Thursday, 17 November 2005
Madam Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House)
: Next week the House will complete the Address in Reply debate. At the conclusion of this debate it is the Government’s intention to pass the Imprest Supply (Third for 2005/06) Bill. Priority will probably also be given to first readings on the Order Paper, should time allow.
GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National)
: Can the Leader of the House indicate to Parliament when he would expect the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill to be before the House and could he also indicate when the House would expect to legislate for the intention to close off historic grievances concerning the Treaty of Waitangi by September 2008?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House)
: On the latter, at the least before September 2008; on the former, I suspect that will be done in the first week in December, though if anyone has a problem, we could rush it through all its stages earlier, if that is required.
Questions to Ministers
1. MOANA MACKEY (Labour) to the
Minister of Education: What reports has he received on the performance of New Zealand schools?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister for Economic Development) on behalf of the Minister of Education: The
Schools Report 2004 shows that the proportion of students leaving school with a level 3 qualification or scholarship has increased by nearly 20 percent, to nearly one-third of all school-leavers. The proportion of school-leavers with little or no attainment has dropped by 30 percent, to one-eighth of all school-leavers, over a 3-year period.
Moana Mackey: What does the report state about the financial position of schools?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The report states that most schools are in a good financial position, with 92 percent of schools having a healthy working capita ratio. Government funding of schools was increased by 7.4 percent per student in 2004, making us the third-highest spender on schools in the OECD. Locally raised funds increased by 2.6 percent per student, which is more or less the rate of inflation.
Hon Bill English: Can the Minister tell the House what proportion of students leaving year 8—that is, primary and intermediate schools—has sufficient literacy and numeracy to allow them to make progress at secondary school?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: In a good secondary school, they all do.
Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that if he approaches the Parliamentary Library or the Ministry of Education, he will find that there is no information at all on what proportion of students leaving primary and intermediate schools is sufficiently literate and numerate to progress at secondary school?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I have not asked those organisations.
Te Ururoa Flavell:
E ai ki tā te Ripoata ā-Tau o Te Tari Arotake Mātauranga, e rua tekau pai hēneti o ngā tauira kei te ngoikore i ngā kaupapa mātauranga. He ake ngā kaupapa ka whāia e te Kāwanatanga hei whakatikatika i tēnei tū āhua. Kei te whakaaro rānei te Kāwanatanga he pai kē ake te hanga whare herehere mō ēnei tauira?
- [An interpretation in English was given to the House.]
- [According to the Annual Report of the Education Review Office, 20 percent of students are “currently not succeeding in our education system”. What is the Government proposing to put into place to address this situation? Or does the Government think that much more will be gained by building prisons for students like these?]
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I am very surprised that that member asked that question, given the enormous amount of work he did before he came to Parliament towards making progress for Māori students, who are a big part of that group. He knows that Māori literacy rates are much better now, as a result of the work that he and others have done in the last 5 years.
Treasury Briefing—Economic Growth
Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the
Minister of Finance: Does he agree with the Treasury’s assessment that economic growth in New Zealand is probably “not sufficient to shift the country into the top half of the OECD within the next decade.”; if so, when would he expect that goal to be reached?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance)
: Yes. When we achieve it will depend in large part upon the differential rates of growth achieved by other OECD countries.
Dr Don Brash: Can the Minister be a bit more specific about when the Labour - New Zealand First Government does plan to get New Zealand’s per capita incomes into the top half of the OECD, given that the Prime Minister indicated back in 2001 that it was her Government’s intention to achieve this objective within 10 years and that now, more than 4 years later, Treasury is saying it is not achievable within a further 10 years?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am grateful for the member’s confidence that this Government will survive to the point at which the country is in the top half of the OECD. [Interruption] That was the literal meaning of the question, if he cares to revisit it. On the second point, I think the member has heard the explanation many times before: a graph or a diagram appeared in a document that was not authorised by the Prime Minister or me.
Dr Don Brash: Does the Minister accept that with productivity growth rates in New Zealand still well below the OECD average, per capita incomes will continue to fall relative to those in OECD countries, and, if he does not accept this, what basis does he have for his optimism, given that his own professional advisers do not share his view?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No. Over recent years we have exceeded the OECD per capita income growth levels, because, of course, productivity is only one of the elements in the equation. However, it is fair to say that lifting the rate of productivity growth is amongst the top priorities for the Government’s economic policy.
Dr Don Brash: Given the clear warning from the Minister’s own professional advisers that on present policies there is no chance of narrowing the gap between living standards here and living standards in other developed countries, why does he insist on dismissing this advice?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The member should not put words into the mouths of Treasury officials. They are quite capable of uttering their own comments by themselves, unaided. [Interruption]
Madam SPEAKER: The Minister did address the question. [Interruption] Yes—the Minister did address it. Another question may be asked for clarification.
Dr Don Brash: Has the Minister received any advice from professional economists that would lead him to have confidence that on present policies the gap between our living standards and those of other developed countries will narrow?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Even the most right-wing economist has to admit that over the last few years, under a Labour-led Government, we have closed that gap.
Dr Don Brash: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Minister totally failed to answer the question. I did not ask a historical question; I asked whether he had received any advice from a professional economist suggesting we can, in the future, narrow that gap on present policies. He has not answered that question, at all.
Madam SPEAKER: The Minister addressed the question, but if he wishes to add a further comment—
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I suggest the member just watches a replay of business television this morning—it might have been a bit early for him—where he will see a professional economist talking about the Government’s policies.
Dr Don Brash: On what basis does he, a former history lecturer, disagree with Treasury and the raft of recent international studies, which suggest that reform of the tax regime could better support economic growth?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I also happen to be a mathematician. If I pick out, for example, the study referred to in Australia, which figured in the National Party’s presentation of its policies, that study first of all makes a fundamental error in terms of confusing correlation with causation. Secondly, the actual data fit is extremely poor, despite the large amount of mathematical apparatus used to explain the matter.
Māoridom—Speech from the Throne
Dr PITA SHARPLES (Co-Leader—Māori Party) to the
Minister of Māori Affairs: Does he agree with the Speech from the Throne that “It is time to recognise the emergence of a new, dynamic, confident Maoridom.”?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Māori Affairs)
: Yes. This Government has continued to recognise the emergence of a new, dynamic vitality amongst Māoridom. We do recognise the importance of lifting aspirations, celebrating and encouraging success, and not dwelling on past failures.
Dr Pita Sharples: What did the Minister mean when he said on
Te Karere: “The Government is focused on Māori development if you do not include the foreshore and seabed.”?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I am not too sure which session it was—I am on it generally most days; more so than most people—but at the end of the day I am very clear on the use and worth of the foreshore and seabed. It is an integral and important part of Māori’s progress forward, adding to the development of this nation as a whole.
Dave Hereora: What successes have resulted from this Government working with Māori?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Several—too many to name. But there have been a number of important achievements for Māori over the last 6 years. There is the highest employment level for Māori on record. Key commercial assets in the primary production sector are now being managed by Māori, with the fisheries allocation process under way. Māori enterprise and economic development are growing, and last year’s Hui Taumata highlighted the progress that has been made. The Māori Language Strategy, together with great support for iwi radio and a great television station, put culture on the national and international stage.
Gerry Brownlee: When the Minister said on
Te Karere that the New Zealand Government is actively supporting Māori development “provided you do not include the foreshore bill”, was he really saying that the foreshore and seabed legislation is bad for Māori development, or does he now retract his statement?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: No and no.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Will you accept that as addressing the question? What the Minister just said—[Interruption]
Madam SPEAKER: There is a point of order here.
Gerry Brownlee: With all due respect, Madam Speaker, I think it is important that we sort this out. We had before from Dr Cullen an answer that bore absolutely no resemblance to the question asked, and therefore could not be considered as addressing it. We have a situation now whereby the Minister said “No” to the first part of the question, which meant that he did not mean what he had said on television, but then said “No”, to the second part, which meant that even though he had just said that he did not mean what he had said, he did, in fact, mean what he had said. That is a very difficult interpretation. Some of us are quite good at “Parekura Māori”, but we do need to have this sorted out.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. I understand his point. It is not a point of order. I remind the member of the numerous Speakers’ rulings that state that Speakers are not responsible for the quality, or even the sense, of the answers that are given. The important thing is that the question was, in fact, addressed—very succinctly.
Dr Pita Sharples: Who are the members on the Government caucus that the Minister referred to on
Te Karere when he said: “The strength of Māori here is in trying to rectify or fix up what tauiwi have done.”; who are those tauiwi?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: They are generally sitting over there.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I know that we make special allowances for the Minister of Māori Affairs, but the question asked where those strong Māori are. It may well be that the Minister, Parekura Horomia, is so ashamed of his own team that he can see strong Māori MPs only in the National Party now—[Interruption]
Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry but the tolerance is about to end. Members know that when there is a point of order it is to be heard in silence. The person who makes the next infraction will be asked to leave the Chamber.
Rodney Hide: The Minister, in addressing the question, has said that the strong Māori members in this House are actually all sitting on the National Party benches, which is probably true, but I do not think that was what he was trying to say. I suggest, Madam Speaker, that you help the Minister and tell him that he has to address the question properly, because otherwise we are just left with meaningless babble such as we have had in every answer to the questions that have been put to the Minister this afternoon. I am sure his answer was not what he intended.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: We are, of course, once again getting into debate, but, at least, it might be helpful if the original question was correctly repeated by Mr Hide. What was actually asked was who the tauiwi are within the caucus, and it was the Labour caucus that was being referred to, not the Māori caucus. I have to inform Mr Hide that tauiwi are quite different from Māori; indeed, they are actual opposites. I think that, for once, the original point of order, if there had been one, might have been correctly raised. Obviously, none of the members opposite sit within the Labour caucus—much as they would like to be on this side. But a number of us here, obviously, have to put up our hands and admit to being tauiwi.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker—
Madam SPEAKER: No, I am ruling on the point of order. I am sorry, Mr Hide, but I have heard sufficient. That was not a point of order. The Minister is entitled to answer the question in the way he wished to. He did so by giving an example. As I heard the question, it had two parts to it, and he was answering one part of that question.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker—
Madam SPEAKER: Is it a new point of order? It had better be a new point of order.
Rodney Hide: It is. The point is—and you were correct, Madam Speaker—that the question had two parts to it. The Minister addressed the second part—it has now been clarified—but how was one to know? The question asked which members of the Government caucus the Minister had referred to when talking about the strength of Māori, then the second part of the question asked who those tauiwi were. The Minister pointed over to this side of the Chamber. It is because he inadequately answered the question that we did not know which part of the question he was answering.
The Minister was being rather economical in his point of order, in suggesting that there was only one part to that question.
Madam SPEAKER: I will rule on the point of order. As the member is well aware from the Standing Orders, supplementary questions are required to consist of only one question, though frequently members ask more than one question in their supplementary questions. The risk that members take in doing that is that any part of those questions can be addressed by the Minister. That is what happened in this instance.
Treasury Briefing—Taxation Rates
JOHN KEY (National—Helensville) to the
Minister of Finance: Will he be acting on the recommendation in the briefing to the incoming Minister of Finance from Treasury that the Government “Reduce the higher marginal rates on personal income (33% and 39%), the marginal rate on company income (33%), and the high effective marginal tax rates at low to medium incomes (in particular for secondary earners).”; if not, why not?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance)
: In the case of the 33c and 39c rates, no, presumably for the same reasons that that was not National Party policy either—that is, equity reasons. In terms of the company tax rate, of course, work is proceeding on the structure of company taxation and on other matters.
John Key: Can the Minister confirm that there are literally thousands of low-income New Zealanders enrolled in the Government’s Working for Families package who earn under the average wage, yet face a tax rate of well over 50 percent; if so, why is Treasury’s suggestion to reduce this crippling tax rate mere “ideological burp”?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: A bill referred to a select committee yesterday reduced that tax rate by 10 percent for 100,000 New Zealand families.
Hon Mark Gosche: Will the Minister be acting on the recommendation in the briefing to the incoming Minister of Finance from Treasury that the Government maintain the current debt to GDP ratio?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes. Indeed, of course, that was one of the key issues during the election campaign, with the Government pledging to do so and the Opposition pledging to lift the debt to GDP ratio—which is specifically rejected by Treasury in the briefing to the incoming Minister. So Mr Key would have faced an equal level of difficulty with the incoming briefing had he been Minister.
John Key: When the Minister said today that he might dump the proposed personal tax threshold changes, and if he were to do so, does he agree with United Future MP Gordon Copeland when he said he was “dumbfounded by the suggestion” and said that it would represent a breach of the parties’ no-surprises agreement with Labour; if not, why not?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Part of our agreement with United Future is to review the carbon tax. That review is under way, as recommended by Treasury. Unlike the situation of the National Party, when over $300 million of revenue is given away, something else has to give.
Peter Brown: Is it true that the supply and confidence agreement between Labour and New Zealand First provides for a review of current business taxation regimes, which is expected to result in lower taxation for business, and is that not something National promised would occur some 3 years hence; so by achieving it now, is that not a pretty darn good bauble?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes. The Government is committed to a review of the corporate taxation regime, and that review, led by Mr Dunne and me, is already under way. National promised that it might happen in 2008, if by any strange chance it had any money left after all the other bribes had run out.
Heather Roy: Can the Minister confirm that it was only the ACT party that campaigned at the election to lower the 39c and 33c rates of personal taxation, to reform the Resource Management Act, and to privatise State assets, and that got only 1.5 percent of party votes, and why will he not second Treasury to the ACT research unit where it would be truly appreciated?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I can confirm that of the 2.2 out of 14 recommendations of the incoming briefing I disagree with, all of them represented policies close to those of the ACT party, which just shows that the 1980s do live on, on the Terrace.
John Key: Has he decided 2 weeks into the Parliament to start publicly fighting with the Government’s support partner, United Future, because he has noticed what a wonderful job Phil Goff is doing of fighting with its other support partner, New Zealand First?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, we consult carefully, unlike the first day of this Parliament when National ended up voting by itself, with all other parties voting against it.
John Key: When he said yesterday that he rejected Treasury’s advice because “I’m elected, they are not.”, has it dawned on him that well over 50 percent of the votes cast in the last general election were for parties that advocated personal tax cuts, including National, United Future, New Zealand First, ACT, and the Māori Party, along with the Government’s own Minister of Revenue; if so, what is he going to do about it?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: What Treasury’s briefing paper states is not at all what the National Party said in the election. Firstly, Treasury said to maintain current projected surpluses and savings. Mr Key promised to lower the surpluses and borrow more. Secondly, Treasury said: “Do not cut the bottom rate, cut only the top rates.” That was not National Party policy; it did not promise to cut the top rate at all, only the ACT party promised that. Thirdly, Treasury did not say to lift thresholds, it said that that was not a good policy. It said cut the rates. That was only the ACT party’s policy. ACT got 1.5 percent in the election, which, to be fair, is 1.5 percent more than Treasury got.
John Key: What was he thinking when he wrote in Treasury’s annual report: “As Minister of Finance I know I can look to the Treasury for high-quality analysis and policy advice in progressing Government goals and raising living standards.”?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Even the most able have occasional bouts of indigestion!
John Key: I seek leave to table the annual report 2005 so that Michael Cullen can read all the great things he wrote about Treasury.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I take objection to that. When a member seeks to table a document he or she should seek to table it and not add little smart-arse comments like that.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave has been sought to table that document—a comment has been made on the way. I ask whether there is any objection to the tabling. There is objection; it will not be tabled.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It would seem to me, sitting here independently, that Michael Cullen has fallen into exactly the same trap that John Key did by way of point of order by making a—well, I will not repeat what he said. I would suggest to you, Madam Speaker, that he should be asked to withdraw and apologise for his comment said by way of point of order.
Madam SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. I ask the member to be seated.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Clearly Mr Hide has been very offended at the comment made by Michael Cullen.
Madam SPEAKER: He did not say that.
Gerry Brownlee: Well why else would he raise it? We have only to look at Mr Hide to know what a sensitive man he is.
Madam SPEAKER: He had an opportunity to ask for it. It was not his comment. This is not a point of order, Mr Brownlee.
Gerry Brownlee: None the less, to dismiss it like that is unfair. He has obviously taken offence, and, if a member takes offence, the member giving offence should withdraw.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: This is a very important point. Only the member who might feel offended can raise that point of order, not another member. I notice that Mr Key has not raised a point of order.
Madam SPEAKER: I also make the point that there was no personal reflection on Mr Hide at all.
Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. When you were elected not much more than a week ago, speeches were made about the standards that MPs expected you would apply in Parliament. As one of the longer-standing members of this Parliament I suggest to you that any other Speaker I can recall would have ruled that term to be unparliamentary. If you do not rule it to be unparliamentary it will then become part of the normal flow of conversation in the House, and I think that would demean us in the eyes of the public.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member—
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Madam Speaker, I am happy to withdraw but in my memory that particular member has used that word on a number of occasions in this House.
Madam SPEAKER: It is not necessarily an unparliamentary term; it depends on the context. The context here was an exchange between two members across the House. If we ruled those out of order every time, very little said in this House would be in order. I therefore ask that we have question No. 5.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. That is a very interesting ruling and it perhaps needs some guidance put around it. You may not want to give us that guidance today you might want to consider it and come back to us next Tuesday but what are the other contexts in which one might use that term when it would be as acceptable? Is it just acceptable to describe a statement as being “smart-arse”, or are there other contexts in which that term could also be used?
Madam SPEAKER: The context that I relied upon was exactly what happened. Two members were exchanging what could be considered unparliamentary comments to each other in a somewhat inappropriate way, but in themselves they were not unparliamentary. I have ruled on that. The context was the manner in which the exchange took place.
John Key: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It is really just a matter of clarification. I certainly did not say that Michael Cullen lied.
Madam SPEAKER: No, I did not say that you did, either.
John Key: I simply asked to table the document. If Michael Cullen wishes to make those statements in the House, he must choose whether they are parliamentary.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I think that if the member had done as he has just said and just sought to table the document, then we would have got right through it. It would have been declined. Unfortunately he, in a disorderly way, added a comment to his request. The member has been here for only 3 years. He will eventually learn that if one really wants something tabled, one does it in an orderly manner.
Madam SPEAKER: The tabling of documents requires a point of order. The point of order should relate to what the member is seeking. The member was seeking leave. He asked for more than leave in the comments he made. That is the context I am talking about.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I ask you again to think about this matter for a period of time and come back to the House. It seems to me that you are telling us that if both parties were involved in a way that put the context of Michael Cullen’s statement in a place that was OK, then you have made a judgment about what Mr Key said. If that is the case, he should have been pulled up on the spot, not subsequently used as the justification for Michael Cullen introducing those words into the usual language of the House.
Madam SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr Brownlee. Once the Speaker has given a ruling, as you know, it is not open to discussion. Also, Speakers do not respond to hypothetical questions. I determined on this occasion, in this context, which is consistent with previous Speakers’ rulings, that one always takes into account the context before one rules whether something is unparliamentary, except in circumstances where terms such as “the member is a liar” are used.
Pathology Services—Coroners and Police
MARTIN GALLAGHER (Labour—Hamilton West) to the
Minister for Courts: What initiatives has he put in place to improve the level of pathology services to coroners and police?
Hon RICK BARKER (Minister for Courts)
: Retirements and resignations in recent years created a critical shortage of forensic pathologists, who are essential to the police for forensic support. To ensure a quality service a specialist unit of forensic pathologists has been created. That is supported by the Auckland District Health Board to provide services across New Zealand. The new structure will ensure good governance and good advice, and provide training to ensure a quality service over time.
Martin Gallagher: How effective have those initiatives been?
Hon RICK BARKER: Very effective. Police and coroners are now assured of a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week, nationwide, full-time specialist forensic pathology service for homicides and suspicious death cases, to perform post-mortems, attend crime scenes, and appear as expert witnesses in criminal prosecutions. We will now provide training, professional development, and a career structure for forensic pathology and collegial support for the wider coronial pathology service—something we could not previously guarantee.
Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National—East Coast Bays) to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs: What are the concerns regarding the “$2 billion” trade gap between New Zealand and China, which he told reporters he intended to raise with the Chinese Foreign Minister, and what response did he receive when he raised those concerns?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs)
: My understanding is that the Chinese Foreign Minister raised the matter of trade at the bilateral meeting and it was explained to him that that was the responsibility of the Minister of Trade, the Hon Phil Goff.
Hon Murray McCully: Has the Minister seen the advice of his ministerial colleague Mr Goff that: “We want to do as well as we can in terms of our exports into China and that is why we are negotiating a free-trade agreement.”, and does he support Mr Goff in achieving that objective in this way?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Speaking as the Acting Minister, yes I do. Of course, it is well known that this is a matter of difference between New Zealand First and the Labour-led Government—which is why Mr Goff is the Minister of Trade, not Mr Peters.
Hon Murray McCully: Has the Minister seen the statements made by Mr Goff at APEC that having Mr Peters in Cabinet would be the difference between having one’s mother-in-law living in one’s house or next door, because “It’s much easier sometimes when she’s next door as you’ve each got your own space”, and can he tell the House what he takes from Mr Goff’s statement as to the manner in which New Zealand’s ministerial representatives are working together at the APEC meeting?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have an excellent relationship with my mother-in-law, so I can understand the reference.
Hon Murray McCully: Has the Minister seen the statement made by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Goff, at APEC that he would be keeping “a close eye on my former portfolio”, and can he tell the House what Mr Peters might have said, or done, in the past few days that would have led Mr Goff to volunteer such generous supervision?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes and no, but I am sure that Mr Goff will continue to take a close interest in foreign affairs matters, as he does in all matters that come before Cabinet.
Hon Murray McCully: Has the Minister seen the statement made by Mr Goff that he had reassured the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer, that “policy from Winston will not be policy spun off the top of anybody’s head”, and can he tell the House what Mr Peters might have said over the past few days at APEC that would have led Mr Downer to seek that assurance from Mr Goff?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, I have not seen it, but equally, one can assure the House that matters that come up in terms of trade policy will not be spun off Mr Goff’s head either, in the same way that matters of finance policy do not spin off the head of the Minister of Finance.
Hon Murray McCully: Has the Minister seen the assessment of the
New Zealand Herald writer Fran O’Sullivan that: “His first big outing as foreign minister had earlier come a public cropper when he was made to look a fool after his predecessor Phil Goff revealed the Australian Government had issued a ‘please explain’ over his role.”, and can he tell the House just what he might have done that would have caused both the
and Mr Goff to assess his performance so negatively?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have no knowledge of Ms O’Sullivan’s comments in that respect. I do not always read her columns. But in that respect I can say that all the bilateral meetings have gone extremely well, and that it is quite natural for Australians used to their system of Government to ask us how our system is now working. We were able to assure them that, thankfully, there is no major change in the direction of foreign policy, because the National Party did not get into office.
Hon Murray McCully: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The point I want to raise with you relates to Standing Order 376(2). The Minister prefaced his answer to my second supplementary question by ensuring that the House understood he was making the response as the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs. I want to be clear as to the extent to which we can hold the Minister Mr Peters responsible for the precise response that Dr Cullen has just given the House when invited to endorse Mr Goff’s work to achieve a free-trade deal with China. Dr Cullen, as the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, was quite happy to assure the House of his commitment to that work and his support for it. I want to be reassured that the House is entitled to have Mr Peters bound equally, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to supporting the work of Mr Goff towards a free-trade agreement with China, as Dr Cullen has done today.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: That last point is not a matter of point of order, at all. That now gets to the heart of the difference between Mr Peters’ position and the Government’s position on free-trade deals. Mr Peters, as has been made clear to the House already, is bound by collective responsibility on foreign affairs matters, not on trade matters. I gave the answer quite carefully and deliberately so as to avoid a point of order about which hat I was wearing when I gave the answer.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member for his comment, and I remind the member who raised the point of order that each Minister is responsible for his or her own response, in that context. So the Minister responding at the time is responsible for his or her own response.
Hon Murray McCully: To pursue that point with you further, it puts members in a difficult position. I am sure that when Standing Order 376(2) was drafted, no one had confronted the notion that we might have Ministers who regarded themselves as not being part of the Government. Maybe the solution is to have another Minister from Mr Peters’ party who can cover his back while he is away by answering on his behalf. Perhaps Mr Mark would like to be a Minister so that he can do that. I saw that somewhere in recent days
The point I want to raise is that Mr Peters is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Members of this House are entitled to question him on his position on those matters. Dr Cullen is responding as the Acting Minister, and I want to be reassured that we can hold Mr Peters to account for the assurance, undertaking, and response that Dr Cullen has just given on his behalf.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. I am not sure that that is a point of order, but I am sure the member will have an opportunity to do precisely what he seeks to do.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. You seemed to have missed the point that Mr McCully was making, which is that if the House cannot accept the words of Dr Cullen as Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs having relevance to the Minister, then perhaps it would be better, given the arrangements the Government has cobbled together, for someone else who can speak for Mr Peters to give the answer.
The House, of course, is the master of its own destiny. It is our choice as to how things will proceed in here. Dr Cullen shakes his head, but we can, by leave, do all sorts of things. I would like you to consider—and perhaps tell us later in the sitting—whether it is possible to seek leave for a New Zealand First member to answer questions about foreign affairs on behalf of Mr Peters when he is absent, because we know that we will not see much of him this year. Part of the cunning plan, clearly, is to keep Mr Peters as far away from this place as possible. Please consider that; you may want to answer immediately. There must be some sort of motion possible for the House to consider, as well.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. As the member knows, it is not possible to seek leave on behalf of somebody else—which, I think, addresses that point. It is not a point of order, but as the member is aware, it is up to members of Parliament as to whether they accept the word of the Acting Minister. The role of Acting Minister is not unusual. We have had that role fulfilled by many over a period of time. Also, as the member is aware, it is up to the Government to decide who answers the question. In this instance, an Acting Minister has been appointed. The Acting Minister answered the question.
GORDON COPELAND (United Future) to the
Minister of Revenue: Does he agree with Inland Revenue Department advice that, particularly in relation to the 33 percent and 39 percent personal tax rates, there is growing evidence of income splitting within families who are self-employed and that this leads to perceptions of unfairness in the tax system?
Hon PETER DUNNE (Minister of Revenue)
: Yes, I do agree with that advice. The briefing paper notes that slower or negative growth rates for higher-income individuals in the $60,000-$100,000 income bracket are probably likely evidence that significant numbers of those with substantial amounts to gain through income splitting are doing so. That inevitably will lead to perceptions of unfairness, because not all taxpayers will be able to take advantage of such opportunities.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister have any plans to deal with the issue?
Hon PETER DUNNE: Under the confidence and supply agreement between United Future and the Labour-led Government, and consistent also with the generic tax policy process, there will be a consultative paper on income splitting prepared that will address those and related issues.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Does the Minister support Dr Cullen’s proposal to scrap the income tax threshold adjustments in 2008 if Labour’s carbon tax does not proceed; if so, why?
Hon PETER DUNNE: That is hardly related to this question. As far as I am aware from questions asked earlier in the House this afternoon, it does not have the status of a proposal.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: If—and Dr Cullen indicated to the House this afternoon this is highly likely—the carbon tax does not proceed and the Government does go ahead with that proposal to scrap the threshold adjustments in 2008, can the Minister confirm comments that that will represent a breach of the support and supply agreement?
Hon PETER DUNNE: The provisions of our agreement relate to there being an independent analysis of the carbon tax proposal before any decision is made about whether it proceeds. That work is commencing, and any decisions that flow from that will be made at the appropriate time.
Gordon Copeland: How many couples with dependent children would benefit in tax savings if income splitting were introduced?
Hon PETER DUNNE: The best estimate we have, based on couples with dependent children 18 years and under, is that some 325,000 couples would benefit from such a policy.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the
Minister of Energy: Does he agree with the statement by Keith Turner, Chief Executive of Meridian Energy, on
Campbell Live, Monday 14 November, that “we have not kept up with the investment programme that transmission requires.” and “we are running just too close to the wind in this country, particularly on the transmission front.”; if so, who is responsible?
Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister of Energy)
: This Government believes that New Zealand needs significant investment in transmission capacity. In conjunction with Transpower and the Electricity Commission, we are addressing the issue. Transpower is currently spending over $100 million to upgrade parts of the grid, and also has advanced plans to spend more than $1 billion on major upgrades of lines into Auckland and elsewhere.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Can the Minister simply answer the question of whether he agrees with the statement made by Dr Turner, who said further: “The New Zealand electricity grid is so overworked that lines cannot be taken out of action for servicing. That is unheard of in the Western developed world.”? Does he agree with that statement made by Dr Turner and with his earlier statements; if so, who is responsible for our transmission system—
Hon Trevor Mallard: You would have sold it off.
Madam SPEAKER: Ministers are, the same as members, on their last warning for interjecting during a question. Please continue.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: There was a further member who interjected. He should own up.
Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry but I did not hear that interjection, at all. People do talk. The other was a clear interjection, however.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: So was the one from Damien O’Connor.
Madam SPEAKER: I did not hear that one.
Hon Damien O'Connor: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I did interject, but it was after the member had finished his question.
Madam SPEAKER: Was it after he had sat down—after he had finished his question?
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I was in the middle of a sentence.
Madam SPEAKER: Well, maybe you took a long pause. I apologise to the member; I had thought he had finished. I certainly heard the first interjection, but I did not hear the second. If the member said that he did not make an interjection when you were asking the question, I will take his word for it. But I did hear the other interjection, which did occur then.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I will ask the question again.
Madam SPEAKER: Please do.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. If we are going to have points of order, then let us also note that Mr Brownlee was interjecting while you were making a ruling, which is also out of order.
Madam SPEAKER: Yes, I did note that. Mr Brownlee, may I say that you are on your last warning for interjecting when the Speaker is speaking. Thank you.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does the Minister also agree with this statement made by Dr Turner: “The New Zealand electricity grid is so overworked that some lines cannot be taken out of action for servicing. That is unheard of in the Western developed world.”, and does that statement not confirm gross neglect by the Labour Government of our electricity network?
Hon DAVID PARKER: I am not aware whether some of the words attributed to Dr Turner are embellishments made by the member, or were said, but I do repeat that the Government does accept there is a significant need for investment in transmission capacity.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave to table the direct quote from Dr Turner that was reported in the
New Zealand Herald, which contained the exact words I used in my supplementary question.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am left in an impossible position. The Minister refuses to answer my question by saying he is not sure of the source of the comment from the chief executive of New Zealand’s largest electricity company. I then seek leave to table the document that verifies it, but I am denied leave. We are in an impossible position whereby, effectively, the Minister is simply trying to avoid responsibility for his portfolio.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: By way of a solution, the member can now ask another supplementary question, if he wishes.
Madam SPEAKER: That is true. But, ruling on the point, as I heard the Minister’s answer, he said he was unsure about the attribution, but he then went on to address the question. So I would ask the member to ask another question if he is not satisfied.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why will the Minister not just level with Parliament and the public of New Zealand and admit that he has inherited a mess from Ministers Mallard and Hodgson, when Treasury says there is a problem, in its briefing for the incoming Government, when his own ministry says there is a problem, and when Dr Turner says that there is a problem—or does he intend just to stick his head in the sand until the lights go out?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Because the problem is not as bad as the member would have others believe.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Can the Minister assure the House that the process set in place by the previous Minister and already under way will continue—namely, that the Electricity Complaints Commissioner will fully investigate whether investments in direct use of gas, local biomass fuels, and energy efficiency would be a more cost-effective way of ensuring that energy services are secure in Auckland than big, new transmission investments?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Yes, and I agree that that inquiry is appropriate.
Maryan Street: In the light of his previous answers, why is electricity use growing, and what is he doing to ensure that investment in transmission capacity, which he referred to earlier, will meet future demand?
Hon DAVID PARKER: We have had 6 years of very strong economic growth—amongst the highest in the OECD—and this has led to increased electricity use. So it is a consequence of success. But in terms of investment in transmission capacity, this Government has established the Electricity Commission to ensure that the level of investment in transmission is timely, adequate, and necessary.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why should the House believe that the investment in transmission infrastructure will be timely, as he has just said, when after the 2001 power crisis the Government said it was all fixed, when after the 2003 electricity crisis the Government said it was all fixed, and when now, in 2005, Treasury, his own ministry, and the chief executive of New Zealand’s largest State electricity company are saying that our electricity infrastructure is “unheard of in the Western developed world” in terms of its state of maintenance?
Hon DAVID PARKER: The member shows his lack of understanding of these issues. The problems in the years that the member mentioned related to the amount of water and, therefore, electricity able to be generated, not to transmission constraints.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why does the Minister say I am overstating the problem, when Dr Keith Turner, who has a PhD specifically in high-voltage transmission systems, is employed by his Government to be in charge of the largest generator, and has 30 years of experience in the electricity industry, says that the grid is overworked, and that the situation in New Zealand is unheard of in the Western developed world?
Hon DAVID PARKER: I do not disagree with Dr Turner when he says we need to upgrade our transmission system.
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Labour) to the
Minister of Immigration: What steps, if any, is the Government taking through immigration policy to assist orchardists in the Hawke’s Bay?
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE (Associate Minister of Immigration) on behalf of the Minister of Immigration: The Government and the horticulture and viticulture industries have in partnership developed, for the first time, a seasonal strategy, which will be formally launched by the Government next month. Given that New Zealand has the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD, and having satisfied ourselves that there is a genuine labour shortage, the Government has approved in principle the recruitment of 450 overseas workers for the horticulture industry in the Hawke’s Bay region.
Russell Fairbrother: What is the aim of the seasonal labour strategy?
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: The aim of the strategy is to ensure that there is an emphasis on employing New Zealanders first and using immigration as a secondary option where there is a genuine shortage. That approach has been welcomed enthusiastically by the industry and is another example of this Government working in partnership with industry for the benefit of New Zealand.
Craig Foss: Is the Minister aware of the approximately 18 approved immigration permits submitted by Hawke’s Bay growers in the past 12 months, the majority of which have been given up on by the applicants due to inaction by the Minister, and the remainder of which appear simply to have vanished, and can he explain how that type of ineptitude assists the orchardists of Hawke’s Bay?
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: This strategy has taken some 18 months to put together, and the reason for that is that we have developed it in partnership, which has involved dialogue between Government agencies and industry members. I would have thought the member would welcome the fact that we have answered the industry’s need, identified a genuine labour shortage, and put together a strategy that will ensure the sustainability of that industry.
R Doug Woolerton: Has the impact on the projected number of overstayers as a result of this policy shift been analysed by the New Zealand Immigration Service; if so, what is the projected impact, and if not, why not, especially in the light of a recent daytime brawl in the Hawke’s Bay involving 10 overstayers armed with meat cleavers and iron bars, combined with the fact that the Immigration Service managed to lose an entire Tongan rugby team in 2004?
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: All countries have overstayers, and it is a problem in New Zealand as well—we acknowledge that. In terms of ensuring repatriation, I can say to the member that it is in the interests of the employers themselves, if they are to revisit an approval in principle next year, firstly, that they have to guarantee that the workers will be repatriated, and secondly, that the employers have guaranteed that by meeting the costs associated with repatriation, up to $3,000 per worker.
Television New Zealand—Charter and Commercial Success
Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU (National) to the
Minister of Broadcasting: Is he satisfied that Television New Zealand is able to strike a successful balance between its charter responsibilities and commercial success; if so, why?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House) on behalf of the
Minister of Broadcasting: Yes, the report tabled yesterday showed solid achievement against both the charter and commercial objectives.
Hon Georgina te Heuheu: Does he consider it acceptable that Television New Zealand has reduced its dividend to the taxpayer by $27 million—a third of its previous dividend—prompting chairman Craig Boyce’s warning that TVNZ will be forced into a period of “cost control”, including cutting the number of locally made programmes; if so, is that the best the New Zealand taxpayer can expect—reduced dividends and reduced local programming, not to mention excessive salaries?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: My understanding in terms of the financial outcome, and that affects the dividend of course, is that a substantial write-down was taken on the value of the existing broadcast programming stock. On the other matters, I am sure my colleague the Minister of Finance will be quite pleased to hear that cost-control mechanisms are being put in place. I note that yet again the National Party is calling for increased Government spending, while at the same time calling for tax cuts.
Lynne Pillay: What does the Minister see as being TVNZ’s key achievements?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: TVNZ has survived in an extraordinarily competitive environment. It has continued to produce a profit. As I said, this year it has taken a substantial one-off write-down on its profits. It continues to produce a large number of New Zealand programmes. It maintains by far the largest share of audience, with over 80 percent of all New Zealanders watching TVNZ in any one week.
Pita Paraone: Given the Minister’s negative response to New Zealand First’s call for a full inquiry, during oral questions last Tuesday, and the subsequent decision by the Finance and Expenditure Committee to conduct such a review, will he now ensure that the terms of reference will not include consideration for the sale of TVNZ to private interests, plus ensuring the New Zealand public will not be subjected to more reality TV-type programmes; if not, why not?
Madam SPEAKER: The Minister has no responsibility for that particular matter. I will enable the member, if he wishes, until I get objection, to consider rephrasing his question to bring it within the scope.
Pita Paraone: Given the Minister’s negative response to New Zealand First’s call for an inquiry, during oral questions last Tuesday, would the Minister give consideration to supporting the notion of not including in the terms of reference the possible sale of TVNZ to private enterprise?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The terms of reference are a matter for the select committee. Whatever the committee recommends, the Government will not be selling TVNZ.
Hon Georgina te Heuheu: If the charter has been so successful, why did the number of hours of New Zealand – made drama screened by TVNZ almost halve in the last financial year, and does that not demonstrate that for TVNZ to be commercially successful it will inevitably have to cut corners on charter programming?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No. Drama is, of course, by far the most expensive form of television to produce. Therefore, TVNZ to a substantial extent is dependent upon external funding for the production of more drama programmes. The member is therefore, of course, calling for more Government funding for Television New Zealand.
Hon Georgina te Heuheu: How does the Minister explain why, in the last year, TVNZ has increased the number of people earning more than $100,000, from 124 to 132, and the number of staff earning over $500,000, from two to three, yet in the very same year has delivered a reduced dividend to the taxpayer?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It would not be unknown, certainly in the private sector, for there to be some salary increases without necessarily profits rising. But as I said to the member before, the dividend part is a result of the fact that the company took a large write-down of its existing broadcast stock.
Hon Georgina te Heuheu: What evidence is there to demonstrate that paying people like Ian Fraser more than $600,000 a year and Susan Wood $450,000 a year has done anything to improve either the commercial or charter outcomes of TVNZ; if there is no evidence, what does the Minister intend to do about the “culture of extravagance” that our public broadcaster appears to love to wallow in?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Those kinds of salaries are not, unfortunately, out of line with large media organisations in many countries. But those are employment matters for the board to deal with. I am sure that if the Government were to intervene directly and say that certain salaries should or should not be paid, then the Opposition members would be the first to cry foul.
Friends of Private Education Exports—Overseas-owned Tertiary Providers
METIRIA TUREI (Green) to the
Minister for Trade Negotiations: What steps has he taken to ensure that the Friends of Private Education Exports, to be established by New Zealand, will not result in public funding of overseas-owned tertiary providers and undermine the Government’s ability to ensure high quality?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Minister for Trade Negotiations: The group was set up to protect and advance the interests of New Zealand’s private education exporters in the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services negotiations. The group was explicitly set up to pursue improved export opportunities in private, not public, education. Of course, those providers that already meet New Zealand regulatory standards in the private sector can be overseas owned. That is the current situation.
Metiria Turei: Can the Minister guarantee that New Zealand public universities and polytechs will not be forced to compete for public funding with overseas-owned tertiary providers, given the New Zealand Educational Institute’s concern that virtually all education has some element of private funding in it, and given Association of University Staff president Nigel Haworth’s concerns that officials have not yet set a definition of private education within the WTO rules?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Taking the first part of the question, no, the Minister cannot, because he is the Minister for Trade Negotiations. But the Minister for Tertiary Education can.
Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that, in respect of our own export education industry, the Rt Hon Winston Peters has stated this week that the Government has not done enough to help foreign students in New Zealand, but that the Hon Phil Goff has contradicted those statements; can he tell us which of those Ministers represents Government policy on this matter?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Clearly, Mr Peters does not have portfolio responsibility for New Zealand’s export education industry. Mr Goff is the Minister of Trade and reflects the Government’s position.
Hon Brian Donnelly: Can the Minister explain why this Government is starting such a group, as mentioned in the primary question, to promote private sector education, when back at home its own agency, the Tertiary Education Commission, is killing off our private training establishment sector through a “death by a thousand bureaucratic cuts” process?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, I cannot, because that question is not properly addressed to the Minister for Trade Negotiations.
Metiria Turei: Why is this Government pushing for further free-trade agreements in education when there is a real risk that New Zealand will lose the right to limit the number of universities, the number of overseas students, and the number of English language schools, or lose the right to require that educational facilities be not for profit or have staff and student representation on their boards?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government has, as I said, guiding principles for preparing our initial service offer. The sixth of those states: “The Government will make no initial offer that would limit the Government’s right to provide, fund, or regulate public services such as health and education.” One can jump at shadows on the wall in that respect, but they are puppet shadows, not real ones.
Metiria Turei: Has it not occurred to the Government that its single-minded pursuit of private education exports risks a repeat of the recent fiascos in tertiary education, like the twilight golf courses and the wasteful proliferation of low-quality sub-degree courses; and did that crisis not clearly demonstrate the need to protect to the utmost domestic control and regulation of the tertiary sector?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: As I just said, these negotiations will not affect our ability to regulate the educational area, and I am sure that the Minister for Tertiary Education takes a very dim view of some of those sorts of courses.
Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty) to the
Minister of Health: In the event of a pandemic, who are the priority groups that will qualify for Tamiflu?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Acting Minister of Health): There are no predetermined priority groups. In fact, until a pandemic actually transpires it is impossible to determine who will be most affected. Decisions on the use of antivirals will be made by the Pandemic Influenza Technical Advisory Group, with expert advice, as any pandemic unfolds.
Hon Tony Ryall: What action will the Minister take to manage the increasing public perception that Tamiflu is the major answer to bird flu?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: With the release of a plan, as was done yesterday, and by keeping the public fully informed about the realities of this possible pandemic, we believe that we are doing everything possible to keep the public fully informed. Tamiflu is not the answer to a pandemic. It is one of a number of things that will no doubt evolve if—and, hopefully, not when—we have to respond to this.
Hon Tony Ryall: As a draft list of priority groups has been drawn up by the Ministry of Health, will the Minister release that list publicly so that people in business and the emergency services can include that information in their planning for a pandemic?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I am not aware of that draft list, but until a pandemic is emerging—until we have an actual outbreak—it is impossible for us to predetermine what groups, be they ethnic, geographical, or otherwise, may be affected by it. It will be up to the expert advisory group to make recommendations to the Government at that time.
Darien Fenton: What information has the Government made publicly available about the response to a possible influenza pandemic?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Yesterday the Government released a New Zealand Influenza Pandemic Action Plan. The plan is a working document to assist Government agencies, district health boards, and communities across New Zealand with their planning. New Zealand is at the forefront of international planning to combat a possible influenza pandemic. Our plan is based on the most up-to-date knowledge we have about the possible ways that an influenza pandemic will affect people and how it could affect New Zealand society and our economy.
Hon Tony Ryall: Should individuals stockpile a supply of Tamiflu; if not, what advice does the Government have for the substantial part of the population who will not get access to this antiviral treatment?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: As soon as this Government was aware of a possible pandemic, we took immediate action. In fact, in December 2004 we identified the need for Tamiflu and ordered stocks. We currently have stockpiles that cover 21 percent of the population. That is at the highest levels internationally, and it compares well with the United States, which has enough to cover just 7 percent of the population. Japan has 20 percent coverage, and Australia has 20 percent. We believe we are doing everything possible and everything sensible to plan for this possible pandemic. There is no need for panic, and there is no need to advise every single New Zealander that he or she needs to stock Tamiflu.
Hon Tony Ryall: Should individuals stockpile a supply of Tamiflu?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: There is no advice internationally that every individual in the world should stockpile Tamiflu. Neither have we issued any such advice. However, what we would offer to every New Zealander is the age-old advice about personal hygiene. Regular washing of hands, covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and keeping fingernails clean and short are also—[Interruption] and Panadol—very sensible ways of countering any possible pandemic.
Question No. 1 to Minister
TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki)
: In light of my earlier question, I seek leave to table the annual report of the Education Review Office 2005, if that is appropriate.
Madam SPEAKER: Normally, leave is sought at the end of the question, but I will put it. Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is.
Address in Reply
- Debate resumed from 16 November.
Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty)
: The House continues this debate on the Speech from the Throne at a time when there is real crisis within the New Zealand health service. Every day there are stories of poor management by the Labour Government, and every day there are more and more indications that the Government is not providing the health service that ordinary New Zealanders deserve. It boils down to what I think is a very simple figure. In 1998 the Opposition spokeswoman on health, Annette King, said that having 96,000 people waiting for their first specialist assessment was a criminal situation. The latest figure is well over 150,000 people waiting for their first specialist assessment. So even though this is a Government that has put millions and millions of dollars into the health service, it is just not delivering the results that New Zealanders would expect.
The situation was echoed by the New Zealand Treasury in its briefings to the new Minister earlier in the week, where it talked about the fact that in the 3 years up to 2003-04, the number of operations performed in hospitals rose by 5 percent, compared with a 21 percent growth in hospital spending. What is more, it went on to state that it is difficult to tell what improvements in health outcomes or services have been achieved for the additional spending in health, and whether New Zealanders are getting value for money.
So there are incredible problems within the health system, which have even been foreshadowed today in the release of the Minister’s briefing paper in the health sector. Members should look at what it talks about. It talks about organisations facing huge capital risks in trying to update their facilities. It talks about the huge cost pressures facing us in order to keep our nurses and our doctors in this country. There seems to be hundreds of millions of dollars for strategies, bureaucracies, and action plans, but no money to increase the number of doctors and nurses in our hospitals and in our communities to provide the operations we want.
And this is the most telling criticism of all: there is an urgent call from the Ministry of Health to overhaul the pay and conditions of residential support workers in the aged-care sector. I want to tell the House about the deceit of the Minister at the time he was an Associate Minister of Health. He stood up during the Budget debate in the middle of this year and told Parliament that he was voting $71 million of new money for aged residential care. Do members remember that? Do they want to know how much the sector got? It was $24 million! That is all they got out of the $71 million that Pete Hodgson, poncing up and down the country, said that he was going to give to those aged-care providers in this country.
Do members know what his excuse was?
Lindsay Tisch: No. What was his excuse?
Hon TONY RYALL: He said: “Oh, I gave it to the DHBs.” So we then asked him why he had not given it to the aged residential care sector. He said he could not tell them to spend it all on aged residential care. Yet he was happy to stand in this Parliament and tell the rest home operators of this country that he would put $71 million of new money into their pockets, but all he gave them was $24 million.
I wonder whether he has a mother or father in a rest home. This Government is risking putting a whole lot of ageing New Zealanders into second-rate rest homes where corners are cut to balance the books. And what about the care of elderly New Zealanders? In the last few years 40 rest homes have closed. More and more New Zealanders who need residential care are being forced to stay in their home and not get the care they deserve, just because this Minister, when he was an Associate Minister of Health, stood up in Parliament and said: “I’m giving aged residential care $71 million of new money.” He has given them only $24 million dollars. When I was growing up in Whakatāne we had a word for people who said things like that. If someone promises $71 million and knows that those people will receive only $24 million, then that person is not telling the truth.
But that is not unusual in health. The Associate Minister of Health, now Minister of Health, also said: “There’s no problem with maternity care in New Zealand. I’ve fixed it.” Well, what he is not telling people is that in west Auckland, the area represented by Paula Bennett, women cannot get an independent midwife. They cannot get a midwife who will visit them in their homes, and provide the continuity of care and contact they need. Those of us who have children know that women want a midwife within 2 hours of knowing they are pregnant, because it gives them comfort and support—and the midwives do a fantastic job. But in west Auckland there are no midwives who will come to the home. The Government has known about this for 3 years and what has it done? Nothing.
In Wellington women are waiting 5 months to get a midwife to take them through their pregnancy and give them what they need. The same problem occurs in Southland. Rotorua was represented during the last term by Mrs Chadwick, the chairperson of the Health Committee. She had known about the problem there. But she did nothing. That is why she had a 7,500 vote turn-round in the Rotorua electorate—almost beaten by a man who had lived in Rotorua for only 4 months.
Steve Chadwick: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The member has made false allegations about the level of midwifery care in Rotorua. There is no shortage.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ann Hartley): That is not a point of order; it is a debating point.
Hon TONY RYALL: These problems are getting worse. The Government has not done enough for our midwifery workforce. Let us see Steve Chadwick take the next call and deny that the Government has known that there has been a midwifery shortage since 2002. Can she deny that? Can she deny that the Government has known about midwifery shortages since 2002? She says nothing.
The Government has had appalling workforce planning. This Government has known that there has been a problem, and it has not done anything about it. We now have women in Paula Bennett’s west Auckland electorate who cannot get a midwife. We have women waiting 5 months in Wellington. The risk is that they are not going to get the level of care and support to which they should be entitled. That is because this Government is prepared to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on strategies, action plans, and hui, and not enough on giving the services we need: more doctors, nurses, midwives, and operations. It is happy to have the money tied up in bureaucracy and inefficiency, and not provide the sorts of services that New Zealanders want.
Our challenge in the National Opposition over the next 4 months, before we become the Government, is to tell New Zealanders what we will do to fix the problem. We will make sure that New Zealanders know what the options and alternatives are. Labour knows that there is a huge staffing shortage. In the next few months we will talk about the crisis in general practitioners throughout the country. Do members know that there are huge workloads on general practitioners—enormous workloads? Many parts of the country cannot get 24/7 general practitioner care, and major cities cannot get 24/7 care.
Steve Chadwick: Not true.
Hon TONY RYALL: “Not true”, says the woman who almost lost Rotorua. In fact, she did lose Rotorua. The only reason Steve Chadwick is here today is that she won Kawerau. She lost Rotorua, and won Kawerau, so she is here by a few hundred votes. But she is here in her last few weeks as a member.
Amended Answers to Oral Questions
Question No. 12 to Minister
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Associate Minister of Health)
: I seek leave of the House to clarify a point in response to an oral question asked today. I used the date of December 2000 when the Government first heard of the need for Tamiflu. The date is, indeed, December 2004. I apologise to the House.
Address in Reply
PAUL SWAIN (Labour—Rimutaka)
: Poor old Tony Ryall! What a bitter person he has turned out to be. When he first came into Parliament he was quite funny. He had a sense of humour but he has lost it now. Do members know why that is? It is because he has had 6 years in Opposition. They have been long, long years in Opposition and he is bitter because he belongs to the National Party, which thinks it has the divine right to rule. National members are still angry and bitter that the public threw them out in 1999, and he still has not got over it. What a cheek for National members to talk about the health system! What a cheek for them to criticise the Labour Party about the health system! Does everyone remember the Crown health enterprises? What about those things? Four of them were appointed by Bill Birch, with no public input. They were appointed in secret here in Wellington. They were thrown out, and not before their time.
Do members remember when the National Party started to charge people to go to hospital? National’s grand plan was to charge people to go to hospital. [Interruption] Tau Henare was part of that. He supported charging people to go hospital but the Labour Party said: “No, you should pay for your health-care on payday, not at the hospital door.” That was the fundamental difference between us and the National Party. What a cheek for the National Party to talk about staff and staff morale! It did nothing for 9 long years. The National Government introduced the Employment Contracts Act, which shattered—
Mark Blumsky: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Excuse my naivety with this question, but Standing Order 37 refers to the seating of parties in the House. I think it is fantastic that the Labour member Steve Chadwick has decided to join this side of the House, but I wonder whether that is appropriate, in particular given the noises coming from that seat.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ann Hartley): The member is right. The member cannot interject from the seat she is sitting in now.
PAUL SWAIN: National members have the cheek to talk about the pay structures within the health-care system, when it was a National Government that introduced the Employment Contracts Act, which shattered all the good conditions and wages that had been built up over time. It has taken this Government about 5 years to try to do something about it. Finally the nurses got something they needed, because the National Party kept saying they were all going overseas because they were not paid enough. It was an absolute outrage.
They also have the cheek to talk about aged care when they did nothing for 9 years. Thank goodness the National Party was not voted in, because it would have meant another 3 years of inactivity! Of course, it is the old story. Every time National members get up in this House and talk, or ask a question, they want to spend more. They want to spend more on roads, on health, on prisons, and on schools, but they also want to cut taxes. Do members remember that? It is called voodoo economics.
Hon Tau Henare: Just like Treasury.
PAUL SWAIN: Treasury has to work out that the election is over and we won. The point is, of course, that one cannot cut taxes and spend more, and that is why in the end the New Zealand public rightly rejected that ridiculous proposal and supported Labour back in again.
But it is not just economic policy that National has to worry about. No one believes that Don Brash will lead that party into the next election. He ain’t going to lead it back in, and people know that. Then we have to start looking around at who will be there and who will not be. Let us have a look. Simon Power’s day will come. He has the strategy group led by Jon Johanson at Victoria University. It may be interesting for some of the new members of the National Party to learn that that strategy group is going on. I wonder how many of them know about it. It is a little group around Simon Power to try to get him the position of leader. The problem was that he fell over a little bit with his “where the States go, we go” kind of policy that even Tau Henare would be embarrassed about. The National Party had to back away from that, but, potentially, Simon Power’s time is coming.
What about John Key? Let us concede that he is able and bright, but he is too new and not tough enough. He has a small group around him, led, as we are told by people in the cafe, by Brian Connell. Brian Connell is John Key’s numbers man. I say to John Key that it is best to get rid of the numbers man when it is Brian Connell.
What about Gerry Brownlee? He has plans, too. We know that Tau Henare has offered to help Gerry even though he does not really like him, because this is the long-term strategy to finally trip him up. Tau Henare knows about Gerry Brownlee. Gerry Brownlee is on the way back. The problem with Gerry Brownlee is that he will have to work himself out. He has terrible problems with people in stairs and he will have to change his behaviour when it comes to that.
And, of course, what about Bill English? Everybody said that Bill English’s time was up, but he is on the way back. He has a lot of support. His support comes from the leftovers of the brat pack—Nick Smith and Tony Ryall. We understand that Eric Roy is a strong supporter of Bill English, because they are next door to each other.
What about the new ones like Mark Blumsky? Sooner or later these people will have to work out which side they are on, because they have to be on the right side if they want promotion. For me, the wild card is Tim Groser. In the end Tim Groser is quite an able fellow but he will probably be a team of one and he will have to wait a very long time while probably there are two or three generations of leader on that side.
I say to National Party back-benchers that when those people come knocking they will have to sort it out pretty quickly, because it will not be Don Brash. They will have to work out very, very quickly which horse they will be on. They can either decide now, or be like Murray McCully and be on every horse. That is what Murray McCully has done over the years. He has been on every horse, which is why he is still around. Everybody on the back bench of the National Party knows that Murray McCully should be gone. He has overseen three appalling election campaigns and they still hold him up as a key strategist. One could forgive one loss, one could maybe let him get away with two losses, but not three. I say to National members that they will not make progress until such time as they get rid of Murray McCully. Who will it be? Will it be Simon Power, John Key, Gerry Brownlee, Bill English, the wild card Tim Groser, or someone else?
It is good to see the Leader of the Opposition come into Parliament, but we should point out that question time starts at 2, and it is really important to be here on time if that member wants to continue to be a leader.
On the other hand, the Labour-led Government is now assured, with one of the greatest Prime Ministers we have seen in this country, with an economic programme second to none, supported by the New Zealand public. That is why we are confident and positive going into the next 3 years. We will continue down the economic programme we have developed, with economic growth now the envy, virtually, of the developed world. Unemployment is at 3.4 percent, which was unheard of in the old days—in fact, when that member was studying his economics in the Reserve Bank they used to talk about the natural rate of unemployment and they said that that was probably 5 or 6 percent. The figure of 3.4 percent was not possible at all.
Dr Don Brash: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The member has absolutely no grounds for making that statement at all and I ask him to withdraw and apologise.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ann Hartley): That was not a point of order. It is a debating point.
PAUL SWAIN: If the member has not heard about the natural rate of unemployment—
Dr Don Brash: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Are members allowed to make assertions that are blatantly untrue in this House without challenge?
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ann Hartley): The member will be seated. I have already ruled that that is not a point of order; it is a debating point.
PAUL SWAIN: That is the reason why that member will not be leader of the National Party in 3 years’ time.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I start by congratulating you on your job. In order to try to be helpful, I say that I know that Dr Don Brash is still a relatively new member of this House, but possibly you could help him by explaining to him that he does have redress through making a personal statement if he wishes to. The provisions in the Standing Orders for that are very clear, and he should also be reminded that to interrupt a speech in that manner with a point of order that clearly is not a point of order, designed simply to break up a very good speech, is, in itself, outside of the Standing Orders.
Hon Tau Henare: Suck up some more.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ann Hartley): That was not a point of order, either.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ann Hartley): Would the member please be seated. I have ruled previously on the point of order. It had been dealt with. That was the end of that matter.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. You are perfectly correct. However, I was asking you, as the Assistant Speaker, to point out to Dr Don Brash the provisions within the Standing Orders that allow him to make a personal statement if he wished to redress the very issue that he is challenging on the floor. It is not challenging your ruling. It is simply asking you as the Chair of the House, as the Assistant Speaker, to assist that member by pointing out the very clause in the Standing Orders that, quite clearly, he needs to help himself with.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ann Hartley): I thank the member. That is certainly my decision and I certainly did not think it was necessary.
PAUL SWAIN: I was making the point that that is why that member will not be the leader of the National Party going into the next election. Hopefully, Murray McCully will not be the strategist, and that might well help as National goes into the next election.
I was trying to say, before I was rudely interrupted, that the Labour-led Government is very confident about the programme and economic development. We will be focusing on the critical areas of savings, productivity, education and skills, science, innovation, and export growth, and add on to the things that we did so successfully in the first 6 years. Education, health, the elderly, and the infrastructure—you name it, we will be working hard to ensure that the growth in unemployment we have achieved over the last 6 years will continue.
But I just say that the reason why the public rejected National’s programme was that they now feel proud and confident to be New Zealanders. They feel they are an independent country standing up to the rest of the world, putting forward their viewpoint and not kowtowing to various countries around the world. What they seek is leadership and that is what they have got from Helen Clark and the Labour-led Government. That is why this Government will be around for a very, very long time. This country is now right behind the Labour-led Government, making sure that we have a future for the young people of New Zealand to be able to get jobs and training and to be able to bring up their kids in the way they want to.
DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East)
: I bring to Parliament the voice of young, hard-working New Zealanders, a new generation that believes in the Kiwi dream. At the birth of this new century my generation aspires to renew a country where all New Zealanders can achieve their full potential. To do so we must create a country that embraces youth, spirit, and opportunity; a Parliament that represents the new generation and their ideas; a Parliament that enhances our spirit of achievement; a Parliament that provides opportunities for all to strive and succeed. I embrace my responsibility to be part of a Parliament that works hard to make the Kiwi dream a reality for future generations.
I would like to congratulate our elected Speakers. I pay respect to our Governor-General, leaders of the political parties, and fellow members.
I am proud to be the youngest National MP elected at the last election. To serve in this House places an enormous responsibility on all of us. It is an honour and a very humbling experience to be able to serve the people of Hamilton East. I thank the constituents of Hamilton East for their support and confidence. I pay tribute to former representatives of Hamilton East. I acknowledge Dianne Yates, the former Labour member, and two recent National MPs, Tony Steel and Dr Ian Shearer. Those previous members have served us well, and I look forward to being able to follow in their footsteps.
To those who helped in the Hamilton East campaign my sincere thanks, especially Ed Turner and Stuart Anderson. I would also like to thank Marion Lambie for her support.
I thank the National Party for the honour and privilege of being its representative. To our leader, Dr Don Brash, I say thank you for rejuvenating our party. To our president, Judy Kirk, and campaign manager, Steven Joyce, I say thank you for an excellent campaign. I thank the members of the National board, especially Alan Towers, Roger Bridge, and Scott Simpson, for their friendship and commitment. I also thank Maxine Viggers and Michelle Boag for their advice and support.
I represent a new generation of leadership for Hamilton East—the renewal of youth. The introduction of new blood into this Parliament enables us to mix the energy and vitality of youth with the wisdom and experience of the established members. It is crucial for my generation to be represented and heard in Parliament. We are the future of this great country. We believe in perseverance and success. We believe in freedom of expression. My generation understands online information flows and we appreciate having freedom of choice. We were brought up and live in an immediate consumption society. My generation understands that diversity is to be valued and understood, not feared and avoided. Differences in skills and attributes will always exist, but we all deserve an equal opportunity to maximise our individual potential.
I want to represent a Parliament that promotes, develops, and nurtures the ability of youth to achieve their full potential. My generation wants a Parliament that means what it says, a Parliament that delivers practical and positive solutions, a Parliament that shares ideas and has vision, a Parliament that has the flexibility to make the right decision in the right circumstance, and a Parliament that avoids the traps of pessimism and uncertainty through the release of strong leadership, vision, and an unwavering sense of purpose.
Building on the strength and determination of youth, we need to be bold and to have courage to renew the spirit that made this country strong—the spirit of aspiration and achievement where we all aspire to our true potential. It has always been a Kiwi thing that “She’ll be right.” and that “You can do anything.”, and we need to renew this great Kiwi spirit and to build a country where young people are willing to take risks and where success is part of everyone’s life. With a positive attitude and hard work, anything can be achieved.
I would like to thank my family for teaching me those valuable lessons. I thank my mother, Mary, and my father, Allister, who are here today, for the time, effort, and sacrifices they made so that I could have the opportunity to be here. I also want to thank my brother, Tom, a successful Auckland lawyer. It is not a bad achievement for the younger brother to get here.
The spirit of aspiration, hard work, and dogged determination embedded in me by my family, and evidenced by my knocking on over 19,000 doors during the election campaign, has given me the chance to take my opportunities. While building a successful dairy-farming business, I have maintained strong rural and urban links. Just like the foundation attitude of number eight wire and the technology of modern communication systems, I represent the past and the present of our society—that of both a practical and professional capacity.
The National Party seeks to promote that spirit of achievement. Students need to know that they can achieve, that we want them to achieve, and that we expect them to achieve. Our teachers, schools, and students need to know that our goals are the pursuit of excellence and qualifications that have a real meaning. Central government restrictions on rolls, and funding based on geographical areas send the wrong signals. If parents can make a choice in where they live, then they should be given a choice in where they send their children to school.
It would be an achievement for Parliament to share a spirit of success with all, to give others the chance that we have been given. Along with the spirit to succeed, we also require the opportunity to reach our goals—but only the opportunity. Individuals need to take personal responsibility for their future and their actions. Personal responsibility determines our ability to convert our chances. Nothing comes easily in this world. Our destiny does not just happen. Our destiny reflects the choices we make. Most people make the right choices. Most people just get on with their lives and try to make the most of their opportunities. They are the core of what New Zealand is, and they make it a great place to live and thrive. I support those who are just trying to get ahead. I support those hard-working New Zealanders. Through recognising their efforts and their families, we can show our support.
Tax relief is crucial to provide that recognition. Tax cuts encourage growth and foster initiative. They reward hard work and enterprise. Tax cuts send the right signals and incentives. New Zealanders are struggling under an oppressive tax regime that is sending all the wrong signals. Beneficiaries are reluctant to take on work, because there is little marginal difference between the income earned and that received under a benefit. Those on low incomes are not undertaking overtime for fear of losing family support payments. Successful taxpayers are not seeking promotions for fear of changing their tax status.
We should be encouraging a strong work ethic. This enhances self-esteem and brings respect for others. We need to give trust and choice back to the people, not to some Government redistribution policy. We also need to replace the culture of welfare dependency with the path of personal responsibility. The State must ensure that we empower people, not entrap them into dependence. At some point the entrapment will no longer be sustainable, and the pain of transition will be greater than at the point of entry. The Kiwi dream is based on a can-do attitude. To renew this dream we need to nurture, not stifle, ambition. We need to have faith in the creativity and passion of our people. We need to celebrate and support success. We need an environment that provides opportunities to achieve.
As members of this House we play a role in that renewal process. We have a role in providing the opportunity for success. Every time I return to Hamilton and cross the Narrows Bridge I realise the magnitude of this responsibility. Hamilton East is essentially an urban electorate. My electorate combines established suburbs from Hillcrest to Chartwell, and the high-growth northern suburbs of Rototuna and Flagstaff. A sliver of lifestyle blocks track around the city. Hamilton East is a marginal electorate because it represents a complete cross-section of people, from the students trying to better themselves to the lecturers trying to impart their knowledge, and from the new migrants and young professionals seeking to make their mark to an established productive base. We have a highly developed agricultural research industry, and a mobile and highly skilled workforce.
We have a young, vibrant, and growing city. We embrace the diversity of this multicultural city. Forty percent of Hamilton’s population is under 25 years of age. We are the youngest city in New Zealand in population terms. We are growing at rates equal to the fastest growth rates in this country. Hamilton has a progressive and positive city council. There is a mood of optimism and a real sense of direction. We have young leaders in the city council and in Parliament—I thought Martin Gallagher might enjoy that! We represent the new generation of New Zealanders. Hamilton is the dial-up tone for our country’s youth.
Hamiltonians have a strong history of determination and results. We believe in our future and have a common desire to make the most of our opportunities. We just get on with the job. We are heartland New Zealanders who are constantly achieving for the greater good. We have a highly educated community. In just 40 years, the University of Waikato has grown to be one of the top universities in the country. It has an ambitious vision to be a key economic driver in our region and in our country’s future. We have made real sacrifices for this country, and we know what it takes to deliver in an export-based economy. We are motivated and successful. Hamilton has the spirit to succeed.
But today, and for the next 3 years, I bring members a message from the people of Hamilton. We are a rapidly growing city that can remain silent no more. The people of Hamilton are restless. We are teenagers who have come of age. We have matured and we are ready to take our place at the table of major metropolitan centres. Our success, our growth, and our contributions to New Zealand mean that we can no longer be dismissed as just another provincial city. No longer can we be seen as not having a diversified and productive economy. No longer can our inherently agriculturally based export industries be ignored. No longer can we come second-best—or, more likely, fifth—in Government funding packages. For the people of Hamilton have sent me here for a reason. We deserve to be recognised. We deserve to be heard. We want change.
We have exciting plans for our city. We want to work with government to align our strategy with the needs of the country. We need to keep my generation living, working, and bringing up their families in Hamilton. Hamilton has youth, Hamilton has spirit, and Hamilton has an important role to play in the future of our country. But we need to work in partnership with central government to make the most of our opportunities, and for our vision to become a reality. Our future and the future of this country lie in growth. Population and economic growth go hand in hand.
The crucial factor to supporting our long-term growth will be infrastructural investment. Our future lies in the road to the north. Completion of the Waikato Expressway as a non-tolled road within the next 10 years is paramount. The Hamilton City Council ring route road, the future industrial growth to the north-west, and the residential growth to the north-east all rely on this road. The Waikato Expressway needs to be linked to a new road to Tauranga. The golden triangle of Tauranga, Hamilton, and Auckland deserves special attention. This area will be the economic and political powerhouse of New Zealand. It is just common sense for Hamilton’s airport to become the second airport servicing the northern half of New Zealand, with a special focus on freight and exports. With the right logistics, the Waikato can and will become the vegetable garden of Auckland and the Australian eastern seaboard. We need to see a comprehensive plan for infrastructure that is visionary and leads development. That is the role for central government—a role that has not been performed in recent years. We want to work with central government to achieve the goals of Hamilton, the region, and the wider economy.
I am proud to represent the National Party in this House. It is the only party that can renew New Zealand. Renewal requires youth, spirit, and opportunity. I have great faith in all New Zealanders and the spirit to succeed. As leaders, we need to ensure that the opportunities are available. Hamilton represents New Zealand’s renewal, as our people are young and we have spirit. But Hamilton needs an active partnership with central government to make our opportunities a reality. Let us provide youth with the vision to grow. Let us trust and back our people. Let us deliver the opportunities and let them grow.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Māori Affairs)
: E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā kārangaranga maha, tēnā tātou katoa. I a koutou o te Rōpū Māori, i a koe e Tau mō tō hoki mai ki te wāhi nei, ngā kanohi Māori, e mihi kau ana.
- [To the authorities, the languages, and the many callings, greetings to you all. To you collectively of the Māori Party, to you, Tau Henare, who have come back to this place, and to all Māori members, my personal acknowledgments to you.]
I give my greetings to all people out there, and to all my colleagues. I pay tribute to our fellow MP Mr Rod Donald and his whānau, and to the strong contribution he made to Parliament. I congratulate you, Madam Speaker, on your election, and I also congratulate the Deputy Speaker and Assistant Speakers. I would like to welcome all the new members to the House—nau mai, haere mai.
It is a privilege to be standing in my third term, in the forty-eighth Parliament. I am pleased to be part of a Government that is committed to the well-being, success, and achievements of our mokopuna, rangitahi, and whānau as a whole. I wholeheartedly support the value and importance the Speech from the Throne gave to the education of our mokopuna and rangitahi.
Hon Tau Henare: How many graduated?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Education is at the heart and the cornerstone of Māori’s progress, and is certainly something that is in short supply on the Opposition benches at times. Education is the key to unlock the potential that is needed on the highway of opportunity for all of our people. In this 21st century economy, it is more than certain—[Interruption] Myrtle will not be rolling along this highway; it will be Māoris driving their vehicles to the areas where they want to get to. A progressive, knowledge-based economy is possible only where education is valued, where it flourishes universally, and where it is of world-class quality.
Our Government is reducing a significant barrier to participation in early childhood education. Certainly, as that member pointed out, the Ministry of Māori Affairs and other ministries have been run very well during his absence. Ensuring our mokopuna have the best possible start in life with quality and affordable education is essential. We will continue to invest in that. Our mokopuna and whānau will benefit immensely from the reduction in the primary school teacher-pupil ratio to 1:15. That important ratio is conducive to our language development strategy and, most certainly, it is effective in relation to one-to-one teaching. There is no doubt that our emphasis on literacy and numeracy has raised the levels of achievement. Our commitment to mokopuna and tamariki is shown in our efforts in the Budget in relation to the development of early childhood education. At the end of the day, if we want our mums to return to work and get all the time there that they can, then we have to ensure that at the front end they are not worried about the mokopuna being left alone or anything else. Hand in hand with that, we are also committed to empowering the teachers who educate our mokopuna.
In 2004 over 23,000 Māori trainees participated in industry training and Modern Apprenticeships. That number has increased since our Government has provided additional funding. We will further boost Modern Apprenticeships with 5,000 more places.
Hon Tau Henare: How many graduates?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: How do we know how many graduated? We know how many graduated by seeing the full capacity now in the workforce—91 percent of all Māori who want to work are working. Last week this country had the lowest unemployment rate in the world—at 3.2 percent, I tell Mr Henare. The rate of unemployment for Māori is 2½ times higher than that, and we will close that gap. We will not let it be relevant—like the chasm of intolerance that was imbued into the last election campaign in this country by that mob over on the Opposition benches. Our overall target is to have 250,000—a quarter of a million—of our people in industry training.
Gerry Brownlee: When am I going to get my briefing?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: At this point I would like to acknowledge the new Māori rangatira in the National Party, the shadow Minister of Māori Affairs, Mr Gerry Brownlee. He has been writing to me continually about a briefing that I know he will enjoy immensely, because it is over-endowed with a whole lot of successes and incredible progress going forward. [Interruption] It will happen when we are ready.
I was encouraged by the speech of the member for Hamilton East. He spoke about the youthfulness there, and it was fascinating. It is great to know that between 3,000 and 4,000 young people turned up at the university when Helen Clark spoke there, and that they expressed their keenness to continue supporting this Government.
Hon Member: There were 4,000 for the speaker the week before.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I certainly want to get back to the insidious chasm that has been encouraged by that member over there on the Opposition benches, and I agree with Dr Sharples’ rendition yesterday, when he spoke about people of kakī whero—red-necked people—engineering and trying to make out that all Māori are wrapped up in issues that are mad, bad, and sad. That Māori culture is a unique culture is a matter of indifference in this country. I get sick and tired of the platitudes of everybody who cheers the All Blacks on. Those people spend too much time on reading the sports part of the national newspapers, to try to find out who is in the team. But their chests and their hearts—and especially Mr Brownlee’s arms—really rattle and wiriwiri, and they shake with great agreement and great passion when they are supporting the Māoris doing the haka.
Those people should understand this: Māori are above merely doing the haka. That is an important part, as Dr Sharples will tell people, but the days of Māori being dependent and not being involved in enterprise—being business managers and business-owners—and having a better life are over. This Government has certainly made sure of that. The issue is about Māori succeeding as Māori; it is most certainly about making sure that Māori do position themselves well. Ninety-nine percent of the people who are my age in Māoridom—that is Dr Sharples’ age; Tau Henare is a bit younger—are the children of manual labourers. So if we understand the international nuances of indigenous transition, we realise we are right in the guts of it now. Let me tell people this: in the next 5 to 10 years, especially with the support of this Government, we will see some of the most prolific advancement ever made by Māoridom. It is unstoppable, and that is because Māori support it—and not just an ex - Minister of Māori Affairs, who is just huffing and puffing over nothing.
Māori advancement is about what we did in the Budget last year. We will remove student loan interest, and ensure that whatever students get loans on is relevant. The outcome will be that they get qualifications that will help them to move forward in their lives. There will be 20 hours’ free early childhood education. [Interruption] This is real stuff; if members listen, they may learn. This advancement is about the needy and about pushing a lot of our people forward—not the right’s dictum about the greedy, which is that if we give all those big tax cuts at the top end, it will engender a whole lot of business advancement. That dictum is trapped in all of the macro, rather than understanding where the majority of our people are at—but we are getting out of there. At the end of the day, we do have capable Māori assets. Progress has happened, and if we get to places like that, on the Government side of the House Māori advancement is about the minimum wage going up six times in the last 6 years. It is about sharing the wealth, and about ensuring that parents and other people who want to re-enter the workforce stay there. It is about creating a strong labour market.
Our menu for this year is quite simple: it is about getting Māori into better education and better employment, and it is about getting Māori into enterprise. The belief that is engendered a lot of the time by redneck, misinformed people, or by those media that do not want to see Māori go forward, needs to be corrected and to go where we are going.
This Minister of Māori Affairs could shear sheep, even though he got asthma when Bill English was using blunt gear. This Minister could shear sheep. This Minister does know how to shear 500 sheep—not now, but he used to be able to—and this Minister understands and enjoyed that labour market, when we collectively went to work. Whether we were cutting scrub, fencing, working for the post and telegraph department, working on the wharves, working in the factories, or working in the freezing works, we were trapped into being the followers and the people who supported the labour—I ask members to excuse the pun. We are—people like me; the leaders in my age group—the children of manual labourers. But that is changing. I think one of the most fascinating things that I have seen globally with regard to other indigenous cultures is that people can either stay there and be made to believe they are mad, bad, and sad, or they can get on with it and get going. That is where Māori want to be, with or without those members’ prattle, but, most of all, with the support of this Government.
I would encourage Opposition members to understand that Māori are going to make their mark in this country and they will be in all those arenas. It will be about getting better levels of education, and most certainly will involve the sciences. We are more than able to take all the brickbats and all the nonsense that comes but, by Jove, I have a lot of faith in young Māori who want to go somewhere and be somewhere, irrespective of the construct breakdown and irrespective of the ups and downs in our people.
- James Robert Sutton was presented to the Speaker, made the affirmation required by law, and took his seat in the House.
Address in Reply
COLIN KING (National—Kaikoura)
: Congratulations, Madam Speaker, on your reappointment. I also offer my congratulations to Clem Simich on his appointment as Deputy Speaker.
New Zealanders live in a country of opportunity, a place where we can extend ourselves and reach exceptional goals. Seizing on opportunities has enabled me to reach this goal of making an address as the member for Kaikoura. As a farmer and a shearer, I have worked with my hands all my life, yet because I share the same political ideals as many of the people in the Kaikoura electorate, I have been elected as their representative. First and foremost I wish to thank the people of the Kaikoura electorate for their support. It is an honour to represent them and I intend to work hard to ensure that they enjoy a future full of reward for hard work and enterprise. I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the exceptional support and encouragement I have received from my wife, Lynnette.
It gives me much pleasure to acknowledge my new fellow members in this House of Representatives. It also gives me enormous pleasure and pride to acknowledge my leader, Dr Don Brash, as well as the President of the National Party, Judy Kirk. I wish to express my gratitude also to my campaign committee: the chairman, Allan Holdaway, who was also the chairman of the campaign team of the Hon Doug Kidd; the electorate chairman, Richard Harvey, a man with great enthusiasm and loyalty to the party; and I thank Jackie, Rosemary, and Norma for their skill, patience, and experience. To Barry Holdaway, a true blue who kick-started my campaign, I appreciate the support he has given me over the last 12 months, and I know that I will be able to call on his knowledge of Marlborough whenever I require it.
As Kaikoura’s member of Parliament I intend to use all my energy and know-how to promote the interests of an incredibly diverse electorate made up of three individual districts, each with its own council, goals, and aspirations. Each requires serious consideration; each is unique. It is an electorate that extends from the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, where mussels and salmon are farmed and where forestry flourishes, to Blenheim and its surrounding area with vineyards and wineries encircling the bustling township, south to Kaikōura with its ecotourism and farming, and on over the Hundalees to North Canterbury and the magnificent rolling countryside that typifies the rural New Zealand way of life.
As the youngest of five children, I was the only one who wanted to become a farmer, and as soon as I turned 15 I left school and began working full-time on the farm. I was determined to own my own farm one way or another, and I knew it was never going to be easy—it was going to be a hard road to hoe. By the time I was 19 I was shearing sheep out of North Canterbury and I had met my wife, Lynnette. We bought our first block of land in North Canterbury, before moving up to the King Country where we bought our own farm in 1985.
As the 1980s progressed, New Zealand entered a time when farm subsidies and supports were coming to an end. I returned to shearing in order to stay on the farm. The only thing between myself and my family being sold up and remaining viable was that practical skill. Having shorn sheep in order to get into farming, I needed to keep shearing more sheep to stay farming. It was that experience that, above all things, made me value the skills training that I received as a young man. Now I long for the day when our educationalists genuinely value technical, practical qualifications, respecting them in the same way as degree-based qualifications.
At this point it is appropriate to acknowledge the outstanding contribution to this nation’s pastoral sector of a small but passionate group of New Zealanders. Their efforts and their values have provided me with the highest standards to attain to. Firstly, I acknowledge Godfrey Bowen, who lifted the manual labour of shearing to an art form and left a lasting legacy known as shearer training. It remains the perfect industry model for skills training to follow. Secondly, I would like to acknowledge Laurie Keats and those other young farmers from the Wairarapa. Against all odds they staged the first Golden Shears in 1961, and it has been an outstanding success ever since. Today Laurie is patron of the Golden Shears and I wish the present committee all the very best as we lead up to the 2006 Golden Shears championship, which is to be held on the first Saturday in March next year.
By 1996 my wife and I were back in North Canterbury and I began conducting shearing training as the senior South Island shearing instructor, helping young people to realise their potential. In the year 2000, like Godfrey Bowen, I was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for my contribution to New Zealand shearing and the wool industry. My move into farming politics seemed a natural progression from being a farmer and helping to train the next generation of young farmers and shearers. Once I was elected to the Meat Board I got the bit between my teeth, moving on to become a director of Meat and Wool New Zealand, the Agriculture Industry Training Organisation, and the New Zealand Sheep Council, and also becoming a trustee of the Shear History Trust, which has recently opened a magnificent museum dedicated to the wool industry in Masterton. Having also chaired a branch of the National Party for 5 years, I find myself in the hot seat. I am proud to say that I have worked my way here using both my hands and my head, working on the land and sharing the concerns of ordinary people like myself.
This leads me to concerns over how people in the provinces are treated by those who live in cities and are remote from rural issues. North Canterbury is a beautiful, productive rural area. Unfortunately, people in cities who think they know best have stepped in and dug a big hole in this beautiful landscape so that they can fill it with the city’s rubbish. The Kate Valley landfill is a dismay to rural people. City folk seem totally unaware that country people care for their environment. To the city people I say: “Tidy up your backyard before you interfere in our domain.” The situation has created a great deal of upset, and I believe that it highlights the need for rural people to be supported in their bid to have a greater say in what happens in their domain.
Meanwhile, Kaikōura has its own set of concerns. The area is very, very typical of modern New Zealand. Its economy is made up of farming as well as tourism. The pastoral segment is sandwiched between the sea on one side and the magnificent, rugged Kaikōura Ranges on the other. Accommodating the requirements of a thriving tourism industry, ensuring the interaction with whales and dolphins remains beneficial for the creatures as well as for the tourism operators, and looking after the requirements of a modern, revitalised rural sector make for an interesting, challenging balancing act. Infrastructure is also an issue in this district, with growing concerns over the ability—or should I say the inability—of the State highway to cope with an increasing volume of traffic, especially large trucks. Infrastructure development, especially bridges and roading, is a major concern, most obviously highlighted by the region’s eagerness for work to begin on the new Awatere Bridge in 2006. I recognise that I must continue to politicise vigorously these concerns, seeking a fair share of the roading budget for the electorate.
Further north, and we are into Marlborough where we see a dramatic change of land use, generated by people with insight, an entrepreneurial streak, and enough conviction in the future viability of the wine industry to risk personal investment. These people are creating wealth for the province as well as for the nation. It is sad to see a lot of the wealth leaving the region in taxation. This drain on financial resources limits the region’s ability to continue to grow and create wealth. Once a particular sector feels it has become the milch cow for the Inland Revenue Department’s coffers, those investors begin to look elsewhere. It is in everybody’s best interests to ensure this does not happen.
I have reached the point now where we come to the northern most point of the Kaikoura electorate, and this is the Marlborough Sounds. It is the most beautiful part of our nation. It has 1,100 kilometres of seashore but it is dogged presently with a major problem, due to the perception that it is an extension of State Highway 1. Marlborough should not be maintaining and managing the required infrastructure at its own expense. Currently, Marlborough stumps up with a huge amount of money to maintain a road-rail link, and it is about time the Government stepped in and took responsibility for this. Alongside transport woes, biosecurity has become a big issue with the discovery of the sea squirt in our waters. The public expects a biosecurity system that can protect and, when necessary, eradicate incursions. I support proactive initiatives from any party that moves decisively towards such a system.
The continuation of health services in Marlborough is a major concern. We eagerly await the green light for the redevelopment of Wairau Public Hospital. At this time I must acknowledge the major contribution that the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust makes to the continuation of health services in Marlborough. I commend this private-public health model to all New Zealanders. Things of importance as well to people in Marlborough are those that provide services for the mental well-being and the emotional well-being of our community. Caring for the elderly is hugely important. It is appropriate that families are comfortable that their loved ones are kept safe in aged care. Too often, the carers who provide that care are given no support and no training. I have a strong personal view that I wish to champion with regard to that sector: we must reinstate the position of the enrolled nurse within the health system. That will provide a clear pathway for staff working in long-term care for the elderly. Such a pathway will provide better-quality care for the elderly and will also provide the staff with creditable and rewarding career outcomes.
I believe that we need to be goal setters and achievers. I promise my electorate that I will take the lead. I will set the example in setting and achieving goals within key areas of public interest—issues of national importance such as health, education, care of the elderly, fairer allocation of spending on infrastructure, reward for personal endeavour, and the care of the environment. Those issues will be addressed in the local context for the benefit of the whole electorate.
Finally, can I say that I am proud to be here as a member of this House and as an advocate for the people of the Kaikoura electorate. I am fuelled with high hopes and determination, and eager to ensure that the future generations can take advantage of the same opportunities that I personally have enjoyed. We must, as goal setters and achievers, find the correct balance between reward for enterprise and sustainability. I am speaking now in terms of the whole nation. Only then will New Zealand provide a first-class lifestyle for all in the years to come.
Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY (Labour)
: First, I pay tribute to the late Rod Donald, and I acknowledge his contribution to this Parliament and to New Zealand. Madam Speaker, I congratulate you on your reappointment as Speaker, and I also congratulate the Deputy Speaker and the Assistant Speakers on their appointments. Of course, I am delighted that the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, has been returned as Prime Minister for the third time. That is a great achievement for a woman Prime Minister. I congratulate all the new members of Parliament. I know that they have very high hopes—Kiwi dreams. I welcome their presence here today, and I look forward to their contribution to this Parliament and to New Zealand. I give a special welcome to Nathan Guy, who was my former student at Massey University. I welcome him. That goes to show that Massey University and its lecturers did a good job of training him well, which has brought him into Parliament.
As I said in my maiden speech 3 years ago, normally I do not like to attack the Opposition personally. That is my ethos while working here. But the recent election brought up a couple of things that have really hurt my people: my constituents, the ethnic communities of New Zealand. Two concepts were very commonly spoken of during the election campaign. They were “mainstream” and “probation for new migrants”. I personally felt very uncomfortable with that kind of talk, which brought a lot of unnecessary division to our society.
A few years ago—in 1997 or 1998—I took a fact-finding mission to the UK and Canada. I was the chair of the New Zealand Federation of Ethnic Councils at the time. I took a delegation from the ethnic communities of New Zealand to find out how other ethnic communities live in those two major countries. The UK and Canada are similar to us in many ways; they have a lot of migrant communities that have been established for a long time. When I went to the UK I met a lot of ethnic community leaders and people, and I talked to them about a number of issues. One of the questions I posed was how they felt about being, firstly, a British citizen. Invariably the answer was that they were very proud of being African, Indian, Pakistani, or whatever else their ethnicity was. Their UK citizenship always came second. I think that it is very important, particularly for Opposition members, to note from those fact-finding missions to other countries that I received that generic answer from all the ethnic people living in the UK whom I met with. A number of them had actually been born in the UK. They were not just migrants; they were born there.
From there we went over to Toronto, and we posed similar questions to people over there. I was amazed to hear their answers. Almost every immigrant and every person of ethnic background who was born in Canada said that he or she was very proud to be Canadian and then, secondly, to be African, Indian, Chinese, or whatever else he or she was. Everybody said the same sort of thing.
I came back shaking my head. I did not know why the two countries were so different. When I came back and presented my report to the then Minister of Internal Affairs—who was, I think, from the New Zealand First Party—I posed the question of what kind of country we want New Zealand to be. What kind of future do we want in New Zealand? I think for me, personally—and of course for my team that went there—the answer was clearly that the right model was the Canadian one, where everybody felt proud of being Canadian and it did not matter where they came from. A place like Toronto in Canada has probably more than 100 different nationalities—people from all over the world who have made Toronto their home. As we know from recent United Nations reports, Canada is considered to be one of the top countries to live in.
It was very sad, during the election campaign, to hear over and over again people trying to target mainstream New Zealanders, even during the leaders’ debate. I had never heard the definition of “mainstream New Zealanders” as being those people who are promoting the mainstream in New Zealand. I have been in this country for 30-odd years. My children were born here. We have, I think, contributed, to the extent that we can, to this country and I have always thought, while I was a teacher at university, that I was part of the mainstream. Unfortunately, this election made me and a lot of the ethnic community feel that we were not mainstream. Somebody was telling us that we were not mainstream. It was tragic, really tragic, that people felt that way. We know a person cannot be mainstream if part of the body, part of the machine, stops working. We cannot have peace and harmony in this country if part of the community is a group that does not feel it is part of the country—does not feel it is part of the mainstream. That is very sad.
Then we heard that new migrants would be put on probation for 4 years before they could apply for residency in this country. That is very sad, again. Who would like to come to this country if he or she feels he or she will be put on probation? Unfortunately—
Hon Tau Henare: You must be happy now you are in a Government with Winston.
Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY: Kia ora to the member—that is what cost National the election; it was the making of the defeat of the National Party at the election. I tell members that all the people I represent, when they heard of those things happening—and they were people whom I knew personally wanted to vote for the Opposition—came around and said to me: “Ashraf, with all these things happening around us, with the so-called mainstreaming and probation, we are not going to vote for that party.” What I saw was very sad. [Interruption]
Last night Tau Henare, the member who is interjecting, was invited to a party, but he did not turn up. There was a party going on next door, which was part of the celebrations of the people of this country. It was the celebration we had for the end of Ramadan, and I was delighted that the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Don Brash, was able to come to it, because I am making sure that the diversity of the people of this country is celebrated and that everybody feels part of this country. Two weeks ago we celebrated Diwali next door, and we were proud that those people felt real pride that they were part of New Zealand.
Before I conclude I would like to say that the election has unfortunately brought out some division in society. I think there is a lot for all of us to do, including Tau Henare, in order to do good for this country.
JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa)
: Tihei mauri ora! E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā hau e whā, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Ki a koutou ngā rangatira o tēnei te Whare Pāremata, e ōku hoa mahi, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.
- [Behold the sneeze of life! To the authorities, the languages, and the four winds, greetings, greetings, and greetings to you all. To representatives of this Parliament and to my colleagues as well, greetings to you and to all of us.]
I enter this House as a New Zealander who wants to celebrate the cultural diversity of all people in our country, and to walk with them into the future as a strong and united people. I congratulate you, Madam Speaker, on your election, and also your assistant, my colleague Clem Simich.
I am delighted to have won an electorate seat and to have been part of a great National Party success bringing 21 new members into this House. I congratulate each of them.
I pledge to do the very best I can for every constituent in the Wairarapa electorate, whether they voted for me or against me. Our electorate stretches well past Wairarapa into the Tararua District and beyond into Hawke’s Bay. Over many years it has contributed more to New Zealand’s prosperity, through the production of meat, wool, butterfat, and apples, than it has ever claimed for the development of its infrastructure. But our infrastructure needs improvement now because it is inadequate; it is constraining economic development.
My constituents need better incomes and lower taxes, not benefits. They know how to spend their money without the assistance of Government Ministers and well-meaning officials in Wellington.
The heartland’s potential cannot be realised with bad roads. It beggars belief that the road from Eketāhuna to Porangahau is still damaged from a storm in February 2004. Our electorate cannot grow if the road transport network is in poor condition and roads are unsafe. Their poor condition puts enormous costs on the manufacturing, farming, and forestry sectors, and that eats away at productivity and contributes to our low-wage economy. Roads are critical to the well-being of New Zealand. We need to stop repeating the politically correct mantras of the left, and to recognise that rural people have no option but to travel in their cars, and that businesses, farms, and forest industries must transport their products as efficiently as they can.
Access to and from my electorate is via the Rimutaka hill road, the Manawatū Gorge, Saddle Road hill, or the Pahiatua Track. Each road is winding with narrow bends and corners, and three of them are steep and unsuited to modern rigs. The time has come to put a road tunnel through the Rimutakas to connect Wellington and the Wairarapa. The benefits are huge: growth opportunities for Wairarapa, growth opportunities for Wellington, growth opportunities for New Zealand, and another route out of Wellington. It would mean better access to medical facilities at the new Wellington Hospital. There is no downside, and I will pursue this goal relentlessly.
Rural businesses cannot be expected to operate in the 21st century without access to First World roads giving access to international ports and airports. We need vastly improved communications, including broadband Internet. Constituents in the south of the electorate need better rail access with more carriages and properly maintained rail-track. Masterton is in urgent need of a First World sewage treatment system to stop pollution of the Ruamāhunga River. We can deliver these outcomes if we encourage real productivity—not the mind-numbing form-filling required of those running our schools, hospitals, and police. Expect me to stand against stupid policies, wasteful expenditure, and rules and regulations that my constituents, I say to Georgina Beyer, do not need and do not want.
Luckily, the laws of ageing do not apply to aspiration. I have always had the courage to pursue my dreams and those I have for my country. I am not going to stand by and watch this Government ruin Aotearoa for my children. I want to see a society that allows dreams to be fulfilled and not be oppressed by the tiresome rules, regulations, and excessive taxes of a nanny State.
I want to say a bit more about my background. I have knocked around—whether in a shearing gang, or as a steward on a Cook Strait ferry, or at King Fahad’s dinner table, or as a guest in a remote village in Papua New Guinea. I have been a union member, and I have been in business. I am a father and a husband, and I have been jolly lucky to engage in life from many perspectives.
Two years ago I resigned after a career in the Foreign Ministry. Bureaucracy was increasingly less of a challenge because of the emphasis required by this Government on process and risk aversion. I found it increasingly difficult to feel that taxpayers were getting value for money from this Government. The Foreign Ministry had provided an interesting way to spend a life, and, in earlier years, the opportunity to make a difference. But, increasingly, it seemed time to move on. I was uncomfortable with responses that the Labour-led Government made to developments in our wider neighbourhood—for example, in the Solomon Islands and in Fiji. For me, the year 2000 was a year of shame. We ignored several requests for help from Prime Minister Ulufa’alu to preserve democracy in his country. I did not believe in the decision to separate NZAID from the Foreign Ministry.
Too many people were leaving the heartland for better-paying jobs elsewhere. The direction in which our country was headed post the 1999 election was, in my view, wrong. I faced the choice: moan or get off my bum. I decided to use my experience at community level. I love my country, whether I am cooling off on a hot summer’s day in the Ruamāhunga River or battling a gale through Cook Strait, sitting at anchor in Tom Bowling Bay or scrambling across the Tararua peaks. I know it intimately and am dedicated to doing my best for it. I hope colleagues will find my mind open and my thinking rooted in common sense and pragmatism.
I did not get here, of course, on my own. It was a huge team effort. I thank Judith Kirk, Steven Joyce, and the many hundreds of friends and supporters who worked so hard for the National Party to recover the Wairarapa electorate and for my election to Parliament. There are so many people whose efforts have contributed that I hesitate to name any, except perhaps John McFadzean, my electorate chair, and my campaign chair, Bob Tosswill.
My mum, June, is listening to her radio. She demonstrates huge strength in the face of adversity, and I thank her for setting me up to cope with life’s challenges.
Think about being married to a partner who waltzes through the door and says: “OK, we’re off to live in New Delhi, Riyadh, Bahrain, Port Moresby, Tehran.” Or who then turns up and says: “I’m going to stand for Parliament.” Helen has been hugely staunch throughout our married life, including through times when she could have ended up carrying the can if my luck had run out. Thanks, too, to our children for making us proud and for their support. Em, your campaign advice and drafting skills were really appreciated. I thank Captain Povey down in the Chatham Islands tonight, and his crew—some are here—for keeping me and the
Maranui sailing and my feet on its deck.
I want to recognise Ian McLean, Don McKinnon, Robin Gray, Wyatt Creech, and the late John Falloon, who travelled this path before me and helped guide me here. The year-long campaign was a fascinating learning curve. I discovered that central government agencies have little or no understanding of the needs of the heartland. I discovered that one size does not fit all in a big electorate. In Dannevirke, the community wants an emergency unit added to the hospital. But in Dannevirke, this Government’s water quality policies will double community debt. In Alfredton, Labour’s preschool regulations will see the only facility close.
Colleagues, our generation will be judged by how well we look after our old people. This Government needs to know that throughout my electorate aged-care funding is inadequate, and especially so in Martinborough and Pahiatua.
It seems so simple to close a rural school, but closing a rural school rips the heart out of a community. The demise of our once fine Correspondence School is another example of failing infrastructure. There are serious funding problems for small schools. Their operational budgets are inadequate. It is unreasonable to demand water tests for schools on a monthly basis without providing the funding to meet their cost.
Our region’s education statistics make sobering reading, though not, I should say, for lack of effort by many teachers and principals who are passionate to see the best outcomes for their students. So how do we encourage excellence not just in sport and culture but also in literacy and maths? How do we entrench excellence as the cornerstone of our education system? The “one option only” State system, which Marian Hobbs so heartily endorsed on Tuesday, is a nonsense. We need to acknowledge diversity and provide inclusive funding for all students, whether home-schooled—as many are in my electorate—correspondence schooled, State schooled, or private schooled. Boarding facilities are essential in our rural electorate. Just because parents choose a private school does not mean the State should not contribute to a child’s education.
I have a message for public servants: “Please keep your feet on the ground.” Our country has the population of Sydney. Sydney does not support a Foreign Service operating in 50 countries with a thousand staff. Sydney does not run an aid programme costing $400 million annually. Nor does Sydney pay for an army, navy, or air force. My message to public servants is this: “Before you engage in activity, or propose it, on the back of taxpaying citizens, please look really carefully at the value being returned to your community.” My yardstick is a constituent in Kurīpuni who earns $10.50 an hour. Think about how difficult it is to meet the costs of accommodation and food, paying for holidays, and providing for retirement on this sort of income! Poor incomes set the framework for social problems and we need to address them.
I note the self-congratulation for securing Sir Ken Keith’s place on the world judicial stage. I ask what the millions of dollars of time and expense spent chasing this outcome will deliver to my constituent. It is one thing to secure influence in the World Trade Organization, as Mike Moore achieved under a National Government, but quite another to spend taxpayers’ resources on a position that will deliver nothing to them. That is all the more so when we could have spent that time and energy pursuing apple access in Australia. I have constituents who are about to lose their businesses because of the inactivity on this issue.
I will look hard at aid expenditure. Members should not expect me to sit silent while more than $28 million is given to Niue and its 1,400 people—my town has 2,000 people—without any obligation to overhaul its political system, which has 20 members of Parliament. I am all for helping Niue, but in doing so I am also thinking about a constituent who came to me this week who needs to find $90,000 because our Government will not meet the cost of a cancer drug she needs. I think too of the doors that I knocked on while campaigning, where I met older citizens wrapped in blankets on a cold day because they could not afford to pay for electricity, or others without sleep all night and in pain because they had been waiting 18 months for a hip operation.
I stand against the unrealistic expectations of the United Nations committee on decolonisation, which expects a community of 1,500 people subsisting on three atolls 270 miles from Samoa to have the cash to pay for their own Government. The decolonisation model being followed is the same as that for Niue. It damaged that society and was a failure. We must not repeat the same mistakes. And it is outrageous that 10,000 or so Tokelauans living in New Zealand are to be excluded from this vote.
I should report that my constituents do not like the MMP electoral system. I am proud to represent a party that has a policy to give a binding referendum on the question of MMP. I do not suggest that we go back to the first-past-the-post system, but it is time to look at other options. The result of our election shows that it was better to be a loser, to be rejected by one’s electorate, to hold on by a thread with a diminished party vote, then grasp the bauble of office. I hope the Government will note the huge support for National’s policies, or are we going to find that Labour’s “inclusiveness” extends only to the supporters who enabled Helen Clark to make Labour Party history?
No one pretends that our democracy is perfect or all-wise. But having lived in countries without it, I know that it is the best system for achieving peaceful solutions. My constituents are people who want a good education and a first-rate health system, and to live in a safe community where they can build a house, plant a tree, love, live side by side in dignity, be able to engage in free thought, and have a Government that operates on the basis of moral values. Only Parliament can ensure this, and that is why I want to be here.
Hon MITA RIRINUI (Minister of State)
: Otirā, kia ora huihui tātau! Kia ora huihui tātau kua tatū mai i raro i te tuanui o tēnei Whare. Ā, kei te Kaihautū, tēnā koe, ko koe rā te kaiārahi o ngā āhuatanga katoa e pā ana ki tēnei Whare. Otirā, i a au e tū nei e tika ana kia mihi ake ki tēnā o ā tātau rangatira o tēnā rōpū tōrangapū kua hinga atu, kua huri ki tua o te ārai ko Rod Donald tēnā. I kī ai ō tātau tūpuna, kua hinga rā te tōtara nui o te wao nui o Tāne. Ā, kei te haruru tonu te whenua mō ake, mō ake, mō ake tonu atu. Nō reira, e tika ana kia mihi ake ki a ia.
Me tērā o wā tātau rangatira i hinga atu i tērā marama. Me kī rā ko Ngāi Te Rangi, ko Ngāti Ranginui, ko Ngāti Pūkenga, ko Ngāti Tūwharetoa. Tēnā rā, kua hinga atu, kua ngaro atu ki tua o te ārai, taku whanaunga, taku rangatira, taku kaumātua a Tahu. He tangata e noho wahangū i roto i tēnei Whare, nō reira, me kī rā kua ngaro, kua ngaro atu. Nō reira, kai taku rangatira, haere, haere, haere kōrua, haere oti atu.
Māku anō e whakamārama taku kōrero.
Nō reira, e te Pirīmia, otirā ki ngā rangatira o ngā rōpū tōrangapū katoa, tēnā koutou. Koutou rā e tū tuatahi ai i roto i te Whare, kia kaha rā, otirā, kia tau te rangimārie. Nō reira, koia nei ngā mihi atu ki a koutou.
- [To us gathered here, greetings! Greetings to us assembled here under the roof of this House, and to you as well, Madam Speaker. You lead us in every aspect that relates to this House. Indeed, as I stand here, it is fitting that I should pay a tribute to that chief of ours of one of our political parties, Rod Donald, who has fallen and crossed over the divide. Our ancestors have a saying that goes like this: the mighty tōtara of the great forest of Tāne has fallen. The land resounds still, and will go on forever. It is appropriate, therefore, that I pay a tribute to him.
Indeed, I should also acknowledge that chief of ours who passed away last month. Let us say that it is a loss to Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Pūkenga, and Ngāti Tūwharetoa as well. Alas, he has fallen, he has been lost beyond the divide. Oh my relative, my chief, my kaumātua Tahu, I lament your passing. You sat quietly in this House and now you are lost from sight forever. So, my rangatira, go, farewell, depart. Farewell you two, on the journey of no return.
I will interpret my own address.
And so greetings to you, Prime Minister, indeed to representatives of all parties. To those of you standing for the first time in the House, be strong but be peaceful. These then are my acknowledgments to us.]
It is a pleasure to participate in this debate. First, Madam Speaker, I acknowledge your reappointment as Speaker of the House. I also acknowledge the appointment of your assistant, the Hon Clem Simich, somebody who is well respected by all parties in this House.
It is a good opportunity to reflect on a person who is no longer with us, and I am speaking about the co-leader of the Green Party Rod Donald. I would like to share with this House a little of my experience with him,. I recall that in 2002 I introduced to this House what was then, and still is, a most controversial piece of legislation. That legislation was titled the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Bill. It was vehemently opposed by Rod Donald, but I am talking here about the integrity of the man. I made it my business to speak to their caucus, and with my very persuasive manner I managed to win the majority in support. But Rod Donald had other views. In fact, he supported the single transferable vote (STV). I told Rod Donald that nowhere in the world had STV been proven to be beneficial in terms of indigenous representation, and I would not like to see, and I would not support, that type of approach being tested on Māori. But he still opposed it, and through the parliamentary process—and I am talking in the first instance about the first reading—vehemently opposed it. He took part in the select committee process and he vehemently opposed it. The bill came back to the House for its second reading, and he vehemently opposed it. Through the Committee stage, with the help of Mr Ron Mark, he vehemently opposed it, as he did with the third reading.
The interesting thing was that as soon as the votes were taken for the third reading, and the bill was passed, he was the first person to cross the floor to shake my hand and say congratulations, well done. Now, I am talking about the integrity of a person who is worth remembering. And I do remember him for that special experience I had with him.
But I also acknowledge a person who sat quietly in this House in the 6 years I have been here, who has also passed away, and that was the interpreter, who was my relation, my whanaunga, my kaumātua, Tahu Asher. Madam Speaker, you and I both attended his funeral in Taupō with his people of Ngāti Tūwharetoa. But Tahu Asher’s roots were predominantly with all the iwi of Tauranga Moana, and for weeks in this House, particularly led by the Opposition parties, there was debate about the Papamoa Hills. He sat in the House quietly and did not say a word. Unbeknown to members, Tahu Asher and his whānau at one time owned most of the Papamoa Hills. His family has gifted most of that land to the people of New Zealand and they wanted it to remain that way for public use. But there were the usual developers, as Bob Clarkson will know, in the area who had other plans for the area. Well, it did not happen, because Tahu Asher’s family still plays a major role in the retention of that area of land, the Papamoa Hills, for the use of all the people of Aotearoa. Tahu Asher was another man with integrity.
I congratulate all those members who have taken part in the Address in Reply debate and who have made their maiden speeches. In 2000 I had the honour of moving the motion for the Address in Reply debate and it is an incredible experience for a new member of Parliament. I can imagine how Shane Jones feels. I can imagine how the new members feel, having made their maiden speeches. I listened to what a lot of them had to say. There is no doubt that there is a diverse range of people in this House. I listened to people talk about their experience in the public service, people who come from farming backgrounds, shearers, lawyers, accountants, experts in finance, and experts in economic issues. I heard them talk about their visions for the future. I have also heard speeches from people who want to dwell on the past. I have also heard people who want to relive the Stone Age. As a Māori, I wish not to return to the Stone Age; however, I value the past and I look forward to the future.
I also acknowledge the presence in the House today of the Māori Party, and congratulate Te Ururoa Flavell on his success in the electorate of Waiariki. I say to him: “Te Ururoa, you won the battle, but I won the war.” If that was not the case, he would be over here and he knows that. [Interruption]
I want to say another thing about a person across the House who is continually interjecting. I heard a statement the other day by a previous colleague of mine, John Tamihere, about a member of this House. He described the member as a person who had more positions than the Kama Sutra. That sounds pretty kinky. I also know a person in this House who has been a member of more political parties than I care to name. I know he used to be a supporter of the Labour Party, but he was discovered by New Zealand First and then undiscovered. He formed his own party, Mauri Pacific. He had a couple of glasses of wine and that was the end of that. Now he has been reinvented. [Interruption] I do not know who found him, but I think that that person will regret it.
I have a lot of respect for this member, because when he was the Minister of Māori Affairs he did not carry his beliefs in his back pocket. He did carry himself quite well and I want to acknowledge him for that. But he came back as a member of the National Party, and I wonder whether I still respect him in the same way.
I want to acknowledge the Hon Parekura Horomia, the previous and current Minister of Māori Affairs. I also want to congratulate Nanaia Mahuta on her election to Cabinet. It is a very, very important role to play. She is the face and the voice not just of Tainui—and I am sure Tau Henare would also appreciate this—but also of the Kīngitanga. One has to acknowledge that.
I also want to congratulate the Hon Dover Samuels, who has returned to all his portfolios, and I want to congratulate the Hon Mahara Okeroa. We have had a long history together in the public service, and now we are sitting here on the same side of the House and living up to the expectations of our people. I also want to congratulate Shane Jones, who is considered to be a future leader of Māoridom. Goodness knows we need them; some of the ones we have now are a big disappointment. I also want to congratulate Dave Hereora, the chairman of the Māori Affairs Committee. I am sure that he will fulfil all the requirements of the position. Kia ora tātou.
NATHAN GUY (National)
: Congratulations, Madam Speaker, on your election. I welcome members of caucus, friends, colleagues, National Party leader, Don Brash, National Party president, Judy Kirk, and Geoff Thompson, the former member for Horowhenua.
I wish to acknowledge the late John Falloon. He had an influence on my entering the House, and he may never have known that. He judged me in a young farmers’ competition many, many years ago. That evening we were having a drink, and he said to me: “Young man, you’ve got political bones in your body.” I said: “Have I?”, and he said: “You have. Don’t ever forget that.” I have treasured those couple of words that he said to me. My condolences go out to Philippa and the family.
I am delighted to be in the House representing the National Party and the people of Kapiti and Horowhenua. I wish to thank my parents, Malcolm and Betty, who are here today, for their guidance and encouragement throughout my life. I wish to acknowledge my wife, Erica, who is here today. She is the proud mother of our son, Henry, who is turning 1 tomorrow. This is a journey that we are undertaking as a strong family unit. I thank them for their support. I say thank you to my brother, Christopher, and his wife. As Wellingtonians, they are just up the road, and that is great to know.
I take my hat off to the Hon Roger Sowry, who was 15 years in this House, representing Kapiti and Ōtaki. He is missed in caucus, and his support of me is valued. I know he is only a phone call away. I also wish to acknowledge the warmth of his wife, Shirley. Thank you. My electorate chairman, Ted Cobb, who could not be here today, has offered me decades of support with his wife, Jenny. My campaign chairman, Mike Gilbert, did a fantastic job with our team in the campaign this year. We are privileged with the result we got in Otaki; we started from 7,700-odd behind, and it is now the most marginal seat in the country. I say to Mike that I need him to hang tough for me; we have unfinished business.
There are many more people who I would love to mention here today. They are people who tirelessly gave their support to me and to the National Party: Ann Rogers, Peter Roe, Shelly Mitchell-Jenkins, Russell Griffiths, Lisa O’Neill, and Bruce and Elaine Little—all of Levin; Sue and Ridley Stockwell of Foxton; Antone Smith and John Williams of Shannon; Alan and Daphne Ayson of Waikanae; Murray Lobb, John Aburn, and Sam Simms of Paraparaumu; and last, but by no means least, Sue Reid, who has given me wonderful support here in Parliament.
The Otaki electorate combines the districts of Horowhenua and Kapiti, stretching from Paraparaumu to Tokomaru and containing a diverse mix of people and communities. I was born and bred there. I believe in our region’s exciting future, and I am ready to play my role in making a difference.
The Guy family has a proud history in politics. I am the fifth generation in local government politics. I am fortunate to have made the step up and to be representing the Guy family here today. We started with Duncan Guy, my great-great-grandfather, in the Napier Borough Council—probably before Panīa was even there. My father, Malcolm, and grandfather, Duncan, were both county chairmen in the Horowhenua district. Our family has worked for years and years for different sectors of our community, including the Māori people—mainly around the restoration of Lake Horowhenua. He moana pukepuke e ekengia e te waka. A choppy sea can be navigated. Persevere. The Guy family are listeners and leaders. We put people first. We prefer to lead by consensus, if we can. But we are prepared to make a stand and stick to it.
Members will have seen this. I have come out strong on Transmission Gully, as I believe we need an alternative route in and of Wellington. [Interruption] I advise the member for Wairarapa not to worry about the Rimutaka road right now—this is my turn. I was also strong on saving our rescue helicopter, launching a petition that collected 13,000 signatures. As a Horowhenua district councillor of three terms, I have enjoyed my experience in local government. I am ready for the challenge that lies ahead.
In the last few years I have seen the impacts of legislation passed by this House actually affecting the wallets of my ratepayers in Horowhenua. I am concerned about rural representation now that the Local Government Act allows councils to move away from voting by ward to district-wide voting. My concern with this is that rural communities are going to be neglected and forgotten by the power base of the urban voter. Rural representation needs to be fair and balanced. I say to members that it will not be if we head down that track.
My grandmother’s Nathan family also served in the community. My great-grandfather Fred Nathan was Mayor of Palmerston North. He was instrumental in lobbying the Government way, way back for an agriculture college in Palmerston North. This college is now called Massey University and I proudly spent 4 years there—as Ashraf Choudhary mentioned earlier. As leading figures in the dairy industry, the Nathan family produced Glaxo pharmaceutical products and milk powder. My great-grandfather appreciated the value of agricultural research and education, and so do I. Our farming business north of Levin has grown through three generations of Guys who have farmed the land through advances in technology, research, and development. We have been pioneers of peaty swamp land, which we have now developed into black gold—that is, of course, if the Manawatū River does not decide to smash its stopbank down like it did on our property in 2004 when we had 1,000 acres under water for a month. We travelled over our farm in a speedboat without hitting a fence.
I am a supporter of the upkeep of major rivers being subsidised by central government, not just by those people who live in the proximity of the stopbank, who have to pay most of the rates. Rivers are a national, public good. As river channels continue to clog up, the cost of raising stopbanks will be huge, and I fear New Zealand will end up like Holland, where the water always runs above houses. This is a big issue and one that I believe needs addressing. That flood tested our mettle, did it not, Dad? We are a family of survivors, and I will need survival instincts in here. I have been on the bottom of a few rucks when I have played NPC rugby, and I am prepared for the kicking I may get here. But I will always stand up and smile at my opposition.
We are in the business of people, grass, cows, and milk—yes, people first. I will need to escape from here from time to time, to get back to the green pastures of Kōpūtāroa near Levin, and my staff of seven will provide that necessary reality check with the grassroots. I need to thank my farm team for all that they have done for me, to enable me to get here today. They are probably milking the cows as we speak, and listening to the radio. Do not forget to hose the poo off the wall, fellas!
Today I question how much we value agriculture in this House. I believe we are losing our rural roots, our Kiwi number eight wire mentality, and our can-do attitude. Last weekend I judged an iconic rural event. It was calf and lamb day—agriculture day. The numbers of children and pets that are participating in that event are dwindling across the country. Those numbers continue to decline, as it is easier for kids to watch TV and play PlayStation than to look after their pets. I believe that we actually need to be fostering greater links in schools with urban and rural communities. More and more people are growing up in schools with no appreciation of rural life. People in the past may have had the opportunity as children of going out to their grandparents’ farm in the holidays. That seems to be dwindling, and I am concerned about the possible divide in this country.
Even the Speech from the Throne outlining the Government’s plans for the next 3 years paid little attention to the country’s producers. It is no wonder that National did so well in provincial New Zealand. Those in the agricultural sector will be sorely disappointed with the Government’s vision of our most productive sector, I believe. “The backbone of the New Zealand economy will continue to be our primary industries … with the objective of ensuring these sectors lead the way in improving productivity and in innovation.” That was it—a 45-minute speech, and agriculture gets mentioned in two sentences.
New Zealand has depended on the agriculture sector for the majority of its export earnings for more than a century, and we all know that it will depend on it for the next century—we can bank on that. Fonterra is New Zealand’s No. 1 company. It is a world leader in exports, and it is ranked among the top ten dairy companies in the world. We actually need to pay accolades to that company, not knock it around. We should spare a thought for the cow cockies who get up at 4 a.m. in the morning and work extremely hard to support their families and earn our export dollars. The Fonterra chairman, Henry van der Heyden, has said that the message still has not got across to urban New Zealand and the Government as to how important the pastoral industry is to this economy. I quote from Henry Van der Heyden: “If the pastoral economy declines the whole economy declines. The aim should be to increase funding for research and development, with the aim of lifting productivity rather than trying to start new industries.” I endorse those comments and will push hard for increased funding into pastoral research and development, and innovation.
During my first term I want to earn the respect of my colleagues and the trust of the National Party people in Kapiti and Horowhenua. In conclusion, I will endeavour to make the right decisions. My can-do attitude is the way that New Zealand used to be. We have not lost that attitude; we have just forgotten that it is OK to work hard and play hard. If my seat in the House is ever empty, people can rest assured that I will be working hard in the Otaki electorate. I am ready for the battle. Kia kaha, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
ALLAN PEACHEY (National—Tamaki)
: I believe in freedom: in the freedom of all New Zealanders—regardless of where they were born, of how they were brought up, or of what sort of house or community they live in—to be the very best that they can be. So I come to this House, freely chosen by the people of Tamaki to represent them. To the people of Tamaki, I repeat the pledge given in this House by my distinguished predecessor the Rt Hon Sir Robert Muldoon, when he moved the Address in Reply debate as their newly elected member 44 years ago: “I intend to represent all the people of Tamaki, irrespective of whether they supported me at election time or not …”.
Freedom is always eroded under socialist rule. The Government has become more intrusive, more coercive, more meddlesome, and less effective. It absorbs too much of New Zealanders’ incomes and hampers our economy with bureaucracy and restrictive tax rates. Most of our nation’s problems have their cause right here, in Wellington. Our capital has become the seat of a nanny State system that functions for its own benefit, growing increasingly insensitive to the needs of the New Zealanders who pay the taxes.
The role of a Government is to provide a framework of security and civil order in which New Zealanders are free to plan and live their lives. Too much power in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats to plan the lives of individuals is a threat to freedom. New Zealanders are looking for a new generation of leaders who respect initiative, independence, enterprise, individualism, and freedom. Those leaders are on the Opposition side of the House.
It is for those reasons that I have left a most satisfying 32-year career in education to enter Parliament. I take a moment to reflect on the profession that I have just left, and—with your permission, Madam Speaker—to say to the schoolteachers that you do the most important paid work in New Zealand, because you can transform the lives of children. You determine who gets to read, to write, and to compute. For some of our children, you can decide who will enjoy success in life and who will not. Society does not give you the recognition and the respect that it should.
I am in Parliament because of the work of members of the National Party in Tamaki, work that is entirely voluntary. It is an effort made willingly by New Zealanders who want a better country, the freedom to run their businesses and to raise their families in the way that they choose, and the freedom to realise their aspirations and to be the best that they can be. So to men and women like Richard Yates, Andrew Hunt, Adirana Gunder, Murray McKinnon, Tony Hannifin, Matt Malaghan, Brian Grigg, Kit Parkinson, John de Latour, Dan Gardner, Sarah Meek, and Bronwen Coster, I give my respect and my thanks. While speaking of the Tamaki electorate, I would also like, on behalf of the people of Tamaki, to express appreciation to the Hon Clem Simich for his service and to wish him well with his new responsibility as Deputy Speaker of this House.
I understand New Zealanders and their aspirations, as do my colleagues on the Opposition side of the House, although the trade union functionaries and academics on the socialist side of the House do not. New Zealanders need leadership that encourages them to work hard and get ahead, and that ensures they can send their children to a school where those children will have teachers who will make them learn. They need leadership that gives them the freedom to be the best that they can be. New Zealanders are thirsting for leadership that looks to the future, not the past: leadership that recognises the opportunities of individual initiative and the dangers of big government and welfare dependency. They want leadership that reflects the call of President John F Kennedy: “Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
It troubles me that so many members of this House persist in looking at the past instead of to the future. They think of people primarily as belonging to a class or interest group, and not as individuals. They seek to explain the problems of our nation in terms of socio-economic background or school decile rating, or of a class division that should not exist. In the 21st century knowledge and how that knowledge is used will determine the success of the individual and of the nation. There can be no place for a mean-spirited and socialist ideology that subordinates the individual to the ill-defined greater good of the State. History will shame those who seek to impose the crushing mediocrity of collectivism upon our communities.
The challenges of the Tamaki electorate are the challenges of the New Zealanders who live there: schooling, health, housing, and law and order. A significant problem is that this socialist Government is intensifying the density of State housing in Glen Innes still further, and, once again, it is being done without a supporting infrastructure. As a result of the Government cramming more and more State tenants into an area where there is a marked imbalance between private and State housing, it is inevitable that social dislocations will occur.
I also question policing in the Tamaki electorate. Today we have a magnificent police station in Glen Innes, and residents from Ōrākei to St Heliers and from Panmure to Mission Bay had great hopes that local policing would greatly improve their personal security and the security of their properties. That station cost $3.7 million, and some 50 sworn staff are based there. However, it is open only from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., Monday to Friday. At a time when the residents of Tamaki most need the assurance of readily accessible policing, their police station is closed. That makes no sense to me. Something else makes no sense to me. I am told by the school principals of Tamaki that schools cannot get a police officer to visit when needed and principals cannot get to meet with Youth Aid officers. They tell me that there are no inquiry cars in Tamaki when they are most needed.
Too many people in our community feel that it is acceptable to break the law. The police approach to dealing with young people has become too tentative. Too many youngsters see policing as toothless and gutless. There is an urgent need for us to focus on tagging, vandal damage, and tinny houses. Youngsters who get away with tagging an elderly person’s fence go on to the next level of crime. If we stop that, we stop a lot of other crime. The sense of immunity that young people feel when committing crime at the behest of their elders must be shattered. The people of Tamaki, whether they live in Glen Innes, Ōrākei, Kohimārama, St Heliers, Mission Bay, St Johns, or Meadowbank, need a change in the way their communities are policed if their right to live in a stable community is to be protected.
In making these comments, I want to reassure every police officer who works in Tamaki that I am 100 percent behind his or her work. I know that it is the law, not the police officer, that allows antisocial youngsters to offend and reoffend with impunity. It is time that a sense of social responsibility was required from all of our community. And I know something else: it is the responsibility of this House to create an environment in which the police can do their job. It is the responsibility of this House to make law that upholds civil society instead of law that tells young people, when they misbehave, that the police cannot touch them. Too often it is the decent police officer, not the law-breaker, who is in trouble.
This nation cannot continue to stand still. As New Zealanders we want our nation to move forward, yet today the dark shadow of economic decay again hangs over New Zealand. Inflation is back, rising interest rates are back, productivity remains low, and wages are low by international standards. A nation must be growing and thriving in order to provide jobs and world-class health and education. New Zealand needs leadership that offers progress, not the strangulation of initiative. New Zealand needs leadership that offers truth instead of promises that go unkept behind the excuse of MMP, and leadership that offers hope and optimism, not defeatism and mean-spiritedness. New Zealand needs leaders who share the values that make ours a great way of life. It needs leadership that is independent of the forces that create our problems: this Labour Government, the Wellington bureaucracy, interest groups, trade unions, and the petty, self-serving arrangements arising from MMP, including the cynical grasp of the baubles of power by the leaders of minor parties.
For New Zealand to move forward, there is much that must change. So let us have leaders who share the New Zealand dream. Let us have leaders who cherish the ideals of freedom. Let us have leadership that stops the steady erosion of those institutions such as the family that form the foundations of our freedom and prosperity. Too many New Zealanders have grown up in families trapped by the State into welfare dependency and its accompanying bigotry of low expectations. No New Zealander can be truly free while he or she remains dependent on the welfare system for a livelihood. No New Zealander can be free as long as the Government keeps that person trapped in the cycle of poverty and dependence that arises from being stranded in communities where State-provided housing is poor, where criminals are free on the streets and good New Zealanders are prisoners in their homes, where the streets are crime-infested, and where too often the schools are struggling.
Failure to improve the performance of our schools is not just poor social policy; it is poor economic policy, as well. Ignorance and illiteracy breed failure in our social and economic systems. They cause delinquent behaviour, chronic welfare dependence, a loss of productive capability in the economy, and an increase in tax-supported welfare benefits. Let us have leaders who know there is no substitute for the freedom that New Zealand families get from owning their own homes, and leaders who know there is no substitute for the freedom gained from a schooling system that equips every individual with knowledge, and with the ability to read, write, and master mathematics.
I conclude with a personal reflection. The eldest of the four children that Jeanette, my wife of 30 years, and I have raised was a member of the 1997 Youth Parliament. My late father Noel was, at the time of his death in 1985, chief messenger to this House. Days before his death he was quoted in a newspaper article about his work.
He said of MPs: “I suppose I was like so many. You saw a group who were just sitting upon their backsides getting well paid for doing very little. But my eyes were opened very quickly when I saw the hours they put in, quite apart from being in the debating chamber, or select committees and doing electorate work, I found essentially they can’t have a private life.” Like my late father, and in the example of my mother, I believe in hard work, I believe in individual responsibility, and, above all else, I believe in freedom.
MARTIN GALLAGHER (Labour—Hamilton West)
: First of all, I wish to congratulate yourself on your appointment as Assistant Speaker, my good colleague Ross Robertson on filling the other Assistant Speaker role, and in particular our Speaker, Margaret Wilson, on her reappointment, and also Clem Simich on his appointment as Deputy Speaker.
I have much pleasure in rising to speak in the Address in Reply debate this afternoon. I want to take the opportunity to thank the people of Hamilton West for re-electing me to this Chamber, at a time when politically there was certainly a very hard-fought contest in the regions. It is an absolute privilege and an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to again serve the electors of Hamilton West and, of course, the people of the Waikato.
First of all, I want to congratulate my Labour colleagues, and in particular Sue Moroney, Maryan Street, Darien Fenton, and Shane Jones on their maiden speeches. I know they will make a fantastic contribution to the political life of our country. In particular, I want to congratulate Sue Moroney, who of course comes from the Waikato. She has worked very hard on behalf of working people in my region, and I am absolutely delighted that she is now serving those working people in this Parliament. I know that she will make an excellent contribution in representing our region.
Also, I want particularly to acknowledge Maryan Street, who of course fought a very hard contest in the Taranaki - King Country electorate. I think it is about the safest National seat in the country. She did very well, and I know she will also make a great ongoing contribution to the Greater Waikato area. It is obvious that Darien Fenton and Shane Jones are passionate for working people, and they will make some wonderful contributions to this Parliament.
I think it is appropriate that I should take this opportunity to congratulate the new member of Parliament for Hamilton East, David Bennett. I did not necessarily agree with all of his speech, but I want to acknowledge that he shares with the rest of the Waikato MPs an absolute passion and pride in Hamilton. Certainly I agree with him in the sense that he acknowledged the fact that Hamilton as a population centre is the fourth main centre. It is the fourth-largest centre in terms of population, and certainly is taking its place as a metropolitan centre in this country.
I want particularly to thank Dr Brash, Mr Key, and Mr Brownlee for being present during his speech. I know that my Waikato colleague Lindsay Tisch will probably be saying a few words to the up to 20 National MPs who were absent during some very interesting maiden speeches. I know he will be ticking off one or two National MPs at the caucus meeting next Tuesday for their absence. That in no way detracts from the very good speech of David Bennett, but I will say that I do think that the turn-out of a number of National members during a number of maiden speeches could have been better. But let me praise Gerry Brownlee for being a good deputy leader in this case because at least he was present, unlike some of his front-bench colleagues.
I also take an opportunity to congratulate the Hon Nanaia Mahuta on her elevation to Cabinet. Nanaia Mahuta has made a great contribution to the Waikato, and I know that she will serve this country with distinction as a Cabinet Minister. I also acknowledge Dianne Yates, who, notwithstanding her losing the Hamilton East electorate, will continue to make a fine contribution to this Parliament.
I think it is opportune, at this time, using this Address in Reply debate, to personally thank my campaign team in Hamilton West for the incredibly hard and great work they did. Irrespective of the parties we support, we should in this Parliament honour those men and women who form the grassroots of political parties in this country—those who will never come to this Chamber but who believe in a cause and keep the wheels of democracy turning. I personally honour them, as I know that most others members of this House do. In particular, I acknowledge my electorate chairman, Angus McConnell. I acknowledge my co - campaign chairs, Ray Foster and Gillian Gladstone, for their fantastic contribution, work, and effort.
I also take the opportunity to acknowledge a group of young Australians who were active members of the Australian Labor Party. This symbolises the great trans-Tasman relationship, whereby Labor and Liberal people will come and help their colleagues and counterparts across the Tasman. I pay tribute to Jamie Driscoll, James Pawluk, Christian Seibert, Eileisha Tucker, Jessica Tucker, and Jarrod Panther. They are fine young people who I know will make a great contribution to Australia. I thank them so much, along with the rest of my campaign team, for their excellent contribution to the campaign. Certainly, I think it is great that we see that level of trans-Tasman cooperation at all levels. In my view, it is a statement of the depth of the relationship between our two countries. I know that Liberal members too come across the Tasman to participate in the National Party campaign.
Gerry Brownlee: It must be terribly exciting for them.
MARTIN GALLAGHER: If members of the Opposition will briefly stop their heckling, I will do what I think is appropriate and very gracious, and that is to give praise to the National Party candidate for Hamilton West, Mr Tim Macindoe. During this part of my Address in Reply contribution, National members might like to listen with a degree of decorum and silence when I honour and praise him for his work and his conscientious endeavour as a candidate for Hamilton West. Interestingly enough, I do not think that a cross word passed between us. I say to him that I respect his integrity. I certainly know that he worked very hard as a candidate for Hamilton West, and was understandably disappointed in terms of the final outcome.
A number of Hamilton West National Party activists ran a campaign saying that people should vote for Mr Macindoe as the electorate representative, because Mr Gallagher would get in on the list. They said that Hamilton could get two MPs. In my view, the only way that the National Party can guarantee an extra National MP for Hamilton City is to ensure that next time, Mr Macindoe, if he chooses to stand again, is given a better ranking than No. 62 on the list. I do not know what he has to do. Maybe, coming from me, he does not want this kind of promotion—it may not help his chances—but I say that National members should give him his due. He took the fight to Winston Peters in Tauranga 3 years ago. He has served National before as a candidate. I think that National can do better for Mr Macindoe than to place him at No. 62 on the list. I hope that in future, if he decides to stand again, National will acknowledge his hard work in the Waikato, and the contribution he can make to the National caucus. I just make that observation.
I also take this opportunity to say how proud I am—and David Bennett in his speech acknowledged this—of being part of the Waikato team. Of course, there are political issues that divide us, but we are intensely proud to represent our excellent region. I take the opportunity also to acknowledge that we have a very, very fine city council, which is under the able leadership of Mayor Michael Redman, who is proving to be an excellent mayor. I also acknowledge in particular the mayor of the Waikato District Council, Peter Harris, and the mayor of the Waipā District Council, Alan Livingston, for their excellent leadership as part of the Waikato regional mayoral team. I acknowledge the role of Environment Waikato, as well.
I look forward to working with those democratically elected bodies, along with other community groups, to promote and continue to push for the Waikato. I think we have some excellent news, and this Government has done some excellent things for the Waikato. I am so proud and pleased with the Speech from the Throne, which outlined a great and wonderful programme over the next 3 years for this country.
Hon Tau Henare: Name one.
MARTIN GALLAGHER: We will spend $1.75 billion on Waikato roading over the next 10 years. That is one, and I am proud. That member’s colleagues sat on their backsides in the 1990s, but we are doing. We are not talking; we are doing. I am proud of that.
Finally, I also take this opportunity, if I may, to acknowledge the passing of a very great and wonderful New Zealander, Rod Donald. It was my privilege to attend, along with many in this House, his funeral in Christchurch. I just place on record my sympathy to his family. What a fine family they are. I also welcome back Nandor Tanczos. He is another Waikato-based member of Parliament. I feel for Nandor Tanczos for the circumstances and the pain he went through in terms of returning to this House, but I welcome him back.
I am proud to be back here. It is wonderful to be back here. I will continue to work really hard for the people of the Waikato.
LINDSAY TISCH (Senior Whip—National)
: I seek leave that should my colleague Kate Wilkinson’s maiden speech go slightly beyond 6 p.m., she is able to complete her speech without interruption.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Ann Hartley): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is not.
KATE WILKINSON (National)
: Madam Speaker, I too would like to congratulate you and the Deputy Speaker on your respective elections. To be constantly fair, impartial, and unbiased is no easy task, and I am confident that you should do this well.
I remember well my first trip to Parliament. I was a very young country kid from Chertsey Primary School—one of those very special rural schools offering a very special education. The school was the centre of the community, a wonderful place of learning. It encouraged us to learn and develop. It encouraged us to succeed and, if we failed, to try again and fail better, or even succeed the second time. Chertsey school is now on this Government’s death row for rural schools, awaiting execution. I remember standing at the Chertsey Railway Station waiting for the train to take us to Lyttelton. Chertsey Railway Station is now also gone. I remember taking the overnight ferry from Lyttelton to Wellington. The ferry no longer sails. And I remember my first visit to Parliament. Thankfully, at least Parliament still remains.
As I look back through maiden speeches relating to the Waimakariri electorate—albeit somewhat changed due to boundary adjustments—I realise that so much has changed yet so little. Roading, water, and infrastructure are still issues; little has changed there. But as Derek Quigley, the member of Parliament for
Rangiora, said in his own maiden speech many, many years ago: “One of the most serious of these [problems] in my electorate is the loss of people from the country areas and their movement to the cities.” Now the opposite is true. More people are moving from the towns to the lifestyles of the country. The farms are becoming fewer and the number of people greater.
So much change, yet so little change. The rail has gone, the railway station has gone, the ferry has gone—the school should definitely not go—but what must not go is our sense of aspiration and confidence and pride as New Zealanders, our freedom of choice, our common sense, our self-responsibility and accountability, our insistence that mediocrity is OK but excellence is better, and our belief in the dignity of work and the incentives of hard work. Those beliefs must stay and be reinforced and practised every day of every week of every month of every year.
So I now enter Parliament, armed with a firearms licence, a heavy trade and trailer licence, plus an LLB and a licence to practise law, trusting that my own arsenal of experience, qualifications, and ability is sufficient to make the difference that I am sure every one of us aspires to do.
With your indulgence, Madam Speaker, I would like to have a brief interlude to thank the wonderful people of Waimakariri, my campaign team, my army of supporters and friends, and, most important, the National Party under the great leadership of Don Brash, for getting me here, and for giving me such an exciting yet humbling privilege of serving not only Waimakariri, not only our farmers and our primary producers, who are so vital to our country’s well-being and so often overlooked, but also all New Zealanders. Without all that support I would not be here.
I am a fifth-generation New Zealander, hugely patriotic, passionate about New Zealand, and a hugely parochial Cantabrian. I am also fortunate to have UK patriality. I am proud of my ties with the UK, with the history and the traditions of the UK—ties that we as a country still have, and from which we can still benefit. I am not, at this stage, ready to cut those ties. I do not believe in change for the sake of change. We do not throw out the dirty bathwater unless we have clean bathwater to replace it. One day we may be ready for that change. But when we are truly ready we will all know, and we should take care that it is the right decision at the right time with the right mandate.
The mandate was not there to cut our ties with the Privy Council. We cannot let that happen again. Political expediency—personal leanings—must take second place to what is in the best interests for New Zealand and for New Zealanders. That is the only and ultimate test. New Zealanders are too important to be used as pawns in the chess game of politics.
We all have to believe that New Zealand is the best country in the world, and it really is the best country in the world, which is why we must avidly protect our borders, and allow entry to those who have that belief and that passion, and not to those who want to change our Kiwi spirit. We must jealously guard that Kiwi spirit, and evolve that spirit—let it change but not enforce change—enhance that spirit but not destroy that spirit.
So what is it about our Kiwi spirit of which we must be so protective and so proud? Our forefathers have fought for us, have sacrificed for us, and have given us what we must now defend and protect for our own ascendants. We owe them. We have a duty. We have an obligation and in return for that obligation and duty we are granted the rights and privileges to be New Zealanders and to live in the best country in the world.
We should not be bludgers, and I am ashamed that some regard us as bludgers. That is not part of our Kiwi spirit. We must play our part in the global democracy, even though playing that part may be extremely difficult. We are not so small that, as a country, we cannot make a difference and an impact. But we are small and isolated enough that we cannot afford to shun our friends and our allies. Our size and our isolation are our strength. They are also our weakness.
As New Zealanders we are proud of our number eight wire innovation and ingenuity, our do-it-yourself enthusiasm. We are proud of our Hamilton jets, our Gallagher electric fencing, and much more. Yet we restrict, we hobble, and we over-regulate our DIYers so that, for example, my Waimakariri farmers cannot erect a hayshed, even though they may have done so for 50 years or so without causing any harm or any problems. My Waimakariri farmers cannot now erect their own hayshed without having it done, or constantly supervised, by a qualified certifier. That saddens me. The proponents of such restrictive, hobbling, and unnecessary legislation sadden me for showing such a lack of understanding of our Kiwi spirit. Rather than being the clarion call for DIYers, it may, indeed, be their death knell.
We have even heard it said that “the New Zealand pastime of inventing things with number eight wire and a four-by-two is a little romance that needs to be put to bed”. Well, I do not think so.
We have laws attempting to legislate for common sense. Lolly scrambles are banned. Pipe band marches are stopped. Can members imagine Sir Edmund Hillary trying to navigate through our current occupational safety and health and other laws when attempting and achieving the conquest of Mount Everest—and would the Department of Conservation have actually unlocked the gates? Legislating for common sense is not sensible. We must ensure our laws do not incarcerate and destroy our Kiwi spirit.
In the words of Justice Willie Young: “It is easy and trite to say that difficult cases make bad law; but it is perhaps also right to remember that bad law produces difficult cases.” We are responsible for ensuring that we do not make bad law. We have laws of strict liability, yet paradoxically we have other laws that encourage the abdication of our responsibility and liability. One has only to look at our occupational safety and health in employment laws to stumble across many an example of that. We have laws intended to reduce or eliminate some mischief, yet the consequences of those laws, whether intended or unintended, are often worse than the mischief itself. The cure is worse than the disease.
The proposed public access laws are a classic example of that. When 98 percent of farmers allow access over their land if asked, why do we even need to contemplate a new law? Where is the mischief? And that is totally aside from the very important issue of the sanctity of property rights. The confiscation of private property rights without compensation is plain and simple State theft, and we must not allow that to happen.
We have laws for a lawless minority that are often feckless against such lawless minority, but at a huge cost and disadvantage to our lawful majority. We have laws that some think do not apply to them. It has been said that “the people become more subservient to justice when they see the author of a law obeying it himself”—or herself. No one is above the law in New Zealand. It is not a subjective assessment to decide which laws to obey and which laws to ignore. Obeying our laws is a necessity; it is not a luxury. Whether it is the Official Information Act, the Summary Offences Act, the Crimes Act, or any other Act, they are there for us all to obey. No one is above the law.
Democracy, and indeed justice, must be above politics. We cannot allow either democracy or justice to become merely a political expedient. It is an offence to pervert the course of justice. It is also offensive to subvert the course of democracy. We are charged with upholding both, and we must do that.
It is an absolute privilege to be part of our parliamentary process. It is also a huge responsibility—a responsibility that I take very seriously. I hope that when it comes to my valedictory speech, I will be able to say I exercised that responsibility well, with integrity, with enthusiasm, with soul, with spirit, and with my arsenal still intact.
I would like to finish with a quote from Abraham Lincoln. It has been used before, and no doubt will be used again. But I think it says it all: “You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot build character and courage by taking away men’s initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could, and should, do for themselves.”
- The House adjourned at 6.00 p.m.