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Volume 668, Week 60 - Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
South Africa—Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, KwaZulu-Natal Legislature
Correction—Animal Welfare (Treatment of Animals) Amendment Bill
Points of Order
Establishment of Body to Review Expenses and Allowances of MPs—Leave to Move Motion Without Notice
METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek leave to move a motion without notice or debate to call on the Speaker to establish an independent body to review and determine MPs’ expenses and allowances.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought for that course of action. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is not strictly, perhaps, a point of order. I ask your indulgence to simply explain that declining leave to move the motion simply recognises that all party leaders have so far expressed confidence in your ability to move this issue forward—
Metiria Turei: Point of order.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: —and I think that is where it should most appropriately be left.
Mr SPEAKER: The member should have been aware that a point of order was being heard, and she cannot interrupt that.
METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In fact, the member of Parliament stood up and expressly said that what he was about to say was not a point of order, yet you allowed him to continue. So, indeed, I did not interrupt a point of order, because a point of order was not sought.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) : I tend to agree with the member, and I wonder whether, in fact, seeing that it was not a point of order, the member could make it clear whether it was, in fact, a ministerial statement and whether in fact that leads to other comments.
Mr SPEAKER: I have heard sufficient. The Speaker judges when he will hear points of order or not; he chose on that occasion to hear what the Leader of the House had to say.
Hon DARREN HUGHES (Senior Whip—Labour) : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We were prepared to hear the honourable Leader of the House on that point of order. I wonder whether you could share your ruling on his point of order with the Chamber.
Mr SPEAKER: I am afraid I failed to understand what the member’s point was.
Questions to Ministers
Economic Programme—Main Features and Sustainable Development
Hon Trevor Mallard: Hekia is behind him!
CRAIG FOSS: The member may know I am behind—
Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. I request the House to please take a deep breath and to settle down a little. There is no need for this.
1. CRAIG FOSS (National—Tukituki) to the Minister of Finance: What are the main features of the Government’s economic programme and how are they helping to build sustainable economic growth?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance) : The Government’s economic programme is focused on jobs and growth, and includes strengthening the tax system, investment in productive infrastructure, supporting business innovation and trade, lifting productivity and services in the public sector, removing red tape, improving education, and lifting skills. All of these things are helping to tilt the economy towards savings, investment, and exports, and away from the unsustainable borrowing, consumption, and Government spending of previous years.
Craig Foss: Within this programme, what steps has the Government taken to strengthen the tax system?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: At a time when many other countries are being forced to increase both income and indirect taxes, we have delivered across-the-board personal income tax cuts that leave the average household about $25 a week better off. Even after a GST increase to 15 percent, the average wage earner is about $15 a week better off. Almost three-quarters of New Zealand earners now have a top statutory income tax rate of 17.5c in the dollar or less.
Craig Foss: With this programme, what steps has the Government taken to increase investment in productive infrastructure?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: There are some very significant steps, including introducing smarter planning, financing, and execution of projects. The major investments currently under way are a $4 billion programme to improve the national electricity grid, a $4.5 billion programme to restore the relevance of the rail freight network, a $1.5 billion programme for rolling out ultra-fast broadband, an $11 billion investment in roads over the next 10 years, and completing the upgrade of Wellington and Auckland metro rail, an upgrade that I acknowledge was begun by the previous Government. Collectively these multibillion-dollar programmes are supporting thousands of jobs and a brighter economic future.
Craig Foss: What measures are under way within the Government’s economic programme to support business innovation and trade?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As most people are aware, the Government’s assertive programme for free trade is progressing with some energy. We have signed agreements with Malaysia, Hong Kong, and ASEAN, and at the weekend the Prime Minister announced that talks were advancing with Russia and the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries. We are also in talks with India, the Gulf States, and Korea. Despite the fact that the Government has a very limited budget, it has announced $140 million per year for the Primary Growth Partnership, and this year we confirmed $320 million of extra investment over 4 years in science, research, and technology.
Hon David Cunliffe: What new policies is he considering to create jobs and lift incomes for New Zealanders, given the recent verdict of the 2025 Taskforce that “we do not see any realistic possibility that the gap in real per capita income has narrowed in the past year.”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As I told the member last week, I do not agree with the 2025 Taskforce, and usually Labour disagrees with those people all the time. The Government has a broad and comprehensive programme. It has only just started. There are some good early signs, but the Government will continue with its programme as I have outlined it: investment in infrastructure, less red tape, more productive public services, tax reform, and so on.
Hon David Cunliffe: Within this so-called broad and comprehensive programme, what specific changes to monetary policy, if any, is he considering to address the high and volatile exchange rates that are crippling New Zealand’s exporters and manufacturers?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The exercise of monetary policy is properly the province of the Reserve Bank. The Reserve Bank has the power to intervene, which it gained under the member’s own Government, and the Governor of the Reserve Bank has set out in detail where and how he would intervene. The Government can help exporters by fixing the mess of domestic policy that that member’s Government previously made, so we can help exports to become more competitive and start them growing again. Under that member’s Government, the export sector went into recession in 2005. It is only now coming out of that 5-year recession.
Costs and Prices—Effect of Government Policies
2. Hon PHIL GOFF (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: What adverse impact on costs and prices, if any, have his Government’s policies had on New Zealanders?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : In April the Government increased the tobacco excise. This was strongly supported by Labour, which said: “This is a huge step forward in health promotion for all New Zealanders,”. From 1 July a number of sectors, including liquid fossil fuels, came into the emissions trading scheme. This is expected to have an impact on households of around $3 per week, which, I might add, is about half the cost of Labour’s emissions trading scheme. On 1 October GST was increased to 15 percent, but people were more than compensated for this increase by tax cuts and increases in benefits, superannuation, and the Working for Families package. However, the most important thing to look at is the overall increase in prices across the economy. Inflation over the last year has been only 1.5 percent. The last time inflation was any lower than that was well back into 1999.
Hon Phil Goff: When the Prime Minister said at the start of June that “People will be better off, they just don’t know it yet.”, does he think the 16.4 percent increase in the price of fruit and vegetables over the last year is making families feel better off?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, it is worth noting that food prices rose by 2.2 percent in the quarter. Secondly, it has been interesting to note how many people have been remarking on their tax cuts and how much money they have had, and how easily the switch and the rebalancing of the economy has gone, from a slight increase in GST to a reduction in personal taxes. But, of course, if the member wants to campaign on reversing the GST increase and increasing personal taxes, he should go ahead and do so.
Hon Phil Goff: Is he aware of last month’s report from the Ministry of Health that stated that only a third of New Zealand children are eating enough fruit and vegetables to be healthy; if so, how does he think the 16.4 percent increase in the price of those goods over the last year will help children to eat more healthy food?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have not actually seen the report, but I certainly would encourage parents to give their children fruit and vegetables. What I would say is that although it is not my responsibility to apologise on behalf of the previous Labour Government, I was shocked to learn that the price of fruit and vegetables went up by 21 percent in the last 2 years of that Labour Government. That contrasts with an increase of 12 percent in the price since then, even including the increase in GST. That is a tragic set of circumstances.
Chris Tremain: How does the current level of inflation compare with that in recent years?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: At 1.5 percent, the current rate of inflation is very low compared with the rate between 2000 and 2008. Price growth in New Zealand is well and truly under control. This is in stark contrast, I might add, to the position in September 2008, when annual inflation was running at 5.1 percent. Members will recognise that 5.1 percent, under Labour, is much higher that 1.5 percent, under National.
Hon Jim Anderton: Is the Prime Minister aware that the real GDP per capita in constant prices and constant purchasing power parity between Australia and New Zealand closed by about 0.5 percent in each of the first 6 years of the Labour-led Government—from 1999 to 2005—but has widened by over 0.5 percent in each of the 2 years that there has been a National-led Government; if he is aware of that, why does he believe that that is the situation when he has promised to close the gap?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have not seen that data, but I have seen data that shows a lot fewer New Zealanders are going to Australia, and I have certainly seen data that shows that the gap in real incomes is narrowing between New Zealand and Australia.
Hon Phil Goff: Does he support the statement made by his Minister of Health that after the 6.5 percent increase in doctors’ visit fees last year, which he approved, a further increase of only $1 this year would be permissible because of the GST increase?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What I do support is the extra subsidies that went into general practitioner visits to help people in the most low-income and vulnerable communities. What I support is the $14 billion - plus worth of expenditure that is going into the health system. What I support is the relentless focus that the Minister has had on moving our resources from the back office to the front office. What I support is the way that the Minister is trying to get greater productivity in the health system. I certainly support the recommendation he received about sharing neurosurgery between Dunedin and Christchurch. Overall, I support the tremendous efforts he is making to improve health in New Zealand.
Chris Tremain: Given that increasing GST has lifted prices, how easy would it be to reverse the Government’s GST - income tax switch?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Funnily enough, it would be very straightforward to reverse the tax switch. For instance, reversing it would be far easier than taking GST off fruit and vegetables, which would require pages of rules and armies of bureaucrats to administer it. Reversing the tax switch would be relatively simple—all Labour would need to do would be to take down GST, put up personal taxes, cut benefits, cut superannuation, and get back on the bus.
Hon Phil Goff: If the Minister of Health said that it was OK for doctors’ fees to go up by only $1, because of GST, how does he explain the increases of up to $7.50 a visit recorded today in the Mana electorate, since 1 April, which takes the fee for children going to the doctor up to $42.50 a visit?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: As I have said, many people in Mana who attend Very Low Cost Access practices have been getting extra subsidies. I cannot talk about individual cases. But, frankly, with about 5 days to go until the by-election, I am not surprised that Phil Goff has had to wade in, because all the people of Mana know that Kris Fa’afoi has done a pretty hopeless job, albeit he has had 10,000 billboards out there.
Rahui Katene: Supplementary question to the Prime Minister—
Mr SPEAKER: I apologise to the honourable member. I cannot accurately hear the questions being asked, at all, so I cannot assist members if they do not believe their questions have been answered, and that is not fair to the members asking the questions. It is coming from all around the House; no particular party is to blame. The whole House is far too noisy during the asking of questions.
Rahui Katene: What has been the impact on the Government’s policies in addressing the poverty of many New Zealanders of the assessment from the United Nations that New Zealand was rated as having the sixth-greatest gap between rich and poor among developed nations last year?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The Government is working very hard to close the gap. If we look across the range of different policies that the Government has been implementing—whether it is Whānau Ora; national standards to try to lift literacy and numeracy skills; the 90-day trial periods, which give people an opportunity to work; or the 17.5 percent tax rate that three-quarters of New Zealanders face—we see that all of these things will help. But we need to recognise that we are in difficult times and we do need to do our best, and the Government is working on those issues.
Hon Phil Goff: If New Zealanders are overwhelmingly better off after his tax switch, as he has promised, how does he explain the statements from Baycorp and Veda Advantage that recently there has been a massive increase in the number of New Zealanders unable to pay their bills?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The same way I did last week or the week before when I answered that question: there is always a lag effect. But, interestingly enough, if one was to look hypothetically at the number of defaults that are taking place at the moment, and contrast that with the number of defaults in 1991-92, the advice I have had is that the current number is about a quarter of the number in 1991-92. Yes, there have been difficult times for a lot of New Zealanders, but they are very fortunate, I would suggest, to have the policies we have, which are helping them through it.
Hon Jim Anderton: As the table prepared by the OECD on national accounts, which I will seek leave to table, shows the gap widening between the income per capita in New Zealand compared with that of Australia, will the Prime Minister—
Paul Quinn: What year?
Hon Jim Anderton: This year, and that member’s Government is responsible—
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon Jim Anderton: Will the Prime Minister say to the House today that when the full panoply of the National Party’s policies that he promised before the election come to bear at the end of the 3-year term of Government, the income per capita gap between New Zealand and Australia will be closing?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The Government is working hard to achieve that objective.
Search and Surveillance Bill—International Federation of Journalists’ Statement
3. KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the Minister of Justice: Does he agree with the International Federation of Journalists that if the Search and Surveillance Bill proceeds in its present form it will “undermine the long-held right of journalists to protect the confidentiality of sources”; if not, why not?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Acting Minister of Justice) : No, I do not. The media’s right to protect confidential sources under the Evidence Act 2006 has been expressly carried over to this bill for examination orders, production orders, and all searches. Under the bill, a journalist presented with an examination order or a production order may refuse to answer questions or produce documents that would reveal the identity of the journalist’s source.
Keith Locke: Is it not true that before the claim of privilege is heard the journalist may be forced to produce those documents and disclose confidential sources, leading the New Zealand Herald editors to say that these powers to reveal confidential sources threaten “the public airing of some of the country’s most important, and uncomfortable, news stories”?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: No. I think what the member is actually referring to is a situation where the claim to the privilege may be disputed. In those circumstances it may be necessary to refer the material to a judge, who can determine the validity or otherwise of the claim. That is the procedure that is set out under the Evidence Act, which the Green Party did not oppose when it was debated 3 years ago.
Keith Locke: What concerns does he have that the power to require documents to be produced on request under the threat of a jail term is now available to a host of Government departments—for example, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Fisheries, etc.?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: None.
Keith Locke: Will he consider deleting the examination orders in the Search and Surveillance Bill, because, in the opinion of the International Federation of Journalists, New Zealand Herald editors, etc., they contravene the right of New Zealanders to silence and may force journalists to disclose their sources?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: No.
Keith Locke: Does he agree with the International Federation of Journalists that the Search and Surveillance Bill will “erode the democratic role of working journalists in New Zealand”, the federation not being satisfied with a subsequent judicial hearing of a right to privilege if the Government agencies have already run off with documents containing the journalists’ confidential sources?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: No. That is hyperbolic nonsense.
Keith Locke: If it is hyperbolic nonsense, why did the chair of the select committee, Chester Borrows, tell Radio New Zealand National that the bill may warrant further consideration and that he took seriously the criticisms of the journalists, and will the Minister not take another look at the concern expressed by a range of journalists, including their international federation?
Mr SPEAKER: I believe that the Minister has no responsibility whatsoever for what the chair of a select committee may have said. In fact, he probably should not even be commenting on it. So I do not believe that it is appropriate for to me to allow that question. I apologise to the member.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think the Minister can—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: A point of order is being heard.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I think the Minister can take into account comments a chair of a select committee made publicly. I think that is certainly within the rules. If the comments are done in a public way Ministers can, if they wish, either take them into account or—
Mr SPEAKER: I think we get into dangerous territory if we have Ministers commenting on what chairs of select committees do. They are matters for Parliament, not for the executive. Once a matter is reported back to the House, I am more comfortable about it being commented on, but while a matter is before a select committee, I am not comfortable about it, at all. I do not want to deny the member his supplementary question, so I invite him to reword it to see whether he can bring it within order.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask you to review the ruling you just made. I think it is one worth another look, after a bit of time.
Mr SPEAKER: I am always prepared to, on request, look at what I have done. Ministers have no responsibility for the chairs of select committees. But I invite Keith Locke to bring his question within the Standing Orders.
Keith Locke: Will the Minister take another look at the bill and the possibility of revising it, given the concern expressed by a wide range of journalists, including the International Federation of Journalists, and by some political figures who have commented publicly, expressing an interest in further considering the bill?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: No.
Keith Locke: Mr Speaker, I take your standard that you do not like press statements being tabled, but in this case the statement from the International Federation of Journalists is on an international website and might not be available. I seek leave to table the statement made by the International Federation of Journalists on 12 November headed “NZ bill Undermines Journalists’ Rights”.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
- Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Charles Chauvel: Will the Government secure Labour’s support for the now substantially redrafted legislation by taking up its offer to provide that support if the Government includes in the bill specific provisions to better affirm press freedom, provides for better controls on Serious Fraud Office powers, and makes production and examination orders available only for the most serious offences and under the supervision of judges?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: The Minister has no responsibility for the Serious Fraud Office or any aspect of its administration.
Charles Chauvel: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was about whether the Government would be willing to amend the legislation in the three ways indicated. The Minister has carriage of the bill, so he has responsibility for all the matters that are in it.
Mr SPEAKER: I believe that in answering the Minister pointed out that the Minister of Justice does not have responsibility, as I understand it, for the Serious Fraud Office, which was one of the components of the member’s question. I cannot, I believe, constrain the Minister beyond that; I think he did answer that part of the question.
Charles Chauvel: I seek leave to table a letter from the Labour Party to the Minister offering support for the legislation if it is redrafted in the ways indicated in my question.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
- Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Question No. 2 to Minister
Hon JIM ANDERTON (Leader—Progressive) : I seek leave to table a document compiled by the Parliamentary Library from OECD, Statistics New Zealand, and Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing that the income gap between Australia and New Zealand has widened in Australia’s favour in the last 2 years.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document, is there any objection? There is no objection.
- Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Ministers’ Private Interests—Compliance with Rules
4. Hon PETE HODGSON (Labour—Dunedin North) to the Prime Minister: Does he believe clear and unambiguous leadership is now needed to ensure that rules regarding the private interests of Ministers are upheld?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : As Prime Minister I have responsibility for protecting the integrity of the decision-making process of executive Government and maintaining public trust in the executive. I have always expected and demanded that my Ministers act lawfully and behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Was he showing clear and unambiguous leadership when, even before he became Prime Minister, he happened to forget how many Tranz Rail shares he owned?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Was he showing clear and unambiguous leadership when he set up a blind trust to manage his real estate, dairying, and wine interests, which was blind in legal theory but which had 20/20 vision in practice?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is wrong in his accusation.
Hon Pete Hodgson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did not hear the Prime Minister’s reply, and I wonder whether I could have the chance to hear it afresh.
Mr SPEAKER: I ask members to be quiet. I realise that issues can be tense. Would the right honourable Prime Minister mind repeating the answer?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I refute the member’s accusation.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Was he showing clear and unambiguous leadership when he reinvented a new ministerial housing system, supposedly to save the taxpayer money after the Bill English debacle, only to find that his system costs more because Ministers can, and do, pocket more money without having to show that their expenses are real?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am satisfied that the new system works effectively, is fair, and balances the needs of both taxpayers and Ministers.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Did he show clear and ambiguous leadership when he initially denied wrongdoing by Dr Richard Worth, the Deputy Prime Minister, Bill English, or Pansy Wong, only to have to backtrack when the facts emerged?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is incorrect in his statement.
Hon Pete Hodgson: Why is it always the Prime Minister’s instinct to deny, forget, minimise, dampen, distract, ward off, and worse, or to run a new agenda, rather than to live by clear personal rules himself and require his Cabinet to do the same?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In the 2 years that I have been Prime Minister I am proud to have led a Government that has had greater transparency and greater openness than previously. I am very grateful that I was not a member of the previous Labour Government, which spent its time with Taito Phillip Field, Winston Peters, and a range of other people whom it sought to protect and hide from. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: If the National backbench has quite finished, I will call the Hon Rodney Hide.
Hon Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask you to go back over the supplementary questions that the Hon Pete Hodgson raised, and the way of doing it, in the context of the Standing Orders. I let him finish, obviously, but I raise this for next time. It seems to me that the danger that we might be heading into is the ability of members to put down questions without notice, in effect, by asking a Minister or Prime Minister whether he or she believes that clear and unambiguous leadership was shown in a particular case, and then allowing a whole range of issues to be trawled. It seems to me that the House might want to enable that to happen, but in the past Speakers have been quite tough about members putting down questions like that without notice.
Mr SPEAKER: I appreciate that the member has raised this point in good faith. These are difficult issues. I think there was nothing unusual about the primary question that was put down. Over the years members of the House have lodged primary questions that give no particular indication of where the supplementary questions will go. I listen to the supplementary questions, and if there have been outrageous allegations against a member—or in this case the Prime Minister—I have ruled them out. Where possible I tend to let the Minister deal with the question. I think the Prime Minister dealt with the questions on this occasion. But as Speaker I accept that I have to be careful, because outrageous allegations are totally out of order and outside the Standing Orders. I will be mindful of that issue.
Kiwifruit, Pseudomonas Syringae pv. Actinidiae—Government Response
5. TODD McCLAY (National—Rotorua) to the Minister for Biosecurity: How is the Government responding to the identification of the Psa disease in New Zealand?
Hon DAVID CARTER (Minister for Biosecurity) : Since Pseudomonas syringae pv. Actinidiae (Psa) was identified in New Zealand 11 days ago, a major biosecurity operation has swung into action. The response team of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry was on the ground within hours of notification. Since then a major round-the-clock programme of movement controls, laboratory testing, spraying, vine control, and grower education has been in place. The ministry has also been communicating extensively with our offshore trading partners to ensure that market access remains open. The Government and industry have been working together extremely closely on this serious disease outbreak, and to date we have seen a well-managed response implemented at speed.
Todd McClay: What are the next steps in the Psa response?
Hon DAVID CARTER: Although urgent testing continues, with some 500 hectares now confirmed as infected, eradication—at least in the short term—is unlikely. The Government and industry are now focused on developing a programme of aggressive containment of Psa, which involves restricting it to currently infected sites. I am meeting with industry tomorrow in an attempt to finalise that response. Aggressive containment will require investment from the Government. The kiwifruit industry will also have to make a similar commitment but we are both 100 percent focused on ensuring a prosperous and vibrant sector into the future.
Hon Damien O’Connor: Will the Government response include reinstatement of the 54 front-line biosecurity jobs he cut in 2009—cuts that may have contributed to the disease breaching New Zealand’s borders?
Hon DAVID CARTER: No, it will not. This Government has appropriated more money for biosecurity than the previous Government did and I am certain that the readjustments at the border associated with imported containers and used cars have nothing whatsoever to do with the possible incursion of Psa, which is a disease that could have been here for many years.
Todd McClay: What has been the feedback from the kiwifruit industry on the support provided by the Government to date?
Hon DAVID CARTER: Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the last 11 days has been how the Government and industry have worked together in a collaborative way to address this very serious issue. Industry leaders from Zespri, the New Zealand kiwifruit growers, and various post-harvest operators have specifically thanked me for the timely, expert, and high-quality support provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It is still early days in the response to this challenging disease, but I am confident that the high-quality and professional leadership provided by both industry and the ministry leaves us well placed to tackle this disease.
Pansy Wong—Ministerial Resignation
6. Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all statements made by him and on his behalf on the matters which led to Pansy Wong’s resignation?
Mr SPEAKER: Before I call the honourable member, I say that excessive interjection from the back of the House is unnecessary. I think the member knows whom I am looking at.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Does he stand by the statement made on his behalf in the House last Wednesday by Bill English, who said: “the member’s allegations are disgraceful, they have impugned a member of Parliament in a way that is absolutely unnecessary and unjustified.”; if so, does he still maintain that revealing Pansy Wong’s misuse of taxpayer funding has been unnecessary?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Given the facts known at the time the Acting Prime Minister made those statements, yes.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Does he stand by his statement on Breakfast this morning in relation to the Hon Pete Hodgson: “If he’d asked a question that was the right one, I’d at least, um, even—even reluctantly give him some credit.”; if so, is he suggesting that if the public want transparency around his Ministers’ misuse of taxpayers’ funds, that depends on the right questions being asked rather than his Ministers’ honesty?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, but I regret saying “um”. I know that my mother brought me up better than that.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Does he stand by his statements on Radio New Zealand this morning when he said that he advised Pansy Wong not to talk until a Parliamentary Service investigation into her use of subsidised international travel has been completed, because “MPs need to be able to answer questions honestly, truthfully and, hopefully, directly.”; if so, why, when Pansy Wong is the only person in possession of the all the facts, is she not allowed to share those facts with the media and the public?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: To the best of my knowledge, she is not, but the Parliamentary Service report will actually prove what the facts are.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Does he stand by the statement of his spokesperson Kevin Taylor, calling Pete Hodgson—I abbreviate—an “f-wit” for questioning the legitimacy of Pansy Wong’s travel and business affairs?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Mr Hodgson did not question the travel.
Hon Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Perhaps we could have a vote on that question in Parliament.
Mr SPEAKER: I just ask the House—[Interruption] I am on my feet, and there will be no further interjection. The House will settle down. These are not easy issues and I respect that fact.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Does he stand by the statement of his spokesperson Kevin Taylor, calling Pete Hodgson—I abbreviate—an “f-wit” for questioning the legitimacy of Pansy Wong’s business affairs?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think Mr Taylor could, in hindsight, have chosen his words more wisely, but I am relieved that he did not use his fists.
Climate Change Initiatives—Reports and Effect on Role in International Negotiations
7. HEKIA PARATA (National) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: What reports has he received on New Zealand’s climate change initiatives, particularly the ETS and the global alliance for research into cutting agriculture emissions, and how have those influenced New Zealand’s role in the international negotiations of a new climate change deal, post-Kyoto?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for Climate Change Issues) : The reports indicate a high level of respect for the progress New Zealand has been able to make on climate change, in sensibly implementing a moderate emissions trading scheme and launching the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases. The Minister responsible for International Climate Change Negotiations, Tim Groser, chaired discussions in Mexico City on how countries’ pledges to reduce emissions can work best, and consequently he has been invited to the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate this week in Washington. That reflects the international respect for Tim’s work as a negotiator, as well as his work in climate change, and New Zealand’s proactive role on the issue of climate change. I also note that this year New Zealand’s former Climate Change Ambassador, Adrian Macey, was elected to a key role in the post-Kyoto negotiations, again reinforcing the constructive role New Zealand is playing in these difficult negotiations.
Hekia Parata: Has the Minister seen the UMR Research report, published yesterday, on public attitudes to climate change and the emissions trading scheme, and what conclusions does he draw from that report?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Yes, I have seen the report, and it is very encouraging, because it reinforces the approach the Government is taking. A very clear majority of people in New Zealand want to reduce our emissions, but they are also cognisant of the costs, as consumers, and of the impacts on jobs. On the question of the emissions trading scheme, a minority of 23 percent want the scheme scrapped altogether, whereas a similar number of 25 percent want us to go harder and be more demanding in reducing emissions. It is also interesting to note that over the last year there has been an increase in the proportion, now up to 52 percent, of the public who back the need to provide support for businesses that are trade exposed. The poll indicated a very polarised position on the inclusion of agriculture in the emissions trading scheme, with 48 percent being opposed and 45 percent in support. That reinforces the cautious position the Government has taken on the inclusion of agriculture in the emissions trading scheme.
Hekia Parata: What reports has the Minister seen on how the emissions trading scheme is helping New Zealand reduce emissions?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: There are two areas where the scheme is having a very positive impact. The first is in respect of forestry. In the years 2005 to 2008 we had the highest level of deforestation since records began in the 1930s; that has been reversed, with plantings now exceeding felling in both 2008 and the projected figures for 2009. I am also encouraged by reports from nurseries that the forward orders for 2011 are the most positive for more than a decade. The second positive result is the switch of investment in electricity generation. Over the last decade more than 60 percent of new generation has been thermal, and that has resulted in a decline in the proportion of our power that is renewable. I am further encouraged by the fact that over 80 percent of new resource consents for electricity generation are now for renewable power, and that is exactly where New Zealand needs to head.
Hon John Boscawen: Can he confirm that his emissions trading scheme will cost the good people of Mana $20 million over the next 3 years, and if he does not think it will cost $20 million, how much does he think it will cost?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The costs for the people of Mana would be substantially more if we put our heads in the sand and pretended there was not an issue in relation to climate change. I would also note that there are a number of significant forestry areas in the area of Mana, and our very capable candidate, Hekia Parata, has discussed with me the encouragement that is going on in forestry. Seeing new trees being planted in that electorate is something I think most members of this Parliament would welcome.
Roading, State Highway 1—Minister’s Contact with Transport Agency
8. Hon DARREN HUGHES (Labour) to the Minister of Transport: On how many weekends has he contacted both the chair and the chief executive of the New Zealand Transport Agency during the 104 weekends since his warrant was issued, and did a call to either person take place last weekend ahead of the agency’s committee meeting set down for Thursday, 18 November where the route of the new State Highway 1 motorway through Kapiti will be considered?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Transport) : It has not been possible to go through the countless phone logs to provide a definitive answer to that question. I will be helpful to the member by pointing out that it is not the first time I have spoken to officials over a weekend, and I give my apologies to them that it probably will not be the last time, either. In fact, by way of illustration, during my time as a Minister I have used my weekends and other out-of-work hours to contact any number of agencies across all of my portfolios, including the New Zealand Transport Agency, Maritime New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority , the Ministry of Transport, KiwiRail, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, Treasury, the Ministry of Economic Development, Crown Fibre Holdings, the Ministry of Education, the Tertiary Education Commission, and a number of local body representatives. In reply to the second part of the member’s question regarding the weekend just passed, no.
Hon Darren Hughes: Would he at least be able to say—given that last week he said it was not unusual for him to contact officials at the weekends, and he did it all the time—he would have contacted them on over or under half of the weekends since he became the Minister?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: We can play this game as often as we like. I suspect it is less than half. As I pointed out to the member, this is unlike himself, obviously, in his former role as Minister of Statistics in the previous Government. Probably the statistics job ran from Monday through to Friday; I do not know—Maurice, is statistics a weekend job?
Hon Maurice Williamson: Monday to Friday.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: It is a Monday to Friday job in statistics. But I think the other portfolios run pretty much 24/7.
Hon Darren Hughes: Smarminess is fine—
Mr SPEAKER: Could the Hon Darren Hughes please just ask the question?
Hon Darren Hughes: I can take it, no trouble. Does he have any—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I apologise to the honourable member. I say this to the National benches: that level of noise is totally unreasonable. I cannot possibly hear the member’s question.
Hon Darren Hughes: Does he have any concerns about the consultation period under the time line for the release of the route for the new motorway—to be built for maximum speeds of up to 110 kilometres an hour through the communities of Kapiti—now that such a release has cleared his goal of being after the Mana by-election?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I just cannot accept the member’s assertion contained in that question. He is also incorrect on another matter, in that we actually do not have a speed limit of 110 kilometres an hour on any open road in New Zealand.
Hon Darren Hughes: The road is to be built to that specification. If the New Zealand Transport Agency committee finalises the motorway route on Thursday, will he suggest to the agency that it take a full-page advertisement in Friday’s Dominion Post so that at least some Mana voters will know what is going on before Saturday’s by-election, given that the deadline for the last community newspaper before the by-election just happens to be tomorrow?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The point is that on the one hand that member is trying to suggest the New Zealand Transport Agency should take a political approach to the consultation, in reference to the by-election, and then he is accusing me of taking a political approach in respect of the Mana by-election. So I am sorry, but I just cannot buy that. The bigger concern is that this member is opposed to having a strategic plan for State Highway 1 through the Kapiti area. He is opposed to having a strategic plan—
Hon Darren Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. On one level I have no objection at all to the Minister talking about me endlessly, but I did not ask about that. I asked him whether—
Mr SPEAKER: I ask the member to resume his seat. Now this has got a bit messy. I am not surprised the member has raised a point of order, but the issue of order was more to do with the Minister alleging what the member might believe or might stand for, etc. That is out of order. I think in terms of the question that the member asked, the Minister did answer that in the first part of his answer, but he was just going on too long and making allegations against the member that were totally uncalled for.
Hon Darren Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question asked him whether he would suggest something to the agency, and his response to me was that I was accusing him or the agency of being political. My question was about a suggestion of what he could do.
Mr SPEAKER: I think the Minister gave a clear answer that he would not do that, and he explained why he would not. He did not give the words that he “would not be” doing that, but he made it very clear that he saw doing such a thing as being improper. So I think the answer the Minister gave was pretty clear.
Gareth Hughes: Why will the Minister not admit that delaying the route announcement till after the Mana by-election is because the Minister has learnt the lesson from the Mt Albert by-election that it is not a good look to be bowling people’s homes before asking them to vote for you?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: When the consultation proceeds, certain members in the House with the surname Hughes will have to swallow their words. The focus of the change is due to there being insufficient detail on the section of the road towards the northern end of the alignment, which is not in the Mana electorate, and if consulted on as it stands it would leave too much uncertainty for local residents.
Earthquake, Canterbury—Enhanced Taskforce Green Funding
9. AARON GILMORE (National) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What announcements has she made about Canterbury Enhanced Taskforce Green funding?
Hon KATE WILKINSON (Minister of Conservation) on behalf of the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Last week we announced funding of $96,000 to support the first Canterbury Enhanced Taskforce Green project in Waimakariri. The project will support clean-up and restoration work on the Waikuku Beach Reserve needed as a result of the damage caused from the Canterbury earthquake.
Aaron Gilmore: How will this funding support the Waimakariri project?
Hon KATE WILKINSON: The Canterbury Enhanced Taskforce Green funding will subsidise the wages of a supervisor and five staff working on the project. We are working with all local councils to identify other potential Enhanced Taskforce Green projects around the region.
Early Childhood Education Services—Effect of Funding Reductions
10. SUE MORONEY (Labour) to the Minister of Education: What reports has she received on the impact of the Government’s funding cuts to early childhood education services with more than 80 percent qualified staff?
Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health) on behalf of the Minister of Education: The Government is actually spending more than ever on early childhood education. The Government will invest $1.3 billion in early childhood education in 2010-11, which is an increase of $107 million from the previous year. The Minister of Education has received no formal reports on the impacts of the funding changes.
Sue Moroney: Has she seen a report about First Five Community Childhood Centre in the electorate of Mana, where the treasurer, David Codwell, said that the impact of the Minister’s funding cuts will result in an increase in fees to families of up to $50 per child per week?
Hon TONY RYALL: Of course, the Minister of Education would be disappointed to hear that news, because those organisations have had 8 months to get themselves organised to allow for this. The fact is the Government is putting more money into early childhood education subsidies. We simply cannot carry on with a situation where the budget for early childhood education trebled and participation went up by less than 1 percent.
Sue Moroney: What does she say to Mrs Niki Alefosio, who has two children attending the First Five Community Childhood Centre in Porirua, and who, because of Government funding cuts, now faces—[Interruption] I will start again.
Mr SPEAKER: I say to Government front-benchers on this occasion that I am on my feet. The member should just ask her question. She will note that when the Minister was answering the last question, there was a significant level of interjection from her own colleagues. She should not be totally surprised if some Government members interject a little on her question, although I would prefer that both sides of the House be more reasonable.
Sue Moroney: What does she say to Mrs Niki Alefosio, who has two children attending the First Five Community Childhood Centre in Porirua, and who, because of Government funding cuts, now faces an additional cost of $100 a week just so her children can have a good start to their education?
Hon TONY RYALL: The Minister would say to that lady that this Government’s top priority is to make sure that those children who are currently missing out on early childhood education, and who we know will benefit, get the opportunity to experience good quality early childhood education. That is why we are putting an extra $107 million into early childhood education subsidies this year and have also set aside $91 million to improve the participation rate. We simply cannot have a system where the spending has trebled but the participation rate went up by less than 1 percent.
Sue Moroney: Has she received advice from National’s Mana candidate that her Government’s funding cuts for early childhood education affect more than 2,100 children in the electorate of Mana alone, and that the funding cuts will stop Mana children from accessing quality early childhood education, like the advice I have received from Labour’s candidate, Kris Fa’afoi?
Hon TONY RYALL: I am sure the Minister of Education would say that in the time that she has spent with National’s candidate in the Mana electorate, Hekia Parata, she has found strong support from parents for the leadership that Mrs Parata would be able to provide in that electorate, and also for the respect that she would give all cultures in that electorate.
Treaty of Waitangi Settlements—Progress
11. PAUL QUINN (National) to the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations: What recent progress has the Government made towards its goal of settling historical Treaty of Waitangi claims by 2014?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations) : The Government recently signed deeds of settlement with two Kurahaupō iwi at the top of the South Island, Ngāti Kuia and Ngāti Apa, and will be signing a deed of settlement with Rangitāne o Wairau on 4 December.
Hon Shane Jones: What about Taipā?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Taipā is not at the top of the South Island. Since the start of last year the Crown has reached over 60 significant settlement milestones, including 21 agreements in principle and 10 deeds of settlement. That represents great progress, especially compared with the previous administration’s average of 1.6 deeds of settlement a year.
Paul Quinn: What other progress has the Government recently made towards its goal of settling all historical Treaty claims?
Mr SPEAKER: I apologise to the member, but I say to members on both sides of the House that the background noise today is unacceptable. A member was yelling endlessly across the House while the member was asking his question. I fully accept that tensions are quite high today. I have tried to let the House live a little more because of it, because I think there are times when one cannot keep the reins too tight. But I just ask for a little bit more reasonableness, please. I ask Paul Quinn to repeat his question.
Hon Darren Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We accept your ruling. If you are to extend that protection to the particular member who is asking the question, then he might return the courtesy when other members on this side of the House are asking questions. This member in particular yells a diatribe whenever our people are asking questions.
Mr SPEAKER: Members should not abuse another member when raising a point of order—for example, referring to something as a diatribe. Members should not do that. I admit that the member has interjected a little too often during question time today and he needs to be mindful of that, although I have not heard him yelling constantly, which is what was going on here. [Interruption] Order! His voice is very loud and very distinctive, and one certainly hears it, but what we have just been experiencing is someone yelling continuously. I have not blamed one side of the House more than the other; I am just asking all members to be a little more reasonable. I am not blaming one side of the House any more than the other; both sides have been particularly noisy today in respect of background noise. I take on board the member’s point, and I ask Paul Quinn to be mindful of that when he is interjecting.
Paul Quinn: What other progress has the Government recently made towards its goal of settling all historical Treaty claims?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: The Government recently initialled a deed of settlement with Ngāti Porou. Ngāti Porou is now engaged in a ratification process and I—
Hon Shane Jones: Labour policy!
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: What is Labour policy? It certainly is not to settle Treaty of Waitangi grievances. I encourage all those who are eligible to participate. I acknowledge the leadership of Ngāti Porou in reaching this milestone and the support of the Māori Party throughout the negotiations. I also acknowledge the very eloquent speech by the Hon Parekura Horomia at the ceremony when the deed was initialled.
Rahui Katene: What impact has the legal action being taken against the Crown by Wakatū Incorporation had on settling the claims of Te Tau Ihu iwi, and what can those iwi do to progress their negotiations?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: It certainly delays the signing of the deeds of settlement because, in accordance with the terms of negotiation, the Crown has had to suspend negotiations with Tainui Taranaki pending resolution of the Wakatū proceeding. They too were parties to the terms of negotiation, but in the interim I hope that the iwi of Tainui Taranaki will be able to work together to resolve the intra-iwi issues that remain outstanding. My understanding is that good progress is being made in that regard.
Hilary Calvert: In the light of it taking 40 years to settle Treaty claims, does he expect it to take more or less time for customary marine title claims to be settled?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: It has not taken 40 years to resolve Treaty of Waitangi claims. This process really got under way in the early 1990s, and good progress is being made. In answer to the question about customary marine title matters, I say that I believe good progress can be made to resolve those matters once legislation is passed—legislation that, properly explained to the electorate, will secure their agreement. I think we should adopt that approach rather than scaremongering and unpleasantness.
Broadband, Ultra-fast—Tendering Process
12. CLARE CURRAN (Labour—Dunedin South) to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology: Is he satisfied that the process for awarding the ultra-fast broadband tender is appropriate; if so, why?
Clare Curran: Has he received any advice or expressions of concern from industry stakeholders relating to a potential or actual conflict of interest in Murray Milner’s role as director of Crown Fibre Holdings at the same time that he was a consultant to Huawei Technologies, a likely bidder for equipment and services on ultra-fast broadband; if so, what is the detail of that advice or concern?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, I have not received any concern in that respect. I have sought advice in response to the member’s questions from the chair of Crown Fibre Holdings, and I am satisfied that Crown Fibre Holdings has robust and comprehensive procedures in place regarding conflicts of interest, which all board members and staff are required to comply with. I note again that Huawei Technologies is not a respondent in the ultra-fast broadband initiative but a technology provider. Crown Fibre Holdings will not be entering into agreements with technology providers; that is an issue for the Crown’s partners to manage.
Clare Curran: Did he meet with Chinese technology company Huawei Technologies during his recent trip to China, leading an information and communications technology delegation; if so, whom did he meet with, on what occasions, and what was discussed?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Absolutely. I led the trade delegation and we met with a number of very large Chinese telecommunications companies, including China Unicom, China Mobile, China Telecom, and Huawei Technologies. I met with Huawei Technologies’ chief executive officer and founder, Mr Ren, as part of a visit to its Shenzhen headquarters. The purpose of the visit was to showcase the New Zealand companies that were travelling with the trade mission I was leading, and give the opportunity to build contacts and relationships with Huawei Technologies, which is one of the world’s largest telecommunications technology providers. Although Huawei took the opportunity to show me some of its product range, neither the New Zealand urban nor rural broadband initiatives were specifically discussed.
Urgent Debates Declined
Pansy Wong—Ministerial Resignation
Mr SPEAKER: I have received a letter from the Hon Pete Hodgson seeking to debate under Standing Order 380 the resignation of the Minister for Ethnic Affairs and the Minister of Women’s Affairs, the Hon Pansy Wong. This is a particular case of recent occurrence involving ministerial responsibility. Not all ministerial resignations will lead to an urgent debate. In this case I am not persuaded to accept the application. Although there is ministerial responsibility for the acceptance of a resignation of a Minister, the administrative responsibility in this case lies with the Speaker. The issues that led to Mrs Wong’s resignation are not ones to which ministerial responsibility attaches. Parliamentary travel entitlements are funded through Vote Parliamentary Service and administered by the Parliamentary Service. It is the Speaker who must answer for them. Furthermore, there is a Parliamentary Service investigation under way. This needs to run its course. To justify an urgent debate, there must be an element of urgency to require a matter to be debated immediately; otherwise, the scope for urgent debates would be enormous. The urgent debate is a way of holding the Government accountable for an action for which it is responsible. It is not a vehicle for addressing matters that are the responsibility of the Speaker. The application is therefore declined.
- Debate resumed from 9 November.
NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) : I am pleased to speak on the Governor-General Bill. The purpose of this legislation is to provide simpler financial arrangements for the support of the Governor-General and his or her programme. The other major purpose of this legislation is to provide greater transparency and to ensure that we have a simpler regime than the present regime.
As we know, the main provisions within this legislation are about creating a new funding structure for the Governor-General. This is really about ensuring that we have greater transparency in the funding structure of the office of the Governor-General, and this stems from the Law Commission report that was previously tabled in the House. The present exemption for the Governor-General’s salary from income tax will be removed. Members on this side of the House believe that there is no longer a justification for this exemption. Successive Governors-General have also requested that it be discontinued. The bill also removes certain outdated restrictions on the availability of the annuity paid to former Governors-General and their surviving spouses or partners. The annuity recognises the significant role played by a Governor-General’s spouse or partner in supporting the office holder.
During the progress of other speeches on this legislation, what has become very clear is the recognition of the current Governor-General and the huge contribution that he has made to New Zealand. We have been very fortunate in this country to have had a number of very good Governors-General, from a range of backgrounds, but this bill is about bringing the office of the Governor-General into a much more modern arrangement. We know that the office of the Governor-General is a symbolic connection between the community and the State. We know that the Law Commission made a number of other recommendations within the report on the modernisation of the office, as well. In terms of this legislation, it is important that we recognise it is vital to have this transparency, given the importance of the office of Governor-General in New Zealand.
I am very pleased to support this legislation and the modernisation of the arrangements for the office of the Governor-General. I reiterate my support for the huge contribution that the current Governor-General has made during his time in office. I think it is really important that this bill is supported by members across the House, as it will separate the arrangements relating to the Governor-General from those providing for Ministers and MPs, and it will better reflect the constitutional boundaries that are so important for the independence of this office. I am pleased to commend this legislation to the House.
Dr RAJEN PRASAD (Labour) : I am also pleased to take what must be Labour’s final call on the third reading of the Governor-General Bill. First and foremost, the bill gives proper recognition to this important office. I agree with Sir Geoffrey Palmer, who said that the Governor-General is an important symbol of our nation, and that the position symbolises our sense of national unity and national identity. There is something in this role that is about us, about “New Zealand Inc.”, and about New Zealand society in the modern world. From that perspective, it is right and proper that the provisions that relate to the person who occupies this position are contained in clear and unambiguously stated stand-alone legislation. This is precisely what the Governor-General Bill has done. From that perspective, it is an excellent bill.
As many other speakers in this debate have said, the bill streamlines and makes transparent the provisions we make for future Governors-General. The bill will be simpler to administer. That is very clear, because it is stated in unambiguous language. It modernises the old-fashioned old language of the Civil List Act, brings it into modern form, and places it before anybody who wants to understand what the provisions are. The bill does a number of additional things. There is something in the nature of New Zealanders that prefers a flat society, in the sense that there are no tall poppies. One provision, the exemption from income tax in the present legislation, will be changed by this bill. The Governor-General’s remuneration will be determined by an independent authority, and then the Governor-General is required to pay tax like the rest of us. That indeed has been a very popular provision, and it reflects the nature of New Zealand society without reducing the symbolism of this important role one iota.
I am also particularly pleased to recognise that the bill defines the family in modern-day terms and makes provisions for that family—our first family, if you like. That also recognises the role played by the spouse of the Governor-General. When the time comes for the spouse to be supported, when he or she is without the kind of support that is provided by the Governor-General, then we know that the provisions will be there. This bill makes that very, very clear. In those senses this is a very transparent bill. It makes all of those provisions very transparent, and provides for greater openness and accountability. It is very easy to hold those holding the post, and others around that person, accountable for this office and for the expenditure of the office as well. Those are very, very good, useful, and modern provisions for this important office—symbolically, our first family.
I turn my attention briefly to talk a little more about the office of Governor-General and indeed the current Governor-General, the Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, and Her Excellency Lady Susan Satyanand. I want to talk through their performance and the importance of this office. It has already been stated elsewhere that this is the highest office in the land, and it carries huge symbolism. One of my observations is that the last 4 or 5 weeks have been a period of tremendous celebration in the Indian community, as my colleague Mr Kanwaljit Bakshi will recognise as well. He has been present, along with myself and many other members of Parliament, at these celebrations. The Governor-General himself has been present, along with Lady Susan Satyanand, at these celebrations. There was something different, something additional, something special, and something new about the speeches made during the last 4 weeks of the Diwali celebrations, especially in the speeches made by the Governor-General, and indeed in the reaction from, and behaviour of, those who came to celebrate Diwali with the Governor-General. It seemed as though New Zealanders wanted to acknowledge this first couple in a very special way, as it was most likely to be their last Diwali celebrations. They wanted to demonstrate their respect to the Indian community, to a Governor-General of Indian background, but also to other New Zealanders as well. The audiences were much more diverse this year, and they seemed to be making a point of recognising the tremendous contribution of Sir Anand and Lady Susan Satyanand.
Since their inauguration, over 4 years ago, they have set very high expectations of themselves and they have indeed set a very high standard and a very exacting standard of their own performance, the performance of their own staff, and indeed their own outputs everywhere they have been. They have also pursued a particular agenda for the last 4½ years. They decided, it seems a long time ago, that Sir Anand Satyanand’s time as Governor-General would focus on inclusiveness—the inclusive nature of our society. Their intention was to respond to as many cultures in New Zealand as possible, and to as many of the ethnic groups of New Zealand as possible. That is the importance of this office, for whom this bill makes these modern provisions, so much so that much of the customary greeting of the present Governor-General has become almost legendary. The Governor-General does not leave anybody out; he recognises everybody. Indeed, he also acknowledges everybody in the language of their land, as well as recognising sign language.
Those kinds of things have been particularly appreciated by New Zealanders up and down this country. I have had, like many other members of this House, many, many opportunities to observe our first family performing and going about their work. They have focused on the importance of the family—Lady Susan Satyanand has, in particular—and they have taken every opportunity with audiences to ensure that the importance of the family is underscored. They have stopped to speak to many, many New Zealanders from every walk of life. People are surprised at how much time they make for New Zealanders who want to get close to them, understand who they might be, and spend a few minutes with them. They have hosted many functions. They have travelled widely overseas and represented us well. Sir Anand is probably one of the most widely travelled Governors-General, and Lady Susan Satyanand is well travelled, as well. Everywhere they go their message is the same: they are proud New Zealanders, putting the country’s best foot forward. Indeed, they have not given anybody cause to say anything other than “What great New Zealanders.”
So it has been surprising that in recent times, somebody began to question them as New Zealanders. But that gave New Zealanders the opportunity to recognise Sir Anand and Lady Susan Satyanand, and I record my thanks to them for the way they have conducted themselves. So this bill makes modern provisions for the office of the Governor-General, for people like the present Governor-General and Lady Susan Satyanand, and for people in the future and their families. Labour supports this bill very, very strongly. Thank you.
KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI (National) : I would like to add my contribution, which is in agreement with what my parliamentary colleague Dr Rajen Prasad just said about the Rt Hon Anand Satyanand. The day he was appointed as Governor-General we were really quite proud that someone from our own community had been appointed to the country’s highest office. Not only that, but in the last 4 years I have met him on a number of occasions, and I have visited the Governor-General’s house in Auckland. Both the Governor-General and his wife have been great hosts. They have welcomed everyone with open arms. The Governor-General represented us very well at the Commonwealth Games, and he received a lot of appreciation from the press in India. I met him for the first time at a function where an Indian judge, Dr Ajit Singh, was appointed to the Manukau District Court. The Governor-General spoke there. I have a lot of respect for him as someone from our own society, our own ethnic community, representing us in different areas.
We are debating the Governor-General Bill because the Law Commission made a number of recommendations in the area of transparency that the Government Administration Committee endorsed. One of the recommendations of the Law Commission was that the provisions in the Civil List Act were very old-fashioned, unnecessarily complicated, and no longer supported what we need, which is a more modern office of Governor-General. The legislation is timely and important.
The Governor-General plays an important role in our constitution. As the Queen’s representative in New Zealand, the Governor-General maintains the legitimacy and stability of government. The office of Governor-General is symbolic; it is a link between the community and the State, and the Governor-General also represents the New Zealand public in a non-partisan way on important public occasions, as was just mentioned by Dr Rajen Prasad. We have both met him on a number of occasions at Diwali celebrations. New Zealand’s Governor-General has always supported many community organisations. It is vital that the office of Governor-General is properly supported in carrying out its roles.
As a modern, stand-alone statute, the bill will separate the arrangements relating to Governors-General from those providing for Ministers and MPs, and will therefore better reflect existing constitutional boundaries as well as the mana and independence of the office. The bill will further improve transparency by requiring the Government to present to the House, on an annual basis, the details of the expenses incurred to provide such benefits.
Apart from one or two exceptions, the new legislation will not apply to the current Governor-General, but will apply when the next Governor-General is appointed. I thank the officials for their help during the select committee process, and I thank the members of the select committee for their work on the bill.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think we have a problem similar to one we had the other day. I think the member is now reading out the Minister’s speech on this bill, rather than his own. He was thanking himself for his work on the bill. I do not think it is appropriate for the member to re-read the Minister’s speech or to be thanking himself for the work he did on the bill.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Eric Roy): I have been listening reasonably carefully, and I have not picked up the inferences the member has.
KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI: Overall, the bill represents a big step forward in the way the Government supports the Governor-General. I commend the bill to the House on its third reading.
- Bill read a third time.
Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3)
Hon PHIL HEATLEY (Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture) : I move, That the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) be now read a first time. At the appropriate time I intend to move that the bill be referred to the Primary Production Committee.
Before I go any further, I wish to acknowledge the work of the Ministry of Fisheries chief executive Wayne McNee, his staff members Emma Taylor and Scott Gallacher, and their teams. Their commitment to the development of this bill has been outstanding. Given that our chief executive Wayne McNee is now moving to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, it is fitting to recognise him today, as this is one of the significant pieces of work that he has led, when in office over the last 3 years. I cannot go on, though, without thanking the rest of the team: Kristin, Christine, Mary Beth, Jessie, Sam, John, Tania, Katrinka, Andrew, Phil, Daniel, Frances, Ada, Emma, Mark, Cathy, Tim, Don, and Demelza, for all the work that they have done. The process has been onerous to work through and to make sure that we have satisfied all those who have a stake in our coastal environment—in particular, those who want to make some economic benefit from it while maintaining the wonderful coastline that we have, and the environmental surrounds.
This bill will reform aquaculture legislation. It will provide an efficient legislative regulatory framework that enables marine-based aquaculture to fulfil its economic potential. We want to do that while ensuring that development is environmentally sustainable and balanced with other uses of our coastal space. There is considerable opportunity for New Zealand’s aquaculture industry to grow, and its potential is yet to be reached. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that aquaculture is the fastest-growing food sector in the world. There is a demand for high-quality produce that is farmed in an environmentally sustainable manner, which is something that New Zealand is well-placed to meet and has a track record of meeting. The Government is committed, as part of its economic growth agenda, to enable the aquaculture industry to grow.
Growth in aquaculture and an increase in export earnings will create jobs in farming, processing, and related activity, particularly in the regions. It is worth pointing out that the investment when a marine farmer starts marine farming in this country is on the water, on the shoreline with processing, and also in overseas markets. It is a big bullet to chew off. Growth will come from increases in the average value of production, through making better use of existing space, and from research and innovation into different species and new technologies in that existing space. Growth will also come from expanding the volume of production through the development of new space, and that is critical.
The Government is committed to ensuring that aquaculture development is environmentally sustainable and takes place within the integrated coastal management framework. That is part of the reason why we have decided to keep development within the Resource Management Act. Stringent tests are already in place to ensure that all aquaculture development takes place within acceptable environmental limits. Those tests will remain under the new law. The undue adverse effects test, which protects the interests of commercial, customary, and recreational fishers, is an essential part of the framework for aquaculture, and will also remain.
However, there is a need to simplify and streamline processes, and to provide a kick-start to industry growth after years of frustrated opportunity and potential. For instance, the current law requires that aquaculture management areas must be established in regional coastal plans before applicants can apply for resource consents, but that approach has not worked in practice. Poor incentives for council and industry to plan and invest have resulted in no new aquaculture space being created under this regime since its commencement in 2005. This bill will normalise aquaculture within the Resource Management Act framework by removing the requirement for aquaculture management areas. That will allow applicants to apply directly for resource consents, subject to the provisions in the regional coastal plan. That is already the case with most other activities, so we are normalising the aquaculture regime. Planning and consenting processes will be streamlined, and there will be better integration between Fisheries Act and Resource Management Act processes. That will reduce costs for industry and provide stronger incentives for development. Regional councils will be better able to respond to demand for space in the coastal marine area. The bill will provide more efficient access to an alternative to the “first in, first served” basis that we have seen in the past.
The bill will also enable the Government to take a more active role in aquaculture planning. The bill creates a new ministerial power to recommend the making of regulations that amend aquaculture-related provisions in regional coastal plans. We do not foresee that power being used without talking to the public and, in particular, to the regional councils involved. Clear parameters are established for the use of that power. Those parameters include, among other things, a requirement for consultation and the requirement that the use of the power must be relative to achieving the purpose of the Resource Management Act. Use of the power will not in itself enable new aquaculture activities to go ahead. Applicants will still need to apply for consents in accordance with normal processes, and those consents will be judged on their environmental production and merits as listed under the Resource Management Act.
Some planned changes will be made directly through the enactment of this bill. We have decided to step in and make some legislative changes to plans. These changes are in regions where current plan provisions present the greatest barriers to aquaculture growth, and where the opportunities for sustainable development within acceptable environmental limits are the greatest. The amended plans will enable applicants to be active for the farming of a wider range of species, including finfish, and some expansion of existing farms. Those changes will provide a much needed stimulus to investment and growth.
The bill includes measures to bring existing marine farmers into the new regime with minimal disturbance. It will enable the processing of a backlog of applications, including those frozen—effectively, in limbo—under the current law. In most cases, processing will be able to proceed on commencement of the new law, subject to the provisions of the relevant regional coastal plan.
The Government is also committed to ensuring that the Crown continues to uphold the Māori commercial aquaculture settlement. The bill retains the core components of the settlement, including all rights associated with the 20 percent of new space created from 1 January 2005. A new mechanism for delivering those obligations is needed as a consequence of changes to remove the requirement that aquaculture activities must be located within aquaculture management areas. We have begun a process of engagement with iwi to discuss how best to deliver on the settlement in light of the reforms introduced in this bill. I hope to be in a position to introduce the necessary provisions later in the legislative process. Pending development of an intended mechanism, the bill provides for the Crown’s obligations in respect of the new space to be delivered by providing either space or an agreed equivalent.
I acknowledge the work of the Aquaculture Technical Advisory Group, which reported in October last year. It is very important for me to do so. I acknowledge the contribution of the many interested parties who made submissions on that report or provided input into the policy development process.
This bill lays the foundation for the next stage in the growth of an exciting industry, with real potential for sustainable economic development within acceptable environmental limits and a balanced use of our coastal space. I thank all those who were involved in its development, particularly those in the team within the Ministry of Fisheries that engaged so well with marine farmers, those in the environmental protection sector throughout New Zealand, and those in regional councils. I appreciate their work.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Labour—Ikaroa-Rāwhiti) : We support the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) going to a select committee, but there are a whole lot of questions on the journey through and after the select committee that we would like answered.
The bill makes some significant change to the current regime. We have serious reservations regarding the regulatory power being given to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to change regional and coastal plans without appropriate public consultation. As he said, the group that went out to consult and travel around the country has come back with a report that still needs to be worked over.
The bill supposedly aims to provide a legislative and regulatory framework that enables the sustainable development of aquaculture. We are certainly supportive of that. This bill is an omnibus bill, which amends the Resource Management Act 1991, the Fisheries Act 1998, the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, and the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004. It will be divided into four separate bills during the Committee stage. The majority of the bill is due to come into effect on 1 July 2011, and, if we are able to support that objective, we certainly would be interested in the Minister’s answers.
This certainly spells out the complexity of this bill and the activity as we have seen in past years. The bill incorporates some of Labour’s Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 2), which was reported back from the select committee in September 2009. However, as this bill removes the requirement for aquaculture management areas, the crossover between the bills is limited.
The major change in this bill is the removal of aquaculture management areas. The bill gives the Minister significant new powers. Specifically, it gives him or her the power to override regional coastal plans that have been developed and agreed to by councils and locals. Essentially, it undermines the process of developing a regional coastal plan. Treasury itself expressed some significant reservations about the creation of this power: “The power is not consistent with the RMA, and wider resource management reform is currently under development. This power is a fundamental departure from devoted regional decision-making and integrated resource decision-making.” We have heard heaps of talk, especially in the health area, about taking it to the front to where the local regions develop things. This bill seems to be more of a centralising and pulling back of those powers that had been developed, when local communities and regions were trusted to ensure that what is imbued in any progress for this great industry is something that they helped to design and develop. Treasury also notes that this power only adds to uncertainty for investors, who will be unsure—and this is a critical and crucial part—about whether or not the Minister will exercise the power. That is one of the big questions. It also ties the hands of councils in the consent process by requiring them to grant consents for a minimum term of 20 years.
The changes in this bill are part of a wider programme that includes the establishment of an aquaculture business unit, which is to be supported within the Ministry of Fisheries. But Cabinet papers released by the Minister are not clear on just how much the total cost of establishing and running the unit will be, given that we have seen the Public Service purposely run down. It is certainly a concern that the risks, at minimum, include issues such as the fact that it could have unintended impacts on other Government objectives—for example, the ability of councils to consistently manage the coastal marine area—it could encourage councils to act more conservatively, leading to a greater propensity to decline consent applications, and it could use other means to manage uncertainty, such as placing special limits on development of farms.
We need to ask some interesting questions about the supposed well-repealed foreshore and seabed legislation and the relevance to the takutai moana legislation. One has to ask how this impact on that legislation. Where does it line up with that, if surety is to be given to iwi? It was certainly interesting to hear that the Minister was engaged with iwi, so we look forward to seeing how that will line up with the foreshore and seabed legislation.
Hon Christopher Finlayson: Very well.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I am pleased to hear the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations say it will line up pretty well. I am very encouraged by that, but I am not too sure whether he has read this bill and understood the difficulties and complexities in it. We need to ask how this will get Māori into the industry. There are no guarantees. What the Labour-led Government did do was lead and sign off the allocation to iwi.
The other question is how the industry will be established if there is no time line for the establishment of actual aquaculture areas. That is the guessing within this legislation. How will they be set up if there is no time line? It just seems that there is quite an unbelievable allowance available to the Minister to just do what he or she wants to do.
The other issue is in relation to fishing quota holders. The holders may be weakened if there is inadequate compensation for the aquaculture areas that are designated. That could be dangerous for iwi, given their big economic stake in the industry. It is critical to watch that and understand whether this bill will lighten and speed the process up.
The bill gives the Minister broad powers to change, introduce, or remove provisions relevant to the management of aquaculture in a regional coastal plan. He or she can do that without a requirement to consult the community affected, although he or she is required to consult the relevant regional council. I think we are seeing the start of one of these hand-ons to Ministers where, irrespective of the consensus view, the Minister has this autonomous, stand-alone power.
Interesting statements came out in the writings in the supporting papers about the fact that there is some risk that amendments made through the exercise of this power will have unintended consequences. It is critical to have that understood at the outset before we go to the select committee, because there are a whole host of things that need to be redefined. I am afraid that some of them have not been redefined and it just seems to be a kludge of some people’s thoughts, but the complexity is added to in relation to giving the Minister that autonomous power.
Treasury does not support the creation of that power, which is very interesting. It is Treasury’s view that the power does not offer anything substantial beyond what already exists. That is the big question. Within the Resource Management Act central government already has a full suite of options for intervening. Those options can be used to achieve the same outcome as the proposed power, but there is the important difference that they fit within the Resource Management Act framework. That is a huge question that needs to be answered. The tools and the means in the legislation are already there, so what is this bill about? Is it just about allocating unbridled power to an individual Minister to ensure that he or she can choose to do what he or she wants to do, whenever? The power is not integral to achieving the aims of the reforms. The package of reform options already significantly removes barriers that exist for aquaculture and provides measures for promoting the industry. This option provides a signal but it does not achieve anything substantial. I repeat that the tools and passageways via the present legislation are already there.
We certainly will support the bill going to the select committee, but on the way we want those questions answered. What are the unintended consequences, and how will the Minister ensure that there is a commitment and recognition of what local communities and councils need? We certainly will be watching this bill with interest and we look forward to the debate and discussion.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment) : I am delighted to be part of a Government that sees the potential of the aquaculture industry and what it can do for job and wealth creation in this country. I congratulate the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture on the hard work that has gone into creating the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3). I challenge the previous speaker, the Hon Parekura Horomia, about Labour’s record and what it did in aquaculture. That speaks volumes about the difference in values and in skills between this National-led Government and what occurred in the time of the previous administration.
Firstly, I will talk about the opportunities that there are for us to create jobs and wealth from aquaculture. Few countries in the world are as blessed as New Zealand is with ocean space and fertile waters in which to grow aquaculture. A bit over a decade ago I was privileged to be invited on an ANZAC Fellowship to visit Australia, and I said then that New Zealand was a long way ahead of Australia. In the 1990s we saw the size of New Zealand’s aquaculture industry grow threefold, and no region benefited from that growth as much as Nelson and Marlborough. But over the last decade Australia has gone way ahead of us. Let us see what occurred and put the record straight. Labour passed new aquaculture legislation in 2005. Members opposite said the legislation was the gateway to growing a billion-dollar industry. I simply put this question to members opposite: how many new aquaculture management areas have been created since Labour’s legislation was passed in 2005? Were there 10, or 5? [Interruption] I say to Steve Chadwick that not one was created. We had the World Food Programme identifying aquaculture as one of the most promising areas for growth in the production of protein and food, yet in New Zealand, which exports a greater proportion of food than any other country, frankly, the members opposite blew it when they were in Government.
The 2005 legislation was a disaster. Let me tell the Labour members why it did not work. It was a very fundamental—
Hon Steve Chadwick: We did nothing.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Steve Chadwick chips in. I tell her that she needs to listen. The truth is, I say to Steve Chadwick, that not one new marine farm was established under Labour’s aquaculture legislation. I will explain to her why that was the case, because it explains some of Labour’s naivety and why members opposite do not have the acumen and ability to grow the New Zealand economy. You see, what Labour did was this. The rules of the 2005 legislation stated that someone who went to the expense of applying to a regional council for consent for a new aquaculture management area, at an expense of hundreds of thousands of dollars, spent all that money, yet under Labour’s law had absolutely no right to any of that space. Should we be surprised that with those sorts of perverse incentives, nobody has ever bothered to apply? You see, if this country is to grow its aquaculture industry up to the billion-dollar industry that it has the potential to be, we need to get the incentives right. The incentives in the law that was passed by Labour do not work, and that is why this law change is required.
What does this bill do? First, Labour put a blanket ban from Kaitāia to Bluff on any new marine farm, unless it was in one of the narrowly prescribed aquaculture management areas. Should we then be surprised that nobody has been able to lodge a consent and progress a new marine farm? Nor did Labour address the very real issue that in many of our areas that are owned and good for developing marine farming, the species are very narrowly defined. That is why this bill quite sensibly provides measures by which an area that is suitable for marine farming is able to be farmed for different species. I know that you, Mr Assistant Speaker Roy, are interested in oysters. There is a lot of potential for growth in that industry and you would not believe the bureaucracy that a marine farmer has to go through to be able to develop a new area of oyster farming. I welcome that change.
I also commend my colleague Kate Wilkinson, the Minister of Conservation, because part of her work has been to ensure that our policies are aligned with the growth of the aquaculture industry. In the revised coastal policies statement that my colleague Kate Wilkinson has signed off, we provide a very clear signal in the framework of resource management that this Government wants to see the growth of the aquaculture industry. By aligning that new coastal policy statement with the provisions in this bill, we will provide opportunities for growth.
There are provisions in this bill that say use it or lose it. We do not want speculators to simply apply for large amounts of marine space, then not produce a single dollar of wealth for New Zealand. It is absolutely proper that Phil Heatley has included in this bill tighter provisions to make sure that those who acquire marine space actually develop that space, thereby creating wealth and jobs for New Zealanders.
I also support the provisions in this bill that provide 20 years of certainty for marine farmers. That is the bit that members opposite do not understand, and I was concerned that Mr Horomia opposed those provisions. If we are to get investors to take a punt, and if we are to get private people to invest in the aquaculture industry, we need to provide them with the certainty that is provided for in this bill.
I will also outline how this bill fits into the Government’s broader programme of resource management reforms. This is just one of a stream of 10 areas of work where we are working hard to make sure that the Resource Management Act works well with a blue-green approach, making sure that we properly manage the environment but also making sure that we get the job opportunities and economic growth that this country can responsibly create from its rich natural resources.
There is an important job for the select committee to do on this bill. The bill is very detailed. It is complex law, and the Minister has done a great job in getting it to the House. I simply say to this House that if we are serious about growing the economy, if we are serious about closing the gap with Australia, and if we are serious about growing the aquaculture industry into a billion-dollar industry, we need to back this bill. We need to have sensible rules that will enable the growth of that industry. I commend the work of the Minister and this bill to the House.
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR (Labour) : Labour will support the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) going to a select committee, because we too understand the need to clarify a number of things that have bogged down the aquaculture industry. None the less, the reality for many in the industry is that the international markets have not been great over the last few years, and, in some bizarre way, the lack of any further space development has probably helped protect those who are currently producing to get a slightly better return in the market place.
I would like to follow on from the Hon Nick Smith, who needs to have a few points clarified, because it is not often that he comes to the House to clarify things, and he certainly confused things. The dilemma we face in aquaculture is a direct result of the National Government’s Resource Management Act, which left regional councils, regardless of their capability or knowledge, to develop plans to manage all of the things in the coastal areas that, strictly speaking, they did not have responsibility for but had been asked to manage. In Tasman, where there was a unitary council, Nick Smith campaigned to get rid of the unitary council, and a whole lot of people there think that that was a major blue, I have to say. The unitary council in Tasman had not foreseen the growth potential in aquaculture and had not put in place a coastal management plan and a resource plan that adequately addressed the huge number of applications for coastal space. Under the Resource Management Act passed by the National Government, there was a clear obligation to manage the applications on a “first come, first served” basis. Some regional councils that did not have huge pressure from aquaculture put in place some basic requirements. Marlborough, on the other hand, moved forward and developed a reasonably robust scheme for managing applications. In fact, it moved on and—
Hon Member: It was under a unitary authority.
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR: Yes, some work well; some do not. It addressed the issue. But in Tasman there was a flood of applications by a bunch of speculators who thought they would rush out to get the space and that someone would come along later on who might want to grow some mussels, or do something else. Mr King knows the truth of this. So when Labour was in Government, there was a huge amount of litigation—expensive litigation. The personal cost was quite high for a number of people involved in that, and I offer them my sympathy. They were caught up in a legislative vacuum, perhaps in the absence of any clarification by Tasman District Council, in the attempt to sort out who got first rights and where these applications should be approved. The spaces were huge in area, so something had to be done. We got in and attempted to do that, keeping in mind, and we put in place, the obligation for 20 percent of new space to go to Māori, as has happened with quota. We got to that point, put in place a few principal positions, and said there had to be a process for developing aquaculture management areas and then a process for applying for space within those.
Yes, hindsight would say that we did not get that quite right. We would admit that, but it was with the best of intentions. This legislation addresses a number of those problems; I accept that. But it also hands over a huge amount of responsibility to a Minister, and that will not offer investors or industry much certainty. We were reluctant in Government to have ministerial discretion, and preferred to have in place a robust and independent process. We attempted to provide that through aquaculture legislation. We know that if we hand over ultimate responsibility and decision-making to a Minister, it will be all right if we are in Government and can trust our Minister, but if, as happens in a democracy, another bunch of loonies gets into power, we do not know whether the new Minister will have the knowledge or the right ethical and moral judgment to make the right decisions. If we look at what has happened within the National Party in the last few weeks, we would have to say there are some Ministers who do not have the best guidance on ethical and moral judgments, so how will any investor ensure that they get a fair assessment of their application, and a fair go at getting a positive decision on their application? In the end, it is up to the Minister.
That is one area we will scrutinise closely in the select committee, because we still believe that an independent, transparent process is the fairest way for all business in this country to operate, so that businesses are not battered around by the winds of ignorance, different ethical judgments, or politicking, so that they get a fair go to develop a business, get access to a bit of space, and get on to develop some exports for the country. Although this bill makes some progress in some key areas, ultimately it leaves ministerial discretion as the last port of call for decision making, and in our view that is a big worry.
There are some existing problems within the aquaculture industry that really need to be addressed, and I take the opportunity during the debate on this bill to ask the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, who has come into the House, what he is doing about scallop management in Golden Bay. In both Tasman and Golden Bay there has been a programme of management and enhancement, with 20 percent of the industry’s income coming back into enhancement, and it has worked OK for quite some time, but for the last few years it has been disastrous. Something needs to happen to improve the commercial potential—not the commercial business, because there is none in Golden Bay, and the industry cannot take any out—of scallops, an industry that has been established and has huge potential, but is now failing. The Minister needs to give us some steer as to how he will improve that situation before we embark upon a new wave of aquaculture that, without the right safeguards and proper management, might result in a whole lot of businesses falling over or failing. We do not want to see that. We want people who are prepared to invest to go out, create exports, and get some good returns and profits on their investments.
I will go through a few key provisions in the bill. There have been changes. The fact is that there is now no requirement for aquaculture management areas. There are some interim areas under the Tasman District Council that are almost through to completion point; they will still be in place, and I think that is a good call, provided for in this legislation. The 20-year minimum requirement for aquaculture consents is OK. It gives some certainty for investment, but it is a long time, and it effectively gives up to 35 years, which is the maximum allowed, of private property rights over what is, I guess, the seabed and the foreshore, and particularly the seabed. We still have major legislation to pass through the House to establish some rights in that area, so it is an area of uncertainty for the industry, I would say.
The re-consenting process for marine farmers has been simplified. That is smart, and we welcome it. The undue adverse effects test asks whether an activity affects anyone else, and that is really at the heart of the problem here. Those people who have wet-fish quota, and those who might be scallop farmers, for example, do not like green-lipped mussel farms coming in over the top of them. The real battle in this area is within the industry. It has not been between the Government, be it Labour or National, and industry; it has been within the industry over who has preferential rights to sea space. The test of undue adverse effects, and the removal of the right to take a case right through to the High Court, are good things. Litigation and big money have bogged progress in aquaculture as much as inadequate legislation has done.
I have spoken about the power of the Minister. I think it is alarming, and, indeed, Treasury itself has spoken of that danger. Treasury has stated that the power is not consistent with the Resource Management Act and the wider resource management reforms that are currently under development. Referring to the Government’s own adviser through Treasury, we see there are some dangers in this legislation. We will support the bill going to the select committee, but we will be scrutinising it very carefully.
GARETH HUGHES (Green) : Kia ora, Mr Deputy Speaker. Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou. Kiwis love our oceans. Oceans cover 70 percent of our planet and represent 95 percent of the biosphere, and in New Zealand our waters are particularly special. Members may not have noticed, but a few weeks back the big biodiversity conference wrapped up in Nagoya, Japan. The 10th meeting of the Conference on Biological Diversity received both brickbats and bouquets. Delegates heard that we are in the midst of a great extinction event, with species disappearing at a rate between 100 and possibly 10,000 times greater than the historical level.
The biodiversity crisis is particularly important, and it is global. It requires international solutions. We used to think, when we looked at our oceans, that they were unlimited, and that it would be impossible for humans to fundamentally impact and change our oceans. However, climate change, ocean acidification, oil and mineral exploitation, whaling, overfishing, and pollution are all taking their toll on our marine environment. A major recommendation from scientists at the conference was that some areas just need to be off limits to humans.
In Nagoya, under the agreed protocol, Governments committed to protecting 17 percent of the land and 10 percent of the world’s oceans by 2020. The 10 percent by 2020 protected area target sounds impressive, but it is similar to something we have heard before in this Parliament, which was: “New Zealand? Ten percent by 2020? Pah!’, said the New Zealand Government, because we already had a 10 percent by 2010 target. If members had heard our delegates in Nagoya, they would have heard them say that we are doing great, and we are almost there, and that 7 percent of our territorial sea is in marine reserve. What they forgot to mention, of course, is that it is not just the territorial sea that is counted, but our marine area, our exclusive economic zone. It is a total area of 4.15 million hectares, which is less than close, when we take into account the fact that only 0.3 percent is in marine reserves. Add in marine mammal sanctuaries, and our marine protected area is a paltry 0.77 percent, which is a long way off the 10 percent by 2010 target. With 3 months to go until the deadline, how are we going? Do we have much chance of meeting that target? Not likely, considering this Government has introduced a moratorium on marine reserves in the exclusive economic zone until 2013, last year it stopped the Department of Conservation from applying for marine reserves, and in Akaroa it declined a marine reserve application because of recreational fishing impacts.
I mention this in order to highlight the role of the Greens in this House, which is to be a voice for the environment, and to talk about the sustainability issues that are often ignored in the pursuit of profit. The Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3), on the whole, ignores sustainability issues. This omnibus—
Jacqui Dean: Silly man.
GARETH HUGHES: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take offence to being called a silly man by the member opposite.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: We are called many things in this House. This is a debating chamber. I am sure the member will, over time, hear other things.
GARETH HUGHES: I may be a silly man, but I am not talking about silly issues. This omnibus bill deals with removing barriers to commercial aquaculture, which is just one aspect of how Kiwis interact with the ocean for pleasure, profit, and conservation. The message we are bringing into this House is that we cannot look at aquaculture in isolation. We need some joined-up thinking. New Zealand has some 5,800 hectares occupied, including freshwater farms, in some 1,200 marine farms.
Aquaculture can be good, with the right species in the right place; however, it must be sustainable. We cannot be establishing an aquaculture system that will just crash and burn. We heard from the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture that by 2020 it is estimated that aquaculture will make up 58 percent of worldwide seafood production. What the Minister did not answer was why we would be doing that. What has happened to all the fish that are wild? What has happened to them? We have simply eaten them.
Looking to the future of the aquaculture industry, we are hearing talk of around $1 billion in earnings by 2025. Aquaculture New Zealand estimates that that will require some 17,000 hectares of inshore mussel farms, or approximately 10 times that amount for offshore farms. We support ecologically sustainable aquaculture and we support economic development. But the Greens will be voting against this bill, because we believe it is the marine equivalent of the 1991 Building Act. It is establishing, through lack of planning and lack of regulations, huge problems downstream.
The Minister quoted the Food and Agriculture Organization, but forgot to point out also what that organisation says about the environmental impacts. The Food and Agriculture Organization points to pollution, nitrification, transmission of diseases, and displacing other activities like marine protected areas, that would come on account of this bill. Between 1985 and 1995—and I know we are not talking about shrimp fisheries; we are talking about finfish fisheries in this bill—36 million tonnes of wild-caught fish was used as feed to produce only 7.2 million tonnes of shrimp. This bill will make it easier to farm finfish in New Zealand, which will have massive impacts. Around the world 31 million tonnes of wild-caught fish was fed to other fish. This will hugely impact on our “clean, green” brand. Around the world, our fisheries have been called into doubt by the Guardian, by TheEconomist, and by the New York Times; even the Queen will not eat orange roughy from New Zealand any more. We need to take account of the impact of sustainability issues.
I will now quickly go through some of our concerns with this bill, including the lost opportunities for spatial planning in relation to the aquaculture agency, and the lack of local decision-making in the coastal plans. Firstly, when looking at spatial planning, we can see that there are many activities that occur in New Zealand’s marine area, such as fishing, boating, water sports, and enjoying conservation, and aquaculture should not be seen in isolation. We need to take an integrated approach in this bill.
Green Party policy supports integrated marine ecosystem planning. According to the Environmental Defence Society and other experts, best practice involves heading towards integrated marine spatial planning. This bill does not create a comprehensive integrated mechanism to replace the regional aquaculture management areas. The Environmental Defence Society submitted to the initial technical advisory group report that integrated spatial planning—or a similar framework—should be in place before we remove the red tape for accelerated commercial development.
When looking to the aquaculture agency, we agree with the Environmental Defence Society’s concern that the representation of industry interests, as well as responsibility for setting environmental standards, the drafting of national policy, and the management of the environmental impacts of aquaculture, are too many functions to be vested in one agency. The greater role of central government in aquaculture development creates potential conflicts of interest, whereby the regulator of the activity is also the advocate for the activity. This can lead to under-regulation and poor environmental outcomes. In a nutshell, it is not good policy or practice for the industry’s promoter also to be the regulator.
Lastly, the bill follows poor legislative and democratic processes by directly amending the two regional coastal plans. That is a bit of a trend of this Government, whereby it will sack entire regional councils in Canterbury, change waterway plans, such as the ones developed by the Greater Wellington Regional Council for Transmission Gully, and call in giant motorway projects, such as Waterview Connection in Auckland, and allow the community very little time to consult on it. Or, as in the case of Mana, the community will have no ability to know where the motorway is, as the route will not be announced before members of the community have their most powerful democratic function—their power to deliver a message with their vote in the ballot box. This Government will not even tell the voters of Mana where the motorway is going or whose houses will be bowled for this development.
When it comes to questions of local democratic involvement, this Government errs on the side of the corporate. It errs massively in its own interests, in order to ram through—much like we will be doing under urgency again tonight—issues such as this. This bill also follows poor legislative and democratic process in that it changes the coastal plans to allow for the application for consents to develop finfish farming, which has significantly different and more extensive environmental impacts than shellfish farming. It is not clear whether large-scale finfish farming could be ecologically or economically sustainable in the medium to long term. This should be studied, and there should be local, democratic input into these plan changes.
In conclusion, the select committee process will allow greater investigation and, despite voting against this bill, we look forward to engaging with it in the select committee. We hope this bill can be improved to better achieve its aims, but we think the fundamental approach will make it difficult for the bill to be amended to the point where the Greens will support it. This bill is about making it easier and faster for corporate aquaculture to grow. We are not opposed to economic development and aquaculture in general, but it must be planned, it must be regulated, and there must be sustainability. What we are doing here is like that other great folly in this House: we are replicating the 1991 Building Act. We will see huge problems in our marine environment down the line. Kia ora.
RAHUI KATENE (Māori Party—Te Tai Tonga) : The House is now immersed in a debate on yet another omnibus bill. The Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) makes amendments to the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004, the Fisheries Act 1996, the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, and the Resource Management Act 1991. On its own, this legislation may seem like just a technical clean-up, or another piece of legislation driven by administrative purposes.
As the MP for Te Tai Tonga, I will bring two important points of distinction in speaking to this bill. The first is that it has been 6 years since the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act was passed. Urgent progress must proceed to ensure iwi get the full value from that settlement. The Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 provided a full and final settlement of Māori commercial aquaculture interests since 21 September 1992. I remember the advent of that legislation very clearly. It was something that iwi from Te Tau Ihu, or the top of the South Island, for those not in the know, were especially interested in. The purpose of the 2004 legislation was to enable the marine farming industry to continue growing without risk of litigation relating to contemporary Treaty grievances, and to ensure iwi access to coastal marine space to develop their marine farming interests. The proposed legislation is arguably, then, a work in progress, especially in consideration of the changes aimed at simplifying the process in relation to the allocation of new space for aquaculture activities. It is also a means of achieving incremental progress, taking into account the interim measure put in place to allow for the continuation of the 20 percent allocation mechanism for Māori interests in aquaculture.
Our sources tell us that aquaculture management areas have not at all been successfully designated by regional authorities, due to a lack of resourcing and planning capacity. The main problem with that is that in order to allocate the 20 percent of new space for Māori aquaculture activities under the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act, those areas need to be established. So the purpose of this new bill is to streamline planning and consenting processes by removing the requirement for aquaculture management areas, to provide stronger incentives for industry development while maintaining existing processes to ensure environmental limits are respected, to enable central government to take a more active role in aquaculture planning and consenting, and to honour the settlement under the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act.
I will speak to that last point in more detail, because it is the second point of distinction that the Māori Party brings to this debate. This legislation is not just about tidying up the statutes for the purpose of housekeeping. It has a long whakapapa with whānau, hapū, and iwi who seek genuine progress in respect of their connections with their maunga, awa, moana, marae, tūpuna, and atua.
I want to share a little story with members about my own whānau experience. Many years ago, the people of Waitohi were moved by the Government at the time from Waitohi to Waikawa so that the Picton township could be built where they were living. At that time, Waikawa was a swamp, and my uncle, Mike Reeves, was born and raised in Waikawa. He has talked to me about life in the mid-1940s in Waikawa, when both sea and freshwater food were plentiful. The whānau regularly benefited from the ample supplies of lamprey eel and ordinary silver-bellied eel found in the swamp from the beach. This was also a breeding area for whitebait and thousands of baby flounder, right across Waikawa Pā foreshore. In those times of plenty, the people enjoyed fresh flounder, scallops, cockles, and pipi, and tons of herrings and mackerel. There was also a huge snapper area on the west side of the bay. In the bay itself there was plentiful blue cod, pāua, and kina. The whānau went to their beach to pick mussels, kopakopa, and other kai moana. For those people who are listening, I will stop right now to give them a chance to stop salivating. But this is not a good news story. Eventually, the Waikawa Marina was dug out and the land was reclaimed by uplifting the seabed and filling in the beautiful swamp. In that one act of human intervention, the people were robbed of their source of natural, healthy sea and freshwater food because of the marina pollution. Their scallops have shifted out of the bay into deeper water because of pollution, and the only shellfish left, kopakopa, is way out in the bay.
If we fast forward to 2010, we see that Port Marlborough wants to shift the shellfish from where it has been for hundreds of years by extending the marina so that more wealthy outsiders can moor their expensive toys there. So the bill comes at a very good time for our people, who are outraged at the decisions that local authorities continue to make, which are seemingly more focused on profits than people, and more focused on financial return rather than the long-term environmental health and well-being of the people.
There are certainly issues within this legislation on which I would seek the expert advice and knowledge of our whānau leaders, like my uncle Mike Reeves. I am thinking particularly about the nature of the new space allocation mechanism. The proposed reforms seem to normalise aquaculture by removing the need to create aquaculture management areas and rebranding across the board all aquaculture activities as coastal permits. There is concern that this is an interim measure with no clear indication as to what will replace it and when it will be replaced. In our opinion, this issue should be finalised first, before the legislation is progressed. In fact, if we were to talk with any of our people involved in aquaculture, I suggest we would hear that their main focus would be that the 20 percent allocation of new space for aquaculture activities should be increased, not removed.
We all accept that the current legislation has not worked as it should have, because not enough progress has been made in the allocation of new space for aquaculture activities by regional councils. The proposed reforms on the allocation of new space, although not ideal, are at least a step forward in simplifying the complex process of allocating new space for aquaculture activities. But, and this is the crucial thing, we must see ongoing and formalised consultation with iwi as a vital step in making progress. The commitment shown in regard to future consultation with iwi leaders on this issue is encouraging. The Māori Party promotes ongoing and continuing engagement with Ministers and iwi leaders in the hope of reaching a speedy resolution that can promote the development of the aquaculture industry and secure a central position in that industry for iwi.
Just for the record, I will outline some of the key understandings we have in respect of iwi leaders operating in this and other fora with Ministers. The role of the Iwi Leadership Group is strictly focused on advising Ministers on the development of options that best advance iwi interests. It is to be noted, however, that members of the Iwi Leadership Group do not purport to speak for or represent any iwi other than their own; no one-size-fits-all template provides the generic iwi answer. Accordingly, the Iwi Leadership Group does not have a mandate to negotiate or reach agreements on behalf of any iwi. Its focus is on reporting back to iwi both directly through e-pānui and hui as required, and through regular meetings of the Iwi Chairs Forum.
Finally, it should be noted that engagement between Ministers and the Iwi Leadership Group does not derogate from the Treaty relationship between iwi and the Crown, and it is no substitute for direct engagement between the Treaty partners.
With all these principles in mind, I acknowledge the leadership of iwi and record our respect for the views that they bring, including the views of experts from regions with interests in aquaculture, as well as outside expertise where that is required.
I remember what my Uncle Mike keeps fighting for: a quality of life; a clean, pristine environment; the ability to go to the beach and pick one’s own food; and leaving behind a legacy of beauty for our mokopuna. The Māori Party welcomes the open-door approach and will support this bill at the first reading to enable the kōrero to be had.
Hon PHIL HEATLEY (Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture) : In my introductory speech, I should have pointed out that I wanted the Primary Production Committee to consider the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) and that the committee will report its findings to the House on or before 27 April 2011. I would like to inform the House of that and I seek leave to do so.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is no objection.
SHANE ARDERN (National—Taranaki - King Country) : I rise in support of the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3). It has been interesting to listen to the speeches from both sides of the House, and particularly to the reasons of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for coming forward with the bill. As the chair of the Primary Production Committee, I tell members that the committee undertook a study tour of South Australia last year, and one of the things that overwhelmed me—I do not know that it overwhelmed anybody else but it overwhelmed me—was the massive growth we saw in aquaculture in South Australia. It has got to the point now that it represents about one-third of the South Australian economy. So the obvious questions to ask in that process were: at what environmental cost was that growth, and at what other costs? I have to report back to the House that from the amount of research we were able to do with the people we spoke to, who were from both scientific backgrounds and environmental backgrounds, and of course at the meetings we had with parliamentarians there, we learnt that the amount of environmental impact has been, at the best, very minimal.
So from that I can answer some of the concerns raised by the Green Party in its contribution earlier on, and by the Hon Damien O’Connor, who said that he feared the powers that the Minister might have under the proposals of this omnibus bill, which at a later stage in the parliamentary process will be divided up into more than one bill. I guess that to some extent I can sympathise with those concerns. But if New Zealand were to have a Labour Government with a Green Minister, then the aquaculture industry would not progress, at all. There would be no progress, at all, in this industry. In fact, if we look at what has happened in recent history, we can see that there has been no progress in this industry—an industry that potentially has up to $1 billion worth of export earnings.
If we look at what New Zealand’s low-hanging fruit will be in terms of potential for growth going forward, we see that it will be—without a doubt in my mind—the export of high-quality protein products, with integrity and traceability; we can tick all of those boxes. The concept of the triple bottom line, which is touted much by those on the Green side of the political divide, is not a new concept to those of us who have been involved in the farming industry for years. The idea of having a balance between economic, social, and environmental concerns is something that is absolutely fundamental to the New Zealand economy, to our way of life, and to the farming systems we employ.
Under the current legislation there are aquacultural management areas, which in the last 5 years have had no new developments, at all, under that regime—none, zero, nothing. Surely that meets the concerns that the Green member raised about the potential environmental impacts—there are none because there has been no development. But we cannot have a growing dynamic economy at the bottom of the South Pacific that is dependent on exports for its way in the world and for the standard of living that we have all come to appreciate and demand from successive Governments—health care, education, high-quality communications, and a high standard of living—without economic development. Those things do not exist when we do not have economic development. So the purpose of the bill is to try to clear some of these regulatory roadblocks that exist in the development of aquaculture in New Zealand.
Aquaculture can be done in a sustainable way, and I am reminded of one of those who spoke to us in South Australia, a person of German descent from about five generations ago. I will not use names because that would personalise it too much, but this person said to us: “We left central Europe five generations ago because of bureaucratic persecution, but last year, after having invested millions of dollars in development in New Zealand—millions of dollars worth of economic development in that country—we left New Zealand for South Australia to escape bureaucratic persecution.” So we need to reflect on that a little bit.
As we grow and develop as a First World country we need to learn the lessons of our forbears, and of our origins. I include tangata whenua in that. Some examples were given by our colleague from the Māori Party of early development in New Zealand that was not, and never would be, environmentally sustainable. Those lessons need to be learnt, along with what we know now through modern science about the potential for us in terms of developing a sustainable, dynamic, and economically viable aquaculture industry.
Different members have touched on the different types of aquaculture farming. One of the things that was very, very obvious to us when we looked not only at the Australian example but also at our own example here in New Zealand was that technology has moved on, and we can now farm finfish in areas where it has been identified that these fish will grow and thrive without having a major environmental impact. They can actually be fed on land-produced feeds, and not on captured wild fish, which, of course, would not be sustainable. So a range of options is now available that were not available even 10 years ago.
I think that members should wait until the bill gets to the select committee. Members should bring their concerns to the committee, as I am sure submitters will. I look forward to the process going forward.
Hon SHANE JONES (Labour) : Kia ora nō tātou. Tēnā koe, Mr Deputy Speaker. Along with my other colleagues I rise to support this bill going to the Primary Production Committee. In 1992 the Hon Doug Kidd was the Minister of Fisheries. During his tenure he identified that aquaculture, by 2010, would produce $1 billion worth of foreign exchange earnings. He then moved on and surfaced many years later as an expert guiding the current Ministers in terms of how those dashed expectations of his might be achieved. I have to say that the range of ideas contained in this bill most certainly should be supported to the select committee and we should listen very carefully to what ideas might come out of the select committee to ensure that the balance does not tip too far one way or the other.
The current value of the aquaculture industry is approximately $370 million, the vast majority of which goes overseas. Indeed, the major mussel stakeholders are about to leave to go to China in the forlorn pursuit, I rather fear, of acting in a cohesive fashion to ensure that we do not continue the curse of so many New Zealand exporters of undercutting their neighbours. This is an opportunity for us to redress what has been a spectacular episode of non-activity and indeed, in the minds of Māori marine farming enterprise owners, a spectacular failure that goes back to key decisions taken by Ministers over the last 3 or 4 years.
In an attempt to respond to the Klondike effect, where people were screaming around the country and actually camping on coastal real estate without having either the capital or the connections to ever develop that space, we unwittingly created in those days a speculative rush. When we had communities that probably had the ability to leverage their other assets and put capital into aquaculture, they found they were being charged extortionate fees to take a secondary stake in this coastal space that had already been locked up by a range of entrepreneurial characters who, as I said, knew not a thing about exporting and who lacked the ability to amass the necessary elements to create any enterprise out of it.
Then we came forward with our response and froze that part of the industry—that is, new space. But I have to say that new space is only part of what is needed in this industry. As with all industries, if we cannot settle upon a sustainable or maintainable export price, then it is very hard to grow or even stay solvent in this industry, as many mussel farmers, oyster farmers, and others will tell us, which is why this industry is seeing critical mass dynamics at work. That is more a statement on the industry, as opposed to this legislation, but it is important that we have a very good understanding as to what really are the problems we are trying to solve here. Obviously, in a simplistic way, too much red tape or too many complex and costly planning provisions are key issues that both major parties have deep concerns about. If this bill can simplify that, then we may see some fresh investment. But we will not see fresh investment unless we can see sunlight in the market place—that is, the export markets.
That raises questions as to how well organised aquaculture exporters are, what level of collaboration there is amongst them, and to what extent they can work together without falling foul of the law in relation to using practices that might raise the ire or cause the attention of regulators to be directed towards their activities.
In addition, for the past 5 or 6 years there has always been a funding problem—once the aquaculture management area model was brought into law. Areas would be created as aquaculture management areas, and within those areas punters who wanted to create a business there could make an application. Those aquaculture management areas were never going to be created without central government funding. To date, none of the big parties has shown much zest for spending the millions of dollars necessary for aquaculture management areas to be created. In addition, when an aquaculture management area is created, the costs facing an investor are inordinately larger than the costs facing an opponent. The opponents are able to use the fruits of social democracy being married with resource management and bring their concerns to the table and actually require an exhaustive consideration of things that are both relevant and irrelevant. If one is an investor wanting to enlarge one’s enterprise, one faces those considerable hurdles, but that in itself can be traced back to the inability of regional government to fund it, and also, I am told, the inability of the ratepayers who stand behind regional government to put serious dough on the table to allow it to determine which areas under the planned environmental management strategies will be dedicated; and, if we were to go for a private plan change, then that in itself is a very expensive exercise.
This is relevant to Māori, and I suppose the jury is still out as to how the Māori entitlement will be settled, flowing from the deal done in the time of, I think it was, David Benson-Pope. How will it happen? Will it be cash? If there are no aquaculture management areas, how will they be allocated their space? The obligation upon the Crown is clearly reflected—I think it is section 53—and there is the ability to take different routes forward, so we look forward to hearing what both the industry and Māori players have to say about that.
It is useful to think about how aquaculture can move into other species. At the moment it comprises primarily mussels and oysters, but there is a large market for finfish. I come from Te Aupōuri iwi and we unwisely invested many millions of dollars in a land-based fish farm. The fish farm has since been discontinued. Fortunately, the asset base was such that the assets have been able to absorb the losses that come as a consequence of dabbling in capitalism, and of getting Scandinavian technology and learning that the ability to enforce the contract against Scandinavians is actually proportionate to the distance that they are away—that is, one has to go a long way to get them to observe their obligations under the contract. But that is another matter.
There is a great deal of scope for the farming of finfish. I only hope that when the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture comes back to us later in the Committee stage, he ensures that there is scope in this bill for investors to move from one type of aquaculture species to another, depending on where the market trends are taking us in terms of our export potential over the medium to long term. Although this is an important resource management issue, at the end of the day aquaculture is about exploiting natural space and natural resources, and transforming that into jobs, enabling firms to take a risk, and generating a flow of goods and services that hopefully will lead to the generation of foreign exchange earnings. At a deep level that is what we are really on about here. I have my doubts about whether the rhetoric spouted by the Hon Gerry Brownlee will ever come to pass—he has pinned a great deal of hope upon the aquaculture industry to be a new, inordinately large growth industry—but we will support this bill’s referral to a select committee. Kia ora.
COLIN KING (National—Kaikōura) : It is a pleasure to stand and speak in the first reading of the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3). I must concede that earlier speakers have canvassed this subject very well. I shall take only a short call. I certainly look forward to this bill coming to the Primary Production Committee so that we can glean the value out of the select committee submissions. While I am on my feet I will talk about how enthusiastic this Government is about aquaculture, how focused it is on environmental sustainability, and how aware it is, when looking back, of the impracticability of some of the other attempts to sort out the aquaculture industry.
It is probably quite appropriate to see where all this started. In the 1970s a lot of the land-based farms in the Marlborough Sounds were finding the going very tough. With innovation, they saw an opportunity to farm green-lipped mussels in the sounds, and the rest is history. A wonderful book called Lines in the water was published, which celebrates the achievement of aquaculture in the Marlborough Sounds.
One point I will make is that we are not necessarily talking about great, endless hectares of water space being used to realise the $1 billion. It is quite clear that if the science is done and the water space is identified as being appropriate, then salmon farming could double the financial returns in the Marlborough Sounds by actually reducing the overall areas. But the point we learnt as a select committee from what happened in South Australia is that one must do the science. One must identify the areas, and then one has to look for a very simple but responsible framework in order for sustainable aquaculture to occur.
There are very exciting opportunities. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research is doing very successful research into hāpuka, and their growth rates are very similar to those of salmon. With regard to this bill, I see that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture wants us to report it back on 27 April 2011, which should give adequate time for us to test much of the thinking that is in the bill. I know that a lot of candle hours have been spent in anguishing over the details and complexity of such things as how to apportion the 20 percent that is due—the contemporary arrangements relating to Māori. That issue has to be looked at, and I am sure that there are far better solutions in the second generation of stepping forward in aquaculture.
I will leave it there. I am fully in support of this legislation. As the MP for Kaikōura, which encompasses the Marlborough Sounds and probably some 1,700 kilometres of coastline, I realise not only the sensitivities relating to this legislation but also the enormous opportunities to harvest economic gain. I commend this bill to the House.
BRENDON BURNS (Labour—Christchurch Central) : I am very pleased to support the Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3). I will set the framework for my comments around cautious support for this bill. I say “cautious”, because—
Sandra Goudie: Oh, come on.
BRENDON BURNS: —and I will express the caution first—we have been there at least twice before in my lifetime in terms of trying to grow this industry successfully. But I also say “support”, because aquaculture can, and should, become a billion-dollar export industry, if we get it right this time round. I am a great believer in aquaculture. I say that as somebody who, just at lunchtime today, when hosting a South African delegation with colleagues from the Primary Production Committee, ate some delicious salmon for my lunch—farmed salmon.
Paul Quinn: Did you pay for it?
BRENDON BURNS: I did indeed pay for my lunch, through the tax system that we all contribute to, I say to Mr Quinn. Last Saturday, in a rare moment off from work, at Pomeroy’s pub in my electorate, I enjoyed with my wife a lunch of a dozen freshly cooked Marlborough Sounds mussels. I am also a regular consumer, as some other MPs may be, of fish oil pills, which come from farmed salmon and which are good for keeping our joints supple and for feeding our capacity to retain information.
Craig Foss: You should share them with your colleagues.
BRENDON BURNS: I should share them with members opposite—indeed, I should.
I lived for 14 years in Marlborough and spent a lot of time in the Marlborough Sounds in holiday and weekend periods. The Marlborough Sounds is home, I think, to about three-quarters of the current existing aquaculture industry. I love to fish. One can never catch more fish than when one is somewhere near a mussel harvester. Yes, there are parts of the sounds where the mussel industry and aquaculture in general may currently be being farmed to capacity, but that certainly does not apply in any more than a handful of bays across the vast expanse of the Marlborough Sounds.
The current aquaculture industry in New Zealand takes a fraction of 1 percent of our coastal water space. We have considerable capacity for growth—considerable capacity for growth—and I hope this bill will provide for that, because this is a clean, green industry. It is a sustainable industry. It is an industry that is needed by this nation to grow and an industry that is needed by this world to grow, because our fresh catch resources are declining—as members will know if they saw the weekend piece in the Sunday Star-Times about the pressure on the tuna industry, for one example—and we need to be able to grow fish and shellfish to feed the world.
The Marlborough greenshell mussel industry is the dominant player in the current aquaculture industry. It was established by mum and dad pioneers, and they grew that industry out of nothing. They invented such things as the use of net stockings in a continuous loop to host mussel spat and attach it to the lines between the mussel floats, which were also designed and developed in Marlborough for that industry. It was a No. 8 fencing wire industry that has come together and created a fantastic, sustainable industry for us. But it needs to grow.
Three months ago I suggested to the Primary Production Committee that we might go and look at the industry in the Marlborough Sounds. I think the proposal was that we would go to look at a National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research facility, but I believed that we should go and look at this industry in situ. It was a splendid day and we, as members, were shown—shown again, for some of us—how that industry is performing and how it could perform better. We were treated to some of the innovations that are emerging. Bruce Hearn from Marlborough, a pioneer of the industry, has now developed what I believe are the best oysters in the world and is farming them commercially in the Tory Channel. They are absolutely delicious. That is the sort of technical innovation that is happening in the industry, and we should see more of it.
But I still come back to the note of caution that I expressed at the beginning of my comments. That is because, living in Marlborough in the 1990s, I well remember Doug Kidd as the Minister of Fisheries and as the then local MP introducing a moratorium that started for 1 year, I think, and was extended to 2 years, if not beyond, as he attempted to control the gold rush that was going on for water space at that time. Legislation emerged, but it did not solve the issues of the industry and encourage growth that is sustainable and possible.
At the beginning of 2005—
Sandra Goudie: Tell us about the 5-year Labour moratorium.
BRENDON BURNS: This is across parties and Governments. I remind the member that it was her Government that introduced the Resource Management Act, not the Labour Government, which she was so critical of before. She should check her facts before she opens her trap.
In the year 2005, while working in a private capacity, I organised a visit to the Marlborough Sounds by Jim Anderton when he took on the fisheries portfolio, to expose him to the industry. I thought that if anybody was going to get that industry moving, it would be Jim Anderton. He had been the architect of the Labour Government’s policies in terms of regional development, and all of aquaculture is regional development. But I have to say that the growth did not happen. We are now looking at the Australian model. Last year the Primary Production Committee visited South Australia where a very good model is in place. It is a partnership between industry and government. Yes, extraordinary growth is going on in South Australia. They are now farming tuna, kingfish, and black mussels, and some of the Marlborough industry pioneers are involved in the industry in Australia because they have had such frustration here with the restrictions in place, in terms of the growth that could occur if we get it right.
Ten years ago, in my past life as a journalist, when on a press fellowship I visited Ireland to look at regional development.
Paul Quinn: You’ve travelled the world.
BRENDON BURNS: Yes, at times I have benefited from that and it certainly helps, along with the fish pills, to open one’s mind—and some members would benefit from that, I say to Mr Quinn. I visited Ireland, and one of the enduring strengths of the Irish economy—and it has had its difficulties of late—has been the aquaculture growth in that nation. The models are there; they are absolutely there. But we do need to be cautious. The reason we have to be cautious is that Doug Kidd, who is well-respected by this House as a technocrat and operator, did not get it right in the 1990s; Jim Anderton did not get it right in 2005-08; and now we are putting our faith and trust in the new Minister, Mr Heatley, and I say good luck to him.
But I have to say that I think the Ministry of Fisheries may be as much a part of the problem to date as part of the solution, and I think the industry needs to make sure it takes every opportunity for input into this bill, as it is guided through the Primary Production Committee, to make sure that we get it right this time. It is hugely important to our nation that we get it right this time round. We have the opportunity. The Minister has indicated that the bill will be before the select committee through until April next year, so there is a good time frame for submission in order to get it right.
There are multiple reasons why we must get it right this time. The fact is that this could be, by 2025, a billion-dollar export industry, which would more than double the current growth of the aquaculture sector. We want to see those sustainable export dollars. We want to see the jobs that emerge from the aquaculture industry’s growth, and we want to see the food for a food-hungry world, which could be supported out of this low-impact, low-imprint sustainable industry.
But there is another reason that I want to commend to this House, in terms of support for this bill. It is because of what the greenshell mussel can do to us as people. I believe it can make us smarter. The reason I cite for that is that two eminent scientists, both of whom won the Nobel Prize, Sir Ernest Rutherford and Sir William Pickering, have one thing in common. They both grew up in Havelock, which is the home, the world capital, of the greenshell mussel—
Hon Trevor Mallard: Parekura is a Rutherford; seriously.
BRENDON BURNS: There we go! I will not quite put Parekura in the same league as Ernest Rutherford and William Pickering because there was a science bent, rather than Parekura’s political bent. But in all seriousness, this is a sustainable industry and it deserves the chance to grow. It can be done in a way where communities can have input. We do not want to see the industry expanded to every corner of every bay in every part of New Zealand. That will not happen. It is not envisaged I am sure.
SANDRA GOUDIE (National—Coromandel) : I applaud the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Phil Heatley, and his officials for the magnificent bill that they have brought to the House, because at last somebody is doing something to clean up the dog’s breakfast in regard to aquaculture. Labour had 9 long years in Government and did not do it. This can and should be a billion-dollar industry. We need the export dollars, we need the tax revenue, and we need the jobs. Why? Because there is an ever-clamouring demand for more dollars for health, education, and policing, and we will get that only by having the tax revenue and having the export dollars. As Conor English said, it is an excellent opportunity. There is no free lunch. We need these jobs, and we need that sort of revenue. But we will always get those people who try to oppose that type of thing. We will get people who march against things like the Hobbit movies and the like. They march against the food industry, yet it is the food industry, the agriculture and aquaculture sectors in New Zealand, that will have the opportunity, with a bit of support and vision from the population of New Zealand and, of course, from the Opposition, to make a real difference to the economy of this country, which we so desperately need.
I applaud the Minister and his officials for the work they have done, because it has been difficult. It is quite a vexed issue. But the trip that the Primary Production Committee took to Australia showed quite clearly where the roadblocks were. If we look at Australia, we see that it is the state that sets the areas, and all a person who wants to get into the industry has to do is get a lease to fish and a licence to occupy. It is nice and simple. Here in New Zealand, what is the process? They have to go through a plan change, which means consultation; they have to lodge a plan change document, with, again, consultation and hearings, including the Environment Court; and they have to repeat that process for a resource consent and then repeat it for an undue adverse effects test with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. If that was not bogged down, I do not know what was. It is absolutely no surprise that nothing has been happening in the sector for many, many years. It is just wonderful to see that we have a bill here that will redress some of the concerns that have been raised and make some substantial progress in moving this industry forward. I certainly applaud it.
|Ayes 111||New Zealand National 58; New Zealand Labour 41; ACT New Zealand 5; Māori Party 5; Progressive 1; United Future 1.|
|Noes 9||Green Party 9.|
|Bill read a first time.|
Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill
Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister of Internal Affairs) on behalf of the Minister for the Rugby World Cup: I move, That the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill be now read a third time. When New Zealand hosts the Rugby World Cup next year, it will be the largest event we have ever experienced in this country. Matches and teams will be spread from one end of the country to the other, with an influx of 85,000 visitors and 2,000 international media expected. For 45 days the global spotlight will shine on New Zealand. It is vital for our reputation, our economy, our pride, and ourselves that our country delivers a truly excellent tournament. As a result, the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill is needed to guarantee the country’s preparedness for this enormous responsibility.
The Government has invested in various stadium developments, infrastructure, business leveraging, and sector showcasing programmes. We are wholeheartedly committed to making sure we are ready. This bill is a vital tool to aid the country in hosting our biggest event ever. There will be no room for any second chances. We simply have to get this right. This bill will speed up the consenting process for Rugby World Cup - related facilities and activities, and also allow for special Rugby World Cup liquor licences. It provides an expedited regime that will help ensure that the events forming part of, and supporting, the tournament meet the appropriate environmental and public safety standards. This will help ensure that New Zealand can meet the hospitality and hosting requirements of the tournament, and that we are well placed to leverage maximum advantage from the opportunities that hosting this event will provide overall.
The bill establishes a Rugby World Cup Authority to consider and determine applications for temporary approvals for Rugby World Cup - related activities and facilities, as well as temporary declarations of permitted activities. The authority is appointed by the Minister for the Rugby World Cup and must include members with experience and expertise in the matters likely to come before it. It will receive administrative support and advice from local councils and does not require the establishment of any significant new bureaucracy.
There is also provision in the bill to enable the Minister for the Rugby World Cup, after receiving advice from the authority and consulting relevant Ministers, to grant approvals in circumstances of unforeseen urgency. The bill also enables declarations of permitted activities to be made urgently by Order in Council. These provisions are a vital safeguard for the successful operation of the tournament, and it is entirely appropriate, given the importance of the Rugby World Cup, that the final decisions are made by Ministers rather than by an unelected body, no matter how eminent.
Finally, the bill establishes a Rugby World Cup liquor licensing regime, which will help the hospitality industry meet the extraordinary requirements of the Rugby World Cup, while ensuring that licensed premises operate in a sensible and safe manner. Premises licensed under the bill will need to adhere to stricter standards than the ones in the Sale of Liquor Act, and both the police and the authority have the power to take swift and effective action against premises that do not meet those high standards.
During the parliamentary stages of this bill a number of matters were clarified, including the duties and powers of the authority itself, the supporting role of local councils, and changes to the definition to clarify the sorts of activities and facilities that can be approved under the bill. One of the effects of those changes ensures that Rugby World Cup liquor licences can be granted for live public screenings of games. Holders of current on-licences will be able to have their licensing hours extended to coincide with live screenings of Rugby World Cup matches, and will allow cruise ships, the holders of club licences under the Sale of Liquor Act, and charter clubs to apply for Rugby World Cup liquor licences.
The bill provides the police with greater enforcement powers to control the consumption of liquor during the tournament and ensures that the granting of Rugby World Cup liquor licences will not extend the hours during which existing gambling machines can be operated. In addition, the select committee recommended providing an exemption from the change-of-use provisions in the Building Act to enable modern apartment buildings to be used for temporary Rugby World Cup accommodation, without seeking building consent. This was a sensible solution that balanced the accommodation requirements of the tournament with the need to ensure public safety.
During the Committee stage a number of MPs commented on the powers the bill gives to the Minister for the Rugby World Cup. Some of the speakers suggested that the Minister could override any decision of the Rugby World Cup Authority. This is not correct. The Minister, following consultation with at least two other Ministers, can make a final decision on only the most urgent applications and then only in the period between 1 July 2011 and the end of the tournament. Hopefully, the Minister will not be called upon to exercise that power, but given its nature it is entirely appropriate for it to be exercised by a democratically accountable Minister.
I thank the select committee, officials, Parliamentary Counsel Office, submitters, and all those people who have had a part in bringing the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill to this stage. The bill will give us the mechanism to ensure that all necessary approvals for Rugby World Cup activities and facilities are considered and determined very quickly. It will also deal with any unforeseen emergencies that may affect New Zealand’s ability to host an excellent tournament next year. It is further evidence that the Government continues to deliver on its commitment to maximise the benefits and opportunities that we know will be presented to our country by staging the Rugby World Cup. I am pleased to commend this bill to the House.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) : I think it is fair to say that it is more in sorrow than in anger that the Opposition is opposing this legislation. It is fair to say that, notwithstanding some temptation over the last year or so, the Labour Party has attempted right through the process, both in Government and in Opposition, to work with National to have as close to a bipartisan approach to this Rugby World Cup as is possible, even to the extent, as we worked our way through the bid process, of including the then Leader of the Opposition, Dr Brash, as part of the team that was involved in the final determination of the shape of the bid, and including him in the bid document itself as an endorsing party. We have worked hard, right back to the time when I was involved in the bid for the bid—if people understand that; the money that was being put together in order to finance the bid—to make sure that right through there was quality consultation, because we knew that it was important that this was not seen as something that was politically divisive as far as New Zealanders were concerned. We knew there was a big investment and an enormous opportunity, and that is why we reached across the House in the time we were in Government in order to attempt to build a consensus. So it is with some sadness that we have come to the point that we have.
There is acceptance on my part and on the part of the Labour Party that the legislation is necessary. The vast majority of this bill as it was introduced showed, I think it is fair to say, the degree of roughness and readiness that the Minister in charge of the bill is a bit renowned for, but the Government Administration Committee did a good job, and with one major exception the legislation is acceptable to the Labour Party. I would go further and say it is necessary. There is no doubt that especially but not only in Auckland, the current systems for liquor licensing and resource consents could end up with a hodgepodge of uneven decisions made in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup if legislation of this type was not in place. So it is necessary.
Therefore—and I focus for a second on the select committee—I want to say that the committee worked very well. I commend my colleague David Parker for his chairing, and also members of the Government. I think it is fair to say that a lot of work was done within the committee very much on a bipartisan basis. There were ideas from both sides that were worked into the bill, and disagreements on the majority of issues were just as likely to be between people on the same side as across the table, but we worked through those processes. I think we have better legislation as a result of that. We knew that was important, because the world will be looking at New Zealand at that time. It is very much a case of not knowing what one does not know, so it is important to have legislation that works between now and 1 July through what might be described as not the normal process but the new normal process for consent-type arrangements, and then there does need to be something in place for things that are late-breaking. Having that sort of process is vital in getting things right. It is very important.
I do say, though, that the issue that causes us to oppose the bill is the taking by the Government for the Minister of powers that we think are judicial powers and powers that should be reserved to the process and the authority that has been set up—as I will get to soon, even the possibility of having some sort of compromise arrangements. I am slightly critical of the Law Society. The Law Society is an organisation that I think should have been across this legislation much, much earlier than it was. Its late comments on the legislation, although absolutely appropriate and accurate, should have been made much earlier in the process. I think that at some stage the Law Society—and we have to work our way through how that happens—needs to focus earlier when inappropriate powers are being taken. Sometimes there is a lot of publicity or a discussion. I think that as parliamentarians we mainly came to a point of view on the Canterbury legislation that, in retrospect, leaves us with some questions. But in this case, the taking of the power by the Minister was clear, on the face of the bill, right from the beginning. I think it would have been appropriate for the Law Society to look at the bill and work its way through it.
I will give an example—one of many and one that I have given to the House before—of something that is late-breaking. The example is of an application that is made after 1 July to dismantle or demolish a home that may or may not be historic but that could not be handled and would not be acceptable under normal resource consent conditions. So there is a property right maybe for the owner, certainly for the neighbours, and maybe for the community around it. Under this legislation, the authority set up to consider it can recommend that it not proceed, but the Minister can make a decision that it should proceed. I think that—
Jacqui Dean: I don’t think you’re right, there.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The member, whose name I have forgotten—which one is she? [Interruption]—Jacqui Dean. The member Jacqui Dean is shaking her head and says that that is not possible. Well, it actually is possible. It is absolutely possible that the authority can say no, the Minister can say yes, and the house can be demolished. That could be an enormous financial advantage to one of the parties. In my opinion that is not the sort of decision that should be taken by a Minister. It is something that is properly taken by a judge or, in this case—
John Hayes: A Minister is politically accountable.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Yes, a Minister might be politically accountable, but my view is that that is the sort of political decision-making around individual, advantaged people that has led to corruption internationally. New Zealand has a very proud history of keeping Ministers out of those sorts of decisions. That goes back, I think, probably to 1912. We have developed a system whereby we keep Ministers out of that sort of decision making, and I think that is the right thing to do.
I place on the record of the House that I went to the Minister and offered him a compromise. I said that we would support this legislation leaving in his power of veto over the decision of the authority to approve something. So he could block something that would otherwise have happened under this legislation in the late phase and say “No, that is wrong. That is unacceptable.”, but he could not overturn a negative decision. He could not turn a negative decision into a positive decision, and, in the example I gave, allow for the demolition of a property that could not be demolished under the Resource Management Act. He chose not to do that. I think that was wrong. I think it is very sad that he chose to sacrifice a bipartisan approach to the legislation—something that we wanted to do—in order to retain that power for himself. I think that showed very poor judgment. It showed a poor understanding of the constitutional separations that have grown in New Zealand, which are important to the fabric of our society and to the avoidance of both corruption and the perception of corruption. I think that is breaking down, and it is very, very sad that this sort of event is one where it breaks down further. I say to the National Government that it might come to regret that in the future, because what it does is add to the perception of the Government not caring about matters that lead to perceived corruption in New Zealand. We should not have that as part of this legislation.
JACQUI DEAN (National—Waitaki) : I rise to speak in the third reading of the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill. The member opposite, whose name I cannot recall, made a contribution. He talked about the possible power of the Minister for the Rugby World Cup to have a historic home demolished days before the Rugby World Cup. As fanciful a notion as that is, and as far away from reality as one could possibly get in the context of this argument, when I raised the question, very much an eleventh-hour objection, typically, I was just wondering. It is never good to think on one’s feet. That is why we have select committees; to talk about issues like this. But I wonder whether the fact that the Historic Places Act has an effect on historic homes might limit the particular fantasy scenario that that member has promoted.
Hon Trevor Mallard: It’s not one of the Acts; it’s excluded.
JACQUI DEAN: It is, indeed, what the Act has said.
John Hayes: No, you’ve ducked that one.
JACQUI DEAN: Yes, ducked, and it is too late. I am afraid that the fantasy has been disproven, just like that.
It is probably just as well that that fantasy scenario has now been disproven by that member across the House, because this bill has as its intention the smooth and proper running of the Rugby World Cup tournament in 2011. I have to say that with Sonny Bill Williams on the team now, I think we are going to do pretty well. Those passes the other night were something to behold. The whole of New Zealand is now excited by the prospect of the All Blacks turning out for a marvellous tournament, which will be supported by the provisions in this bill.
There are just a couple of issues that have been raised. One of them is the Rugby World Cup liquor licensing provisions. If we have a look at what the bill does for liquor licensing, we see that it does not change the criteria for liquor licences. It does not make it easier to get a liquor licence. All it does is simply speed up the process, give the police some extra powers, and give extra considerations like having to have food available for purchase and having to supply free water. For the life of me I cannot understand why Labour had to have a conscience vote on this bill in the Committee of the whole House. Can anybody tell me why Labour had to have a conscience vote on liquor licensing?
Hon Members: They were having a coup.
JACQUI DEAN: Well, yes, I know. Some were for, some were against, and some abstained because they simply did not know. The rest of New Zealand is excited about the Rugby World Cup. This Government is excited about the provisions in this bill. Labour—well, it simply does not know where it is. Thank you.
CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) : I am happy to take a call on the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill, and, like my colleague Trevor Mallard, I rise more in sadness than in anger to say the Labour Party will oppose this legislation. Although I speak against the bill, most of my comments will be in favour of its provisions, because overall it is a good bill. The Government Administration Committee has done a very good job of working its way through a reasonably complex, although at the same time straightforward, bill. The Committee of the whole House debated quite extensively the provisions of the bill, and did so quite constructively for the most part, as well. The reason that I oppose the bill boils down to one issue: the extent to which the Minister for the Rugby World Cup, the Hon Murray McCully, would be given unbridled power to overturn decisions of the Rugby World Cup Authority, and not only to overturn a decision in a negative fashion—in other words, to retain the status quo—but also to overturn a decision in order to approve something that the authority has deemed would be inappropriate.
Nathan Guy, the junior Minister, spoke earlier on behalf of the senior Minister. On that note, I say that if that was his audition speech, he should not be clearing his diary for the Cabinet meeting on Monday. He talked about unelected officials, and said decisions should not be left to unelected officials but should be given to elected officials. I think that is totally the wrong approach. Where does he draw the line on that? I ask him that because a heck of a lot of decisions are currently taken by courts, judges, and various unelected panels on matters very, very similar to those addressed by this bill. If the Government’s new rule of operation says all of these decisions should be taken by elected officials, it opens a whole can of worms. At some future date the Government may regret going down that road, if this sets a precedent for how it approaches future legislation. It would be very concerning if the Government said controversial decisions should now be taken by elected officials rather than there being the independence of decision making by the judiciary or by an independent panel.
Trevor Mallard pointed out that New Zealand is one of the least corrupt countries in the world. We constantly rank very well in our level of transparency, our openness, and in the quality of the decision making of our central government agencies.
John Hayes: Except under Labour.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Pansy Wong?
CHRIS HIPKINS: One could ask Pansy Wong.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Hayes is talking about Pansy.
CHRIS HIPKINS: That is right. One of the reasons is that in most cases there is a very clear arm’s-length relationship between Ministers and the bureaucracy that administers things. In this case that arm’s-length relationship is being seriously compromised by this legislation. All New Zealanders should be concerned about that, because it is a trend that we are increasingly seeing from this Government.
All parties in the House were criticised for the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act. The Labour Party voted in favour of that legislation, but this bill goes further than that Act. Orders in Council made under the Canterbury earthquake legislation go to the Regulations Review Committee, and there is a provision for those orders to be overturned in this House. There is no such provision in this bill for decisions that the Minister makes, so there are fewer safeguards. A similar power is being given to a Minister as was given in the case of the Canterbury earthquake legislation, but without the safeguard that we put into the Canterbury earthquake legislation.
John Hayes: Yes, but it has to go to more than one Minister.
CHRIS HIPKINS: It does, but the Minister does not need to follow the advice of those other Ministers. The Minister has the ultimate power. The Minister gets a recommendation from the Rugby World Cup Authority and has to consult other Ministers, but then he can do whatever he likes. Murray McCully can still do whatever he likes, and this is not a Minister who, when it comes to meddling in administrative matters, has a particularly clear track record. We need only to go back to the last time he was in Government and look at the Tourism Board fiasco to find that he has a history of dabbling in things that he should not dabble in. So I have been very concerned about that provision.
John Hayes: He’s learnt by his mistakes.
CHRIS HIPKINS: One can hope he has learnt from his mistakes.
The Rugby World Cup represents a really exciting opportunity for New Zealand, and it is disappointing to be an Opposition member who is speaking against this legislation, because I am very excited about the event coming to New Zealand next year. Right from the very beginning Labour has endeavoured—as Trevor Mallard pointed out, making a bid to host the Rugby World Cup was first mooted under the tenure of the previous Labour Government—to take a bipartisan approach, or a cross-party approach involving all of the parties, to ensure that there was a “New Zealand Incorporated” approach to the hosting of the Rugby World Cup. We have worked very constructively, I think, with the new National Government since it was elected 2 years ago to make sure that this event will be successful for New Zealand. This will be the largest event that we have ever hosted, and it is important that we get it right. As Nathan Guy said in his speech—
Paul Quinn: Is it the largest event we have ever hosted?
CHRIS HIPKINS: This will be the largest event that we have ever hosted in New Zealand. Nathan Guy said there is no opportunity for there to be a second chance. There is no such opportunity, which is one of the reasons that it is important to get the process aspects of this legislation right, and we have not done that.
I will put that issue aside for a moment and concentrate on why it is important that we get the hosting of the Rugby World Cup right. Potentially, 4 billion people around the world will be watching the event on television, and 70,000-odd visitors will be coming to New Zealand to take part in Rugby World Cup - related events.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Some of those visitors will travel from Australia twice.
CHRIS HIPKINS: That is quite true. It will be a significant boost to the New Zealand economy and will generate $1.2 billion worth of economic activity. It will be on a scale that we have never seen here before, so it is really exciting for New Zealand. I know that the 4 million New Zealanders who live here will be 100 percent behind the event and will do everything they can to make sure it is an absolute success. The Government, of course, will do well out of it: an estimated $112 million - odd in extra tax revenue will be generated out of Rugby World Cup - related activities. So it is important that we get it right, and that is why this legislation is important, notwithstanding the reservations that I have just raised. We will be under tight time frames to make sure everything is in place. We will need to make sure that the Government can move quickly to remedy any issues that arise as we move closer to the Rugby World Cup.
Overall, the provisions in this legislation are pretty sound. I will briefly canvass them. The liquor licensing provisions are very sensible; I have no problems with them. The point that Jacqui Dean made is one that I raised in the Committee stage. In my view, the legislation does not extend any of the powers of liquor licensing beyond those that would already be available. It simply truncates the process and speeds the decisions up a bit. That is one of the reasons why I have no qualms about supporting that. I am pleased about the provisions regarding gambling that the select committee agreed on. They will ensure that the opportunities for gambling are not extended under this legislation, because that was not the intention.
I am pleased that we have worked through quite carefully the issues around how the Rugby World Cup Authority should be supported administratively. Having local authorities support the Rugby World Cup Authority administratively makes sense, first of all because it does not create a temporary bureaucracy that would be established and then disbanded after a short period of time, but also because it means the authority will have available to it all of the necessary expertise. In dealing with consenting issues and other local authority - related issues, having access to that quality of information, that expertise, and that knowledge of local areas will be really important for the Rugby World Cup Authority. So, overall, the provisions put in place for the administrative secretariat are the right things to do.
I am very pleased with most of what this bill contains. I am very pleased that the Rugby World Cup will be hosted in New Zealand. I do not think I can afford to go to any of the matches myself, but, like the other 4 million Kiwis, I will certainly be watching on television and cheering the All Blacks along.
Hon Trevor Mallard: You can get a $35 ticket for Palmerston North.
CHRIS HIPKINS: I am not sure whether I want to go to Palmerston North, even for the rugby.
KEITH LOCKE (Green) : The Green Party will also oppose the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill. Like Labour speakers, we are very much in favour of the Rugby World Cup itself and hope that it will be a wonderful festival of rugby and an opportunity for New Zealand to showcase itself to the world and for those in every provincial town to mix with the teams playing games there. It will be something that enlivens our communities across the country, particularly in the pool games, and then the big games in Auckland.
There is no excuse to override normal process under the Resource Management Act the way this bill does. We got the hosting rights to the Rugby World Cup back in 2005, and there has been plenty of time to go through all the proper processes. It is not as if this was an unknown event and that things would pop up that we had not expected in any large way. It is a good discipline to operate within the constraints of our existing law. We are having training efforts towards organising it: there was the Four Nations rugby league test, the one held at Eden Park 1½ weeks ago. That was a test and, by and large, it went well. I was at the game and what happened there has been blown out of proportion. People got a bit carried away with Mexican waves. They could have been stopped at the beginning of the first Mexican wave. I was there, and in the first Mexican wave not much went up in the air. Once the wave had gone around three or four times and people got into the habit of it, more stuff went up in the air. The situation could have been handled very easily with a loudspeaker, as it was at the end of several Mexican waves. The idea that it was all a bunch of hoons is quite wrong.
We are on track to organising things right, but I worry about the way, in practice, that this bill will loosen up the liquor licensing, not tighten it up. We already have the concept of party central and people drinking like mad down on Queen’s Wharf. When I went to the rugby league test, all the pubs were full to the gunwales with people preparing themselves for the game. That will continue in Kingsland, Mount Eden, and throughout Auckland. Unfortunately, I do not think that the extent of imbibing that takes place will be restricted by this bill. There will be a very competitive environment amongst people providing liquor to get just that bit longer hours under these emergency provisions and to be able to cram more people into their premises, etc. So I do not think the bill will lead to a reduction in alcohol consumption.
Then we have one of the major sponsors. There is a range of official sponsors, and the beer sponsor is Heineken, which will be going flat out to get people to drink beer, particularly its own brand. As I understand it, though it could change, Heineken will be selling branded cans. If those cans have a bit of beer in them when the Mexican wave starts it will be quite dangerous for those underneath the falling cans. I do not know whether the Minister for the Rugby World Cup will use his veto powers to constrain Heineken from distributing its beer in cans, but hopefully there will be some move on that between now and the 1 July date, and we can sort that out.
There is no excuse. We know about liquor licences, and all the venues know how to apply for them. They can start applying for them now if they have not done that already. There is no reason why liquor licences cannot be sorted out without this emergency legislation, be it for a liquor licence at a venue or for one away from a venue, which this bill covers. When we talk about temporary adverse effects being allowed for under this bill, they will include more adverse effects of alcohol.
Heineken is pushing its beer and promoting alcohol, and we have had it in other sports: there is Lion Red and rugby league, Steinlager and rugby, and all the rest. That will continue, I am sure. Even though the Law Commission is moving down the track of discouraging alcohol advertising, the major sports are reluctant to move away from alcohol advertising. So that will undercut any efforts in this bill to control excessive drunkenness that may occur around the Rugby World Cup.
The report-back from the select committee also has a section on ambush marketing, which relates back to the Major Events Management Act passed a few years ago and which, in the Green Party’s opinion, goes a bit too far in terms of protecting these major sponsors of the Rugby World Cup in all respects in quite a dictatorial way. Let us take Heineken, for example. I am not sure that Heineken will be putting forward an organic beer at the Rugby World Cup. I not sure that it will be, though I might be proven wrong and maybe between now and 1 July, when this bill comes into effect, it will start to realise that there is quite an appetite for organic beer in New Zealand and it will come out with a Heineken organic beer brand. But I can see problems arising. We saw problems arising at the Football World Cup in South Africa where people were not even allowed to wear orange dresses because they had a tiny tag on them advertising a competitor brand to the official brand of that world cup.
So I can see that if the Green Party has a little stall, perhaps outside my place—I live close to the Eden Park venue—selling a green beer, the organic variety, I will get hustled away for breaking this ambush marketing legislation by selling much more healthy organic beer. I can see problems along that line. Under the Major Events Management Act the ban on branding and all the rest of the restrictions on so-called ambush marketing—selling products that are a little different from the multinational brands, like organic beer—applies for 5 kilometres along some of the access routes to the venues, so I can see problems developing there.
The speaker for National qualified the ministerial veto by saying that the Minister will have to consult with a couple of other Ministers, but I do not think that having to consult with a couple of other Ministers will hold Murray McCully, or whoever it is, back very much. He will be the dictator in this respect and that is one of the key reasons why the Green Party is against this bill. Trevor Mallard was right to look at this bill against the background of the Canterbury earthquake legislation, which, he said, when looking back on it leaves some questions. There has been a very significant reaction to the Canterbury earthquake legislation—the cancelling of a whole realm of our legislation and allowing Orders in Council to override all kinds of legislation.
At the time, the Green Party moved about seven amendments along the lines of the criticisms later advanced by the Law Society, all sorts of law professors, and the like. We hope that that earthquake legislation, given that there has been quite a bit of progress in terms of rectifying the situation in Canterbury, can be ended as soon as possible. But it should warn us in terms of the public reaction to that legislation, particularly from the legal profession, not to proceed down another course that gives big ministerial veto powers, as is the case in this particular bill.
We hope that the Rugby World Cup goes very well and that there will not be too many streakers put in jail for 3 months, which is a provision under the Major Events Management Act. The two pieces of legislation together, the Major Events Management Act and this Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill, create the problem of a too dictatorial approach, much of it at the behest of international brands and not in terms of what will make this Rugby World Cup click as a really authentic event that everyone gets involved in, which is what we very sincerely hope will happen.
RAHUI KATENE (Māori Party—Te Tai Tonga) : It is a pleasure to rise to speak on the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill. The bill establishes a Rugby World Cup Authority to enable applications for activities or facilities necessary for the proper conduct of the forthcoming Rugby World Cup to be determined efficiently. In doing so, the intention is honourable and commendable. It is designed to support the smooth and expedient administration of Rugby World Cup activities, and that in itself is great.
I acknowledge the initiative taken last week by our co-leader and the Minister of Māori Affairs, the Hon Dr Pita Sharples, in launching the Māori artwork that will feature on official Rugby World Cup 2011 merchandise next year. It was a great honour to host the Minister for the Rugby World Cup and the collective of Māori professional designers responsible for the collection of 11 designs at our marae, Takapūwāhia, in Porirua. I really encourage members to look into the work of the six young Māori artists, five of whom are from Ngā Aho Inc. They will achieve international recognition, I believe, for the Rugby World Cup Māori Art Programme derived from their talents. I want to reiterate some comments the Minister of Māori Affairs made at the hui. He said: “The Rugby World Cup is not just about the rugby. It is also about the economic and commercial benefits to our country and our people, and that is the kaupapa of today’s celebration.” In fact, it is not just rugby that will be the winner on the day. That is a very important statement, a statement that I believe to be critical to the successful implementation of this bill. The amazing environment at Takapūwāhia last week seemed to me to be an utter contrast to some of the issues we have raised in previous readings of this bill.
The bill speeds up the consenting process for Rugby World Cup - related facilities and activities, and allows for special Rugby World Cup liquor licences. That has always been an issue for us and for the general public. Our greatest concern is that the much-lauded new flexibility might lend itself to an increase in beer tents for partygoers, or a relaxed environment that will entice excessive alcohol-induced behaviours from foreign tour parties coming to support their team, not to mention our own hooligans. We have been keen to ensure appropriate management to avoid public disturbances or mass arrests from the specific liquor-licensing requirements, but I raise the concern that we might be placing too much emphasis on liquor licensing and allowing people the opportunity to become inebriated while watching the rugby.
For a significant sector of our population, simply getting to the game itself will be an issue. We have spoken about the need for the Rugby World Cup to be accessible and leave New Zealand with a legacy of accessible infrastructure for the growing access tourism market. For those members who are not up with the jargon, “access tourism” is tourism, travel, and hospitality that takes into account the access needs of people with permanent or temporary disabilities, older people, and anyone else who needs improved access, such as parents with prams. I refer to our partners across the ditch who have led the way in access tourism. Australia left a legacy of an accessible environment after it hosted the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Australia now has the ability to cater for the growing access tourism market, which is estimated to be worth about A$4.8 billion a year. The access tourism market in New Zealand is estimated to be worth NZ$1 billion a year. Access tourism presents a major economic opportunity and is growing in popularity in many parts of the world because of increasing numbers of post - World War II baby boomers who wish to travel and are ageing, and are therefore experiencing a degree of disability.
An accessible event needs to be accessible at every point of the journey. It starts with being able to confidently book online in the knowledge that the details on accessibility are reliable and consistent. Poor information acts as a barrier and discourages people with access needs from travelling. Every aspect of transport and accommodation, as well as the event itself, needs to be accessible. Finally, the opportunity exists with the Rugby World Cup to create an accessible environment for all to enjoy a great game of rugby.
The Rugby World Cup creates an opportunity for indigenous people and commercial entities to work together to produce authentic and exclusive indigenous products that can market our nation to the globe. Māori have a strong history of supporting and participating in rugby.
The Māori Party has concerns that alcohol is already playing too prominent a role in the World Cup, and we are concerned that the Minister for the Rugby World Cup has too much power under the bill, but we will support the bill at its third reading.
PHIL TWYFORD (Labour) : It is well established now that Labour would be supporting and voting for the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill were it not for the inclusion of Part 4, which grants to the Minister for the Rugby World Cup what are, in our view, excessive and unchecked powers to override the advice and recommendations of the Rugby World Cup Authority. We have said all the way through the process that we support all of the other parts, and that the arrangements put in place to establish, staff, resource, and govern the Rugby World Cup Authority, along with the requirements in the bill for highly qualified and eminent personnel to make decisions on the issuing of resource consents and other approvals, are entirely satisfactory. As my colleague Chris Hipkins said, there was a good and largely non-partisan discussion at the select committee to improve this bill and iron out some of the problems. A number of improvements have been made and we would be supporting this legislation were it not for the continued presence of Part 4, which gives the Minister, the Hon Murray McCully, what we think are excessive and unjustified powers to override the advice of the officials on the authority.
The Hon Trevor Mallard has described the efforts to which Labour has gone to propose a compromise. An amendment was put on the Table that would have made the system provided by this bill more democratic, and it would have meant that Labour would be happy to support the legislation. Mr Mallard also made the point that we have conventions of accountable Government that are designed to keep Ministers at arm’s length and to ensure that Ministers are not making specific decisions that would affect, for example, the property rights of others. There is plenty of ministerial conduct that we can see in the career of the Hon Murray McCully that provides ample justification for that convention. We can go back to the Tourism Board affair in the late 1990s, when that member of this House set up two rival boards to the Tourism Board to provide him with advice, because he did not want to listen to the advice of the Tourism Board, and $900,000 was paid in hush money to people who were forced off the board because they were so unhappy with that state of affairs.
There are plenty of other examples, including the ramming through of the restructuring of NZAID last year, against the advice of Treasury and other officials. The Minister did not want to listen to officials, who provided reasoned, substantiated advice, and he rammed those changes through. More recently we saw the appointment, without tender—which is highly unusual for a contract under foreign affairs—with a $78,000 contract, of the former National MP Mark Blumsky.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Well, we know what it was. It was part of a 90-day arrangement for Mark in Niue.
PHIL TWYFORD: Oh, that is what it was—OK. That sort of unorthodox behaviour is par for the course for that Minister. We would be opposing Part 4 of this bill regardless, but the fact that the Minister for the Rugby World Cup is Murray McCully is even more cause for this House to stop and think about what it is doing. That Minister routinely ignores the advice of his officials and, I am told, routinely abuses officials. He ignores their advice and manipulates the normal processes until he gets what he wants. That is precisely the reason that this bill should not be giving those kinds of unchecked powers to the Minister in this case, because when this Minister has an agenda, he is willing to routinely ignore the advice of officials until he gets what he wants.
I understand he has contracted two officials from the private sector to provide an independent source of advice, replacing the advice that he received from senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials. He did not like the advice he had from those officials, so what has he done? He has gone out and hand-picked the advice from people he wants, from outside the Public Service, to give him the advice. That is exactly the kind of behaviour we should be trying to guard against, because Murray McCully is a meddler and a manipulator and he will not respect the conventions of accountable Government.
It emerged last week that an $8 million contract for the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup is being awarded to an Australian company, and that ignores the fantastic track record of our creative arts in this country. That contract is being awarded to an Australian company, which will have the job of staging the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup. The Rugby World Cup will have a television audience of approximately 4 billion people, I understand, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s creativity, and to showcase New Zealand to the world. But what is this Minister doing? He is handing that contract to the Australians. I ask why that Minister would do that. Rahui Katene said that in order to reap the great benefit of the Rugby World Cup, we need to ensure New Zealand gets the economic benefit of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. What is this Minister doing? He is handing that opportunity over to the Australians, and my information is that Murray McCully’s fingerprints are all over that decision.
We heard from Martin Snedden last week that a decision had not been made and that New Zealand companies would be able to implement some of those activities, but actually it is very clear, because of the lack of any watertight denial, that that decision has been made. Murray McCully’s fingerprints are all over it, and if that is the standard of decision making that we can expect for the rest of this issue, then there should be a lot to worry about, and the New Zealand public should be very concerned.
Trevor Mallard talked about keeping Ministers at arm’s length, and I think I have given the House a catalogue of reasons why the Hon Murray McCully should be kept at arm’s length from the sorts of decisions that could be made in the granting of consents. Mr Mallard talked about the hypothetical scenario in which a building—someone’s house, for example—could be a heritage building and could face the possibility of being knocked down. The Rugby World Cup Authority, in this scenario, could decide not to do that, because it would not think that it was a reasonable thing to do, and the Minister, under this bill, would have the power to ignore the advice of the authority. We on this side of the House think that that is unacceptable. It unnecessarily discards the conventions of accountable Government; and Murray McCully, by his own parliamentary career, has demonstrated time and time again—over a couple of decades—why the conventions of accountable Government are there.
In this case those conventions are being thrown away unnecessarily, and that is why Labour members simply cannot vote for this bill. We have argued that point from the beginning of the debate, right through to the closing stages. We have offered compromises, and we have put an amendment on the table that would have solved the problem, and this Government has just refused to accept it. As my colleague said, we will be voting against this bill more in sorrow than in anger, because we accept that the Rugby World Cup is a fantastic event that New Zealand is looking forward to, and that it offers huge opportunity for New Zealand in terms of economic benefit and of the celebration of the event itself. It is a shame that the debate had to end with this legislation.
JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa) : I say to the people of Auckland that that was a list MP looking for a seat. That was a list MP who has failed to get a seat, and he is criticising a Minister of long standing who has been able to get a seat and win election after election. I say to the people of Auckland and also to the people of Wainuiōmata, Days Bay, Pētone, Lower Hutt, and Upper Hutt that their member of Parliament got up in this House this afternoon and wrongly opposed this Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill.
The Rugby World Cup will be the greatest event that New Zealand has ever seen. There will be 85,000 visitors coming here and, as our Labour colleagues have pointed out, there will be a television audience of about 4 billion people watching it. This is the opportunity to showcase New Zealand to the world as a great place to live and to do business.
This afternoon in the House various Opposition speakers have asserted that a Minister could override any decision of the Rugby World Cup Authority. That is not correct.
Hon Trevor Mallard: That’s not true! The member’s reading out the Minister’s speech!
JOHN HAYES: That is not correct, “Mr Duck”; no, it is not true. The Minister, following consultation with at least two other Ministers—two other Ministers—can make a final decision on only the most urgent application, and then only in the period from 1 July 2011 until the end of the tournament. We hope the Minister will not be called on to exercise that power but, given its nature, it is entirely appropriate for that power to be exercised by a democratically accountable Minister. Thank you.
DAVID SHEARER (Labour—Mt Albert) : I do not agree with the point made by the previous speaker, John Hayes. I agree with my colleague Phil Twyford, who outlined the very reasons we are opposed to the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill. Labour members have been very straightforward, have taken this matter right up front, and have made constructive comments and constructive interventions to enable this bill to go through, but those have been ignored.
The previous speaker was right in saying that this tournament is important to New Zealand. It will bring enormous amounts of attention to New Zealand. It will be watched by an estimated 4 billion people, which I think is a gross overestimation myself, but, nevertheless, it will be watched by a large number of people throughout the world, and it will bring in 70,000, 80,000, or 90,000 people to watch the event, as well.
This legislation would have gone through without concern, but there are problems in Part 4. I will speak to Part 4, but first I will address some of the concerns I have in relation to Part 5. Part 5 of the bill concerns the accelerated liquor licensing ability. It gives only 5 days for people to object to an application for a liquor licence and to be heard by the Rugby World Cup Authority. That provision is obviously a relaxation of the situation right now.
- Sitting suspended from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.
DAVID SHEARER: I am feeling even more dulcet after dinner, so I will up the dulcet scale. Before the dinner break, I was talking about the licensing regulations in Part 5. In the Committee stage, we talked about the difficulties in alcohol licensing, and particularly the problems that emerged after the Eden Park fiasco. Eden Park is in my electorate. I have spoken to a huge number of people in my electorate who are concerned about a repeat performance of that night. There were bottles thrown, there were scuffles, there was fighting, and there was drinking on the streets. People certainly do not want—and they do not deserve—a more liberal climate in which alcohol can be served and sold even more easily. It is for that reason that I voted—on this side of the House we had a conscience vote—against Part 5.
I will say a couple of words on the key areas that I disliked about this part. It liberalises the ability to sell alcohol in and around Eden Park. It impacts on the local residents. It means that if people do not like alcohol being sold, they have only 5 days to protest against it. This bill basically contracts the period that is obligated under the Sale of Liquor Act 1989. With all the preparations that are going on around the development of the Rugby World Cup, it seems to be an extraordinarily ad hoc thing to do, without too much planning, to shorten a well-received and well-acknowledged process of approving liquor licences so that alcohol can be sold more easily. The police definitely opposed this measure originally. I think there were some discussions behind closed doors that made them ultimately change their mind. St John Ambulance came out against it and I believe that it was right to. So I ask why we really need to make this process more liberal when we have an authority, a regulating process, and planning that has been ongoing for many, many months.
One thing that I think exemplifies the fears that residents around Eden Park have been feeling—this could also be anywhere else; it could be in the other areas where the Rugby World Cup games will be played—is the fact that 12 years ago, in 1998, a regulation forbade holding two games of rugby on the same day at Eden Park. The regulation also restricted how many cricket games could be played in that time as well. The real reason for that law was that two games of rugby with an excitable crowd drinking heavily might mean that there would be trouble. Last year, in 2009, without notification, that law was changed by the council. So the council has allowed for two games of rugby—or rugby league, as it was a couple of weeks ago—to be held at Eden Park in one day without any reference to the residents. The residents asked how that regulation could be revoked without their having any say or any input when, in 1998, the Environment Court had decided that that was an unwise thing to do. The answer is that the decision was made without due process, it was taken behind closed doors, and it was taken for all the wrong reasons, without consultation with the local people. That is the very reason today that I do not agree with Part 5. This part shortens the period during which people can protest and object to applications for liquor licences. It will mean that people have a more liberalised alcohol environment, there is greater potential for trouble, and there is less ability to protest against it. So when residents reflect on the situation in 1998, the situation today, and the process by which it has changed, they will say that they do not want processes like that to be put back into legislation so that the Sale of Liquor Act 1989 can be overridden. Those residents want to have a robust system by which they are able to protest against alcohol being sold in their area.
The last part that I want to talk to is Part 4. The reason that Labour is opposing this legislation has nothing to do with trying to help the passage of the bill through Parliament, and it has nothing to do with any sort of reticence that Labour might have about supporting the Rugby World Cup. Indeed, as many of our speakers have said, it was Labour who had the aspiration, which is a word that National likes to use, to bring the Rugby World Cup back to New Zealand. The real reason for our opposition to this bill is that it gives Minister McCully, in consultation—although we are not quite sure exactly what that consultation might be; it might be a phone call, a chat in the aisles, who knows—the ability to override legislation and enact policies that the established Rugby World Cup Authority, which is set up under this bill, may have ruled against. We are setting up an authority with all the right types of safeguards and with the tight seniority that we need, yet we are giving the Minister the ability to override decisions that the authority might make. And that ability is in question when we think back to the experiences we saw in Mount Eden and the Sandringham area around Eden Park that we want to guard against happening once again.
In conclusion, we support very much the need for facilitating legislation to make this Rugby World Cup go well, be a success, bring in visitors, and advertise New Zealand. We want the Rugby World Cup to be a standard bearer event for New Zealand so that people can really see something that brings out the best in New Zealand. But I think we are going too far, in my opinion, with Part 4, which Labour opposes en masse.
KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI (National) : We are on the verge of passing the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill, on the completion of its third reading. This bill will provide temporary legislation to enable the timely grant of consents and regulatory approvals if they are required during the Rugby World Cup. The Rugby World Cup Authority will be established, which will have the power to grant approvals for activities and events related to the Rugby World Cup. The bill will also establish the Rugby World Cup liquor licensing scheme.
It is very important for New Zealand to be able to host the Rugby World Cup successfully, as it will attract more than 80,000 rugby fans from overseas who will see New Zealand as an opportunity for investment in their businesses. This bill is a step forward towards hosting the Rugby World Cup successfully. The tournament will be held for 6 weeks in different destinations across New Zealand, and it will not only attract rugby fans from overseas but also encourage tens of thousands of Kiwi rugby fans to travel around our country to view the matches. That will generate business not only in the local economy but also for local hotels, motels, restaurants, bars, and retail outlets. The success of this event will bring tourists to New Zealand in the future, and show that a nation of 4 million people can host an event of this scale.
Some speakers have highlighted a clause that suggests that the Minister will override any decision by the Rugby World Cup Authority. That is not correct. The Minister can make an urgent decision on an urgent application in consultation with at least two other Ministers, and only during the period from 1 July 2011 until the conclusion of the tournament. That provision will be exercised only in the case of urgency. The regulatory approval process will be able to cater for extraordinary requirements, due to the long time required for the present approval process. It is important to mention that this bill will support existing regulatory requirements, and will provide only a faster alternative to the current process.
The Rugby World Cup will not make it easier to obtain liquor licences; it will simply fast track the process to grant a licence. There will be an important provision in granting a licence to ensure that food is served during the period of opening hours, and that free water is available to guests—
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Dr The Rt Hon Speaker Smith has made some comments about reading speeches in the House and proposals to change that. I know there is some debate about that, but when a speech is read for the second time in the House, as is occurring now with a member rereading the third reading speech that has already been given by the Minister, I think that goes beyond what is appropriate in Parliament.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Perhaps the member raising the point of order is making a good point. If we are to be hard on repetition, then I hope we will be hard on repetition throughout the considerable Committee stages we will be dealing with for the rest of this day.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): I look forward to the day when I have enlivened, uplifting, visionary speeches from every member of this House, but I am afraid that is not going to happen overnight. The point the member makes about reading a speech has been made in this House before; the House has changed the Standing Orders to enable members to read speeches. If the member does not like that, I suggest that he take the matter to the Standing Orders Committee and have that right taken away.
KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI: All of the processes conferred on the Rugby World Cup Authority and the Minister will terminate at the end of the tournament.
I wish good luck to the Rugby World Cup Authority, and to the All Blacks. I hope they win the tournament and make us proud. I thank all the officials who have assisted us during the select committee process to bring this bill to the House. I commend the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill to the House.
Ka mate, ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!
Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!
Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru, nāna nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā.
Ā, upane! Ka upane! Upane, kaupane, whiti te rā.
[It is death, it is death! It is life! It is life!
It is death! It is death! It is life! It is life!
This is the man, the hairy man who fetched up the sun and caused it to shine.
Step upward! Step upward! Step upward, step upward, the sun shines. ]
These words will be the start of the Rugby World Cup on 9 September, with a game between the All Blacks and Tonga. It will be game on, here in New Zealand. Most of New Zealand will collectively sit to watch this game, sending the wishes of a nation on to the field with the All Blacks’ starting 15. It is a day that has been long in the making, and one that this bill, the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill, brings a step closer. With this bill we wish the All Blacks well in their pursuit of glory and a second Rugby World Cup victory.
Although a victory is important to us as locals, even more important is successfully hosting the Rugby World Cup. A successful event is vitally important to growing our global brand as a nation, to bring admiration of this country and the business we can do with that. The event works in closely with the “100% Pure New Zealand” brand, and mixes our strong environmental brand with an ability to be successful with people in business at the same time.
Just last week the Prime Minister was overseas negotiating yet another trade opportunity for our exporters. The free-trade agreement agenda means that at the moment New Zealand is second to no other nation on the globe, which provides our exporters with huge opportunities. On the back of that, we will be hosting the third-largest sporting event in the world, proving that we can mix it not only in the heavyweight fights of global trade but also in the heavyweight fights of global sports events. Many exporters will be able to host clients during the Rugby World Cup, and utilise the opportunity to sell New Zealand products to the world.
I am confident that this time next year the Government’s clear plan for growth will be paying dividends and driving this economy to new heights. The tax package will be bedded in, national standards will be through to their third reports, fibre will be rolling out around the country, and unemployment will be trending down. There will be significant investment in research, science, and technology, and we will certainly be making progress towards reducing the deficit this country faces.
In Hawke’s Bay we are very much looking forward to hosting the Canadian team, together with all its supporters. We are rugby mad in the Bay and, despite not taking our traditional place in the top four of New Zealand rugby this year, we can put that disappointment behind us for the time being to focus on the tournament. We have two games: France v Canada on 18 September, and Canada v Japan on 27 September. The province is gearing up to be a key contributor to “the stadium of 4 million”. It is going to be awesome, and this bill takes us closer to the tournament by allowing a streamlining of Government processes.
I will close with an All Black memory. It is poignant that on the passing of the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill, I recall an All Black memory of my own family from the Athletic Park test match in 1961. Many members will recall that test, when the All Blacks sneaked home in a 5-3 nail-biter.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Which one?
CHRIS TREMAIN: The 1961 test match. Members will recall an 80 miles-per-hour gale that whipped off the Southern Ocean and straight down Athletic Park. With 15 minutes to play, the game tied at nil-all, a try finally came, not to New Zealand but to France. A pass from Connor had missed Wolfe 30 yards from the French line, and before Wolfe could recover the loose ball Pique had grabbed it and was making upfield. Bearing left he drew McKay infield before tossing a pass to the now unmarked Dupuy, who bolted the last 40 yards to the line, scoring 8 yards in from the left corner. Albaladejo failed with the almost impossible task of converting it into the teeth of the gale. From the restart McKay narrowly missed scoring, but from a scrum on the French line Lacroix passed down to Lacaze to clear. The fullback’s kick was charged down by Tremain, who fell on the ball 10 yards in from the corner. Don Clarke took the conversion attempt back to the 25, and kicked almost parallel to the goal line for the wind to catch the ball and miraculously carry it over the bar to give New Zealand the lead, and to cruelly dash the French hopes.
Hon Trevor Mallard: It’s good to know that one Tremain had talent.
CHRIS TREMAIN: Ha, ha! That is fair. Although the final of the Rugby World Cup will not be played at Athletic Park in 2011, there is every chance that the All Blacks will go full circle to play the French in a final at Eden Park. I trust that the final will not be as nail-biting as was the 1961 test at Athletic Park. If it is, I am confident that our team can bring home the cup. Bring it on!
Hon DARREN HUGHES (Labour) : I rise to take a call on the third reading of the Rugby World Cup 2011 (Empowering) Bill somewhat unexpectedly. I was so entranced by the Keith Quinn - like quality of the commentary from the senior Government whip—
Hon Trevor Mallard: Come on, Keith is my constituent. Don’t insult Keith like that.
Hon DARREN HUGHES: Does the member think he was less Keith Quinn, more Murray Mexted? Is that what the member is saying? I think it was a great tribute to the 50 Years of New Zealand Television programmes that were screened earlier in the year that the member had such instant recall of that particular game in 1961. It had a big impact on him 49 years ago.
Although we are all very keen to be supportive of the Rugby World Cup and to make sure that it goes smoothly, the truth is that this legislation is not needed for the success of that tournament next year.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Not all of it.
Hon DARREN HUGHES: The parts opposed by the Labour Opposition are not needed. That is the truth.
Hon Trevor Mallard: That’s right—Part 4 is definitely not needed.
Hon DARREN HUGHES: Part 4 is the part that we have struck our opposition to. The member opposite, Chris Tremain, was full of praise for trade deals, which is a bipartisan matter where the current Government is able to pick up the work of the previous Government, and it is doing a fine job in that respect.
It is a testimony to the failure of the negotiation skills of the Minister for the Rugby World Cup, Mr McCully, that, firstly, this bill has taken so long to go through Parliament and, secondly, it is not passing through Parliament with unanimous support. This should be the sort of legislation that all parties across the House want to agree on. I do not know of anybody in Parliament who does not want the Rugby World Cup 2011 to be a fantastic success and an amazing event for our country—both the staging of the competition and, of course, the result in the final game. We all have a very strong view on that. The inability of the Minister for the Rugby World Cup to simply get an agreement on a bill like this bodes very, very badly for the organisation and planning of the wider tournament from a governance perspective in 2011.
The Associate Minister for the Rugby World Cup—because, of course, in New Zealand we must have two Ministers responsible for such a tournament—
Hon Trevor Mallard: I agree. With McCully as the Minister, he needs a hand-holder.
Hon DARREN HUGHES: When Murray McCully was given the primary portfolio, it necessitated the appointment of an associate in the form of the Hon Gerry Brownlee, who has really brought the grunt to that portfolio. He could probably have intervened and worked with other parties, which he is very good at doing, to ensure that Part 4 was amended in a way that had parliamentary support.
Hon Trevor Mallard: He could have propped him up.
Hon DARREN HUGHES: He would be the ultimate prop in that respect, if he could support Mr McCully. But for reasons beyond all of us, Mr McCully has never been good at doing that. Mr McCully’s consistent strength is to not only divide the opposition but also divide his own colleagues. There is a consistency in his form and in his play.
The Labour Opposition is saying that the aspect in Part 4 that refers to the liquor licensing provisions of the bill confers on the Minister far too much power and there is far too little oversight. The Hon Trevor Mallard, the former holder of the Rugby World Cup portfolio in the days when it did not require two Ministers but just one, had the opportunity to put forward some amendments—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: He had Mr Cosgrove.
Hon DARREN HUGHES: Mr Cosgrove was the subsequent Minister in that portfolio. He was a stand-alone Minister as well. It was not until the change of Government, when we were going to shift officers from the back line to the front line—almost literally, I suspect—that we saw we had to double the number of politicians responsible for the Rugby World Cup. This is the result. This third reading tonight is the result of two Ministers’ work in trying to unite Parliament, and they have failed to do so.
Mr Mallard’s amendment would have put some worthy oversight around the provisions. We are now passing into law a bill that states that when an independent authority makes a decision, that decision can be overturned by a Minister without any reference to any other authority and without any parliamentary oversight whatsoever. People know that there has been criticism of this House for its unanimous vote to confer powers on the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery. People were concerned that there was not enough oversight in that legislation.
Charles Chauvel: No, he’s been very responsible.
Hon DARREN HUGHES: A lot of parliamentary safeguards have actually been built into that law in response to some of that criticism, which all parties were cognisant of. My colleague Charles Chauvel asserts that Minister Brownlee has been very responsible in his use of that legislation. I think the consultation has been good. But in this legislation there are less safeguards for the public and there is less parliamentary oversight than there are—
Hon Trevor Mallard: Fewer safeguards.
Hon DARREN HUGHES: Fewer safeguards, I am told by the shadow Minister of Education, exist in this legislation than in the Canterbury earthquake legislation. That legislation was written in a hurry in response to certain events in our country for a recovery effort that all of us wanted to see made without hindrance or delay. There was a rationale for that legislation. For this legislation there is no reason why so much power should be given to a Minister.
One of the things we have been arguing very strongly is that this move has to be based on principles. There is a lot of pressure on the country next year to make sure that this event is well organised. We want it to be. Everyone wants it to be a success. Our fear this time, in addition to our perennial 4-yearly fear that we will not uplift the cup, is that the tournaments—
Hon Trevor Mallard: Four-yearly is not perennial.
Charles Chauvel: It’s quadrennial.
Hon DARREN HUGHES: Quadrennial—I am sorry; I am not up with this street lingo of “quadrennial” that is all the rave at the Wainuiōmata Shopping Centre when the member is doing his constituency work.
Hon Trevor Mallard: No, well, I’m not a master of Latin.
Hon DARREN HUGHES: Well, that is true. Of course, when one is pre - Vatican Council, I guess the Latin language comes a lot earlier to those followers of Catholicism. But that blessing is not shared by all of us.
When the Rugby World Cup comes along, we are always worried about the result—of course we are—but our additional worry this time is whether we can be organised enough to put on a good tournament. The idea of having legislation to ensure that some aspects of the planning are streamlined is not without support in Parliament. I think that a lot of people would have approached that matter favourably, but what has caused this bill to be so delayed has been the obstinancy of Minister Murray McCully in not listening to anyone other than himself. He has not listened to the amendments and he has not accepted the hand of bipartisanship. As a result, his legislation has been held up. We are trying to make the point that legislation should not be handled this way when there is an opportunity to change it.
The amendment from Trevor Mallard would have stipulated that the Minister cannot grant an urgent approval that has not been granted by the authority. The authority is governed under its own statute for a very good reason. It is settled law, and it would have made sense for there to be some consistency when a ministerial decision has been made.
What makes this even more difficult for Parliament is that Parliament will almost certainly not be sitting during the Rugby World Cup, for a number of reasons. First, Tories never go past a free ticket to a game. Secondly—[Interruption] Some truths are always self-evident. Of course, we know that there is one free ticket going now, because somebody over there who would have been invited will not be any more. It is probably two members, actually, and we can guarantee that they would have taken the maximum entitlement in that respect.
One reason Parliament might not be sitting is that a general election will have been just held if the Government goes to the polls in August next year. John Key may well do that if he does not trust Murray McCully’s organisation of this tournament, because the biggest fear that the Prime Minister would have is not that we do not win the Rugby World Cup—everyone in this House thinks we will do that—but that the games are not organised enough and that it will be a shambles in Auckland. He will be worried about Murray McCully’s judgment, as so many leaders have been, although it is normally when they are former leaders that they worry about his judgment. Parliament will not have met for the first time. The alternative reason is that if the election is held in November, Parliament will have been prorogued for the campaign.
When these decisions are made by the Minister, there are no safeguards built into the legislation, and Parliament will not be sitting. Either the next Parliament will not have been called together or this Parliament will have finished. We are investing a lot of power in Murray McCully.
If members opposite think that that is not a worthy question to ask, then I suggest that they go and see how Bill English feels about investing too much power in Murray McCully. If they do not get on with him, and I would understand that, then they should go and ask Jenny Shipley, whom they can contact at Pansy Wong’s electorate office. They can ask her what she thinks of investing too much power in Murray McCully. If Jenny Shipley is unavailable, then those members could go and see what Mr Bolger thinks about that. There is a lot of form in this area about whether Murray McCully can take on, with regard to—
Hon Trevor Mallard: He gets on pretty well with Tau, as well.
Hon DARREN HUGHES: No, he would not get on well with Tau. He gets on so well with Tau Henare that he organised Tau Henare’s coup against himself for the Mauri Pacific party. That is how good Murray McCully is when it comes to political coups. He got political suicide in that respect.
We have opposed this bill all the way through this House because of the fact that the Government would not negotiate on Part 4. The Government is trying to vest too much power in the Minister, and if that happens in this particular bill, then we are concerned that that will happen in bill after bill. We simply do not believe that that is correct in terms of parliamentary procedure, and also we worry intensely that by giving so much power to the individuals concerned, mistakes could be made, and we want nothing to put the Rugby World Cup at risk in 2011.
|Ayes 69||New Zealand National 58; ACT New Zealand 5; Māori Party 5; United Future 1.|
|Noes 51||New Zealand Labour 41; Green Party 9; Progressive 1.|
|Bill read a third time.|
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) : I move, That urgency be accorded the second reading of the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill, the first reading of the Māori Purposes Bill, the interrupted second reading and Committee stage of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill (No 2), the second reading and Committee stage of the Holidays Amendment Bill, the passing through their remaining stages of the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill, the Education Amendment Bill (No 2), and the Child and Family Protection Bill, and any bills into which they may be divided, the Committee stage of the Ngāti Apa (North Island) Claims Settlement Bill, and the Whanganui Iwi (Whanganui (Kaitoke) Prison and Northern Part of Whanganui Forest) On-account Settlement Bill, and the second reading of the Television New Zealand Amendment Bill.
That is an ambitious list, which the Opposition is saying could take us right through until some time on Sunday afternoon. In fact, Parliament cannot sit on a Sunday afternoon. I have given the House a previous assurance that we will be lifting at 6 o’clock on Thursday. The intention to take urgency this week was notified some months ago. Although the content of the urgency motion has a number of bills that are controversial, it is largely driven out of the fact that we have just 11 House days left until the end of the year. If we take today as being the day for the rest of the week, it gives us about 9 House days until the end of the year. There is a degree of urgency for the Government in wanting to progress bills. Some of these are widely supported; others will be more controversial. Of course, Parliament will have the time to give those bills the scrutiny required. But of course we will have no repetition at all in those Committee stages, because of the new commitment we have from the Opposition parties.
|Ayes 69||New Zealand National 58; ACT New Zealand 5; Māori Party 5; United Future 1.|
|Noes 51||New Zealand Labour 41; Green Party 9; Progressive 1.|
|Motion agreed to.|
Business of the House
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House) : I seek leave for there to be question time at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, 17 November, and Thursday, 18 November 2010 and for questions to be lodged in the normal manner, pursuant to Standing Order 372.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Rick Barker): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection to that course of action being followed? There is none.
Courts and Criminal Matters Bill
This omnibus bill amends the District Courts Act 1947, the Land Transport Act 1998, the Sentencing Act 2002, the Summary Proceedings Act 1957, and consequentially amends 16 other Acts. The Law and Order Committee has examined the bill and recommends that it be passed with amendments. I would like to thank the members of the committee for returning this bill to the House in a very timely manner.
This bill presents a comprehensive set of legislative improvements for the recovery of unpaid fines, reparations, and civil debt. It addresses a number of issues, including a general concern about the levels of overdue fines, the dissatisfaction of victims when offenders do not pay their reparation, and the difficulties of creditors and debtors using the courts’ civil debt enforcement processes.
At 31 October 2010, $711 million of fines and reparations remained unpaid. That is $67 million less than I reported during the first reading of this bill in May 2010. The reduction is due to a combination of factors—increased payments and increased remittals, the efforts of the collections unit of the Ministry of Justice acting on behalf of the District Court, and the Government’s policy changes in 2009 in response to illegal street racing.
Nevertheless, for monetary penalties to be a credible sanction further improvements are necessary. The new initiatives contained in this bill are aimed at encouraging people to contact the court to resolve their fines and reparations in a sustainable manner. The three major initiatives are: driver licence stop orders, credit reporting, and super priority.
The first new initiative is the introduction of driver licence stop orders, contained in Part 2, which amends the Land Transport Act 1998. Traffic offences make up approximately 93 percent of all infringement penalties imposed each year and 99 percent of all overdue infringement penalties filed at court for enforcement. A driver licence stop order will enable the court to suspend any driver licence held by an individual with overdue traffic fines. The suspension will remain in place until suitable payment arrangements are made. The Law and Order Committee recommends an amendment to the service provisions to include electronic service, which will also allow for future developments in technology.
The second new enforcement measure is credit reporting, contained in Part 3, which amends the Summary Proceedings Act 1957. Credit reporting will enable information on overdue fines and reparations to be released to the private sector credit-reporting system. This will provide incentives for defendants to pay overdue fines and reparations so that their credit worthiness is not affected. Credit reporting will also enable the information provided by the credit-reporting industry to the Ministry of Justice—for example, updated address information—to be used to collect fines. The Law and Order Committee recommends changes to clause 69 to better align the provisions relating to the release of information with current credit industry practices. After considering a report by the Regulations Review Committee, the Law and Order Committee also recommends amendments to strengthen the existing privacy provisions to clarify that the credit-reporting function is subject to the Privacy Act 1993.
The third major initiative, super priority, is also contained in Part 3. This tool will ensure that the court has priority over a secured party for the sale of proceeds of seized goods where the amount of overdue fines was, or could have been, disclosed by a formal credit report by the ministry. The Law and Order Committee has recommended an amendment to clause 70, to reduce the risk of secured parties relying on out-of-date credit reports. A further amendment removes the requirement for secured parties to present the credit report from the ministry within 3 working days. This change will align the legislative requirements with the current practices of the credit industry.
These three new initiatives are intended to encourage people with outstanding fines to enter into manageable repayment arrangements, with the objective of ensuring that fines remain an effective sanction for breaches of the law.
Reparation is an important aspect of sentencing. Reparation lessens the financial impact of offending on the victim. In addition, when it relates to an offer to make amends by the offender, it can also provide an opportunity for the offender to demonstrate a degree of remorse or at least acceptance of responsibility. This bill confirms the priority for the collection of reparations, and strengthens the consequences of not paying. Offenders can receive significant sentencing discounts for reparation, especially when the reparation is for a significant amount and relates to an offer to make amends. If, however, the reparation is later deemed to be uncollectable, the offender cannot be resentenced for the original offence. This bill removes the current restriction on resentencing an offender who cannot pay reparation.
Last year the Vehicle Confiscation and Seizure Bill amended the Sentencing Act 2002 and the Summary Proceedings Act 1957. This current bill will align the applicable property seizure provisions with the vehicle seizure provisions. The Law and Order Committee recommended a change to the definition of leases in order to recognise that leased property does not belong to the fines defaulter.
Part 1 of the bill amends the District Courts Act 1947 to improve the civil enforcement process. Civil debt enforcement can be complex, cumbersome, and costly for the parties involved. This bill will enable a court registrar to examine a judgment debtor on behalf of the judgment creditor and to make attachment orders, which are key enforcement tools, more easily accessible. The changes to the civil enforcement system will improve the experience of users of the service and will also free up resources needed to support the courts’ enforcement processes.
The development of the reforms in this bill commenced in 2004 with the review of the infringement system, which was undertaken by the Ministry of Justice and the Law Commission. I acknowledge the work undertaken by my predecessor, the former Minister for Courts, the Hon Rick Barker.
Hon Darren Hughes: Whatever happened to him?
Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU: I do not know—he sits in the Speaker’s Chair.
When I became the Minister for Courts in November 2008 I was pleased to continue his work. It is important work. Initial legislative reforms were made through the Government’s response to the problem of illegal street racing in 2009. This bill extends and expands those reforms.
I thank all those members of the public who made submissions on the bill. They included a number of participants in the credit industry who were able to provide insights into current practices. I appreciate the examination of the bill by the Law and Order Committee, and acknowledge the contribution of the Regulations Review Committee. I also thank those Government departments that have assisted the Ministry of Justice, both in providing advice to the Law and Order Committee, in this case the Ministry of Transport, the New Zealand Transport Agency, and the New Zealand Police, and in developing the bill, especially the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the Department of Corrections, and the Ministry of Economic Development. The bill has also benefited considerably from the skills of the Parliamentary Counsel Office.
Looking forward, the new initiatives contained in the bill are designed to encourage individuals to proactively resolve their fines, rather than punish them for incurring the fines in the first place. The new initiatives progressed through the bill are aimed at encouraging people to make sustainable and affordable arrangements with the court in order to resolve their fines and reparations. The changes to the civil system will provide better outcomes to judgment creditors and judgment debtors alike. The civil system will be transformed into a more efficient and responsive system for all involved. I intend to introduce a Supplementary Order Paper in the Committee stage to enhance this bill. I commend this bill to the House.
CHARLES CHAUVEL (Labour) : The Labour Opposition supports the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill as it comes back to the House from the Law and Order Committee for its second reading. I begin by commending the Minister for Courts for making the appropriate gesture of referring to the fact that this bill largely consists of measures that were carried over from work that was under way prior to the change of Government at the end of 2008. Although, of course, I will not bring the Speaker into the debate, it is appropriate to acknowledge your role, Mr Assistant Speaker Barker, as the responsible Minister in the previous Government. You were in charge of the measures that were brought forward for approval in Cabinet so that the bill was ready to be progressed when it was introduced by the current Minister.
Obviously, the first reason for this side of the House supporting the bill is that it had its genesis in the days of the previous Government. The previous Government thought that the driver licence stop orders proposal—from memory, back in July 2008—had real merit. There is real evidence from overseas, particularly from the Australian states, that those orders have had an effect. They have reduced the scofflaw factor, for want of a more elegant way to put it, so it is appropriate to trial them here, as this bill would do.
When one looks at the figures it is obvious that there is a need for some action in this area. Between July 2008 and June 2009, according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice, the courts wiped $95.1 million out of the total $806 million owing by offenders in unpaid fines. More than 10 percent of properly levied penalties are not being collected by the State. Worse than that, there is an increasing trend as far as those penalties are concerned. Clearly, there is some need for a greater power than that which exists in the current law.
It is appropriate, I think, to address the problem of overdue fines for another reason, and that is the dissatisfaction of the victims of crime. Often offenders owing sums by court order will, in respect of those sums, effectively be reimbursing victims through reparation orders. It is very frustrating for creditors—and debtors, actually—using the court’s civil debt enforcement process, which is what they have to fall back on in the absence of any better remedy.
I repeat the Minister’s acknowledgment of you, Mr Assistant Speaker Barker. I also acknowledge the fact that the Minister made officials available to brief the Opposition when this bill was proposed as an omnibus amendment bill. I think it was a useful practice to follow. It certainly made it easier for the Labour Party to understand the Government’s proposal when it brought this legislation forward, to consent to its introduction, and to support it at that stage.
I think it is appropriate, though, to record that there are a couple of missing proposals. I would have thought that the select committee might want to bring these proposals back on board; no doubt we will hear a long and learned discourse from Mrs Goudie about why that was not able to be done on this occasion. Perhaps those provisions will resurface in the Supplementary Order Paper the Minister foreshadowed but was unwilling or unable to give the House any detail about when she gave her second reading speech.
One of the most significant reforms that Labour wanted to put in place in this area was to have a single agency responsible for fines, rather than the 80-plus agencies—
Sandra Goudie: More bureaucrats.
CHARLES CHAUVEL: There was a little snort of derision over there from the member for Coromandel, but why would Parliament not—
Sandra Goudie: I didn’t snort.
CHARLES CHAUVEL: It was a snort, but we will not go into that further. The party that trumpets rational Government structure has passed up an opportunity to do some rationalisation on this basis. Why would one not take the opportunity to reduce those 80-plus issuing authorities to one, acting on behalf of all the others, so that it is responsible for the issuing and the collection of fines? That was a sensible proposal from the last Government. It would have cut red tape, and it would have been a good thing for this Parliament to put in place. Unfortunately, we have a lost opportunity here, even with the select committee report.
Notwithstanding that lost opportunity, as I said before, we generally support this measure. I have mentioned the increasing unpaid fines problem. There is another reason why the legislation is important; again, it comes from the careful research we have had from the Ministry of Justice. It shows that when people cross a certain threshold in terms of the amount of money they owe—and for young people that threshold can be as low as $2,000—they get to a point where they think there is no point in trying to repay the money. A person is in the hole for $2,000, so why bother trying to make any effort to make repayments beyond that figure? It is a bit like the John Maynard Keynes anecdote—if someone owes the bank $100, they have a problem, but if they owe the bank $1 million, the bank has the problem. The State was getting into that position with this level of unpaid fines—over 10 percent. The problem, particularly with younger offenders, was that they were coming to the point where they felt that even for fines of $2,000 it was not worth putting in place a repayment plan. That was such a big figure for a lot of younger people. It was beyond their ken in terms of trying to make repayment arrangement systems.
This bill goes some way to addressing that issue, but it is not entirely satisfactory in that area. The fines register established by this bill is a good measure. Lending companies and the wider community will be made aware of people who owe money. This will be another means by which there is pressure from the community to ensure that people pay the fines that they owe the Crown. That is a good thing all around.
The other point I will make just before moving on to my final point, concerning the Regulations Review Committee, is to compare the process that the Minister adopted in this case with the process that has just been adopted by the Minister of Justice in respect of his latest package of criminal reforms. Those reforms were announced yesterday at about 3 o’clock in a series of releases. It has been a question since then of trying to look at the detail and respond to it. The package is sold as the biggest and most significant reform to criminal procedure in 50 years, yet when the Opposition has been asked for its response it has had to make that response on the basis of analysis on the hoof. It would have been much better for Simon Power to adopt the approach that, even though Ms Goudie thinks all this consultation business is overblown, actually results in good law if it is done properly. Hopefully, this bill will be proof of that. The Minister made officials available to brief the Opposition, and the Opposition was available to intelligently offer its support and to participate constructively in the select committee under her chairpersonship, so that we are back in the House able to support the second reading.
The final point I make is to credit the select committee for taking on board a lot of the advice it received from the Regulations Review Committee over particular provisions of the bill. In their original form those provisions would have been offensive constitutionally. Some change has been proposed to those provisions. I certainly commend those changes to the House. I wish they had gone further. I wish that all the Regulations Review Committee’s advice had been adopted, but some change at least is proposed and that is a good thing. With those words, I commend the bill on its second reading to the House.
SANDRA GOUDIE (National—Coromandel) : I commend the excellent Minister for Courts, the Hon Georgina te Heuheu, for bringing the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill to the House. I also acknowledge the excellent work done by Rick Barker as Minister for Courts in the previous Government. I can say that it has been a pleasure, as chair of the Law and Order Committee, to go through this process in a very collegial way—one of the very few occasions of that, I might add—and I acknowledge the work on all sides. I was also very impressed with the officials—in particular our tall, slim young man with glasses. I thought he did an excellent job. In fact, I commend all the officials for the great work that they did. I was very, very impressed. It really is a pleasure to work with people who know what they are talking about.
This bill went through its processes quite well, and some very sensible suggestions were put forward for change. It is a very worthwhile bill. It is something that people have wanted to see changed in some way so that we were not wiping all those thousands of dollars of fines. I applaud the incentivisation of fine payments and the proactive nature of this bill. I think most of the other aspects of the bill have been covered. I can see this bill bringing about a very, very positive outcome in the future, where we will see people being more proactive and responsible for the fines they have incurred.
LYNNE PILLAY (Labour) : Along with my colleague Charles Chauvel, I would like to speak in support at the second reading of the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill, but, along with my colleague, I speak with a little bit of sadness that the bill, as we often find when it comes to justice matters in this House, simply does not go far enough. But, looking on the positive side, the bill enhances the court’s powers and processes for the collection of fines, other monetary penalties, and civil debt. The three main policy proposals are about credit reporting, super-priority, and the driver licence stop order initiative. There are also many technical amendments. I understand that 20 bills in total are amended.
This is another bill—[Interruption] Sorry, what was that?
Hon Trevor Mallard: 20 Acts.
LYNNE PILLAY: Thank you very much, Mr Mallard. This bill was developed while Labour was in Government. I want to acknowledge you in this House, Mr Assistant Speaker Barker; the work that you did was second to none. If I am going on too much, please shut me down, but I feel that you put a tremendous amount of time and energy into this work. Certainly, although not all of it has been picked up, much of it has. It is really sad that National has been very slow—really tardy, in fact—in bringing this bill to the House. It seems quite sad, when we look at many other bits of legislation that have come to the House that have been absolutely offensive to democracy, to workers in New Zealand, and to all the things that we hold dear, that this bill has languished on the Order Paper after all the hard work that you did, Mr Assistant Speaker. I know that so often in this House we are told to not bring the Chair into the debate, but on this occasion it is time for the whole House to acknowledge you. There are times when we can acknowledge people who do go the full nine yards. As I have said before, it is really sad that all of that work was put in and we have too little, too late from the Government. But we are not churlish on this side of the House, as you know, Mr Assistant Speaker—not churlish at all. We will support this bill because it goes a little way to achieving what Labour wanted to achieve.
The Government would say that this bill is the most comprehensive set of legislative measures designed to strengthen the recovery of unpaid moneys in 12 years, and that it is critical to the justice system’s credibility that these penalties are viewed as a sanction. The Government claims that the bill demonstrates its determination to address the high level of unpaid moneys. I would say that everyone in this House is concerned about unpaid moneys for misdemeanours that have happened throughout the justice system. But what we do know is that if we have unpaid moneys and the process is not efficient, then we do not get the full bang for our buck. I would say that, notwithstanding the fact that Labour members are supporting the bill, we will not get it with this bill, either; it goes some of the way but, as we always say, it does not go far enough. It does not go far enough to resolve the problems.
We support it because it results from the work that—if I can refer to the Assistant Speaker yet again—we in Labour did while in Government. We approved the driver licence stop order proposal in July 2008. Overseas, these orders have increased the success rate of collecting fines, especially in Australia. Figures released earlier this year show that between July 2008 and June 2009 courts wiped $95.1 million in fines. That is getting close to what this Government gave to private schools in New Zealand.
Jonathan Young: It’s a lot of money.
LYNNE PILLAY: As the member said, it is a lot of money. If we can move towards finding a remedy for the total $806 million of unpaid fines, finding a way of getting those moneys paid, then everyone in this House would acknowledge that remedy. There are general concerns about the amount of overdue fines. Concern is felt by victims when offenders do not comply with negotiated outcomes—with reparation orders. Frustration is felt by creditors and debtors who use the court civil debt enforcement process. As I have said, the bill has taken very long to come before the House. If it had been brought together earlier, instead of when the Government is in such a dreadful state in terms of providing social services and health services in this country, the moneys collected would have gone a long way towards helping provide them. The Government should have got off its butt and done something constructive.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Would this apply to Pansy?
LYNNE PILLAY: Exactly. If the Government had acted more prudently, more effectively, and more efficiently, which I know is difficult for it to do, then we would have had a better health system and maybe we would not have had the education cuts that have been made in this country.
Ministry of Justice research shows that when young people cross a certain threshold of debt, usually around $2,000, they become unable and unwilling to even try to pay off their fines. My colleague Charles Chauvel referred to John Maynard Keynes’ statement: “If you owe the bank $100, then you have a problem. If you owe the bank a million dollars, it has the problem.” Well, John Key knows all about that, but we are talking about the Government coffers and we are talking about what provides social services, health services, and education to people in New Zealand. This Government has sat, twiddled its thumbs, and brought in silly, silly legislation such as the 90-day sack-at-will bill, but it could have enacted more constructive legislation such as this bill, which would have helped. It would not have created jobs in this country and it would not have helped remedy the things that this Government has not done in the recession, but it would have gone a small way to resolve some of the problems with funding services and support, which are now being decimated under this Government.
I come back to the bill, Mr Assistant Speaker. I know that you want me to, because in large part the bill is due to your work. Let us look at the provision to waive minor infringements. Some territorial authorities have a policy to waive infringements such as an expired warrant of fitness or an out-of-date registration of a month or less when the fault is remedied in a timely manner. That is common sense, we would have said. But that practice is not uniform across all authorities. Where it does apply, the general public are largely unaware of it. So the general public are very dissatisfied with this system. They are very dissatisfied in terms of victims receiving reparation and remedies for what they have suffered. As we have said, all members of the House recognise that Mr Assistant Speaker was responsible for this legislation and worked hard to make it happen. It is really sad that this lazy Government wasted so much time before making it happen.
KEITH LOCKE (Green) : The Courts and Criminal Matters Bill tries to confront a real problem, and that is the thousands of unpaid fines and all sorts of administrative difficulties involved in running around chasing after people to try to get some money out of them. But there is an intrinsic problem and I think this bill goes in the wrong direction. That is why the Green Party opposed the bill on the first reading and will oppose it on this reading as well.
The bill is not particularly productive because the people it chases after are, in the main, the very poorest people in our society. They might get a little fine for a parking infringement, a speeding fine, or some small criminal offence, but they are the people who are down; often they are unemployed, between jobs, or in large families. It is often somewhat difficult for them to get money together to pay a fine. They tend to avoid it and put it off, then it gets bigger, and more and more problems develop. There are two ways to deal with that problem. One is to get alongside the person affected and try to work out a repayment system—to work out a way that is not too much of a heavy burden on him or her at any one point in time. The other way is to just slam more penalties on top of that person in various ways.
A lot of the people who will be affected by this bill are young Māori—and maybe Hone Harawira will speak after me. That is where the concentration of unpaid fines often happens to be. The bill will only make young Māori, who are more likely to be unemployed and more likely to be poor, even poorer and in more difficulties socially in all kinds of ways, under the pressure of what is proposed in this bill.
This bill proposes various things like driver licence stop orders. Let us take the example of a young person with fines owing who is finding it very difficult to pay them, and who has finally got a job. If that person jumps into their car to go to work to get money to pay the fine, but all of a sudden is hit with a driver licence stop order, that person cannot get to work. They will lose their job, and get further and further in debt. So stop orders are not necessarily the answer. They are associated with amendments to the Sentencing Act 2002 to make reparation and vehicle confiscation orders more efficient. Somebody who is in this difficult position might not only have their licence taken off them; their vehicle, which is probably the main asset they own in life, might be confiscated. That really puts them back to square one, or behind square one. To make matters worse, this bill authorises unaffordable and unenforceable reparation orders to be substituted by home detention or prison sentences. Again, let us take the young person who is struggling. They have not been able to afford their fines, or, for various reasons, are a bit mixed up. Now not only do they lose their licence or lose their car; they might get chucked in jail or on home detention. That just is not the answer. It may be the answer in some cases, and the Green Party is certainly not denying that, but the whole approach is a punitive approach that does not really put us any further forward.
There is talk often about an underclass in our society. This bill will help to enlarge the underclass—the people who are really in difficulty. When they are subject to all these additional penalties they are more likely to change houses, change names, and try to get away from the authorities. That creates even more problems for them, their families, their friends, and their workmates. It does not really work.
Another element of the bill is to provide information on a person’s fines to credit authorities. Well, that does not necessarily help. Sure, it helps if someone applies for a loan, because the credit authorities can find out that the person has a big fine and might be more likely to default on their loan. But it does not help the person to get out of the bind they are in. We should be starting at the other end, with more social workers, more people working with schools. We should work with all the sorts of organisations who are in contact with these people—community organisations, whānau organisations, iwi organisations, all of the organisations that can work alongside those people to get them to repay their debts.
To my way of thinking the punitive approach does not work. It develops collective anger amongst people who are down at the bottom, a psychology of their being on one side and the people on the other side, the richer people, being out to get them. They think it is fair enough if they dodge the law and dodge the repayments, because that is the only way that they will get by in life.
The Green Party, in summary, sees all of these measures as counter-productive—that is the word for it; they are counter-productive. If we add them all up, we will not necessarily get more money for Treasury out of them; we will get more social problems, more people in prison, more people unemployed, more people who feel alienated from the system, more people who feel that they are part of an underclass, and also more racial divisions in our society in the sense that Māori are more likely to be affected than non-Māori. Thank you.
RAYMOND HUO (Labour) : As at 31 December 2008 over half a million people and organisations owed penalties totalling $790.2 million. Over 80 percent of those penalties were unpaid infringements that had been filed for enactment by the police, local authorities, and other Government agencies. The amount outstanding is increasing each year. Around 57 percent of the people with penalties owe less than $500. Many of those people can afford to pay the penalties but choose not to do so until an enforcement action is taken against them. Figures released early this year showed that between July 2008 and June 2009 the courts wiped $95.1 million of the total $806 million in unpaid fines. Therefore the amount of outstanding fines is increasing each year, and the amount of unpaid fines that the courts have to wipe is also increasing.
The Courts and Criminal Matters Bill seeks to address concerns about the amount of overdue fines, due to the dissatisfaction of victims when offenders do not comply with reparation orders, and to the frustration of creditors and debtors using the courts’ civil debt enforcement process. Labour supports this bill and I acknowledge the great contribution made by the Hon Rick Barker, who is sitting in the Speaker’s chair. In fact, the bill, as acknowledged by my colleagues earlier, resulted from work done by him while Minister for Courts in the Labour Government.
This bill is an omnibus bill. It amends the District Courts Act 1947, the Land Transport Act 1998, the Sentencing Act 2002, and the Summary Proceedings Act 1957, and consequentially amends 16 other Acts. The principal changes introduce three new sets of incentives to encourage people with overdue fines to enter into and maintain acceptable payment arrangements. The three sets of incentives are credit reporting, super priority, and driver licence stop orders. The credit-reporting initiative proposes the release of the overdue penalty balance of eligible people to the private sector credit industry via credit reports. The District Court will obtain a higher priority over secured property of a credit provider if the loan was advanced when the overdue penalties could have been released under the credit-reporting proposal, and when that property was subsequently seized by the court some or all of these discoverable penalties were still overdue. People were lending money to people to pay for cars, and the car lenders were always assured of getting their money back. The law stops car dealers from hiding behind the law. When the money is lent, the lender can check a register. It gives them grounds to refuse to finance people who have fines.
The bill as introduced provides that if an enforcement officer serves a person with a driver licence stop order, the person must immediately surrender his or her driver’s licence to the enforcement officer.
The Law and Order Committee received 15 submissions from individuals, organisations, and other parties. More than half of the submissions expressed support for parts of the bill. Some submissions supported the intent of the bill but would like to see the court go further in supporting the resolution of debts and encouraging financial literacy. Some of the general submissions expressed concern about its fairness and the impact on poor and vulnerable people of the current and proposed fines and civil debt enforcement mechanisms. Some of the issues raised at the Law and Order Committee are worth noting. The Privacy Commissioner is particularly concerned about the release of Government-held personal information to private sector credit reporters and the shift in the use of personal information that this signifies. The commissioner recommends that the relevant clause, clause 69, be removed from the bill.
Licence suspension is another issue that we spent a considerable amount of time deliberating on. Our current collection measures focus largely on seizing goods that can be sold to resolve fines and reparation. Internationally, licence suspension is widely used as a fixed-term penalty for traffic offences and as a variable-length fine compliance measure. Queensland Transport reports a 75 percent success rate in collecting fines after threatening or imposing licence suspension. There are four further differences between Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, first of all, there is a statutory obligation to promptly update address information on the driver’s-licence register; secondly, third-party body insurance is compulsory; and, thirdly, there is deemed service by post for all driver’s-licence suspensions. I think New Zealand can learn a great deal from this experience. Fourthly, there is an onus on people who owe fines to find out if their licence has been suspended, rather than the state authorities having to prove service. By comparison, in New Zealand there is no statutory obligation to ensure that address information on the driver’s-licence register is always up to date. The accident compensation scheme precludes third-party compulsory body insurance.
Attachment orders were another issue the Law and Order Committee looked at closely. Attachment orders are used to allow deductions to be made from wages and benefits to pay debts. At present, attachment orders can be imposed only after an examination hearing to assess the judgment debtor’s ability to pay the debt; both parties are required to attend the hearing, which can be inconvenient and incur delays and further costs. Some ideas were floated at the select committee as to the way service can be improved, or, using alternative methods, be deemed to have occurred. Service by post is certainly one effective way for us to look at, but what about some new methods such as emails, or messages via cellphone, or Facebook?
Given the large and growing amount of outstanding penalties, the effectiveness of monetary penalties as a sanction for offending is being eroded. The threat of credit reporting, together with other measures proposed in the bill, will provide people with a stronger incentive to voluntarily resolve them. There is another problem with the existing regime. Currently, there are 80-plus issuing authorities, and this undoubtedly impedes the collection of fines. Labour proposed to create a single agency to have responsibility for fines. It is regrettable that this provision is missing from this bill.
I look forward to the bill’s third reading. Thank you.
Dr CAM CALDER (National) : It is a great pleasure to rise to speak on the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill. Do the crime and do the time: that is the received wisdom, and given that the State has the miscreant in custody at the time that sentencing is passed, that is what happens. Our Department of Corrections does a wonderful job and many are the prisoners who receive drug and alcohol counselling or instruction in literacy and numeracy during the course of their sentence. For lesser crimes, of course, imprisonment is not an appropriate sentence, and then do the crime and pay the fine is an axiom that is unfortunately often honoured more in the breach than in reality. A staggering $778 million of reparations, fines, other monetary penalties, and court costs remain unpaid. Over 80 percent of that extraordinary mountain of money, around $640 million, is fines for traffic-related matters.
The National-led Government believes this situation is untenable, and we are setting out to do something about it. As John Mortimer observed: “No brilliance is needed in the law. Nothing but common sense, and relatively clean finger nails.” I am pleased to report that during the consideration of this bill the Law and Order Committee, as far as I was able to assess, displayed consummate common sense, cooperation bordering on collegiality, a precious commodity in that committee, and fastidious personal presentation. It is therefore a good tranche of law.
This bill continues National’s commitment to working towards accountability. The bill will ensure court-ordered payments and reparations to victims are paid sooner, thus continuing National’s focus on a more victim-based justice system. I commend this bill to the House.
Hone Harawira: Good points.
STUART NASH: They are very good points. First, I say this bill is long overdue. The Hon Rick Barker, who was the Minister for Courts in the previous Labour Government, had a bill very much like this already drafted, on the Order Paper, and ready to go. If Labour was still in Government, this matter would have been well and truly done and dusted about 2 years ago.
The second point I make is that Labour supports this bill because Labour has always supported bills that promote common sense and fiscal integrity, and that get money back. This is a common-sense bill. Why? Because it is a Labour bill, based on Labour principles brought forward by the Hon Rick Barker.
The third point I make is that this is an absolutely necessary bill. Cam Calder waxed lyrical on the bill. One of his quotes was not from Shakespeare or Plato but from another philosopher. He also said the Law and Order Committee acted in a very cordial manner when it considered this bill. Of course it did, because there is no contention about this bill whatsoever. It is a common-sense bill. We all agree with it; I think all of New Zealand agrees with it. So it will be passed tonight with unanimity, and that is great.
There are a couple of figures that I would like to give to the people of New Zealand, because they are a bit shocking. We have heard a few figures tonight from Cam Calder and a couple of my colleagues, but I say the figures released earlier this year show that between July 2008 and June 2009 the courts wiped $95.1 million out of a total of $806 million in unpaid fines. That is amazing—$806 million in unpaid fines. We have to ask what is going on. How many night classes would that pay for? How many early childhood education centres would that pay for? It is a hell of a lot. How many people in Napier would benefit from $800 million coming into their economy? There will be a hell of a lot more than that when Labour is back in power, I can tell members that.
This bill seeks to address the concern about the amount of overdue fines, and the dissatisfaction of victims and offenders. I can well imagine that if I was a victim of crime and the court had imposed a fine or reparation to be paid to me from the offender, but it was not paid, that would just rub salt into the wound.
Dr Rajen Prasad: It’s not fair.
STUART NASH: That is right. This bill will address that fundamental principle of fairness. Fairness is a fundamental principle. When my children are playing and they are not getting on, the thing they say is “Dad, that’s not fair.” That is what, certainly, the Labour Party stands for. We have highlighted that our concern is about fairness. Sometimes it is about fairness to the people of New Zealand, although this Government has missed the point there. This bill is about fairness to the victims of crime. This bill helps to address that situation; of that there is no doubt. That is why I am supportive of the bill.
But one of the points I make is that I wonder why this bill has taken so long to come before the House. Why is that? This measure was practically finalised before the previous Labour Government left office. As I mentioned, the Hon Rick Barker had drafted such a bill. It was ready to go; we gave it to the incoming National Government, which says it is tough on crime. Simon Power has stood here in the Chamber and delivered speeches about National being tough on crime, yet it took 2 years to produce this bill. How tough is that? I ask that question, but I have no answer to it, because there is no good answer.
This bill also omits some of the proposals developed by Labour. For instance, we wanted to create a single agency responsible for fines. Did anyone here know that there are now about 80 agencies responsible for the collection of fines? That is astounding. Addressing that would have helped with compliance issues and efficiency; it would have streamlined the whole process. I ask the Minister whether that problem is the subject of one of the Supplementary Order Papers that he will table on this bill—an amendment to streamline the whole process. All we hear from the Government is talk about streamlining processes. Labour put in an idea to streamline this process, and it was thrown out. I cannot understand the reason for that.
The Ministry of Justice’s research shows that when young people cross a certain threshold in terms of money owed—it is about $2,000—they become unable or unwilling to pay even that fine. That is a lot of money for a young person, and it is also a lot of money for many, many New Zealanders who are facing increased costs due to GST rises, etc. Given the large and growing amount of outstanding penalties, the effectiveness of monetary penalties as a sanction for offending is being eroded, and that comes back to the whole point about $800 million being owed in outstanding fines.
I have a concern about this matter, and Keith Locke talked about it earlier. This bill proposes that when people are not paying their fines, lending companies and the wider community will get that information, so it becomes a sort of “naming and shaming” thing. Today I was at a conference at Victoria University that talked about inequality. Keith Locke was dead right when he said a bill like this may, in fact, lead to increased inequality amongst New Zealanders in our communities. I will fight incredibly hard against that as long as I am in Parliament, because inequality is like a rot that eats the heart out of our community. This legislation may well increase inequality, and we must fight that at every turn. We are finding here that people get to a point where they cannot pay their fines—we have been shown that that is happening. Labour proposed to put young people with large amounts of fines into a case management system, within which they had to acknowledge that they had a debt and had done wrong, then work out a system to pay their fines. That was not taken up. Instead of managing the process of paying fines, this bill proposes to name and shame defaulters. I for one have a real problem with that proposal, and, as mentioned, with increasing the level of inequality.
A couple of my colleagues have mentioned John Maynard Keynes, which I found quite interesting. It was quite a good quote, but I very much doubt whether John Maynard Keynes ever had outstanding fines. One thing he said about equality was that if a Government gives tax cuts to people at the top, that will not stimulate the economy, but that if it gives tax cuts to those at the bottom, that will drive an economy out of recession. That is what he said. This Government has not learnt that lesson. As a consequence this economy will suffer, and I feel greatly sorry for the people of New Zealand. In this country 650 people have a declared income of $1 million or more a year, and they have just received $1,000 a week in the hand in tax cuts—$1,000 a week. I can imagine that if those people had fines, they could pay them off straight away. People on the median wage in Napier received a tax cut of less than $5 a week, and that money has been eaten up and eroded by increases in the cost of living, increased GST, and increased ACC levies. Those people will not be able to pay their fines. That is what I am talking about with regard to inequality. Not only does it drive wealth down but people get named and shamed. They become more and more disenfranchised under the whole political process, and we all lose from that.
I would like to make one point here, and it is something I was completely unaware of until I read this bill. I suspect that the vast majority of New Zealanders are unaware of this point: the police and many territorial authorities actually have a policy of waiving infringements on expired warrants of fitness or out-of-date registrations that are still within 1 month of their expiry, when the fault is remedied in a timely manner. I did not know that. I put my car in to get a service, went away to Parliament, came back, picked it up, and parked it to go to visit constituents—which I spend my days doing—and then what happened? I came out, and there was a ticket on my window—a $200 ticket for the warrant of fitness being a week overdue. Thank you very much, Napier City Council! I went off and paid that fine, but I urge any New Zealanders who receive tickets on their windscreens for unpaid registrations or out-of-date warrants of fitness, if they are within a month of their expiry, to write a letter to the local council or to the Ministry of Transport—or to whomever—and ask for the fine to be waived because they are remedying the situation. People will get off those fines.
I would just like to reiterate my three points. Labour members support this bill because we support any measure that—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member, but his time has expired.
JONATHAN YOUNG (National—New Plymouth) : I found the previous speech from Stuart Nash to be very interesting, especially as the member opposite talked about the super-priority aspect of the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill. It actually gives the courts, as it says, priority over other security holders regarding a debt, if a person owes a fine to the court. That enables the situation to develop whereby if a person goes to a finance company and seeks to raise a loan to purchase, perhaps, a vehicle, and the finance company discovers there is a super priority against that person because of unpaid fines, the finance company is most unlikely to advance those funds, knowing that the courts will have first claim. Mr Nash talked about the “naming and shaming” aspect of that provision, but I guess he did not understand that the Hon Rick Barker has said he authored that idea. Is that not interesting? I would have hoped that those members talked among themselves about ideas like that. The Hon Rick Barker thought that was a brilliant idea. I give all credit to the Hon Rick Barker, who played a significant part in preparing this bill, over a number of years.
Many people whom I have talked to feel that that provision has some merit, because it will bring accountability. It will bring accountability to people who purchase vehicles, who have high amounts of indebtedness against them, and who incur incredibly high numbers of fines, but who do not pay those fines. When it was put in my local newspaper that $95 million had been written off the amount of debt owed by people in respect of fines, people contacted me, saying they were outraged that that amount of fines had been written off. People generally feel that that is unfair. They also feel that when people who have fines do not pay them, the defaulters are scoffing at, or showing contempt towards, our legal system. People feel that there is an undermining of our justice system when people do not pay fines.
This bill will bring greater power to enforce payment. It will bring in a more modernised, automated system, which will enable communication to happen more readily between those who owe fines and the courts. It will enable far greater efficiency and ensure far greater compliance on the part of people who have incurred fines—for whatever reason that may be—in terms of their paying those amounts. As people have said, the amount that is owed could do some good to our economy—indeed, that is true. We have an alarming problem, and this bill will go a long way towards ensuring that we will see increased credibility in the justice system, and monetary penalties being viewed as a credible sanction.
I was incredibly shocked by Mr Locke’s presentation of his views regarding this bill. I do not believe that a person’s not having a high income is an excuse not to pay a fine. The person can choose not to cause the infringement in the first place. We need to have a greater sense of responsibility in our country. I know that some people say they cannot afford to get their cars warranted. If that is the case, they cannot afford to drive a car. They should not be driving an unwarranted car, because that car is not deemed to be safe. It is irresponsible to other road users for someone to drive an unwarranted car. It is a travesty and an outrage that people say in this House that that issue does not matter.
Metiria Turei: You have no idea what people’s lives are like.
JONATHAN YOUNG: Excuse me; you have no idea what I have ideas about. What you are saying is just your own opinions and your perspective. You have no idea, madam.
H V Ross Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I know what that member is going to say. The member is bringing me into the debate. Members cannot say “you”, as that includes the presiding officer.
JONATHAN YOUNG: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.
This bill will address the issues regarding the payment of fines through the implementation of an automated credit-reporting system, which will create a low-cost incentive for people to proactively contact the courts in order to resolve their fines. We need to have a system in our society that addresses issues of non-compliance. I know that the New Zealand Police has an internal policy called “Compliance”. In the Law and Order Committee we heard about that policy and applauded it, because it enables people who have an infringement to do something about that infringement within a certain period of time, and to spend what would normally be paid on a fine on bringing their vehicles up to the compliance standard. As a select committee we thought that was a very good policy to have. We also noted that local authorities have the same ability, but that there is inconsistency throughout the country with regard to implementing that. However, it is good to know that that common sense exists. I commend this bill to the House. Thank you.
|Ayes 110||New Zealand National 58; New Zealand Labour 41; ACT New Zealand 5; Māori Party 4; Progressive 1; United Future 1.|
|Noes 8||Green Party 8.|
|Bill read a second time.|
Māori Purposes Bill
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs) : I move, That the Māori Purposes 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.
This bill brings together amendments to a variety of legislation related to Māori affairs, including legislation affecting the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora, the Maori Fisheries Act 2004, the Maori Trust Boards Act 1955, and Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993. These changes seek to improve the administration of this legalisation by updating provisions that have fallen out of date. Monitoring legislation to ensure its continuing relevance is consistent with the Government’s statements on regulation. Although these changes are largely administrative, they sit alongside a significant package of initiatives that contribute to the realisation of tino rangatiratanga—Māori self-determination.
Firstly, the bill amends the legislation affecting the estates of Pukepuke Tangiora, a Māori matriarch who was active in numerous reform movements during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The original will of Pukepuke Tangiora came into effect upon her death in 1936. At various stages throughout the 20th century the life beneficiaries under the will petitioned Parliament for relief from the terms of the will. These terms were modified by Parliament through provisions in various Maori Purposes Acts. These modifications date from a time when Government interference in private matters was considered more appropriate than it is today. In particular, the 1943 Maori Purposes Act removed the provision of the will requiring estate assets to be retained within the estate for 20 years following the death of the last remaining life beneficiary. Estate assets will now vest in capital beneficiaries on the death of the last remaining life beneficiary.
The 1943 and 1951 Maori Purposes Acts have resulted in the Crown having more functions in respect of the administration of the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora than would otherwise be usual. For example, under the Maori Purposes Act 1943 trustees of the estate are appointed by the Governor-General by Order in Council. Typically, the appointments of trustees would be covered by the will itself, or would be performed by either the High Court or the Māori Land Court. The Maori Purposes Act 1951 also provides for the Minister of Māori Affairs to approve purposes for which money may be paid to estate beneficiaries out of estate funds.
The bill removes the role of the Minister of Māori Affairs and the Governor-General in the administration of the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora. I must acknowledge the work of the Māori Affairs Committee from last season and tae noa ki tēnei wā, and particularly Mita Ririnui, who did a lot of work in Hastings on this matter. The bill recognises that involvement of this kind is inappropriate and interferes with the right of the estate to exercise control over its own affairs. The bill amends legislation affecting the estate in order to remove the Minister’s role in appointing estate trustees. It also removes the Minister’s role in fixing trustees’ salaries and travelling allowances, and approving purposes for which trustees may spend estate funds. To ensure continuity in estate administration, the bill confirms the position of the present trustees. The bill clarifies the jurisdiction of the Māori Land Court to appoint and dismiss trustees to the estate and to hear all matters relating to the administration of that estate. This is consistent with the Māori Land Court’s existing jurisdiction over Māori land trusts.
The bill extends the period for which estate property will be held under the estate to 5 years after the death of the last remaining life beneficiary. Under present legislation affecting the administration of the estate, the estate would come to an end should the last remaining life beneficiary pass away. The estate property would then vest in the nine whānau of the capital beneficiaries. Extending the distribution period gives the beneficiaries of the estate 5 years in which to make decisions about the future governance entity that will hold and manage estate assets. This mitigates the risk that the estate could come to an end before the beneficiaries have time to come to an agreement amongst themselves as to how to manage estate assets in the future.
This bill also amends the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 to enable the transfer of mandated iwi organisation status and fisheries settlement assets between separate entities operating within the governance arrangements of the same iwi. The Maori Fisheries Act does not provide for such a transfer, as it was not contemplated when the Act was developed in 2004. Should such a transfer be attempted, protective provisions of the Act would require the fisheries settlement assets to be offered for sale to the highest bidder from other mandated iwi organisations and Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Ltd. This is an unintended consequence of the Act. There are situations where an iwi may wish to transfer their mandated iwi organisation status and fishery settlement assets. For example, a number of iwi progressing through the Treaty settlement process desire such a transfer to enable them to better consolidate and improve their governance arrangements and asset holdings. The Maori Fisheries Act should not prevent iwi from developing stronger and more efficient governance arrangements that may ultimately better ensure the protection and value of their fishery settlement and wider assets.
The amendment to the Maori Fisheries Act is technical and remedial. It is an enabling provision only. Iwi may elect to use it or not, depending on their particular interests and circumstances. The amendment provides for the transfer while also maintaining the existing strict requirements of the Act regarding mandated iwi organisations and the protection of the fisheries settlement assets. It exempts the transfer of the assets from specific provisions that would otherwise require the sale of those assets. It will not compromise the rights and interests of beneficiaries of a mandated iwi organisation or the rights and interests of other mandated iwi organisations or iwi.
This bill also amends the Maori Trust Boards Act 1955 to provide for direct accountability between trust boards and their beneficiaries. Presently the Maori Trust Boards Act requires trust boards to be accountable to the Minister of Māori Affairs for their financial arrangements. Trust boards are required to have their financial statements audited by the Auditor-General. They receive their audited accounts from the Auditor-General via the Minister of Māori Affairs. They must also send their annual budget and other financial information to the Minister of Māori Affairs for approval. This accountability relationship between trust boards and the Minister of Māori Affairs does not reflect the environment in which trust boards operate. It is also inconsistent with generally accepted practices for similar governance entities, which require primary accountability to exist between an entity and its beneficiaries.
The bill amends the accountability relationship within the Maori Trust Boards Act. Each trust board must now hold an annual general meeting to report to its beneficiaries on its activities and plans for the future. This includes the presentation of audited annual accounts, budgets, and other financial information. The bill also provides that the trust boards must have their financial statements audited privately instead of by the Auditor-General. It replaces the role of the Minister of Māori Affairs in approving a trust board’s annual budget with a requirement for a trust board to supply the Minister of Māori Affairs with audited accounts and an annual budget for information only.
Finally, the bill makes various minor drafting changes to Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993 and the Māori Incorporations Constitution Regulations 1994 to allow for more effective administration of this legislation.
In conclusion, I thank those who participated in consultation on these amendments, which provide the necessary updates to Māori affairs legislation, particularly the last two Māori Affairs Committees. I commend this bill to the House.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Labour—Ikaroa-Rāwhiti) : E tika atu ki te mihi atu ki te āhua o te pire nei. E mihi kau ana ki te Minita Māori mō tōna kaha ki te whakaoti atu i tēnei take e tū roaroa atu. Mai i te tīmata o te kōrero mō te pire nei, e tika atu ki te mihi atu ki te kuia whaea mōrehu a Nan, e rere atu, e tāpuke atu rā rātou i te wāhi rā o Pakipaki.
[It is appropriate that I acknowledge the make-up of this bill. I congratulate the Minister of Māori Affairs on his efforts in bringing this longstanding matter to fruition. I commend matriarch Nan Bartlett, who was involved in the genesis of this bill from the outset and who lies in her resting place at Pakipaki.]
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sorry to interrupt the member. Our interpretation channel is not working. We are asking for the interpreter to come in. [Interruption] The interpreter is here. I ask the member to start from the beginning again, because we have not had an interpretation.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Tēnā tātou. E tika atu i runga i te tū nei ki te mihi atu ki te pire nei, te otinga, e mau roaroa atu engari, e tae atu tātau, e tata ana ki te otinga. E tika atu ki te mihi atu ki te Minita Māori i mau atu i te take nei ki roto i te Whare, hei oti pai atu ngā take e whā e puta ana mai i te tuhinga nei. E mihi kau ana ki te rere haere o te whaea matua o te whānau nei a Nan Bartlett, e tāpuke atu rātou a te kuia rā i te wāhi o Pakipaki.
E kite atu tātau te tīmata mō te kōrero mō te poari o Pukepuke Tangiora, e pai ana tērā, e haere atu ki te kōrero mō te hī ika, tērā anō wētahi o ngā take e roaroa atu. Nā, te kōrero i roto i te pepa nei mō ngā poari o ngā whenua me ngā take e pā ana ki ia iwi, ki ia iwi, kei te puta atu i roto i te tuhinga nei. Ko te ture whenua wētahi o ngā tino ture e tuku atu tātou a ngāi Māori mai rā anō. Nā te pai hoki e whitiwhiti atu tatōu ngā take e whā, hei oti pai.
[Greetings to us all. How fitting it is that I rise to commend this bill as it nears its concluding stages. It has been a long time in the making, but we are nearly there, and close to completion. It is fitting that the part played by the Minister of Māori Affairs in bringing this matter to the House is acknowledged so that the four issues that emerge in this document are addressed satisfactorily. I acknowledge the matriarch of this family, Nan Bartlett, who seemed to be here, there, and everywhere in the process, and who lies buried there at Pakipaki.
We saw the beginnings of the talk pertaining to the Pukepuke Tangiora Trust, and that was fine. It went there to talk about fishing, but there were also some longstanding issues. Now, included in this document is a statement about the boards of the lands, and the issues relating to each tribe. From a long way back, the Land Act has always been of huge significance to Māoridom. The great thing about it is that we can exchange views about the four issues and arrive at a satisfactory outcome. ]
Labour will certainly be supporting the Māori Purposes Bill brought here by the Minister of Māori Affairs. The bill brings together four separate, relevant issues that have been spread out over a period of time. The Pukepuke Tangiora estate is one that has developed its assets and progressed the fortunes of the beneficiaries. It is seen fit for the bill to ensure that the beneficiaries can define for themselves how they want to do things, and that is something we support. The rationale of moving it to the Māori Land Court is something that needs a bit more work. We cite that it is being unbundled from the Crown, but it is going to the Crown in a different form, so we need to be really clear on how we are differentiating that. The departure in one sense—from what I have heard from the Minister of Māori Affairs—and still hanging on at the end is something that needs to be differentiated, because I do believe that the Minister of Māori Affairs should not be too far away from supporting the beneficiaries and the estate.
The bill removes, as earlier suggested, the Crown’s involvement in the administration of the estate and confirms the Māori Land Court’s jurisdiction. That is quite interesting because in the initial stages the removal from the courts was one of the essences really pushed by the trustees and the beneficiaries, and it is going back there. We will see how it progresses over time. The bill also extends the distribution period to 5 years after the death of the last remaining life beneficiary in order to provide sufficient time to make decisions on a future governance entity to hold and manage the estate assets. This is certainly supported, but, surely, if they can come to an agreement within 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year, then I hope there is enough in the legislation to allow that, and that the period is not prolonged for the sake of setting a time line that has outreached too far.
The original will of Pukepuke Tangiora, which came into effect in 1938, provided for the estate to be managed for the benefit of her son, his wife, and their nine children. A number of changes have been made to the administration of the estate through legislation from 1943 to 1976, resulting in the Crown being involved in the appointment of trustees, the fixing of trustees’ salaries, and the expenditure of certain funds. If it is now about putting the onus on the beneficiaries, then that is well done if they are supported. It would be too untoward to hope that no differences will arise, but how that is managed is another issue.
Also, under the will of Pukepuke Tangiora, as modified by legislation in 1943, the residual estate will be distributed to beneficiaries on the death of the last remaining life beneficiary. It is important that we define that again. How do we quantify “residual” in the sense of this estate, where does it go, and why does it need to go? The collective effort of the past trustees and the beneficiaries’ guidance has seen the estate grow, consolidate, and be well worth while for the family.
Officials consulted the trustees and beneficiaries. The trustees support the amendments, and the beneficiaries support the removal of Crown involvement but are unable to agree on the appropriate length of time for the extension period. That is something I think needs to be firmed up in the legislation as we pass it through Parliament. We need to be quite clear, so that they have options; it should not be so defined or narrowed down that they cannot move. This is supposed to be about freeing things up for the sake of the beneficiaries. It would fare well if we were a bit more definitive in relation to how the funds of the estate are distributed. Certainly, people like Nema Bartlett and the other trustees need to be commended for the efforts they are presently putting in.
I move on to the amendments to the Maori Fisheries Act 2004. The bill will allow the transfer of the status, and certain fisheries settlement assets, of a mandated iwi organisation to another separate entity within the governance arrangements of the same iwi. That is a very, very strong banner that needs to be supported to ensure that it becomes what it says and that it means what it says. At the outset of building the mandated iwi organisations, there were tensions and strains over who should manage them—the capability of our people. It has been well proven, in the sense of Māoris’ role in managing the fisheries estate and business; they have lifted it to a level in recent years that it was never lifted to before. Currently, the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 prevents this transfer without triggering protective provisions requiring the sale of assets to the highest bidder from other iwi organisations and Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Ltd. This is an unintended consequence of the legislation, and to ensure that the assets are still within those iwi who choose to maintain them within their organisation brings another opportunity to the fast-growing asset-holders in this country—that is, Māori iwi. I think that is really good.
The Māori trust boards issue has been a long journey. Years ago, when I was the Minister of Māori Affairs, in the beginning the books were behind by 6 years, on average. Now that they have been tidied up, the trust boards have caught up. It is certainly encouraging to hear that people put the responsibility of the running and the development of these assets and the maintaining of the trust boards’ interests back on to the beneficiaries. Again, I would encourage the Minister of Māori Affairs not to be too far away from that action. Some trust boards are firing ahead very, very well. They have sizable assets and a lot of support, like the Tūwharetoa board and others, but there are—
Paul Quinn: Ngāti Awa.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: —and like the Ngāti Awa board—others that are struggling. Some are like the Ngāti Awa board, which is progressing very well since it has had new management and support all around it. All of those who are involved in developing it need to be thanked, as is the case with all the trust boards. But the time has come when we have enough strength, we have enough capability, and we have enough modernisation, and we do not need to be patronised. I would certainly commend that we support these changes, albeit they are incidental. I commend this bill for further discussion.
Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU (Associate Minister of Māori Affairs) : I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in support of the Māori Purposes Bill. The amendments within this bill make a number of timely changes to Māori affairs legislation. Although they are largely administrative, these changes are none the less important to various groupings of Māori.
For members of the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora, these changes are about removing unnecessary Crown involvement in the affairs of a private whānau. For Māori trust boards, these changes are about providing a direct line of accountability between trust boards and their beneficiaries. For iwi, the changes are about amending unintentionally restrictive provisions of the Maori Fisheries Act. For Māori landowners, the changes are about improving the administration of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act.
Pukepuke Tangiora was a politically active Māori woman with substantial land holdings in the Hawke’s Bay area. During her lifetime she was an active member of the Kotahitanga movement for an independent Māori Parliament, the Rātana movement, and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Pukepuke Tangiora’s original will came into effect upon her death in 1936. Under her will, her estate was held for the benefit of her only son, Te Akonga Mohi, his wife, and their nine children. Throughout the 20th century the Crown intervened to assume responsibility for the appointment and removal of trustees to the estate. The Crown also assumed responsibility for approving purposes for which estate moneys could be paid to estate beneficiaries. These are functions that the Crown continues to perform today.
The Crown’s continued role in the administration of this estate is an unnecessary limitation upon the ability of the estate beneficiaries to manage their own affairs. Therefore, the bill removes the role of the Minister of Māori Affairs and the Governor-General in the administration of the estate. This includes the appointment of estate trustees, the fixing of trustees’ salaries and travelling allowances, and the approval of purposes for which trustees may spend certain estate funds. The bill instead confirms the Māori Land Court’s jurisdiction to hear all matters relating to the administration of the estate. The bill also creates a 5-year window between the death of the last remaining life beneficiary and the distribution of the estate property. This is intended to give the beneficiaries time to realise their aspirations regarding the future of the estate. The National-led Government supports whānau making decisions about their own future. The beneficiaries of the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora have the experience and expertise to allow them to manage their own affairs.
It is in the same spirit that the bill also makes changes to the Maori Trust Boards Act 1955. It provides for a more direct line of accountability between trust boards and their beneficiaries. At present, trust boards are accountable to the Minister of Māori Affairs for their financial arrangements. This involves having their financial statements audited by the Auditor-General. Trust boards then submit their annual budgets and other financial information to the Minister of Māori Affairs for approval. This relationship is not consistent with the right of trust board beneficiaries to hold their own trust boards to account. It is also not appropriate in this day and age, when Māori seek independence and self-reliance. The bill amends this relationship to provide for a direct line of accountability between trust boards and their beneficiaries. Trust boards will be required to hold an annual general meeting to report to beneficiaries on their operations and future plans. This includes making available financial information, such as audited annual accounts and budgets. They will no longer be required to have their financial statements audited by the Auditor-General. Instead, they will manage that privately. Trust boards have long wanted this change. The idea that in the 21st century they have to come back to the Minister of Māori Affairs to have every “t” crossed and every “i” dotted has been long resented.
The bill also makes changes to the Maori Fisheries Act 2004 to ensure iwi are able to transfer mandated iwi organisation status and fisheries settlement assets between separate entities within their governance arrangements. At present the Maori Fisheries Act does not provide for such a transfer. It requires fisheries settlement assets to be offered for sale to other mandated iwi organisations and Te Ohu Kai Moana Trustee Ltd. In amending this unintentionally restrictive provision of the Maori Fisheries Act, the bill helps iwi again manage their own affairs.
Lastly, the bill also makes technical changes to Te Ture Whenua Maori Act. These changes improve the administration of this Act, and are consistent with this Government’s priorities concerning better regulation. For example, the bill amends the provision of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act relating to the ability of a Māori incorporation to amend its own constitution. This clarifies the language of the provision, making it easier for Māori incorporations to interpret.
In summary, the Māori Purposes Bill makes a number of timely changes to Māori affairs legislation. The bill contributes to the Government’s goal of a brighter and more prosperous future for Māori, and, more than anything, it supports Māori in the management of their own affairs, whether it be in the form of whānau trusts, trust boards, or commercial organisations. I support the referral of the bill to the Māori Affairs Committee .
Hon MITA RIRINUI (Labour) : Ā, kāti kia ora tātou kei roto i te Whare. Tū tautoko ana i ngā mihi mō tērā ake o ngā kuia, a Nan Bartlett te uri o Te Akonga Mohi, nāna i kawe mai tēnei take ki mua i ngā mema Pāremata i te wā i a Reipa te Kāwanatanga. Me te mihi anō ki te Minita mō tōna kaha ki te whakapouahia rā i tēnei kaupapa, kia oti ai ngā pōraruraruhanga i waenganui i ngā uri o te kuia rā.
[So greetings to us in the House. I stand to endorse the acknowledgments made in respect of Nan Bartlett among the elderly womenfolk, and descendant of Te Akonga Mohi. She brought this matter before members of Parliament when Labour was in Government. I also acknowledge the Minister, and his diligence in advancing this matter and settling the problems that the descendants of that matriarch had among themselves.]
May I first congratulate the Minister of Māori Affairs, who boldly brought this bill to the House, particularly as it refers to the estate of Pukepuke Tangiora. I am aware that the Minister has a relationship with this particular whānau. I am familiar with them myself, and during my time as Associate Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and also as a member of the Māori Affairs Committee, I met with kuia Bartlett on a number of occasions to talk about “how this injustice could be rectified”, as she put it in her own words. The whānau of Pukepuke Tangiora considered this an injustice because the Crown had intervened in a way that it should not have. Regardless of the reasons, the uri of this particular kuia, who were responsible for the inheritance and her estate, were quite capable at that time—the 1940s—of representing and taking care of the estate to the best of their ability and for the benefit of future beneficiaries. I warmly remember the old kuia, whom I visited at her home in Hawke’s Bay, on the sunny coastline of Ocean Beach. We had a nice conversation and a nice afternoon tea. She was a beautiful old lady, who had a lot to talk about. She shared her life stories with me.
I congratulate the Minister on his bold move. Labour, during its term in Government, tried to alleviate the concerns of the old lady by driving this matter to a similar stage that the Minister has come to today, but unsuccessfully. However, that is of no importance at this stage, because the bill is here now. Future generations of the descendants of Pukepuke Tangiora will make their own decisions, based on their strong concern for the well-being of their future generations. Therefore, I congratulate the Minister.
The Labour Opposition will be supporting the bill. There are some very, very good amendments to the four Acts in question. But I have to say to the Minister that this is an opportunity where, for example, he could have freed up the land management requirements of Te Ture Whenua Maori Act and the Māori Land Court to the point where we could have addressed the issues around Māori land utilisation, rather than retention, because the two collide with each other and some issues need to be discussed around some particular parts of that Act. But I will come to that later.
In terms of the Maori Trust Boards Act, I had a discussion earlier this afternoon with the general manager of one of our local Bay of Plenty trust boards. The same concerns were expressed by that general manager as have been expressed by a number of managers and trustees on trust boards around the country—that the Minister of Māori Affairs had far too much control over the day-to-day business of trust boards. They had wished that a more commercial model had been put in place for them to be guided by, but instead the Crown decided in its wisdom some years back, in 1955, that perhaps Māori were not in the right frame of mind to have total responsibility over their lives, so it introduced an Act that had very, very long paternal apron strings attached to it.
Once again, this is a very, very bold move. But I have to say, as I said earlier, that this is an opportunity lost. Māori unemployment now is at 16 percent and rising. Māori land all around the country is hugely underutilised, and much of the blame for that can be attributed to Te Ture Whenua Maori Act. The Act looks more at land retention, rather than at land utilisation. As I said before, the two collide with each other. This would have been a great opportunity for the Minister of Māori Affairs to have made a thorough examination of those barriers within Te Ture Whenua Maori Act, with a view to freeing up the Act to the degree whereby landowners, land trustees, incorporations, and societies were in a position to make more bold decisions and were able to negotiate with banks and lending institutions a way forward on mortgages and what have you.
The other opportunity lost in this particular case relates to Māori housing. The Minister may be aware that under the former Department of Māori Affairs, many Māori land blocks were developed to accommodate Māori housing in urban and rural areas. That is no longer the case. The provisions within the Maori Land Act were tightened to the point where a consensus of 75 percent must be reached before any major decisions can be made, and that in itself is a very, very difficult barrier to overcome.
This bill was an opportunity. I had some discussions with Te Puni Kōkiri staff a while back, and I put to them the proposal that land could be freed up for Māori housing. I gave the Tauranga - Western Bay of Plenty examples of where land was available but could not be developed properly for housing because of the limitations within Te Tura Whenua Maori Act 1993. Although the current amendments to the Act deal with minor issues in terms of administration, they do absolutely nothing to alleviate the strain on Māori housing.
As the Minister would know, throughout the 1960s, 1970s and part of the 1980s, Māori housing projects also alleviated Māori unemployment and accommodated, to a very high degree, Māori trade training. This was an opportunity for the Minister to revisit that arrangement and to look at a complete package that would include not only Māori land development but also Māori employment, and that would alleviate the strain on Māori housing. As I have said, this was an opportunity lost. But, hopefully, the Minister will consider this very issue in the next 12 months and put in some appropriate policies that may satisfy Māori landowners and do something constructive to alleviate the very high unemployment rate amongst the Māori population. I wait in anticipation.
I will revisit some of the points mentioned earlier on, particularly with regard to Māori trust boards. The Hon Georgina te Heuheu said that this bill is very timely; I say that it is well overdue. In fact, Māori trust boards around the country are looking at reconstructing themselves. They want to repeal the current legislation with the support of the current Minister, with a view toward severing those apron strings so that they can have total responsibility over their daily business activities. The Minister touched on the fact that it is ridiculous that a trust board has to notify the Minister of Māori Affairs before it can undertake major expenditure—well, I would not consider it major expenditure; I cannot remember what the limit is. The Minister may be able to enlighten me on that, but I know that it is not a great deal. If a private company had to operate along the same grounds and was expected to make a sound investment that would benefit its beneficiaries on a wider scale, then this would not be the way to go about it. I look forward to the Minister acknowledging that and introducing more changes in the months to come.
A good example that the Minister might like to refer to is the disestablishment of Te Arawa Māori Trust Board and the repeal of the Te Arawa Māori Trust Board legislation and its replacement with the Te Arawa Lakes Settlement Act, which was driven through this House by the former Minister of Māori Affairs. It essentially freed up the activities of the Te Arawa Lakes Trust to perform its undertakings and responsibilities in a more commercial way. By all accounts, it is doing very well, and projected returns in the future are looking very, very good.
Although I congratulate the Minister on bringing this omnibus bill to the House—it amends a lot of Acts—I still think it is an opportunity lost. But there is still time to recover that ground.
METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) : I will take a short call on the Māori Purposes Bill. The Green Party will be supporting this bill. It has been very special to hear the stories of Pukepuke Tangiora and the issues surrounding why her estate, her land, and her legacy are part of this legislation.
The only issue the Greens have concerns the Maori Fisheries Act, and I was on the select committee that considered that legislation. We just want to make sure that this is a genuine oversight and that there are no unintended consequences, particularly for smaller iwi on whom this change may or may not have a significant impact. They are often the ones who are most forgotten and left out in issues around Māori fisheries. With that, I reiterate that the Green Party will be supporting this bill and we are pleased to do so.
KELVIN DAVIS (Labour) : The Māori Purposes Bill is an omnibus bill that changes how the Pukepuke Tangiora estate is administered, and amends three other Acts, those being the Maori Fisheries Act 2004, the Maori Trust Boards Act 1955, and Te Ture Whenua Maori Act 1993.
The changes to the Pukepuke Tangiora estate have come about as the result of a petition of Hāriata Baker, one of two sisters who are the surviving beneficiaries stipulated in the will of Pukepuke Tangiora, their grandmother. The original will of Pukepuke Tangiora, which came into effect in 1936 upon her death, provided for the estate to be managed for the benefit of her son, his wife, and their nine children. Hāriata Baker and her sister Kerēni are the last two of those nine children.
Parliament has changed the effect of Pukepuke Tangiora’s will through a Maori Purposes Act on six separate occasions between 1943 and 1973. As a result of these Acts, current legislation relating to some aspects of the will of Pukepuke Tangiora differs significantly from that which pertained when the will was written. Hāriata Baker and her sister Kerēni are in their late 70s, and upon their deaths the land will be free to be sold. They sought the reinstatement of the provision that land be held for another 20 years after the death of the last beneficiary, as envisaged by Pukepuke Tangiora but removed by the Maori Purposes Act 1943. However, the bill as written proposes to extend that period instead to just 5 years after the death of the last beneficiary, to provide enough time for beneficiaries of the estate to make decisions on a future governance entity to hold and manage the estate assets. Hāriata fears that upon her death pressure will continue to mount for the land to be sold to clear the way for the coast to be developed, ultimately destroying the unique and valuable character of the area—that area being Ocean Beach, which was described in an editorial in Hawke’s Bay Today as one of the gems of Hawke’s Bay.
The Māori Affairs Committee believes that the Hastings District Council and the trustees have not acted in good faith towards the beneficiaries, which has led to a prolonged and unnecessary court case in order to protect their land. As the Hawke’s Bay Today editorial continued to say: “There are a number of vested interests pulling in different directions at Ocean Beach—Puke Puke Tangiora Estate, Waipuka Incorporation, which cannot agree with each other, or among their own beneficiaries, Tennyson OB which stand to make a lot of cash if the dice rolls in their favour, Haupouri Station Ltd a several-generations old farming business which wants to continue farming, but has gifted land to the council and sold land to potential developers. Then there is the anti-development group Future Ocean Beach,”—and, as well, the council.
Reverting to the original terms of the will would considerably ease the tension over the land. Although it would not bind the land in perpetuity, it might safeguard the land until more enlightened attitudes to coastal development prevail. The bill also proposes amendments to the Pukepuke Tangiora estate so that the Māori Land Court and not the Crown has jurisdiction to hear all matters relating to the administration of the estate.
This bill also makes amendments to the Maori Fisheries Act 2004. An unintended consequence of the Act was that it prevented the transfer of fishery settlement assets of a mandated iwi organisation to another separate entity of the same iwi. Any attempt to transfer those assets would trigger a provision that would require the sale of those assets to the highest bidder. This, in effect, could strip fisheries assets away from an iwi. This bill proposes that iwi are able to transfer certain fisheries settlement assets to other separate entities within governance arrangements of the same iwi, which, in effect, rightfully allows iwi to assert tino rangatiratanga over their own assets.
This bill also amends the Maori Trust Boards Act 1955. At present the Act makes Māori trust boards accountable to the Minister of Māori Affairs. Similar governance entities are not subject to the same conditions of accountability. They are instead accountable to their beneficiaries. This bill proposes that the same practices that apply to those other entities also apply to Māori trust boards. As a result of this bill, Māori trust boards too will become accountable to their beneficiaries. This means that trust boards will be required to hold annual meetings where they will report to their beneficiaries on their activities over the course of a year and present an annual report including a financial statement and a budget. This means that the beneficiaries of trust boards can attend those annual meetings and hold the trust board to account. It is no longer the Minister of Māori Affairs to whom the trust board reports; instead, those annual reports, financial statements, and budget will be sent only to the Minister of Māori Affairs for his information.
Part of the bill relates to the Māori Land Court and extends its powers to reflect those powers of the District Court to award interest on debt or damages. The amendments will ensure that an order of the Māori Land Court filed in the District Court may be enforced as if it has equal status as an order of the District Court, which includes being removed to the High Court for enforcement. The Māori Land Court has been in existence in one form or another since the passing of the Native Lands Act 1862, and the Māori Appellate Court has existed since the 1890s. The Māori Land Court has jurisdiction to hear matters relating to Māori land, including successions, title improvements, Māori land sales, and the administration of Māori land trusts and incorporations. It also has jurisdiction to hear cases under the Maori Fisheries Act 2004, the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004, and a number of other statutes. As at September 2009 there were approximately 1.47 million hectares of Māori land, which comprises less than 5 percent of land in New Zealand. Although the total area of Māori land is small, the court in its administration recognises the special bond that Māori people have with this land. Thus the maintenance and preservation of the court’s record, containing as it does invaluable customary information including whakapapa, or genealogy, remain a fundamental feature of the work of the court.
Labour supports this bill being referred to the select committee. However, with Māori unemployment double that of the general population, this bill does miss an opportunity to make real progress for Māori. The issues burdening our people are unemployment, the cost of living, inadequate housing, and real progress in lifting wages. The cost of fruit and vegetables continues to rise. We heard today that it is getting more expensive to go to the doctor, and with the cuts to early childhood education funding, parents are being expected to dig deeper into their pockets to get their young ones an education in their most formative years. This is happening at a time when Statistics New Zealand’s Income Survey shows that the median Māori income from all sources has gone backwards over the past 2 years by $41 a week, which probably explains why we heard over the weekend that families are being forced to buy cheaper cuts of meat normally used for dog food. When people get to that stage, we know that more drastic measures than what are being amended in this bill are necessary to improve outcomes for Māori. The Labour Party supports this bill being referred to the select committee, but it is a missed opportunity to make a real difference for Māori and to reduce disparity for our people.
HONE HARAWIRA (Māori Party—Te Tai Tokerau) : Tēna koe, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Māori Purposes Bill is certainly very important to the affected parties, but it is essentially technical in nature. I sincerely hope that it attracts the support of the whole House, as it certainly enjoys the support of all of the members of the Māori Party. Thank you very much.
PAUL QUINN (National) : It gives me pleasure to stand to support the Māori Purposes Bill, because this is just another step in the continuing journey of this Government’s contribution to extend the tools for, and the capability of, Māori development. It is in the spirit of the extraordinary work that this Government is doing to advance Māori causes across the disciplines of economics and commerce, and in educational growth. I look forward to deliberating on this bill and hearing contributions during the course of the select committee’s consideration of it. Thank you.
Hon SHANE JONES (Labour) : Tēnā koe, Mr Deputy Speaker. Ngā mihi nunui ki a tātou i tēnei pō. As I give this short but very important speech, I would like to acknowledge the presence of very notable identities from Kaitāia in the gallery this evening. Amongst other things the Māori Purposes Bill—and this has been conveniently overlooked and ignored by Hone Harawira’s and Paul Quinn’s contributions, the content of which was inversely related to the size of the problems confronting Māoridom—isolates outstanding challenges in relation to the implementation of the Māori fisheries settlement, which a number of us realised—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member, but the time has come for me to leave the Chair.
- Debate interrupted.
- Sitting suspended from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. (Wednesday)