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SCP HOUSE: Questions Of The Day – 24 April

Today’s questions concerned: Youth Drug And Alcohol Abuse – Alliance Break-Up (1) – Palestine - Alliance Break-Up (2) – Immigration – NZ Post (1) – Treaty And Corrections – NZ Post (2) - Access To Pharmaceuticals - Artists' Dole Scheme – War Memories – Mending The Ways Of Convicted Fraudsters

Questions Of The Day - Wednesday, 24 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.

JANET MACKEY (Labour) to the Minister of Justice Phil Goff:

Q: Will any action be taken to deal with serious drug and alcohol abuse as a cause of youth offending arising from the Taskforce on Youth Crime?

A: Drug and alcohol abuse is associated with around 80 percent of youth offending, as a result of the Taskforce on Youth Crime a pilot Youth Drug Court has been established in Christchurch, this uses the Judicial process to refer young offenders to a treatment plan under judicial supervision. It will ensure there is an integrated and effective approach to tackle that offending. There is intensive monitoring by the court of the offender’s progress and experience overseas suggests reduced offending and lower cost to the community will result.

The programme targets 14 –17 year-olds with serous drug and alcohol abuse problems, about 50 young persons will participate, if it is a successful as we anticipate it will be the youth drug court will be extended to other metropolitan areas.

Question 2.

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

Q: Does she want the Alliance list members of the Executive who are no longer Alliance party members in her Government, given Hon Jim Anderton's previous statements that nomination for an Alliance list seat was "predicated upon membership, and particularly continuing membership of the Alliance" and that Alliance list members who cease to be members of the Alliance but remain in Parliament "[dilute] the principle of proportionality which is central to the Electoral Act 1993"; if so, why?

A: (Michael Cullen answering) I am satisfied that all members continue to represent the policy platform form for which they were elected and that the proportionality of Parliament has not changed

Bill English: What political integrity does she believe Jim Anderton has when while in opposition he insisted list MPs must stay a member of their party and if they didn’t they should resign form Parliament?

A: The Alliance parliamentary party continues to operate for parliamentary purposes as one unit. Ms Harre will lead the Alliance at the next general election.

Grant Gillon: Referring to the proportionality part of the original question, has the proportionality of the House been altered by the decision of some alliance MPs not to stand for the Alliance at the next election?

A: No, there has been no suggestion that the votes of any Alliance MPs will be handed to the National party and so proportionality has not been affected.

Richard Prebble: Is the Prime Minister aware that members of her administration have been telling the press gallery that because of the instability within the Alliance they fear it must affect the stability of the Government and that is why they are suggesting will be an early election?

A: No, I would point out the latest opinion polls show a rise in support for Labour while ACT is still below the five percent threshold.

Ron Donald: Can he still confirm the Government still has 59 members and the support of the seven Green party MPs?

A: Yes

Bill English: What does the Prime Minister think of the integrity of a man who claims to still be representing a party he was expelled from over the weekend?

A: I think I can do no more than quote Jenny Shipley 18 December 2001 “The National party strongly asserts that the public of New Zealand has the right to hire and fire not the dictatorial leaders of political parties”.

Question 3.

KEITH LOCKE (Greens) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Phil Goff:

Q: Will he support the request from Ali Kazak, the Palestinian diplomat he met yesterday, for New Zealand to join more than 50 other countries in recognising a Palestinian state and establishing full diplomatic relations with it; if not, why not?

A: No, formal Palestinian state currently exists or has been declared by the Palestinian Authority, if and when it is declared we will give serious consideration to recognising it. New Zealand recognisees and has dealings with the Palestinian Authority as the representative of the Palestinian people.

Keith Locke: Why can’t New Zealand follow the example of many Asian pacific countries in recognising a Palestinian State and having a diplomatic relationship with it and that the Palestinian Authority?

A: Given that Yasser Arafat has talked about declaring a Palestinian State but has not yet done so it would seem to me premature to recognise such an entity at this time.

Graham Kelly: Does New Zealand support the establishment of a Palestinian State?

A: Yes New Zealand supports the right of the Palestinian people to self determination, to have their own state, while we do not formally recognise a Palestinian State we have high level contact with members of the Palestinian Authority.

Owen Jennings: How concerned is he that he may end up in a coalition with Mr Locke’s party given that at times he has been supportive of international terrorist groups and made a number of comments that would be interpreted by any reasonable new Zealander that he is supportive of international terrorists?

(Series of Points of Order over whether Mr Locke is a supporter of terrorism, in particular Pol Pot)

A: I think there are a number of members who have made past comments which they no longer stand by in particular I remember a present member of the National Party calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist and how many would now stand by that?

Question 4.

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

Q: What is her response to Willie Jackson's statement that "[Hon] Jim [Anderton] can kid himself that he's the leader in Parliament but we all know that the leader of the Alliance will be [Hon] Laila [Harré]", and what impact do such statements have on coalition stability?

A: (Michael Cullen answering) Nil

Bill English: Does the Prime Minister accept the statement by Laila Harre, Liz Gordon and Willie Jackson that Laila Harre is the duly elected leader and why doesn’t she recognise her as the leader of the Alliance?

A: Laila Harre is the leader of the Alliance outside Parliament, the leader of the Alliance inside Parliament is Jim Anderton, that has been notified to the speaker, no letter has been received by anybody indicating otherwise.

Richard Prebble: Is the Government in any way concerned by the sophistry of the Alliance MPs posing that it is now reflecting the on the integrity of the whole government or is it Labour’s view that provided they can win a confidence vote they don’t care what betrayals their supporters have done.

A: I am not aware of any betrayal, compared with the honourable member who promised not to sell public assets before the 1987 election while he intended to so, he is in no position to point bones.

Bill English: Can the Prime Minister explain how the arrangements described today meet the definition of electoral integrity.

A: Yes all 10 Alliance MPs continue to vote in accordance with the policies they stood under for the general election one of which was to support the Labour collation government.

Question 5.

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

Q: How many people were declined a permit to enter New Zealand at the border between 1 January and 31 December 2000, and how does that compare to the numbers of declined permits between 1 January and 31 December 2001?

A: During the 2000 year 1,591 people arriving at the border were declined entry and in the 2001 calendar year 390 people were declined a permit at the border, a reduction to a quarter of the previous year’s numbers.

C: What nationality topped the list of declined people for each year and what was the reason for that change?

A: In 2000 Thailabnd topped the list at 1,243 declined entries in 2001 it was Malaysia with 52 declined entires followed by the United States with 27. The reason for the difference was the suspension of the Thai visa waiver which has enabled immigration to ascertain bona fides prior to departure for New Zealand

Question 6.

Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (ACT) to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Mark Burton:

Q: Has he read New Zealand Post Limited deputy chairman Mr Syd Bradley's letter to Dr Ross Armstrong of 6 September 2001, referring to "serious accounting standards being breeched" and calling for a "full external audit" of overseas operations; if so, what action, if any has he taken?

A: Yes and I have discussed it with Mr Bradley.

Richard Prebble: Can the minister give the house any reason why any Minister having read that letter would not immediately request the Auditor General to make a full external audit of NZ Post’s external operations especially given the large amounts of money alleged to have been misspent and misplaced?

A: Because in light in of the conversation I had with Mr Bradley and his public statements clearly he regards a s a member of the board that those matters are no longer a matter of concern and the issues have been resolved.

Question 7.

RON MARK (NZ First) to the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson:

Q: What importance does his department place upon meeting the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi when reaching administrative decisions?

A: The department places great importance on the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Doug Woollerton: If te principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are important as directed why has the department failed to respond to the wises of Ngati Ngahoa hapu over the proposed siting of the Auckland’s men’s prison?

A: There is extensive consultation going on, there are always people for and against the siting of a prison.

Question 8.

Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National) to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises Mark Burton:

Q: Has he seen the statement of the deputy chairman of New Zealand Post Limited, Mr Syd Bradley, in a confidential letter dated 6 September 2001, to the chairman of New Zealand Post Limited, Dr Armstrong, that in relation to the chief executive of New Zealand Post Limited, Mr Elmar Toime, he does "not now have the necessary trust and confidence in his judgment and decision-making for him to continue to lead the company for another term"; if so, what actions does he propose to take?

A: Yes, I have also seen the statement buy Mr Bradley yesterday that he supports the decisions collectively made by the NZ Post board regarding the Chief Executive’s performance payment and the renewal of his employment contract. These views were reflected in his direct conversation with me and in his interviews with the media.

MURRAY McCully: In light of the reference in Mr Bradley letter ‘the media leak concerning the chief executive’s potential salary which the chair had confirmed as accurate’ what step would the minister take indeed it was found that he has seriously mislead the parliament and the public?

A: The details of chief executive’s potential salary are explicitly not discussed with the minister but I do understand that not only has the matter been discussed with the subcommmittee the members sits on but further details have been provided directly to the committee. I am sure that members of the committee will give proper consideration to the information provided to them.

Peter Dunne: In the light of this and other revelations concerning NZ Post does he retains full and undiminished confidence in the board of NZ Post?

A: I have confidence in the board, the matters raised within this letter

the board member concerned said to the finance committee of this house and publicly said he was fully satisfied the matters raised have been settled to his satisfaction.

Rodney Hide: In the light of the Syd Bradley letter how come Ross Armstrong is still chairman of NZ Post and TVNZ given that Ross Armstrong has repeatedly shown himself incapable of telling the truth?

A: I retain confidence in the Board and I think that is the sort of abuse of privilege in this house that member has become synonymous with.

Question 9.

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

Q: What recent initiatives have been put in place to improve access to pharmaceuticals and reduce hospital admissions?

A: (Ruth Dyson answering ) Last week I launched Pharmac’s Take Control Of Your Cholesterol Campaign a package of measures which includes a widen of access to statins, these drugs are used to loer cholestoeral levels and reduce the risk of heart attacks and more New Zealanders will now have access to them on a subsidised basis. The campaign is a package of measure which will increase peoples awareness of heart disease. Pharmac advises this will reduce the number of hospitalisations.

Peter Dunne: Is the government proposing to allow primary healthcare organisations to own pharmacies and how does this contribute to imporiving access to pharmeceuticals and lower hospital admissions

A: The ownership issue is before cabinet at the moment.

Question 10.

GERRY BROWNLEE (National) to the Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey:

Q: What criteria do budding artists have to fulfil to qualify for the "artists' dole" scheme?

A: (Judith Tizard answering) – I am informed there is no scheme by that name.

Gerry Brownlee: Can the Minister tell the House if a budding artist claims the dole do they actually have to produce the art they sign or can they do as the Prime Minister do and claim to be to busy and then personally attack the person who discovers their forgery?

A: Pathways To Arts And Cultural Employment is a jobs programme responding the needs of creative industries. Clients have to be currently unemployed possess skills in the creative industry and be actively looking for work. PACE helps people get off the dole. The criteria is exactly the same as for the unemployment benefit but is open for people who have prospects in the creative industries which has been identified as the biggest growing industry in the world.

Question 11.

H V ROSS ROBERTSON (Labour) to the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Judith Tizard:

Q: How is the Government seeking to encourage New Zealanders to save the nation's memories of war?

A: The government pledged to preserve and protect New Zealand’s cultural heritage, in February the Prime Minister launched the campaign to preserve diaries, letters, photos and other materials form New Zealand’s war experience. The campaign called Lest We forget is encouraging people to deposit relevant material at their local libraries. Yesterday a selection of documents were handed over the national library they included a letter dated from 1865 form a soldier in the Waikato war, a memoir form a WW1 soldier and leaflets dropped over France and Germany in 1941,

BV: In light of the Government’s encouragement will the government fund the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s completion project?

A: A budget bid has been made, I will wait for an announcement in the budget

Question 12.

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

Q: What programmes, if any, are available to convicted fraudsters in prison to help them mend their ways?

A: There are a wide range of programmes to reduce re-offending , one of the best examples is Straight Thinking, a cognitive skills programme for inmates which has been highly successful.

Nick Smith: Does he stand by his statement made in this House that members who left their parties were guilty of fraud and if so will he be offering the Straight Thinking course to himself and his Alliance colleagues

A: I stand by all statements I have made in this Parliament.

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