Question Time (updated live)
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Questions to Ministers
Gerry Brownlee wants to know about the election bill's progress - Cullen gets in a dig.... Speaker announces some report about their parliamentary junket to India. Now Gordon Copeland wants to complain about a young mate of his not getting into the gallery because he was a protester. He had to personally vouch for him. Keith Locke agrees it's a problem, but the Speaker just wants to get on with it.
1. Hon MARIAN HOBBS to the Minister for Tertiary Education: Has he received any reports on the proportion of New Zealanders holding a tertiary qualification?
Pete Hodgson: 40% of all NZers hold a tertiary qualification - 13% Bacheor or higher. [As Mahary used to say "more good news, New Zealand!" No-one cares about this patsy - Nats are poised for next question.]
2. Hon BILL ENGLISH to the Minister of Justice: Does she agree with the chief executive of the Electoral Commission, Dr Helena Catt, that interpreting parts of the Electoral Finance Bill is “almost impossible”; if not, why not?
Annette King: No, she said "she didn't use those words." Must be clearly identified and spend within limits. CEO clear: "inducement to vote" is crucial point. [very long answer - grim-faced colleagues behind her are motionless]. She thinks putting stuff in the commentary of the bill will be enough [ahh, that's funny - why don't you just do it properly? Bill English doing a good job so far - he sounds as if he's done his research.] "Don't be Mr Angry - just keep calm!" says King [he's rattled her! - she's got her back up now]. English: no-one understands it - run risk of prosecution for corruption later on. King fends it off: many people will get legal advice. English: How stupid is this? King: the Nats can't buy it like they did last time [now that is weak, a very weak response] King: it's not my role to individually interpret the Electoral Act. [said in exasperation - Speaker is similarly,] Cullen says it isn't fair on King to put up with barracking. [she doesn't need help does she - is she failing that badly?] Turei (Green): Brethren undermines free speech [is that what she said?] King: Brethren's Tasmanian involvement accused Greens of bestiality [ ... wrong on so many levels].
3. JILL PETTIS to the Minister of Health: How does New Zealand perform in terms of OECD statistics in cardiac health care?
David Cunliffe: [more good news etc. Barbara Stewart of NZF asks something - you never see her]
4. Hon BILL ENGLISH to the Minister of Justice: Is it the Government’s intention that publicity should not be considered an election advertisement under the Electoral Finance Bill if it refers only to “the Government”, and doesn’t mention any particular political party; if so why?
Trevor Mallard yelling out loudest before he can even ask it. English gets another bite at the cherry -question 2. King: it's all about context. English: gives example. King: It's not my job to interpret that.
5. Hon PETER DUNNE to the Minister of Justice: Is the Government considering further amendments to the Electoral Finance Bill; if so, what are they?
And now Dunne gets to help her out. King: Often technical amendments are made. Heather Roy: megaphones? Internet? King: In my view yesterday's anti-EFB could not attract any criminal sanction. [oh, so now she can give legal advice!]
6. GERRY BROWNLEE to the Minister of State Services: What are the terms of reference for the State Services Commission inquiry into the Ministry for the Environment’s employment of Labour Party activist Clare Curran, and will the inquiry investigate claims made by Erin Leigh that Ms Curran was “being employed to look after David Parker’s personal political agenda”?
This is what TV3's gallery correspondent set up on yesterday's news. Brownlee: He skillfully avoided the question. [yes- he did - I can't even recall what he said, sorry] Mallard: Leigh was incompetent - she had complaints, Curran was employed to fix up her mess. She came in in an "agitated state to clear out her desk" - and then invoiced them for that quarter hour! [Brownlee didn't get to far on that one - Mallard's too long in the tooth to be easily wrong-footed]
7. HONE HARAWIRA to the Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues: Kei te hari koa a ia ki te maro o te noho here a te Kawanatanga ki tana kaupapa whakaheke hau kino tukunga ki te rangi; meina ae, he aha ai?
Translation: Is he happy with the Government’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions; if so, why?
Pete Hodgson: yeah we're working on it. Harawira: policies will increase age of vehicle fleet. Hodgson: no "it's junk".
8. Hon Dr NICK SMITH to the Minister for the Environment: Does he stand by his statement on Tuesday this week in respect of the decision by his Ministry to employ Labour Party activist Clare Curran for strategic communications on climate change, that “it was in breach of the operating policy”, and “There is a fast-track authority method that could have been used quite properly in this case, and it was not.”; if so, who does he hold responsible for this breach?
Mallard: they're looking in to it. [Smith's questions are very long - Mallard answers very precisely and as short as possible] Smith: Govt's interference is dodgy. Mallard: I accept their was a breach with quotes, looking in to it. Smith: House is etitled to an answer. Point of order: Cullen: This minister isn't responsible - stuff was said in select committee. [first defender position again - trying to bail Trevor out, Speaker seek's "clarification"]. Mallard: no-one said Parker "directed" anyone to employ Curran. [this is all beginning to sound like bitter internecine Wellington political-bureaucratic bullshit that must go down all the time]
9. DAVE HEREORA to the Minister of Commerce: How do today’s announcements on the outcomes of the review of Parts 4 and 4A of the Commerce Act 1986 contribute to the Government’s economic transformation agenda, in terms of its focus on promoting investment in infrastructure?
Dalziel: "methodology" [at which point I tuned out]. Auckland airport OK about it.
10. Hon TONY RYALL to the Minister of Health: Has he been advised of any recent reports on hospital productivity?
Cunliffe: yes. Ryall: Peter Davis [PM's husband] report was positive [for 1990s]. Cunliffe: health inequalities under National. Ryall: He said resources have doubled over decade - why can't you get better results? Cunliffe: it will pay dividends over years, elective surgery up 5%. [but how much was spending up?] Ryall: asks same question again. Cunliffe: the public decided the Nats were bad in 1999 and kicked them out. [like that's an answer]
11. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS to the Associate Minister of Transport: Does she expect proposed vehicle exhaust emissions standards to reduce the number of premature deaths from air pollution from vehicle exhausts; if so, how many lives does she expect this rule change could save?
Harry Duynhoven: no specific advice - a report in July said "500 NZ'ers die prematurely each year". [really? Prove it.] Quality of fuel is better. Scrapping scheme. Brown: School buses will double in price. Duynhoven: 200 buses on way now, aim at better buses. Fitzsimons: 435,000 days each year lost through particulate emissions [really? is that in the same report? that sounds astounding].
12. KATHERINE RICH to the Minister of Education: Why does he continue to tell the House that the Ministry first knew of sex abuse allegations made against the principal of Hato Paora College on 3 August 2007, when he had been advised that the actual date the Ministry was first aware was 1 August when the Ministry received a call from the media?
Chris Carter: Process in place since 1996 - that was followed. I have now answered 6 almost identical questions about this from Rich. Rich: did the school followed all aspects: Carter: yes. Rich: at time of appointment though... [she's chipping away - she thinks there's a rat here somewhere, but often politicians will get on to something that yields nothing, this sounds like one of them].
Electoral Finance Bill now under discussion.
Bill English gives a good, solid speech - I can't see John Key doing this well. Because the bill is a constitutional issue it gives him a strong platform to denounce Labour for being partisan and eschewing consensus.