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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day –18 April

Today’s questions concerned: Sovereign Yachts (1) – Middle East - Sovereign Yachts (2) - Tourism Strategy 2010 – Teachers’ Strike - Maori Land Court – Waka Jumping – US Free Trade Deal – Prisoners Understanding Of The Law - Resource Management Act - Air New Zealand – Principles Of The Treaty

Questions Of The Day - Thursday, 18 April 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.

RODNEY HIDE (ACT) to the Minister of Defence Mark Burton:

Q: Did selling the 4.03 hectares of land at Hobsonville Airbase for $465,000 plus GST maximise the return to the taxpayer and can he assure us that the current owner of this land has not profited to the tune of millions of dollars on this deal?

A: The disposal was done entirely in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Act which requires the land must be offered to its former owners or their successors at its current market value not some future hypothetical value.

Rodney Hide: Can the Minister answer the primary question and assure the house the owner of this property now has not profited to the tune of millions of dollars especially since all the restrictions have been removed which weren’t factored in on the valuation?

A: As Minister of Defence it is my responsibility that surplus land is disposed of in accordance with the Public Works Act. I have no responsibility for the decisions taken by subsequent owners of the land.

David Carter: Why were the four hectares not retained by defence in the hope of receiving a higher sale price at some hypothetical future date

A: Because this Government does not see a role for the Defence Force as a property speculator.

Question 2.

GRAHAM KELLY (Labour) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Phil Goff:

Q: What views has he communicated to the Israeli ambassador over recent events in the Middle East?

A: I have both written formally and spoken with the Israeli ambassador and reiterated New Zealand’s unequivocal condemnation of suicide bombings and terrorism. I also stated the suffering and loss of live imposed on the Palestinian population would further entrench bitterness and hatred and perpetuate the cycle of violence. I added New Zealand’s voice to other countries calling for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli military forces form the West Bank. I stated that the loss of innocent lives on the West Bank and deprivation of food water and medical supplies was intolerable. I voiced concern from the Red Cross and Red Crescent that medical personnel had been attacked and stopped form attending sick and wounded people and said the recorded attacks on journalists were totally unacceptable.

Jenny Shipley: Can he give a assurance there has been no formal change to NZ position to the Israeli Palestinian conflict that is to be even handed, and if there has been no change has he called in a PLO or Palestinian representative and raised similar concerns with them about suicide bombers?

A: I can assure that New Zealand has continues to operate an even-handed policy that means that when innocent civilians are killed by suicide bombers we protest and when innocent civilians ere killed by the Israeli military we protest.

Keith Locke: Does he think talk alone will be enough to stop Sharon destroying Palestinian towns or will he do what he did to Mugabe this week and impose sanctions?

A: It is not my intention or the government’s intention to impose sanctions at this point.

Jenny Shipley Was the fact there was no Government minister at the 57th celebrations of Israel’s independence last evening purposeful or an oversight?

A: It was a deliberate action.

Question 3.

SIMON POWER (National) to the Minister of Defence Mark Burton:

Q: Is it correct, as reported in a press release dated 27 September 2001, that Sovereign Yachts NZ Ltd "has options on the other 63 hectares" of the Hobsonville land owned by the Ministry of Defence; if so, what are the terms on which that land is being disposed of by the Crown?

A: No.

Simon Power: On what basis in the remain 63 hectare to be disposed of and what assurance can he give that what assurances can he give that disposal will be done at a price which reflects the land’s true value.

A: I can assure the member the land will be disposed of as it becomes available in lots and in strict accordance with the Public Work Act.

Chris Carter: How much land does it still have in Hobsonville Air Base and what is the procedure for the disposal of that land.

A: 170 hectares, as more land becomes surplus it will be disposed of in accordance with Public Work Act.

Rodney Hide: Can he deny that lot 2 of some nearly 50 hectares is soon to be declared surplus and sold for $10-12 million effectively to Mr Lloyd who has plans for a large residential development and marine park on the site and who is seeking a 50-50 partner to put up the money because the land is worth twice what the government is proposing to sell it. If he can deny that when will lot 2 be put up for sale?

A: I can deny that there is an arrangement in place to sell a second lot to any person. When it becomes surplus it will be disposed of strictly in accordance with the Public Works Act

Question 4.

DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Labour) to the Minister of Tourism Mark Burton:

Q: What steps has the Government taken to implement the recommendations of the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010?

A: I officially launched the new Ministry of Tourism on Tuesday night. The Ministry has been established as part of the Government’s response to the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010.

Damien O'Connor: Are there any other recommendations the Government has responded to

A: We have provided $2.5m for a major expansion Qualmark quality grading system for tourism operators, we have funded the tourism research council to produce the information tourism operators need, we have enhanced private sectors involvement with tourism New Zealand and provided $1m to support the development of regional Maori tourism organisations.

Question 5.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National) to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard:

Q: What is he doing to avoid putting students' learning and qualifications at further risk through the resumption of strike action by teachers this school term?

A: (Marion Hobbs answering) I am concerned about the stroke action in Auckland and Christchurch this week but understand the Ministry of Education and PPTA will recommence mediation on Monday.

Nick Smith: How does he reconcile his actions in joining in teacher pay protests in the late 90s saying all teachers deserve better pay with his offer that amounts to an average increase of 3.3 percent or exactly half what he was protesting about back then?

A: The offer was settled with 7 percent and 13 percent offer for year one teachers in 1999 at that same time the minister was talking with teachers and the issues they faced was that of work load. To address that, addition to that offer, 1850 more teachers are likely to be in schools by the end of 2006.

Nick Smith: Why when in opposition did he say that the Government was being petulant and silly for not continuing discussion when industrial action was taking place but now in government insists there will be no discussion or mediation while there is industrial action in what has become the worst teachers pay dispute in our history.

A: I can remember intimately far worse disputes.

Question 6.

GRANT GILLON (Alliance) to the Minister for Courts Matt Robson:

Q: What reports has he received from his ministry about developments in the Maori Land Court?

A: Department of Courts advises that this government’s investment has led to vast improvements in administration, the new land system contains computerised index of all Maori land title,
The first record in the world on the land base of an indigenous people. The benefits for Maori landowners used to be kept in 12m pages of paper records, people had to wait months for files and now all this info can be accessed instantly.

Richard Worth: In the light of the achievements of the Maori Land Court and the policy justification for the both Maori Land Court and Waitangi Tribunal driven by a desire to slow Waitangi Tribunal settlements.

A: As always after nine years of tory rule there is a backlog but funding issues are being attended and the budget will show that.

Winston Peters: What document or research at the MLC will have ever taken months to complete?

A: Claims over Bastion Point took a very, very long time

Question 7.

GERRY BROWNLEE (National) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: Does she still have confidence in the Deputy Prime Minister following Government MP Willie Jackson's comments that "[Hon] Jim [Anderton] is a waka jumper whether he wants it acknowledged or not, the public know and our members know"; if so, why?

A: (Michael Cullen answering) Yes because the Deputy Prime Minister continues to perform his administrative duties effectively.

Gerry Brownlee: Now we have farcical situation of two alliances who is telling the truth, Willie Jackson, or Mr Anderton ?

A: I would have thought a party with no leader would have been jealous of a party that can claim two.

Winston Peters: Will he commend to Mr Anderton the actions of the Dutch government and resign as a matter of honour?

A: I think the situation the Dutch government faced was a completely different one, that was one where an official inquiry found Dutch forces had failed to stop a major Massacre at Srebenica, though there have been occasional argument in the Alliance caucus there has been no massacre

Question 8.

JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Greens) to the Prime Minister Helen Clark:

Q: With reference to her reply to oral question No 1 on 16 April 2002 that the "United States administration does not yet have trade promotion authority from Congress, and that makes it difficult to conclude any new bilateral agreements", is she aware of any provisions of any proposed United States legislation to provide this authority, which could affect New Zealand's interests?

A: (Phil Goff answering) Trade promotion authority will be in the interest of all countries. The draft trade promotion authority bill considered by congress contains the principle negotiating objectives across a broad range of interests including industrial, agricultural and good and services, in the broad sense this will effect New Zealand’s interest.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Has the Minister seen the section of that bill which says that a principle negotiating for agriculture is to eliminate commercial requirements such as removing labelling that effects new technology?

A: I have seen that agreement. New Zealand would consider its labelling laws fully in consistent with the WTO requirements. The US document is about objectives and it does not mean they will be translated into a trade agreement.

Ross Robertson: What the advantages if any of securing bilateral trading agreement with US?

A: The benefit for New Zealand would be more that $1b and enhance investment and other business links.

Question 9.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National)to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: What programmes, if any, are available to prisoners to ensure they have a clear understanding of the law, understand the importance of integrity and appreciate the value of keeping their word?

A: A number of programmes are aimed at lowering recidivism rates Straight Thinking is one highly successful example.

Nick Smith: What sort of example is he setting when he is leaving the Alliance when he said “the actions of members who leave their parties are a fraud on the electoral system”

A: The example I am setting is there is always a second chance

Nandor Tanczos: Does he agree a prison is probably the worst place to be rehabilitated?

A: No I don’t agree we are very successful with a range of people through what we do with them in prisons.

Question 10.

DAVID BENSON-POPE (Labour) to the Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs:

Q: Has she received any reports of proposals to enhance the Resource Management Act 1991?

A: There are a number of proposals as to how to make the RMA work better but recently a proposal was put forward by the Leader of the Opposition to amend the Act to make sure the Auckland motorway projects go through the approval process within 12 months. This proposal would fundamentally compromise the RMA by giving preferential treatment to one sort of development. There is ongoing work but nothing to take away the right of the community to be involved

Question 11.

BELINDA VERNON (National) to the Minister of Finance Michael Cullen:

Q: Did Ministers receive a business case in July of last year proposing a recapitalisation of Air New Zealand through an injection of equity by Singapore Airlines, as reported in the media; if so, why did those Ministers not put that proposal before the Cabinet meeting which took place on 30 July 2001?

A: Cabinet was advised of that proposal.

Belinda Vernon: Why did it not release that crucial document which showed Ministers very clearly knew the extent of the financial difficulties faced by Air NZ and the absolute urgency the Government needed to make decisions.

A: The government is very happy to release the document it is being withheld at the request of Air New Zealand. It shows very clearly that there was no immediate cash crisis in the business and that a decision was required by the 4th of September.

John Wright: If the cab had decided to approve the original proposal what were the chances it would have resulted in the successful recapitalisation.

A: Nil. The amounts envisaged would not have been enough to restore the Air New Zealand Ansett group to profitability within a sustained time period.

Question 12.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (NZ First) to the Minister for the Environment Marian Hobbs:

Q: Given her response to my written question number 3601 (2002) that she considers the Western Bay of Plenty District Council's "approach to seeking iwi/hapu input when considering resource consent applications is consistent with the duty ... to take into account the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi", has her ministry precisely defined these principles; if so, what are they?

A: Th Western Bay of Plenty District Council's duty to take into account the principles of the Treaty arises form the wording in sect 8 of the Resource Management Act it is the responsibility of each council to establish its own approach to this duty not he Ministry of the Environment.

Winston Peters: Why she is she unable to the precisely define to these principles and how are these people at the local level supposed to able to know if they are operating within the confines of these principles if she want tell them what they are?

A: In my experience work in a positive partnership with Maori, and have the autonomy to decide on the approach they take so long as they met their obligations under section 8 of the RMA so long as they meet their obligations.

Point Of Order Winston Peters: I have never seen in any other country a minister getting away with that sort of evasive answer. I am asking what are the principles of her ministry and if that is what her answers are then this parliament during question time is a complete waste of time.

Speaker: I am not responsible for quality or otherwise of the minister’s reply. I have to ascertain whether the question was addressed. I ruled it was.

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