Thursday, 21 March 2002

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.

Hon ROGER SOWRY to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Has she taken any advice on the implications on the Government's coalition agreement of a split in the Alliance Party, which has been widely speculated on; if so, what has been that advice?

A: (Phil Goff answering) I have not been advised of any action or proposed action which would require any change to the coalition agreement.

Q: In light of media speculation that Jim Anderton is going to be in the same situation as Alamein Kopu, will she have light of all the public statements made about her in dealing with the situation?

A: Media speculation is just that.

Question 2.

HELEN DUNCAN to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: Is the Government implementing initiatives to build school principals' leadership capability?

A: We’ve put in place a principals’ leadership and development programme to support principals, committing around $27m over the next four years including providing laptops for all principals and an online network. I have received very positive feedback from principals, they are sending me emails to say what a good move it is.

Question 3.

Hon TONY RYALL to the Associate Minister of Justice:

Q: When considering the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2001, did she or her officials consider a clause which would have actioned Rt Hon Helen Clark's statement "To MPs, the message is simple. You will stay with the party whose voters put you in Parliament - or you will get out"; if so, did such a clause make it into the Act?

A: (Phil Goff answering) The Act requires MPs to remain parliamentary members of the party to which they were elected and so retain the proportionality of Parliament set at the election. I have seen nothing to suggest this proportionality will be changed. The requirement in the act states quite clearly that you remain a member of the party to which you were elected.

Question 4.

PHILLIDA BUNKLE to the Minister of Conservation Sandra Lee:

Q: Is she aware of significant recent developments towards protecting native bird species?

A: The population of Kakapo has increased from 52 to 85 as all 23 chicks have hatched and survived this year. This is a conservation success of world significance. The most critical factor has been the eradication of pests form their island home and the hard work of conservation staff.

Q: Has aerially spread poison been used in Kakapo programme?

A: Yes, rats were eradicated by using aerially spread poison.

Question 5.

Hon DAVID CARTER to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: What level of sustainable GDP growth is required to lift New Zealand to the top half of the OECD, and how does this compare with the forecasts provided by the Reserve Bank yesterday?

A: (Trevor Mallard answering) The level depends on the target date set and the performance of other economies in the OECD. The Government has deliberately not set a target date because there are too many variables. Dr Cullen has though set an informal goal of sustainable growth of 4% in the next five years. The Reserve Bank has characterised New Zealand’s growth as being in danger of overheating.

Question 6.

JEANETTE FITZSIMONS to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Will she be discussing with President George W Bush New Zealand's stance on labelling of genetically engineered foods and the release of genetically engineered organisms?

A: (Pete Hodgson answering) I will be raising a number of environmental issues including sustainable development.

Q: What will be the focus of the meeting?

A: I will be discussing the campaign against terrorism and the international and regional economic issues where we work closely together. The range of issues that concern the two countries are considerable.

Question 7.

Dr WAYNE MAPP to the Attorney-General Margaret Wilson:

Q: In light of the Privy Council ruling that the Court of Appeal had acted "contrary to fundamental conceptions of fairness and justice" in dealing with criminal appeals, does she still stand by her view that New Zealand should move away from the Privy Council to "a stand alone supreme-type court of appeal. I think that makes a lot of sense personally"; if so, why?

A: (Phil Goff answering) Any decision relating to a change in New Zealand’s final court of appeal will not be made on the basis of any one Privy Council decision, the reasons for that is obvious. There are a number of arguments for moving away from appeals to the Privy Council such as improving accessibility and improving the range of matters that can be appealed. I think most New Zealanders would agree that matters relating to New Zealand should be decided by New Zealanders.

Question 8.

Hon BRIAN DONNELLY to the Minister of Housing Mark Gosche:

Q: What specific policies in accordance with what specific principles meet the Treaty of Waitangi obligations within the Housing portfolio?

A: The Government conducts all its business in accordance with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and Housing is no different. The Government has restored income related rent and formed partnerships with iwi and Pacific Island groups but there is still much more to be done to reverse years of housing neglect. One of the first thing this Government did was stop selling houses and started building more which has been a tremendous help to Maori and reduced the waiting lists for housing.

Question 9.

SIMON POWER to the Minister of Labour:

Q: Does the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill provide for an employer to contest whether external factors have contributed to an employee's development of work-related stress; if so, how?

A: (Laila Harre answering) Both employers and employees have a mutual duty to ensure safety in the workplace whether external factors have contributed to an employees development of work related stress will be a matter of judgement on the facts of each particular situation.

Q: What is the cost to the economy caused by work related stress?

A: The total cost of workplace accidents is around $3.1 billion per year, I do not have any separate figures on injuries relating to stress.

Question 10.

HARRY DUYNHOVEN to the Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Pete Hodgson:

Q: What new developments will assist New Zealand exporters to access markets innovatively?

A: I attended the opening of the first chapter of the Kiwi Ex-pats Association in San Fransisco over the weekend. About 100 ex-pats form the Silicon Valley and surrounding areas considering how best further the development of New Zealand from Silicon Valley. New chapters will open in London and New York in due course which will allow us to tap the skills and national pride of thousands of smart kiwis.

Q: How will export markets be affected if Australia gets a free trade deal with the US before us?

A: It would be bad if Australia got free trade status before us, if they got it at the same time it would be good.

Question 11.

RODNEY HIDE to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: Does he believe that Dr Don Brash's forecast for growth in the next three years of 2&3/4, 2&1/4 and 2&1/2 percent is realistic, and does he remain confident that he can lift New Zealand's sustainable annual growth rate to 4 percent as he claimed earlier this year?

A: (Trevor Mallard answering) Dr Brash growth forecasts are by definition realistic.

Q: Given that he admits they are realistic can he table one forecast of New Zealand achieving sustainable growth of 4 percent in the next five years?

A: At least one respected economist has forecast growth of 3.9 percent for next year.

Question 12.

ANN HARTLEY to the Associate Minister of Transport Judith Tizard:

Q: What reports has she received on the use of public transport options in Auckland?

A: The Auckland Regional Council reports that public transport patronage has risen consistently since 1999,in the six month s between July and December last year were 1.4 million extra journeys last year an increase of 7% on the same six month period in 2000.

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