Order Paper and questions

Questions for oral answer

11. Internal Affairs, Department—Proposed Merger with National Library and Archives New Zealand

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11. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Will the positions of National Librarian and Chief Archivist be employees of the Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs and be accountable to him under the proposed merger of National Library and Archives New Zealand into the Department of Internal Affairs?

Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister of Internal Affairs) : Once integration of the three departments is complete, the individuals holding the statutory positions will be employees of the Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs, instead of the State Services Commissioner as is currently the case. The independence and integrity of the Chief Archivist will be preserved. The status of the statutory role of the National Librarian will also be preserved.

Grant Robertson: In light of that answer, how does the Minister think that the Chief Archivist will be able to maintain his or her important constitutional role to compel chief executives to deposit and maintain Government records if he or she is subordinate to another chief executive?

Hon NATHAN GUY: The statutory roles and functions of the Chief Archivist will be preserved and protected. I remind the member that when he looks around the world, he will see that in Australia the archives function sits within the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio, in the United Kingdom it sits within the Ministry of Justice, and in Ireland the Chief Archivist sits within the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Those officials continue to have statutory independence.

Grant Robertson: Does the Minister think it is appropriate that the historic and constitutionally significant Alexander Turnbull Library will be led by a third-tier manager in the Department of Internal Affairs under the proposed arrangements; if so, why?

Hon NATHAN GUY: I reassure that member that there will be a full select committee process through the change, and the operational details of the merger are currently being worked through by the three very capable chief executives, with some support from the State Services Commission.

Grant Robertson: Can the Minister confirm that significant damage was done to the original copy of the Treaty of Waitangi the last time Archives New Zealand was part of the Department of Internal Affairs; if so, why would he want to repeat that disastrous mistake?

Hon NATHAN GUY: I cannot confirm that for the member. I can confirm that since the 1990s there have been two Acts that will continue to be enforced—the Public Records Act 2005 and the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003, which the National Party supported through this process.