Questions to Ministers
1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the
Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in the Minister of Police; if so, why?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister)
: Yes, because he is a conscientious and hard-working Minister.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given the assailant’s name, in respect of the
McNee case and the Shaw case, what communications and discussions has the Prime Minister had with the Minister of Police in relation to the incident on 12 September 2002 at 8 Rocky Nook Avenue, and is she satisfied with the outcome?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The first time that this case was drawn to my attention was on the first day Mr Mark asked a question about it—I think that was 25 August. Mr Hawkins drew my attention to the question then because the address was in my electorate. I am satisfied, from what I have seen, that the police handled the matter appropriately.
Dr Don Brash: Will the Prime Minister take the opportunity to end speculation and assure Mr Hawkins in the House today that he will continue to hold a ministerial warrant, while she has the power to grant one, in light of surprisingly well-informed media reports suggesting that Mr Hawkins could be a victim of a Cabinet reshuffle; if not, why not?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I can advise the member that the media reports are based on interviewing the journalist’s own typewriter, and I can also advise him that Mr Hawkins’ chances and prospects of keeping his job are immensely greater than those of National Party members, who have been reshuffled several times in recent months.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that the Edwards trial is over and that no matters of sub judice in respect of the trial now exist, can the Prime Minister tell the House what her Minister has done about the fact that there was no disclosure, in respect of this trial, of the fact that 3 years ago Phillip Layton Edwards had converted
McNee’s car for over 3 weeks before it was returned to
McNee, and why was this evidence not put before the court?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: How Crown counsel and the police elect to conduct a case is something entirely beyond the province of the Government, and I do not intend to even comment on it.
Hon Peter Dunne: When the Prime Minister said earlier that she was satisfied with the way the police had handled this case—or words to that effect—was she aware of all the evidence that is allegedly swirling around about this matter; or is it more a case that on the evidence that has been put up so far, the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that the matter has been appropriately dealt with?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It is the latter. There has been no evidence I am aware of that would suggest the police dealt with this case in any way out of the ordinary. I have been prepared to accept the word of Assistant Commissioner, Peter Marshall, who said in one of the interviews he did on the matter that there has been no political interference in the case, no judicial interference. Police acted alone. They acted properly and with integrity. To suggest otherwise is without foundation.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why in such a critical case involving an allegation of murder, and a charge of murder, were the following things not disclosed to the jury: that
McNee knew Edwards for over 3 years; that
McNee’s car was converted by Edwards 3 years ago for 3 weeks; that Edwards had a home in Auckland to go to, so he was not a
homeless street kid; and that he had chosen to be a rent boy—why were these matters not put to the jury by the police so that it would have known the full truth about this case?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I have no brief whatsoever on the
McNee-Edwards case. I say again that the way in which Crown counsel and the police choose to prosecute a case is something that the Government is not involved with.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: At what level did the decision not to prosecute Edwards in the Shaw case take place, and, more important, if the Prime Minister has not been briefed, how can she have any confidence in this incompetent Minister?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: What I know is that the decision was taken within the police. Certainly, it was taken without my knowledge. I heard about it only last month, on 25 August. Indeed, as Assistant Commissioner Marshall has said, there was no political interference, no judicial interference—the police made the decision.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister had been apprised of these questions from last week, surely, as Prime Minister. That is why she holds that responsibility. A critical question asked last week of the Minister of Police was at what level this decision not to prosecute was made. The Prime Minister has had 4 days now to come back to this House with that knowledge, and I asked her specifically that question—at what level it was made—because any assurances of a lack of interference turn on that sort of question. That question arose, and 4 days later when the Prime Minister is asked specifically that question, we do not get an answer.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is making a complaint, of course, about the adequacy of the answer. There is no substance in the point of order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can the Prime Minister give an assurance that there was no interference that was untoward in this case if she has not even bothered to find out at what level the decision not to prosecute was made by the police force—a question that was asked in this House last Thursday?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Because I accept entirely the word of Assistant Commissioner Marshall that there was neither political nor judicial interference and that the decision was made within the police. I can also say—although it may not please the member to know—that I do not peruse in detail the transcripts of all his questions.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Prime Minister comfortable with the fact that the defence avoided a murder conviction by pleading homophobic panic as a defence, when, quite clearly, there was evidence in existence that could have achieved a murder verdict, or a murder conviction—what on earth is going on with a Minister in whom she has confidence who is now involved in a cover-up?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. No evidence has been presented to justify that part of the question. It bore no necessity in terms of being presented to the House.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, I agree with the member.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Point of order!
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. I do not need any assistance. I agree with the Minister on that particular point. The first part of the question was in order and can be answered.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am holding the
Hansard from last week’s questioning of the Minister. Last week, time after time, he came up with the same answer: that he in no way ever got involved in any police case, at all. We all heard it— is full of it—except that when it came to the 35-minute delay in relation to the non-response of the police in respect of a select committee, he had requisitioned a report, thereby debunking what he had claimed in this House was
his modus operandi as a Minister. Mr Speaker, you might agree with the Deputy Prime Minister, but the facts are that the Minister belied his own defence last week.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The matter the member just raised is in relation to a response to a time-resourcing issue, not to interference in a case before the court. The member is not presenting the slightest bit of evidence that the Minister was involved in the case before the court. That has been denied time after time, backed by the assistant commissioner of police.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Point of order!
Mr SPEAKER: No, I will rule on the point of order. Dr Cullen is perfectly correct. The member should just ask the question; he should not tie allegations on to the question asked.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not think there is anything further to be added—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Let me try to illuminate what is going on here. The reality is that Dr Cullen referred to a case before the court, but there was no such case before the court. That is the very nub of the questions in respect of Shaw and Edwards that were asked last week—that it never got to court. So how can you, Mr Speaker, possibly agree with the Deputy Prime Minister on his point of order?
Mr SPEAKER: I did it because he was correct.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is a case of murder involved here—and a foul murder, at that—by a person who had a modus operandi that has been known to the police now for years. There was no charge in respect of the first case, which would have brought a conviction in the second case. It is not a matter to be trifled with by anybody in this House, including—if I might put it to you, Mr Speaker—you, in the way that you are ruling against my points of order. Twice a point of order has been raised, because the reasoning and logic were faulty, and I have demonstrated that. Nevertheless, you rise to your feet—in a case of murder—and say you agree. We over here do not agree with you, at all.
Mr SPEAKER: The member might not, but I ruled and I will stand by my ruling—and I object in the strongest way possible to the implication that I am in any way involved in this sort of area. I am not. I judge the questions and answers given on the questions and answers given. I now invite the Prime Minister to answer the question.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: One of the many reasons I do have confidence in the Minister of Police is that I know he does not interfere in the conduct of a police prosecution, and he did not in this case.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not asking the Prime Minister whether the Minister interfered with the conduct of any case; I want to know what went on. It is simply a matter of accessing the file and making it known to the House what went on—even giving the simple answer as to at what level the police decision was made. There is no way that any Minister of Police in any self-respecting Western democracy could deny the House that, so why are you, Mr Speaker, engaging in that and allowing them to get away with it?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: If the member puts down a question, on notice, asking at what level the decision was made not to prosecute, it can be answered, but it is not reasonable to expect me as Prime Minister to have that sort of detail at the back of my head.
Mr SPEAKER: I just say that as far as I am concerned, that was not a point of order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I would like the member to have a point of order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Yes, I have a very good point of order. It has been constructed by the very people who seek to obfuscate in this House. The Prime Minister
says now that such an answer would be in order, but last week it was not—and by your agreement. Last week it was not in order for the Minister even to find out that simple detail. How many times do we have to put up with intellectual death-defying acts before we get some honesty in this House?
Mr SPEAKER: The member is now starting to get objectionable. As far as I am concerned, every question that has been asked has been properly addressed. I have ruled in that way, and the member does not have a point of order.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Despite all of that, I bring you back to the answer the Prime Minister just gave to the last supplementary question, which asked whether she was “comfortable with the fact that …”. I put it to you, Mr Speaker, that she went back to the original question, which was about expressing confidence in the Minister, but did not give the House an answer as to her comfort factor with the police holding evidence that could have guaranteed a murder conviction and opposed the defence of homophobic panic. She did not address that at all, and I would like an answer.
Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister said that she has confidence, and, as far as I am concerned, that is comfort.
MARC ALEXANDER (United Future) to the
Minister of Justice: Did his officials predict the 16.5 percent increase in the prison population since June 2002; if so, why did the Government only yesterday raise the prospect of increasing the capacity of new and existing prisons?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Corrections), on behalf of the Minister of Justice: No. The 16.5 percent increase was higher than that predicted by the Ministry of Justice. The increase has resulted from a quicker than expected response from the justice system to the tougher bail, sentencing, and parole legislation, and a strong improvement in police resolution rates. The Government has been working for some time on ways to meet this increased demand, including increasing the capacity of new and existing prisons.
Marc Alexander: Was the Minister’s announcement yesterday a woeful, belated response to a trend that his ministry should have picked up much earlier, or was it motivated instead by the latest threats from lawyers—no doubt seeking to stuff their gowns with taxpayers’ cash—that they will take the Government to court for imprisoning their clients in overcrowded, makeshift prisons?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: No and no.
Tim Barnett: What action has been taken to address the higher than expected prison numbers?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The Department of Corrections has introduced a number of measures including using the department’s 4 percent operational buffer, increasing double-bunking at Auckland Central Remand Prison and Rimutaka Prison, reopening the Larch Unit at Tongariro/Rangipō Prison, and adding cells to Waikeria Prison’s
Nikau Unit for women. In addition, increasing the capacity of existing facilities is being considered. The situation will improve markedly when the four new facilities open in the next few years.
Hon Tony Ryall: Why will this Minister not take any responsibility at all for the mismanagement of the prison musters, when departmental briefings from as far back as this Government’s beginnings in 1999 identified growth in prison numbers as requiring urgent ministerial attention—attention that this Government’s Ministers have not given?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Because there has been no mismanagement. The reality is that the figures the member quotes, as he will see if he reads carefully, show that there was a
prediction of 7,000 inmates by the year 2008. In fact, that figure was reached by 2004 because this Government has got tough on law and order.
Stephen Franks: Did the officials who prepared the briefing papers for the Labour Cabinet in 1999 know what the Minister’s Sentencing Act of 2002 would do; if not, how did they know that the prison muster would require three extra prisons by the end of last year, in Auckland, Northland, and south Auckland, and another replacement prison this year, when, according to the Minister, it is his toughening up that is the reason so many extra cells are needed?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The reality is that some planning was already under way in response to things that were happening, prior to 1999. The reality now is that the 2008 prison muster predicted by the Ministry of Justice in 1999, when this Government came in, has been reached at this particular point. That is the reason this Government is taking extra action to try to improve the capacity of our prison system.
Marc Alexander: Has the Minister received any strong protestations from the current Minister of Police on behalf of the police, who have to bear the brunt of his ministry’s miscalculation as they become jailers for up to 160 remanded and sentenced prisoners a day?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am advised that there have been discussions between the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Corrections, and the Minister of Police, with everybody acknowledging that the use of police cells, for example, as prisons is not ideal. But they are used for that purpose from time to time, and that has happened over a period of time.
Stephen Franks: Were the Minister’s officials telling the truth when they said in March this year in their report on the Sentencing Act: “The use of imprisonment in 2002 and 2003 was the same as for previous years, with 8 percent of all convicted cases resulting in a custodial sentence. This was not unexpected, because none of the changes was intended to increase the use of imprisonment as a sanction.”; if so, who is right: them or the Minister, who claims the prison space crisis is a planned result of the Sentencing Act?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: At that time, the Sentencing Act and the Parole Act had not taken full effect. The reality is we are now at the level of prison numbers that we were predicted to be at in 2008. That is a direct result of this Government toughening up on law and order, and the excellent results of the police being engaged. I would have thought the National spokesperson on law and order, Mr Stephen Franks, would be supporting those actions.
Mr SPEAKER: The member cannot use the term “National spokesperson”. He knows that Mr Franks is a member of the ACT party. I took it as a slip of the tongue; I would like him to assure me that it was. If it was not, he apologises.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I apologise.
Nandor Tanczos: Can the Minister tell the House what percentage of inmates are inside for non-violent offences; and, given the comment of the most comprehensive prison review to date that imprisonment, by its very nature, damages more individuals than it repairs, does he not think that a better way of dealing with those people would be to look at more effective rehabilitation, rather than simply locking more people in jail?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I do not have the full numbers before me, but generally I support the member’s basic point that better—for example—early intervention, rehabilitation, and reintegration are the way forward. But the reality is that in 1999 the people of New Zealand called for tougher sentences, following 9 years of inaction by the previous National Government. We delivered on that, and there are increased prison numbers as a result.
Marc Alexander: Has the Minister received any advice from his officials that gives him any degree of certainty that the proposed double-bunking of prisoners would not be interpreted by lawyers and judges as being in contravention of some specious new human right, thereby creating a further avalanche of claims?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: No, because double-bunking has been used quite a lot in New Zealand prisons. The figure was around a thousand, but has now gone up to around 1,400 or 1,500, as I understand, with potential increases in it over the next little while. Double-bunking is used quite commonly in New Zealand.
Prisoners on Remand—Police Supervision
Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay Of Plenty) to the
Minister of Police: How many police officers have been required to guard remand prisoners in police and court cells over the past 2 months, and what discussions, if any, has he had with the Minister of Corrections as to how much longer those actions will be required?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police)
: The police have always been funded for the escort and custody of remand prisoners. I am advised that usually, on average, 70 police officers provide that service. However, since July of this year the police have reassigned, on average, an additional six police officers for those duties. I have had a number of discussions with the Minister of Corrections on this issue, and he informs me that such arrangements are not ideal. However, I am also informed that short, medium, and long-term plans are in place to reduce the need for such arrangements in the future.
Hon Tony Ryall: Is the Minister aware that well over 150 remand prisoners were held in police cells last night, and that large numbers are being held in court cells today, and does he think that the highly informed media reports about his ministerial future suggest that he is getting the blame for the Minister of Corrections’ mishandling of this crisis?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I think the Minister of Corrections is dealing with the present problem extremely well, and in cooperation with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Police. I support him wholly, and I think that that member should support him, as well.
Dr Muriel Newman: With police officers guarding prisoners, meeting traffic ticket quotas, and assisting in the Solomons and Bougainville, is it Government policy that the way to reduce crime is to have fewer police available to answer burglary complaints, so that the public no longer bother to complain; and is that deliberate policy or just an accident?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: No and no.
Hon Tony Ryall: Is the Minister aware that last weekend in his own electorate, one of the very few police patrols in that area had to be taken off the road for the whole weekend so that the officers could guard remand inmates; and could that possibly be one of the reasons why the Prime Minister today refused to assure the Minister of a ministerial warrant?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Obviously, the police are called out to cover shortfalls. Prison numbers are high because of tougher sentences by this Government and tougher bail conditions. Of course, the Prime Minister—I think—has a very successful Minister of Police.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Is it correct that some of the reasons there are so many prisoners in police cells are the facts that there are more police on the beat now than ever before and that resolution rates are higher than ever before; and, therefore, will the Minister accept the House’s congratulations?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Yes and yes.
Hon Tony Ryall: Is the Minister at all concerned by further speculation that he is to be replaced by someone less competent than himself?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I think that that member has been interviewing his typewriter, as well as Vernon Small’s.
MOANA MACKEY (Labour) to the
Minister for the Environment: What steps has the Government taken towards improved flood management in New Zealand?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Minister for the Environment)
: Yesterday Cabinet agreed to a review of river control and flood-risk management in New Zealand. The Ministry for the Environment will work with local government to examine current approaches to land-use planning, identify any shortfalls in the current division of responsibilities between central and local government, and determine any additional elements needed to achieve robust river control and flood-risk management in New Zealand.
Moana Mackey: Why is such a review needed?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: The two major floods this year highlighted the fact that local councils were squeezed between the demand to use flood plains for housing and intensive agriculture, and the cost of providing enough protection from floods, from their ratepayer base. The Ministry for the Environment is working with local government to provide protocols for balancing those issues, as part of the review.
Ian Ewen-Street: What has the Minister done to put into action both the lessons of Cyclone Bola and the explicit recommendations of Landcare Research New Zealand Ltd that farmers should be encouraged to retire marginal grazing land into forestry, so that water velocities are decreased in river headwaters during flood events?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: The Ministry for the Environment has worked closely with the councils concerned, including the councils in Gisborne and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, for exactly that sort of improvement, in retiring land and in replanting.
Foreshore and Seabed Bill—Amendments
GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the
Associate Minister of
Māori Affairs: Does he stand by his reported statement that changes were likely when the foreshore and seabed legislation was returned to the House and he promised that they would take a “huge level of heat” out of the debate; if so, why?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Associate Minister of
: I have a great respect for the select committee process. It is usual for legislation to come back to the House improved after benefiting from a range of public submissions. I commend the member for working on the committee and for reporting on the bill when he does so.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Tamihere has been going around the countryside, giving his views on how he expects the seabed and foreshore legislation to turn out. He has gone as far as to tell a major newspaper that there will be changes that will take heat out of the debate. It is just not acceptable for a Minister to speak outside the House and to refuse to give answers inside the House.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The Minister has not refused to give an answer. He simply stated, quite obviously, that select committees are likely to make changes to legislation. One would hope that the changes are such as to reduce some of the criticism of legislation.
Mr SPEAKER: I want the Minister to come a little closer to the question that was asked, and to comment on it further.
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: The member said: “if so, why?”. Yes.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister’s original answer was that he had confidence in the select committee process, and he thanked the member for being a part of it. Then he sat down. If we look at the question, we see that the Minister is clearly required to address the issue of the changes that are likely. That is at the heart of the matter, because the purpose is to get rid of the “huge level of heat” in the debate. The Minister still has not answered the question.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did say “Yes.”, but he needs to give a reason. I want the Minister to give the reason. The answer “Yes” was perfectly adequate for the first part of the question, but to “if so, why?”, an answer is deserved.
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Yes, because I have great faith in the select committee process.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are no further ahead than we were a couple of minutes ago. I think it is time we decided whether it is acceptable for Ministers to go around the countryside, giving their views to public audiences—quite often conflicting views, depending on the particular audience—and then to come to the House and refuse to give the House that information.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did answer the question. The member may not be satisfied with it, but that is what supplementary questions are for.
Hon Ken Shirley: Speaking to the point of order, Mr Speaker—
Mr SPEAKER: No, I have ruled on it.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You invited the Minister to come closer to the question. He stood up and said: “if so … Yes.” The question invited him to state whether he stood by his statement, and if so, why. He said “ ‘if so, why?’. Yes.” “Yes” is not an answer to “if so, why?”. Could we have an answer to that question, as you specifically asked him to give the House?
Mr SPEAKER: I invite the member to listen carefully, because I heard the Minister say, when I invited him to do so, “Yes.” He did not qualify it, at all.
Gerry Brownlee: When the Minister said that he expects changes to be made to the bill that will take heat out of the debate, what changes does he expect to be made?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: If the member would read the article properly, he would see that it states: “Mr Tamihere indicated that changes were likely when legislation was returned by a select committee …”. It states that changes were likely. The detail of those changes is a matter for the select committee.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Members are required to be as concise as we possibly can here. I could have submitted a question that went to a whole A4 page-length and stated that Mr Tamihere had also said that if the changes he wanted were not in there, he and his
Māori colleagues would be very, very grumpy. He clearly knows what changes he wants. He is telling other audiences what changes he wants. Why can he not tell the House that?
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister addressed the question.
Dave Hereora: Why is it important that this Parliament enact the Foreshore and Seabed Bill?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: The bill is hugely important in that it gives effect to the four principles this Government set out at the beginning of the exercise. They are access, regulation, protection, and certainty. The bill does not extinguish or confiscate customary rights. Rather, the legislation provides the legal avenue for customary rights and interests to be recognised and protected. The principles behind that are sound, and I am proud to support the bill.
Turei: Does the Minister agree that a huge amount of heat would be taken out of the process if the select committee heard all the submitters who requested a hearing, and would he support a request by the select committee to travel to coastal
areas such as Taranaki, Gisborne, Whangarei, Nelson, and Dunedin to hear those submitters who are directly affected by the bill?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: That is a matter for the select committee.
Hon Ken Shirley: How does he reconcile his statement with the submission of numerous iwi who have warned the select committee that this Labour Government legislation will result in widespread disturbances and civil disorder on the New Zealand coastline this coming summer, and what assurances can he give New Zealand families that this year’s beach vacation will not be ruined?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: We can have that conversation once the select committee has reported back.
Gerry Brownlee: Can he confirm that the Government is negotiating foreshore and seabed deals that recognise ownership interests with a number of iwi,
whānau groups; if so, how will that fit into the seabed and foreshore being placed in Crown ownership?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I am advised that—as we always do as an open, robust, and transparent Government—a number of negotiations and discussions are occurring relevant to this matter.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There were two parts to that question. I asked him whether the Government was having negotiations. He has confirmed that the Government is negotiating deals to recognise ownership of the seabed and foreshore with
Māori. The question is, and was: how is that going to fit in with the proclamation from the Labour Party that the foreshore and seabed will remain in Crown ownership?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: The member asked for a hypothetical—
Gerry Brownlee: No, I did not.
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I have no idea what outcomes will be achieved, in terms of discussions and negotiations that are ongoing.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member has now addressed the question.
Gerry Brownlee: No, he has not addressed the question. Last Thursday, Parekura Horomia, the Minister of
Māori Affairs, told the House that those negotiations were taking place. I have just asked the Minister whether he can confirm that they are taking place. He has confirmed that. What I have asked is: how can the Government’s doing deals with
Māori around the country to create some sort of ownership interest for them in the seabed and foreshore be consistent with the claims it is making that the seabed and foreshore will remain in public ownership?
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister said he did not know what the outcome would be, which is a proper reply.
Gerry Brownlee: Why is the Government putting up a piece of legislation that is supposed to apply to all New Zealanders, but then doing deals behind closed doors with iwi such as Te
Whānau-a-Apanui, Tainui, and
NgātiPorou ki Hauraki that exempt them from the legislation and give them an ownership interest?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: The select committee process is ongoing, and we look forward to the report back of it with regard to the legislation. There is a range of discussions and negotiations that occurs notwithstanding that process, because iwi have a whole range of other issues, notwithstanding the foreshore and seabed.
Question No. 2 to Minister
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Labour)
: I seek leave to table Ministry of Justice figures on prison forecasts for the years 2000, 2002, and 2003.
- Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Compliance Costs—Small Business
MARK PECK (Labour—Invercargill) to the
Minister for Small Business: What reports has he received on reductions in compliance costs for small businesses?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Small Business)
: Among the many reports I have received, last week I received the KPMG - Business New Zealand compliance cost report that noted that compliance costs have reduced, on average, by 17 percent per business. That result is in keeping with the Otago University business school study that required business people to record the amount of time they spent on compliance rather than to just estimate it, as was done with the KPMG survey. This Government has created a great environment for businesses to prosper, and they are prospering.
Mark Peck: Has the Minister seen reports of any methods, other than those promoted by the Government, being adopted by business to streamline compliance?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: According to the
Pētone small businessman Chris Milne, as reported in the Christchurch
yesterday, many small businesses simply ignore the regulations. As someone who was on a taxpayer-funded salary out of the ACT party’s parliamentary office for the last 6 years, Mr Milne has first-hand knowledge of running a party that is a very small business.
Lindsay Tisch: Does the Minister agree with a submitter’s statement in the Business New Zealand - KPMG survey: “Stop writing laws that stop good law-abiding citizens from getting on with their lives. Deal with the ratbags and leave us alone.”; if not, why not?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I agree with several things in the KPMG cost compliance survey, and if Kiwi people would be nice, ethical, and have great standards, we would have very few regulations.
Sue Kedgley: Has the Minister sought or received any reports about the compliance costs on small business of the proposed trans-Tasman joint therapeutics agency, an agency that the Health Committee has been informed will significantly increase compliance costs on small businesses in the dietary supplements area, causing many of them to go to the wall; if not, why not?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: No, I have not received any of those reports.
Gordon Copeland: Has the Minister seen the recent Ministry of Economic Development report that reveals that only 27.4 percent of small and medium enterprises last more than 7 years, and that during this Government’s reign there has been a marked decline in the number of company births and a marked increase in the number of company deaths; if so, how does he intend to address the greatest threat of all to small business, which is its survival?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Contrary to what the member may take out in terms of slices of information, I see a lot more reports that show that year in, year out, small businesses in this country have produced 50,000 full-time jobs, and that they are a stellar success in the engine room of the economy. If they were as bad as that and died as often as that, they would not be producing as many jobs as they do.
Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the
Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education): What is the Government’s policy on the purpose of equivalent full-time student funding?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education))
: The equivalent full-time student, or “EFTS” as it is called, is the unit of measure for the student component system of tuition subsidies. Our purpose in creating
the student component was firstly to split tuition funding from research funding. This has been achieved through the transfer of funding to the performance-based research fund and the creation of centres of research excellence. Secondly, we want to make tuition funding more strategic, not just the “bums on seats” approach of the past. We have moved to a situation where funding is now being based on a profile. We have already moved to strategically limit the funding to private training establishments, aviation, and classification 5.1, and put a 15 percent limit on equivalent full-time student growth in any individual institution.
Hon Bill English: In the light of that response, why has the Minister allowed the construction industry and the supermarket industry to access millions of dollars of tertiary student funding for 4-hour induction courses, compulsory for all employees, through which they have pushed 40,000 students in the last 12 months, and should not these 4-hour induction courses be paid for by the industry and not by tertiary student funding?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, they should. One of the changes we are making is ensuring that any partnership between business now includes payment by industry for industry training. We now want to put as much as we can on to the industry training model whereby we have a partnership and funding with industry.
Lynne Pillay: How does the purpose of equivalent full-time student funding and the student component system differ from its purpose in the previous universal tertiary tuition allowance?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As stated in the 1998 white paper, the purpose was simply that: “All domestic students enrolled in approved courses will be subsidised.” A key objective was that the policy was not to bias students’ decisions towards any particular type of course. The Government reserved the right to reduce funding rates if volumes rose more than forecast. In short, the policy was more about volume at a lower unit cost. By contrast, we are now working to ensure that tertiary education delivers what we need in our economic and social development as a nation. It is a vision that is shared by many in the National Party, but not by Bill English, who called the strategic approach unwise.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why have the Minister and his Government set out to destroy the air pilot training industry and its over 700 students by stopping funding of their aviation training courses?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The original reason we addressed the issue of aviation pilots is that we had larger numbers of people who were beginning to run up debts, encouraged by people in the aviation industry to get training when they were never going to get a job. I am determined to ensure that we have a proper partnership with the aviation industry, where it sets out its training needs, and it pays for its bit and we pay for ours.
Deborah Coddington: What action will the Minister take, given his reply to my written question where he admits that the Open Polytechnic is breaching its enrolment cap for fulltime-equivalent students in its life works programme; will he bail out the polytech with up to $86 million of taxpayers’ money, or will he sit back and allow the polytech to go into statutory management?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I need to point out to the member that there is absolutely no risk whatsoever to the Crown in relation to what is happening at the Open Polytechnic, for the very simple reason that the institution works within a cap. It is therefore currently talking with the Tertiary Education Commission about how to manage that growth back under that cap.
Bernie Ogilvy: What is the Government’s policy on raising minimum entry standards to tertiary courses that receive equivalent full-time student funding, following
a decision by Massey University to limit its primary teacher - training intake to reflect demand for higher teacher calibre and fewer jobs to fill?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Entry qualifications for universities are set by the universities themselves. That is their role. However, the House will know that a paper is currently out, after the finishing of consultation with institutions about the future role of those different institutions, where issues like entry qualifications have been canvassed. I look forward to seeing what it has to say.
Hon Bill English: Who is accountable for a situation where thousands of construction and supermarket workers have been forced to enrol at Unitec where they or their employers are forced to pay fees to cover course costs, while Unitec and an organisation called Site Safe simply pocket the equivalent full-time student subsidy to build up their own organisations at the cost of 40,000 construction and supermarket workers?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: If such a situation has occurred, then the responsibility would lie with the institution and the funding body. However, I say to the member who came in here with cardboard boxes full of nothing, that straight after question time I will check every single fact because I never believe a single word he says.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: What sort of snake oil does he expect the aviation students to swallow, and why did he personally assure students at the Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association conference in April of this year—22 April to be precise—that students currently enrolled in aviation courses in 2004 would be able to complete the 2005 portion of their course, and why is he now, again, going back on his word?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Because my assurance stands, but I am equally determined to ensure that the aviation industry sets out its needs properly and clearly, and joins us in funding them.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Around this country there are about 735, or maybe more, students, all of whom believe that their funding is to be cut. But up rose the Minister today, after he had been asked the specific question about whether the funding is to be cut. He gave no such assurances to—
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, I did.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, the Minister did not.
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I did.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, why can the Minister not make himself clearer, then? There are hundreds of students out there who have got themselves higher student loans for 1 year than any other students, bar dentistry, for example. Why can the Minister not tell them now that they will have their courses finished, and funded by him, as Minister?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I said at the beginning of my answer that students who are in the system have been assured they will continue through their course of study. But I am equally determined that we are going to get cooperation from this industry to plan out its needs and help fund the students.
Hon Bill English: Given the Minister’s concern about correct information regarding 40,000 workers being forced to enrol at Unitec, has he seen a letter from Site Safe signed by its executive director that states: “Enrolment at Unitec for all Site Safe trainees is a requirement—our requirement—and should people wish to attend Site Safe courses”, which they have to because they are compulsory in the construction sector, “they will need to provide the requisite information for enrolment, or pay the penalty of increased course fees.”, and does he endorse Site Safe charging workers a penalty of $40 if they do not fill out the Unitec enrolment course properly, when they never wanted to be students at Unitec?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I will check that letter out, straight after this, because I never believe a single word that man says—
Mr SPEAKER: I will not have that. The member must not say that, because I accept the word of every member of this House. The first sentence of his answer was perfectly OK, but he will withdraw and apologise
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I withdraw and apologise.
Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek leave to table the letter, along with a number of others, between Site Safe and complainants.
- Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a very strong answer given by Mr Maharey. He got a little bit carried away at the end, and that has been dealt with, and that is fine. But can we expect that he will be back down to the House sometime before 5 o’clock so he does not avoid scrutiny on this evening’s news, to make a ministerial statement about the issues raised by Bill English?
Mr SPEAKER: As the member knows, that is up to the Minister. It is not a point of order.
Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will be aware, under the Standing Orders, that the issue the Minister has raised about my credibility is one I have every right to take exception to. I regard his statements that my word cannot be believed as offensive, and I would ask him to withdraw and apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did apologise—I asked him to.
Hon Bill English: Not on my point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I am sorry, I have already asked the Minister to withdraw and apologise, and he has.
Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety—Ratification
JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green) to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: When will the Government make a decision as to whether New Zealand will ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety?
Hon JIM SUTTON (Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade): Shortly. If the Government does decide to ratify the protocol, it will take that decision in time to enable New Zealand to participate in the next meeting of parties, which will be held in June 2005.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Government agree with the aim of the protocol, which is to allow countries to protect their biodiversity from the potential risks posed by trade in living modified organisms; and does the Government agree with the approach taken by the protocol, which is to use a cooperative multilateral system of advance notifications of such trade?
Hon JIM SUTTON: New Zealand signed because we broadly support the biosafety principles underpinning the protocol. We do, however, have some concerns about the way the protocol is developing, so we wish to make the decision as to ratification carefully.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: What would be the implications of ratification for New Zealand’s biosecurity regime?
Hon JIM SUTTON: For imports, New Zealand’s biosecurity regime already fully meets the standards set by the protocol. If New Zealand ratifies the protocol, it will have to create a legal requirement to ensure that New Zealand exporters of living
GMOs meet certain requirements of the protocol. Regulations would be required to implement this.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Is it true that 107 United Nations member States have already ratified, clearly believing that a multilateral, cooperative approach offers the best security, and is it also true that unless we ratify we get no say on how the protocol is implemented and further developed?
Hon JIM SUTTON: Yes, approximately 107 countries have ratified the protocol. New Zealand, however, will make its own decision, and it is not certain that we could have much say in the further development of the protocol, even if we did ratify.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: What disadvantages could there possibly be for New Zealand in ratifying, given the Hon Marian Hobbs’ statement to this House 12 months ago: “New Zealand’s domestic regulation for managing genetic modification is already consistent with, and in some ways stricter than, the [Cartagena] protocol,”—a statement that the Minister himself has just repeated?
Hon JIM SUTTON: That is correct, as I said before, in respect of imports. However, in respect of exports, the protocol is still evolving. We do not know the full nature of the legal obligations that New Zealand would be taking on. If New Zealand ratified the protocol, it would be bound by those decisions and would have to enforce them in its own exports of living
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does he agree that if New Zealand does not ratify, our trading partners may believe that we intend to export genetically modified organisms to them without notification or consent; if he does not agree with that, how does he think that non-ratification would be interpreted by our trading partners?
Hon JIM SUTTON: I do not believe that our trading partners would interpret non-ratification by New Zealand in that way, unless they were to listen to New Zealand’s extreme anti-GM activists. However, there are dangers for New Zealand in ratifying or in not ratifying, and the Government will be considering those dangers carefully.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Does the Minister welcome this sign of Green support for multilateral agreements that bind New Zealand Governments, and has he any hope of it being extended to, for example, trade agreements?
Hon JIM SUTTON: Yes and no.
Internal Affairs, Department—Projects
9. KATHERINE RICH (National) to the
Minister of Internal Affairs: Does he have full confidence that all projects receiving funding from the Department of Internal Affairs are meeting their objectives; if not, why not?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Internal Affairs)
: Generally, yes. All projects receiving funding from the Department of Internal Affairs are required to set objectives and targets. Ongoing funding is dependent on objectives and targets being met.
Katherine Rich: Can he explain why the objectives of a 3-year, $180,000 grant to Te
Amorangi Richmond were not completed, and does he think the hip-hop tour media coverage is sufficient excuse for it not finishing the project, as has been accepted by his department?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: The hip-hop project was looked at very closely, and I think the department has learnt from that—very much so.
Mr SPEAKER: Perhaps the Minister could develop that answer just a little bit further. [Interruption] I will make the ruling on that, not the member. I have asked the Minister to comment further on it, and that is sufficient.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: That is being looked at. It actually falls under a different portfolio, which is the portfolio of the Minister of Labour.
Katherine Rich: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was very carefully worded. I asked about a Department of Internal Affairs grant to Te
Amorangi Richmond, which falls under the Minister’s portfolio area. Although I referred to the hip-hop grant, which falls under Minister
Maharey’s portfolio, my question was quite clearly about the Department of Internal Affairs grant.
Mr SPEAKER: All I can say is that the Minister has given an answer. He has addressed the question. But he might like to comment further.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I will call for a report on that and see what is happening.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is in respect of Standing Order 370. On three occasions, in response to Katherine Rich’s question, you said to the Minister that he might comment on her question. That is not what Standing Order 370 states. I draw to your attention that Ministers must do more than simply comment on a question. You said three times that the Minister was to comment. That is not what is in Standing Order 370, which deals with replies to questions.
Mr SPEAKER: I was wrong. I should have said “address the question”, but I did not.
Katherine Rich: What plans does the Minister have for the Department of Internal Affairs social entrepreneur scheme, in light of the fact that his colleague the Minister for Social Development and Employment has canned the Department of Labour’s social entrepreneur scheme; and is his performance, in answering these questions today, not a clear indication of why there is so much speculation about his ministerial position?
Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the question can be answered.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: That is a poisonous little question, but I would say that one must ask that member to put up the evidence. So far she has not. She has asked a lot of written questions, but she has not put up any information at all. She is all rumour, smear, and scam.
Katherine Rich: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister might like to diminish my question by a personal attack, but my question actually was what he intended to do with the Department of Internal Affairs social entrepreneur scheme, in light of the fact that his colleague has canned the Department of Labour’s version. That is what the question was about; it was not about any allegations that I have made.
Mr SPEAKER: Does the Minister want to address that question further?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I already have.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister has said that he already has.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a very reasonable question. In not answering it, is the Minister now saying that he cannot give an answer consistent with the public interest in this matter? The question simply was what he will do with a scheme. He gave a whole lot of babble about what other people might think, or what other people have said. It is his view, his position that he will take as a Minister, that is in question. Surely he can give an answer to that.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: What I am saying is that if the member has any correct accusations, she should bring them to me. She has not as yet.
Katherine Rich: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is the same issue. My question was a very simple question, which asked what the future of the social entrepreneur scheme within the Department of Internal Affairs is. There were no accusations or allegations. I am asking about what the future of the social entrepreneur scheme within his portfolio area is.
Mr SPEAKER: I think the Minister can be required to answer that question.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: In my original answer, I said that all projects that receive funding from the Department of Internal Affairs are required—
Katherine Rich: Is it going to continue or not?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: —bad manners, young lady—to set objectives and targets. Ongoing funding is dependent on objectives and targets being met. What she does not understand about that, I do not know.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Perhaps the Minister could not hear what the question was. This is becoming completely outrageous.
Mr SPEAKER: Please get to the point of order.
Gerry Brownlee: The Minister indicated that some accusation has been made by Katherine Rich against this programme. No such accusation has been made, at all. The facts of these matters and the rorts around them are now part of public record. The question simply asks whether the scheme will continue—not whether individual projects will continue, but whether the scheme itself will. Mr Maharey, surprisingly, has acted appropriately and has got rid of his scheme. Will Mr Hawkins do the same?
Mr SPEAKER: No, he did answer the question. He mentioned that ongoing funding was dependent on particular circumstances, and that certainly addressed that question.
Sovereign Yachts—Contribution to Economy
RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the
Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statement of 4 February 2001 that Sovereign Yachts would “strengthen further New Zealand’s high value marine industries.”, and how many of the 350 jobs estimated within 2 years have materialised?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister)
: Any boat construction by Sovereign Yachts helps strengthen the industry by increasing its output. I am advised that a boat has already been constructed and launched. Another is due for launch shortly. I have no advice on the numbers of people presently employed.
Rodney Hide: Does the Prime Minister have any regrets since declaring that triumph of the “jobs machine” a “dream come true”, especially given that an Equifax Inc. credit report on Sovereign Yachts (Canada) shows the company to be in the highest risk category, with 14 collection claims, totalling $200,000; 17 legal suits, totalling $1.8 million; and eight judgments, totalling $800,000; if she does not, why does she not have any regrets?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Quotations around “jobs machines” and “dreams coming true” are not from me. That is the language of the Minister for Economic Development. I suggest that if the member has information that is relevant to the Minister’s portfolio, he should set down a question for him.
Katherine Rich: Does the Prime Minister stand by her economic policy of picking winners when her triumph has proved such a loser, generating no jobs and no development; if so, why?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: My advice is that the member’s statement is not true. As I said in the original answer, I am told that one boat has already been constructed and launched, and another is due for launch shortly.
Rodney Hide: Is the Prime Minister aware that the Canada Revenue Agency is chasing Sovereign Yachts for unpaid taxes; and can she assure the House that the 10 acres of prime Auckland real estate that her “jobs machine” delivered for a song to that outfit will not be used to pay off those debts in Canada?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I do not think that question falls within any ministerial portfolio. There was a disposal of land by the Defence Force to previous owners, who on-sold it to Sovereign Yachts. It then becomes a commercial matter.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seriously ask you to reflect on today’s question time all the way through, including through to the Prime Minister’s answers, because there has been no information supplied in answers to any of the questions put down today. The Prime Minister was happy to turn up to Television One and TV3 and talk about the triumph of the “jobs machine”. She is on record as saying that it is a “dream come true”. She put in her press statement that there will be 350 jobs.
That is what she promised New Zealand. I come to this House and ask, on notice, how many of those 350 jobs have materialised, and she just says “Oh—
Hon Parekura Horomia: What’s the unemployment rate?
Rodney Hide: I thank Mr Horomia—
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. The New Zealand Prime Minister has no responsibility for the actions of Canada Revenue Agency, and that is not a point of order.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: The member had better have a point of order.
Rodney Hide: Yes, I do indeed. What is the point of putting a question down on notice that asks how many of the estimated jobs in her press release—[Interruption]—and members can call out all they like—
Mr SPEAKER: If I hear who it was, that member will leave the Chamber.
Rodney Hide: They put out a press release in the Prime Minister’s name that it will be 350 jobs. She gets the question at 11 o’clock and then turns up and says: “Oh, I don’t really know.” Well, I can tell her how many it is. How come she cannot find out?
Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister said she had no information on that, and that is her answer.
Rodney Hide: I seek leave to table the press statement of the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, of 4 February 2001.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that statement. Is there any objection? There is.
Rodney Hide: I seek leave to table an Equifax report of last week showing that Sovereign Yachts (Canada) has 14 collection claims, 17 legal suits, and eight judgments against it.
- Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You said in reply to Mr Hide that the Prime Minister said she had no information on the number of jobs. That is precisely what she was asked 4 hours ago: how many jobs were there? All she had to do was phone the business so she would at least be able to report—even if it was inaccurate—that 10, 20, or 150 jobs had been created. Allowing her to get away with saying that she had no information, after 4 hours’ notice, is a mockery of any parliamentary question time. That was not good enough. If we allow Ministers, and the Prime Minister in particular, to get away with that, why on earth do we bother to have question time in this House?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Speaking to the point of order, I point out that obviously the first thing that staff do is go to the relevant Minister’s office and ask for the information. The Ministry of Economic Development contacted Mr Lloyd. He would not give the information, but did say—and I have advice—that he invited Mr Hide to go and visit and see for himself.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There you have it—the Prime Minister had the answer but she denied it to the House. Her answer was: “We made inquiries. The person who had the authority, Mr Lloyd, would not answer.” Why were we not told that instead of the namby-pamby, measly waste of time, which we call Western democracy.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Speaking to the point of order, I was asked how many of those jobs that were estimated have materialised and I said I had no advice on the number presently employed, which was absolutely correct.
Mr SPEAKER: That is absolutely correct, also.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am just following up on what the Prime Minister said. Can we take it from her that there are not 350 jobs?
Mr SPEAKER: No, no, no. The member is trying to ask an extra supplementary question when he does not have one left.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I will tell you why we do not have supplementary questions—we burn them up trying to get answers to the primary questions. We cannot get an answer to the primary question so we ask a supplementary question; we still cannot get an answer, so we raise a point of order. We are on the fourth point of order before we get a decent answer.
Mr SPEAKER: Just about everybody on the Opposition benches was out of order while that point of order was being made. Mr Hide is always the first to call attention to other people interjecting.
Rodney Hide: I will repeat it if you like, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: No. I heard the point of order.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was precisely the point that I was about to make. We have had a series of points of order continuously and continually litigating the decisions that you have given. Again the Opposition is behaving like a bunch of bad boys who do not like whatever the referee says.
Mr SPEAKER: As far as I am concerned, I have heard very few valid points of order today.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the
Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in the Minister of Immigration; if so, why?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister)
: Yes, because he is a hard-working and conscientious Minister.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: If he is so hard-working and conscientious, could she explain why it is known by the SIS and the New Zealand Immigration Service that
WahibZaza, who is now deemed a high security risk and is under surveillance—as she as Minister in charge of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service would know—and who has now been stopped from acting as an immigration adviser, acted as Ahmed
Zaoui’s interpreter in prison, having advised Mr
Zaoui before he came to New Zealand from Malaysia on a false passport which lawyer in New Zealand he should choose if he wanted
WahibZaza, this person who is known to the SIS, to become his interpreter?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The question was gabbled at such a rate that I did not even catch the name. Was it Ali Baba?
Mr SPEAKER: Could the member please repeat the question slowly?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I am happy to repeat it, very slowly.
Mr SPEAKER: All right, please do.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can the Prime Minister possibly have confidence in a Minister of Immigration, when it is known by the SIS, for which she is the Minister, and the New Zealand Immigration Service that one
WahibZaza—who is now deemed a high security risk, is under surveillance, and has been stopped from acting as an immigration adviser—acted as Ahmed
Zaoui’s interpreter in prison, having advised Mr
Zaoui, before Mr
Zaoui came to New Zealand from Malaysia on a false passport, which lawyer in New Zealand Mr
Zaoui should choose if he wanted to get
WahibZaza as the interpreter in any matter to do with the—[Interruption]
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think we should carefully consider what responsibility the Minister of Immigration has for the advice given by a person to another person overseas about which lawyer he or she might use in New Zealand.
Mr SPEAKER: This was a question to the Prime Minister, and I ask her to comment.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I need to finish my question because she does not want the quick version; she wants the slow one. I want to finish my last line, which was interrupted by the Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr SPEAKER: The member may finish off the last line.
Rt Hon Winston Peters:
WahibZaza advised Mr
Zaoui on which lawyer in New Zealand he should choose when he got here, if he wanted
WahibZaza to become his interpreter when he was here.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: At the outset, I say that I will not confirm who is under surveillance by the SIS, or, indeed, who the SIS takes any interest in at all. If the member has evidence that there are false asylum claimants linking up with known lawyers to make a mockery of the laws of this land, then I want to hear about it, because from time to time one does hear that people with false claims get off planes and look for particular lawyers, and that is of great concern to me. If the member has evidence, I want to hear about it.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can the Prime Minister have confidence in a Minister of Immigration, or, for that matter, in his predecessors—[Interruption]
Hon Members: Oh come on!
Rt Hon Winston Peters: A bigger bunch of losers the world has never seen.
Mr SPEAKER: Please carry on with the question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can the Prime Minister have confidence in the Minister of Immigration when the New Zealand Immigration Service knows full well that this man is up to nefarious activities to the extent that he has been stopped from being an immigration adviser; but, more important, why would she have confidence in a Minister when, by all accounts, even though she is head of the SIS, she knows nothing about this man?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I do not comment on who the SIS, or its Minister, knows anything about. That is completely off limits in this House, and elsewhere. I repeat: if the member has information that this man is part of an immigration scam and racket involving asylum seekers, then I want to hear about it, because I want some action.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Putting aside that it is her current Minister, Mr Swain, who is picking up the ministerial payment, the LTD, and the ministerial home—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: The member will leave the Chamber until the end of question time.
- Hon Paul Swain withdrew from the Chamber.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can she as Prime Minister have confidence in the Minister of Immigration, who fails to act when it is now known that an Algerian with the alias of Roberto—real name,
Rabir—facilitated a forged passport for
Zaoui to leave Malaysia for New Zealand; and when will she fire this latest failed Minister of Immigration, with
Zaoui having now cost us over a million dollars?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Any evidence of fraud in this area that the member can lay in front of the Government will be acted on. We do not stand for fraud by anyone in respect of immigration, or anything else.
Bay of Plenty—Floods and Earthquakes
STEVE CHADWICK (Labour—Rotorua) to the
Minister of Local Government: What support has the Government given to Bay of Plenty ratepayers and councils affected by recent floods and earthquakes?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House), on behalf of the Minister of Local Government: The Government has allocated $3 million to help councils in the Bay of Plenty remit rates of businesses trying to recover from the floods and earthquakes. The funding will enable the councils to remit rates on affected businesses and income-generating properties.
Steve Chadwick: What other assistance has the Government given to the Bay of Plenty to help it recover from the flooding?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The initiative is part of a comprehensive package of Government assistance for the Bay of Plenty of up to $30 million. This package has included assistance with agriculture recovery, school and road repairs, and direct assistance to low-income earners and people evacuated from their homes.
Hon Tony Ryall: Since the Government has generously provided support to cover the costs of transporting stock out of the region, will the Government consider providing that support for the cost of returning stock to the region, as it did in the
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: While we continue to keep all matters under advice, I am given advice, by the Minister of Agriculture I think, that in this case it was quite legitimate for the farmers to bear the cost of return. In the case of removal, of course, in a number of instances the removal of stock occurred without the farmers’ knowledge or permission, because of the circumstances.
Judy Turner: Can the Minister explain why the Government has been so unwilling to include the one or two fund-raising projects that had been planned and advertised for literally weeks in the dollar-for-dollar donation scheme when, without warning, it set a cut-off date, which meant that those events were excluded?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: We had to set some kind of cut-off date, as I think we did in the case of the
Manawatū-Rangitīkei situation. However, if the member wants to make further representations to the Minister, I am sure he would be willing to consider them.
Questions to Members
Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee—Foreshore and Seabed Bill
GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the
Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee: What criteria did the committee use to determine which submitters out of the thousands of submissions received would be allowed to submit orally on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill?
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee)
: The committee determined that a representative group of submitters be heard.
Gerry Brownlee: Now that the imperative to get the bill back before the House at the date of early November is no longer a requirement, will he allow more submitters who wish to make their feelings known to the committee to present their case?
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: That is a matter for the committee to determine.
Mr SPEAKER: I will allow one more supplementary question, and the largest party asking for it will get it. I call Dail Jones. [Interruption] I will carry it round, otherwise; there are only two supplementary questions on each of these questions, and Mr Dail Jones is from the largest party seeking to ask a question.
Dail Jones: Did the committee delegate to a subcommittee the decision relating to the submitters who would make a submission, and was the National Party represented at that subcommittee; if so, by whom?
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: A subcommittee of three was formed, and Mr Gerry Brownlee was one of those three.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I was outvoted.
Mr SPEAKER: The member should be very careful before he makes comments like that, as that is a privileged matter because the bill has not been reported back to the House.
Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee—Security
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the
Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee: What steps has he taken to ensure the security of committee members hearing submissions on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, given that the police took 35 minutes to respond to the call for help on Wednesday, 25 August 2004?
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee)
: The committee is responsible for its own security arrangements for meetings away from Wellington. The committee has met with the Clerk of the House to discuss security arrangements for members attending meetings outside Wellington.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the select committee chairman discussed this matter with the Minister of Police, given that it is inside his portfolio, and having regard to the fact that the Minister of Police said last week that he had ordered a report into those delays; if so, what was the result of his discussions?
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: I have had no discussions with the Minister of Police. I have advised him of the process on the first day in Auckland.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Am I expected to believe that the chairman of the committee advised the Minister of what happened in Auckland—and it was serious—and that there was no other communication between the two of them?
Mr SPEAKER: If that is the chairperson’s answer and it turns out to be incorrect, there is a way that the member can approach me. But the chairperson gave that answer, and the answer given was a specific answer.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think perhaps we should note that the chairperson is a relatively new member. I am sure he does not want to mislead the House, but the whole House took from what he said that he has not had a discussion with the Minister, at all, so I guess this advice must have been in writing. If that is not what he meant, I think he should clarify his answer.
Mr SPEAKER: I am assuming that the member is sufficiently intelligent and knowledgable about this issue to give an answer consistent with the Standing Orders. If he wants to comment further he can, but if he stands by that answer, his word must be accepted at this stage.
Hon Ken Shirley: Is he concerned that when the police arrived and he asked them on several occasions to remove identified persons who had been creating a disturbance, the police failed to act on his request?
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: No. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I said there are two supplementary questions on these questions, and I have had the two. I tried to share them around the various parties. The National Party had one, then New Zealand First, then the ACT party.
Dr Wayne Mapp: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We did not actually get a supplementary question on this particular question.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: If there are only two supplementary questions on each question, it is not possible for everyone to have one on this question. On the previous
question, the National Party had both the principal question and a supplementary question.
Commerce Committee—Television New Zealand Briefing Meeting
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the
Chairperson of the Commerce Committee: Why has the “briefing into
TVNZ’s accountability to Parliament” scheduled to occur on 1 July 2004, then provisionally planned for 5 August 2004, still not taken place, and when is it to take place?
MARK PECK (Chairperson of the Commerce Committee)
: The cancellation of the 1 July meeting was adequately explained to committee members at the time; and in respect of the second one, the committee resolved to postpone that briefing.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did not ask him whether he adequately explained to the select committee what had happened. I am asking him to explain to this House what has happened, seeing as it is a committee of the House, and the House appointed this committee. I ask again whether he will answer my question.
Mr SPEAKER: I thought the member did answer the question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He said that I asked him why there was a delay twice. He said the committee has been advised of that adequately. This is the House—the full House; the full Parliament—asking the member the question, and we deserve an answer. There are only so many members on the committee, and none of the rest of my colleagues knows what the answer is at this point in time.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is bound by the Standing Orders to give the answer he has given, because he cannot divulge those details until the issue is reported back to the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has there been any tabled information in respect of the delays that would now not make the matter subject to only the committee’s knowledge; and, if that is the case, why has the chairperson not disclosed to the House what is going on with regard to those delays—is it not his responsibility to tell us as members of this House?
MARK PECK: I tell the member, if he is concerned about this matter, that there will be a briefing this Thursday.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the chairperson whether any information was tabled and accepted by the committee that would take it out of the exclusive purview of the committee and make it knowledge that anybody else could ask about. When will I have an answer on that?
Mr SPEAKER: Please read Standing Order 110.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. What we have here, obviously, is a complete farce of question time. Mr Peters’ primary question included: “and when is it to take place?”—the question that Mr Peck had for some hours. We had an answer to that primary question only in his answer to the supplementary question, when he replied that it would be on Thursday. Why could we not expect Mr Peck to give that answer to the primary question, particularly when he had it on notice? That is what is happening here, time and time again.
Mr SPEAKER: I thought that the two questions were slightly different.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was all in my primary question, so why did the Clerk not rule it out instead of wasting everybody’s time? He did not rule it out, so that means, surely, that it is an appropriate question to be asked.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, but the member addressed it, and this is an abuse in itself. Members cannot litigate confidential select committee proceedings.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am coming to the member’s aid. Again, we have an answer from a committee chairperson that I felt I did not understand. He told the member that there would be a briefing on Thursday. Now, it may be that he means there will be a confidential briefing of the committee on Thursday but, alternatively, he may be saying that as chairperson of the committee he will brief us all—which, of course, he is perfectly entitled to do under the Standing Orders. If that is so—[Interruption] Of course—as chairperson he can. The chairperson can put out a press release. If the member is saying to us all that he is going to make a statement on Thursday, then he could make a statement today. But if he is saying that, no, the committee will be briefed by officials on Thursday, it would have been helpful if he had made that clear in his answer. In the way he has left it, he appears to be treating the House with contempt.
Mr SPEAKER: I want to say that members may ask these questions, but until there is a report, what the chairperson replies must necessarily be limited. Now, the member has raised an interesting point of order, but an answer was given.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think you twice referred me to Standing Order 110.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, may I read it to you, and refer you to it, as well? “A member may not refer to proceedings in committee at meetings closed to the public…”. This meeting was not closed to the public, it never was to be closed to the public, so your Standing Order is erroneous.
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member is wrong. That part of the meeting was closed to the public.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The material that elicited that meeting’s information was not closed to the public; we were all there. I have a number of colleagues who were there, so how is it that all of a sudden it was in committee?
Mr SPEAKER: I was advised of that by the Clerk, but I accept responsibility. I was advised of that, and that was the reason I gave the answer I gave.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I appreciate the problem you have, but Mr Peters in this particular case asked the chairperson whether papers had been tabled that were public. The chairperson has not answered that question. Now that I have learnt that Mr Peters is on this committee and knows a bit about it, I take it that the obvious implication is that there are public papers, and that it is therefore a matter on which the chairperson could have answered. It seems to me to be regrettable that when a chairperson is able to give information to other members—and I am not on this committee, nor have I had any briefing on the matter, but I am genuinely interested in the matter being raised—I fail to see why the member should then advise the Clerk’s Office that it was secret when it most certainly was not. That misleads you, and makes us all look ridiculous.
MARK PECK: This particular part of the business before the committee is in committee, and it is not public until the briefing is held. I would advise the primary questioner to have a look at the Standing Orders, because there is a new procedure there about briefings. The briefing will be in public, but the setting-up of that briefing is a matter for the committee and has yet to be reported.
Mr SPEAKER: That is perfectly correct, and that is in accordance with the Standing Orders.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think a matter needs to be clarified. That committee was appointed by the House, and Mr Peters just said that he was on the committee. I am on that committee. We have been meeting a lot but I have not seen him there yet, so I am not sure whether he is—
Mr SPEAKER: No, no. That is not very helpful. I have ruled.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The fact of the matter is that we have been waiting—and I have been to that committee a number of times; I take the place of—
Mr SPEAKER: Please come to the point of order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, you allowed him to make a statement that is—
Mr SPEAKER: No. Come to the point of order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: You allowed him to make a statement that was fallacious.
Mr SPEAKER: Please come to the point of order or I will name the member.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I missed your point. What did you say then?
Mr SPEAKER: I said that I will name the member, because I think he is trifling with the Chair, with me.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I see. Well, let me ask you this: how can it be that the Order Paper for the next meeting says that the meeting is to be in public, yet this member can rise in this House and not give any information, at all? Are you telling me that the new procedure—which is a procedural matter only and does not go to the core of the evidence—now overrides the evidence we are about to hear?
Mr SPEAKER: No, the committee has not had a briefing, which might or might not be open to the public. The decision to have a briefing is an in-committee issue.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I apologise for this, but I think it is an important point, and is why we are getting ourselves into a tangle. I ask you to go back to the
Hansard record, where in Mr Peters’ question he talks about the briefing into Television New Zealand’s accountability to Parliament. In the second part of his question he asked when that was to take place. I understand that the appropriate answer to that was “Thursday morning”, but that was not the answer given when Mr Peters asked his primary question.
Mr SPEAKER: I will have a look at it. The member has asked me to have a listen to the tape, and I will do so.
Question No. 7 to Minister
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education))
: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your advice, if I can, on question No. 7. Mr Bill English asked leave of the House to table a letter concerning delivery by Unitec of Site Safe courses. In the course of that request, he made allegations of blackmail against Unitec. The institution, of course, is deeply concerned that it has been accused in this way, and I am asking for your guidance as to when he has to table that letter.
Mr SPEAKER: By 10 o’clock this evening—[Interruption]—if he wishes. I am sorry. He does not have to table it. He tables it, if he wishes, by 10 o’clock this evening.