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Questions Of The Day (7-12)

Questions For Oral Answer Tuesday, 20 July 1999

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 7.

Bob Simcock to the Minister for Enterprise and Commerce Max Bradford:

Q: Does he consider that the Employment Contracts Act 1991 has helped in the rapid decline of working days lost over the last ten years?

A: Absolutely. Since the Act came into effect industrial conflict has fallen to its lowest levels since the 1950s. This has increased national productivity. The major advance is direct negotiation at enterprise level - a position that Labour and the Alliance want to reverse. Between 1993 and 1998 productivity in NZ grew faster than in Australia. 259,000 new jobs have been created under the ECA compared to 56,000 jobs destroyed under Labour.

Question 8.

Lianne Dalziel to the Minister of Health Wyatt Creech:

Q: Is it Government policy for public hospitals to provide various levels of maternity care according to the patient's ability and willingness to pay; if so, why?

A: The government is committed to providing a high quality consistent free maternity service throughout New Zealand. On all contracts coming up there are nationally consistent levels of service required. In the case of National Women's they have decided of their own volition to provide new customer care benefits on top of the service.

(Dalziel - Labour - leave sought to table memo on Auckland maternity health services - granted)

Question 9.

Rana Waitai to the Minister of Police Clem Simich:

Q: What are the benefits of the Government's policy on licensing firearms?

A: The bill introduced last week is a key part of the government's response to the Thorpe report and is a central part of the Police arms control strategy. As a result police will have better information about firearms.

Q: (Waitai - Independent) What other options are available and why are they not suitable?

A: I have seen other options such as a firearms authority. The government opposed that. Other options also concern MSSA's we will wait till we have assessed similar measures in Australia and the UK. It is not known how many owners have not relicensed and it is believed the figure is lower than that (40,000 used by Phil Goff). The cost will be considerable but the crown considers this will be covered by the $7.50 fee per firearm.

(Leave sought to table bill - leave refused.)

Question 10.

Pansy Wong to the Treasurer Bill English:

Q: What are the implications of the latest business confidence data for the Government's economic forecasts?

A: A net 30% of firms expect the economy to improve. Current business confidence indicates growth of around 3% and this appears to be more in light with reality. We are encouraged by confidence in the manufacturing sector.

Q: What will the government do to help exporters?

A: Two things will help exporters. The ACC reforms are the equivalent of a 2% corporate tax cut across the board. More importantly the Producer Board reforms are the biggest single shift in orientation of our export sector in the last 30 years. I note that Labour is now supporting these changes now that they are popular. The member should not jump to conclusions on compliance costs just yet. The member will be aware of plans to reform taxation for small business. But it is important to have safe work-places too.

Question 11.

Gerry Brownlee to the Minister for Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Murray McCully:

Q: What evidence is there that small and medium enterprises are benefiting from accident insurance reforms?

A: I have been advised by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce of the result of a survey - 84% of businesses reported a fall in premiums - 31% said premiums had halved. Another report shows an average 36% fall in premiums . Reversing these changes would cost the economy growth and jobs and that is a message the Labour Party has been receiving the length of New Zealand. I encourage the regulator to do research into the extent of risk-sharing that has taken place, and to release information on this that he considers to be appropriately released in the public interest.

Question 12.

Harry Duynhoven to the Minister of Transport Maurice Williamson:

Q: Following the coroner's report on the Southern Air crash in August 1998, is he satisfied that the performance of the Civil Aviation Authority is adequate to ensure the safety of airline passengers; if not, what action has he taken to improve that performance?

A: Yes.

Q: Now that three fatal crashes have found inadequate audit procedures to have contributed will he change the self-management principles he has promoted in the Transport Industry?

A: No such things have been proven. All the rules and procedures you like to be put in place will not prevent accidents if they are not followed. In the previous audit of Southern Air no problems were found. The Chief Inspector found that he did not think the CAA was at fault. In a recent inquiry a leading lawyer found the CAA systems were good but proposed how to make them even better.

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