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Volume 648, Week 78 - Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Madam SPEAKER: I regret to inform the House of the death on 23 June 2008 of senior security officer Boyd Matene, a member of the Parliamentary Service for almost 12 years. On behalf of this House, I desire to express our sense of the loss we have sustained and our sympathy with the relatives of the late staff member. I now ask members to stand with me and observe a period of silence as a mark of respect for his memory.
- Honourable members stood as a mark of respect.
Business of Select Committees
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House) : Pursuant to discussion in the Business Committee, I seek leave for the time by which the Māori Affairs Committee must report Vote Māori Affairs to be extended from Tuesday, 22 July 2008 to Thursday, 24 July 2008.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
Points of Order
Questions for Written Answer—Overdue Replies
GERRY BROWNLEE (National—Ilam) : I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I know that you have asked us to write to you on occasions when answers to written questions are somewhat overdue. A substantial number of answers to written questions are currently overdue. There have been discussions between various offices. In my own case, some 20 questions to the Minister of Energy’s office have been outstanding for 2 weeks. I ask you, Madam Speaker, in this much more public way, to ensure that the Government answers those questions in a timely fashion.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. If he just notifies me of the specific questions, I will ensure that that happens.
Questions to Ministers
1. JOHN KEY (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statement, in relation to the possibility of holding a referendum alongside the general election, that “Just in terms of sheer organisation I don't think that is possible.”; if not, why not?
John Key: If election officials can handle the very complex arrangements of a snap election, why has the Prime Minister decided that they are incapable of dealing with a considerably less-complicated referendum within a similar time frame?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: On the contrary, the Government has accepted the advice of the Ministry of Justice that should the petition succeed in triggering referenda, referenda should be held by postal ballot in 2009.
John Key: Why is the Prime Minister so opposed to New Zealanders exercising their democratic rights to be heard that she is using alleged technical difficulties to suppress the will of the New Zealand people?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Of course, if there are sufficient signatures there will be a referendum. But in line with the advice we have received—and it is strong advice—the best course is a postal ballot next year.
Sue Bradford: How does the Prime Minister see the required review of the law that will take place in 2009 fitting in with the possibility of a referendum?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: That has not been considered as having any relevance to the timing of the referendum. Rather, the Ministry of Justice, based on its experience of conducting such referenda at the time of the 1999 general election, has given strong advice that that caused voter confusion and congestion in polling places, and delayed the count. It further advised that to hold the referendum, if one is triggered, at the time of the general election would require more staff, more polling places, more training, and greater organisation. Indeed, a decision would need to have been made in April this year to proceed, at a time before it was even clear there were enough signatures for a petition—which is clearly ridiculous.
John Key: Has the Prime Minister noticed the trend, which all other New Zealanders have noticed, that her Government does not like the New Zealand public being able to express their view on democracy—they are about to be stopped from being able to exercise their democratic view through a referendum on the anti-smacking legislation at the election, and they are being stopped from exercising their democratic rights through the deeply flawed and cynical Electoral Finance Act—and why does the Prime Minister not just admit that she finds the voters of New Zealand an annoyance?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: On the contrary, over a long period of time I have found them very supportive. I find it very interesting that the Leader of the Opposition is now running around saying he wants a referendum so that he can disguise from conservatives the fact that he voted for the child discipline bill in the first place—something he would like them to forget.
John Key: Is the Prime Minister aware that unlike her I actually have respect for the New Zealand public’s right to express their views, while she is so arrogantly out of touch with New Zealanders she has forgotten what that is like?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Unlike the Leader of the Opposition, I do not flip-flop on every issue that comes before this House.
John Key: Is the Prime Minister aware that to run a referendum outside of election time would cost millions and millions of dollars, or, once again, does she have so little respect for taxpayers’ dollars that she is prepared to have them wasted when she could just run the referendum at election time; or is she running scared of that election?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The assertions in that question are absolute proof that the Leader of the Opposition does not have a clue what he is talking about. The advice from the Ministry of Justice is that the relative costs of holding the referendum at the general election or in a postal ballot are roughly the same.
Gordon Copeland: As Larry Baldock, leader of the Kiwi Party, is the promoter of this petition, I seek the leave of the House to ask a supplementary question. If leave is granted, I would do that on the basis that I am prepared to drop a supplementary question next week.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought. Is there any objection? Yes, there is objection.
Vulnerable Workers—Legislative Changes
2. DARIEN FENTON (Labour) to the Minister of Labour: What legislative changes is he promoting to protect vulnerable workers?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Labour) : Employment protections for casual workers are to be strengthened under proposed changes to the Employment Relations Act. Alongside amendments to ensure that shift workers can transfer public holidays and to ensure that workers have meal and rest breaks—in time to feed children where appropriate—guidance will be provided to assist employers to understand and comply with obligations to casual and temporary workers. Casual working relationships tend to be subject to change over time, so the status of these vulnerable workers is not always obvious. I think it is also important to place on the record of the House the contribution of both Peter Brown from New Zealand First and Darien Fenton for their work in this area.
Darien Fenton: How do these enhancements compare with other approaches to employment relations?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: They compare very well. I have seen reports of a party that would make 4 weeks’ annual leave negotiable again, tests of reasonableness would be repealed for dismissal of employees, provisions protecting employees against oppressive fixed-term contracts would be repealed, and people would be allowed to be sacked in their first 90 days of work if they complain of sexual harassment. And there have been various flip-flops on the question of whether National would keep the KiwiSaver contribution from employers—and I thank Kate Wilkinson for her honesty on that question.
Sue Kedgley: Can the Minister confirm that because of my flexible working arrangements legislation a new employment right will come into effect next Tuesday, 1 July, that will mean that all employees with dependants will have the right to request flexible working hours so they can, if they wish, try to better juggle paid work and family responsibilities?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Not only can I confirm that but I can confirm that the anti-worker party opposite voted against it.
Peter Brown: Will the Minister confirm the query in the principal question that the legislation is not to remove the category of casual employee but rather to ensure that so-called casual employees who have worked regularly on pretty much a permanent basis are recognised and get a degree of fairness and official commitment from their employer?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The member is exactly right. There are a lot of people who are described as casual workers but who are actually permanent workers, sometimes permanent part-time workers. There are examples of employers who have so-called casuals on long-term rosters. Very predictable employment like that cannot possibly be casual according to the test that has been applied by the courts. The problem at the moment is that someone has to go to court or the Employment Relations Authority to get a ruling. That is expensive and takes time. Having the labour inspectors able to make a determination in this area is a cheap, simple way of ensuring that workers are paid properly.
Peter Brown: Noting that answer, does the Minister agree with New Zealand First that any fair-minded employer will have little or nothing to fear from this proposed legislation?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I absolutely agree with the member. I think it is sad that, for example, Business New Zealand, which normally has a rational approach to these matters and can understand and take the position of the fair and reasonable employer, in this case has got it very badly wrong and has decided to line up with the anti-family, anti-worker party opposite.
Paula Bennett: In light of the Minister’s concern about temporary and casual workers, I seek to table the answers to written questions showing that his own department employs 143 casual workers.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Electoral Finance Act—Operation
3. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister of Justice: Is the Electoral Finance Act 2007 working as the Government intended; if so, why?
Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that the Department of Internal Affairs has had to issue guidelines to ministerial staff and the Minister’s office to tell them what they should take into account in drafting a press release so they can ensure that the press release is not an election advertisement; and has she seen those guidelines?
Hon ANNETTE KING: No, but I believe the department will be being very cautious, as we would expect it to be.
Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that the guidelines issued to ministerial staff mean they must take into account the following when they are drafting a press release: references in the communication to the election, references to MPs or their party’s policies for that election and what they will do if elected or re-elected, formatting or branding of the communication in any way similar to the party’s own election material, and the extent to which the communication criticises other parties or candidates; and can she assure the House that none of the press releases issued by ministerial offices breach any of those criteria?
Hon ANNETTE KING: In relation to the first part of the question, no; but it does back up my original answer that the departments are being very cautious, as we would expect them to be.
Hon Bill English: Am I correct in hearing that the Minister cannot give the House an assurance that Ministers’ offices are acting according to these guidelines, and, if that is the case, what does she intend to do about it as the large number of press releases that appear on the Beehive website do include references to the election, references to party policies, criticism of other parties’ policies, and so on?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I would give everybody the same advice that the Department of Internal Affairs was giving: to be very cautious and careful in terms of what they are doing.
Hon Bill English: What are MPs and party campaigners to make of advice from the Chief Electoral Officer that any telephone canvassing that mentions the name of a candidate or a party constitutes an election advertisement, and that at the end of that telephone call the person making the call has to say: “This call has been authorised by the financial agent.”, when Parliament has passed a law that specifically exempts polling and telephone canvassing from the Electoral Finance Act?
Hon ANNETTE KING: My answer is that the law that was passed by Parliament is the law that should be upheld.
Hon Bill English: Can the Minister confirm that the law that was passed by Parliament is a law under which no one knows yet whether it is legal to display a party logo—and we might not find out until after the election—specific exemptions for telephone canvassing appear not to apply in reality, and the law requires all billboards now to be expensed as if the timber was all brand new, even if it has been used for several elections in a row; and what are MPs to make of that kind of nonsense?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I would say to MPs that they should take very, very little notice of that member, because yesterday in this House he claimed that the logo on the ballot paper would have to be authorised. He claims he knows an awful lot about the Electoral Act. He would know, then, that it would not have to be authorised, because the Electoral Act 1993 requires the logo to be on the ballot paper.
4. RON MARK (NZ First) to the Minister of Police: Further to her answer provided last week stating the estimated total number of patched gang members and associates is between 3,000 and 3,500, what is the latest estimate of the number of gang affiliates which the New Zealand Police estimated in 2002 to be 21,882?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Police) : The figures I advised the House of came from the New Zealand Police. The estimated affiliate figures of 21,882 in 2002 are likely to be the result of a broader definition, including hang-arounds, hangers-on, and wannabes. As I said in my answer yesterday, and last week, the New Zealand Police advised me that determining accurate gang membership figures is challenging, but it is more important that the police respond to gang-related activity rather than just count it.
Ron Mark: Does she accept that, given the 2002 figure quoted by the previous Minister of Police included “major gangs only”, the total number of gang affiliates, including youth gangs, is likely to be much higher; and does she agree with Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Gutry’s statement Inside New Zealand last Thursday that for every patched member there are probably five or 10 associates of the gang?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I think that the most important word in the comment from Mark Gutry was “probably”. That is because the New Zealand Police has difficulty in counting patched members, affiliates, associates, and so on for the very reasons I set out in this House last week, and that answer stands.
Chester Borrows: Does she stand by her statement in the House yesterday that over 26,000 separate charges were placed before the courts in 2007 against persons identified as having gang connections; if so, how many gang members who have been before the courts in the past year, such as those who allegedly cut a swathe through a Hawke’s Bay party with machetes and baseball bats last weekend, have effectively been given a “get out of jail free” card because of the delay in bringing the Organised Crime (Penalties and Sentencing) Bill into the House?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I stand by the 26,000 figure that I gave yesterday. That is the figure provided to me by my officials and I have no reason to doubt it. They have been taken before the courts and those who received punishment received the appropriate punishment. I think it is supposition from the member to say that they would have got different penalties. I think we would need to know what each of the cases was.
Ron Mark: Does she agree with former police detective Mike Sabin that police should dedicate as many resources to drug offences as to road policing, and why does the Asian crime unit have only five staff when it is widely known that most of the imported methamphetamine and precursors are being sourced from family and business connections in south China?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Because the Asian crime unit is but one of five units within the New Zealand Police that work on such issues. As I said to the member last week, police do not work just from a unit perspective; they work across all parts of the New Zealand Police. They work internationally. They have offices overseas in terms of work with overseas countries, particularly in south China. The way to tackle the drug issue—which is a serious issue; I agree with the member in that respect—is not by having five staff in an Asian crime unit but by having those members working with other members of the New Zealand Police and working internationally.
Ron Mark: What confidence should the people of New Zealand have in her Government’s ability to protect them from gang violence and intimidation when it has such a naive view of the scale and depth of the gang problem in their communities and when the police still do not accept the need for a nationally led and nationally organised assault on gangs, run by the commissioner himself?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I disagree with the member. First of all, this Government takes gangs seriously. Secondly, I have a lot of confidence in the police and in the work they are undertaking every day of the week—much of it unseen by the public of New Zealand, but certainly led from the top in New Zealand. I also have confidence in the new Organised and Financial Crime Agency that this Government is establishing, which transfers over powers that were held only by the Serious Fraud Office into an agency that will have broader powers to be able to fight organised crime, much of which is committed by gang members.
5. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister of Energy: Why is the Government proceeding with its compulsory biofuels requirement from 1 October when today’s Oxfam report Another Inconvenient Truth calls for a “freeze on the implementation of further biofuel mandates …”?
Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister of Energy) : As I have said many times, we do need to take care that we do not create one problem while solving another. However, this risk is very responsibly addressed in the bill. I quote the executive director of Oxfam—the author of the report—Barry Coates, who on Radio New Zealand National this morning said: “ ‘There is a place for biofuels and for biomass production to produce energy but it needs to be well controlled, well regulated …’. Presenter: ‘So you’re not suggesting there’s anything wrong in someone in New Zealand going to try and make biofuels?’ Mr Coates: ‘Produced locally and under the right kinds of conditions, biofuels can help out. … It’s good that the New Zealand proposed legislation does have sustainability safeguards proposed to be added to it. … It needs the proper regulatory structure to make sure that the source of the biofuels are not from unsustainable sources.’ ” That is why we are putting it in place, and, as the Green Party has said, the sustainability clause we are putting forward is the strictest in the world.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Can the Minister confirm that on 1 October there will be no principles and there will be no sustainability standard—at best it might exist a year or two later—and that both the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and Oxfam have made it abundantly plain that they oppose his bill and that they see it as contributing to the problems of world poverty and hunger that are being highlighted all over the globe?
Hon DAVID PARKER: No, I cannot confirm that, because it is not correct. Sustainability guidelines are set out in the legislation that are already quite detailed—they actually run to about a page in the proposed legislation. The regulations pursuant to them do not immediately come into effect; what does come into effect is an immediate obligation on the oil companies to report the source of their biofuels. The other reality, which the member ignores, is that biofuels are already produced in New Zealand and can already be sold in New Zealand without any sustainability safeguards. This legislation introduces those sustainability safeguards so as to make things better, not worse.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Will the Minister commit to putting up an Order in Council before 1 October to require oil companies to report on the origins of any biofuels they import and blend with their fuel, and to post that information at the pump, so that New Zealand’s sustainable biofuel policy is totally transparent during the 9 months before the mandatory standard can come into effect?
Hon DAVID PARKER: In respect of the first part of that question, the answer is certainly, we commit to those regulations. As to whether it would be practical to require notices at every pump, I have not given thought to that yet, so I reserve my position on that.
Moana Mackey: What are the implications for the New Zealand consumer of our not proceeding with cost-effective substitutes for expensive fossil fuels?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Motorists are already watching with horror as petrol prices continue to rise. We are proposing solutions that start to wean us off that expensive imported oil, and National is opposing them. Just like with the emissions trading scheme, with energy-efficient light bulbs, and again with biofuels, the National Party opposes any initiative that will reduce living costs for New Zealanders, because it is on the side of big business, not on the side of average New Zealanders, whom the Labour-led Government is trying to help.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Can the Minister answer a very simple question: why is he proceeding with a compulsory biofuels requirement on 1 October when there will be no legal obligation to meet a sustainability standard for at least a year?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Because I am satisfied that it is the responsible thing to do. I am somewhat heartened that the Green Party—and I do not think there would be many people in this Parliament who would doubt the credentials of the Greens to have reasoned opinions on these issues—is supportive of this approach. I am confident that what we are doing is the right thing to do. I would also note, with respect to the interjections from the National Party, that the figures those members are quoting in respect of their estimates of cost are way out of date. They are the estimates that came to the select committee at the start of the select committee process, before we had these major increases in the price of oil. The latest advice, as I said yesterday, is that biofuels are expected to reduce costs to motorists.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Will the Minister commit to a thorough consultation process with Oxfam and other non-governmental organisations in the development of the sustainability standard, so that their on-the-ground knowledge of food issues in developing countries can contribute to our having the best possible sustainability standard?
Hon DAVID PARKER: I am very happy to do that. That is absolutely consistent with the principles we have already laid out in the legislation. In summary, those relate to there having to be at least a 35 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, that there not be competition with food production, and that we do not adversely affect indigenous biodiversity. All of those principles are now clearly articulated in the legislation, and in terms of the detailed regulations surrounding those and under those, I am very happy to commit to consult with, amongst others, Oxfam.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does it not show the mess that the Government’s biofuels policy is in when Oxfam says that it will contribute to the 30 million people in poverty, and that “it’s important that we fix the Government’s biofuels bill”, when the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment says that the bill should not proceed and that it will damage New Zealand’s clean, green reputation, and when we have even the biofuels industry itself saying that this bill is flawed because it provides an artificial 42 cents a litre advantage for ethanol over biodiesel when ethanol is more likely to be imported unsustainably and contribute to the very difficulties that concern Oxfam?
Hon DAVID PARKER: I have already quoted extensively from Mr Coates from Oxfam on the radio today. I did not misrepresent his comments, and I think they answer the question the member put.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave to table the report from Oxfam, Another Inconvenient Truth, on how biofuel policy—
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is.
6. Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY (Labour) to the Minister of Education: What reports, if any, has he recently received on school funding?
Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Education) : I have seen a report where National’s Wayne Mapp repeated the claims of his leader, John Key, that his party would fund extra funding for schools by slashing staff at the Ministry of Education. Actually, the total wages bill for all Ministry of Education staff not directly involved in front-line support services, such as working with special-needs pupils, is $54.6 million. Even if a future National Government sacked every one of those staff, that would equate to $21,900 per New Zealand school—not even enough for those schools to hire an extra teacher. Indeed, there would not even be enough to build the recently completed Botany Downs Secondary College and Albany Junior High School, which came to $86.7 million. This shows once again that National’s 2008 education policy is just empty slogans that are designed to mask no commitment to quality public education.
Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Can the Minister tell the House what other reports he has seen about school funding promises?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I have seen two reports. The first is a report from the North Shore Times dated 13 May where requests to increase school operations grants by 20 percent, resource scheme funding by 30 percent, and information and communications technology grants to $100 per student—commitments totalling $349 million—are described in the article by Anne Tolley MP as being along the same lines as likely National Party policy. The second report is also from Mrs Tolley. Last Thursday she told 200 primary school principals in Auckland: “the one thing I can tell you is there will be no extra funding for education on top of the cost of living.” At last National comes clean. Its only education policy so far is one of providing more money for private schools, privatising school buildings, and gutting the Ministry of Education.
Judy Turner: What advice can the Minister give classroom teachers as to whether they should remain in the classroom to care for their students or chase after a special-needs child who has absconded due to not being supported by sufficient teacher-aide hours to moderate that child’s behaviour and keep the child on task; and does he support the boards of trustees that are dipping into their operational grants to offset the shortfalls in ongoing resourcing scheme funding?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I can tell that teacher, along with every other one of the 43,000 teachers we have in our country, that the Labour-led Government absolutely values education. That is why we have put $5 billion extra into education. That is why we have employed 6,024 extra teachers above roll growth. That is why, in the last 3 years, we have spent $1.2 billion on new schools, gyms, administration blocks, and so on. That is why we have introduced 20 free hours’ early childhood education for every 3 and 4-year-old in New Zealand. That is why we have increased teachers’ salaries, on average, by 36 percent and principals’ salaries, on average, by 43 percent.
Judy Turner: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I had two questions in there, and neither of them was addressed by the Minister’s answer, at all.
Madam SPEAKER: The Minister addressed them very generally, but he may wish to add something to his answer.
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I would like to add that we see the needs of special education as being very important. That is why 70 percent of the staff at the Ministry of Education are involved in front-line services that support exactly the situation the member has raised. Those are the people whom Mr Key wants to slash.
Anne Tolley: What does the Minister have to say to the chairman of the board of trustees of a South Auckland secondary school, who said: “I am sick and tired of hearing the Minister keep repeating that Labour has committed an extra $5 billion since 1999 for education. That may be true, but the vast majority of the funds have not gone to the students or schools but to bureaucrats.”?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I would be delighted to have a conversation with that chairperson of a board of trustees. I would tell him that the member who has just asked the question, who happens to be National’s education spokesperson, has said there would be no more extra funds for schools, above the cost of living. I am sure he would be very surprised to hear that, but he need only to ask the principal of his school about it, because that member said those words in front of 200 primary school principals last week.
Organised Crime (Penalties and Sentencing) Bill—Introduction
7. SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei) to the Minister of Justice: Why did it take nearly a year to introduce the Organised Crime (Penalties and Sentencing) Bill, when it was approved by Cabinet on 9 July 2007?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Justice) : Although Cabinet approved the Organised Crime (Penalties and Sentencing) Bill in July 2007, it also directed that further work be undertaken to combat organised crime. Tackling organised crime requires a strategic, investigative enforcement and legislative response. The only way that that can be achieved is through a coordinated package of initiatives, rather than a piecemeal approach, and that is exactly what the Government is doing.
Simon Power: Can she confirm the claim made on the blog of Colin Espiner, the political editor of the Christchurch Press, that a member of her staff told Mr Espiner that the introduction of the Organised Crime (Penalties and Sentencing) Bill was delayed for a year after it was approved by Cabinet, because the previous Minister of Justice, Mark Burton, was “busy that year” as the “Electoral Finance Act took up a lot of his time”; if so, why was the Electoral Finance Act put ahead of strengthening the law against gangs?
Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I cannot confirm that, and I have not read Mr Espiner’s blog. I can tell the member that the work that was undertaken by Ministry of Justice officials and by Cabinet included development of a strategy, which was released; the setting up of the Organised and Financial Crime Agency; legislation; and work that the Law Commission had undertaken in respect of search and surveillance, as part of our legislative approach. That work was all brought together, and, as that member knows, at the beginning of the year I made announcements that outlined all the approaches we were taking.
Simon Power: Can the Minister confirm that the copy of the bill that her office sent to the Leader of the Opposition last week to seek support for the legislation not only had on it the name of the previous Minister but also was printed on 10 September 2007 and included a commencement date of 18 December 2007; if so, what derailed the Government from getting the law against gangs strengthened by the end of last year?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The bill that was sent over to the Leader of the Opposition had the previous Minister’s name on it because to send him another copy of the bill with my name on it would have meant that it had to be reprinted. Why waste money on that when we wanted to know whether the National Party—
Gerry Brownlee: That’s not the point.
Hon ANNETTE KING: It was the point, I say to Mr Brownlee.
Gerry Brownlee: You haven’t read the bill.
Hon ANNETTE KING: I certainly have read it. In fact, even Gerry Brownlee could have read it, because it is only about two pages long. We did not know whether we had the support of the National Party for this bill, because it has opposed major legislation that we had brought before the House, including the Parole Act and the Sentencing Act—legislation that National members now say they believe in, but which they voted against.
Simon Power: Did the Minister write to the Leader of the Opposition for support on the Organised Crime (Penalties and Sentencing) Bill because she could not get the support of the Government’s support parties; if that is the case, which party did not support the legislation?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I sought support for this bill in April this year from other parties. They had to take it to their various caucuses; they had to have their own discussions. We work closely with our confidence and supply partners, and we will continue to work with them in good faith. One thing we know how to do is work with other parties in this House, rather than spending day after day, as the National Party does, bagging third parties in the House and treating them with disdain.
Simon Power: Which of the 10 law and order bills that either are currently before the House or were promised to be introduced will be passed in the 19 scheduled sitting days for Government orders of the day that remain before the House rises for the general election?
Hon ANNETTE KING: As many as possible.
Social Development, Ministry—Lump-sum Payment
8. JUDITH COLLINS (National—Clevedon) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Is the Ministry of Social Development planning to reward union member employees with a lump-sum payment in the 2008/09 financial year; if so, how much will each employee receive?
Hon RUTH DYSON (Minister for Social Development and Employment) : This is an employment matter for the chief executive. I am really surprised that the member did not take the opportunity to ask the chief executive for details of this when he appeared at the select committee last week for nearly 2 hours, given that the specific answer to the member’s question was included in answers to the estimates.
Judith Collins: Is it not true that Ministry of Social Development union members received bonuses in the election years of 2002 and 2005, and that now in 2008 they have been told they will get $750 each; and does this not imply that the bonus is the payback for the Public Service Association yet again campaigning for Labour in an election year?
Hon RUTH DYSON: No, that is not correct. The union negotiation covering the collective agreement by the respective workers does not always fall in an election year. Some years it does—in fact, once every 3 years it falls in an election year. In the other years it is not in an election year.
Hon Mark Gosche: What contribution does the Ministry of Social Development make to improving outcomes for New Zealanders?
Hon RUTH DYSON: The staff of the Ministry of Social Development work hard to support New Zealanders, including, over the last 12 months, delivering financial assistance to over 1 million New Zealanders, including 500,000 superannuitants; responding to 71,000 notifications of potential child abuse and neglect; supporting 5,000 people to move from benefit into paid work; providing intensive wraparound services to 500 of New Zealand’s most vulnerable families, including over 1,300 children; and leading the task force for action on the prevention of family violence.
Judith Collins: Does the Minister think that employees should receive taxpayer-funded bonuses in election years just because they are union members; if so, does she think that is fair for non-union members?
Hon RUTH DYSON: In my view the agreement in a collective agreement should be delivered, whether or not it is an election year.
Judith Collins: How can she justify awarding staff election-year bonuses just for being a member of the Public Service Association (PSA), and should not bonuses be related to employment performance rather than union membership?
Hon RUTH DYSON: That is a matter for the chief executive.
Judith Collins: When is this Minister going to take some responsibility? What is the connection between election-year bonuses to union members and the PSA’s campaign against larger tax cuts on behalf of the Labour Party—is she now going to say there is no connection?
Hon RUTH DYSON: There is no connection between the election year and the year in which the negotiations come into effect. If there are any parts of the agreement to be delivered they are delivered every year, not just in an election year. The implication that the member makes is disgraceful.
Building and Construction Sector—Flexibility and Costs
9. Hon PAUL SWAIN (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Minister for Building and Construction: Has he received any reports on the progress being made to increase flexibility and reduce costs in the building and construction sector?
Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Building and Construction) : Yes, the department has provided me with a number of reports on the progress being made to increase flexibility and reduce costs in the sector. As a consequence of that, changes to the Building Act will be introduced that I am confident will increase flexibility and reduce costs. I shall outline them briefly, for the edification of other members in the House: project information memoranda will be voluntary in the future, the functions of the Department of Building and Housing will be extended so that national multiple-use approvals can be issued for houses that are to be replicated on a substantive scale across regions, there will be an improvement to the process for managing variations to consented work, and a host of other things, which I shall make available to the public very soon, are also on the way.
Hon Paul Swain: Can this visionary Minister outline the projected savings from these truly outstanding initiatives?
Hon SHANE JONES: I shall give a modest reply! It has been identified that the amount of building work that will no longer require a building consent represents a reduction of about 10 percent. I have been advised by very senior building inspectors around the country that the estimated savings in consent fees could very well be up to $10 million per annum, resulting in substantial savings for homeowners, and freeing up resources and time within local government so that it can focus on areas where risk is particularly large.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does the Minister see a rich irony in his Government spending 8½ years increasing bureaucracy and costs for the building industry and for local councils, but then, in its last 6 months, having a road to Damascus conversion in response to polling concerns; and when will we actually see either a bill to amend the disastrous Building Act 2004 or reductions in the building levy, which was trebled by this Government to over $40 million a year?
Hon SHANE JONES: The Building Act was a reaction to the failure to act during the period of time that National was in power. Secondly, this is a dynamic situation. The construction and housing sector goes through changes, and these amendments and alterations are being implemented to reflect the changing, dynamic nature of the environment.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave to table documents from the Wellington City Council that show that this week it has announced a threefold increase in its fees for minor earthworks.
- Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Visa and Permit Applicants—Declaration
10. Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Immigration: Is it correct that all applicants for visas and permits must be of good character, and that applicants are required to declare when applying for residence whether or not they are under investigation in any country?
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Would it be evidence of good character if an applicant who was a solicitor had altered a rape complainant’s statement without the complainant’s agreement, and added sodomy to the allegation of rape, while being fully aware that the further allegation was untrue—behaviour that led to that solicitor being struck off in the United Kingdom for her proven dishonesty?
Hon SHANE JONES: When applicants wanting to come to our country seek a permit they are required to make a declaration. I presume the member is referring to a couple who have been in the media recently. If it comes to pass that their declarations have been either untruthful or grossly inaccurate, then be it on their heads.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: How can the Immigration Service claim that a man met good character requirements, when he was under investigation for committing the criminal offence of fraudulently claiming to be a solicitor in the United Kingdom, and when he made a victim of rape re-enact her rape while dressed in a nightie; how would such a person meet good character requirements in New Zealand?
Hon SHANE JONES: In the event that such a person who is not currently a resident was to become a resident, such matters would be investigated in respect of the process of when he or she actually applied to become a resident.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: What background checks were made on Jane Loveday and Richard Vosper, given that a 30-second Google search at the time of their applications would have revealed that she was under investigation for grossly reckless behaviour, including knowingly falsifying legal documents, and that he was under investigation for impersonating a solicitor; and is this just further evidence to support the claim by an unnamed whistleblower in the Immigration Service last week that applications for work permits for residents are being approved without any supporting evidence whatsoever?
Hon SHANE JONES: No, the declaration that they would have made on work permits in order to come here would have reflected what they put down. Members can rest assured that I am quite confident, now that this information has been brought to the attention of officials, that those officials will be testing the veracity of what the applicants said. However, they are not residents. When residency applications are made, an inordinately thorough assessment is undertaken.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Will the Minister now confirm that the Immigration Service is reviewing the cases of Jane Loveday and Richard Vosper; if not, will he ask it to do so in order to make sure that their work permits are revoked and they are deported?
Hon SHANE JONES: An application has been made for residency. Their application will be thoroughly investigated, although fairness and transparency will be observed. In relation to the existing work permits they have, if the member has further information, he can by all means make it available, but he can rest assured that the original information provided by this hapless couple is being raked over as we speak.
Peter Brown: Does the Minister consider that a man who was accepted into New Zealand because of an arranged marriage, and whose wife and sponsor withdrew her sponsorship after he was arrested and convicted of attempting to strangle her with a bathrobe, to be of good enough character to remain in this country?
Hon SHANE JONES: The details sound quite lurid. However, I can assure the member that where applicants are knowingly making declarations that are inversely related to the truth, be it on their heads. The full force of the administration will be brought down, under the Immigration Act, for such wrongdoing.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Is the Minister telling this House that until the applications for residency of this couple, Jane Loveday and Richard Vosper, are considered by his department, he is happy for Vosper to continue working under a work permit in New Zealand with mentally ill children in the Blenheim district—children who are very vulnerable—when he has proven to have exploited vulnerable women who have suffered from rape attacks; is he saying he is happy for that work permit to continue when someone is working under that circumstance?
Hon SHANE JONES: A number of allegations have been made in relation to the man the member is talking about, and an investigation was undertaken of his spouse, a lawyer. I point out that those are rumours and allegations but, as I have said, officials are raking over the declarations the pair have made. So I will leave it with the officials to make the appropriate decision, which I am sure may very well be “Haere Ra!”.
Peter Brown: I am referring back to the case I referred to, Minister—
Hon Members: What’s the question?
Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I waited in courtesy for Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith to finish his issue, because I thought that it was important he got a clear run at the thing. He subsequently came up with another question after I had started. Madam Speaker, you saw that I waited for the thing. Now, out of courtesy, I would like National members to shut up and listen to this—
Madam SPEAKER: Yes—well, one can understand all members’ frustrations at being constantly interrupted and not being heard, but we will moderate our language. [Interruption] We will have the member’s question in silence. If there is any interruption, the member responsible will be asked to leave the Chamber.
Peter Brown: Does the Minister consider it appropriate for the same man, after he allegedly attacked his wife again twice, to remain here by being on a 2-year visa sponsored by his employer; if he does think that that is appropriate, can he advise the House what the dickens one has to do to get kicked out of this country?
Hon SHANE JONES: Rest assured; I will not be tempted! Obviously, I do not have in front of me the exact details of the case the member refers to, but I encourage him to make information available to our officials. No one wants to see anyone undermining the system and staying, when there are many deserving people who ought to be here and who want to come here.
Māori Warden Project—Funding
11. Dr PITA SHARPLES (Co-Leader—Māori Party) to the Minister of Māori Affairs: What action is he taking to investigate claims from Diane Black, the chairwoman of Tamaki ki te Tonga Maori District Council, that the funding for the Māori Warden Project was being spent “without consultation and there is no access to funding or the decisions being made.”?
Dr Pita Sharples: Does the Minister understand that after 60 years of volunteer service, the Māori wardens welcomed the Budget announcement that they were finally to receive resources to recognise the vital role they play in the community; and what has happened in the last month for the Te Puni Kōkiri Māori Warden Project manager, Te Rau Clarke, now to say “Who would pay them to do what they do, at their age?”?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: That is certainly not the intent of the Minister, and I can assure the member that a lot of work has been going on between the ministry and a whole lot of organisations relevant to the development of Māori wardens.
Dave Hereora: What is an example of the additional support that has been delivered through this project?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: There have been several instances of training in the South Auckland Māori warden region, where there has been a lot of kerfuffle about the nonsense that goes on there; $76,000 has been approved to Manurewa, Māngere, Turehou, Ōtara, and Ōtāhuhu Māori warden groups to assist them in their work.
Pita Paraone: Tēnā koe, Madam Speaker. Can the Minister confirm that the Māori wardens are much better off than they were last year, due to the funding increases secured as part of the confidence and supply agreement between New Zealand First and the Labour Government?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Most certainly.
Dr Pita Sharples: Does he agree with the secretary of the New Zealand Māori Council, Tata Pārata, that the current funding arrangement has ignored the requirements of the Maori Community Development Act, which provides the New Zealand Māori Council with responsibility for the overall governance of the wardens; if not, why?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: That is the moot point. The better part of the Māori Council is inactive as an organisation. We have put together an advisory group, with Diane Black as one of its representative and Te Puni Kōkiri as the convenor, and also on it are representatives of the New Zealand Māori Council, including Mr Pārata, the New Zealand Māori Wardens Association, including the patron of the Māori wardens, the Māori Women’s Welfare League, the Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust, and the New Zealand Police, in order to try to get some semblance.
Hon Nanaia Mahuta: Can the Minister provide examples of where investment in Māori wardens has produced positive outcomes in many communities?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: There have been several hui across the country to encourage the Māori wardens in the role they have to play in contemporary times, with regard to new issues relevant to crime and to our young people getting into trouble. A combined total of 342 Māori wardens have accessed some sort of training offered by the project. One hundred and eighty-four Māori wardens have completed training offered by the police. Physical resources, including Māori warden - branded high visibility jackets, safety shoes, torches, and traffic warrants, are also provided at the conclusion of training sessions.
Dr Pita Sharples: Does he agree with Diane Black—and I note he mentioned her in that group—that the New Zealand Māori Council is being starved out because it is the only legislative board that ever takes the Government to court; is that the real reason that Te Puni Kōkiri Māori Warden Project manager Te Rau Clarke has questioned whether the New Zealand Māori Council and district councils are relevant; if not, why not?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The reason why we are at where we are at is because it was in a mess. We have tried to sort it out, and I can tell the member that the working project team, which includes the Māori Council, has been working very hard to get to a consensus that better advances the Māori wardens. That is more than well supported by this Government.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Can the Minister confirm that the Government is fully supportive of attempts by members of the New Zealand Māori Council to hold a seminar in honour of Sir Graham Latimer to discuss the future development of the New Zealand Māori Council and how to strengthen it again?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Most certainly yes.
Dr Pita Sharples: In the light of the last answer, what is the Government’s view on how the community should control and manage the process of appointing and funding Māori wardens so that the wardens continue to be seen as part of the communities they serve, and not as Government agents or unofficial police?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The Māori Wardens Association was struggling as an organisation, and over a long period of time we have tried to ensure that dialogue is maintained with key stakeholder groups around the future governance of Māori wardens. That is the key role of the advisory group that is together now.
Te Puni Kōkiri—Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Porou Grant
12. Hon TAU HENARE (National) to the Minister of Māori Affairs: Did Te Puni Kōkiri approve a grant of $1.56 million to Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Porou?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Māori Affairs) : An investment of $1.56 million from 2007 to 2010, over that period of time, was approved by Te Puni Kōkiri to Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Porou to support iwi aspirations in governance, education, and economic development.
Hon Tau Henare: How much of the $1.56 million that he approved in the lead-up to a general election, when he is facing a stiff challenge from the Māori Party, was to design and implement a hapū success strategy to enable Ngāti Porou hapū to determine their own definition of success and achievement, as opposed to the definition of success and achievement in Webster’s dictionary?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: It is great to be a Māori who has a seat to run in. I tell that member quite clearly that—surprise, surprise—on the back of today’s great celebration by Māori, a lot of Māori iwi have been doing that for the last 8 to 9 years; we have been doing the co-production with other iwi.
Hon Tau Henare: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I know the Standing Orders say that Ministers can pretty much say anything in addressing a question. I am not asking you to ask the Minister to answer the question, but I find it really difficult to figure out how the answer that he gave has any relevance to what I asked. It did not address anything in my question whatsoever.
Madam SPEAKER: I understand the member’s point. The member constantly raises this. I understand the Standing Orders, as he quite rightly said, require the Minister only to address the question. The Minister did address the question.
Hon Tau Henare: How much of the—
R Doug Woolerton: It’s a dumb question; that’s the problem.
Hon Tau Henare: I see the old man is starting up again.
Madam SPEAKER: Please be seated. Interjections invite other interjections, and when a member is asking a question they are likely to lead to disorder. The member is quite right and I should have pointed that out because I know at times not only that member but others are frustrated about the answers. But often the answers do reflect the questions, and if members listen to the questions carefully, as I must, then they will see that the answers have an understanding there.
Hon Tau Henare: How much of the $1.56 million that he gave to his own iwi in the lead-up to a general election, when he is facing a strong challenge from Derek Fox, was to “conduct surveys into the development of a participatory co-production planning and evaluation framework”; and can he tell us what the surveys into the development of a participatory co-production planning and evaluation framework actually asked people?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: There was a jumble in those questions, but can I say this: a hapū-based curriculum framework has been developed to support Ngāti Porou to identify in education. This has been promoted across early childhood education, schools, and the tertiary sector. A business incubator has been developed, career plans and pathways for rangatahi are being developed, and opportunities to improve information and communications technology skills amongst one of the iwi that I belong to, Ngāti Porou, have been established.
Hon Tau Henare: Is it correct that the Auditor-General could not find evidence that outputs were met, and how does this give the public confidence that he did not just spend over $1.5 million of taxpayers’ money in a vain attempt to help him cling to his seat in Parliament?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I understand that the contract has been extended, and certainly all those deliverables that were missed have been met. I tell that member also that in relation to co-production, from late 2006 to 2007 we have done contracts with Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua, which I think that member may be a member of, Te Rūnanga o Taranaki Whanui, Development Ngāti Awa, Te Tai Tokerau Iwi Chief Executives Consortium, which that member is a member of, and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, a tribe of which I am also a member.
Hon Tau Henare: Can the Minister confirm that in relation to his giving his own iwi over $1.5 million just before an election to help fight off the Māori Party, his own ministry, Te Puni Kōkiri, identified, in writing, a risk that people might not understand the intent of the grant; and why did Te Puni Kōkiri feel the need to commit such a warning to the Minister in writing?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I would be pleased to get that writing from the member, and I will discuss it with Te Puni Kōkiri. I say to that member “shame on him” for leaning on genealogical ties, because when I was a senior public servant, I used to make grants to my other relations, the Rutherfords and the Buntings, in South Canterbury. [Interruption]
Madam SPEAKER: Please be seated. It is very difficult to hear.
Hon Tau Henare: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It was not me who suggested I was from some other iwi. I know where I am from.
Madam SPEAKER: That is all right. That is not a point of order.
Hon Jim Anderton: Can the Minister confirm that in 1999 when this Government came to office, the GDP growth for the East Coast of the North Island was minus 12 percent, and now, with Māori engaged and economically successful due to the policies of this Government, the East Coast of the North Island is amongst the fastest-growing regions in the country?
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: You just made that up then, Jim, didn’t you?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: No, it is not made up. That is the truth. The production that has come off Māori assets has gone up by 62 percent. When we came into Government the unemployment rate in Tai Rāwhiti was tracking at 28 percent—28 percent, I say to Tau! Now it is tracking at just over 5 percent. Wake up!
Hon Tau Henare: I seek leave to table the jumble that the Minister talked about in the monitoring report.
- Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Annette King: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I do not know whether you could hear it, but we have had nothing but a barrage of comment and abuse from Gerry Brownlee right through the Minister trying to answer that question. I found it offensive. Also, he was trying to break up the Minister’s answer. I believe that he, as shadow Leader of the House for the National Party, ought to take a lot more care in his behaviour.
Madam SPEAKER: The barrage to try to prevent the Minister from being heard was apparent again, and that happens from time to time in this House. I ask members, please, to respect other members. Everyone has a right to be heard. Freedom of speech is in fact observed in this House, and denying people the right to be heard is denying them their freedom of speech.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Certainly, members in this House have a right to speak freely, but other members in this House have a right to know what those members are saying. Frankly, very few of us could find anything intelligible in anything that Minister just said.
Madam SPEAKER: If the Minister could have been heard in silence, then maybe what he was saying would be better understood.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Māori Affairs) : I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business. Today is a day of celebration for Māori. I want to recognise the achievement of those iwi who have had the courage and the steel to get here today. I want to recognise the central North Island collective of Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Whare, Ngāti Manawa, Raukawa, and the affiliated Te Arawa iwi and hapū who are here with us today to hear the first reading of their settlement bill.
For close to 20 years, central North Island iwi and the Crown have been preoccupied with the question of how to get a resolution that puts asunder the dastardly deeds set on the tangata whenua by ancestors of Pākehā generally—those things that happened in the long dim past. Those things need to be left behind, and if we are serious about nationhood, then today has certainly expressed that. We in this country are serious about nationhood, not about playing the nasty games that we are used to seeing and that we picture and hear over on the other side. Over the last decade both the Crown and iwi have attempted numerous times to come together in search of an answer to this longstanding question, but for one reason or another consensus was never able to be reached—that is, until now. I commend Dr Cullen for his leadership. I want to recognise Margaret Wilson, who had the courage to instigate this road, our colleague Mark Burton, and Ministers Ririnui and Jones for the effort they put in.
We would not believe that there were things to celebrate in Māoridom, judging by the way that pack carries on over there. It is a disgrace. If one is a Māori, one is of a minority that has been used to working with the majority, and one gets very good at reading the signals—signals not just of discontent but of jealousy and conspiratorial setting upon the tangata whenua. Today certainly is a unique day. It is a day of expression, and the members on that side of the House should understand that they should not just push out platitudes of guesswork and suggesting that we should all live together as New Zealanders—and “bugger your culture”. Let us not do that. Let us make sure that we bring cognisance to nationhood. Today has shown that. The Māori people have turned up here in their hundreds, and their footprints have echoed on the marble floors of this place, where a lot of mumbo-jumbo is talked at times, and where there is not enough recognition of the great things that Māori achieve.
It is not just the size of the settlement that is unique; it is the way in which it has been managed. A whole lot of iwi have come together, and they could teach other organisations of this country how to come together, how to meet respectfully, and how to ensure that the pathway forward for future Māori generations is etched in a clear and distinct way in the sense of the opportunities that the global market brings to our people. And what is wrong with that? People do not like it. They tend to be suspicious and think: “Oh-oh, here comes that scratch about those Māoris. All the things they do are mad, bad, and sad.” Well, I have news for those people. I tell them that this Treaty settlement is one of the pivotal conduits to ensuring that Māori are on their way forward. It is surprising to those people that Māori collectively are among the single biggest owners of Fonterra—clustered owners of dairy farms. They are among the biggest exporters of meat in this country. They are now heading towards having a huge influence in Australasia in terms of forestry. Those three issues are relevant to the cultural, social, and economic transformation of the first-nation people of this country, and that surely was expressed right out front today. The people came in peacefully. They came in respectfully.
I thank the Māori members of the other parties—Georgina te Heuheu and Tau Henare—who had the privilege of sitting on the paepae with me to extend a welcome. We looked united, even though we came down to the House afterwards and fell apart. Well, this deal did not fall apart.
Hon Tau Henare: Fell apart laughing at you.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: And I can give that member a lesson on how to get there. This is a great day for Māoridom.
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Leader—National) : The member started out in a somewhat political vein, and that is the first time I have seen Labour allow a Māori member to start the general debate for many, many years. I want to join with the member in acknowledging the huge achievement of the Treaty settlements that have occurred this week, because it does point to a positive way forward.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member may be mistaken, but he has certainly misled the House in what he just said. Māori members have led the general debate every year in Māori Language Week. That member does not like it, but he should tell the truth.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): That is not a point of order.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to make sure that that rude exchange does not come out of my time.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): The Speaker will be the judge of that.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: OK. I want to acknowledge the huge achievement of the settlement that has been made today. It was unfortunate, given the sentiments that have been expressed on a bipartisan basis throughout this whole process, that the Minister of Māori Affairs decided to indulge in such petty politics. But I will make this point to him. It is precisely because of the new, forward-looking positive attitude among Māori leadership that Māori are moving away from the Labour Party. That is why it is happening.
I also acknowledge the contribution—[Interruption] Well, that member, whose electorate covers Te Wai Pounamu, will have to work very hard, because Ngāi Tahu have grasped the settlement National made with them, and that means he will almost certainly lose his seat. I also want to acknowledge the role that Dr Cullen played. Dr Cullen figured out that after 8 years of inaction from the Labour Government on Treaty settlements, something needed to be done. He used his status and his considerable capacities to work with many other people in now bringing together what is, as he himself has said, a historic week of settlements. Well, Dr Cullen at least then has a legacy, and he looks like a man who is pleased with it—his settlements and his KiwiSaver.
Dr Cullen has done his best for the Labour Government by delivering tax cuts in the Budget, and now it all hangs on Helen Clark. It all hangs on Helen Clark. The Labour caucus is sitting there in its meetings each week, waiting, waiting, waiting, for Helen Clark to pull a rabbit out of the hat. I need to tell those members that there is no rabbit and there is no hat. Helen Clark mostly gets it wrong, which is why Labour is doing so badly. How did the fantastically competent leader of the Labour Party manage to lose so much Māori support for Labour? How did she manage to achieve that? It is because she is out of touch. She is out of touch not with political tactics—she is full of political tactics—but with the aspirations of New Zealanders.
Today we have one simple question: why does Helen Clark stand between the New Zealand people and a referendum on the anti-smacking legislation? Why? We know that the smacking issue is controversial and complex, and that in this Parliament many members gave fiery and fine speeches about it. But the one group of people who have never had a direct say in it are New Zealanders. There is an opportunity in the next 3 months for them to have a say and Helen Clark will not let them have it, because she believes that they will do something that she cannot control, that she is not on top of, and that might get out from under her span of control. That is why Labour is taking such a pasting in the public opinion polls. The nanny State is telling us everything, from telling us which light bulbs we have to buy to distributing badges. It is no wonder that those members are losing Māori support, when their Māori education strategy consists of badges with “Wassup!” written on them. How aspirational and ambitious is that? “Let us get down with the 14-year-olds.”, says Labour. “Wassup, bros!” is the standard and the expectation. Those are the limits that Labour imposes on Māori.
The settlement that the member Parekura Horomia referred to today has come about from the Government side simply because Labour knew that it was electoral suicide to go into this election with no settlements, after spending 9 years in Government. That is why Labour did it. Of course, Labour is grabbing a tiger by the tail, because now, as we know, iwi with assets, control, a sense of destiny, and a sense of aspiration do not vote for Labour. That is what happens, because Labour is all about dependency and locked-in votes.
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA (Minister of Customs) : Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker. Anybody listening to the previous speaker would think that National has counted its eggs before they have hatched. In fact, National is sounding very arrogant in terms of what will happen at the next election.
Let us be very clear about the legacy of Labour-led Governments. Let us be very clear about that legacy. It was a Labour Government that started the Waitangi Tribunal. It was a Labour Government that made claims to the Waitangi Tribunal retrospective. It was a Labour Government that affirmed that te reo Māori is an official language of this country. It was a Labour Government that had the Hui Taumata in 1984, which put the question to Māori: “What is your future?”, and asked them how they wanted to determine their way forward. It was a Labour Government that took those very brave steps, at a time when National had said: “No, thanks. We do not want to have anything to do with Māori.”
Let us be very clear about the legacy of Labour-led Governments, because we are very proud to continue that tradition and to be able to support not only Māori development but also the continuation of Treaty settlements; we know that the future of Māori depends on first reconciling and rectifying historical injustice, and that is why we agreed to the settlements. Treaty settlements are a fundamental part of supporting Māori to move forward, to look forward, and to advance. But we cannot advance unless we are prepared to reconcile the past—the injustices that have occurred. Many members on both sides of this House have acknowledged that the Crown has, over time, acted improperly, but it is a Labour Government that has been prepared to make some very brave decisions and to say that we will continue along this path, despite the opposition and negativity we have faced from the National Party. We will continue along this path, because we know that it is fundamental to growing a nation that is committed to ensuring that everybody has a place.
If we look at the proud record of achievement since only 1999, in terms of this Labour-led Government’s contribution to Treaty settlements, we see that we have already completed settlements with Ngāti Mutunga, the people of Te Arawa lakes, Ngā Rauru Kītahi, Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Ruanui, Te Uri o Hau, Pouakani, and Ngāti Tūrangitukua. We continue to advance settlements in other areas. The Minister of Māori Affairs made the point today that this is a very historic time in New Zealand’s history, because iwi have shown something that this Parliament still cannot get a hold of: iwi will, through all adversities, collectivise their interests in the bigger aim of moving forward, whereas this House still fragments itself on the question of Treaty settlements and on the question of Māori advancement and Māori development.
We have a lot to learn, but let me say this in no uncertain terms: we are committed to Treaty settlements because we know that once a historical injustice has been resolved and reconciliation has occurred, then iwi can start to look to themselves to determine their way forward. Our greatest hope and aspiration as a Labour-led Government is that these settlements will contribute to the Māori economy, and to Māori working with Māori in ways that will realise their potential well beyond what this House could even fathom. We understand that, we know that, and we support that. People who listen to the words of the Opposition would be wrong to think that a vision of the future along those lines could be provided by those members. Although those members criticise us, they will not stand in this House and provide solid policy that people can hang their hat on—that would allow them at least to see where those members are going. Nobody knows where they are going; that is the problem.
The other thing that I want to draw to the attention of this House in this debate is in the area of education. Mr English raised comments around Ka Hikitia. Let me tell members the difference between Ka Hikitia and the model of education that the National Government favoured. If someone did not succeed in education under the National Government, that person was out, down the road, and probably on the dole. What Labour wants to see for the future, under Ka Hikitea, is every school and every teacher taking responsibility for the learning outcomes of students. Māori must succeed in education; to let them fail would be absolutely unacceptable to this Government. So Ka Hikitea is about personalised learning, it is about saying that there is no room for failure, it is about accepting that we have to do things differently, and it is especially about providing Māori kids with more pathways to enable them to succeed in education. That is why this Government supports apprenticeship training, as well. That is why this Labour-led Government will work as hard as it can to ensure that there are many pathways for young people to succeed in our society. We will continue along that vein and we are proud to do so.
Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty) : After 9 long years we are now hearing from the Labour Party what it will do for Māori for land settlements, and what it will do for Māori for Treaty of Waitangi settlements. But what we have not heard this afternoon is what Labour will do for job security for Māori who are trying to support their families as the cost of living in this country is rocketing. What Labour did not tell Māori is that there was the biggest drop in employment in this country in the last quarter—the biggest drop since Labour culled the forestry industry during the 1980s. What the previous speaker, Nanaia Mahuta, did not want to tell Māori was that Ruth Dyson said that it was actually quite good that people have been losing their jobs. That is what Labour members did not talk about.
How come Labour members do not talk about what this Government will do to help Māori to feel safe in their homes and on the streets? What will it do to help Māori and other New Zealanders feel safe in their homes and on the streets? What the member did not tell the people was that under this Government violent crime is going through the roof. And what does Annette King say is to blame? She says that the sun, the moon—and now urban design—are responsible for the crime in this country. What she did not want to tell Māori is that her Government’s soft bigotry of low expectations is seeing appalling standards in our education system whereby the best it can do for young Māori is to say “Wassup?”. How patronising it is to think that some young Māori person, at the age of 15, will be inspired by the likes of Professor Des Gorman or inspired by the likes of Papaarangi Reid with a badge that says “Wassup?”. That will not encourage one young Māori person to look at their leaders in this country. There is a need to show role models, and a badge that says “Wassup?” does nothing anywhere near that.
What about Māori in the hospital system and in the New Zealand public health system? What about the thousands of Māori who were culled off the hospital waiting lists 2 years ago—the old people who were told that they could not get their operation because they were guilty of being on the waiting list for more than 6 months? What about the Māori in Auckland, where we have now discovered there is a code purple in our hospitals? It used to be called code red and people had to sit in the emergency department at Waitemata for 36 hours. Now we discover in Auckland that there is a higher level called code purple. North Shore Hospital has been in code purple for some time and it is not able to provide the emergency department care that New Zealanders want. Neither have we heard a word about what the huge ballooning bureaucracy in health is doing to Māori and other patients in this country. How can it be that the health budget has doubled yet fewer people get to see a hospital specialist and fewer people get elective surgery? How can it be that the health budget has doubled yet more people are waiting longer and longer to see a general practitioner? They are waiting longer and longer even to get on a general practitioner’s books. How bad is that?
We have not heard one word heard from the Labour Party about the problems facing the country in this area because this Labour Government has squandered the opportunity of the last 9 years. Families—Māori, Pākehā, Asian, and others—would have been much better able to weather the storm of the economic consequences befalling our country if this Labour Party had rewarded hard work and effort and cut taxes for hard-working New Zealanders. Instead this Government has wasted those good years on a storm of social engineering. The latest example was revealed by Mrs Jo Goodhew yesterday. Hairdressers will now be required to prepare public health risk management plans, as well as apply for a consent from the city council. How ridiculous is that? But it is what this Government has spent its whole time doing.
In relation to the Government’s social engineering on the smacking bill, Helen Clark will not let New Zealanders have even a say. That tells us about the arrogance of the Labour Government. As we travel around this country we meet a lot of people who say they are voting National for the first time because of Labour’s arrogance.
Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Building and Construction) : Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker. Before I turn my attention to the political cockroach of the National Party, I want to celebrate, along with Parekura Horomia, how enjoyable this day has been.
Unfortunately the quality of the day is ruined by the fact that my two Māori colleagues in National have been made to sit down while we suffer the snivelling ranting of that man, who spent all his time opposing the creation and establishment of Māori seats in the regional council area of the Bay of Plenty. The woman who—
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I am sorry to interrupt the member, but I have to warn people in the gallery that this is a debate between members. Thank you.
Hon SHANE JONES: Not unlike the insect for which the man is named, unfortunately he will be back. Not only did he assist Don Brash to spread his recipe of racism and odium, and not only did he work quietly away with Bill English in his failed attempt to spread further untruths about the Treaty and take the National Party to its lowest ebb ever, but also he distinguished himself, in the time that Winston Peters was unfortunate enough to work with National, by every day taking secrets and information away from New Zealand First’s association with National in the 1990s, in order to undermine Winston Peters himself.
The nerve of that man, to stand in this House and displace my tuakana Tau Henare, and to displace Georgina te Heuheu! She is the one who should be speaking in the front line in this debate. She is the one who belongs to the Tūwharetoa tribe, she is the one who has driven it to accept this settlement, and she is the one who has been overlooked by Bill English, with his fetish and his unquenchable thirst for recognition. Every time that the man stands, his thunderous brow shows his bitterness and sourness. There is no future for Te Ao Māori in listening to those two Pākehā. E tau ki raro, tukua ngā Māori kia kōrero.
[They should sit down, and let the Māori members speak.]
Let us hear from our tuakana, Tau Henare. Occasionally he goes veering into territory that he does not know how to get back from, engari, kai te pai, kai te pai. [but it is fine, it is OK.]
Today we need to acknowledge that many iwi are taking great heart from the joy and happiness shown in Parliament. Our Pākehā fellow New Zealanders can take heart from the fact that where goodwill and fairness reign, settlements can be rapidly entered into. Today fairness was evident. That land is not going back to the Crown. Hone Harawira spoke drivel about the Crown setting itself up as judge and jury. He should spend some more time in this House and not go wandering around spreading such half-baked ideas.
This was a great day. From the dust of unhappiness that we saw in the valleys of Tūhoe, they were here doing the loudest hakas and giving the most powerful speeches of acclamation. We were reminded of why Tūwharetoa has a special status in Te Ao Māori by the leadership shown by te upoko o tō rātou kāhui ariki, Tumu te Heuheu. [the head of their paramount chiefs, Tumu te Heuheu.] That only worsens the fact that his sister-in-law was prevented from speaking in this debate; that is shocking. Not only did we see manaakitanga in the form of Ngāti Whare and Ngāti Manawa but also the smaller tribes from te māniania roa o Kaingaroa [the long plain of Kaingaroa] were included, as well. Ngāti Whakaue and Raukawa are people who are easily forgotten, because they live so close to big taniwhas. But they will not be forgotten any more. They are handsome beneficiaries of this settlement, and they should mihi every day to Dr Cullen, who has shown the fortitude and not inconsiderable skills of a magisterial career that links him back to 1981. I say, firstly, we should salute that man and the leaders today who have brought their vision and their willingness to be pragmatic over many of their grievances, to move forward, and to assure fellow New Zealanders there will be an end to this grievance process. Secondly, I say no one is losing. There are no losers here. The pūtea can be used and dedicated to drive economic empowerment, drive economic thinking, and move away from the isolationism that is reflected in much of our Māori kōrero on the marae.
We cannot, as Māori, afford to be isolated. We must join the fray, make relationships, and celebrate the opportunities that will arise when economic power can flow from the sensible stewardship of the settlements. That is what this Government has delivered today. Yesterday it delivered that for the proud people of the Arawa waka. Today it is delivering it for Tainui, Arawa, and Mātaatua. In the near future, it will be delivered for our people from Taranaki and other parts of Aotearoa. That is why the tide is going out on those who are more interested in the politics of isolation. Kia ora tātou katoa.
RON MARK (NZ First) : Can I take a moment to congratulate my whanaunga, my extended whanaunga from Ngāti Raukawa and Te Arawa, on today’s great achievement. I say: “Congratulations whānau; well done!”. I take the opportunity also to reinforce my colleague’s comments about a person whom I have often described as the Uriah Heep of the New Zealand Parliament—that is, the Hon Tony Ryall. I say that, for all of those same reasons that Mr Shane Jones just recounted to the House. One of the most despicable things that I can ever think of is that one would be a partner of a person and would feed information and intelligence from his Government to his opponents, in order to bring down Tukoroirangi Morgan and Tau Henare. The Uriah Heep of the New Zealand Parliament needs to be recognised for what he is. I say: “Trust him—sure can’t.”
It is interesting that once again in recent weeks we have had the scourge of gangs emerging back on our streets. It did not go unnoticed by New Zealand First that down in the deep dark south an Invercargill Mongrel Mob leader made the headlines by telling the nation that he had turned a corner, changed his life, and sought to steer his gang away from crime; the gang had sought to give up their weapons and give up their ways of violence. But within a week he was back in the headlines. In fact, he is under arrest and behind bars, and is facing allegations of arson and the same old criminal goings-on that have brought Māori into disrepute for generations. It is interesting, because I have heard people in this House say: “Oh, the Mongrel Mob are turning round their ways.” In fact, I have been out at Silverstream to a State-funded celebration, which happens every year courtesy of Government funding, and Kim Workman from the Prison Fellowship is there. They line up the Mongrel Mob, complete with their patches, and tell us they have changed their ways. Tell that to Hastings, tell that to Flaxmere, and tell that to Invercargill.
Over the last few days members will have heard New Zealand First ask the Minister a few simple questions in the House. We have asked how many patched gang members, their affiliates, and their associates exist in this country. The Minister tells us it is 3,000 to 3,500. That is interesting because a former Minister George Hawkins told this House there were 10,000 in 1995 and 21,882 in 2002. So what are they saying? Have the numbers gone down? We do not think so. Why is that of concern to New Zealand First? It is of concern because to deal with the problem we first have to accept we have one. We cannot reform alcoholics if they do not say: “I am an alcoholic.” We cannot change the face of gangs in this nation, and the turmoil the gangs unleash on us and the impact they have on our children by feeding them dope and P, if we do not admit to how many there are. Detective Inspector Patrick Boyle of the Asian Squad and the Casino Squad in Victoria Police in 2005 reported to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia: “One of the factors that pose the greatest barrier to successfully addressing a gang problem is the denial of gang presence.” I would add to that—“or the minimising of the size, extent, and impact that that presence has in your community”. If we fail to do that, we condemn ourselves to the future that the gangs dictate. We condemn our current children, our current grandchildren, and our future great-grandchildren to the same scourge and the same impact. We then watch them as they all get flushed down the toilet as well.
It is interesting and poignant right now, because today’s settlement marks a new step forward for many Māori, and the only thing that holds us back is those primeval, Neanderthals in our presence who destroy our mana, destroy our reputation, and take the legacy of our tūpuna and spit upon it, by consistently and continually attacking us and the wider New Zealand, the way they do. It is time this House, and it is time this Government, accepted that we have a huge problem. The Police Association said on television last week that police believe that there are 6,000 members of gangs. They believe that each one of them has five to 10 associates. They believe that the problem is not 3,000; it is 60,000—the size of Napier!
Dr Wayne Mapp: What’s your solution?
RON MARK: I tell Dr Wayne Mapp what New Zealand First will do. We have told him that for 12 years but he has wax in his ears. Actually, he just does not want to know because it is too hard; it is too tough. He and his Government failed for generations, despite all the hard talk, and despite all their ranting now. New Zealand First says that the first step is to make the issue a priority. We must lead from the top and separate the issue out from policing. We must make sure that we pass legislation to make it illegal to be a member of a gang. Do not tell me what the wannabe National Party is going to do.
Dr WAYNE MAPP (National—North Shore) : This week two things have united this Parliament. The first thing goes back two decades, and that is honouring the grievances of the past and settling them. I congratulate the iwi of the central North Island today on that. The second issue is that yesterday the House unanimously supported the Prime Minister’s motion to condemn the Mugabe regime and its fraudulent election.
It is just a pity that the Prime Minister does not have a better appreciation of irony, because on that very same day she told the people of New Zealand that, no, they could not have a vote on something that 10 percent of the population has signed a petition for. She said they could not have a vote at the time at which it would matter most—at a general election. No wonder Tom Scott’s cartoon today made a very apt comparison with the Prime Minister. Who does the Prime Minister think she is? Does she really think she can just issue a decree saying: “No, you can’t vote at the time of a general election.”? That is what she seemed to say again today, and her excuses were completely fatuous.
It is simply absurd to suggest that it is not possible for the Electoral Commission to do something as simple as draft a, literally, one-line ballot paper with the simple question: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”. That is a one-line question that has a simple answer—yes or no. Why would the Prime Minister not want the public to give their answer at a time when 80 percent of New Zealanders will be at the polls? It is an extraordinarily simple thing, and to hear the Prime Minister today with all her excuses is the sort of thing we heard in Zimbabwe, is it not? It took 6 weeks to count one vote—right through March, and right through April—and we are hearing the same kind of fatuous absurdities from the Prime Minister today.
The Prime Minister knows, of course, that she is not correct. She knows perfectly well that the excuses she raised are just that—excuses. She knows that the last possible day on which a vote could be approved is 26 September. That is nearly 2 months before the last possible day for a general election. Well, snap elections can be conducted in 4 weeks—that happened in 1984. In fact, in 2002 the Prime Minister called an early election, and that was done in only 6 weeks. So surely the Prime Minister cannot seriously expect New Zealanders to believe her when she says that it is all too difficult and that we could not possibly have time to organise a referendum at the same time as the election. She does not really need to hear the public’s voice on election day, and she said there is plenty of time to do that by postal ballot. Well, we know the real reason for her stalling tactic, do we not? She does not want the referendum to be yet another reason why the public would say no to her Government.
Ron Mark: Did you vote for the smacking bill?
Dr WAYNE MAPP: I say to Mr Mark that the key issue is not my vote; it is the vote of the public. Surely that is what a democracy is actually about—the public having their say. I have always stood for citizens initiated referenda, because the public should have their say.
The reason why the Prime Minister wants to deny a vote is that she wants to deny the opportunity for the public to say no to her Government. Well, I say to the Prime Minister that the message is very, very clear. She needs to uphold our democracy—that is a simple proposition. A democracy is about people having the right to express their views. So I say to the Prime Minister that she should give the people their vote on a citizens initiated referendum, and at the most relevant time, which is at the general election.
Ron Mark: I seek the leave of the House to ask the member a question.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Well, the member is perfectly entitled to do that, but it is most unusual during a general debate.
Ron Mark: I seek the leave of the House to ask the member a question.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Is there any objection? There is. It has been opposed.
Dr WAYNE MAPP: It is the public of New Zealand that matters. Apparently Ron Mark does not want to hear what the public want to say. He is obviously lining himself up with the Labour Government in denying the public of New Zealand the right to have their say at a citizens initiated referendum.
Ron Mark: That’s a lie!
Dr WAYNE MAPP: Mr Mark should go to the Prime Minister and tell her that she should be telling the public of New Zealand to have that vote.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you give me some guidance? What that member said is clearly not the truth, Mr Assistant Speaker. You know—it is in the Hansard—that New Zealand First called for a referendum during the passing of that bill. So what redress do I have against a member who tells an untruth?
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): The member is of course entitled to say what he likes in the House. We have freedom of speech, and it is a debatable issue.
Dr WAYNE MAPP: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take offence at what the member said earlier—which you heard, Mr Assistant Speaker—about people telling lies, and so forth.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Well—
Dail Jones: I appreciate the opportunity that the member has given New Zealand First to make it clear that what he was saying about supporting a referendum is untrue. We do support a referendum. We proposed it in the bill. It is New Zealand First policy that the member is now trying to support.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you.
Dr WAYNE MAPP: Mr Assistant Speaker, you heard Ron Mark say that I was telling a lie. I ask him to withdraw and apologise for his statement. It is quite simple.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): The member used that particular language. He is a longstanding member and knows he cannot use that language in the House. The member should withdraw and apologise for the use of the word.
Ron Mark: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Am I right in saying that the only way I can address an issue that I believe has been deliberately misrepresented is to take the person to the Privileges Committee?
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): The member cannot actually raise that on the floor of the House. But the member of course can seek leave to make a personal explanation. That is something entirely different.
Dr WAYNE MAPP: As the member well knows, I simply—
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Would Dr Mapp and Mr Mark please be seated. I am on my feet. Dr Mapp, your time has expired.
RON MARK (NZ First) : I wish to make a personal explanation. Just to make it absolutely clear, I voted against the legislation that Mr Mapp voted for, which he spoke of. Secondly, I did so at the time because I was part of a party that called for a referendum. I believed that we needed a referendum then, and I still believe that we need a referendum today. I take exception to people who would misrepresent the truth about New Zealand First’s position on that issue.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you, Mr Mark.
[Greetings to you, Mr Assistant Speaker. To my esteemed greatness, Tainui, Te Arawa, and Mātaatua, a plume, a plume.]
I take as my starting point a quotation from the Deputy Prime Minister’s speech this morning, because I think it actually encompasses what the deed signing was about. He said: “The parties to the Treaty had an opportunity to show that with good will, it was possible for new settlers and indigenous people to gain and learn from each other. But almost immediately, that opportunity slipped away. In the end, our colonial experience was classic, not unique; the mistakes of other nations that we had the chance to avoid, we instead repeated. … We failed to deliver on our obligations of partnership and respect. We failed to deliver full equality for Māori, and we failed to protect the rights of Māori—both their basic human rights and their rights of property.” But the events at the hui of yesterday, today, and āpōpō mean that all is not lost.
However, I am going to tell the people that on the horizon, storm clouds are forming once again. Kai reira he ngārara e noho ana.
[There is a monster sitting over there.]
What has become increasingly apparent is that this ngārara is taking form—hideous, in fact.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Hideous?
Hon MAHARA OKEROA: Hideous. The only policy that National seems to actually hold without flip-flop and fly is the policy on the abolition of Māori seats. I cannot understand, when National has a history of Māori members—icons in New Zealand and Māori history who occupied Tory seats. We have Ngata, we have Pōmare, we have Carroll, we have Te Rangi Hīroa, and we have others. Yet that party is hell-bent on abolishing Māori seats, abolishing our right to make choices, and abolishing our right to have options as tangata whenua. It is almost the same as a Treaty breach, because what that does for you people is that if National wins the next election—and I will certainly win the Te Tai Tonga seat ahead of Bill English—that is the reality that will confront you as a people. Today we were absolutely proud, ka tū mana mai i runga i te kaupapa tuku iho a koro, a kui mā, kua waihongia,
[standing proudly upon the proposal handed down by the elderly men and women,]
and then we have this ngārara sitting there, if National members should assume the Treasury benches. I have some sympathy with the Māori Party, because what will happen is e te hoa, kua ngaro koutou i te iwi, kua ngaro pērā ētahi ō mātou.
[friend, you have lost the people, like some of us.]
I cannot see how talks of coalition can actually go hand in hand with a party that bases its opinion on some research done in a remote university in Canterbury led by a professor of law by the name of Philip Joseph, who says—
Dail Jones: Business Roundtable.
Hon MAHARA OKEROA: Oh, Business Roundtable. Yes, they are mates. I forgot them; put them in. He said separate seats are “a symbol of racial separatism.” and “an insidious form of reverse discrimination” that “sideline Māori … issues”. Like hell they do! That is why you are here today. I have news for Professor Philip Joseph. I tell him to stop living in Ostrich Avenue with his head buried somewhere subterranean. The abolition of Māori seats is not just about the individuals who occupy them at this point in time. He tūnga tohunga tēnā, he reo mō ngā iwi katoa o te motu.
[That is an important role, being an advocate for all the people of the land.]
What it says is you will not have an electorate MP at all in any of those seven seats to represent your specific Māori issues, but they will.
Eric Roy: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am reluctant to interrupt the member, but you have already admonished the gallery for taking part by applause today, yet we have a member—and Speaker’s rulings 45/4 and 45/5 state that a member must not address the gallery—continually using the word “you”. Is he referring to you, Mr Assistant Speaker, or to the gallery? I think if we are going to maintain some level of order, then there needs to be some determination on that.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Can I remind the member that the debate is within the Chamber, so he has to address the Chamber through the Speaker or to the members.
Hon MAHARA OKEROA: Ahakoa kua mōhio au ka noho mai i runga rā, ko te ture o te Whare, me kōrero mai i runga i te papa o te Whare.
[I know that if you sit up there, the rule of the House is that you must speak from the floor.]
I thought that was a rather technical issue, because we have forms of respect that you do not understand. I am referring to that member, not to the Speaker. I am saying here that the dreams of assimilation are the nightmares of our people. Tēnā tātou katoa.
Hon TAU HENARE (National) : I extend my congratulations to a certain group among the people who were here this morning, and they are Tūhoe. For what the Tūhoe community have gone through in Ruātoki, and the bitterness of that, I apologise. I am actually a member of the Crown even though I am not a member of the Government. As I see it, this place of Parliament is the Crown. So I take the opportunity to apologise for the actions of some people up in Ruātoki. I say that because I have a mokopuna now—I am a grandfather of a 2½-week-old grandchild. I and the gentleman sitting on my right share a mokopuna, and that mokopuna is Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Porou, and also Tūhoe. So I thank Tūhoe for coming, and it is wonderful that they are here.
I will cut to the chase—we have only 4 minutes. This is the only time that this House has seen nearly every Māori member of the Labour Party get up and speak. Members listened to the chorus of abuse from the Labour members when Bill English said in this House that this is the first time that the Māori Labour members have been allowed to speak, and speak first, in the general debate. Trevor Mallard got up and said: “Oh no, they’re allowed to speak first in Māori Language Week.” How ridiculous is that?
Let us not forget that it was Labour that introduced the foreshore and seabed legislation, which resulted in the birth of the Māori Party of our brothers and sisters. It was Labour that did it. It was not us. Who was the bad guy in the foreshore and seabed debate? Not us; it was Labour. [Interruption] Oh well, I tell Mr Tanczos we can only wish for the sight of a matakite; unfortunately, we have not got it.
I want to say that Māori success is not all due to Labour; Māori success is due to Māori, and they will succeed with whatever tools that they have at their disposal. It is not because Labour did this, Labour did that, and National did that, National did this. At the end of the day it has nothing to do with what Governments do, but it has everything to do with what Māori want to do and are able to achieve.
Sue Moroney: What will you do about the Māori electorates? What’s Tau’s position?
Hon TAU HENARE: Oh well, that person has just had an enlightening time being part of a Māori caucus, and now she knows everything about being Māori. Well, congratulations; nau mai, piki mai, kake mai, and all of that.
This is what Labour gives to Māori education: Ka Hikitea. Millions and millions of dollars are spent on a book that says nothing, that produces nothing, and that does not give Māori education anything except a bloody badge to wear that states “Wassup!”. Well, I thank the Government for the badge that says “Wassup!”. “Wassup!” is the total sum of its thinking about Māori education. What about a full run-out of Te Kōtahitanga programme? Oh no, there is nothing like that, because it is successful. Do members know why it is successful? Because it is not run by the Government, just like matua whāngai, just like kōhanga reo, just like kura, and just like wānanga. It is not run by the Government; it is run by Māori.
Sue Moroney: It is. It comes from the school of education in Waikato. It is funded by the Government.
Hon TAU HENARE: I tell that member to please be quiet and go back to the farm. Labour members can continue on a path of righteousness only if they are here. Let me tell the House about a little something that Labour members may not have noticed in the polls on the weekend, and let me make it quite clear: the National Party is not taking today’s events as Labour having a clear winning shot at the election.
LOUISA WALL (Labour) : Kia ora, Mr Assistant Speaker. Tēnā koutou katoa. It is my pleasure to take this call in this general debate. It has been an exciting day with the signing of the deed of settlement for the central North Island iwi collective. This is the biggest single Treaty settlement in dollar terms and in terms of the number of people—over 100,000 individuals. It is also the biggest in terms of the amount of land—some 170,000 hectares. That is a huge commitment to historical Treaty of Waitangi redress, and I am proud to belong to a party that has helped broker such a deal.
Labour has a plan for the future. Māori are a central part of New Zealand’s future, and our policies are all about building on Māori assets and achievement in partnership with Māori. Central to this is our position on Te Tiriti o Waitangi. I note a quote from Dr Cullen, who said: “the place of the Treaty in New Zealand today in one sense … is a simple one. It is that it is a living document which provides an orderly framework for the settlement of historical grievances and the resolution of ongoing debates about the rights of the original inhabitants and owners of the land.” It is acknowledgment of us as tangata whenua. So for Labour the Treaty is very important.
What is National’s position? National members think the Treaty is an irrelevance, actually. National members on the Health Committee, led by Tony Ryall, last week voted against inclusion of the Treaty of Waitangi in the Public Health Bill. So, as usual, National voted against it. What about other parties? The Greens voted for the Treaty clause, New Zealand First voted for the Treaty clause, and I note that although Tariana was not present at the actual vote, the Māori Party too, at a prior meeting, indicated its support for the inclusion of a Treaty clause. So what hope would there be for Māori in the Treaty settlement process if National were to gain a mandate, given its position on the Treaty?
This is a typical position of the Opposition. It has no thought for today, no thought for tomorrow, and no thought for the future. Unlike my Labour team and our leader, Helen Clark, Opposition members do not have a long-term relationship with Māori or a long-term emphasis on supporting and working with Māori. So what would National do for Māori? Actually, of its 14 policies I think there is only one related to Māori, and that is to abolish the Māori seats with no consultation and no kōrero. They would rather listen to the Business Roundtable and a non-Māori academic. Will Māori put up with this? I know they will not. Frankly, National has no plan for the future development of Māori. I recall that John Key’s mentor, Don Brash, actually thought about scrapping Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Māori Development. Anō, no consultation and no kōrero; just the privileged National Party telling Māori how to live their lives.
I have one more point, starting with a quote from John Key when speaking about National’s Treaty settlement policy in early March 2008. He said: “in attempting to distinguish between our current position and the formal policy document that will follow later this year, I gave the impression that National did not have a date for the settlement of historical Treaty claims. This was wrong.” I am not sure exactly what was wrong but apparently National’s slogan is that all historical Treaty settlements will be completed by 2014. I note that it is now later in the year, and still there is no policy and no detail. That is typical of National.
Labour is the only major party that is delivering actual and tangible benefits for Māori. We will continue to do so, and we will continue to build on the relationships we have. So at Rātana Pā next year, we will be there; at the Kīngitanga hui and coronation, we will be there; and at the annual Māori Women’s Welfare League hui, we will be there. For Labour this is simply business as usual. The National Party never comes to any of these events, it does not have any ongoing relationships with Māori, and it never will. It wants to get rid of the Māori seats, and it does not have any commitment to historical redress.
So what is business as usual for me? Well, I will tell members a little bit about what I did during the last adjournment. For me it is all about the future, and it is all about our children—it is all about our tamariki me mokopuna. For us, as identified this morning, it is all about education. Māori now have an economic base where we can start mobilising our young people so that they can be the directors, they can be the lawyers, and they can be the doctors that will service not only our people but the rest of New Zealand. We have a commitment to being part of this country. The National Party does not think that we have any right to be part of this country. It does not think that our status as tangata whenua has any value whatsoever.
NICKY WAGNER (National) : After 9 long years Labour is absolutely out of touch with all the New Zealand people. There has been too much emphasis on public relations. There has been too much spin and too much of “It’s all about me.” Ordinary Kiwis in the street are not interested in spin; they think they are being manipulated. They are not interested in public relations; they think it is a waste of taxpayers’ money. They do not think that life should be all about the politicians; they think it should be about the people.
The Māori proverb is right: He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people. New Zealand belongs to the people. It is the people who do the work, it is the people who pay the bills, and it is the people who contribute in every possible way. Government should be all about respecting and serving the people, but that is not the case with this Labour Government.
The know-it-all Labour Government shuts its ears to the people. Although Parliament is designed to encourage the voice of voters, Labour shuts it down as much as possible. On select committees the Government controls the process so that submitters who do not support the Government position are inconvenienced and time-limited. Submitters against the Government stance on the Real Estate Agents Bill, the Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill, and the Electoral Finance Bill have complained bitterly about their treatment.
The know-it-all Government shuts its ears to the people. Parliament allows for citizens initiated referenda, but to qualify for one there is a high threshold: 10 percent of the voting public need to support it. In the case of the petition relating to the anti-smacking legislation, hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders have gone to the trouble to sign, and that petition has been presented to Parliament. But Helen Clark, with ears firmly closed, claims that it is too late to run a referendum alongside the general election. That is outrageous nonsense and an arrogant manipulation of the truth. In 1999 the National Government took only a week to determine that Norm Withers’ petition for a referendum on violent crime could be held on election day—only 1 week! National listened to the people, so why can Labour not do so?
The know-it-all Labour Government shuts its ears to the people. An election is a time when voters can learn about political parties, their people, and their policies. It is a time to appraise options and to understand individual parties and their visions for the future. It is a time for engagement, for talk, for debate, and for a free flow of information and opinion. Labour’s Electoral Finance Act is designed to shut that down. The bill was so rushed, the provisions were so complex, and the penalties were so draconian that no one knows how to manage it.
The Electoral Finance Act has scared off the public—they will not have a say. Why would they get involved? The Electoral Finance Act has paralysed legitimate contributors to the process who need to have a say, and it puts all politicians who have to work under its rules at risk. The rules change by the day. No one knows what the detail means. Ironically, it is the Labour MPs who are mostly breaking the law, but all MPs run the risk of acting illegally.
Labour is a tired, old, and cranky Government. Its MPs are indulged and arrogant. Not only have they forgotten that it is their job to listen to the voting public but, worse, they are trying to reconfigure the parliamentary process so that the public cannot be heard. Labour must not be allowed to deny democracy.
SUE BRADFORD (Green) : The law and order parties in this House were given a tremendous bonus a couple of weeks ago when the sequence of four tragic murders in South Auckland sparked a ferocious law and order reaction around the country, in the media, and in this Parliament. Knee-jerk reaction has come from all sides. The Green Party understands the sorrow, anger, and despair felt by all those affected by the recent deaths. There is no denying the sense of personal insecurity and fear that comes from living in an area where violent crime seems insidious and apparently unstoppable.
However, what we do not need more of is simplistic solutions about building more prisons or shutting down some liquor outlets, desirable though the latter might be. Neither of these measures will, in the end, solve the underlying causes of individual irresponsibility and social dislocation. Rather, we should be listening to people like Manurewa Community Board member Alan Johnson and Pacific Island journalist Tapu Misa, who have rather different ideas about the causes of what is going on in South Auckland, and about the solutions. They both talk about the indifference that communities in places like Manurewa have faced over the last 30 years—on a number of levels; not just about the indifference shown by the thugs who killed their fellow citizens.
The reality is that some people are the living embodiment of the impact of two and a half decades of Government policies that deliberately caused unemployment and poverty, and then neglected those who copped it the worst. In the 1980s Rogernomics saw hundreds of thousands of people deliberately made unemployed in the name of our joining the brave new world of the globalised economy. In the early 1990s National deepened the crisis by slashing benefits and bringing in the Employment Contracts Act. The fact that Labour came in 8½ years ago and began to try to compensate for all of that, aligned with much lower unemployment, has not been enough to make up for all that was lost in the 1980s and 1990s. Many people in communities like some of those in South Auckland and elsewhere have lost their connection to the workforce, to a living income, and to any sense of belonging to what some of us would call mainstream society.
The result is as we see it now—a cross-generational pattern of crime, addictions, physical and mental illness and injury, anger, and disconnection. On top of this, another generation of children and young people are coming through in the same mode, and the Bible will not necessarily save them. I think the most telling figures in this debate have been those presented by Alan Johnson in the New Zealand Herald last week. He said that in Manurewa there are places for only 36 percent of local preschoolers, compared with the national average of 64 percent. In Randwick Park, the site of the liquor store murder, there are early childhood places for only 20 percent of preschoolers there. As I asked the Prime Minister yesterday, what commitment is there from the Government to working as fast as possible to remedy these gaps?
At the same time, we have Government policies that on the income side of things deliberately discriminate against the children of the poor by giving a special extra in-work payment to families where at least one parent is in paid work, but denying that payment to beneficiary families. I cannot fathom why politicians and political parties do not seem to understand the unmistakable connections between ongoing poverty and alienation, and one of its key outcomes, violence. We would have a much happier and more personally secure society for all of us if we had a whole lot more equity—if we shared what we had on a much fairer basis than we do at present. To put it simply, children who grow up in financially secure households, with access to quality education from preschool onwards, are a lot less likely to go out randomly killing people when they reach adulthood. There is a lot more that could be said about the causes of recent events, and about solutions, and I do not want to pretend that the answers are simple, but the Green Party would welcome a far more thoughtful debate on this, as we go into the election, than the one that is currently taking place.
- The debate having concluded, the motion lapsed.
Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations) : I move, That the Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill be now read a first time. At the appropriate time I intend to move that the bill be considered by the Māori Affairs Committee. I do not intend to move any special instructions to that committee; I rely upon its good sense and cooperation in trying to return the bill as quickly as possible, taking account of all the submissions that may be made.
It is traditional at this point to acknowledge and recognise the longstanding historical grievances of the settling group, to outline their claims, and to express a hope that the settlement legislation will allow the claimants and the Crown to start afresh. This settlement and this bill are somewhat different from most we have seen before. Unlike other claims settlement bills, the bill does not provide for an apology or seek to settle all the historical claims of the relevant iwi.
This settlement addresses only claims as far as licensed Crown forest land is concerned, and leaves until the future negotiations over four redress packages for each of the iwi in the collective. This is not to say that the settlement pays no heed to the grievances of the past. The Crown has recognised that the iwi of the central North Island have well-founded historical grievances, and that the Crown has a duty to settle those grievances with redress. Although the central North Island iwi share interests in the Crown forest land, they have different experiences and different historical relationships with the Crown. It is complex enough to resolve the interwoven claims of the forest land; negotiating collectively seven separate historical accounts would be well nigh impossible.
Yesterday saw the first reading of Te Pūmautanga o Te Arawa legislation, which will settle that iwi’s comprehensive claim. Without the affiliate Te Arawa group’s willingness to put its forest claims back on the table for this process, we may not have seen today’s deed of settlement signing. And this settlement is just the beginning of the settlement process for the remaining collective iwi, though it is a very remarkable beginning. We have work to do, but I am confident that together we will solve the single most intractable problem of the settlement process, and in doing so we will deliver its greatest asset into Māori hands.
In about an hour—because we are making quite rapid progress in other respects—we will sign terms of negotiation with Raukawa, one of the seven iwi. We are about to be able to pick up negotiations with Ngāti Manawa where they were left off as part of developing the collective process, and we are in negotiations with Ngāti Tūhoe. So we will make progress on the remaining comprehensive claims of the other iwi apart from the affiliate Te Arawa iwi and hapū.
The iwi of the collective comprise over 100,000 individuals. They have interests that span a major proportion of the Central North Island, and this settlement relates to 176,000 hectares of central North Island Crown forest land. This settlement, of course, has its roots in that land and in the contention that has surrounded it for the last 20 years. The Crown Forest Assets Act was passed in 1989. It was assumed that it would last about 3 or 4 years until all the Crown forest land claims were settled. We are now in 2008. The Act was passed as a result of hard-fought and successful litigation on the part of Māori. The Act protected Māori interests in the land under the forests while allowing the cutting rights to be licensed out. The rentals from those licences were set aside until the claims over the forest could be resolved, and that has taken much longer than anyone hoped.
The complexity of iwi relationships in the central North Island has been a small part of that, but only a very small part. The Crown embarked on the process, however, of settling historical Treaty claims at an iwi level, while early groupings, like the volcanic interior plateau project, clustered around claim numbers. It has taken us a long time to develop an approach that suits both the Crown and iwi. The greatest credit for this achievement goes to the collective itself, for designing and embarking on the process that has been followed through to this conclusion. There are, of course, different tribal identities and different histories in respect of the Crown, but there is a common interest in unlocking the settlement. Most important, they have taken on the task of sharing out the assets amongst themselves, rather than leaving the Crown to try to achieve that task. We are very satisfied that the collective will fairly allocate the shares of the commercial assets, and that sufficient remains to address the historical claims of those who have remained outside the collective.
One of these groups is Ngāti Rangitihi, who until recently were part of the collective. They have not been able to endorse the settlement, and they are currently considering their options. Although Ngāti Rangitihi is not included in the settlement legislation, the Crown and the collective are holding open a window of opportunity for them to agree to the settlement within the next 6 months. If the Crown can be satisfied that there is broad support for the settlement within that iwi, it will be included in this bill through a Supplementary Order Paper, and provision has been made in the deed of settlement for that process.
The bill gives effect to the undertakings by the Crown in the deed, and that includes Crown forest land to the value of $196 million. This is a positive settlement for all the people of New Zealand. The collective has agreed to preserve and enhance existing public access to the central North Island forest estate, for the continued enjoyment of all New Zealand. That is not what is provided for in the Crown Forest Assets Act of 1989, so the collective has made a big concession in that regard to the general public. In addition, there are substantial and widespread economic benefits.
This settlement will make the collective the largest single landowner in the forestry sector in this country, and one of the largest investors. The plan is to increase that investment and generate greater value and higher returns, so the Crown is working with the collective on developing that plan. The future role in the industry for the collective iwi will be positive for their members, industry participants, the wider region, and the nation as a whole. Not least, of course, is the fact that the uncertainty around the future ownership of the land is removed. It can also be noted that the rights of the current licence holders remain unchanged under this settlement.
I have done so already today at greater length, but I have no hesitation in doing so again in the House. I ask the House to join with me in thanking the people who have made all this happen, particularly Te Ariki Dr Tumu te Heuheu, who led the collective’s earlier approaches to the Crown; Rawiri Te Whare, whose leadership of Te Pūmautanga o Te Arawa was crucial; the Crown facilitator, Wira Gardiner, for his peerless efforts in assisting the Crown and iwi throughout this process; and, finally, all the members of the collective who participated in these discussions and make today possible. Their children will one day thank them for it, and indeed many of the children were here today to participate in today’s events.
A number of colleagues from all sides of the House shared today in the moving ceremony that marked the signing of the deed of settlement. I thank them for their presence—their affirmation of support for this particular settlement. This is an important day in the history of treaty settlements in our country. It will allow the Crown and central North Island iwi to move to settle the remaining claims in the region, as Te Pūmautanga o Te Arawa have already done. I commend the bill to the House.
[To my elders, men and women alike, the mothers and fathers, the young grandchildren, greetings to you, greetings to you, and greetings to you all.]
Once again I am pleased to stand in Parliament and join with colleagues across this Chamber to contribute to the first reading of the Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill. This follows yesterday’s introduction to the Affiliate Te Arawa Iwi and Hapu Claims Settlement Bill, and given the kinship and the whakapapa ties that span the iwi and hapū of the central North Island it is fitting that the House’s programme has been organised to have the one follow the other. That is very organised, I might say.
This is a great day indeed for the iwi of the central North Island—te manawa o te ika, as one of the elders described it this morning, and I have to say, leaving aside what others may think of that description, I thought that was a very fine description. But, no doubt, it is open to debate. Te manawa o te ika—if the presence here today of those representatives from that area is anything to go by, then that heart is beating very strongly.
I want to join with others in Parliament in congratulating Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Whare, Raukawa, and Te Pūmautanga on the settlement today. I also want to pay tribute to Ngāti Rangitihi, and I urge them to join. The door has been left open, as Dr Michael Cullen has said. But I pay tribute to them for allowing this settlement to go forward today, and I hope they will see their way fit to join. As I said, the door has been left open.
It takes great, great courage and a form of leadership over and above the norm to secure and sign a settlement. All who have gathered here today can rightly feel a sense of pride for the leadership that has been on display. I am very proud to see it; indeed we all are in this House. It leads to an agreement that clearly has wide support. It represents over 100,000 people. It is a significant settlement in terms of quantum. That means that all the work, all the dedication, and all the arguments—the raruraru—that no doubt have been part of this in previous times have all come to this, and they have all been absolutely worth it.
Let us make no mistake: exceptional leadership is required to sign off on a settlement the original injustice of which goes back several generations and the ramifications of which flow on to future generations. The responsibility for that cannot be underestimated. Sometimes the task can look so complex that lesser people might say: “I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think we should do this.”, or might ask: “Should we do this for the sake of our mokopuna?” The answer clearly is yes. To do so shows vision and courage, as I said, and, in my view, it shows a great compassion and love for the people. Those values are not always on show in our national consciousness on a daily basis, so it is a great pleasure to witness them on display at a time like this and exercised by te iwi Māori. Kia ora.
This is a significant milestone in the life of the iwi as well as in the life of this Parliament. It is a little ironic, then, that these settlements, being so historic, are always so difficult to secure. But I suppose that makes them all the more significant. Indeed, in respect of the settlement before us, it was not 12 months ago that some of the parties to this settlement were in court to stop the Government settling one part of the central North Island forestry so as not to prejudice the interests of the other.
The lesson to learn from that, especially by those in this House, is that Māori seek only what they believe is rightfully theirs in the law—both in Treaty law and in the common law we have inherited from England. Those are the rights that Māori have properly sought for the last 160 years, and those are the rights that have been secured today and in previous settlements. That is a great legacy to pass on to our mokopuna—that we have sought only what was due in the law.
In any event, it is great to see a settlement like this come to the House and join the others that have passed into law on the basis of the platform for Treaty settlements initiated by Jim Bolger and the National Government in the 1990s and carried forward by the Hon Doug Graham and by the present Labour Government, albeit as I said yesterday, in the beginning with a bit of an attitude of fits and starts. But here we are today; I have given credit where it has been due, and it is a great privilege to stand for this.
I turn now to the settlement. Dr Cullen has talked about what it comprises. It gives effect to the vesting of central North Island Crown forest land and the transfer of accumulated rentals in relation to those lands, it records certain principles and processes by which the allocation of the forest land is to be achieved, and it records the allocation agreed by the collective for distribution of the accumulated rentals. Important, for the benefit of those other New Zealanders who might be listening, is that it excludes the jurisdiction of the courts and Waitangi Tribunal in relation to the historical central North Island forest land claims of this collective, and there are other provisions that are also important but which I will not list.
I want to flag just one area, because it is likely that this settlement will not pass through all its stages during the term of this Labour Government. I am not sure what the Minister has plans for, but in case it does not, then clearly it may fall to a National Government to complete the legislation. One of the issues, I guess, we might be exploring at the select committee is the question of mana whenua as being the key to allocation. Far be it for me to question that, because I must say it was a unique development and one that I saw with interest, and I hope it will work in the best interests of not just the current generation but the mokopuna of the future.
I flag that National would be looking for a process that, even if based on mana whenua, still has elements of transparency, accountability, and a record of the decisions that are made. In the future we want those who look at this settlement to be certain that the processes on which the settlement was shared was robust. That is the only comment I would make on the settlement today.
I am so proud to have been in this Parliament when Treaty settlements have been a key feature of the legislation that has been passed. I also want to say that National stands on its record of Treaty settlements, of the introduction of kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa Māori, and wānanga—even the broadcasting platform that the current Māori Television was developed on. We have a proud record, which we stand on. If we occupy the benches opposite in a few months’ time, we will be happy to do what we can to make sure that this and coming settlements are duly legislated for. More than anything, we stand with iwi for economic development. No one will love us Māori more than we should love ourselves—no one. Everything that Māori have achieved to date basically has been because, in the end, compassion and leadership for the people has been important. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.
Hon MITA RIRINUI (Associate Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations) :Otirā, Tainui waka, Waikato taniwha rau, he piko he taniwha, he piko he taniwha, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou. Mātaatua waka mai i ngā kurī ā Whārei ki te Tihirau, tae atu ki te tuawhenua, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou. Ā, Te Arawa waka mai i Maketū ki te tonga, ā, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou. Tēnā koutou ngā tini kārangarangatanga kei waenganui i a koutou kua tatū mai rā i roto i te Whare Miēre, e kīa nei, ko te ana o ngā raiona, tēnā koutou, hara mai, hara mai, hara mai. Hara mai rā i runga i te āhuatanga o te kaupapa e kawe nei e koutou. Nā tō tātou ariki a Te Tumu koutou i arataki mai i te huarahi, koia nei rā koutou kua huihui mai i tēnei rā, i runga i te rangi mārie, i runga i te ngākau māhaki. Hoi anō tēnei rā e mihi ake, tēnā koutou, otirā, kia ora tātou.
[Greetings to you, indeed, the canoe of Tainui, and the river of Waikato where there is a chief at every bend, greetings. To the canoe of Mātaatua from the dogs at Whārei to Tihirau, including the hinterlands, greetings to you, greetings to you, and greetings to you. And greetings to you, the canoe of Te Arawa, from Maketū to the south, greetings, greetings. To the many callings among you who have arrived here in the Beehive, referred to as the lions’ den, greetings to you, welcome, welcome, welcome. Welcome in the circumstances of the proposal that you bring with you. Our paramount chief, Te Tumu, has guided you on the way, and that is why you are gathered here serenely and with dignity today. Enough; greetings to you and to us.]
Madam Assistant Speaker, once again it will come as no surprise to you that I stand in support of the Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill. And, once again, I declare a conflict of interest. Let it not be stated that I did not do that, because it is appropriate that I do so.
I have to say—and other members in this House may have had the privilege—that never in the 8½ years I have been a member of this House have I had such an experience. Never have I had such an honour as to be standing here speaking to such a dignified people—people who have guided their people, all their marae, through a very difficult process to bring this very, very important kaupapa into the House. It is also very rare to actually introduce two settlement bills that benefit the same people in one week, let alone within 2 days. That in itself is a major achievement.
I will not divide political parties on this issue; rather, apart from congratulating the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Dr Michael Cullen, I thank all the members in this House for the support they have given to this very, very important legislation. I acknowledge also the leadership and the incredible skills demonstrated by Dr Tumu te Heuheu, who has led the collective of Te Arawa, Mātaatua, and Tainui in bringing this bill to the House.
For the negotiators, who have had to deal with some very, very complicated and difficult issues, there needs to be a higher level of acknowledgment, as well. They have been through some difficult times. Some of them, and their families, have been ridiculed unnecessarily, but they have stood firm on their mission. They have stood strong on their kaupapa, and they are here today on this wonderful occasion. I see amongst their representation many, many young people—youth, Māori youth, rangatahi, secondary school students, our future. It is with them that this legacy will rest going forward. I hope they do not think that what they witnessed in this House this afternoon is normal practice in this House; it is not. I say to them that if ever they represent their people here, they do not have to lower themselves to that standard. So I say to those young people: kei runga kei a koutou ngā moemoeā o koro mā, o kui mā mō ngā tau kei te heke mai.
[the aspirations of the old people, men and women, for the future are upon you.]
I wish them all the best going forward.
There is not a lot more to say about this particular day. In fact, I am so humbled by what I have seen and experienced—as I am sure most of our members are—that I actually find myself, on this very rare occasion, stuck for words. But I applaud the passion and the emotion that has been demonstrated today in Parliament with the signing of this very, very important deed of settlement. Not only that, but the ink on the document is not even dry yet and here we are in this House conducting the first reading of the bill. If that is not commitment to advancing Māori going forward—commitment to Māori development—then I do not know what is. But that is the case today, and certainly, I have to congratulate everybody who has been involved.
Some issues have been difficult to deal with, as there always are. It would be very easy to flick these issues into the too-hard basket, move on, and say that somebody else should resolve them, but that has not been the case in this settlement. I give as an example Taranaki iwi. Four iwi have settled their claims and four iwi are waiting to come forward to engage with the Crown. There is an issue for them with regard to their collective interest, or their shared interest, in te maunga Tītōhia a Taranaki, and those issues cannot be resolved until all the iwi are in the same position at the same time.
It is only fair that the Crown show patience in allowing Taranaki iwi to complete their specific interests before starting to deal with their common interests, as it did with Tainui when they settled their historical land claims in the 1990s. Tainui had the outstanding issue of their interest in the Waikato River, and a number of overlapping issues had to be resolved. I congratulate all those iwi involved on the manner in which they conducted themselves in sitting down with the Crown and actually laying down the kaupapa they thought appropriate to resolve these matters in terms of co-management and the health of the river going forward. What we saw from those iwi was the ability to be flexible, and what we are seeing here today in terms of this collective is a strong desire for them to determine not only the process but also the manner in which the assets should be shared equally amongst the interested groups.
I acknowledge again the presence here today of the tribal confederations of Tainui, Mātaatua, and Te Arawa—all from around my area, by the way, and that is why I declare my conflict of interest. The young people here who are witnessing this very, very important occasion, and those out in TV land who are watching this debate and are seeing what is happening here today, can be very, very proud of the people who have represented them, and I wish them all the best for the future.
I again thank the Hon Dr Michael Cullen for the specifics he described in relation to the settlement legislation in the House today. There is no need for me to repeat what has been said. I also acknowledge the previous speaker, my whanaunga from Ngāti Tūwharetoa, the Hon Georgina te Heuheu, for her contribution to this debate this afternoon. But I will say that there are some great speeches yet to be heard this afternoon, and I will leave some space so that new issues and new comments can be brought up in the debate this afternoon.
Once again, I acknowledge the presence here today of some very, very important people and their supporters from all around the country. Although we have our tribal rohe, our people are well spread, not only around Aotearoa but also around the world, and they are very interested in what is happening today.
Nō reira, kei te Kaihautū, otirā, ngā mātāwaka katoa, e Te Tumu koutou rā i ārahi mai i te kaupapa i runga i te huarahi, koia nei kua tatū ki roto i te Whare i te pō nei. Nō reira tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
[So to you, Madam Assistant Speaker, to all ethnic groups, and indeed to you, Te Tumu, who guided this proposal, it has landed here tonight in the House at last. So greetings to you, greetings to you, and greetings to us all.]
Hon TAU HENARE (National) : Ā, te mea tuatahi ki a au e aku rangatira, tēnā koutou. Tēnā koutou i haere mai i tēnei rā. Nō reira, mihi kau atu au i a koutou. He hōnore nui tēnei ki te tū ki te kōrero ki mua i a koutou. Nō reira, tēnā koutou katoa.
[The first thing for me is to acknowledge you, my leaders, greetings. Greetings to you collectively, who came here today. I acknowledge you greatly. This is indeed is a great honour for me to stand and speak before you. Therefore, greetings to you all.]
To Pūmautanga, Raukawa, Ngāti Whare, Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Tūhoe, tēnā koutou and congratulations. To Rāwiri Te Whare and Wira Gardiner, congratulations on a sterling job. To the Hon Michael Cullen, again—twice in 2 days—my congratulations on your passion—
R Doug Woolerton: Careful!
Hon TAU HENARE: Yes, careful! I congratulate the Deputy Prime Minister. He has shown what passion can do when it is introduced to a job that needs finishing. I also want to mihi a mate of mine, whom I have worked with only over the last couple of years—the unsung hero of the team, Mita Ririnui. All of those people I have mentioned deserve a pat on the back, a “Well done!”, and a hot cup of tea. I tell them now to get on with the job that Māori have been waiting to do for centuries.
I would like to turn my thoughts to Ngāti Rangitihi and to suggest that whatever their decision is it will be respected and honoured. As they say at Wimbledon: “The ball is in your court.” Whatever decision is made by Ngāti Rangitihi will be theirs and theirs alone, and in the fullness of time we will see what their decision brings with it. I ask them to please not be too hard on those of our whānau who disagree with the settlement, and there will be some. That, I suppose, is par for the course, because we live in a democracy. We live in a society where it is good to agree, and it should also be good to disagree now and then.
I ask them also to be kind to our whanaunga Maanu Paul. We may raise our eyebrows at the decisions of individuals and even of hapū and iwi, but it is their decision and we should honour those people. Let us not forget the sterling work that Maanu Paul and the likes of Maanu Paul have contributed to Māori society over the last 25 years—this is not just about today.
The tribal historians will be burning the midnight oil again tonight. I think it is great that we are in the midst of change, of moving forward. As my colleague Mita Ririnui said in terms of the honour he feels, maybe one day Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Hine will be in the same boat, so to speak, as our whanaunga in the gallery—in a couple of years maybe.
The significance of this settlement is not lost on a lot of people. I want to look at it another way. Some years ago we had the Sealord’s settlement, and there will be comparisons with Sealord’s and—unfortunately—“Treelords”. I was not the one to use that phrase, and I do not think the Government coined the phrase, but, unfortunately, it has stuck somewhat. Sealord’s was not widely accepted and it still evokes a passionate discussion about whether it was right or wrong. Wherever we go, somebody somewhere will jump up at a hui and say “Sealord’s sucks.” I do not think they will say the same thing about this deal. Sealord’s still evokes a passionate debate like no other. Sealord’s evokes some questions and some statements from people, such as: “I’m still waiting for my fish. Even a chocolate fish would suffice.”
Hon Trevor Mallard: The member’s had too many chocolate fish.
Hon TAU HENARE: That is absolutely correct. I have eaten far too many chocolate fish, and maybe I will eat a chocolate forest one day—a gateau.
The “Treelords” deal has been absolutely widely accepted, even the allocation method, and this is where it strikes me as being brilliant to a T. The allocation method has been sorted out before the signing and not left until after. Those who thought of that must be congratulated to the fullest. Here is the collective’s allocation method: “The collective iwi have agreed to allocate their share of the land amongst themselves on the basis of mana whenua and in accordance with the process governed by the principles of tikanga Māori. The allocation process will be completed by 1 July 2011.”
What that little wee bit says is, I think, revolutionary—not to some but to others. I think that it behoves us all, when we are dealing with other iwi and even other methods, whether it be in health, education, transport, or whatever, to have a look at that revolutionary thought process. So I too congratulate everybody who has been part of this deal.
I want to raise just one more issue that has been brought to our attention. It is about the recreational use of the forests. We know there are people out there who love to tramp through the forest. They like to put on their boots, stick a pack on their backs, and wander through the bush. I do not like doing that, but some other people do. So one of the questions is about access to the forests, and the use of the forests and the lakes and rivers within those forests. It is something that the select committee undoubtedly will have a look at when the submissions come through.
I have one more point about what the people saw before the debate. I take the point that Mita Ririnui raised with the House about what went on. It takes two to tango; that is the House, and most of us love the banter and the style of debate. Can I say to whoever is listening that I do not take that outside the House. I love it, and that is why I am here.
Madam Assistant Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak again to you all; and to my co-grandfather, Joe McDougall: ngā mihi nui ki a koe e te matua. Mihi kau atu au ki a koe. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora mai tātou katoa.
[Huge greetings to you, sir. I acknowledge you greatly. Therefore, greetings, and greetings to you collectively, and to us all.]
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations) : I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I raise an unusual point. I want to apologise to the House for leaving during this debate, because we have the Raukawa signing of terms of negotiation upstairs. So I need to absent myself.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Marian Hobbs): Thank you.
PITA PARAONE (NZ First) :Ā, tēnā hoki koutou ngā waka o Tainui, Te Arawa, Mātaatua, ā, me ngā mātāwaka puta noa, ki a koutou hoki i tau i roto i te Whare i te rā nei i runga i te kaupapa e pā ana ki a ngāi tātau, arā, ko te pire kia whakatau te kēreme o ngā iwi o te rohe i mōhiotia i a tātou, ko te manawa o Te Ika-a-Māui. Nā reira, tēnā koutou. Kei te tautoko ahau i ngā mihi, ngā tangi hoki ki te hunga i takahia te ara whānui i whakahoki i a rātou ki te ao wairua. Ka ea te wāhi kōrero mō rātou, ka hoki mai ki a tātou o te ao tū roa, tēnā tātou katoa.
- [An interpretation in English was given to the House.]
[So greetings to you, the canoes of Tainui, Te Arawa, and Mātaatua, including the ethnic groups throughout, and to you collectively, too, who have landed here in the House today in respect of the proposal that relates to all of us, the proposal to settle the claim of the people of the region that we are told is the heart of the North Island. I endorse the tributes and tears bestowed upon those who have trod the wide path that takes them to the world of the spirits. The part for them has been satisfied; I come back to us of the world of the living, greetings to us all.]
In my introductory comments in the first reading of the Affiliate Te Arawa Iwi and Hapu Claims Settlement Bill I declared a vested interest, given my whakapapa links to one of the tribes mentioned in that bill. Well, today I do the same, but I recognise that my vested interest is much greater in this bill than in that of yesterday, because I am referring to the waka Mātaatua. I hope that as a consequence of those whakapapa links, I may become a beneficiary of this settlement bill. However, I know that that is stretching the imagination. But I will take this opportunity of congratulating the principals of the iwi groups represented in this bill on bringing it to this stage.
An earlier speaker mentioned that today is a day of celebration for Māori. I would suggest in this House that this celebration not be limited to Māori but be one where the whole country should join in. I was privileged to be in attendance today and to witness history being made, and I ought to say that this is the first such signing where I have been in attendance. I should also say that during the formalities—and, in particular, the signing of the agreement by the iwi representatives—I felt a sense of history as to what it must have been like all those 168 years ago, when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed by our iwi representatives of the time. Unlike the debate that was held before the signing of that document, which is very significant to this country, this signing proceeded without any comment of dissent. To my mind, the significance of the way that the ceremony was carried out brought a sense of propriety, and a sense of how such covenants should be signed between two distinct groups, such as iwi and the Crown. The covenant signed between iwi and the Crown today is the result of the Treaty of Waitangi, as I have alluded to. The iwi represented in today’s signing are Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Whare, Ruakawa, and the affiliate Te Arawa iwi and hapū groups.
This bill gives effect to the vesting of the central North Island Crown forest land and the transfer of rentals in relation to that land, so that those assets can be allocated to the Central North Island Iwi Collective in settlement of its historic forests claims. We know that this is just the first step in the process—not in terms of the process of this bill through this House but in terms of the process of how the collective will need to deal with that particular asset once it is transferred to it.
This settlement bill follows a formal presentation to the Crown by the Central North Island Iwi Collective earlier this year of a proposal for the allocation of the Crown’s central North Island forest land amongst its member iwi towards the settlement of its historical Treaty of Waitangi claims. The claim in terms of the forests covers Horohoro Forest, Whakerewarewa Forest, the forest known as Crater Forest, Kaingaroa Forest, Waimihia Forest, Marotihi Forest, Pureora forest, Waituhi Forest, and Taurewa Forest. That has made this settlement the largest single Treaty settlement package to be developed to date, and I think it is a commentary particularly on the efforts of the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and on his ability to be able to drive this bill at this stage at a rate that, hopefully, will see it pass through all its stages in this House before this House rises at the end of this parliamentary term.
The Crown has found it to be a fair and effective way of using the forest lands to provide the key commercial redress for historical settlements for each iwi within the collective. The collective has developed an allocation of the commercial settlement assets. I support the comments made by the previous speaker from National, the Hon Tau Henare, when he commented on the formula that the collective presented the Crown with in terms of the proposed allocation. It signals to me that iwi groups—claimant groups—are quite capable of making and presenting proposals that would suit them and that would, ultimately, suit the Crown as well.
The Crown, under this proposal, is to retain a share of the forests for settling the claims of any iwi that has direct interests in the forests but is not a member of the collective. Although some comment has been made with regard to Ngāti Rangitihi, the door is still open for it to participate in this process. But also to be noted is the fact that as a consequence of this settlement, 10 percent of the forests still remains available for those groups that are not part of the collective. I also make reference to the fact that although a majority of the iwi collective supports the agreement that has been entered into, I know of some iwi groups that do not support it. I think it is important that this bill be referred to a select committee in order to allow those iwi groups to participate in the process and to submit their concerns, and for the select committee to consider the validity of their claims.
Before I close I will acknowledge the leadership—the leadership that has taken responsibility for bringing this bill into this House. In that regard it is with some envy that I recognise the quality of the leadership, because I know that the tribe I belong to has a saying: “Ngāti Hine pukepuke rau”, which loosely translates as “Upon the hundred hills that make up Ngāti Hine, we have a chief.” Therein lies the reason why I need to commend the leadership of the iwi collective, who have brought this agreement, this proposal, to the Crown for consideration.
On behalf of New Zealand First, I say it is our pleasure to signal to this House that we will be supporting this bill going to a select committee. Kia ora ano tātou.
[To the visitors from afar, to the many callings who have arrived here in support of this proposal, and the many leaders, welcome, welcome, welcome.]
The Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill is, as so many before me have said, a historic settlement bill, and the Green Party is supporting it. It is by far the biggest Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the Crown, involving 170,000 hectares of central North Island forest that is valued at something like $220 million. It is significantly bigger than previous large settlements, including the Tainui settlement, the Ngāi Tahu settlement, and the Sealord deal.
Tau Henare referred to this as the “Treelords” deal, and in some ways it does have some characteristics in common with Sealord’s. It is about income derived from harvesting rights, in the first instance, and although it does lay out a process for establishing mana whenua at some time in the future, in the meantime the ultimate ownership of whenua is left undetermined. However, it is difficult to separate the two issues entirely, and I will come back to this shortly. Of course, the Sealord’s deal was of little direct interest to many of the iwi involved in this settlement. They are a largely landlocked people, unable to share in the benefits of the Sealord’s settlement. This bill is enormously important in that it affects people who are largely untouched by that deal, although I think that some of its impacts will not be dissimilar.
So what does this settlement do? It vests ownership of 86.4 percent of the central North Island Crown forest land, and the accumulated rentals of some $222 million held in trust by the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, plus ongoing rentals, in the Central North Island Iwi Collective. The funds, as has been said, will be divided up among the iwi collective members according to a formula: Ngāi Tūhoe will get 27.3 percent; Ngāti Tūwharetoa will get 29.9 percent; the affiliate Te Arawa iwi and hapū will get 16.2 percent; Ngāti Raukawa will get 14.2 percent; Ngāti Manawa will get 6 percent; Ngāti Whare will get 14.7 percent; and Ngāti Whakaue will get 3.6 percent. Of course, 3.6 percent was also originally flagged for Ngāti Rangitihi, but of course Ngāti Rangitihi has not agreed to the settlement, and the option has been left open for them to join at a later stage. In addition, Māori foresters will also benefit from a yet to be negotiated emissions trading forestry scheme. The remaining 13.6 percent of the land, or 10 percent if Ngāti Rangitihi joins, and the accumulated rentals will be retained by the Crown, to be held for 6 years to safeguard the interests of any iwi outside the collective with a legitimate claim.
So this is a huge outcome with significant economic benefits for many Māori. According to the bill, eventual ownership of the land will be determined on the basis of mana whenua, in accordance with tikanga Māori. The factors used to determine mana whenua will include such things as the demonstration of ahi kā roa, ahi tahutahu, and ahi mātaotao. I am not an expert in te reo Māori—and that is no news to any one here, I guess—but I do know that this is causing some concern among my in-laws in Ngāti Manawa. It would seem clear from the placing of those terms together that a demonstration of ahi matautau is intended to support a claim of mana whenua rather than negate it, as some might expect.
I said earlier that it is impossible to entirely divorce the issue of mana whenua from the issue of how forestry rentals will be divided. I say that because the allocation proportions cannot help but prejudice later discussions on ownership. Conversely, the allocation of those proportions must be based to some degree on an assumption about who has rights and to how much land. Predictably, this is causing tension. A number of hui in Ngāti Manawa unanimously supported the injunctions sought by Maanu Paul, and I understand that yesterday he was given the right to a hearing. He asserts that the Crown does not have title to the land in Kaingaroa to divest in the first place, that this was recognised by the Crown during the negotiations over the establishment of the Crown Forestry Rental Trust, and that Ngāti Manawa’s claim to that land was clearly established in the Native Land Court in 1878.
Let me be clear that pulling off this deal was a huge feat of negotiation, of navigation, and of skill, and I give my respect to those who pulled it off, but the concern is that some small iwi and hapū often become grist to the mill of the settlement process in the desire of this Government to pull off large settlements. In this case some people in Ngāti Manawa believe that their lands are being used by the Government to sweeten up an iwi whose rohe is substantially locked up in a National Park, and whose claims might be difficult to resolve. So my fear is that for those hapū that live under the Ikawhenua Range, this settlement may become a source of division for some time to come, and that should concern us all. In the words of one of my aunties: “This is an awesome settlement, but not for us.”
The Green Party supports this bill. We acknowledge the enormous amount of work, effort, and determination that it has taken on the part of the iwi involved to bring it to this point. We congratulate those who have secured themselves a deal that they consider is good, or is at least reasonable, but we also acknowledge the significant concerns that continue to exist and that cannot be denied. We will also continue to advocate for a Treaty breach settlement process that is determined by Māori rather than the Crown, and that is inherently more just than the constraints that iwi are currently obliged to deal with.
Dr PITA SHARPLES (Co-Leader—Māori Party) : Tēnā koe, Madam Assistant Speaker. Overnight, the cloak of the mountain clan, he kāhui maunga, has fallen. The snowfall that has blessed the mountains of the central North Island is indeed a tohu rangatira [chiefly sign] of this auspicious day. Four months ago the Central North Island Iwi Collective issued a release that set the stage for today. I quote from that release: “Central North Island iwi with interests in the forest lands are enthusiastic about uniting in a common cause that has long term benefit for us all. We are now paddling our own waka and, for the first time on this issue, are not passengers in someone else’s waka.”
It is a sentiment that we in the Māori Party fully endorse. We stand here today to give full credit to those who have forged ahead, creating a new destiny for the generations to come.
Nā reira, kei ngā waka Te Arawa, Tainui, Mātaatua tēnā koutou katoa. Kai ngā mana, kai ngā reo, kai ngā kārangarangatanga maha, kai ngā rangatira o ērā atu waka, koutou i hara mai ki te tautoko i te kaupapa whakahirahira o te rā nei, he rā nui tēnei, he rā whakahirahira, he kaupapa whakahirahira kai te whai nei. He rā nui tēnei hoki kia mihi atu, kia tangi atu ki a rātou kua mene atu ki te pō. Ki a rātau ngā kuia, ngā koroua kua ngaro atu, i a rātau ngā moemoeā, ngā wawata kia puāwai a tātau iwi kai roto i tēnei wā uaua i raro i ngā ture Pākehā. Nā reira, haere ngā mate, okioki pai mai.
Kia hoki ki te kaupapa ātaahua o te rangi, tēnā tātau katoa. Tātau, he hōnore mā Te Tōrangapū nei ki te tautoko i te pire. Ahakoa he pire kia riro ai ngā hua, ngā rawa, ngā pūtea ki ngā iwi, ki ahau nei, ehara tēnei i te tino pūtake o tēnei pire. Ki ahau nei he pire tēnei mō te rangatiratanga. Te rangatiratanga o tēnā iwi, o tēnā iwi, o tēnā hapū, o tēnā hapū. Kia tū rangatira ai koutou i roto i tēnei wā. He mana motuhake tō tēnā iwi, he mana motuhake anō tō tēnei iwi. Kei roto i tenei mahi whakatakoto kerēme, i puta mai tēnei rangatiratanga. Ki ahau nei, he pire tēnei mō te kotahitanga. Ahakoa te taukumekume i ngā kaupapa, he tautohetohe i ngā kōrero, i te mutunga ake, i mahi tahi te hunga Central North Island Iwi Collective i te kotahitanga. Nā reira, koutou katoa kua hara mai nei koutou o te Central North Island Iwi Collective, tēnā koutou kai ngā rangatira.
[Therefore, greetings to you all, the canoes of Te Arawa, Tainui, and Mātaatua. To the authorities, languages, the many callings, and leaders of the canoes who came here to support this important bill today, this is a great day, an important day, an important proposal. This is a huge day, as well, to acknowledge and grieve for those who have passed away. The aspirations and hopes of the elderly men and women who have died was that our people would gain maturity in this difficult period under non-Māori law. Therefore, depart the dead, and rest well there.
To come back to the elegant bill of the day, well done to all of us. I say to us that it is an honour indeed for this party to support the bill. Although it is a bill whereby tribes receive assets, resources, and funding, to me this is not what this bill is really about. For me, it is a bill about self-determination. It is about the sovereignty of each tribe and subtribe, for you to stand tall in this era. That tribe is independent, and so is this one. This sovereignty is an outcome of making claims. To me, this bill is about coalition. Despite the fact that the proposal pulled one against the other, or created debate, at the end the Central North Island Iwi Collective worked as a coalition. So greetings to all of you of the Central North Island Iwi Collective who came, and the leaders. ]
I acknowledge the spirit of rangatiratanga that allowed the settlement of negotiations to be effected. I acknowledge the presence of kotahitanga and a new unity that has emerged from the settlement process. I was greatly enthused by the remarks made at this morning’s ceremony, which acknowledged a spirit of cooperation and a desire to move forward. Dr Cullen mentioned the inability of past Governments to honour the partnership between Māori and Pākehā, and spoke of reconciliation as embodied in the settlement process and the settlement itself. Tribal leaders acknowledged that their efforts continued upon the work and dedication of many of those who had passed on, and proclaimed that this settlement would be used to promote a future for new generations.
So today we acknowledge Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Whare, Ngāti Raukawa, the affiliates of Te Arawa iwi and hapū, and Ngāti Rangitihi, for their great progress in charting their future direction. Every waka is inspired by the kaihautū, who know full well the path ahead. So we pay our tribute to te ariki, te whare o te Heuheu: e Tumu, tēnā koe. We congratulate him on this initiative that he has led.
In some ways it could have been only he and no one else who could pull all the parties together in the first instance, and then engage with the major players of the Crown. His absolute desire to pull the people together, knowing that if they were to move forward, it must be together, paddling their own waka, was inspirational. Ka nui ngā mihi ki a koe.
Te ariki was greatly assisted in his role by the involvement of the Crown facilitators, Wira Gardiner and Matt Te Pou. Their involvement, free of any agendas, and motivated by their knowledge of the important job ahead of them, has been significant and should not be underestimated. Tēnā kōrua. We are pleased that this issue has progressed out of the courts and beyond the legal fraternity, and is back within the realm of iwi and hapū. The style of negotiation, of kaikōrero ki te kaikōrero, iwi ki te iwi, [speaker to speaker, tribe to tribe] is a model that is not new but that has found a renewed significance in today’s settlement environment. This is how it should have always been, and we congratulate iwi on this substantial feat.
Today is an extremely significant day because of this journey, because of this waka. There was always much more at stake than the allocation of accumulated rentals based on mana whenua, for this has been a journey of give and take, of kotahitanga. We acknowledge Te Pūmautanga o Te Arawa, who were willing to engage, to review their position, and to reassess the stance they took, for the betterment of the collective. That position, with their having prepared the initial settlement, cannot have been an easy decision, but one that is nevertheless significant in the context of this settlement. Tēnā koutou.
We pay tribute also to Dr Cullen for the new approach he has brought to bear, and the commitment he has demonstrated towards settling the historical claims to the majority of the central North Island forests lands. I was particularly pleased with his comments of inclusion to Ngāti Rangitihi, and that the door remains open for their return to the negotiating table. These sentiments were also made strongly by Te Ariki Tumu te Heuheu, and clearly reflects the mood of the whole process.
The history of the settlement process through successive Governments has revealed that there are often disaffected parties in some settlements. The Māori Party has been very critical of various aspects of the settlement process, and will continue to be so where warranted. But we look forward to working with all parties in this House to ensure there is always transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, and, of course, durability.
Finally, I am proud to be here today to witness this settlement, immensely significant in many respects. The words of the Waitangi Tribunal, in its report He Maunga Rongo: Report on Central North Island Claims, have today come home to roost. These words were: “For hapu and iwi of the central North Island the Crown’s refusal to recognise Māori autonomy has had a cost of which they are acutely conscious, though to many New Zealanders this might come as a surprise: loss of authority and control over their lands and their natural resources, including their waterways and geothermal resources. Such a loss of control has had lasting effects on the development of central North Island Māori in tourism, forestry, power generation, and farming.”
Today this first reading is able to put right the wrongs, in returning the central North Island forest lands of the central North Island iwi who have direct customary interests in those lands. But, most important, this first reading has come about from the collective commitment of iwi in the central North Island to debate between themselves, to discuss with the Crown, and to remain constantly focused on the common cause. Tōrangapū Māori, we join with the House in placing on the record our support for the first reading of this ground-breaking initiative of the Central North Island iwi collective. Tēnā koe; tēnā tātou katoa.
JUDY TURNER (Deputy Leader—United Future) : I will take a very brief call on behalf of United Future to support the Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill and to congratulate everybody who celebrates here today. I arrived at work very early this morning and already literally hundreds of iwi members had gathered at Parliament. It made me realise how important today’s event is. One could take a very bland look at the agreement and merely see the valuable land and its potential, the accumulated and ongoing rentals that will now be the property of the collective iwi, and the other commercial areas of redress. I just reflect on the one thing that has stood out for me today, which is the very fine leadership shown by both the iwi collective and the Crown in making today happen. I congratulate everybody involved; they are assured of United Future’s ongoing support for this legislation.
Hon MAHARA OKEROA (Minister of State) : Tēnā nō tātou. Those who have been in the House all afternoon have witnessed the whole dynamic of what this debating chamber is about, from the wāhanga patapatai to the wāhanga kapahaka, and now to something a bit more dignified. On that basis, my personality will change to suit the occasion. Tēnā tātou katoa.
I want to say, firstly, that it is just as important to remember the people who are not here: people who have grown up, people who have suffered, and people who have held on to the aspiration that sometime in the future there may be a resolution. So the first part of my short presentation this evening is kei te mihi atu ki a rātou, ko rātou kua tīmata kē ō rātou hīkoitanga i runga i te ara rūiti, te ara pāmamao, te ara mutunga kore, ki te pae mauhara te tini me te mano. A rātau rā e mau piri ai i ngā whakaaro, i ngā nawe e whakararurau mai i ō rātou nei kaingākau.
[an acknowledgment to ones who are no longer here and who held views and concerns about what they valued.]
And, as we do believe, the journey is but a transition, rātau e noho wairua mai i runga i ngā pokohiwi o te katoa o koutou nei, tēnā tātau.
[the ones whose spiritual presence are there upon your shoulders, greetings to us.]
Secondly, having experienced what it is like to grow up on the margins of the area that I came from, and having absorbed some of the hard lessons that are associated with being pōhara, being not quite part of the loop, seeing old people not respected for what they are, and having one’s own cosmology, history, and culture denigrated, I bring to my discussion a full understanding of the whole collection of those feelings. I need, then, to congratulate the people, the uri, on going past that and looking towards the future. I cannot say that at this moment in Parihaka, where I grew up, we are quite there yet. Where I came from, our transport was either a horse or a horse and cart. Our community was surrounded by farmers who were growing quite wealthy—kua raupatungia te whenua [the land was confiscated]—so I bring those kinds of feelings towards a very emotional, yet highly successful, day like today. So I congratulate all the people on making the transformation, without forgetting the past but not dwelling in it, and looking forward to future opportunities.
The next thing I would say, as part three of my kōrero, is that today I think we have learnt something quite extraordinary, and it is about a dynamic and it is about a principle. The principle that I saw, as an observer today, is how awesomely powerful we Māori are as people if we combine on a take and take it forward together. That would be, as I see it, one of the key principles that were demonstrated by all of the participants from all of the iwi who came here today. It is also absolutely critical when we think about the relationships and the partnerships, and the arrangements that the people make going into the future. This particular claim will carry on and be more successful when the people then form collaborations with the wider New Zealand community and, indeed, internationally. I congratulate them.
I would like to finish on this note: anei tetehi o ngā kōrero kua poropitahia e tōku nei kaumātua tauheke a Te Whiti o Rongomai. Anei āna nei kōrero,
[here is one of the predictions that my elder Te Whiti o Rongomai uttered. Here is what he said,]
when he was peacefully addressing the soldiers at Parihaka while they rampaged: “Nā koutou te pāua tuatahi, mā mātau te iwi Māori te pāua whakamutunga.” Nō reira tēnā koutou hurihuri noa, mauri ora. Ka tautoko ahau i runga i te kaupapa rangatira kua whakatutuki mai e koutou.”
[“Yours is the first, but we, the Māori people, have the final one.” So, greetings to you throughout, and remain well. I support what you have brought before us to consider.]
I do not have a conflict of interest. I do not, like others, have a long waewae that might somehow, by mystical means, go back to the Mātaatua waka, or somewhere. So what I say to you is mai i ngā kōrero a koro, a kui mā, e mihi atu ki a koutou kōpikopiko ai tēnei uri o te maunga Tītōhea o Taranaki ki a tātau.
[from the stories of the elderly men and womenfolk, this relative of the mountain Tītōhea of Taranaki greets you.]
CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (National) : Like other members who have spoken in the House this afternoon, I acknowledge the presence of the iwi of the central North Island and welcome them to the House. My National colleagues have already indicated that we will support the first reading of this bill and its referral to the Māori Affairs Committee. In doing so, National applauds the great efforts made by iwi to make this settlement possible. As is well known, this settlement was formulated by iwi, for iwi. Indeed, the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations himself acknowledged that fact when, a few days ago, he said “It needs to be made clear this is not a Crown initiative.” The iwi themselves have proposed an acceptable settlement, the iwi themselves have worked together to solve issues around overlapping claims, and the iwi themselves drove one of the most detailed and comprehensive consultation programmes we have seen to date.
I do not think I need to refer at length to the severe criticisms by the tribunal of the Crown’s negotiating process in recent times. Those criticisms are well known. The point that needs to be emphasised is that out of the ashes something positive emerged, and the credit for that must go to the iwi. To quote Shakespeare in Julius Caesar—and he was not, I am sure, referring to the Waikato—“we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.” Certainly the iwi here today took the current when it served, and this settlement is the result. It is testimony to their courage and their determination.
At the risk of sounding like a cold, calculating lawyer—which is certainly not me at all—I observe that the bill raises a number of very interesting issues, and these issues are certainly worthy of detailed consideration in the select committee. I would like to outline in a reasonably superficial way some of the key provisions of the bill; the detailed comments can be made in the Committee stage.
As is customary in this type of legislation, there is a brief historical preamble, and then that leads on to certain key provisions. Part 2 is the heart of the bill. It contains provisions relating to the transfer of assets. I refer particularly to clause 6, which vests central North Island forests land in a company called CNI Iwi Holdings Ltd. This company is to act as trustee for the CNI Iwi Holdings Trust and will administer the forests land in accordance with the Act once it is passed, the deed of settlement, and the deed of trust. As is to be expected in this type of settlement legislation, there is a clause that ousts the jurisdiction of courts, tribunals, and other judicial bodies—whatever they may be—to inquire into, or make findings or recommendations in respect of, any or all of the historical central North Island forest claims, the deed of settlement, or the Act. It is important that the jurisdiction of the tribunal is not excluded in so far as it is required to take certain steps that are novel and are more particularly dealt with in clause 22. I will come to that clause in a few minutes.
Subpart 2 of Part 2 is a very interesting provision, dealing with allocation principles. Those are more particularly referred to in schedule 2 of the bill. As one who was involved in the fisheries allocation debate for many years, I know how important it is to have a clear set of allocation principles and a robust process for the resolution of any disputes. In the select committee I will be particularly interested in schedule 2, which is extremely comprehensive. I will not go through any of the particular stages in detail, nor will I comment on such innovations as, for example, are contained in clause 5(2)(d) of schedule 2, which provides that “no expert advisors, including lawyers and historians, are permitted to participate directly in the … negotiations.” Nor, under the stage 3 provisions in clause 6 of that schedule, can lawyers appear before the adjudication panel that is to be established, unless all parties agree.
Some would wholeheartedly endorse those provisions—I think Dr Sharples, who spoke earlier, would probably be in that category. Many people consider that the fisheries allocation became bogged down in litigation, and that far too much money was spent on appeals to the Privy Council on preliminary questions. There was litigation every time there was a lease round; indeed, the whole process was bedevilled by litigation. One might perhaps expect me to be opposed to such provisions, but I promise the House I will study them with an open mind, bearing in mind the experience I had in the fisheries allocation litigation. The last thing anyone wants is for this process to be bogged down by judicial review applications or other forms of litigation. There is an old saying that it is in the public interest that there be an end to litigation, and that certainly applies here.
I am also very interested in the new powers that are conferred on the tribunal under clause 22 of the bill. As is well known, the tribunal’s jurisdiction is primarily to hear claims and make recommendations. It can make binding orders in a very narrow set of circumstances. But here we have a new jurisdiction that involves the tribunal mediating between various parties to try to resolve a dispute. That will occur if the Crown, the central North Island iwi collective, and the other central North Island claimant agree. I applaud this innovation; I think it is a very interesting and good one, and I think it could prove to be a very useful tool for the tribunal. Clause 23 is the other jurisdictional clause, and it says that the jurisdiction of the tribunal is not ousted in relation to certain claims. That relates to the other central North Island claimant and is all perfectly understandable.
I will not go through Part 3, which deals with miscellaneous provisions. As I said earlier, the detail can be addressed during the Committee stage of the bill once the select committee has looked in detail at its provisions.
Modesty probably prevented my dear friend and colleague Mrs te Heuheu from mentioning her brother-in-law, but I can mention him. Tumu te Heuheu is to be congratulated on his statesmanship in moving this settlement forward. One other person deserves special mention, and that is Wira Gardiner, because he too worked very well to bring individual iwi together after the Crown’s previous negotiating process had resulted in considerable concerns.
It is a great pleasure to have the honour of speaking in this first reading debate. Let me conclude by assuring all members of the various iwi represented here today that the National Party members on the Māori Affairs Committee are looking forward to hearing their submissions and working on the bill. It is a day when we can all be very pleased to see some progress in Treaty settlements after so many years of inaction. So thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak. As I say, National will support the referral of the bill to the select committee.
TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) :Tēnā koe Madam Assistant Speaker, kia ora e hoa mā i te rangi nei. Ko taku kōrero he mea poto noa iho nā runga i te āhuatanga o te tāima ka mutu, nā te mea kātahi anō ka tae mai. Me pēnei rawa te kōrero, te whakamārama ake, kātahi anō au ka hoki mai i tētahi tangihanga i Te Wai Pounamu, kaua e pāpōuri mai i te tikanga ka riro mā koutou o Reipā whakakōpani ngā kōrero. Ka pai tērā, ka oti pai i a koutou. Ko te wāhanga ki a au paku kōrero nei, hei tautoko i te āhuatanga o ngā kōrero i te rangi nei.
E hoa mā, i te tuatahi ka huri ki ngā iwi i tau mai ai i te rangi nei, ki te Whare Pāremata. Kāore e kore kua mihia koutou, kua tukuna ngā poroporoaki ki te hunga kua ngaro atu ki te tirohanga kanohi ka mutu, kua mihia koutou i roto i ngā pakitara o te Whare nei, ko tāku noa ake, ko te tautoko. He tautoko, he tautoko.
Kōtēnei kaupapa i tīmata mai ai ngā tau kua hipa, te wā i a au tonu i te kāinga e rapu haere ana i tētahi huarahi mō tōku ake iwi. Ka hoki ngā mahara ki te hunga nā rātou tēnei kaupapa i whakaara ake i te tuatahi. Ko Manu Huia Bennett tērā, ko Rangihuia Briggs tērā, ā, ka mutu, ko tēnei o ngā ariki, a Tumu. Ka hoki ngā mahara ki te tīmatanga mai o tēnei kaupapa i tēnei rangi, ko tōna puāwaitanga, ko tēnei tonu nei.
E Tumu kai taku ariki, ka nui te mihi ki a koe. Kāre he tangata i kō atu i a koe mō te whakakao mai o te iwi. E mōhio tonu ana tātau ko tēnei ara, he ara tāpokopoko, he ara uaua ki te whakakao mai i ngā iwi katoa ki raro i te korowai o te mea kotahi. Ko koe tērā i whakatinana mai ai tērā moemoeā, tērā wawata, ahakoa ngā uauatanga, koinei te mihi atu, tēnā koe.
Me pēnei rawa tētahi kōrero āpiti atu ki ngā kōrero kua rangona i te ahiahi nei, i a au e hoki mai ana i te taunga waka rererangi. Ko tēnei mahi te noho i te Whare Pāremata, arā anō ētahi uauatanga. Tuatahi, i ētahi wā ka rongo i ngā pire, arā anō ētahi painga, ētahi paku painga mō te iwi. Ko te pātai mai kei runga i a mātau o ngā mema o te Pāti Māori, āe rānei me tautoko, e kāore rānei.
Ko tētahi atu o ngā uauatanga, ko te whakarongo ki ngā hunga me kī, e mau nei i ētahi uauatanga kai roto i te ngākau. Koia tērā i tēnei wā tonu nei, āe, anei anō ngā painga ēhea kē nei me kī, ngā iwi o Te Upoko o te Ika. He tika tērā. Ko tāku nei, mā wai te hunga e rongo nei i ngā uauatanga, e kōrero. Koinā te pātai nui.
I ētahi wā, kua āhua hōhā wētahi ki ngā kōrero i roto o Te Tōrangapū Māori i te mea, kai te whakatakoto i ngā kōrero o te iwi Māori ki mua i te aroaro o tēnei Pāremata. Koinei tētahi o ngā uauatanga. Ko tā mātou o Te Tōrangapū Māori, he whakatakoto me kī, hei noho, hei reo kōrero mō te hunga e rongo tonu nei i te mamae. Nō reira, ahakoa ngā uauatanga o te noho hōhā pea i wētahi wā, koinei te mahi nui.
Hei whakakōpani i taku kōrero. Tuatahi, ko tāku ko te tautoko i ngā kōrero a Pita ki tēnei Whare, i tēnei pō. Ka rua, ko te kī atu, ko te wāhanga ki a mātou o Te Tōrangapū Māori, he noho hei waha kōrero mō tērā hunga kāore anō kia whai wāhi i roto i ngā nekeneke. He aha ai? Kia whai reo rātou i roto i ngā kōrero.
Ko tāku mihi whakamutunga e pēnei ana ki te Minita nāna tēnei take i kōkiri, arā, ki a Karana, otirā, ngā mea i mua i a ia, ko Wirihana, Pētana, ko Mita, koutou katoa Parekura, ngā mea i kōkiri tēnei take, me mihi ka tika. Kua oti nei i a koutou te mahi uaua.
Kupu whakamutunga nei, he mihi ki ngā kaitakawaenga o te Karauna, ki a Wira rāua ko MatiuTe Pou. Nā rātau te mahi uaua, te noho takawaenga ki waenganui i ngā iwi, hei whakakao mai, whakaemi mai i ngā whakaaro kia tutuki pai tēnei mahi. Nō reira, koinei te mihi ki a tātau katoa i tēnei rangi whakahirahira. Huri noa tēnā koutou, tēna koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
- [An interpretation in English was given to the House.]
[Greetings to you, Madam Assistant Speaker, and to you, fellow members today. My call is but a short one, because of the time, and further to that because I have just arrived. By way of explanation, I should say that I have just returned from a bereavement in the South Island. Do not be disappointed, because normally you of the Labour Party would have made the closing address. That is fine; you will finish it off properly. The part for me in this short call is to endorse the tenor of the speeches today.
Fellow members, firstly I turn to the people who came here today to Parliament. Without a doubt, you acknowledged them; farewell tributes were made to those who have died, and further to that, you acknowledged them in this Chamber. The part for me is merely to endorse what you have done—really support it.
This proposal began years ago when I was still at home looking for a way forward for my own people. Memories go back to the ones who first proposed it—to Manu Huia Bennett, to Rangihuia Briggs, and then to Tumu, this one of the paramount chiefs. Memories today go back to the beginnings of this proposal, and now it has reached maturity.
Many greetings to you, Tumu, my paramount chief. There is no other person beyond you to bring the people together. We know too well that the path to bring all the people together under the one mantle is a boggy and difficult one. But you were able to embody those dreams and aspirations regardless of the difficulties, and indeed I hail you, greetings.
Further to what I heard this afternoon as I listened in to the debate on my way back from the airport, I want to add this. Being in Parliament has its difficulties. At times when one hears a bill for the first time, there appear to be benefits, or some benefits, for iwi. The question for us members of the Māori Party is really one of yes, we support it, or no, we do not.
Another difficulty is listening to others with different persuasions. Yes, that is how it is currently. The benefits for some, say in Wellington, are huge. That is a fact. My concern is: who will represent the viewpoint of those most affected? That is the real question.
At times, some tire at what the Māori Party has to say before this House about matters relating to Māoridom. This is a real difficulty. We of the Māori Party regard this as core business, let us say, to represent the interests of the most needy. Therefore, and despite the difficulties and monotony at times, this is core work for us.
In conclusion, I firstly endorse what Pita said to the House this evening. Secondly, I stress that the role of the Māori Party is to remain an advocate for those not yet involved in the proceedings. Why? So that they have a voice in the discussions.
My final acknowledgment goes to the Minister responsible for the negotiations, Dr Cullen, and his predecessors Margaret Wilson, Mark Burton, and Mita Ririnui; all of you, as well as Parekura Horomia—the ones who negotiated this matter. It is right that you are acknowledged. You have completed the most difficult part of it.
Finally, to Wira and Matiu Te Pou, who liaised for the Crown—theirs was a difficult task as well, liaising with the people, bringing them together, and gathering their thoughts together so that the process is completed adequately. I acknowledge you all on this important day. So throughout the Chamber, greetings to you, greetings to you, and greetings to you all. ]
Koterōpūrangatahi o ngā māunga
E tū mai rā ki te whenua e
Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe, Ruapehu e
Ko Tauhara me Pīhanga arohaina e
Ko Taupō-nui-a-Tia te kōpua tangata
I te rohe o te Heuheu te matua.
E ngā mana, e ngā reo, rau rangatira mā, Te Tumu te ariki nui, ngā whānau o Te Arawa, ngā kaumātua, ngā mihi aroha ki a koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Ko Ngāti Tūtemohuta me Ngāti Hineuru ngā hapū o Ngāti Tūwharetoa Te Arawa waka.
[The young party of the mountains
Standing in the hinterland
Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe, Ruapehu,
Tauhara and Pīhanga love them
Lake Taupō-nui-a-Tia is the deep pool of the people
In the territory of te Heuheu the paramount chief.
To the authorities, languages, many leaders, Te Tumu, paramount chief, greetings to you, greetings to you, and fond greetings to you all. Ngāti Tūtemohuta and Ngāti Hineuru are subtribes of Ngāti Tūwharetoa of the canoe of Te Arawa. ]
It is my honour to add to the kōrero of today about the Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement Bill. I will begin by acknowledging the parties of the collective: Te Pūmautanga o Te Arawa, Raukawa, Ngāti Whare, Ngāti Manawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, and, with the door still open, possibly within the next 6 months, Ngāti Rangitihi, who have been given an extension to complete their endorsement process to be added to this settlement legislation. I know that if Matua Henare Pryor has any involvement, then this is a mere formality.
I was born in the 1970s, a time when as Māori we were starting to gain national and international media attention via public demonstrations aimed at conveying the message of the need for historical redress, given Aotearoa’s history of colonisation. Some have said that the peak of such activism occurred in 1975, when whaea Whina Cooper led 13,000 people on a march to Parliament under the slogan “Not one more acre of Māori land”. What impact did this have? Some would say that the developments of the Waitangi Tribunal were directly attributable to this.
The context of such momentum for change by Māori can be traced back to the Hunn report of the 1960s, which recommended that the differential between Māori and Europeans in statute law should be reviewed at intervals and gradually eliminated. The State then merged Māori-targeted social services with general services, and in reaction the 1970s saw the mobilisation of Māori. Hapū me iwi began processes of protest as a necessary venting of the anger that was felt at being disrespected and disempowered. This provided the platform for collective redress from the Crown for historical breaches of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. So we had a mechanism to begin the process in the Waitangi Tribunal, and to provide the forum for our tribal histories to be recorded.
It has been only recently that Treaty settlements have become a priority for Governments, and that different processes for creating deeds of settlement have been put into practice, and I acknowledge Sir Graham Latimer and the Māori Council for their efforts. What has this meant? It has meant simple but very important things, such as the Government providing the information so that all parties know the boundaries of the deal that needs to be brokered, and leaving the actual allocation up to Māori to decide based on mana whenua status.
I reiterate the words of Dr Cullen about his deep appreciation of Te Arikinui Tumu te Heuheu, who continued the work of his father, the late Tā Hepi, with his proactive leadership in terms of approaching the Government about the prospect of a collective agreement late last year. The settlement process and the template for future Treaty settlements, given the success of today, is for the Crown to step back and let iwi initiate and lead allocations of resources, and to sort out for themselves issues such as mana whenuatanga.
I had breakfast this morning with my Uncle Tane and Auntie Pēhi, and with Uncle Te Kanawa and Auntie Kataraina Pitiroi. I asked them about the process that the iwi have been through to get to where we are today. They talked about kōrero from hikuwai to mātāpuna—the tears, mamae, truths, and, yes, walkouts at marae. But they stressed tikanga Māori as being central to the process of kōrero, the inclusiveness of the process, and the trust and relationships that had developed as the kōrero progressed.
This settlement signifies that it is time for a change, and that change is about Māori taking the lead in processes for the reconciliation of our past experiences and in the Treaty settlement process as a platform for us to move forward together with a common purpose and set of values. As Tā Tumu said in his kōrero at the signing, this will ensure the legacy of wealth and prosperity for our tamariki me mokopuna who have yet to be born.
I grew up in Waitahanui, on the eastern foreshore of Lake Taupō. I attended Waitahanui Primary School and I was in the majority, given that I was related to everyone at the kura, except the dairy owner’s children and the teachers. I remember a definite them-and-us mentality, which was fuelled in the holidays by strangers, mostly Pākehā people, who had houses in our village. They came in and acted as if they owned not only the lake but also our school, the tennis courts, and the roads.
This settlement provides the asset base for iwi of the central North Island to educate our young people, the leaders and beneficiaries of the future, to not only enjoy the resource but also add value to our forestry resource in order to ensure that we have the independence as a people not only to look after ourselves but also to contribute to this great nation of ours. Days like today make me think not only of my father, who passed away during the tangi of Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, but also of my uncles Nick Wall, Taxi Kapua, and Darkie Downs, and of Mahlon Nēpia, whom my father loved and respected, and who, in addition to being at home and on our lands, trust, school, and marae boards, worked within our tribe to advance the needs and aspirations of our people.
The timing of this settlement is very special for me. I have been in the House for just under 4 months, and to have an opportunity to commend this bill to the House is something that seems tika. I thank Dr Cullen for this opportunity, and I reiterate what I said last night in the House: it is because of Dr Cullen’s leadership that this process has been so innovative. I note recent iwi leaders’ calls for future Ministers of Finance to also hold the Treaty of Waitangi negotiations portfolio, in light of the massive deals brokered under Dr Cullen.
I acknowledge that this is really just the beginning. There will be many more hui, and many more tears, mamae, walkouts, and disagreements, both private and public, as we move from allocation to utilisation. But this is our journey, and the assets we have secured today can serve a purpose by sitting in a bank account accumulating interest until such time as we are clear about the economic development opportunities that the settlement assets afford us. I note, as highlighted by Matua Tumu, that an economic development plan is next on the agenda as a Crown and iwi initiative.
To coin a phrase from Barack Obama, it is our time—Māori time—and we are not late. All good things happen to those who wait, and the future, as it has always been, is in our hands to create. I wish the whānau safe travels home, and I look forward to seeing them anō when this bill is passed. Kia kaha, kia toa, kia manawanui. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.
- Bill read a first time.
- Bill referred to the Māori Affairs Committee
- Sitting suspended from 5.57 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.
Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2)
- Debate resumed from 24 June.
Part 1 Amendments to principal Act (continued)
PANSY WONG (National) : I will continue my very good speech to go over some of the background. Basically, the new provision regarding cover for traumatic events during the course of employment is very unfair and inequitable. In my last call I was elaborating on how the provision is unfair because, as the levy comes from the work account, it covers people only for injuries incurred during the course of their employment. The Government was not of a mind to extend cover to people injured in non-work situations, which is why the provision is unfair and inequitable. I am not too sure why the other parties are supporting the provision. The costing is also a worry. The officials gave us an indication that it will range anywhere between $7.6 million and $72.2 million. That is not what I would describe as an estimate; that is almost a wild guess. That is why employers and the self-employed are anxious. They are wondering why this legislation is being introduced when its financial impact is just a wild guess and the cost of everything is going up.
The Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) put out a press release about the very unfortunate tragedy that occurred in the last 2 weeks in South Auckland. Ms Joanne Wang, the owner of a bakery, had her bag snatched, then was run down by the offender’s car. Her 8-year-old was very unfortunate—he witnessed the whole thing. As the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern) pointed out, the poor young boy, aged 8, would not be entitled to any claim to damages. Where is the equity in that? Members of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee asked officials why the Government had decided not to extend coverage to non - work-related events. We were told that consideration was given to providing cover for mental injury—not limited to work-related injury—resulting from witnessing a traumatic event, as part of the policy work undertaken prior to the introduction of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act 2001. At that stage it was considered that the provision of entitlements for witnessing a traumatic event was unaffordable. When it comes to general funds, the Government says that such entitlements are unaffordable, but when it comes to a levy to be imposed on employers and the self-employed, they somehow become affordable.
I also point out that this new cover would extend to overseas visitors. Let us imagine a situation in which overseas visitors are here for work purposes—they would actually be eligible for cover for mental injury caused by a traumatic event. Can we imagine that? I have already received lots of complaints from people asking why New Zealand taxpayers are paying for health care for overseas visitors who have been injured in car accidents. Let us consider the case of a bank robbery. If an overseas delegation from an overseas trading bank came here to witness, learn, or train in a local bank about its operation, and they witnessed a bank robbery in action, then technically, under this legislation, they would be eligible to claim. Not only do we believe that the estimated cost—which varies between $7.6 million to $72.2 million—is a wild guess but I am not too sure that people understand that the funding would also have to cover people who have travelled from overseas to New Zealand. I am not sure whether that cost has been included; I am not sure that the officials have a real grip on that issue.
The other issue is subjectivity. The nature of mental injury, which is being introduced in the legislation, is very subjective. It is another case whereby lawyers will have a lot to argue, as will psychiatrists and people involved in the health sector. I could just imagine that the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) would appoint its own assessors, claimants would have their own health professionals, and each of them would have their own sets of lawyers arguing how serious the traumatic events were, whether the injuries related to particular traumatic events, and whether the injuries occurred in the course of employment. The ACC is already facing a lot of complaints. I have received complaints from self-employed and small-business people about levies and also about petrol increases. A lot of people might not realise that from 1 July there will be a 2c per litre increase in petrol, which is already expensive, just to cover the accident levy on motor vehicles. Let us think about all these additional costs.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Port Waikato) : Thank you for the opportunity to speak on Part 1 of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2). Part 1 covers much of the meat of this bill. It includes clause 5, “Cover for personal injury suffered in New Zealand (except mental injury caused by certain criminal acts)”; clause 6, relating to cover for work-related mental injury; clause 7, relating to cover for personal injury suffered outside New Zealand; clause 8, “Personal injury”; clause 9, “Work-related personal injury”; and clause 10, “Personal injury caused by work-related gradual process, disease, or infection”.
I can only agree with my excellent colleague Pansy Wong, who said that this bill is riddled with inconsistencies and inequities and has a very, very loose evidence base on the part of the Government. I was very alarmed when I first read some years ago the report of the Ministerial Advisory Panel on Work-related Gradual Process, Disease, or Infection. Right at the beginning of the report, on page 3, is the statement: “The advisory panel recognises that further research is required to fully calculate the cost implications of the advisory panel’s recommendations.” Sadly, that statement has just so much come home to roost in reality.
I am afraid to say this legislation is very typical of this Labour Government, which is always prepared to take on some great cause at the drop of a hat, but never really looks at the practicalities and realities—
Pansy Wong: So long as somebody else pays.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: —as my colleague Pansy Wong says—as long as someone else pays. It is of huge concern when we look, for instance, at the cost-benefit analysis of mental injury caused by work-related traumatic event and we see the huge variation. The cost range is estimated to be between $7.6 million and $72.2 million per annum.
The Labour Government proclaimed 9 years ago that it would lift New Zealand into the top half of the OECD. And what has happened? Very sadly for New Zealand, we have fallen down two slots. This is hugely significant for our ability as a country to be able to afford good health, good social security, and good education services. If, indeed, the Labour Government had raised New Zealand to the top half of the OECD, then we might have been able to afford a much more generous accident compensation system than we have at present. But when we see wild—absolutely wild—estimations, from $7.6 million to $72.2 million, as in the costs and benefits of this scheme, we have to fully realise just how loose this Labour Government has become in its dying days.
It is not just in this part of the legislation; one could go on to the costs and benefits the Government has estimated for weekly compensation. It has suggested that the indicative full-funded cost per year of the package is between $63 million and $138.6 million. Once again, that is a huge variation, and can members guess who pays? No one pays other than one group, which happens to be those in the work account. The employers and the self-employed have the whole burden of this scheme that the Labour Government has so inappropriately foisted on us.
DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) : When we look at Part 1 of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2), we see some of the fundamental parts of this legislation that have created a number of problems that previous speakers have identified. The legislation itself, as portrayed, tries to fill a gap that was left in the system through changes that have occurred over many years. However, although the identification of a gap may be relevant, the solution proposed in this bill certainly does not provide the comprehensive solution that would be sought if somebody really wanted to cover that gap.
For example, Part 1 talks about the amendments, and one of the key components of them in clause 9 concerns the term “work-related personal injury”. The distinction between work-related and non - work-related injury is fundamental to some of the problems that National has with this legislation. Why is it good enough for work-related injury to be covered when non - work-related injury is not? What is the point of difference that the Labour Government sees between people who have encountered a situation that causes an injury and are covered because they are in a work environment, and those who are not covered because they are not in a work environment? What gives the Labour Government the ability to determine whether a non - work-related injury should not be covered? What is the fundamental basis that gives it that right? There is none.
What does Labour care about volunteers—people who go into workplaces and see something go wrong that causes that fundamental injury? Those people are not covered, simply because they are not seen as being part of that work environment. I was wondering whether union officials who go into a worksite would be covered. That would be interesting to know, would it not? The vast majority of Labour Party supporters might not actually be covered by this legislation. We can imagine the situation that would occur if union officials went into a site, experienced some mental injury, and were not covered. I sure we would see an amendment from the Labour Government under that circumstance very quickly. I am sure the Minister would like to take a call to explain why her own people will not be covered by this legislation—why the very people who pay for her to sit in that seat will not be covered by this legislation.
It is a shame that Labour, in trying to deal with this issue, has made a number of distinctions between the work-related and non - work-related capacity of the person who suffers the injury. It is a distinction that will haunt Labour, just like the distinction between those who have suffered the injury in the past and those who suffer the injury in the future. This legislation is based a lot on the personal accounts of people who came before the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee and spoke about having encountered mental injury in the past, but they will not actually get the benefit of this legislation. This legislation is not retrospective. All the people who brought those heartfelt stories, which the members of the committee listened to, will not gain anything from this legislation. If Labour was genuine about wanting to have mental injury covered, the legislation would have covered not only those who are currently experiencing such injury, or those who will experience it in the future, but also those genuine cases that came before us—the retrospective cases. That is another distinction that the Government of the day has overlooked when it was doing this legislation. It has looked at what it thought was appropriate to cover; it has not covered what, on a policy basis—if it was going to follow through on its policy—it should have totally covered.
The reason Labour has not provided retrospective cover is that it knows that would be costly. It will cost a lot of money to implement this legislation, and it is an unknown cost. It is one of those Labour Party election party promises that we do not actually know the cost of, and that Labour does not worry about the cost of, because it is an unknown cost in the future. A very small proportion of the cost can be identified, and Labour can get away with that. But the real costs that come through will be much higher than that. My colleagues have identified that one of the key concerns with regard to this legislation is that those costs could balloon out to become quite extravagant costs, which will be borne by employers with no recompense from the Government.
Hon MARYAN STREET (Minister for ACC) : I would like to take this call to refute some of the nonsense we are hearing from across the other side of the Chamber about the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2). The National Party has never really understood accident compensation. Its members have never really understood the detail, and they certainly have never understood the policy since the days when the system was brought in by National members who had a more expansive vision than those who have come after them. National did introduce accident compensation—it is true. If members go back and read the words of Jack Marshall, they will see the vision behind the introduction of accident compensation. Jack Marshall was one of those who acknowledged the purpose and the visionary concepts and principles behind the Woodhouse report. It is a sad tragedy that latter-day National members have lost the vision of Jack Marshall—they need to go back to that.
I would like to say a couple of things in particular in response to the points made by National members. First, I will address the issue of mental injury caused by a traumatic event. The Transport and Industrial Relations Committee heard from a milk tanker driver and, I think, from a train driver, and we know also of a bank teller and of a miner. These people have all experienced an extraordinarily traumatic event, which has left them with a mental injury that has prevented them from returning to their workplace. It seems to have escaped the attention of National members that the reason we are introducing some redress and compensation for mental injury for workers such as those people is that these events have happened in the workplace.
These events have happened because this group of people comprises a bank teller, a train driver, a miner, and a milk tanker driver. When the milk tanker driver and the train driver saw people throw themselves in front of their vehicles, which they were unable to stop, they suffered a mental injury as a result. That is a diagnosable injury. There is a diagnostic process that I am sure select committee members were exposed to in the course of their deliberation, and it is referred to as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or “DSM-IV”. This is the set of internationally accepted diagnostic guidelines that have come out of the United States, and it provides for a diagnosis that allows somebody to recognise whether a worker has received a mental injury as a result of a traumatic event.
The four people I have been talking about have suffered a mental injury that has made it impossible for them to go back to their work. In the space of 3 years the train driver was subjected to that event twice. It is almost incomprehensible that somebody should suffer such an event once in their work career, but to endure it twice is an absolute tragedy. That demands our compassion. Those people came to the select committee knowing that the legislation was not retrospective, but they wanted people to be covered by such events in the future. Those events are drastic events.
I personally think that our accident compensation scheme is the best in the world. Certainly, it is recognised as being amongst the best. It is second to none because it is comprehensive and covers work injury and non-work injury.
I would like to greet the children from Prebbleton School who are up in the gallery at the moment, and the teachers and adults who have accompanied them. I am glad they are here today. I happen to know that currently there are members among them who are receiving benefits from the accident compensation scheme, and that is what it is for: it is for work injury and non-work injury. It is for children in playgrounds and for people who engage in sporting activities. It is for people who fall off the roof of their house when they are mending it. It is a scheme second to none. It is not just about workplace injuries; it is about injuries that anybody sustains.
The Labour-led Government recognises that compensation for workers who are taken out of the workplace as a result of an injury is an economic and social good for those workers. Rehabilitating them, which is another part of the accident compensation scheme, is good for them. Getting those people back into work fit and healthy benefits both them and the economy.
Pansy Wong: I raise a point of order, Madam Chairperson. I just wonder whether the Minister has mistaken this for a third reading debate. I thought we were talking about Part 1. The Minister’s description of accident compensation in respect of those specific cases is in no way relevant to Part 1.
The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Marian Hobbs): Thank you very much. That really is not a point of order, but I will take the point. The member has been referring to clause 5, and also to mental injury. I have been reading the legislation as it has been debated.
Hon MARYAN STREET: I would be very interested if National members, in opposing this improvement to what is already a scheme that is second to none in the world—
Dr Paul Hutchison: It’s the only one. It’s the only one like it.
Hon MARYAN STREET: Exactly. It is second to none, as I say. What I want to know from National members is whether, in objecting to this legislation, they are looking to expand the coverage of accident compensation. Are they wishing to make the legislation retrospective? Are they wishing to make it apply to non-work mental injury experienced as a result of a traumatic incident? We have not heard that from them. I would be very interested to hear whether that is the case. If that were the case, it would seem to me that their underground plans for privatising the accident compensation scheme would have to take on a different colour. I would be most interested to know whether the provisions that we have in the bill currently would be expanded upon, given the song and dance we are hearing about them from those members.
I turn to the issue of costs. The National Party has made a substantial play about the range in costs. Coverage for mental injury as a result of a traumatic event is new to New Zealand. This is another incremental improvement on a good scheme, and, because it is new to New Zealand, we do not have the costings we can draw on from past experience. It stands to reason that we will range widely across the possibility of costs in order to get some indicative idea from comparable jurisdictions about the cost of such coverage. We do not anticipate that there will be many of these claims. If one looked back over the last 10 years, one would be able to count the number of mental injuries sustained from a traumatic event. These are not common, everyday experiences. The fact that there might be a range of costs simply means that this is an indicative idea. We are going forward into an area we have not covered previously.
I return to my original point, which is that the National Party has never, quite frankly, understood the issues surrounding accident compensation—not in recent times. National’s only concern at this time, it would seem, is to ensure that it prepares for privatisation and that it sells the scheme to its friends in the insurance business, so that all levies will go up as a result. All levies, without a doubt, would go up.
PANSY WONG (National) : I am really looking forward to the Minister for ACC, Maryan Street, taking many more calls. She just told us not to worry that the Labour Government has wasted so much parliamentary time on passing legislation to deal with this new cover for mental injury caused by witnessing a traumatic event, because there will not be many claims. That was the reason she gave—there will not be many claims, so we do not need to worry.
If the Labour Government is so compassionate that it wants to cover this injury, why has it taken so long to do it? It has taken 9 long years to introduce this cover. It takes Labour members 9 years to do something, even when they feel passionate about it. It really is tough. I think it is to do with election year. The Minister told us that essentially the legislation would not cover many people, but, sad to say, she was not prepared to make it retrospective to cover the four submitters the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee heard from. I am not sure why we are debating this new cover if it will not happen very often. I have bad news for the Minister: I think it might happen quite often, because under the Labour Government law and order is out of control. The opportunities for people to witness a traumatic event during work hours might actually be on the rise. I think the only consolation is that there will be a change of Government so that law and order do not get out of hand.
I want to expand on another provision in the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2), which changes the cover relating to gradual or progressive injury incurred during work hours. There is a change in this legislation whereby the onus of proof is put back on the employer. If the employer cannot prove that an injury was incurred outside of work hours, then under this legislation it becomes a claim against the work account. That is different from the previous provision. One of the submitters was Massey University. People from the university came before the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee and said that as a good employer they have done everything they can. The area that most concerned them was that a lot of their staff use keyboards during work hours. They have done a lot in terms of improving the work environment, including regarding laboratory bench heights. They have taken a lot of preventive measures to make the workplace safe. If an employee uses a keyboard after work, if an injury is caused by an outside-of-work situation, how can it be justifiable that Massey University, even though it has been a good employer, is penalised under this legislation?
The Massey University submitters suggested quite a sensible way forward. It will be difficult, they agree, to prove whether an injury happened during work or after work. So they suggested that a percentage be worked out as to how much time a person spends at work and at home. That would make a claim a lot easier. Under this new provision it would be assumed that the injury was incurred in the workplace, and if there is a dispute, then the Accident Compensation Corporation can investigate. But can members imagine how difficult it would be for an employer to enter an employee’s home to look at his or her home environment and say whether a particular injury was more likely to be attributable to an outside-of-work situation?
Once again, this is typical of the Labour Government. As my good colleague Dr Paul Hutchison said, it just charges on, leading the world. Labour members do not actually know where they are leading; they simply lead like lemmings jumping off a cliff. As long as they are first, they do not care whether it will cost employers and they do not care whether it will lead New Zealand down in the OECD tables. They just want to lead, but without a target and without knowing where the pathway is or how much it will cost. That is why one submitter after another came to the select committee and asked how employers will be able to be good employers.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Port Waikato) : I am very pleased to be able to speak to Part 1 of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2), because this is a very important bill and it is worthy of an extensive debate. I must say I was very concerned when I heard Minister Street claim the National Party has never understood accident compensation, because, after all, it was the National Party that legislated for the visionary accident compensation legislation in the 1970s. What we do not agree with is the “foot in mouth, head in the clouds” dose of unreality that afflicts the modern-day Labour Government, and I must say that it is a very, very dismal disease that is afflicting the modern-day Labour Government.
I was interested to hear Minister Street discuss the question of the train driver and the very worrying and concerning submission he gave to the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee. I was not there but I certainly heard about it. Yes, it is right and proper that the train driver was covered after that awful incident. But the anomaly and the inconsistency is in the fact that if a mother, with her child in a pram, was at that same train crossing and she was not employed outside the home, she would not be covered even though she had witnessed a scene just as horrific as the one witnessed by the train driver. That is why National is saying that once again we are seeing the inconsistency and inequity of the Labour Government.
It took Maryan Street something like 10 minutes of verbiage, including greeting the pupils from—is it Prebbleton School? Greetings to them, as well. We like the blue they are wearing; it is great to see. After that 10 minutes of unmitigated verbiage she had the gall to say, once again, that National did not understand the scheme. Then she went on to say that National makes play of the range of costs. Well, so we should. It is a great pity that this Labour Government, which has caused New Zealand to fall two places in the OECD rankings so that we in are the lowest quarter, does not take notice of this enormous range of costs, which varies by 1,000 percent. What business anywhere in the world could run successfully on those sorts of estimations? Yet this is the sort of legislation that this Labour Government is trying to bring in.
One of the submissions I was particularly impressed by was that of New Zealand Steel, which is a major New Zealand employer. It employs something like 1,200 people locally in the excellent constituency of Port Waikato, which I am very proud to represent. The average wage is $90,000, and it is regarded as a very good employer by its local workers, not to mention the 4,000 to 5,000 workers around the country. What New Zealand Steel says relating to clauses 5 to 9, which deal with cover for work-related mental injury, is worth noting. It says: “The proposal offers an increased level of cover but to only one group of levy payers—those funded by employers. This creates further inconsistency in the recognition of a condition suffered by an individual. If an individual suffers mental injury from witnessing a traumatic event whilst in the course of their employment, they will be covered. However, if another individual witnesses the same event but are not in paid employment, or are not at work at the time, they will not be covered.”
New Zealand Steel is a very realistic employer. It is regarded with great esteem by its workers, because of the fairness with which it employs them.
DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) : In terms of Part 1 of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2) and what my colleague Dr Paul Hutchison has been talking about, which is the work-related and non - work-related criteria, a good example was given by one of the submitters to the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, and I think people will gain a lot of benefit from hearing about it. This submission was made by the New Zealand Institute of Safety Management. It gave the example of a motor vehicle accident to show who would be covered, and who we might have expected would be covered but was not.
A motor vehicle accident may create two classes of injury. The employee who was driving will have his or her physical injuries covered, plus any mental harm that may arise—the mental injury is covered by this legislation. The pedestrian who was hit by the vehicle, and who was not at work, will have his or her physical injuries covered, plus any mental harm caused by the injuries—that is also part of this legislation. But a witness who was mentally injured, and who was not at work, will get nothing; somebody who received a mental injury as a result of witnessing a traumatic event will not be covered under this legislation. An ambulance employee who received mental trauma is entitled to claim—the pedestrian was the ambulance employee’s cousin, in this case. As members can see from this example, the proposed legislation creates two types of injury class: those who are not covered and those who are covered merely because of their employment status.
A number of submitters said that that was not in keeping with the original principles of the accident compensation legislation as put forward in the Woodhouse report. The witness in this case will not get any cover, even though the witness encountered the same traumatic event as, say, the employee did. That is part of the problem with the bill before the Committee. Two types of cover are being promoted by the Government in this case—
Pansy Wong: Inequitable.
DAVID BENNETT: —and it is not equitable, because in some cases people will get cover and in other cases people will not get cover, even though they may have a legitimate claim in the sense that their injury is as great as, or, in some cases, greater than, the injuries of people injured in the course of their employment. That is the fundamental problem that the legislation encounters.
Many submitters brought this scenario before the Government of the day, but the Government was not willing to concede this point, because the Government is pushing through this legislation as part of the raft of legislation that it is promoting in its scorched earth policy in the last couple of months leading up to an election. The Government is more interested in what it can get through the House than in the content or success of the legislation in the long term. The Government is interested in going out there and promoting ideas that have no financial backing in the sense that nobody in the Government understands the financial implications, because that does not matter to the Government; its members want just to be able to go on the election platform and say that they have done something about an issue.
Well, they have not done something about an issue when the people whom the Minister for ACC, Maryan Street, spoke about—such as the person who had encountered two of these kinds of traumas in his working life—are not covered by this legislation because it is not retrospective. That person, who came before the select committee, had been dealt two bad hands of cards. People would not expect to experience one such situation in their working life; that person had experienced two such situations, and he is still not getting cover from the Labour Government.
Labour is going out there with this legislation as some promise for the future with no financial backing, and Labour is using it to say that it has covered off this situation after 9 years in Government. Well, Labour has had 9 years to get a solution. It could have done it at a much earlier stage, and in a form that would have provided retrospective cover and cover for non - work-related injuries. But it has forgone those opportunities, and has done this bill in a very quick and hurried manner, looking forward to an election. This legislation creates a number of holes.
COLIN KING (National—Kaikoura) : It is a pleasure to take a call on the issue of accident compensation. I want to bring to the debate some experience that I had as a shearer and as a shearing contractor.
When I hear about the progressive injury situation, I know that it is a can of worms indeed, because it is a highly contentious situation. In my own life as a contractor I was subject to situations that I had absolutely no control over with regard to injuries that had happened outside the workplace—in this case, a shearing-shed. People would come to me to talk about back injuries and tendon injuries. One of the real issues we had with claiming for accident compensation was being able to establish the actual time when those injuries had occurred.
I am particularly concerned about the muddying of the waters around the issue of the employers’ account, when a situation can be clearly sheeted back home to personal responsibility. I am talking about some of the incidents that occurred when I was a contractor, when some very good young rugby players would come to me on Sunday evening to say they had a sore back. I would have been watching the game of rugby where they had been at the bottom of the ruck, and out the back they would come. Those players would show great Kiwi ingenuity. They would throw themselves with ferocity at their opponents, and then they would try to say that they had injured their back while they were on the third run of the second day at the Tiroa E incorporation’s shed at Benneydale. In that situation, I was confronted with a compelling story, and had to decide whether to sign it off and face the consequences.
When it comes down to the accident compensation scheme, as marvellous as it has been—and it has been a wonderful insulator for the worker and his or her family, who are able to manage through those times when the worker is unable to earn an income—I believe that we have to be very careful when it comes to claims for a progressive injury, because it is wide open to interpretation.
Hon David Benson-Pope: National Party policy—careful!
COLIN KING: Much like the member opposite, it will not be with us for too much longer. With regard to this issue, it is about the very realities that we confront as employers and employees in the workplace. I know that it is probably quite cruel to say in a blanket way that we have to remove this provision and be black and white about it, but what scares me much more than that is that a progressive injury can be loaded against the employer and the employers’ account, and the consequences of doing that tend to undermine the very principle behind the accident compensation scheme.
After looking at my personal experience, I think that the Labour Government has gone one bridge too far. It needs to be very respectful of the balance around personal responsibility and honesty with regard to this situation. Repetitive injury is difficult to prove, and, on balance, this measure is something that I cannot support. Again, we are looking at what is already a gold-plated model. It is incredibly generous, and being able to bolt on or clip on some more variables will open up quite a minefield.
I just thought that I needed to make that contribution. I know that my friends and colleagues around me have debated this issue quite extensively, and they have had the benefit of going through the select committee process.
The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Marian Hobbs): I have actually been listening to the debate quite hard. I will take Peter Brown. If I take any others after Peter Brown I would really have to have a new argument. The argument has been repeated now. I have been given new examples, but it is the same basic argument.
PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First) : I hope that I will raise a new point. I did not intend to take a call in the Committee stage of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2), because I thought it was going ahead very straightforwardly and progressing quite well. But I take exception to what Colin King has just said. I do not know one accident victim who would describe the accident compensation scheme as gold-plated. I have never heard an accident victim describe this scheme as gold-plated.
Hon Harry Duynhoven: I’ve never heard it described as that, either.
PETER BROWN: I have heard it described in many ways, but I have never heard it described as gold-plated. I know that member over there has quite a compassionate heart, and I would invite him to look at this bill from the point of view of an accident victim. [Interruption]
The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Marian Hobbs): Order!
PETER BROWN: Let them go, Madam Chairperson. I do not mind.
The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Marian Hobbs): I would like to hear the debate.
PETER BROWN: I have pricked their consciences, Madam Chairperson, so you have to understand that they feel a bit uneasy. The member has a compassionate heart, but I invite him to look at this bill from the point of view of an accident victim. I say to National members, because I think they are a cold-hearted bunch of squids—[Interruption]—I retract that comment in regard to Paul Hutchinson and David Bennett, because they have made some interesting contributions. We need to improve accident compensation and to view it from the victim’s point of view.
I am encouraged by the two National speakers before Colin King. Paul Hutchinson and David Bennett echoed the point—and it is quite correct—that if a person witnesses a traumatic event at work, and suffers mental injury, that person is covered by accident compensation. But if a person sees the same event outside the workplace, that person is not covered. The reason for that—and both my National Party colleagues understand this—is that the taxpayer pays for the people who are not at work. I take it from that, and the member can tell me if I am wrong, that National will produce a Supplementary Order Paper, which New Zealand First would support, to cover the non-working person who sees a traumatic event. I ask those members to put their money where their mouth is. They have said the bill is unfair in relation to a person who experiences a traumatic event and who suffers a mental injury at a time when that person is not working—that person should be covered. I take it from that that National will cover people in those circumstances.
Will National put that provision as a high priority? Its leader says that tax cuts are National’s highest priority, so according to those guys the money is there. I ask National to produce a Supplementary Order Paper that will cover people who are not in the workforce and who see a traumatic event. I ask Mr Bennett not to bob up. He should sit down and apply his intelligence to a piece of paper, and we will get—
David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Madam Chair. It is quite unusual for the member from New Zealand First, Peter Brown, to make those arguments, because if one reads the commentary and the position of New Zealand First—
The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Marian Hobbs): What is the point of order?
David Bennett: I would like to table the commentary, which shows that New Zealand First actually raised serious concerns about the bill and how it would impose additional costs on employers—
The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Marian Hobbs): The member will sit down. It is unacceptable to raise a point of order to deposit material in the middle of a person’s speech. That should be done at the end. If the member wishes to try again at the end of the speech, he may.
PETER BROWN: There is nothing in our minority view that we will retract. The Minister for ACC is well aware that we believe this bill should go further to address the concerns of people in the workforce who are over the age of 65. More and more people are working longer in their lives, and we think that this bill is an opportunity to go further. But that does not mean we want to stop the people like the train driver who came before the before the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee from being covered.
Simon Power: No.
PETER BROWN: Simon Power says “No.”; he agrees with me.
Simon Power: I do agree with you.
PETER BROWN: Support the bill then, I say to Mr Power.
Simon Power: I don’t agree with you that much.
PETER BROWN: I ask Mr Power to show a bit of compassion, a bit of understanding! [Interruption] Bob Clarkson agrees with me. He would agree with anything. He is going, so he will agree with us.
This is a serious issue that I do not want to make light of. The train driver came before us and told us about the extenuating circumstances he was involved in when he ran over and killed someone and the first instruction he was given was to go along the lines and to look at what had happened to the individual. I think the whole of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee was moved, perhaps not to tears but emotionally, by his statements. Let us think for just 1 minute about what that guy went through. He got out of his train and he had to go along the lines to see what damage he had done. That damage, which was through no fault of his—and I want to make that quite clear—was horrific.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Marian Hobbs): Leave is sought to table the commentary on the bill. Is there any objection? Leave is denied.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Port Waikato) : As I said before, Part 1 is a serious part of the legislation and it is worthy of full debate. I will refer to clause 20, which has not as yet been debated. Clause 20 deals with self-inflicted personal injuries and suicide. I think it is important, once again, to quote from New Zealand Steel, which is regarded as one of the very good employers around New Zealand, and particularly in Port Waikato—the area that I am so proud to represent. New Zealand Steel says: “We oppose this clause, which will repeal the existing clause and provide entitlements for individuals who wilfully self-inflict injuries, including suicide attempts.” It continues: “The proposed change will provide entitlements and incentives for individuals who wilfully self-inflict injuries—actions that New Zealand society considers abhorrent. It actually provides an incentive for individuals to self-harm.”
That quote comes from a large New Zealand employer that has an extremely good record of caring for its employees. It pays an average wage of $90,000, and I do not believe there have been any industrial problems on that site for decades—pretty well since it came into existence—because of its concern about its workers. So I think New Zealand Steel has the authority to speak out.
The very fact that this Labour Government seriously considers adding this clause is an indictment on this Labour Government, on its sense on fairness, and on the fact that it lacks a practical, common-sense approach to problems facing New Zealand society. When we hear the Minister saying that the Government will experiment a little in terms of what it is doing, that this is another step in change, and that New Zealand will be a leader, we can see that it does not seem to matter very much that there is a range of costs going from $7.2 million to $72.2 million—an increase of 1,000 percent. No business in New Zealand, let alone the rest of the world, could survive on that sort of loose accounting, yet that is what the Labour Government wants to do. It also wants to do this in relation to a situation that is particularly serious: that of self-inflicted personal injuries and suicide.
It is important to quote further from New Zealand Steel: “Providing ongoing entitlements over and above medical treatment is also inconsistent with the purpose of the ACC scheme, as outlined in section 3 of the Act. This requires the ACC scheme to be fair, be sustainable, minimise the incidence of injury, and minimise the impact of injury.” New Zealand Steel considers that the repeal of section 119 will encourage disgruntled employees to wilfully self-inflict injuries, which will result in more injuries, an unfair burden on levy payers who do not wilfully self-inflict injuries, and an unsustainable cost on the scheme. These are all very, very serious concerns put forward by New Zealand Steel.
The Minister Maryan Street claimed that the National Party has never understood accident compensation, but I say Labour has never understood the practicalities of a modern economy. That is the reason it is in so much trouble today. Labour members are keen to lead the country to goodness knows where. I was quite fascinated to hear Pansy Wong point out, quite appropriately, that they are like a pack of lemmings leading New Zealand over the cliff. This sort of clause would indeed lead New Zealand over the cliff.
|Ayes 70||New Zealand Labour 49; New Zealand First 7; Green Party 6; Māori Party 4; United Future 2; Progressive 1; Independent: Field.|
|Noes 49||New Zealand National 48; Independent: Copeland.|
|Motion agreed to.|
- The question was put that the amendments set out on Supplementary Order Paper 208 in the name of the Hon Maryan Street to Part 1 be agreed to.
|Ayes 70||New Zealand Labour 49; New Zealand First 7; Green Party 6; Māori Party 4; United Future 2; Progressive 1; Independent: Field.|
|Noes 49||New Zealand National 48; Independent: Copeland.|
|Amendments agreed to.|
|Ayes 70||New Zealand Labour 49; New Zealand First 7; Green Party 6; Māori Party 4; United Future 2; Progressive 1; Independent: Field.|
|Noes 49||New Zealand National 48; Independent: Copeland.|
|Part 1 as amended agreed to.|
Part 2 Further amendment to principal Act and regulations, and additional transitional provision
PANSY WONG (National) : Quite interestingly, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) is trying to calm all submitters and to say that one of the changes introduced in Part 2, about the due date for levy payment, is only technical. Currently, the accident compensation legislation states that the due date for the self-employed, employers, and private domestic workers to pay their levy invoices cannot be more than 2 months after the invoice date, and that ACC will calculate and apply interest to any unpaid levy from the day after the day when payment is due. The change brought about is for the levy payment to be due 30 days from the date of the invoice, rather than 2 months. But according to ACC, the penalty would still not be incurred until after 2 months, so the corporation is trying to tell all those people affected that it is only a technical change. We all know that whenever we hear “technical change”, it spells problems. If there is indeed no change, why introduce the provision?
I want to share a heartfelt, real-life complaint that I received about the way in which ACC collects payment, and those words will send shivers down some people’s spines. A 12-year-old paper delivery girl was registered with ACC, because everybody has to pay accident compensation levies. On her registration form she put down that everything else was taken care of by her guardian. Apparently ACC sent her an invoice; she took one look at it, obviously did not comprehend the significance of it, and filed it away. Next minute the guardian, the parent, received a debt collector’s letter from Baycorp, chasing up a debt. The father approached the ACC office but he was asked to dial the 0800 number. Well, that complaint went nowhere so the family contacted their local MP, the Hon Steve Maharey, who said he would fix the problem. But the family received a second threatening letter from Baycorp and then approached my office. I sorted it out with ACC, and then ACC wrote a letter and said it was not the corporation’s fault and that Baycorp should have known better.
With that type of example, where the ACC cannot get even small issues right like noticing the word “guardian” or that a levy payer is only 12 years old, then I am not too sure about this technical change whereby the penalty will not kick in until after 2 months. If the penalty interest will not be calculated until 2 months after the date of the invoice, why bother bringing in a provision to change the due time from 60 days to 30 days? As any sensible business people know, if they get an invoice and there is no penalty incurred, why would they pay?
Ministers seem to have been very keen to take calls on Part 1, so I think that it is a very good idea for the Minister to take a call and explain to all those business people, the self-employed, and private domestic workers, the significance of the change to the due time from 60 days to 30 days, when there is no penalty interest and no penalty involved. Most people see the ACC levy as a tax, because they really do not have a choice in terms of the size, the package, or what they can insure for. They really see the levy as a tax payment where they have no choice. If there is no change to the penalty regime, one is at a loss to know why Parliament is taking time to debate this provision. I hope it is not just that officials have a tidy-mind concept and feel that everybody should adhere to the business practice of payment being due after 30 days, so why not just bring it in? But ACC says it is not going to penalise people; who will believe that?
DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East) : Part 2 is very important because it sets out the time frame of when it actually applies—it denies retrospective claims. One of the key things that people saw when they came to the select committee was that the claims made were about injury that had been suffered in the past—the mental injury that people had suffered in their workplace. Those cases, such as the ones of the tanker driver and the train driver, brought a lot of concern to the people in the committee. But when we look at Part 2, we see that it says it applies only from the commencement date of this part of the legislation, effectively. It covers people from now on only—it does not cover people who engaged in work and had suffered mental injury and trauma in the past. That is a huge problem for this legislation, because if we are going to be so fair and almighty, in the sense of covering all kinds of injury, then how can we distinguish between injury that somebody has encountered in the past and something that will happen in the future? If we are to provide that cover, we should provide it for all people at all times. We should not make a distinction between those people who are affected now or will be in the future, and leave out all those poor people who came before the select committee and who were the examples that made this legislation a reality. Those people will not be covered. The people who came before the select committee will be left high and dry by Labour. Labour will not deliver for the people whom this legislation talks about and who have been used as examples. This is just another instance of Labour Party electioneering; that is all it is.
Labour wants to go into an election campaign saying that it has dealt with this issue and it has something on the table. Well, it is not retrospective—it does not cover the examples of people who have sustained mental injury who came before the select committee—and that is a major problem for all those submitters. They came and provided the heartfelt stories that the select committee had to listen to and engage with to see the problem, yet they will not be covered. They have been let down by the Government. They have been sold one story and then delivered another. They have been told that they will be part of a solution to this problem, yet there has been no solution that will have any impact on their daily lives. Labour has gone out there and said it is dealing with this issue, but then has not actually provided any solution for these people.
Part 2 is very important. Part 2 means that there is no retrospectivity to this legislation. The cases that came before the select committee will not be considered, in the sense that there would be cover for retrospective mental injury. That is a shame, especially when we consider that the legislation had the potential to provide for that. If Labour had stuck to its guns, and if there had been—as the Green Party indicated at the first and second readings that there should be—an inclusion of retrospectivity, then the policy analysis of this legislation would be fundamentally stronger. By not creating that retrospective nature, we are leaving a lot of the people who came and presented their cases before the select committee out of the loop. It is a real shame on the Labour Party and on this Government that it is considering legislation only for electioneering purposes, and not for the benefit of the people who raised their concerns before the select committee.
MARTIN GALLAGHER (Labour—Hamilton West) : It is interesting that the previous speaker talked about electioneering. When I read through Part 2, I cannot see exactly where the so-called electioneering is. But I do note, of course, that Mr Key himself, when speaking to the Large Herds Association conference on 21 March 2007, said: “I want to confirm today that National’s policy is to re-establish a competitive market to provide accident insurance. This delivered more efficient accident coverage in the 1990s, and will do so again when National forms the government.” I wonder whether the submitters to the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee would necessarily have agreed with that; I wonder whether that would have been the case.
Darien Fenton: Definitely not.
MARTIN GALLAGHER: My good colleague says “Definitely not.” I also wonder whether we will see more of the National Party’s policy with regard to this bill and with regard to accident compensation. I wonder whether we will see the policy, or is the member for Coromandel, Sandra Goudie, still waiting for the Insurance Council to deliver the policy to her?
Dr Paul Hutchison: I raise a point of order, Madam Chair. You earlier brought to the Committee’s attention the fact that it is important to stay close to the parts. I understand we are debating Part 2—
The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Marian Hobbs): I am well aware of that. I take the point.
Dr Paul Hutchison: —and I challenge the speaker to explain what relevance whatsoever anything he said had to Part 2 or the schedules.
The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Marian Hobbs): I have taken the point. I would like to make this point in reply. I make notes of all that members say. The previous speaker, David Bennett, spent some time fairly widely on electioneering, and that was the member’s response. This is the last time. I ask the speaker now to turn to Part 2. He has had his chance to respond to David Bennett’s electioneering.
MARTIN GALLAGHER: It is pretty obvious to me that the intent of the Labour members of this Committee is a commitment to ensuring the long-term viability of a no-fault, fair, and sustainable accident compensation scheme that also covers people with mental trauma, psychological illness, etc., and emphasises injury prevention and, of course, also tries to give them a fair go. It is relevant because I am very interested in the detail of the Insurance Council’s submission to the select committee. I am very interested, in the context of this hearing, in the relationship between the Insurance Council and the National members of the select committee. That is the issue that I think is very, very relevant in the context of this Committee stage tonight. I think it is very pertinent.
I acknowledge the constructive contribution that the Insurance Council made on a number of issues but I think in the context of this part, and in the context of this bill, we need to seek out the wider meaning and the wider nuance. It is very obvious that the members opposite have had more discussions on this part and on other parts of this bill than they are letting on tonight.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Port Waikato) : It is with great pleasure that I speak on Part 2 and the schedules of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2). I must say it was of great concern to hear the member for Hamilton West err and stray from Part 2.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Madam Chair. I know the member is a relatively new member, but he should know he is not allowed to refer to a matter on which you have ruled. He is doing that now.
The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Marian Hobbs): Thank you. You are correct. I wonder whether we can now continue.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: Indeed it is great to be brought to order by the former member for Hamilton West, but nevertheless—
The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Marian Hobbs): There’s something in the water in Hamilton.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: It goes all the way down to Lower Hutt these days. Nevertheless, I would like to speak on clause 43 of schedule 1 of the principal Act, “Weekly earnings if employment ended before commencement of incapacity”. Once again, this is covered in Part 2. The problem here is that this proposed change will allow an employee to cease employment without having reported an accident, and without any symptoms of injury, and to then present a medical certificate from a medical practitioner 28 days later, showing an incapacity. This is quite absurd. This, indeed, widens the current loophole whereby a disgruntled employee can lay a claim for ongoing weekly compensation entitlements 28 days after the employment relationship has ceased. It also provides, again, a perverse incentive for a former employee who cannot find other employment, to make a claim to sustain his or her ongoing income. So once again we see a perverse incentive that is being encouraged by the Labour Government in this very untidy legislation.
The other point I would like to make is that these schedules do allow further slow process conditions and diseases to be added, I understand by Order in Council. Once again, the end of this is pretty well infinite. It could go on and on forever. The Labour Government, once again in its expansive determination to be there first, like the lemming over the cliff, has decided to make these schedules reasonably easy to alter. That, of course, is a particular worry given the fact that this legislation brings in the reversal of proof, from the employee or the person who had the accident having to show or demonstrate that he or she has indeed had the injury, to the employer having to disprove that that person did not suffer an injury. As many of the legal fraternity know, this becomes almost impossible when there is not the ability to invade someone’s privacy to ask, for instance, a person who has suffered a hearing injury, whether it occurred because that person worked in a noisy atmosphere or because the employee had the propensity to go home, turn on the stereo, and play his or her favourite music at very loud decibels for very long times. It is absolutely impossible to prove, yet this reversal of proof is exactly what the Labour Government is trying to do with this legislation. There is also the ability in the schedules to add on further slow process conditions and diseases.
I would also like to talk about clause 51 of schedule 1 in the principal Act, “Abatement of compensation”. By removing the abatement of earnings from partial hours, the incentive to obtain a fully fit medical certificate is removed. Once again we have a perverse incentive—the sort of incentive or perverse situation that the Labour Government consistently wants to encourage and is the reason that this Labour Government has failed and is managing New Zealand so badly. The abatement of compensation means that any employee returning to work on partial hours will receive his or her 100 percent pre-injury earnings rate after working fewer than 8 hours per week, so there is an incentive for claimants to influence their medical practitioners to certify them fit to work for 8 hours or fewer per week.
We have heard story after story over the last few months of doctor-bullying by accident compensation claimants. This is the very classic example in clause 51. Should a claimant be required to work more than this, then that person will not earn any additional income until he or she becomes fully fit and returns to normal duties. So the 80 percent and minimum weekly compensation rates have been long-established mechanisms to ensure injured workers have an income stream protected and maintained. Abated compensation for partial hours provides a stepped incentive to increasing working hours, and the removal of abated compensation will be a retrograde step in positive rehabilitation.
So we have three instances within Part 2 and the schedule where perverse incentives are being encouraged by the legislation, and where dire consequences will occur both to the affordability of the scheme and, indeed, to the individuals involved with it—that is, the weekly earnings of an employee’s employment ended before commencement of incapacity, the abatement of compensation, and, of course, the ability to add more long-term work-related injuries to the schedule without a legislation change. This continues to be the reason why the National Party is deeply concerned about this legislation, and is opposing it.
PANSY WONG (National) : Although Part 2 looks just a small part, it is—as my very learned, intelligent, hard-working colleagues David Bennett and Dr Paul Hutchison have pointed out—a very, very important part. I am just so glad that Hamilton East is serviced by such an intelligent, hard-working member of Parliament as David Bennett, because his speech was in great contrast with that of the member for Hamilton West, who did not seem to be able to even read Part 2. It is a very small part and he could not even comprehend it.
We all have a lot of respect for my colleague Dr Paul Hutchison. He is a real medical doctor, and that is why I listened carefully to his dissertation on the amendments to schedule 1 of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Act, which are outlined in Part 2 of the bill. I listened particularly to the point about whether the Accident Compensation Corporation is supposed to fulfil the objective of this legislation, which is to introduce the scheme’s provisions on sustainable grounds. Although we may have well-meaning, good intentions, we have to be very careful about the way we relax and simply increase the number of the types of claims, types of covers, and types of diseases, because, after all, I would say that the Labour Government continues to damage the ability of the corporation to operate on sustainable grounds.
The schedule could easily be extended to state what would happen, for example, if the Government were not to try to ban smoking and drinking. These substances cause harm to people’s health. If, on the one hand, we started to go down this track and state that the accident compensation scheme is aimed at minimising and preventing injuries, but, on the other hand, we will allow substances such as tobacco, drugs, etc., which might cause ill health to those who use them, then where does it end? All these substances can be harmful. If individuals continue to indulge in smoking cigarettes, drinking excessively, or taking drugs and they then injure themselves in the workplace, then, according to Parts 1 and 2 of this bill, that injury could fall into the category of a gradual process injury. So where does one stop?
This accident compensation scheme started off as an objective, comprehensive, 24-hour, no-fault scheme, but Labour members continue to forget that the reason we have this compensation for victims is that victims have forgone the ability to sue the offenders—it is the forgoing of the ability to sue. Now, in this bill, we have started to introduce types of injuries that could be self-inflicted. How can people sue someone else if they have injured themselves? Why are the provisions on self-harm and self-injury being brought into the legislation? People cannot sue themselves for injuring themselves; that goes against the original principles of the accident compensation scheme.
We are very concerned about Part 2 in terms of the relaxation and the ease with which the different types of causes and cover are being introduced to this legislation. The more cover and the more subjective provisions that are introduced to accident compensation legislation, the more often that long-term doubts will be raised about the corporation’s ability to provide the scheme. At the moment we already know that the accident compensation scheme has $3.4 billion in unfunded liability, and it is supposed to be fully funded by 2014. I doubt very much that that can be fulfilled under this legislation.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE (Minister of Immigration) : I rise to take a short call on Part 2, having entered the Chamber after being elsewhere. I listened to Dr Hutchison’s comments, and also to those of Pansy Wong. I will address Part 2, especially in terms of the commencement date—of course, those people do not want it to commence on 1 July or 1 August 2008.
I listened to the bleatings of Dr Hutchison and Pansy Wong, who were standing up for people on accident compensation and lamenting the old system. I ask those members whether it was their party, when it was in Government, that effectively flogged off the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), privatised it, and did away with it. I ask those members whether they will make a commitment: I challenge Dr Hutchison, Mr Power, Pansy Wong, and old “cue ball” over there—I cannot remember his name—to announce a policy tonight to make a commitment that National will not do what it did pre-1999, which was to privatise the ACC and flog it off. Do we have a commitment? Do we have half a commitment? Do we have a quarter of a commitment?
Hon Trevor Mallard: No, not a word.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: Not a word.
I will address Part 2, especially in terms of the commencement date that National members do not want. I say to those members that in 1999, when I became a member of Parliament, Labour members would have spent at least 12 months, possibly 2 years, as Government members of Parliament—as would those Opposition members who actually saw a constituent occasionally—dealing with the carnage that was visited upon people who were forced out into the private sector solution that National proposed. Those people were forced out of a no-fault system, and they still dealt with it. People were pressured by the private sector providers, and we know that National did a deal with the Insurance Council to push that one through before the election.
As we look at Part 2 we know that that deal must be live today, because having asked National members whether they would do it again—and I ask them again whether they would revisit their policy—there is no answer, no commitment. They would do it again. I can recall constituents in my electorate office in Kaiapoi in tears because of the treatment that they had received at the hands of some of those private providers who, in using a pure market model, had done everything they could to dispatch people out of their care as soon as they possibly could. Members should ask physiotherapists and others in my area what they think of National’s accident compensation proposal, then and now.
That member over there, who gave a particularly sour speech, rabbited on about legal issues and about people suing each other. Well, I say to her that we have a world-class accident compensation system. A world-class accident compensation system means that if one has an accident, one is looked after. From time to time, some may pull the wool over the system. I have people coming to me and saying that the ACC is at them because it wants to help them, rehabilitate them, and get them back to work. One or two pull the wool, and one or two actually complain because the ACC keeps ringing them up, giving them options, giving them retraining, and getting them medical attention. Even if people have a substantial injury, those people who really want to get back to work will pursue those options.
Dr Paul Hutchison: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. The previous Chairperson made it very clear that it was most important that members from both sides of the Chamber stuck to Part 2 and the schedules. Unfortunately, I have not heard anything relating to Part 2 or the schedules from the present speaker. [Interruption]
The CHAIRPERSON (Hon Clem Simich): The member was on a point of order, Mr Cosgrove. The member speaking has been doing a fair bit of rebuttal, but debate on the schedule makes the debate a lot wider than just a glance at Part 2 would suggest. But I ask the member to have regard to Part 2.
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: I am grateful, Mr Chairperson, for your learned and precise rulings. [Interruption] He is learned. That genius over there might want to clean his lugs out—maybe he needs some accident compensation help with that—and listen to what is said. I am entitled to rebut the piffle from that member, and also the piffle from “cue ball” over there. I have referred many times to a number of commencement dates, the first being in Part 2—1 July and 1 August—which National members do not want.
RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Labour) : I am delighted to follow the speech of the Minister Clayton Cosgrove. I cannot come anywhere near to his level of rhetoric or enthusiasm, but I have decided to take a more analytical approach, as one is wont to do on subjects such as this one. I was particularly prompted into taking that approach by the speech of David Bennett from Hamilton, who spoke about wanting to bring in retrospective legislation. As he was debating Part 2 I looked to see which part could become retrospective, and looking at the bill led me on an interesting journey. What he wants to do is to impose retrospective levies on employers. I was thinking about how appropriate it is in this age for a right-wing party to want to bring in retrospective levies and penalty payments on employers. How did I get to that? Let us look at the bill itself, which would be a refreshing change in this debate.
Clause 34A starts out by stating: “Transitional provision for payment of levies and payment of penalties and interest due for unpaid levies”. Mr Bennett from Hamilton says that the payment of levies and the penalties for unpaid levies should be retrospective. Retrospectivity means that we date something back to a time before the start of the legislation. Mr Bennett is advocating the charging of levies in arrears, so that levies that were not previously entitled to be charged could now be charged back to some uncertain date in the past. I was thinking about what that really means. What is Mr Bennett really saying? Is he saying that workers should be penalised as such, as he is often wont to say in this House? No, he does not say that, because the levies referred to in this clause relate to sections 21 to 23 of the principal Act. So we go to clauses 21 to 23 of Part 1 of the bill in order to see which party they relate to—the worker or the employer. Clause 21, which Mr Bennett wants to make retrospective, states: “Employers to pay levies”. So Mr Bennett’s speech, which I presume has the authority of the leader of the National Party, says that employers in this country should be liable for retrospective levies.
That is a new policy. That is not in the list of National policies announced on 9 June at Fieldays, where new policies were listed. No mention of that is made in the documentation, so that clearly is a new policy that has slipped out from this member on his feet in the Chamber tonight, in the Committee stage. So the National Party’s new way of raising money to pay for tax cuts is to bring in the concept of retrospective levies paid by employers. Either that is the case or Mr Bennett was speaking outside his party’s policy and therefore not addressing the Committee honestly on the matters before him tonight. We must assume that he is an honourable member and is acting on instructions from his leader to advance National Party policy in a debate on a matter as important as this is.
Clause 34A does not address just clause 21; it also addresses clause 22, which states: “Private domestic workers to pay levies”. What does that tell us? The member for Hamilton East, Mr Bennett, not only wants to bring in retrospective levies on employers; he wants to get at domestic workers, as well.
Does it stop there? No, clause 34A also refers to section 23, which relates to self-employed people having to pay levies, and so on.
Essentially, the National Party is advancing tonight an argument not of backdating taxes but of imposing levies that did not exist before this bill was introduced. If that is the attitude of the National members, then they must come clean. Perhaps that is why the National members voted against the tax cuts for business that came in this year. Perhaps it is because they have an agenda not yet declared. Perhaps they are not yet prepared to declare their policy on business, because it would be so unpopular—it includes not giving tax cuts to business, and imposing retrospective levies on businesses. This is new policy. This is absolutely, stunningly appalling policy if one is interested in increasing the productivity of this good country. Part 2 of this bill makes what Mr Bennett was talking about crystal clear.
I say once again—one needs to run through it in one’s head several times, because the concept is so staggering—that Mr Bennett, on behalf of the National Party, is advocating the retrospective charging of levies under the accident compensation provisions. These matters will be taken up by many business interests throughout the country, no doubt. No doubt the Insurance Council and the firm Mr Gallagher referred to—which may have had a big influence on Mr Bennett tonight—will not be taking issue with that, but employers around the country will be concerned that they will have to pay retrospective levies. It is appalling.
|Noes 49||New Zealand National 48; Independent: Copeland.|
|Part 2 agreed to.|
|Noes 49||New Zealand National 48; Independent: Copeland.|
|Schedule agreed to.|
Clauses 1 to 3
PANSY WONG (National) : The title of this Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2) is too bland when we relate it to the serious issue I am about to raise. In Part 1 a very important change takes place, and I think New Zealanders would be appalled to learn the substantive change. Currently, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) has the authority not to pay compensation for self-inflicted personal injuries and suicides. This legislation would change that; it will actually contravene a principle of the accident compensation scheme. That accident compensation scheme principle is to minimise injury while not putting an unfair burden on levy payers.
Let me share this case with the public. On 21 June—last Saturday—the New Zealand Herald stated: “A 44-year-old west Auckland man was treated in hospital today for self-inflicted sword cuts after he threatened his family and ‘smashed the hell’ out of his house and car.” The police said that by the time they reached him, he had “lost all his puff and was curled up on the couch in a bit of state.” They also said that alcohol was involved.
In 2005, according to official statistics, 5,000 people attempted suicide and, of those, 1,150 filed a claim with the ACC. This is serious. Some members of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee argued that most of those people have mental injuries and, therefore, they asked what the point is of having a provision that gives the ACC the safeguard of satisfying itself that people have not injured themselves intentionally and do not have a mental health problem.
I challenge New Zealand First, particularly Peter Brown, in this instance. He keeps us quite entertained with lots of his sailor stories, but some of his stories are more serious. He said that it was quite common, apparently, for people to pick up heavy tools or boxes and drop them on their own feet to claim injury or health insurance. If Mr Brown continues to support this provision, then I want him to also explain, on one hand, why he told us that people intentionally injure themselves, and, on the other hand, why he is supporting a provision that takes away any safeguard against those deliberate acts.
There is a more serious side: if anybody was to dangle money in front of other people and say that if they tried to kill themselves they would get that money, then that person would probably be prosecuted for that scheme and everybody would be outraged. But we now have a Government bill—a Government bill—that would actually entitle someone who commits self-harm or who attempts suicide to compensation. In any environment I find it outrageous to legislate for a change that would almost endorse or normalise the behaviour of suicide. I am sure that my colleague Dr Paul Hutchison would be appalled, because doctors are trained to save people.
Accident compensation legislation is meant to minimise injury. Tonight we are debating legislation that says that it is OK to attempt suicide and that, in fact, compensation will be paid. I think that this is appalling, and that it is being done without much research. The number I have just mentioned, of 5,000 cases of attempted suicide, does not include people who may have self-inflicted injuries and who have attended only general practitioners and clinics. Who knows how much the compensation for their injuries would cost?
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Port Waikato) : Thank you, Mr Chairman, for the opportunity to speak on the title and commencement clauses of the Injury Prevention, Rehabilitation, and Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2). I agree with my colleague the excellent Pansy Wong, who said that the title is somewhat bland. There is no doubt that the title could refer to a great many different things. The bill could be called the “Labour Government: Forget About Who Pays the Levies Bill”, or, in fact, the “Forget About Who Pays Bill”.
When I spoke in the first reading debate on this bill about a year ago, I looked with horror at the potential costs of this bill and their wide variation. Yet tonight Minister Street admits that the spectrum of costs that was put out a year ago is still as wide as it was then. In fact, in the mental health areas, costs go from $7.6 million to $72.2 million. That is a range of 1,000 percent. No business anywhere in the world could run on that sort of incomprehensible range. It is not just that cost that has not been fixed by the Labour Government over the last 11 months. There are also changes to weekly compensation where the range is $63 million to $138.6 million, and Minister Street says: “Don’t worry; this is just a new little experiment by the Labour Government. The imprecision doesn’t really matter all that much. We are just lemmings and we want to go over the cliff.”
Another appropriate title for this bill could be the “Compensation for Self-inflicted Harm Bill”. I think it is really important to look at what New Zealand Steel said about this. It said the proposed changes will provide entitlements and incentives for individuals who wilfully self-inflict injuries—actions that New Zealand society considers abhorrent. It actually provides an incentive for individuals to self-harm. This does seem lunacy on the part of the Labour Government—but, then, there are other titles that would also fit this bill.
The bill could be called the “Labour Government: When Economic Conditions Get Rough For Business We Will Make Them Even Rougher Bill”, because that is exactly what it does. Again, I cite the example of New Zealand Steel. It points out that the levies fall on the employer and the self-employed, and on no one else. They fall quite inequitably, and that is the problem with this bill—it is indeed inconsistent and inequitable. That would make another good title for this bill. It could be called the “Labour Government: How to be Inconsistent and Inequitable Bill”.
One other thought that has crossed my mind is that perhaps we should dedicate this bill to none other than the Minister herself, Maryan Street, who at one stage of events was talking about the accident compensation scheme being second to none. Of course it is second to none! It is the only scheme like it in the whole wide world. Therefore, we could appropriately entitle this bill the “Maryan Street Second to None Accident Compensation Scheme Bill”, but that would leave her name on some legislation—an amendment—that is clearly quite ridiculous, inconsistent, and inappropriate.
One of the other names the legislation could appropriately be given is the “Let’s Blur the Margins Between Injuries Caused by Accidents and Medical Conditions Bill”. This is particularly important, because back in 1974 when National legislated for the accident compensation scheme, it was very thoughtful about it. Wisely, it brought in a scheme that recognised that the compensation for injury in this country was particularly poor and unfair. I cannot imagine those same visionary people believing that in 2008 self-inflicted injury would be compensated.
PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First) : I probably will not take my full 5 minutes, but I want to respond to what Pansy Wong said. She made some interesting comments. She drew New Zealand First, and me personally, into the debate about self-inflicted injury. She is correct inasmuch as I did express some concern about that clause at the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, and she approached me and intimated that National would produce a Supplementary Order Paper to delete the clause. I said, if I recall correctly, that New Zealand First would give that strong consideration.
But after that I spoke with officials and various other people, and I put our view this way: New Zealand First accepts that people who attempt suicide, successfully or unsuccessfully, are, in general terms, suffering from some mental disorder. We do not think it is a natural thing to do, and we would not challenge that as being beyond the coverage of the accident compensation scheme.
Pansy Wong said I made it appear that it was a common occurrence for people to drop heavy boxes or weights on their feet to avoid work. I certainly did not want to give the impression that it was a common occurrence, and I would go as far as to say I did not give that impression. But I am aware—and I state it again tonight for Pansy’s consideration or knowledge—that I am aware of people who have dropped heavy boxes on their feet to get a few days off work. Their injuries were not serious, but they were covered by the accident compensation scheme and they got a few days off work.
But it was pointed out to me by officials and by other people that to do anything about that, in terms of engaging lawyers and taking the battle to court, would cost more than it would achieve and was not worth pursuing. But had the National Party members been serious in their assertions, and had they come up with a Supplementary Order Paper—as I was expecting—to delete clause 20 from this bill, my colleagues would have been prepared to give it strong consideration and vote—
Simon Power: Would the member have voted for it?
PETER BROWN: We were going to consider, depending what National said, whether to support it. We were seriously going to consider supporting it. But National members did not raise the concern at the appropriate time. They did not even raise it during the debate on Part 1, and it came up again in the debate on Part 2 and the debate on the title. It is the same with Mr Bennett. He raves on about retrospectivity, but he said nothing about it at select committee. He got it all confused, and he was torn to shreds by Russell Fairbrother. He was torn to shreds, and I know that he did not mean what he said.
These National guys, particularly the guys speaking on the bill tonight, are phoney—absolutely phoney. [Interruption] No, they have no intention of delivering on what they have been saying. Their speeches are full of hot air, and they have absolutely no concern for accident victims—no concern whatsoever. They are just trying to attract media attention or something else. Will those members use taxpayers’ money to address some of the concerns they have, should they get to the Government benches? The answer is no. Will they rescind this bill? I do not think so. I think it is all hot air and bull from the National members. The sooner we get this bill passed the better for everybody involved.
|Noes 49||New Zealand National 48; Independent: Copeland.|
|Clause 1 agreed to.|
- The question was put that the amendment set out on Supplementary Order Paper 208 in the name of the Hon Maryan Street to clause 2 be agreed to.
|Noes 49||New Zealand National 48; Independent: Copeland.|
|Amendment agreed to.|
|Noes 49||New Zealand National 48; Independent: Copeland.|
|Clause 2 as amended agreed to.|
|Noes 49||New Zealand National 48; Independent: Copeland.|
|Clause 3 agreed to.|
- Bill reported with amendment.
- Report adopted.
Lawyers and Conveyancers Amendment Bill (No 2)
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Justice) : I move, That the Lawyers and Conveyancers Amendment Bill (No 2) be now read a first time. This bill amends the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 to allow unions and employers organisations to continue their longstanding practice of using in-house lawyers to provide legal services to their members. I intend to move that the bill be considered by the Justice and Electoral Committee, and that the committee be directed to report finally to the House on or before 10 July 2008. I ask for the committee’s urgent attention to be focused on this bill so that it is enacted as swiftly as possible in order to ensure that the valuable contribution of unions and employers organisations can continue.
Ensuring that all employees and employers participating in the labour market understand and can meet their obligations is vital to the market’s proper functioning and critical to the future of New Zealand’s productivity. To educate and support people in meeting their obligations, unions and employers organisations provide a timely, practical, cost-effective, and relevant service, which integrates prevention, advice, and legal and other services.
As enacted, the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 will prevent unions and employers organisations from continuing their practice of providing legal services to their members. The proposed amendment will ensure that this longstanding practice can continue. The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act will make the provision of legal services to the public by in-house lawyers—that is, lawyers employed by non-lawyers—an act of professional misconduct. That provision effectively prevents in-house lawyers from providing legal services to the public.
Section 9 of the Act contains a list of exemptions to this general rule. This bill adds to those exemptions by including legal services that unions and employers organisations provide to their members. An employers organisation is defined as an organisation whose members are employers and that promotes the interest of its members as employers. A union is a union registered under Part 4 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. The remainder of the bill contains consequential exemptions that result from the amendment to section 9, such as the exemptions from the obligation to contribute to the Law Society’s fidelity funds.
As I said, I introduce this bill with a sense of urgency, because the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 will come into force on 1 August 2008. Until this amendment is passed, unions and employers organisations will have to either develop some temporary alternative arrangements for using their lawyers or stop providing legal services to their members through in-house lawyers. The alternative arrangements are viewed as cumbersome and unsatisfactory by both unions and employer organisations. Accordingly, I do not want the situation to last very long. Four to 5 weeks may not seem long for us in terms of the passing of this amendment, but for the family of someone who has been suddenly dismissed without cause, this time period without access to sound or affordable legal advice will have severe detrimental effects.
I intend to move that the Lawyers and Conveyancers Amendment Bill (No 2) be referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee, and that the committee be directed to report finally to the House on or before 10 July 2008. I commend this bill to the House.
SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei) : National will support the first reading of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Amendment Bill (No 2). The Minister has outlined the reasons that the bill needs to move with such haste. It is bearing down on the commencement date for many of the operative provisions of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act, which comes into force on 1 August. I am aware that there will need to be a thorough discussion during the select committee process, with representations being made by the Law Society, which will want to ensure that any changes to the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act that are proposed by this amendment bill are not in any way designed to undermine the original intent and purpose of that governing parent legislation.
The Law Society and other stakeholder submitters will be given, as I understand it, the opportunity to make submissions to ensure that unions, business associations, and the like that provide and have always provided in-house legal advice to their members are not disadvantaged. We do not want in any way to see that happen. Nor do we want to inadvertently create a situation where legal advice other than in those specific situations is able to be given outside of the standard structures available for the practice of law.
The Minister has asked the House for a very short time frame for the bill at the Justice and Electoral Committee. National will support that time frame. We will head to that committee with an open mind about submissions that need to be made to ensure that the provisions of the amendment bill are not overcooked, which is something that I know my colleague Dr Richard Worth will want to make a few short remarks about in this debate. Having said that, I note that the Minister approached the National Party on this issue on 10 June. In good faith she sent us a copy of the amendment bill and a covering letter asking whether we would support the legislation. We will do that, and I personally look forward to sitting on the committee, when I can, to deal with this bill. Members of the National Party will do their best to ensure that all parties, including practising lawyers in traditional legal frameworks, are protected, as well as those associations that have historically given legal advice to their members in the way that a business association or union has.
CHARLES CHAUVEL (Labour) : It is a pleasure to follow the previous two speakers and take a short call on the Lawyers and Conveyancers Amendment Bill (No 2). Ensuring that all participants in the labour market understand and can meet their obligations is vital to create a well-functioning labour market. I am very proud to have begun my career by working for a union. My first full-time job was working for a union, the Northern Hotel Workers’ Union, as its legal officer back in the late 1980s. That time marked the period when both unions and employers associations first began to feel the need to employ in-house legal counsel.
There had been a practice for some time of lay advocates appearing in what was previously the Labour Court or the Arbitration Court to represent members of unions or employers associations when an employment case had to be taken to one of those institutions. A right of lay audience existed in those forums, but with the increasing legalisation of the employment law regime in New Zealand, particularly after the Employment Contracts Act 1991, it became virtually standard practice for every large union, particularly as the unions consolidated, and for many employers organisations, to employ legally qualified staff to minimise the cost of providing advice and representation to their members.
This was a position that was regarded under the legislation that predated the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act as quite acceptable, and was condoned by the regulatory authorities, including the district law societies and the New Zealand Law Society. But, as the Minister said, the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, scheduled to come into force very shortly on 1 August, will prevent that status quo ante from continuing. It will stop unions and employers organisations from continuing the practice I have described. That would be a retrograde step, as the Minister has said. It has the potential to deprive employees, particularly low-income employees, of a good, expert, and low-cost source of representation. It also has the potential to stop employers, particularly small businesses, from getting such representation from their employers associations. That would be highly undesirable in any view, so it is good to hear that, at least as far as this reading is concerned, there is bipartisan, and, hopefully, multi-partisan, support for the measure, and I hope that that will continue.
It is interesting to note that until the amendment is passed, unions and employers organisations are having to give consideration to developing temporary arrangements in order to meet the risk that we will not get this legislation through in time for the passage of the Act. I had one—
Christopher Finlayson: Cheap advice from Minter Ellison.
CHARLES CHAUVEL: Oh, well, there would, no doubt, have been excellent advice from my former firm—and, hopefully, from the shadow Attorney-General’s former firm as well, although in the latter case probably more expensive.
But some organisations are tying themselves in knots now. For example, one employers association contacted me today to advise me that its plans to incorporate a law firm were advanced. It was having to get its in-house lawyers to set up a law firm in order to get around the problem of this legislation. That is a crazy, cumbersome, and silly way of dealing with the problem, when indeed what we should do—as this amendment bill signals we should do—is to simply restore the previous situation.
As I have said, the legislation will ensure the maintenance of the longstanding convention of unions and employers organisations being able to provide legal services to their members. That is a very sensible thing to do. Along with my excellent Labour colleagues Lynne Pillay and Louisa Wall, I look forward to hearing the submissions on the legislation at the select committee. As Mr Power has acknowledged, there may be some definitional issues around the scope of the legal services that ought to be provided by counsel working for unions or employers associations. But it is not as simple as simply saying that it is employment advocacy in the employment institutions, and nothing more. Employment law is a lot more complicated these days. There are intellectual property claims in the High Court and all sorts of other associated actions that really must be incorporated within the embrace of this legislation to ensure that the spirit—that is, the restoration of the previous situation—is maintained.
I look forward to hearing the evidence in the select committee from a small number of interested parties who will be able to assist us to make sure that the legislation we pass is the best possible legislation. I commend the amendment bill to the House.
Dr RICHARD WORTH (National) : The Lawyers and Conveyancers Amendment Bill (No 2), a short little bill of nine clauses that National supports sending to a select committee, is actually quite complex. The complexity arises because of the very complex drafting in the principal Act, the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act. The proposed amendments to it that are before the House tonight are capable of causing confusion and uncertainty.
I have just looked back at the report by the Justice and Electoral Committee on the Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill—which is now law; this amendment proposes to change that Act—where National, in a minority view, stated this about the reserved areas of work, which is the area we are talking about: “National would seek rewriting of the provisions to make their intent more clear and to permit, for example, taxation lawyers to practise in accounting firms.”
If we look at this bill, we see, in summary, it proposes that a lawyer employed by an employer group or a union can provide what are called legal services, but not regulated services, to his or her employer and its members. A distinction is being drawn between legal services and regulated services. Legal services basically means legal work as defined in section 6 of the Act; regulated services are much wider than that in scope.
The situation that this bill sets out to address is not new, and it was not created by the passage of the principal Act, despite the comments of the previous speaker. Under the Law Practitioners Act, which was the predecessor legislation, it was not lawful for non-lawyers to provide legal services to the public or the non-lawyers’ members by employing lawyers to provide that service, so one can legitimately be concerned about the provisions in this bill on the basis that, first of all, it allows non-lawyers to provide legal services through the intermediary of employed lawyers. That is a very significant issue of principle. There is also the point that tinkering at the edge of the principle is likely to create as many problems as it solves. I do not wish to pre-empt the position the select committee might take, but tenable and acceptable options to that are available.
The commentary on—or, more precisely, the explanatory note of—the bill is quite misleading. The third sentence in the first paragraph talks about “the delivery of an integrated prevention and advice service”—and I now underscore this—“connected with employment matters.” But, in fact, the way that this bill is drafted is far, far wider than that. The bill as drafted would allow lawyers employed by unions and by employer organisations to provide all legal services, not just employment law services. That is quite contrary to what is stated in the explanatory note. The note is misleading. I would also say that the proposed definition of “employer organisation” in clause 5 of the bill is unacceptably wide.
I think I have said enough in connection with this bill to indicate that although National supports it being sent to a select committee, it does so with a degree of reservation, being conscious of the clear need to make major changes to ill-thought-out legislation.
DAIL JONES (NZ First) : I thank the Minister, the Hon Annette King, for making the Lawyers and Conveyancers Amendment Bill (No 2) available to New Zealand First—I think it was on 10 June, as well—and New Zealand First has responded to the Minister about it. We have made it quite clear that we do not support this legislation. It is absolutely unprincipled legislation.
When I first heard that the National Party was to support this bill it made me smile a little, because it reminded me of the fact that here we have a situation where the trade union movement, also known as the Labour Party, and the employer groups, also known as the National Party, are getting together once again to try to do a deal for themselves—because that is what this bill does. It creates a special regime for some trade union groups and for the employers. That is what it does, whereas those of us who were on the Justice and Electoral Committee during its consideration of the principal legislation know that this issue was considered by that select committee.
I have here the submission of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions. It was rejected by that select committee. This is not a new issue. It was considered over about 3 years, and now this House is being asked to rush through legislation just to suit employers and unions. Well, that really brings to mind the good old days of National and Labour in the 1970s and the 1980s, when employers and unions would get together on the ninth floor of the Beehive over a few light drinks and run the country from up there, having said they had had a great fight in the process. As I say, this is unprincipled legislation.
I agree entirely with what Dr Worth has so correctly said in so far as the scope of this bill is concerned. The scope of this bill would allow employers and trade unions to open law firms, because they could do all reserved areas of work in the definition of “legal work”—that is, legal practice of any kind. They could do traffic cases and domestic violence cases, and appear before the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court—the lot in so far as reserved areas of work are concerned.
Under the definition of “legal work”, which is referred to in the bill and defined in section 6 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act, they could give advice in relation to “legal or equitable rights or obligations”. Can members imagine the trade union movement and employers giving advice to their members on legal and, especially, equitable rights or obligations? They could give advice on the preparation of or review any document that creates or provides evidence of legal or equitable rights or obligations—in other words, trust deeds and suchlike—or that “creates, varies, transfers, extinguishes, mortgages, or charges any legal or equitable title in any property; … mediation, conciliation, or arbitration services; … any work that is incidental to any of the work described in paragraphs (a) to (e)”. So they could open a law firm.
Mr Chauvel made the correct point that if employers and unions want to do this sort of work, then there is a very simple solution: they can just set up a law firm and the work can be done in that way. It is a simpler solution for employers and a simpler solution for the trade union movement. It is all that they have to do, and I am sure that the Law Society would have no objection. I am absolutely sure that the Law Society would oppose this bill entirely, because it goes against the principles of the Act on which we worked so hard not a little while ago.
Of course, we must not forget that where section 27(1) of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 refers to all the restrictions and suchlike, it states: “Sections 21, 22, 24, and 26 do not prevent— … (b) any person from appearing as an advocate, or representing any other person before any court or tribunal if the appearance or representation is allowed or required—(i) by any Act or regulations; or (ii) by the court or tribunal; …”. That is usually for employment-law type of work, with specific rights given to the trade union movement historically to do that work. So people can do that already.
The practice that had been built up over the years since the 1982 Act—and I was the chairman of the parliamentary committee responsible for that legislation—was totally wrong. People were—
Christopher Finlayson: What about the 1955 Act?
DAIL JONES: I practised under the 1955 Act, but, no, I was not here at the time! The practice that had built up was something I was staggered to discover when we were going through the Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill. Almost everyone was somehow getting registered as a solicitor to the High Court, paying the levy to the Law Society, and feeling that he or she was a lawyer. That was not the intention of the 1982 Act.
One of the consequences of this bill will be that the members will not have 4 or 5 weeks’ consideration of this bill at the select committee, because, as Dr Worth knows, the committee will have submissions from the New Zealand Educational Institute, which made a similar submission. It will have submissions from every accountancy firm in the country, because, as we know, that is what they wanted as well. Firms like Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Property Institute of New Zealand, the New Zealand Bankers’ Association, and everybody else will be in boots and all, because if it is good enough for the employers and good enough for the trade unions, then it is good enough for them, too. Then, well, the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act may as well go in the rubbish tin. After all, what is the point of it? All the hard work that was done by this Parliament on the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act would come to absolutely nothing. All we would be left with is a clear, distasteful feeling that here we have, yet again, National and Labour getting together to do a deal for the benefit of employers and the trade union movement.
Well, New Zealand First will have nothing to do with it. This is totally unprincipled legislation, and it should have been apparent on the close, simplest view that that is what it was intending to do. Dr Worth has hit the nail on the head and I congratulate him on that. I note the National Party has said it will reserve its position until after the select committee process. New Zealand First says that quite regularly, so I appreciate the view that the National Party is taking.
Christopher Finlayson: Well, why are you criticising us?
DAIL JONES: I am criticising National because New Zealand First gets criticised for such a view from time to time. On this occasion the legislation we are amending is not even really law yet, and Labour and National are considering allowing employers and the trade union movement to undermine it entirely.
After all, when that legislation was being progressed through the House this is what Phil Goff had to say in the third reading, when he was taking credit for that bill: “This bill is a cornerstone of the reforms of legal services being undertaken by this Government. It removes unnecessary regulation from the legal services industry and replaces it with a more efficient regulatory framework that will give the public greater confidence in the legal profession. The bill’s purpose is to maintain public confidence in the provision of legal services,”—which is being breached by this bill—“to protect consumers, and to recognise the status of the professions that provide them. The Government has a vital interest in the regulation of the legal profession, as the quality of lawyers’ services is critical to justice and the maintenance of the rule of law. The impetus for reform of the legal profession came from the New Zealand Law Society …”.
This legislation totally contradicts everything that the former Minister of Justice said. This legislation will reduce totally public confidence in the provision of legal services. I need not say very much more, as we come to the end of the day. I just hope that the Justice and Electoral Committee will make the same decision it made after some 3 years of deliberation on the principal legislation, and reject the principles contained in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill (No 2).
|Ayes 111||New Zealand Labour 49; New Zealand National 48; Green Party 6; Māori Party 3; United Future 2; Progressive 1; Independents: Copeland, Field.|
|Noes 7||New Zealand First 7.|
|Bill read a first time.|
- The House adjourned at 10.02 p.m.