DAVID BENSON-POPE (Senior Whip—NZ Labour)
: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. There has been a discussion amongst the other whips, and it has been agreed that we deal with these clauses in the same way as the previous bill. I seek leave for the debate on the clause to be one wide-ranging debate, with the questions being put at the end of that debate.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Is there any objection to that course of action being taken? There appears to be none.
JOHN CARTER (Senior Whip—NZ National)
: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. We are actually debating clauses 1 to 41 and the schedules. I thought we had just agreed on a wide-ranging debate over all the parts and the schedules.
Clauses 1 to 41 and schedules
KATHERINE RICH (NZ National)
: It is with great interest that I stand on behalf of the National Party to speak in favour of the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Bill. We would like, for once, to commend the Minister in the chair, Marian Hobbs, for the work she has done on this bill, but—not to go too far—we still have a few questions. Sometimes we have to give credit where credit is due. I have done a lot of work on broadcasting with the Minister, and sometimes one has to say a kind word or two. I thank her. However, in terms of the bill, I do have a few questions and concerns.
First, why do we need this legislation at all? We have a perfectly good National Library Act, enacted in 1965, that has done an extremely good job for the last 38 years. Passing bills in this House is a very expensive task. The Parliamentary Library tells me that it can cost anywhere from between $300,000 and $800,000 to pass a bill, so we should not pass bills just to make ourselves feel good. I question the reasons behind the Government wanting to pass this one. I suspect it has a lot to do with wanting to do symbolic things to make the arts community feel good. Having looked at this bill of some 29 pages, I cannot see any legitimate reason that we should be spending time on it tonight.
Things have changed quite dramatically since 1965. Technology has changed. In 1965 some members were not even born. There were no fax machines, no colour television, and certainly no video.
Simon Power: Ray Columbus was popular.
KATHERINE RICH: I thank Mr Power. Ray Columbus was popular. We did not have the Internet. A lot of the changes to the publishing world have been made since that time and a lot of the bits and pieces that need to be protected within the National Library need to be incorporated within the Act. However, we could have done that with an amendment. We did not need a whole new bill.
I ask the Minister why we are going through this process of establishing a totally new bill and repealing the old Act. I would like her to explain why this is nothing more than perhaps some artistic symbolism and some feel-good legislation. A few excuses were dreamt up about why this bill needed to be put through. The first one was to clarify the role of the Alexander Turnbull Library. It is a very important part of the library, with a very important collection. I say “important”, but I mean important to the New Zealand culture and the heritage of this country. But, once again, we did not really need another bill to tell us how important it was. The Alexander Turnbull Library sits there in the middle of the National Library, its premises quite separate from the rest of the complex.
We do not need a bill to go as far as clarifying the role further.
The second excuse was to clarify the role of the chief librarian, which, some would have us believe, seems to be one of the most political jobs in Wellington. However, once again, no real change is necessary. This bill will introduce a whole new range of problems. For example, it includes the word “taonga”. This whole country has had a huge problem in defining what that word means in the treaty. So in terms of including it in further legislation, when the whole country is not quite sure what the exact meaning of it is right now, I certainly have concerns about that.
The next point I would like to raise is the extended coverage of legal deposit. If we look at what this bill covers, we will see that it covers all sorts of things that now need to be deposited with the National Library. Almanacs, annual reports, books, pamphlets—for some reason press releases are not included—newsletters, and web pages will be captured. Certainly, those people involved in the computer industry are very concerned. They are unclear what will be required of them in offering some of their materials to the National Library, and, of course, technology changes. Years ago, in the 1980s, I remember using WordStar as a file format. These days we would be lucky to find a computer able to read that. These sorts of technological changes have an impact on how we preserve parts of our heritage.
Another quite interesting point is that under the Supplementary Order Paper the words “art print” have been removed. I wonder whether that is because there may have been a general concern that the works of Ralph Hotere, Stanley Palmer, Grahame Sydney, or a number of people who specialise in prints were going to have to put their works into the National Library.
SIMON POWER (NZ National—Rangitikei)
: Mr Chairman—
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Good to see you!
SIMON POWER: I thank the Minister; it is good to be here. I was transferred on to the Education and Science Committee part-way through the hearings of evidence and the work that had been done on the bill. I have to confess that when the matter came up on the select committee business agenda I perhaps did not initially take this bill as seriously as I should have. However, when I sat and listened to some of the evidence—
John Carter: Really!
SIMON POWER: This is quite an important point, on what is quite an interesting bill. When the evidence came before the select committee, and the officials came and spent some time going through the bill with us, it became apparent to me that it was an important wee piece of legislation. As we worked through a series of questions with the officials about how the legal depositing would work, how modern Internet would be dealt with—particularly, from my point of view, from a copyright perspective—and how the National Library would control the rights that connect to electronic data that was to be stored by the National Library, I found the whole thing, surprisingly, quite fascinating.
My colleague Katherine Rich outlined some of the initial views that she had on the bill. Some of those did not resonate with me as much as the issues that relate to legal deposit. There was a whole range of submissions supporting the extension of that deposit to cover electronic publications. At first glance that might seem like a pretty standard, uninteresting thing to say. In fact it is an extremely difficult thing to do, not only in terms of gathering and maintaining that information, not only in terms of the copyright and the legal issues that surround who owns that information, but also in the way in which Internet and electronic information can change so quickly. The question for the officials was: “How do we capture a moment in time of that electronic information, then commit it to our records to represent that precise moment of information?” It might sound like a bizarre concept, but when we talked it through with
the officials, one thing that became absolutely clear was that this is not a straightforward business.
My colleague Katherine Rich made the comment that in some places this bill may be unnecessary and perhaps a little repetitive in terms of the practical things that exist. The classic example of that—and I remember questioning the officials on this—was clause 13(1): “There is an office of chief librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library.” To my way of thinking, why do we have that in legislation? If there is a chief librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library, that is great, and that person should be left to just get on with the job. However, it was explained to me that it was not that straightforward, and that I needed to consider other issues about the relationship that that chief librarian had in relation to the chief librarian of the National Library and other officers who worked in the National Library.
However, I return to what I initially set out to talk about—that is, the issue of storing information in an electronic form. Seeing as we have a wide-ranging debate, the Minister, the Hon Marian Hobbs, is in the chair, and it seems as though an agreement has been reached to let the Committee rise early once everybody has had a say on this issue, I would not mind if the Minister would take a call to give us a bit of view on how the policy process works through that storage, at one point in time, of any of that information. One thing is for sure, that cannot have been a straightforward process. What does one do if a website shows information one day, the National Library decides it will store the information as at that date, and then the information changes in 24 hours, which it does? At which point should the library collect that electronic information, at which point is the library able to make a decision as to when that information should be deposited, and at which point does it determine when that information is most important? That cannot be an easy problem for the National Library, and I wish it well.
HEATHER ROY (ACT NZ)
: I welcome the opportunity to speak in the Committee stage of this bill. The two previous speakers made some very good points. When Katherine Rich asked whether this was a feel-good bill, she did, indeed, raise a very valid point. I agree with her that an amendment would have been quite sufficient. We should feel duty-bound to spend taxpayers’ money wisely. How much was it that a bill costs?
Hon Member: Between $300,000 and $800,000.
HEATHER ROY: That is a lot of health care. However, here we have the bill and the ACT party supports it. As Mr Power said, we have some concerns on the issue of legal deposit for electronic material. I will be putting forward an amendment to ask that the term “restriction” in the interpretation contained in clause 28 should have the following added to it: “means recognition of legal restrictions that already may exist for material on Internet sites.” The reason I want to put this amendment, or addition to the clause, forward is that I have some concerns with clause 30C(4), which allows the National Library to make content harvested from public websites such as stuff.co.nz, or newzealandherald.co.nz, available via the Internet. There are two implications from that. The first is that the viability of some publishers of commercial news archives may well be threatened. I would welcome the Minister taking a call and assuring the Committee that that is not the intention of that provision. I am sure that it is not, but it would be good to know that was not the case. Many of those organisations survive because they are able to sell their information, and it is essential that when the library is asked for that information to be given out, the information will be still protected.
Another concern I have is the requirement for the National Library to gain agreement from affected publishers prior to the library making material available via the Internet. It is legally protected at the moment, so not everybody can go in and get the information
that members of those publishing organisations have paid considerable amounts of money to be able to access. I think that is a very important point.
So ACT will be supporting this bill. I would welcome everybody having a look at the amendment I have put forward, and I ask that they consider it seriously, and support it.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (NZ National—Port Waikato)
: I am absolutely delighted to be able to speak on this National Library of New Zealand Bill, otherwise known as Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Bill. In saying that, I know that it is usual to say something about the title. There was considerable discussion and submission on the title itself. Indeed—
Sandra Goudie: There’s an amendment from me.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: Apparently there’s a an amendment, but, as I say, there was considerable submission and discussion on it, and concern that there may be a degree of tokenism in the way that Māoridom is being treated in this bill—concern that there is a lack of sensitivity. Nevertheless, it is important that there are two names, and I am certainly very happy about that because the library is such an icon, and because it celebrates all New Zealanders’ archives. Even now, I see just in front of me one of my colleagues who is concerned about that aspect.
National did not support the first reading of this bill, but, due to the parliamentary process working well and the various parties working cooperatively, a consensus was arrived at over some pretty tricky issues. One of them was the area of legal deposit and the commercial problems associated with it. The other concerned the area of the oral archives, and I would like to speak to that, for a moment or two.
For some decades oral archives were being collected in New Zealand, particularly in relation to our Prime Ministers and Governors-General. I am aware that the former Governor-General, Mr Hardie Boys, was deeply concerned that the oral histories he was involved with during the MMP era would not be available. The difficulty was that under the Official Information Act there was a possibility that anything said by a Minister or the Governor-General could be available—hence even their private recollections would be available—and many of them did not want that to happen. However, through the mechanism in clause 10, we now have an explicit provision so that the wonderful collection started off by Hugo Manson and Judith Fyfe can be recommenced.
Clause 10(2) states: “If an oral history has been provided to the National Library by a person on conditions (for example, conditions relating to access to the information) that have been agreed to in writing by, or on behalf of, the National Librarian, the Crown and its agents … must comply with those conditions.” Clause 10(3) goes on to state: “This section—(a) applies whether or not the oral history was created or acquired by, or on behalf of, the Crown; and (b) does not limit the Archives Act 1957.” The effect of that is that those very valuable oral histories will be able to be recommenced. That is a great achievement for the future.
I must say that during the submissions to the bill I was deeply impressed by the incredibly sincere and extremely conscientious views aired by the submitters. There is something about librarians—and I think there might be a few up in the gallery tonight—but I certainly pay tribute to their extraordinary zeal towards this wonderful institute, the National Library. It was a great learning exercise to have their contributions.
JIM PETERS (NZ First)
: Members are aware that the Hon Brian Donnelly chaired the Education and Science Committee, and that New Zealand First has supported this bill in its first and second readings, and, now, in its Committee stage.
Just very quickly and rather than prolong the debate, I say that this is quite a significant bill, for another reason. I am used to looking at bills that mention the Treaty of Waitangi, and, somehow, their purpose clauses go down a particular track. New Zealand First often finds it difficult to distinguish why and how legal language and
terminology can go down that path. But this bill has a sensible purpose clause. Firstly, it picks up the reality, which is the historical heritage of our country. It puts that into a concise form, and recognises that heritage is not just for Māori, but it is for all of us. I think that is quite a significant issue in this clause.
Secondly, I am very pleased to see that it picks up the oral history, which is part of the university of this town and part of a development that has been interesting, and ought to be more so. It is a very easy and concise way of preserving part of our heritage, in a way that is easier to put together than is the more traditional writing and so on that we normally accept in historical scholarship.
Thirdly, I want to add one other matter. I understand there was some concern—and I would wish the Minister, if she were to take a call, to clarify the one issue outstanding—about the state of information received electronically, with regard to its republication.
The only issue of some contention to us as a caucus is the status under this bill of electronic material stored and republished. I do not think that issue has been quite clarified. I have searched through the language, and it is not clear to me. That would be the only quibble we would ask the Minister to clarify. New Zealand First supports the further passage of this bill.
SANDRA GOUDIE (NZ National—Coromandel)
: I would like to reiterate National’s full support for the National Library and for the Alexander Turnbull Library, and acknowledge their wonderful contribution as repositories of our history, and as collectors of what will be our history in all the materials they put out.
I would like to cover one or two aspects of the bill that I have noticed on a first reading, because I have not been very familiar with it. I have put an amendment forward on the title of the bill. The title is the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Bill, and my amendment excludes the Māori words, for a very good reason—the reason of cost. When one is looking to use words in titles and on letterheads, there is a compliance cost that goes with that. There is no compliance cost with this bill, but there is a compliance cost from this bill, not just for the private sector but also for taxpayers through the public sector. So I think it is absolutely sufficient to entitle the bill the “National Library of New Zealand Bill”. The “National Library” means it is for the nation, for the peoples of the nation, and for the peoples of New Zealand. So the title “National Library of New Zealand Bill” is absolutely appropriate. If further thought were given to the cost of having all those words in the current title, there would be some reconsideration given to this. There is no compliance cost report attached to this bill, and this is the second bill I have had to speak on in as many weeks, that has not had a compliance cost report. That is a serious oversight on the part of this Government, and a measure of its lack of fiscal capability in that regard.
I point out another couple of areas that could have been considered in a compliance cost report. Firstly, there is the provision of guardians, or kaitiaki, as inserted in the bill; and, secondly, there is the provision for a commission, as well as other advisory bodies. I struggle to understand why it is necessary to have a committee called “Guardians”, as well as a commission, and then supplement that with a number of advisory bodies. There is a considerable cost attached, and I would have thought that needed to be assessed as to whether it is absolutely justified, when perhaps just the commission is necessary in providing any advice sought and in working with the National Librarian of the National Library, who is also responsible for the rest of the functions of the National Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library. I would have thought that the responsibility of the chief librarian should be left with the chief librarian, and perhaps not taken away, by means of a committee of guardians, but instead left to the commission. I would have thought it was not necessary to have any other advisory
bodies, whereby there is no control over how many of them are going to be considered.
I support my learned colleague Paul Hutchison in his recognition of the great importance of oral histories. It is good to see that provision, and that those histories are subject to the Archives Act.
However, it makes no recognition, other than that the Act provides for the Minister to have discretion as to when these oral histories will be released. But it is difficult to know when they will be released, given that conditions may be imposed by the person lodging those histories.
I turn now to subpart 3 of Part 2, “Guardians of Alexander Turnbull Library”, which provides that the Minister of Māori Affairs must be consulted in the appointment of guardians. I do not see any justification or reasoning for that necessity. It is a duplication of process and more bureaucratic overlay, without just cause. I think that provision should be deleted, but I have not got around to putting in an amendment. However, I am sure I will if I get the opportunity.
I refer now to the interpretation of Internet documents, and the collection of information. We have seen a huge plethora of information, since the definition has been broadened.
Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Minister responsible for the National Library)
: I want to respond to a couple of queries that have been raised. I refer firstly to part of the title being in te reo Māori. Those words are not just an addition; this is the name that was given to the library in 1987. It is already on all our publications and papers, so to take it out would be a cost. That would really affect it, so it is not about saving money. Some people did think that using Māori terms and a Māori name in the title was a bit of icing on the cake. In fact, it is significant that the library has been working very hard in recent years with Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Kahungunu, and Ngāti Toa, and with their records and history, incorporating them, and using them in the library.
Secondly, I want to talk about Heather Roy’s amendment about selling electronic information. Yes, the newspaper publishers did voice concerns to the select committee. Can I make it very clear that the amendments in the select committee strengthened the situation. There must be consultation with affected publishers before any materials, electronic or otherwise, not already collected are required, and this consultation includes terms of conditions and public access. Those publishers were concerned that we would take “Stuff” in, literally, and publish it the same day. No, that is not so.
Thirdly, I turn to the question raised by the speaker who referred to a “snapshot of electronic data”. Many things that are kept in Alexander Turnbull Library are snapshots, literally. They are photos. They are not necessarily photos that say they are true, because anyone can doctor a photo. When one takes a snapshot with electronic data, what might be on somebody’s website is true for that day, but it may not be true for the next day. That is the nature of historical collections. I thank members for their support for this bill. There has been a tremendous amount of work from a community of people.
One member said: “Why are we bringing the bill in? Why don’t we just amend the Act?”. I think some people were not aware of the discord in the community over a number of years, and of the work done outside this Chamber by people like Lydia Weavers—who I see in the gallery—by the library staff and community, and by the Friends of the Turnbull Library to heal the wounds of a divided library community. That is why this has been done.
GORDON COPELAND (United Future)
: I reiterate United Future’s support for the bill, but want briefly to address the words in the title, “National Library”. When speaking in the second reading debate, my colleague Bernie Ogilvy expressed the concern of our party that the National Library is becoming the “library of last resort”. When most people want to access a library they go to their local public library or to an
institutional library to which they are affiliated. Thus, most people’s physical perception of a library is grounded in their own local area. Moreover, the total budgets and resources of these local libraries far outstrip those of the National Library, and these libraries make their own decisions on how their funds should be used. Perhaps, on both counts, that is as it should be. It would be disastrous to maintain an oversized National Library in Wellington at the expense of those libraries in the rest of New Zealand, and, I could add, also at the expense of the general taxpayer. However, I think there has been a perception in the past that the National Library should fill a kind of “mother of all libraries” role. That ignores the reality of the electronic age, because libraries across the country can access both national and international information at a keystroke.
So how will the National Library remain a national library, in that sense? One issue is covered in the bill, whereby the requirement of “legal deposit” is extended to electronic documents. Although United Future has its doubts about the feasibility of that task, we recognise that for those who live in the far-flung regions of this country, beyond practical access to local libraries, resources such as a national database of electronic and non-electronic documents, accessible via the Internet, have the potential to be incredibly valuable. Once again, that database could be viewed as an information source of last resort, but the right of access to a library for people in those circumstances should be equal to the right of any other citizen. To this extent, it is still a national library.
But, to avoid being viewed as a default library, the National Library of New Zealand also needs to reinvent itself. It is the only place where all New Zealand publications may be found—something that is endorsed in this bill. Yet we should not come to treat it as a place where treasures are contained, but never see the light of day. The cornucopia could easily become a mausoleum. That was the tenor of some of the submissions regarding the clarification of the relationship between the Alexander Turnbull Library and the National Library, and some submitters were concerned that access to rare and historical material would be restricted. The bill ensures that the holdings of the Alexander Turnbull Library are secure and able to be loaned—provisions that are welcomed.
But the general issue remains. For it to be a true national library, as the title of the bill affirms, there needs to be a much greater effort to share the treasures inside with the rest of the country. That is the real challenge facing the National Library, but perhaps it is one that goes beyond the relatively constrained parameters of this bill.
KATHERINE RICH (NZ National)
: I am glad to take a second call in this debate. Because it is a wide-ranging debate, I would like to take the opportunity to thank those members of the National Library staff who have been involved in taking the bill this far, and, once again, to pay tribute to Lydia Weavers. I was a trustee on the National Library for a period of time and I saw at first hand the skill and dedication of Lydia Weavers and the meticulous approach she took to ensuring that the Alexander Turnbull Library and the trustees could put their best foot forward. I suppose that part of her work was planning the demise of the trustees—as they will now be broken into the guardians and the commission—but I think she needs to be recognised for a job well done.
I still have a few questions remaining about this bill, which the Minister has not covered. I do not think she has quite covered the issue of how different formats will be dealt with when it comes to dealing with a wide range of electronic media. The materials that will perhaps come from the 1980s, from the 1990s, and from more recently, will have to be stored in such a way they can be retrieved easily. In my last speech I gave an example of some of the files we used when the use of computers was becoming widespread in the 1980s. Some of those documents we wrote at the time would not be accessible these days unless we had the software, the machinery, and the
whole bit, in order to be able to retrieve that information.
It is good to see a number of members taking calls on this bill. Although the bill seems quite technical in nature, it really highlights the importance of the National Library. When I first became a member in 1999 I was very lucky to be given the spokesmanship for the National Library. One of the first things I did was go to the National Library and take a tour. That was an absolute eye-opener, and, in a way, I think I became a born-again National Library convert. The library staff arranged quite a creative tour. They showed me a lot of things that I suspect they knew I would have an interest in, so I looked at old music memorabilia, posters, old political pamphlets—you name it. It was quite amazing to see what is kept in the Alexander Turnbull Library, as well as in the National Library as a whole.
I think it is a good reminder to all of us that the whole point of keeping documents and parts of our heritage is not so much keeping them for their own sake. They are kept so that they can be enjoyed by the entire New Zealand community, so that they can be used as the basis for research, and so that following generations will be able to learn a little bit about the generations that have gone before. That is why we keep the memorabilia, old copies of the
New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, and all sorts of things that document different parts of our heritage.
But, in keeping that material, it is important to be able to disseminate it, and to use and spread knowledge of that material throughout the community. One of the things that did concern me when I first looked at the bill was clause 11(3), which states: “Except to the extent provided by section 14A, the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library must remain in the custody of the National Library at all times.” The unintended consequence of that clause was to ensure that nothing could leave the library—ever.
I think one of the good things about the library is that materials can be drawn from its collections and used in other presentations and exhibitions, for example, Sophie Jerram’s
Posted Love exhibition. Ms Jerram took a whole range of love letters from the last 100 or so years and put them all together in an exhibition that travelled up and down the country. It came to Dunedin. I am glad to see that the select committee realised that clause 11, as it was, would be overly restrictive. It would not allow those sorts of exhibitions to travel. The Jack Lovelock exhibition was another one that would not have been able to travel had all the materials been kept within just the Alexander Turnbull Library and the National Library at all times.
I am interested in the role of the guardians. I am not 100 percent sure what their role will be. In the way they are described in this bill they sound a bit like glamorised security guards and protectors of the collections. I would like to see a better explanation of what is expected of them, and what they will be doing in terms of their protection of the Alexander Turnbull Library. The reason for that, of course, is to be able to measure what they do and to be able to judge whether parts of the bill have been put in place correctly.
I also make that point about the commission. I think there needs to be a clearer definition of its role so that all people involved in the library, and the public at large, can be aware that things are being done well.
Once again, I say that this is an important bill. Although sometimes people look upon libraries as not being as exciting as they should be, when we get in amongst them we find they are a repository of knowledge. They are exciting places. The National Library is particularly exciting when we go in and see a lot of the photos, posters, and snapshots of the past. I think there is an opportunity for us to begin to understand a lot about ourselves as people of a country, and about the generations that have gone before. I think it is timely that electronic aspects have been brought into the bill. I have some concerns about formatting and storage, and I am a bit unsure about what exactly will be
collected, because by the way this bill reads, everything from Wayne Mapp’s newsletter down to the National Party’s web page will be captured.
Hon Tony Ryall: That’s not going to be stored in the National Library, is it?
KATHERINE RICH: Absolutely! Technically, according to this bill, Wayne Mapp is a printer and publisher, and he will have to forward his newsletter.
Hon Tony Ryall: What about
KATHERINE RICH: That goes for
Collins Comments, and also for
. I think the worldwide headquarters of
will be appalled to know that its newsletter will have to be submitted on a weekly basis, for the purpose of preserving the heritage of this country.
Once again, I thank the staff of the National Library. I will leave it there, except to say that National will be supporting this bill.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (NZ National—Port Waikato)
: I was very interested to hear my colleague talk about those pinnacles of English literature—Collins Comments and
etc. However, I want to concentrate again on clause 30 and the area of legal deposit, because it was that area that we as a party were very concerned about before the bill went to the House, then to the select committee, and under the very good interparty collaboration in the select committee, emerged triumphantly. I just wanted to make the point that it was only in December last year that the
stated that under New Zealand legal deposit rules, publishers already had to provide the library with three copies of any book they published, free of charge. The article said that the National Library Bill was set to extend that obligation to cover any type of CD Rom, video, or other electronic media listed by the Minister, and that the National Library would be free to automatically harvest what it wanted from the web. What a great term “harvest” is. The permutations and combinations associated with that term, and the changes in technology, are absolutely limitless.
The article went on to state that the National Library had become increasingly strident in its efforts to avoid irrelevance in the face of an explosion of online information, and was also set to win the right to convert deposited books into electronic form. It then went on to say that the Newspaper Publishers Association had said that the bill gave the responsible Minister too much discretion to decide what was and what was not a public document, and could impose significant costs on publishers. The Minister, Marian Hobbs, is in the chair, and I would ask her to elucidate a few aspects of that issue.
Interestingly, the reply from the Chief Librarian to that article was fairly succinct, and she put our concerns to rest. [Interruption] No, she did not use those terms, Mr Carter. She said: “The bill gives the National Library the ability to harvest and make available web content that is already accessible without restrictions. However, the National Library would protect the commercial interests of publishers.” That is absolutely vital. Web content that generates revenue—for example, a searchable database and other subscriber-based services, would be made publicly available only if publishers agreed. That is utterly key. I would certainly like the Minister to just take a small call to assure the Committee that that aspect is absolutely watertight, because nothing would be worse than finding in the future that those commercial interests were lost.
The Chief Librarian then went on to say: “It is incorrect to say that the library is set to win the right to convert deposited books into electronic format. Books that the library receives in hard copy format can’t be converted into electronic format, except under the terms of the Copyright Act 1994. The National Library bill proposes no change to that.” So might the Minister be able to tell us that that is absolutely watertight?
The other point I want to make is that in clause 30(3) there is something that gives
me a bit of trepidation. It says: “The Minister may, by notice in the
Gazette, authorise the National Librarian to make a copy, at any time or times and at his or her discretion, of public documents that are internet documents in accordance with any terms and conditions as to format, public access, or other matters that are specified in the notice.” That provision really gives the Minister carte blanche. She may authorise the gazetting of anything that takes her fancy.
To my mind, one of the greatest worries about the Internet today is deciphering quality from the absolutely unmitigated conglomeration of explosive verbiage that comes across it. It requires huge skills of discrimination. Again, I would like the Minister to take a call and absolutely assure the Committee that successive Ministers are likely to be discriminating in terms of that particular clause, because it gives a Minister huge possibilities and licence.
I want to end by just saying that this is indeed a great moment in terms of celebrating a very important New Zealand institution—the National Library of New Zealand.
- The question was put that the following amendment in the name of Heather Roy to clause 28 be agreed to:
to amend subclause (1) by adding to the definition of
restriction the following paragraph:
(c)means recognition of legal restrictions that already may exist for material on internet sites.
A party vote was called for on the question,
That the amendment be agreed to.
||New Zealand National 24; New Zealand First 13; ACT New Zealand 7.
||Labour 52; Green Party 8; United Future 8.
|Amendment not agreed to.
- The question was put that the amendments set out on Supplementary Order Paper 75 and the following amendments in the name of the Hon Marian Hobbs be agreed to:
to amend subclause (3) of clause 9 by inserting, before the word “ownership”, the word “the”; and
to omit from the heading of clause 23 the word “Functions”, and substitute the word “Function”; and
to omit from subclause (1) of clause 23 the words “functions of the Commission are”, and substitute the words “function of the Commission is”.