Part 1Safeguard investigations, provisional safeguard duty, and safeguard measures
JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa)
: It is a pleasure to—[Interruption]
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Order! [Interruption] Order!
JOHN HAYES: It is a very great pleasure to stand this evening in the Chamber to speak on the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill, put forward under the careful leadership of our Associate Minister of Commerce, John Banks.
I would like to make just a couple of introductory remarks before my comments. The only way New Zealand is going to move forward satisfactorily is to earn more money than it spends. We have got to be very careful to keep our debt below 30 percent of gross national income, we have to lift savings productivity, and I think that enhancing and growing our international trade links and opportunities is a key part of our plan to build a competitive and productive economy. This is one of the four objectives that we have in the Government in this term of office.
When you open the door to free competition and you drop your borders, as we have done in New Zealand and as we are asking every other country to do, there is a risk that
small companies throughout the country—but particularly in my electorate; I think of somewhere like Metalform in Dannevirke, which is in the manufacturing area—can be flooded by items imported and, perhaps, dumped in this market. So I think that the commerce Minister has been particularly wise to design this draft legislation with tariff and trade remedies policies, so that our companies can operate in a more predictable environment and play an important role in providing New Zealand industries with confidence to invest, to grow, and to compete, especially as tariffs are being reduced and eliminated under our free-trade agreements. These agreements are going to grow, and the Government, I know, has plans for at least 28 trade missions in this term of office.
One of the issues that I would like to address to the Minister in the chair, the Associate Minister of Commerce, is the question around that part of the legislation that gives the Minister of Commerce authority to impose a provisional and then a final safeguard duty without taking it through a lengthier Cabinet process. I would be quite interested to ask the Minister whether he could please outline and specify the individual considerations that he would be taking into account when determining whether a safeguard duty is in the public interest. I would be interested to know what sorts of considerations the Minister will take account of in that process.
I really support this legislation. I think it is excellent, and I think our Minister has done a good job leading us through this process. Thank you.
Hon PHIL GOFF (Labour—Mt Roskill)
: It is a pleasure to get up to speak to the Committee stage of the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill. Labour actually supports this bill, and we support it because it was introduced by Lianne Dalziel, and I think we can rely on a former Minister who introduced this bill who does not forget things, who can be relied on to act with integrity, and who can be relied on to be straight with the media and not to obfuscate. For all of those reasons I think that this bill probably deserves our support, but I do have a number of questions to the Associate Minister of Commerce.
My first question to the Minister is, given the trouble that he is in, will he still be here when we complete—
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Look, we are not getting into this speculative area. There is plenty of scope to debate the purpose, and Part 1 is a big part, so I ask the member just to desist from the line that he is on. Thank you.
Hon PHIL GOFF: On a different line, this is a question that was asked on the front page of the
to Mr Banks: has he actually read the bill? He has not read the Local Electoral Act; has he read this bill? If he is the Minister in charge of this Committee stage, our side of the Chamber wants to have assurance—
Louise Upston: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. You spoke only a matter of seconds ago about the content of the bill and the fact that it was quite wide in its scope. I would ask that you manage that member’s relevance, please.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Point of order, Mr Chairperson.
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I do not need any assistance. The member on his feet asked the Minister whether he had read this bill. I think his references to the paper were unhelpful, but he did not—[Interruption] Order! I think he is just inside the line at this stage. I caution the member, and I caution other members as we proceed. I am happy to proceed with the debate.
Hon PHIL GOFF: I read that this bill’s purpose is to replace an old regime with a new regime, and I want to know whether the new regime will be as reliable as John Key’s new regime to lift the bar on ministerial standards. I want to know that because, you know, we have been promised new regimes before and they have not been delivered. So I want to know whether the new regime that this bill introduces is going to deliver the goods, because John Key did not deliver the goods on lifting the bar on
ministerial standards. When Ministers can mislead the public, obfuscate, forget things, and not tell the truth, that is not introducing a new regime.
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Order! I have been very tolerant here, but the member talks about Ministers not telling the truth. There are standards here about members being honourable members. I just think the member ought to be a little more careful about how he is phrasing that stuff.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I apologise to my honourable colleague. The point I would like to make is that Mr Goff at no stage suggested that the Minister did not tell the truth in the House, and that is the requirement. We are allowed to say that Ministers did not tell the truth outside the House, and clearly that is the case with this Minister.
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): That is not my understanding of Speakers’ rulings. I invite the member to demonstrate to me, through Speakers’ rulings, where my interpretation is not correct. But we will continue with the honourable member.
Hon PHIL GOFF: Part 1 of this bill talks about safeguard investigations. I want to know the meaning of the term “safeguard measures”, because there are a lot of things that the public need to be safeguarded against. They need to be safeguarded against Ministers who do not tell the truth to the media. They need to be safeguarded against Ministers who obfuscate and are not upfront and honest with the public and the media. And they need to be safeguarded against forgetfulness. Can we rely on this Minister in the chair to remember what the provisions of this bill are, so that he can properly implement them, when he could not remember a helicopter ride to the biggest mansion in the country—
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Order! I have cautioned the member. This is about the bill, and I caution the member again. That is it—right.
Hon PHIL GOFF: It is a bill—
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Are you seeking a second call now?
Hon PHIL GOFF: Yes. I hardly got started. The bill also “promotes efficient, transparent, and objective investigative and decision-making processes.” Let me repeat that, because that is really important. The bill promotes efficient, transparent, and objective investigation and decision-making processes. I would like to hear from the Minister in the chair what he thinks about transparent decision-making—whether things should be upfront, open, and honest, and whether the law should be followed in that regard.
This bill, interestingly, is also about anti-dumping and countervailing duties. Does this mean, I ask the Minister in the chair, that if he dumps on Kim Dotcom, there will be countervailing action by Kim Dotcom to tell the truth about what he said? I think that is a really good question, and I would like to hear the Minister’s comments on that.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Is that a countervailing duty?
Hon PHIL GOFF: It is a countervailing duty, I think, that if your loyalty and your goodwill towards somebody is not reciprocated—by someone who pretends that they cannot even remember who you are, even though he spent 2 hours with you, dined with the family, and toasted you at your birthday party—then you will expect that person to feel that there has been no countervailing loyalty towards you, and that you have been used. So it is little wonder that Kim Dotcom responded in that way.
Clause 5 of this bill is about the Act binding the Crown. I want to ask about that. Is that the Act binding the Crown in the same way that the
Cabinet Manual binds the Prime Minister, for example, to uphold and be seen to uphold the highest ethical standards on his Ministers? Is that what binding is? It does not say much in the bill. It simply says that the Act binds the Crown. I would have thought—
Kris Faafoi: It’s the ACT Party.
Hon PHIL GOFF: The ACT Party. Well, does the
Cabinet Manual bind the Prime Minister or his Ministers to uphold and be seen to uphold—
Hon Lianne Dalziel: It should be “props up the Crown”.
Hon PHIL GOFF: Yes, well, binding and propping up—there might be something in that.
Clause 6 is about notification of a decision or a report. I wonder whether that notification is a bit like notifying the Electoral Commission that a huge donation was made and that he then asked the donor to split it into two parts, contrary to the spirit of the law. Is that the—
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. There is a requirement for a Minister to be in the chair during the Committee stage of the debate. They are not allowed to run around the Chamber like this, no matter how scared they are.
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I will uphold that. Yes, the Minister in the chair should not move more than from the chair to the aisle.
Hon PHIL GOFF: This is a bill—
Hon John Banks: This is very boring.
Hon PHIL GOFF: The Minister might say it is very boring, but I tell him that the country is not bored about his escapades, his misleading comments, and his obfuscation of what he is doing. Maybe the Minister could explain what he meant when he was asked whether he had declared all his donations and he said: “look, look, look, look, look, look, look … I have never been with Dotcom to Skycity.” If that is not obfuscation—
Hon John Banks: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. The chairman of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, John Hayes, and his colleagues on this side of the Chamber are very, very interested in this debate. This going-on by the member for Mt Roskill serves his interests no good. It is contrary to the Standing Orders because it is irrelevant, and I would like to think that the Committee would stay in order, the shouting and carping from the parliamentary Opposition should cease, interjections should be rare and reasonable, and we can get on with the important business of this Government.
Hon PHIL GOFF: Speaking to the point of order, Mr Chairman.
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I will accept the member’s contribution.
Hon PHIL GOFF: My response in fact was to an interjection made by the Minister himself. It is a bit rich for him to be saying that we should not be interjecting.
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): The member cannot attack another member through a point of order and talk about richness or anything else, and the member should know that by now. I am listening very, very carefully to the debate, and it is fair to say that the member, in his speech, is moving outside the realm of what is acceptable, but then he ducks in again. He is a very senior member. My tolerance about this—we have had a go on this now and I ask members to debate more specifically the purpose and Part 1 of the bill.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I just want to alert your attention to the fact that this is the second time that the member speaking has been interrupted in order for relevancy to be questioned, which is in fact out of order. The Speakers’ rulings are quite clear that the sole judge of relevancy is you as the Chairperson, and therefore you should not be questioned by a member abusing the point of order process to interrupt another member speaking.
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I think that two times, one on each call, is probably not excessive. The member does make a point, and I have assured the Committee that I am listening. If members wish to test my patience, I will terminate a
few speeches if I think that members have got too far away from the bill. Bearing in mind that members have four calls, I am quite prepared to terminate calls.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I think I am going to welcome the ruling that you have just made, but I just ask you to confirm that it is now OK, according to you, for members to question the relevance of other members’ speeches, rather than leaving it to you. It is a new ruling but quite a good one.
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): No, it is in fact not a new ruling, and members will know that from time to time relevancy has been a call that members on both sides of the House have made, depending on whether they are on the Treasury benches or not. If it is excessive, then warnings are given about members using that to interrupt. I do not believe that on this occasion that it was to interrupt but was merely to set the standard of what is acceptable in this debate, upon which I have given my ruling.
Hon PHIL GOFF: I will come back to the bill, but the Opposition members would feel much more comfortable if they had a Minister in the chair whom they felt they could rely on. This bill is quite an important measure. This country does believe in opening up a free market for trade so that our exports can go into other countries and their imports can come and fairly compete with ours. But there is a need on occasion for safeguard measures, particularly when there is dumping and particularly when that competition is not of a fair nature. My concern about the Government is that this bill was introduced over 3 years ago. This is a straightforward but very important piece of legislation, and it could easily have been carried into effect at any time over the last 3 years. So my question is why it has taken 3 years to bring this legislation back to the House.
We are a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). We are a small country. We rely on a rules-based system in international trading to protect our rights, and we need to be compliant with the WTO and the rules that it sets out. This legislation is compliant with those rules. It is not a trade protectionist measure. It is about fair-trading rules, and we support it on that basis.
I welcome the fact that this introduces a system that is streamlined, and New Zealand producers and manufacturers will likewise welcome that. It will rely on expertise within the Ministry of Economic Development, rather than setting up temporary safeguard authorities, and I think that that is a positive move. It will extend the time frame for the completion of safeguard investigations to 75 days. I think that also is a sensible move.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Hunua)
: It is a pleasure to have an opportunity to speak on the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill. I must say that it is absolutely vital to New Zealand that our exports are ever-expanding and trade is fundamental to New Zealand. It is something that the Hon Phil Goff, certainly for most of his speech, seemed to forget. He does wonder why it has taken a year or two for this bill to come through. But the previous Labour Government had adequate time—in fact, it had 9 years—in order to put this bill through if it really wanted to, if it was really serious about trade, if it was really serious about ensuring that we were protected at the borders. But it did not. At the last moment of that dying, inept Government it was actually flicked in by a Minister who is not absolutely lily-white, as was suggested by the Hon Phil Goff.
Hon Trevor Mallard: She stood down.
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Order!
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: I just mentioned that she was not exactly lily-white. That is all.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Are you being mean about me?
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: I would never be mean to you, not at all.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: I stood down.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: Well, maybe that was the case, but whatever. It was appropriate at the time that you did.
But on to the bill, there is no question that it is vital. Speaking to Part 1 of the bill, the purpose is to enable New Zealand to apply safeguard measures and provisional safeguard duties. The idea is that these be in accordance with the World Trade Organization regulations, which, of course, we need to ensure. We have an ever-changing pattern of more dependence on a wider spectrum of countries that we have free-trade agreements with, and dumping is a very real possibility. But it is interesting to point out that of all the years of the previous legislation, there have been only four cases that have been investigated, and only one of them was actually imposed. It is not something that is used frequently. In fact, the submitters to this bill, of which there were only five, did wonder whether we really needed to have this bill at all. But, on balance, we felt that yes, we did, that dumping could occur, and that it was vital and relevant that this did happen.
I do note that the chamber of commerce was concerned about a variety of issues, and one, of course, was the issue of time allowed for extending an investigation, from 30 days to 70 or even 85 days. It supported that, whereas in contrast one of the other submitters felt that it should be only up to 60 days, because otherwise the long investigation might upset its business operations. The fact is that extending it to 60 or even 85 days allows the opportunity for a very thorough investigation, but it need not take that long, and I am sure that the Associate Minister of Commerce—the very competent Minister, Mr Banks—would ensure that any investigation was done highly expeditiously. He may wish to talk on that particular matter, because it is vital. I would be interested to hear from the Minister as well his views—[Interruption]
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I am sorry to interrupt the member, but I cannot hear the member. There is too much—order! I am on my feet—discussion going on.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: Thank you. I would be very interested to hear his views on the fact that some of the submitters had felt that it was a question of balance as to whether we would have a bill at all, but indeed it was appropriate that we do.
Hon MARYAN STREET (Labour)
: It is a pleasure to speak to the Committee stage on Part 1 of the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill. I am particularly interested because this is the Committee stage, Mr Chairman, and your rulings recently have required us to stay very much on task, even though we are debating fairly widely across the whole of Part 1. The importance of the Committee stage, as I understand it, is that the Minister in the chair defends the legislation. The Minister in the chair, the Associate Minister of Commerce, is required to defend and explain—clause by clause, if necessary—this legislation. It has come into the House in the Minister’s name. He is responsible for it, and he must answer questions about every clause.
I would like to begin, but before I start on that tack, I will just say one thing in response to the member Dr Paul Hutchison, who has just resumed his seat. This bill was introduced by the Hon Lianne Dalziel on 9 September 2008, and then there was an election a couple of months later. It was referred to the select committee on 11 March 2009. It was reported back from the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, on which I sat and deliberated on this bill, on 7 July 2009. So it took from only March to July to dispose of the bill at the select committee. Since then, it has languished on the Order Paper for nearly 3 years—3 whole years. So I do not want to hear another squeak out of that member about whether or not this bill should have arrived in the House earlier. Of course it should have arrived earlier, and it was entirely the Government’s fault and responsibility that it has not.
But can I say, on that note, that I am quite glad that this bill has arrived in the Committee stage today, because it gives me an opportunity to ask this Minister in the
chair what he understands by some of the clauses. I was present when he gave the first reading. It was an automaton kind of speech, and it was clear that he was not very au fait with the bill itself. So I would like him to take a call any time he likes this evening.
Let us start with the explanatory note. I would like this Minister to demonstrate his competence in regard to this bill by explaining what the explanatory note of the bill means where it says that it promotes “efficient, transparent, and objective investigative and decision-making processes.” I would like to know what this Minister understands by the word “transparent”. Does he understand that “Yes” means yes and “No” means no? Does he understand that when he is asked a yes/no question—a closed question—his two options are to say “Yes” or “No”, and that it is reasonably simple to answer a closed question?
Does he understand that transparency is required in all a Minister’s dealings? Even if it is behaviour prior to his entry back into Parliament and his taking up of a ministerial warrant, the nature of the man and the behaviour beforehand go to what we can expect a Minister to uphold.
I would also like to know what the Minister understands by the words “objective investigative and decision-making processes”. Are objective investigative processes characterised by obfuscation, or are they characterised by clarity and a distance—an objectivity? Even if done under legal advice, is obfuscation the same as objective investigative and decision-making processes, or is something more required of the Minister in charge of this bill?
This is the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill. Does this Minister understand the meaning of the word “safeguard”? Does he understand that there is more to the law than the words on the page? Does he understand that, in fact, the intention, the import, and the ethical nature of conduct also go to the way that laws are made in the House? This Minister, whose ethical behaviour seems not to be a problem—
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Order! Now, just take your seat. This is not an opportunity to do a character assassination about allegations against the Minister. I think the member had done quite well up to that point. We are debating the content of Part 1. I am not going to tolerate the allegation side of it coming into this, in the way the member just did it. The Hon Marian Hobbs.
Hon MARYAN STREET: No, sorry, Mr Chair—Maryan Street. Maryan Street.
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Oh, I am sorry; what did I do?
Hon Member: Called her Hobbs.
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Well, can I apologise to the member. I think perhaps I could just make the comparator that when the Hon Marian Hobbs was in the Chair, she was very prescriptive about being on message. I was probably thinking of her when I inadvertently called the member by that name, and for that I apologise.
Hon MARYAN STREET: Thank you, Mr Chairman. It is fine; I take it as a compliment. To have Marian Hobbs channelled in this way may, in fact, be quite useful in this debate. However—
Hon Trevor Mallard: Well, I’m moving away.
Hon MARYAN STREET: Ha, ha! Let me turn to clause 10 in Part 1, which talks about “Access to information relevant to safeguard investigation and treatment of confidential information”. Could we please have the Minister’s explanation of what is meant by “safeguard investigation and treatment of confidential information”? In the terms of this bill, what is understood by “confidential information”? Is it like any other kind of meaning of confidential information—that is, information that may not be disclosed—and on what grounds would that information not be disclosed? I would invite the Minister to get on his feet, at some point in this Committee stage—
Grant Robertson: Any time.
Hon MARYAN STREET: —any time would be fine—and explain “safeguard”, explain “confidential”, and explain how this legislation can be deemed to be doing all the things it says it wants to do, with this Minister in charge.
This is an important piece of legislation. It was disposed of quickly by the select committee. It has been sat on by this Government for no good purpose other than the fact that it cannot organise its way out of a paper bag, so the bill has not got to the top of the Order Paper until such time as the Government could not think of what else to do. So it has been put in as a bit of a gap filler, but it does resonate. It does resonate. Of course we want a system that is compliant with World Trade Organization requirements. There are preventions in the bill that protect and safeguard New Zealand trade and New Zealand industry. They are important, and they are part of the safeguard measures, but over and above all that, we have to be able to have confidence that this Government understands the meaning of the words on the page. It is not clear to members on this side of the Chamber that we have a Government that understands the meaning of the words on the page.
Hon TAU HENARE (National)
: I do know the difference between a “Hobbs” and a “Street”, and I do have to say that after listening to the Hon Maryan Street’s speech—
Le’aufa’amulia Asenati Lole-Taylor: Ah! You’ve been listening.
Hon TAU HENARE: Oh, absolutely, and intently, because I am new to the game of trade and new to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee. So I suppose I am doing my—
Chris Hipkins: You traded parties.
Hon TAU HENARE: Sorry?
Hon Members: You traded parties.
Hon TAU HENARE: That was funny! You know, we are here discussing a pretty important piece of legislation, which is something that goes to the heart of any nation when it is faced with an economy that is—
Hon Phil Goff: What’s the bill called?
Hon John Banks: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. Objections and interruptions should be rare and reasonable. Barking and howling from the Opposition side of the Parliament is not helping the debate. I cannot hear the learned member and his questions. I will not be able to answer them if we have this barking from the Labour Party on that side of the Chamber.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Mr Chairman—
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): I do not need any assistance. I have cautioned the Committee a number of times. We do want to hear the debate. I know that there is a degree of interest and passion at the moment, but that does not mean that we should not be able to hear members speaking.
Hon TAU HENARE: Thank you, Mr Chair. When the nation is faced with a crisis around the world, in terms of economics—
Chris Hipkins: I can hear him, but I’ll swap with someone who can’t!
The CHAIRPERSON (Eric Roy): Order!
Hon TAU HENARE: You see, that is the sort of importance that the Labour Party puts on an international piece of legislation. They moan. They get up on their high heels—hind legs even—and moan “Oh, we sat on this bill for ages and ages.”
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Who introduced it?
Hon TAU HENARE: And the shrill from over that corner—
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Who introduced it?
Hon TAU HENARE: The shrill from that corner is all about obfuscation, is all about a sort of pantomime, and is all about theatre. It is not about the real issue. The real issue is making sure that we safeguard our businesses in the world of trade. What it is
about is actually falling into line with the World Trade Organization’s regime, so we protect and we safeguard—
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Who introduced the bill?
Hon TAU HENARE: Sorry?
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Who introduced the bill?
Hon TAU HENARE: Oh, it was the liar who got sacked from Cabinet. [Interruption]
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): I think I heard the member use a four-letter word that is totally unacceptable in the Chamber. The member knows that, because it is a reflection on all of the Committee. I ask the member to withdraw and apologise.
Hon TAU HENARE: I withdraw and apologise.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you.
Hon TAU HENARE: It was from the member who got sacked for not telling the truth. That is what it was. That was from the member. They do not want to know.
Hon Members: That’s what’s going to happen to Banks.
Hon TAU HENARE: No, no, no.
Hon John Banks: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. The carping and howling from the Labour Party must cease, Mr Chairperson, under the Standing Orders. I need to hear the parliamentary Government member’s sound and sensible questions on this important piece of legislation, which I need to answer. Barking and howling, yelling and shouting do not do this Parliament any good, and it disgraces the parliamentary Opposition. I ask you to call them to order.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I think it is fair to say that there was a reasonable amount of noise then, and the noise was because the member on his feet, a former Minister, suggested that Ministers who mislead the public should get the sack. We were agreeing with him.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Can I just remind members that this is not a public house. The practice of members engaging in a constant barrage of interjections actually amounts to heckling and is entirely intolerable in a debating chamber. I ask the member to continue.
Hon TAU HENARE: What this is about is enhancing and growing New Zealand’s international trade links. As I said before, if a bill like this was so important, we would not have the sort of pantomime, the theatre, going on from the Opposition members. They are fixated about something else. Well, at least our side is fixated on one thing, and that is making sure that our economy does not tank because—
Hon Lianne Dalziel: You don’t know what it does.
Hon TAU HENARE: Oh, I do not know anything. I know I do not. I do not know as much as the person over there who got into trouble and had to leave Cabinet. That is OK.
Hon Simon Bridges: What did she do?
Hon TAU HENARE: Oh, I do not know. She told one story, and then there was another story. She told one story, and then the story came out that it was not really the story that she really did tell. But that is all right. That was years ago and we should not go down that track into the past.
Hon Simon Bridges: But they would.
Hon TAU HENARE: Well, that is right. That is right. But we are trying to concentrate on getting a bill through—a bill that safeguards our reputation around the world not only with other people in the world but also with the traders and the businesses here in New Zealand. So what is wrong with that? Well, apparently, according to them, we have sat on the bill, we have done this, we have done that, but at
the end of the day, have they helped today? Have they helped the process move along? No, they have not. No, they have not. I would like to hear the Associate Minister of Commerce, but he can get up only when and if the Opposition has got something clear to say and asks some questions about the bill—asks some questions about the bill—and there has not been one question on Part 1, not one. As Winston Peters is wont to say, “not a whisper, not a murmur”, about Part 1 of the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill.
Hon John Banks: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I want to hear the Hon Tau Henare. I want to hear questions asked about the bill. I cannot hear when there is barracking, barking, and howling from the Opposition.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you. Can I just ask members to try to restrain themselves. I would urge all honourable members to play the ball, not the member. Remember that, and we will preserve an excellent field for the full play of ideas.
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. In order to keep the order of the Committee, one of the issues that the Minister in the chair has been raising is the importance of being able to hear questions, and I just would wonder whether we could get an indication. I counted 16 questions that were asked of the Minister by the Hon Maryan Street, and I am just wondering whether we could get an indication of whether the Minister intends to answer those questions.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): That is for the Minister to decide himself. Where were we? I call the Hon Tau Henare.
Hon TAU HENARE: Not a whisper, not a murmur—
Brendan Horan: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. These cowardly attacks on the leader of New Zealand First should stop. The honourable member knows that it is—
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Order!
Brendan Horan: —“not a syllable, not a sound”—
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Order! I am on my feet. Can I just remind members to have a look at Standing Order 117, which is to do with personal reflections. It is totally out of order and is unnecessary.
Hon TAU HENARE: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I think I am big enough and ugly enough to handle being called names, but I do not like to be called a coward.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Well, I do not believe the member was calling the member—
Hon Trevor Mallard: I think he was.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): He was?
Hon Trevor Mallard: Yeah, I think he was.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Oh well, in that case, then, the—
Brendan Horan: Point of order, Mr—
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): No, no. The member called the other member a coward. That is a personal reflection against the member. It is totally out of order. The member will stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Brendan Horan: I apologise.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): And withdraw.
Brendan Horan: And withdraw.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I think it is important, for both the members, to note that the quote is a Churchillian one. It was, I think, first used in this Parliament by Sir Robert Muldoon. I think giving it to Winston Peters is probably going a bit far.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Right, thank you.
Hon TAU HENARE: Not a word, not a murmur, not a whisper, not a murmur—who cares what he said—
Hon JOHN BANKS (Associate Minister of Commerce)
: The Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill is a very important bill for this country. It is about our trade. It is about our economic sovereignty. It is about this nation’s future. It is critical as part of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is critical for the export sector of the New Zealand economy, and it is very important that these matters are dealt with seriously by this Parliament on this night.
I first want to thank the—[Interruption] I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. If we continue to hear the unnecessary, unwarranted carping and howling from the Opposition while I am trying to go through these questions, how will we deal with the business of this Committee tonight?
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Can I just say to the Hon John Banks that this is a robust Parliament, and I have heard nothing just recently that is out of order.
Hon JOHN BANKS: I want to thank the member for Wairarapa—a first-class member of Parliament and a man who knows more about trade than anyone else in this Parliament. I want to thank the member for Wairarapa, Mr Hayes, for his first-class leadership of this bill through the select committee process. I also want to thank the member Dr Paul Hutchison for his support on the parliamentary Government side of the—[Interruption]
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Order! I am having trouble hearing, and I am right next door.
Hon JOHN BANKS: I want to thank Paul Hutchison for his work on the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, and Tau Henare for his work on that select committee.
I want to move to the questions. There has not been much focus, apart from by the parliamentary National Party, on what this bill is all about, because the parliamentary Labour Party does not seem to be much interested. That is why the National Government had to deal with this bill in its last term in office and put in place some sensible provisions within this bill so that we could trade successfully on the global stage without intimidation from trading predators.
The chairman of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, Mr Hayes, asked a very relevant question: what matters should be taken into account when considering the public interest regarding the tradable sector and the provisions of this bill? They are listed in clause 12(1)(e)(i): “the likely effectiveness of a safeguard measure in assisting the domestic industry:”—protecting the domestic industry base—“the alternatives to a safeguard measure:”, and “the likely effect of a safeguard measure on the market (including on consumers):”. It is important that consumers are looked after, as well. Public interest also entails “New Zealand’s international relations and trade goals:”, pursuant to our responsibilities to the WTO and other ethical trading nations that we are working with.
The member for Wairarapa, the chairman of the select committee, also asked the question of what the importance of this bill is to the domestic industry. As we progress through the stages of this bill we will deal quite specifically with that. The member for south Waikato or Raglan—I forget—
Dr Paul Hutchison: Try Hunua.
Hon JOHN BANKS: Hunua—it is now called Hunua. I thank him also for his questions. He is a very fine member of Parliament. He comes from the trading town of Pukekohe. There is no other trading village in New Zealand that will benefit more from this bill and the provisions of this bill than the people of the wider group of trading
sector growers and exporters based in the member’s seat of Pukekohe. He asked the question—[Interruption]
Dr Paul Hutchison: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I am having a great—
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I have not called the member yet. [Interruption] Order! A point of order is on the floor. It is to be heard in silence.
Dr Paul Hutchison: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I am having a great deal of difficulty listening to the Hon John Banks—[Interruption]
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): I have told the members on my left that during a point of order there is to be absolute silence. The point of order must be terse and to the point. We will have order in this Chamber.
Dr Paul Hutchison: I just want to finish it. As I was saying, I was having a great deal of difficulty listening to the Hon John Banks. He was saying some nice things about me, and I wanted to hear them.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): That is hardly a point of order, Dr Hutchison.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I thought you were going to remind the member that during a point of order he should not be provocative, as he certainly was early in that point of order.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): That is a good point that the member makes.
Hon JOHN BANKS: I want to hear good points, and I have got to say that people watching on the telly tonight this debate on the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill will wonder what this Parliament has come to. This is the Parliament of New Zealand, where we make laws in the best interests of industry and commerce, which the member Paul Hutchison represents in Pukekohe. He asked a significant question. He asks why there is a bill at all—why is there a bill at all? The Labour Opposition must have thought that this bill was worthwhile, because once upon a time—a long time ago, and hopefully never into the future—it was in Government and introduced this bill. It was the member for Wairarapa, Mr Hayes, who had to tidy up the bill, as the chairperson of the select committee, when National came into office.
The question Mr Paul Hutchison asked tonight was why there is a bill at all. I gave him the first answer, which was that it is to ensure that New Zealand complies with WTO rules. That is absolutely critical on the world stage of competitive trading. The second answer to that question of why there is a bill at all is that it is to update and simplify the regime, including the processes for undertaking safeguard investigations and applications of—[Interruption]
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Order!
Hon JOHN BANKS: I could conclude by the behaviour of members of the parliamentary Opposition that they have had a liquid dinner. I want to finish by saying this: I thought that this bill, Mr Hayes, had general cross-party support. I did not believe that there would be so much interest. I am pleased with the interest. I am pleased that the National Party has got a serious interest in the tradable sector of the New Zealand economy in order to preserve our economic sovereignty on the world stage. The National Party members of Parliament tonight, including the first-class young backbench members of Parliament, clearly understand that this Government’s responsibility is to ensure that international trading represents WTO rules and regulation, so that competition by traders in Pukekohe can reach out to the market and do business in the best interests of foreign exchange earnings for New Zealand.
I want to, finally, before I allow some other member to take a call, turn to the officials who have done the backroom work—first-class public servants doing first-class work. [Interruption]
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Order!
Hon Tau Henare: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I know this place is a pretty robust place, and we sometimes get carried away, but the continual—continual—barracking is out of this world. I would really ask you to just have a look at the volume and the continual barracking from the Opposition when our Minister gets up and does what they have asked him to do, which is answer some questions.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you, Mr Henare. I have asked members several times. This is a robust Parliament, and as long as it is contained and reasonable and within the Standing Orders, then it is permitted. But if it gets out of hand, then I will intervene.
Michael Woodhouse: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. Mr Henare’s point of order was the sixth occasion in the last hour that members have asked, within this robust debate, to be able to hear the speaker. I would draw your attention to Speaker’s ruling 61/4(3), which says: “it is highly disorderly for a member to persist in interjecting when the member has been called to order.” I would suggest that that applies to the collective. To use a sporting parlance, when is the referee going to go to his pocket, and what colour will the card be?
Hon Trevor Mallard: You have just ruled on that area of point of order. It is highly disorderly for any member to suggest that you are acting inappropriately or not acting appropriately. I ask that you make it clear to that member that you are the Chair, not he.
Michael Woodhouse: I was very careful to distinguish between the infringement and the pattern of repeated infringement, which is what a good referee would look at. I suggest to you that that is a new point of order.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): I would like to refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 79/1.
Hon JOHN BANKS: I just want to answer a further significant question asked by the chairman of the select committee, the first-class member for Wairarapa, Mr Hayes. Mr Hayes asked this very significant question, which the public of New Zealand who are listening tonight on their crystal sets or on their televisions want to hear answered. Mr Hayes, in respect of this Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill, asked the significant question of what the significance of this bill is to the domestic industry. The significance is twofold. The bill provides a mechanism for providing temporary protection to a domestic industry from surges of imported goods. We will never have a successful tradable sector of the New Zealand economy if we do not have mechanisms in place so that we can move very, very quickly on illegal importation of things that are going to destabilise the trading market of the New Zealand economy.
Secondly, on the question of what is the significance of this bill for the domestic sector, asked by the member for Wairarapa, Mr Hayes, the chairman of the committee, I say that, in turn, the bill gives the domestic industry time to adjust to import competition. We are out on our own on the global stage. We sink or swim on our own on the global stage. The international trading sector is highly competitive, and there are countries out there that will take our economy off the map, out of the South-west Pacific, and off the world trade scene, unless we put in place rules and regulations that mirror the WTO.
I have to say, finally, on the carping and howling by the parliamentary Opposition, that if that was the way it behaved at the time of the hearings of the select committee, the people making submissions would not have been that impressed.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): I just remind members that running commentaries are out of order and if people want to make a speech, they are entitled to do so. I refer them to Speaker’s ruling 60/5. I recognise the Hon Trevor Mallard.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South)
: Thank you, Mr Chair. So do I when I shave. I think we might be at a historical moment in the Parliament at the moment. Before I get into the detail of the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill, I say that people do not get two maiden speeches, but they do sometimes get two valedictories. It may be that tonight we have seen the second valedictory for the Hon John Banks. I want to refer to the comment he made about the young backbenchers from the National Party and their contribution. I want to say that Tau Henare, Paul Hutchison—who, although he does not look it, is older than I am—and John Hayes are the young backbenchers to whom John Banks was referring, who have made contributions today.
I say to John Hayes that I hope he gets John Banks’ job. I think there would be some justice in that. He is seen as a fair person. He is seen as a person who understands the issues, and he made a contribution on this legislation that understood it much better than the Minister did. I do want to ask the Minister what the effect of this bill is on the trade in cabbages. What is the effect on trade in cabbages and their transit on rivers? What is the effect of this bill on the import of cabbages, and is there unfair competition with cabbages that are transported down the river on boats—cabbage boats?
I want to ask the Minister specifically about the amendment that he is proposing to clause 18(1), set out on Supplementary Order Paper 17, where he wants to omit “1 or more” and substitute “1 or both”. I want to ask him what he is referring to when he is substituting both for one, or one for both, or two for one. Is he talking about cheques? Is he talking about products? Is it two lots of $25 million, or what?
Hon Lianne Dalziel: No, this bill is about checks and balances.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It is about checks and balances. There is no doubt that this is about checks and balances. How do you spell “checks” in this particular case? Does it have a “q” or a “c” in the middle of it? Is there a “k” in it or a “q” in this check, and which bank balance is affected?
Hon John Banks: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. The member whose name fails me, who has just taken his seat, needs to understand the Standing Orders, because the Standing Orders are quite tight around the Committee stage of bills. He should be talking to Part 1 in a perfect world. Going on to the Supplementary Order Papers or anything is probably OK, but it has got to be relevant to the provisions of the bill in the Committee stage as it has come out of the select committee. I put it to you under the Standing Orders.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Can I just ask members to reflect and deal with the detail of Part 1. That is where we are coming from. I know members can be very clever in the way in which they do that, but I also need to remind members that we need to be within the Standing Orders and the Speakers’ rulings.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I just want to clarify for you, lest the point of order raised by the Minister cause any confusion, that a member is entitled to debate a Supplementary Order Paper that amends Part 1 during the debate on Part 1.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Speaking to the point of order, that has changed, I think, since the last time this member was in charge of a bill, when the Supplementary Order Papers used to be dealt with at the end rather than as part of the process. I think that changed about 20 years ago.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): I understand that that in fact is correct.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Mr Chairman—[Interruption]
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Your own member is speaking. Give him a fair go.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Thank you for the help. I want to refer you to clause 5 of the bill. This is the clause that says that the Act binds the Crown. I think that there could not be a truer thing said at the current time than that ACT is binding the Crown. In fact, the head of the Government, I think, is totally tied up by ACT at the moment. He is bound up almost in a way that he is being dominated. He is being dominated by ACT.
Hon John Banks: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. The member is behaving like a buffoon.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): The member will be seated now. Can I just say to members that points of order are to be terse and to the point. It is not an opportunity to have a go at another member. That in itself is out of order, and I would just caution members about that.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I would like to refer you to clause 6 of the bill, and in particular clause 6(1)(c), which makes it clear that the report—and we are waiting for a report in this particular matter—is to be made “available on an Internet site, free of charge, and the Internet site address”.
Chris Hipkins: It is dotcom?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Well, that is the question. What happens if they are on Megaupload and the address is a dotcom address? Does that count as being available or not available in the current circumstances?
Chris Hipkins: They could make it available by sending a helicopter.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Well, you could get a helicopter view, but I am not sure—
Hon John Banks: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I have to ask myself why am I wasting my time in this Parliament when the parliamentary Opposition— [Interruption]
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Can I remind members on my left that when there is a point of order on the floor, there is no sound at all from any other member.
Hon John Banks: People at home who are interested in what is happening in this Parliament want to hear from people like the Green Party. The Green Party member at the back of the Chamber has been seeking the call for a while, and they want to be able to hear his questions and get succinct answers—
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Order! I am on my feet.
Hon John Banks: We don’t want—
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Order!
Hon John Banks: —this howling and carping all the time.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): The member will be seated. I am on my feet. I am the Chair, and I will recognise the member when I do.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I want to raise two points of order with you. The first is that points of order are to do with order, and large explanations of what are preambles to a point of order will generally lead to disorder. The second is that the prerogative around who is recognised to speak is solely yours, and for the Minister to be challenging your rulings or your selection of speakers is totally out of order.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you. I have already ruled on that for the Minister and he is aware.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I want to refer you again to clause 6(1)(c), about internet addresses.
Hon Lianne Dalziel: What does it say?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: What it says is that a copy of the report is—“or will be” is struck out—“available on an Internet site, free of charge, and the Internet site address.” What I want to know is whether Megaupload, a dotcom site, will be eligible for these purposes. I would like the Minister’s opinion on whether a dotcom site will be eligible for these purposes, and I want an assurance from the Minister that no previous consideration will be taken into account when that decision is made as to where this will be available and where the report will go.
I would now like to refer you to clause 10 of the bill, which goes to the questions of “access to information relevant to safeguard investigation”—I just want to emphasise those words “safeguard investigation” because those are important, and we will be coming back to that issue—and “treatment of confidential information”. I want to ask whether, when information is confidential, the chief executive—because that is the person who is mainly going to be dealing with it—says “This is confidential.” Or does he say “I don’t know.”, and “I’ve forgotten.”?
What does the chief executive say when he has information that he does not want to get out because he thinks it would be disadvantageous to the country? Does he make clear the reason? Is he fair? Is he democratic? Is he transparent? Or does he just say “I forgot.”, and “I can’t remember.”? What is the standard we expect of our chief executive when dealing with this legislation? Do we expect someone to be transparent and honest, or do we want them to say “I forgot. I can’t remember.”, and then blame a lawyer for encouraging them to tell lies?
Hon John Banks: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. I know this bill inside out and back to front. I invite the member to refer very specifically to clauses or parts of the bill so that I can then take a call and answer any intelligent question that he may pitch to me.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): No. That is not a point of order. But I ask the member to be careful in the way in which he is delivering his address to the Committee.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Notwithstanding the fact that you, Mr Chair, ruled out the Minister’s point of order, I will refer him to clause 10(1), and in particular clause 10(1)(a), which goes to the treatment of confidential information and which says: “All interested persons are entitled to access all information relevant to a safeguard investigation, except for—(a) confidential information (unless the submitter of the confidential information consents to the confidential information being made available);”. Well, what is clear is that in a number of cases people might give information that a chief executive, the recipient of the information, might prefer to keep confidential, and the people who are giving that information might prefer it to be out there. Skycity, if it had any information in this area, I am certain, would want to be transparent. I think Mr Dotcom, with the information, if he had any in this trade area—
Hon John Banks: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. The Government members responsible for this bill want to make progress tonight by having relevancy around the debate. There is no relevancy—
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): That is not a point of order, and the Minister is misusing the point of order privilege.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I want to ask the Minister about differential pricing and dumping. I want to ask the Minister this. If there is a product that is valued at, say, $3,600 for one, and someone gets five of them and a whole pile of food and pays $2,882, would that be regarded as dumping? Would that level of discount, when a product is valued at $3,600, there are five of them—maybe that is $18,000; five times $3,600—and a pile of food, and the charge is only $2,882, be regarded as excessive discounting? Would that practice be regarded as dumping, and what would happen if
someone who was involved in that approach spoke to a Minister in order to get a special deal?
Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green)
: I do not think it is in all our interests to extend this debate too far. We have had sufficient fun. I appreciate the comments from the Minister in the chair, the Associate Minister of Commerce, in his effort to address some of the questions, but I do think that some of the questions that our colleague from Labour, Maryan Street, put forward have not yet been answered, and the challenge from Tau Henare that they be made substantive and specific I think should be met.
With respect, I ask the Minister whether he would be good enough to address some of those questions. I say this in the context of general support of the Green Party for the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill, notwithstanding the broad concerns we have pertaining to the bill itself and certainly to the broader aspect of the free-trade agreements as they come down the track. Would the Minister be good enough to rise to the challenge and address some of those questions that Maryan Street asked. As I see them, they were about the meaning of the phrase “safeguard investigation” in clause 7, the meaning of the phrase “confidential information” or the concept of confidential information for a safeguard investigation in clause 10(1), the meaning of “strategic importance” in clause 12(1)(e)(v), the meaning of “public interest” in clause 18(1)(e), and the meaning of ministerial discretion in clause 22. Thank you.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Labour—Christchurch East)
: The Minister in the chair, the Associate Minister of Commerce, has informed the House that he is all over the detail of the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill. Those were his words, and I want to challenge him on that, because there is nothing that he has said in his contribution that would suggest that. I was the Minister who introduced this bill. I was not the Minister who oversaw its reference to a select committee. It was referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, as opposed to the Commerce Committee, and that is because of its trade implications. I want to acknowledge in this Committee the work of John Hayes as the chair of that committee, because he did an excellent job and—
Hon Trevor Mallard: He should be the Minister.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Well, there are a lot of people on this side of the House who think he should be the Minister in charge of this bill now, and perhaps he will have the opportunity to do that some time soon. But that is by the by; that is not the point.
The reality is that the Minister has challenged this side of the Committee to take the politics out of the debate, and I am happy to do that. He was very happy to sit there and listen to every single one of the National members get up and insult me personally for taking, I believe, a position of integrity on a particular matter that I felt I had to take responsibility for. And that, perhaps, is the difference between me and the Minister in the chair: I was prepared to take responsibility for the mistake that I made. I did make a mistake. I should have been a bit more open about the role that I played—in particular, in information being referred to the media. It was for a whole lot of reasons. But I just want to say this: I believe that it is most important that our borders are protected in a whole lot of ways, and that is very relevant to this bill, because it is about our borders being protected from having goods dumped on its shores to undermine local manufacturers. That is what this bill is about, and nobody on the Government side is actually really talking about what the bill is about. That is what it is about.
I stood down from my position as Minister because I was trying to protect our borders from having people arrive here making claims about refugee status that were not true and trying to get around our rules in order to claim their right to remain in New Zealand. I made a mistake, I took responsibility, and I stood down. I think other people in this Chamber should be prepared to do that, as well. I actually do not think that it
does anyone any good to attack me personally on this matter and then to stand up in this Committee and take umbrage—
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Order! I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member. Can I just say to members on my right that interjections are out of order unless they are rare and reasonable, and also that a running commentary is out of order, as well. People can take an opportunity to stand and have their say.
Hon Tau Henare: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. That speech has been going on for some 3 or 4 minutes, and it has talked about the indiscretions that that member made when she was a Minister. That has nothing to do with the bill. If you want us to listen and be courteous, that is fine. Talk about the bill, and we will.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Mr Chairperson, you may be at some disadvantage, and so may the Clerk on your left be at some disadvantage, unless you were in fact listening to the debate previously. The matters to which my colleague is responding are the very matters that were brought up and spoken about at length, probably for a minute and a half or two, by the Hon Tau Henare when he was making his speech. He referred to these matters. It is an absolute right of a member in this House to defend their integrity and to contrast it with others when they are so challenged.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you. Can I just refer members to Speakers’ ruling 46/2, which does allow some leeway for a member to respond, but then they have to come back to the detail of Part 1.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: This legislation is designed to protect New Zealand’s borders, and it is designed to protect our borders to ensure that our local manufacturers are not put at risk of having cheap goods dumped on our economy, to the detriment of local manufacturing. That is what the legislation does. The Minister told us that he was all over this bill. The reason that I believe that he is not all over the bill is that he actually has not described the fact of what it does. He seems to think that this is a brand new piece of legislation that has somehow emerged from nowhere, and that it has created a new set of obligations under the World Trade Organization rules that did not previously exist.
Well, we currently do have rules that provide for temporary safeguards to be put in place. The problem is that there is not an adequate definition of the public interest for those rules to be applied in an adequate way, and the other problem is an administrative one, which I thought that the Minister would be all over, if he was all over this piece of legislation—which he is not; he has obviously forgotten something. What this legislation does is replace the temporary safeguard authorities that already exist. We already have temporary safeguard authorities, but to set up temporary safeguard authorities is administratively inconvenient. It costs time, it costs money, it wastes time, it wastes money, and I would have thought that the Associate Minister of Commerce would have been all over this. He might have actually mentioned that in his contribution to the debate. But I do not think that he is all over this. Either that, or he has been briefed and he has forgotten what he has been briefed about. I think it probably reflects the reality of the situation that he is in at the moment.
The bottom line is that this is a particular piece of legislation that I was very pleased to introduce as Minister of Commerce. I recall when the previous Minister of Commerce made his contribution to the first reading, which was back on 11 March 2009. Actually, we are not far off that now, so it is now 3 years since the first reading, and the bill was introduced prior to the 2008 election.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Who was the Minister then?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Simon Power was the Minister of Commerce who moved the first reading of this bill.
Hon Trevor Mallard: That’s the speech that was prepared for him, though.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: It was prepared for me, and I actually read along with the speech. I will just quote a little bit from
Hansard, because I thought it was quite funny. He said “The current regime is subject to the Temporary Safeguard Authorities Act 1987, which has not been subject to a comprehensive review since its inception. As a consequence”—and I interrupted him, and I am recorded in
Hansard as saying “It’s now outdated”. He then said “—the Act is now outdated—that is quite right, I say to Ms Dalziel—and does not provide an adequate means for New Zealand to comply with its WTO obligations, should it be necessary to take safeguard action.”
So the point was that—I mean, Simon Power was actually reading a speech that had been prepared for me as Minister of Commerce to read, back in 2008. He was reading it on 11 March 2009. Do you know why he was not reading it until 11 March 2009? It was because it did not fit within the concept of that then Government’s 100 days of action, when it had to do all those amazing things within the first 100 days, and it had to introduce all these different things. That was the plan, to have 100 days of action, and actually I think it stopped after the 100 days. But the reality is that this bill has sat on the Order Paper for a very long time, and I think that the Minister in the chair, the Associate Minister of Commerce, does a great disservice to the reality of the need in this particular area. He stands there and tries to take umbrage at some of the issues that this side of the Committee has raised, when he is more than happy to see the attacks made on me personally. I do not really care about what people say about me. I am probably not going to be here for very much longer. The bottom line is that I—
Hon Trevor Mallard: You’re approaching the mid-point of your career.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Yeah, the mid-point in my parliamentary career. I have not got that long to go.
What I want to say is that if the Minister really did understand the reality of what he was doing in this, and if he really was all over it, then he would know a little bit more about why this legislation was so important, and he would actually answer some of the questions that were put on this side of the Committee. The reality is that I do not think that he really cares about it, and the reason that he does not care about it is that he is not long for this place. In fact, I shall be here longer than he will be here, and he will be leaving this place relatively soon. I think that it is important for this member—
Hon Trevor Mallard: Will he be here for the vote on Part 2?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I do not think he will be. But the reality is that I think that the member does this important measure a great disservice, and I am actually quite annoyed that he has allowed the debate to be used in this particular way and not defended the important elements by understanding the reality about what it is designed to protect. It is more about ensuring that our local, domestic manufacturers have a fair go in their own country. It is about some of those ownership issues that matter a lot to New Zealanders and actually matter a lot to the workforce who work for the manufacturers in New Zealand, and who cannot compete with some of the overseas interests who are more than happy to dump on our country. They are more than happy to buy up every element of our country that they can get their hands on.
At the end of the day this actually stands as quite a sad and sorry commentary on a Government that thinks that this is so unimportant that it has been able to sit on the Order Paper for so long, and then end up here in the Committee as part of a debate that does not really matter to this Minister at all. I think that is a very, very sad commentary on the state of affairs that we are confronted with. I think that the Minister should get back on his feet and, rather than complaining about some of the obvious comments that are going to be made about his inability to respond, take responsibility for some of his own actions, like others have done in this House. It is a sad and sorry indictment on him.
MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Senior Whip—National)
: I move,
That the question be now put.
STEFFAN BROWNING (Green)
: Thank you, Mr Chairman. [Interruption] Yes, I think you said my name right. When the bill was in the previous stage I mentioned that I was hoping the Minister would be able to help me a little bit with some stuff that I brought up at that point about this bill. The Greens support this bill because of the elements of anti-dumping in here, although we are very concerned about the free-trade agreements that make this so apparently necessary.
I had a particular concern about the terminology “serious injury”, meaning that businesses that might get some level of protection under here have been under threat of what was considered serious injury. In here that “means a significant overall impairment in the position of a domestic industry”. I read that, and I read it now, as no protection for anything less. So I would like to hear from the Minister what that level would be, or what the examples would be of where businesses would get protection and where they would not get protection.
The Minister suggested, within many points of order, that he would be able to answer some of these questions, and I just reiterate the earlier ones that we expressed interest in were in relation to the “safeguard investigation” in clause 7, confidentiality in clause 10(1), the strategic importance in clause 12(1)(e), public interest, and then we have also got the ministerial discretion. We have just heard a little bit about the ministerial discretion and we have some concern about where that might go.
We have some real concern about where this might go as well, albeit we are supporting it because we do need to have some sorts of safeguard measures. But this is a temporal bill. This does not protect New Zealand businesses for too long. I think the longest period is about 8 years or something like that. It is really just time to set up businesses to move into something else. It needs to be a little more substantive.
I put it to the Minister that, if he could, he should answer the questions that have been put a couple of times already, but, particularly, let me know some examples of where serious injury would be the definition, and what would not be. I am really interested in protecting, and seeing protection for, New Zealand producers and New Zealand processes—New Zealand manufacturers—from the excesses of the free-trade agreements that seem to have been allowed through successive Governments here. I will leave it to the Minister. Thank you.
Hon JOHN BANKS (Associate Minister of Commerce)
: I will be leaving the Chamber soon and my friend Minister Joyce will be looking after matters. I want to answer the sensible questions raised by the parliamentary Opposition tonight—a number of sensible questions. I will start with Dr Graham, the Green Party member of Parliament, who has been listening intently to this tonight.
Dr Graham asked, some time ago, what the meaning of safeguards was in clause 17. He also asked questions about public interest and he asked questions about strategic importance. I can tell Dr Graham, the parliamentary member for the Green Party, that the strategic importance relates to the domestic industry and protection of the domestic industry, and the significance of the industry to our ability to trade from that. Can I also say to Dr Graham, who asked a question about confidential information, as did his colleague sitting beside him—he asked the same question, as well—that I can say to the two Green members at the back of the Chamber that clause 10(4) answers many of those questions.
Making information available would give a significant competitive advantage to a competitor and that would be a problem. We do not want to give significant competitive advantages to domestic competitors, and we certainly do not want to give significant competitive or uncompetitive advantages to international traders from export industry
led by and represented by the member Dr Paul Hutchison—for instance, those great people in his electorate around Pukekohe who export to the world in a critical fashion. The bill states: “making the information available would have a significantly adverse effect upon the submitter of confidential information:”. I want to make that clear to Dr Graham again; that is the important part of the bill: “making the information available would have a significantly adverse effect on the submitter of the confidential information:” and that, I refer to him, is clause 10(4)(b). And paragraph (c) states that the information should be treated as confidential for reasons as submitted by the submitter.
It is important that we have some confidentiality around these things. I do not intend to answer any of the questions from the parliamentary Labour Party, because I have answered all of their questions—many of them quite convoluted, misguided, poorly informed, and poorly articulated. But I will say I hope I have answered all the questions from the member for Wairarapa, Mr Hayes, who has done such a sterling job in leading the parliamentary select committee. Tau Henare has got a really good grip of these commercial things, and it is good for a westie to have a very good grip of commercial matters affecting the tradable sector. It is great to see Tau Henare make a significant contribution on that important parliamentary committee. Dr Hutchison, “Mr Reliable and Common Sense”, on the select committee is all the way from Pukekohe and is looking after those exporters.
All of the provisions that I have outlined in Part 1 of the bill are the significant parts. I will just say, before I ask my friend Minister Joyce to take the chair, at quarter to ten this night in Parliament, that the second part of the bill is Part 2, and it provides for what you might call tidying-up—
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. We have had a number of points of order tonight about the importance of talking about Part 1—the part that we are on. I believe that the Minister was straying into a different part, and I am sure you will pull him into line.
The CHAIRPERSON (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you. I had noticed that. I ask the Minister to refer to the part.
Hon JOHN BANKS: Of course. Well, let us refer to Part 1. I want to thank the members of the parliamentary National Party. I want to thank the members of the Green Party for their very pithy questions—the significantly pithy questions they asked about this bill. I want to finish as I began, before I leave the chair. This bill is about providing the ability of our tradable sector within the New Zealand economy to compete fairly with all-comers on the global trading exchange—to compete fairly without interlopers coming in and trading unfairly in the domestic market place.
GRANT ROBERTSON (Deputy Leader—Labour)
: As the Associate Minister of Commerce resumes his seat, I say that I have heard a rumour that that Minister did not come down the river on a cabbage boat. I have heard that rumour. And all I have heard tonight confirms to me that that Minister very much did come down the river on a cabbage boat. It may well have been the last cabbage boat, but he certainly came down the river on it, because the very last thing he told us demonstrated that he simply did not understand what this bill, the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill, is about.
Throughout this evening we have seen from Mr Banks a level of competence that should not surprise me, but that is worrying in the context of this bill. Throughout Part 1 there are numerous references to what the Minister needs to do—what the Minister must do. The Minister may initiate a safeguard investigation. That is what we are told. Do we think Minister Banks is competent to initiate a safeguard investigation? I note the Minister did not actually respond to the questions from Maryan Street and our Green colleagues on the meaning of the word “safeguard”, but I can help with a definition of
“safeguard”, which is not contained in this bill, because there is no definition. One of the definitions of “safeguard” is “a document authorising safe conduct”—“a document authorising safe conduct”.
A similar kind of safe conduct might be a declaration of somebody’s donations for an election. That is a safeguard document. It is a document that safeguards our democracy. It safeguards the transparency of what is going on in an election, be it at a local body level, or be it at a national level. That is a safeguard document. That is what the Minister in this bill is charged with actually creating and initiating—a safeguard document. Has Mr Banks demonstrated anything tonight that would indicate he is competent to initiate such a thing? Has he demonstrated, by anything in his recent behaviour, that he would be able to do that? He has not, in my submission, and that is one of the important roles of a Minister under this bill.
Another one of the important roles of the Minister is initiating a review around safeguards. I refer the new Minister in the chair, the Minister for Economic Development, to clause 20(3), which says: “The Minister must notify the decision to initiate a review of a safeguard measure, and that notification must state the date on which the review was initiated.” It must state the date. I have significant concerns, from what we have seen both from the Minister tonight and from his previous record, about his ability to recall the date on which the review was initiated under clause 20(3). Mr Banks, who would be the Minister referred to under this bill, would not have the memory, I think, to be able to know what date it was. Clearly, he has been very confused about dates in the past, and there is significant confusion about the dates of fireworks displays versus when he got donations. It is very, very difficult to remember those dates, and extremely difficult to remember trips in helicopters, although he does appear to remember training other people to fly helicopters. Perhaps that is something that he should have stuck to.
The Minister, under Part 1, has a number of significant responsibilities. But I think the biggest failing we have seen tonight by the Minister was actually in being able to articulate what this bill is about. I find—and I may run out of time for this—in these situations that it is often good to follow the journey of an issue, of something that is covered by this bill. What this bill is actually about is what happens to a domestic industry if there is dumping—if there are imports that come in. We can follow a particular import on a journey. Shall we choose a particular import? Are there any suggestions?
Dr David Clark: A cabbage.
GRANT ROBERTSON: “Cabbages”, I hear. So if we follow the journey of cabbages being imported—
Hon Trevor Mallard: Chinese cabbages.
GRANT ROBERTSON: Well, they could be Chinese cabbages; Chinese cabbages are one of the things. If we follow the journey of a cabbage under Part 1 of this bill, we would discover that a cabbage may come into our country by a number of means. A cabbage may come in by air, or it may come in by sea. It could come in by helicopter, but it is unlikely. You could not fit that many cabbages in a helicopter, especially if Mr Banks was flying it. But a cabbage may come in, and one of the ways a cabbage could come into this country would be by boat. The concept of a cabbage boat being part of an import into New Zealand is perhaps something that people might find strange. But what we can say categorically—the one thing out of the saga of recent weeks that we can say categorically—is that Mr Banks did not come in on a cabbage boat, and certainly not on the last cabbage boat, he tells us. He denies that he came in on a cabbage boat, but cabbages do come in. So in the context of being able to protect a domestic industry, in
this case the growing of cabbages, we have the possibility of people dumping cabbages with us off a cabbage boat.
I just say as an aside that if one were to look up “cabbage boat” on the internet, one would discover that it is largely a 1970s-style snack, which I think is confusing in the context of Mr Banks’ earlier comments.
JAMI-LEE ROSS (National—Botany)
: I move,
That the question be now put.
CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka)
: I am very happy to talk on the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill, which is designed to protect New Zealand industries or New Zealand enterprises from the damage that can be done by shonky imports. We know in the Labour Party what damage shonky imports can do to a New Zealand enterprise, if it makes the wrong decision about importing something to replace something that is already here, and it gets that wrong. It is a bit like the leadership of the ACT Party. If an enterprise makes the wrong import, it can do enormous damage to the local industry that was already in place. And that is what the ACT Party has seen. This bill, unfortunately, will not provide any extra support for the ACT Party in the case of its shonky imports. The poor old ACT Party—it has happened to it twice. It made two bad import decisions: first, with Don Brash, and then with John Banks.
- Progress to be reported presently.
- The Chairperson reported progress on the Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill and no progress on the Regulatory Reform Bill and the Airports (Cost Recovery for Processing of International Travellers) Bill.