Draft transcript - Thursday, 21 November 2013
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I recognise the Hon Trevor Mallard.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South): Well, Mr Assistant Speaker, I have been away for some time, but I am not sure that that should stop you recognising me. I do want to react to the member opposite, the Hon Chester Borrows: I think that an attack on Gerry Brownlee is hardly showing divisions opposite. We know that they do not like Gerry Brownlee, but when we agree with them they should not say that that indicates a lack of unity on the part of the Labour Party. That is pretty obvious. But there has been one thing that has been made absolutely obvious by the contribution of the Minister in charge of this legislation and that is that Tim Groser is staying in the country for the Christmas holidays. Tim Groser is staying in the country for the Christmas holidays, because we have the minibar amendment, which makes it legal to take alcohol out of the minibars between 4 and 8 in the morning. If anyone has a particular interest in that area—
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is going very well, but I think that sort of comment is likely to lead to disruption. That is a slur on a member’s character and I take offence.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It is a matter of fact—Mr Groser’s minibar habit. It is a matter that is recorded and reported to the New Zealand public every 3 months. It is outrageous and referring to it should not be stopped.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Can I just say that it is usually up to an individual member to take objection. In this case it would be Mr Groser.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As I say, it is going well. That sort of personal attack on a member who cannot be here to defend himself I think is unwarranted and will lead to disruption. If Mr Mallard wishes to go and impugn Mr Groser’s character outside the House, I would wish him to do that. But the last time he did that he came off pretty poorly.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you, Mr Coleman. It is not actually leading to disorder at the present stage.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I in some ways want to agree with the point that my colleague opposite just made. I think for you to rule that an absent member should take a point of order is something that is slightly bizarre. I disagree on the facts as to whether what I said was out of order or not and I think you ruled appropriately there. But your subsequent ruling that it was up to someone who was not here to take a point of order, I think, is somewhat unusual.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Can I just say to members that all members are honourable and that is it. We refer to each other as honourable despite what we may think is otherwise and we call a member what we would want for them and all of us to become. I caution the House. We tend to see the world as we are, not as it is. I just ask members to be conscious of that, because courtesy is contagious.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I am going to go right back to where I started in reaction to members opposite and the indication from the Minister in charge of the bill that the urgent part of this was a Supplementary Order Paper to do with the Sale of Liquor Act, the main import of which is that people do not have to go to people’s hotel rooms at 4 in the morning to lock the minbars in order to stop people serving them.
[Continuation: The point that I did make]
The point that I did make is that there is on the record—published by John Key as Minister responsible for Ministerial Services—one person who uses minibars, I think, about as much as every other Minister combined. That is Tim Groser.
Hon Chester Borrows: And a member of the Opposition.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Well, that is exactly right. He has—more than all Ministers and members of the Opposition combined. I agree with Chester Borrows on that. That is almost certainly the case. We are passing a clause, which tends to indicate by its urgency that it is a matter of the Christmas holidays for the Minister concerned. Other than that, there does not appear to be any urgency around the legislation. In actual fact, that matter, I am pretty sure, could have been delta with in a stand-alone bill, that could have gone through all of its stages relatively quickly anyway. It did not really need to be part of a Statutes Amendment Bill. I think, when there is unanimity around a matter like that, that it might have, in fact, been more transparent to do it by that method. There have been a few areas that have come into this bill. There have been a couple of areas that have been knocked out of the bill. There has been an area that has been transferred to the Unit Titles Amendment Bill. But overall this is a relatively simple bill and one which deserves support.
[Continuation line: Ruth Dyson]
Hon RUTH DYSON (Labour—Port Hills): I just want to make three points in my contribution to the third reading of the 35 bills arising from the Statutes Amendment Bill. The first is that Labour supports this legislation, and I want to just acknowledge the process that the Associate Minister of Justice, Chester Borrows, undertook when getting agreement and understanding from all parties, which is proper and appropriate. I also want to say that the Government Administration Committee took these issues—it is a large number of Acts that are amended, 33 Acts—very seriously, including requiring one clause of the original Statutes Amendment Bill to be removed. We did not consider it was appropriate as part of a Statutes Amendment Bill. So we did not just rubber stamp it. We looked at it really carefully, and I think that is a good thing to do. The first point is that Labour supports the legislation and we are pleased, in the main, with the process that it went through. I do not agree with the Minister’s contribution and what I thought was a half-hearted attempt to defend the incompetence of Minister Gerry Brownlee, Leader of the House. I suppose he had to, really. He would not have had much choice, given the future career prospects if you just blatantly stay silent while the incompetence of the Leader of the House is exposed to everyone. But saying that this legislation needs to be put through under urgency because of the sale of liquor amendments is just nonsense. We have had them for weeks and weeks and weeks. They are not last minute amendments. They have been well canvassed. We have had many, many sitting days under ordinary time of Parliament when this could have been progressed. As my colleague the Hon Trevor Mallard pointed out, on Thursday mornings we have set times where we have extended sitting hours for bills that are agreed by Parliament, and this would have been an opportunity to progress that. So a feeble effort from Minister Chester Borrows. I understand why he tried to do it, but it did not cut the mustard in terms of justifying the incompetence of Minister Gerry Brownlee and his House management. The final point I want to make is that there is a real risk when putting through bills under urgency that something will be wrong and it will be required to be corrected in future. With the Statutes Amendment Bill, that is pretty ironic given that this is fixing errors of the past. It does not matter who made them—they were just made for a variety of reasons—but we should not risk making another mistake and in regard to Part 25 of the Statutes Amendment Bill, to see it approved by the select committee, but then to have an amendment by the Minster in Supplementary Order Paper 329 to delete that part and then for the Government to vote against its own Supplementary Order Paper is very confusing. So I think that once again we see the risks of putting stuff through under urgency without proper consideration. It is a risk that I do not think we should take, and it is certainly, with something that is totally agreed by Parliament, a risk we do not need to take. Thank you.
Bills read a third time.
[Continuation line: Unit Titles Amendment Bill – Hon Trevor Mallard]
Hon CHESTER BORROWS (Associate Minister of Justice): I move, That the Accident Compensation Amendment Bill (No 2), the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill (No 2), the Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Amendment Bill, the Armed Forces Discipline Amendment Bill, the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Amendment Bill (No 2), the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Amendment Bill (No 2), the Companies Amendment Bill (No 3), the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill, the Disputes Tribunals Amendment Bill, District Courts Amendment Bill, Electoral Amendment Bill, Extradition Amendment Bill, Flags, Emblems, and Names Protection Amendment Bill, Gambling Amendment Bill, Health Amendment Bill, Health and Disability Commissioner Amendment Bill, Insolvency Amendment Bill, Legislation Amendment Bill, Local Electoral Amendment Bill (No 3), Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3), Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Amendment Bill, Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months' Paid Leave) Amendment Bill, Passports Amendment Bill, Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Amendment Bill, Real Estate Agents Amendment Bill (No 2), Road User Charges Amendment Bill (No 2), Sale and Supply of Alcohol Amendment Bill, Social Welfare (Transitional Provisions) Amendment Bill, State Sector Amendment Bill (No 2), Statistics Amendment Bill (No 2), Tariff Amendment Bill, Telecommunications Amendment Bill, Unsolicited Electronic Messages Amendment Bill, Wills Amendment Bill (No 2), and the Wine Amendment Bill (No 2) be now read a third time. As the House is well aware, Statutes Amendment bills have been a feature of the New Zealand Parliament system for a very long time. The oldest Statute Amendment Act dates back to ’36—1936 that is. The bills divided from the Statutes Amendment Bill today propose a number of valuable changes to the statute book that would not ordinarily receive the House’s time. Although minor, technical, and non-controversial by nature, Statutes Amendment bills are an important component of the Government’s annual legislation programme and have been in successive Governments and allow us to keep the law up to date, accurate, and user friendly. The legislation contains 169 clauses and amends 33 different Acts. There has been the introduction of a couple of Supplementary Order Papers during the stages and it is important to note what they are. A question was asked in the previous Committee stage about the reason for urgency. The obvious reason, which has been made known to the Opposition for some time, is changes to the sale and supply of alcohol, particularly in respect of minibars in hotels being not bound by on-licence trading. For caterers there is a similar thing so that caterers at certain weddings that some of us may attend over the Christmas break will not be forced to stop serving alcohol at certain times, constrained by the legislation. There are also wine cellars—that is “cellars” with a “c”—and knowing how important our wine industry is to our country, I am sure Opposition members are only too pleased to support it, or so they indicated earlier on.
Hon Ruth Dyson: So urgency for wine?
Hon CHESTER BORROWS: Knowing the discussions I have had with the Hon Ruth Dyson around other matters contained in the alcohol legislation, I know that she is very supportive of this. Politics is not without its theatre and its game-staging. It is good to see Mr Mallard back after his little sojourn and it is interesting to see that he is ably ruffling the feathers and dividing the fissures within the Labour opposite. This bill proposes a number of valuable changes to the Statute book that are minor, technical, non-controversial—as much as I have tried to make this speech a little bit controversial, I commend the legislation to the House.
[Continuation line: Ross Robertson]