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Questions Of The Day (7-12)

Questions For Oral Answer Tuesday, 27 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.

Dr Wayne Mapp to the Minister of Social Services, Work and Income Roger Sowry:

Q: Has he received any recent information about public perceptions of the current arrangements for New Zealand superannuation?

A: Last week a survey was released. An overwhelming majority of NZers agree that changes need to be made. Most also believe that addressing the problem should be a high priority for the government. A long term sustainable super policy is absolutely critical. In 30 years there will be more than 1 million NZers aged over 60. With no change the cost of Super is likely to increase from 14% to 22% of government expenditure. The National Party policy is to wait for a report from the Super 2000 policy and then build a consensus. However it will be difficult to develop a consensus while Labour says it can do something it can't . There is not an economist in NZ who has been prepared to come out and back Dr Cullen's hair-brained scheme.

Question 8.

Lianne Dalziel to the Minister of Social Services, Work and Income Roger Sowry:

Q: Which output class does the employment of a Work and Income New Zealand brand manager contribute to?

A: The brand manager is a member of the National Office staff. A consistent style and brand is important so people know where they go to get service. The staff member is responsible for administering the fit-out of offices as the departments merge.

Q: (Rod Donald - Green/Alliance) Can he confirm that $9000 was paid to Christine Rankin's partner for a conference at the Logan Campbell Centre?

A: No I can't. I haven't got a clue.

(The minister later clarified and added to his answer - a conference took place at the Logan Park but the General Manager's husband was in no way involved.)

Question 9.

Laila Harre to the Minister of Communications Maurice Williamson:

Q: Now that the Crown Law Office has advised the Government that Telecom's proposal to charge for local calls for internet usage to numbers prefixed with numbers other than 0867 breaches the Kiwi share, will he be advising the shareholding Minister to use the Kiwi share to stop the proposal proceeding?

A: (Bill Birch on behalf) The government is currently considering in detail the issues raised by the development including the Crown Law opinion. It should be noted that Crown Law has not advised that it is definitely in breach - but that it is possible it might be found to be in breach in a court of law. Clearly the changes being suggested by Telecom have implications for the internet we will pursue strong infrastructural base for a knowledge economy with some vigour.

Question 10.

Trevor Mallard to the Prime Minister Jenny Shipley:

Q: Is she satisfied that the Minister of Transport has at all times met the standards of behaviour she expects from her Ministers; if so, why?

A: Overall yes. I expect ministers to maintain high standards.

Q: What action has she taken by Mr Williamson's apalling behaviour at an airport that he should not have to queue for a hotel room?

A: The member should raise the matter in a primary question if they

A: Leave sought to table a letter from a fellow passenger on the plane.

Question 11.

Warren Kyd to the Treasurer Bill English:

Q: What options for establishing a dedicated superannuation fund have been reported to him?

A: A number of proposals have been made for super proposals. There have been three reports I have seen and Dr Cullen will need to sort out where the 8 cents is coming from. My guess is that there is a $1.5 billion gap that needs to be funded.

Q: Will the treasurer give me the pleasure of reading the document before criticising?

A: I have made the mistake of listening to what Dr Cullen says because I find Labour Party policy documents vacuous.

(Michael Cullen - leave to make personal explanation - "I have attended a number of meetings recently. At everyone of those meetings I have told the audience that we will repeal the competitive part of the ACC policy. If some Tory Toad says otherwise then they are lying." Dr Cullen then accused Bill Birch of making an unparliamentary remark. Bill Birch - "I want to clarify - I used the words "two-faced" and I do not know if that is out of order". Speaker - "I do, will the member withdraw and apologise" - Birch then did so. Niggles continued.)

English continued.. There is considerable concern over superannuation but what is of greater concern however is the concern in the Labour caucus that every time Dr Cullen takes a position on tax - he bungles it.

Question 12.

Jill Pettis to the Minister of Health Wyatt Creech:

Q: With public health experts now labelling the meningitis epidemic a public health emergency, why has the Ministry of Health not acted more quickly to conduct trials of potential vaccines?

A: The ministry is aware of the seriousness of the meningitis epidemic. There is no vaccine available yet for this strain. We are moving as fast as possible to trial a vaccine for the new strain. The ministry is working with the NZ vaccine team this week. I am advised a trial could be started next year if good progress is made. No deaths is the ideal outcome I will seek.

Q: (Ken Shirley - ACT ) Is he concerned that the vaccine is a GMO?

A: I wouldn't be even if it were, if it were effective and safe for human use.

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