Questions to Ministers
Te Puni Kōkiri—Role in Policy Development
Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the
Minister of Māori Affairs: What role is Te Puni Kōkiri playing in developing policy under this Government?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs)
: Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Te Puni Kōkiri plays an instrumental role across the whole spectrum of policy. It does so by looking at the benefits for iwi, hapū, and Māori whānui.
Hon Annette King: Given that the principal duties of Te Puni Kōkiri are to promote increases in Māori achievement across key social and economic areas, and to be leading and influencing Government policy as it pertains to Māori, what inputs has Te Puni Kōkiri had in the development of the Whānau Ora policy?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: Obviously, in Whānau Ora it has to have a large involvement. A Māori kaupapa philosophy is being developed here, and Te Puni Kōkiri is the best department, perhaps, to put major input into it.
Hon Annette King: As the Minister of Māori Affairs was part of the Cabinet committee discussing Whānau Ora, was it clear at the outset that Whānau Ora was to be a programme designed to develop a new approach to Māori well-being; if so, when was
it decided that such an approach was race-based, not needs-based, and would therefore have to be extended to all New Zealanders, as the Prime Minister has announced?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: Unfortunately, we had to make that clear when Labour raised that issue. It is like all Māori policies. We are an inclusive people. Our policies are for Māori but everybody else as well, so they are there.
Hon Annette King: Which of the Prime Minister’s statements about Whānau Ora is Te Puni Kōkiri using when providing him with advice: the Prime Minister’s 16 February statement that Whānau Ora will be for all New Zealanders and that it must be based on need, not race, or his 19 February statement that it is designed around a Māori kaupapa and is largely for Māori?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: The Whānau Ora programme is based on culture and on need. That is the way it is. Many programmes delivered by organisations such as Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust are actually for Māori, but they have a 41 percent Pākehā usage—
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: We know what that’s about.
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: What was that, Clayton? Speak up loudly, bro.
Mr SPEAKER: Questions will be conducted formally.
Hon Annette King: Does he as the Minister of Māori Affairs agree with Tariana Turia, who said the Whānau Ora Taskforce report contains “Māori solutions to Māori problems”, and does he stand by his statement that a more “courageous” Government would allow Māori-only access to Whānau Ora funding; if not, why not?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: I always agree with Tariana Turia.
Hon Annette King: In light of reports that the Minister for Social Development and Employment has not ruled out Te Puni Kōkiri being the agency for the implementation of Whānau Ora, does he believe his ministry has the capability, capacity, and experience to undertake such a role, given that his colleague Tariana Turia has said up to a billion dollars should be available to be spent?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: I am not sure what you mean by your question. Are you saying that because it deals with Māori ideology it is inferior? Let me assure you that that is the connotation that comes across. The answer is that it is a fitting department to lead Whānau Ora.
Hon Annette King: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question did not have that conclusion, at all.
Hon Tariana Turia: Yes.
Hon Annette King: No, it did not, I say to Tariana Turia. This question was about the fact that it has not been ruled out as the lead agency, and asked whether it has the capability and capacity. That is a straight question, to which the Minister could have said yes.
Hon Member: Point of order!
Mr SPEAKER: No, I do not think we need to take this matter any further. I first come back to the Minister. When answering questions, the Minister must not say “You are implying this” or “You are implying that”, because I can assure the honourable Minister that the Speaker is not implying anything. To come now to the point of order of the Hon Annette King, I think in the final part of the Minister’s answer he said he believed that Te Puni Kōkiri was capable of, and the appropriate agency to be, leading the development, and therefore I think he answered the member’s question.
Schools—Teacher Training in Treaty of Waitangi Curriculum
TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) to the
Minister of Education: He aha tā te minita mahi kia āta mōhio pai ai a ia kei ngā kaiako ngā pūkenga me te mātauranga kia mārama ai rātou ki te ako i te Tiriti ki te taumata teitei o
te tirohanga whānui, koronga, mātāpono, me ngā uarā hoki kua whakapuakina i roto i te marautanga o Aotearoa?
[What is the Minister doing to ensure teachers have the skills and knowledge to deliver an understanding of the Treaty to a high standard as expressed in the overview, purpose, principles and values of the New Zealand curriculum?]
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister of Education)
: All materials and professional development programmes designed to support the New Zealand curriculum guide schools to use Treaty principles to develop and implement their curriculum. Specific professional development programmes, such as Te Kōtahitanga and He Kākano, also encourage schools to develop an iwi focus.
Te Ururoa Flavell: He aha ngā kōrero a ngā kaiako e pā ana ki te whakapūmautanga o te Tiriti o Waitangi hei “pou ara mō ngā whakataunga marautanga”?
[What has been the teacher feedback to the initiative that introduces the Treaty of Waitangi as one of the “foundations of curriculum decision making”? ]
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Schools’ feedback on the draft curriculum, I understand, was that the Treaty needed to be more clearly represented in the document. That advice was taken into account in the development of the final document, and I understand that recent research indicates that all the principles are being used in school curriculum development.
Te Ururoa Flavell: E hia kē nei te rahi o te pūtea tautoko kua tukuna ki te whakatinana i te āhuatanga hōu i roto i te marautanga mō te akoranga o te reo Māori me ōna tikanga?
[What provision has been allocated to support the commitment in the new curriculum that all students will have the opportunity to acquire knowledge of Māori language and customs?]
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Ka Hikitia—Managing for Success, the Māori education strategy, contains six strategic goals to strengthen Māori language provision. Those goals provide a framework for further development of Māori language policy. The Government is committed to working with the Māori Party to improve opportunities for all students to learn te reo.
Health Services—Minister’s Statements
Hon RUTH DYSON (Labour—Port Hills) to the
Minister of Health: Does he stand by all his statements regarding health services?
Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health)
: Yes, including my statement that despite doubling the health budget, the Labour Government actually got less in the health service.
Hon Ruth Dyson: When he says that resources are going to the front line, does he mean the community of Tangimoana, where the nursing clinic hours have been cut from 20 to 8, and the days when patients can visit have been slashed from 6 to 2?
Hon TONY RYALL: There is more good news from the National Government. I am advised that the nursing service that people from the rural township of Tangimoana have been receiving resumes on Monday. This service is being provided by the local primary health organisation. In the meantime, people who need regular nursing attention are getting it from a nurse visiting from the Manawatū primary health organisation.
Hon Ruth Dyson: When he says that resources are getting to the front line, does he mean Nelson, where nurses fear cut-backs are putting their patients’ lives at risk; where nursing vacancies are not being filled, in order to save money; and where nurses are so pushed for time they are not even able to file serious incident reports?
Hon TONY RYALL: Regarding nursing issues in Nelson-Marlborough, I have been advised by the chair of the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board that 20 more nursing personnel are employed at Nelson Hospital than were when the Government changed. There are also 23 more medical personnel than when the Government changed. We have inherited a worsening financial situation at the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board, and that creates uncertainty for staff and the community. Last year we increased the budget by $13.5 million.
Dr Jackie Blue: Why are district health boards reviewing the way they deliver some of their services?
Hon TONY RYALL: As the members opposite know, we inherited a very difficult situation, with district health boards heading down the track to financial ruin. They did not have the resources, the staffing, or the approach needed to benefit services. Despite doubling the health budget over a 9-year period, the previous Labour Government managed to deliver fewer key services.
Hon Ruth Dyson: How many consultants will the National Health Board and the Ministry of Health have to hire this year during the influenza season, given that last year just days after the Ministry’s communications staff member was made redundant two consultants were hired to cover his communications for the swine flu epidemic?
Hon TONY RYALL: I can tell the member that spending on consultants in the Ministry of Health is down from what it was under that party opposite when it was in Government.
Hon Ruth Dyson: Does he agree with Eric Roy, described by Grey Power as unaware of the hardship being caused in Invercargill, who said in a Southland paper that if home support for older people was not cut, then core hospital services would be cut; if so, what cuts will be needed in Southland in the coming 12 months when the health sector’s budget increase is halved?
Hon TONY RYALL: There is no doubt that the southern district health boards received about $28 million extra last year. I assure the member opposite that they will be receiving a record budget this financial year.
Jacinda Ardern: Does he agree with a recent report on youth health commissioned by the Ministry of Health, which found general providers “were not being accessed by youth” but in contrast “Youth One Stop Shops” successfully provide a range of specialised, integrated health and social care services for the youth of New Zealand, and many are at capacity; if so, why is he allowing services in Christchurch and Invercargill to face closure on his watch?
Hon Bill English: You’re much better than Ruth.
Hon TONY RYALL: Yes, quite right. In respect of the 198 Youth Health Centre contracted by the Canterbury District Health Board, I have personally been in touch with the chairman, Mr Alister James, who is taking a personal interest in this cause. Mr James advises me that the district health board still has $410,000 earmarked to assist this service, and discussions are ongoing.
Hon Ruth Dyson: Does he stand by his statement: “there do have to be some changes made to services, because we have to make sure that the funding goes to the places where the public gets the best possible outcome of health spending.”, and does he think that cutting nurse positions, hours, and clinic times will give the best possible outcome for patients?
Hon TONY RYALL: The latest available information from the Ministry of Health suggests that we now have 1,100 additional nursing personnel since I became the Minister of Health. Nurses around New Zealand have more time to meet with patients and there are more nursing personnel.
Hon Ruth Dyson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Before I call the honourable member, I must say that if the point of order relates to the answer the Minister was giving, I will struggle to assist her. I could not hear, because of the unnecessary interjections—which had nothing to do with what the Minister was saying—coming across the front of the House. I ask members on the front benches to desist.
Hon Ruth Dyson: I heard the Minister’s answer; my point of order relates to it. You did not miss much, frankly, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: The member must do not that.
Hon Ruth Dyson: My point of order is to ask the Minister whether he was quoting from an official document when he referred to the 1,100 extra nursing positions; if so, I ask that he table that document.
Mr SPEAKER: Was the Minister quoting from an official document?
Hon TONY RYALL: It is not an official document in the sense that it is prepared by the Ministry of Health. It is essentially a schedule that has been taken off the Ministry of Health website.
Mr SPEAKER: Let me—[Interruption] A point of order is being considered and this is a slightly different situation. If it had been notes prepared for the Minister’s answer in the House, it would not be considered an official document, but if it is a schedule unaltered taken from the website, I imagine it would be an official document.
Hon TONY RYALL: It was prepared for my answer.
Mr SPEAKER: It has been prepared for the Minister’s answer. [Interruption] I am considering a point of order and I expect the House to be in silence. I have to take the Minister’s word. If the Minister advises the House that the material he is quoting from is material prepared for his answer, then the tradition of the House is that it is not considered to be an official document.
Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am somewhat confused, because I thought that the Minister—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: A point of order is being heard.
Hon David Parker: I thought the Minister said that it was a schedule printed off from the Ministry of Health website, in which case it is an official document.
Mr SPEAKER: At the end of the day I have to take the Minister’s word. He has told the House—he has told me as Speaker—that the material was prepared for his answer. It is, therefore, not an official document.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker—
Hon Paula Bennett: Grab it out!
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon Trevor Mallard: That squawk was Paula Bennett, just to be clear.
Mr SPEAKER: That is all right. I have called the member. He will make his point of order and not—[Interruption]—and there will be silence.
Hon Trevor Mallard: My request to you is that you review on the
Hansard tape what was said by the Minister on the two interventions that he made on that question to ensure that you were not misled by him, as he changed his mind.
Mr SPEAKER: I think that if members reflect on what has happened, they will see that this matter could be taken to a ridiculous extreme. Most material used in preparation for an answer has probably come electronically from some document or other. If a sentence or a small table is taken from a document to prepare information for a Minister’s answer, it does not constitute a document. The Minister has advised the House that this material was taken from a website to prepare for him to answer a question, and that is where the Speaker must accept his word. If the Speaker is to treat it in any other way, then the Speaker is not accepting the word of a member. I accept the word of all members, and that is the end of the matter.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker—
Mr SPEAKER: And I point out that it is the end of the matter.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I am not challenging your ruling—
Mr SPEAKER: I should hope not.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I am not; I am simply asking. I think that Trevor Mallard has made a reasonable request, in that the circumstances of this matter were that the Minister—
Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat immediately. I am not sure what the member thinks he is doing, if not challenging my ruling. That is the end of the matter.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Another fair and balanced ruling!
Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Clayton Cosgrove will leave the House.
- Hon Clayton Cosgrove withdrew from the Chamber.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not treat these matters lightly. I find it totally unacceptable for my fairness in this House to be challenged in that way, as I think anyone watching Parliament would consider that I treat both sides of the House fairly. That is why Mr Cosgrove has left for the rest of this sitting day.
PESETA SAM LOTU-IIGA (National—Maungakiekie) to the
Minister of Finance: What steps is the Government taking to help improve New Zealand’s productivity?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance)
: Along with the Minister for Regulatory Reform, Rodney Hide, we announced today that a new Productivity Commission will be set up early next year to help boost New Zealand’s economic performance across the public and private sectors. It is one more step in the Government’s programme to lift productivity and increase incomes for New Zealand families.
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: What roles and functions will the new Productivity Commission have?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The commission has been closely modelled on the successful Australian Productivity Commission, which has been operating for more than 10 years. It will provide advice on ways to improve productivity in areas identified by the Government. The strong independence of the Australian commission has been important to its success and we envisage that the New Zealand commission will operate in the same way. We also envisage that the Australian commission and the New Zealand commission will cooperate in the way that the respective Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand indicated last year.
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: How will the new Productivity Commission be funded and staffed?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The commission has been funded through reprioritising funding from the existing budgets of 29 Government agencies. No extra money will be called upon to fund the commission, and it is expected that up to half of its staff will be seconded from other Government agencies.
Hon David Cunliffe: Does he agree that one of the key drivers of productivity is investing in skills; if so, why did his Government shelve the New Zealand Skills Strategy, cut adult and community education funding, cut research and development tax credits, and cut $98 million from scholarships?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Despite the recession, the Government is spending record amounts of money on skills and training. We ditched that strategy because it was like all
the other strategies that the previous Labour Government produced, in that it was long, vacuous, and did not help anyone make any decisions.
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: Why is it necessary to increase New Zealand’s productivity?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: On Tuesday Statistics New Zealand released the latest figures for productivity growth, part of a series that goes back to 1978. They show that although productivity was modest during the 1980s at 0.7 percent per annum, productivity grew by around 2 percent in the 1990s. Incredibly, since then overall productivity in the last 9 years has been negative, and that is because of a mismanaged economy.
Hon David Cunliffe: I seek leave to table a guide to Australia’s Productivity Commission that reflects its broad mandate, including investing in skills.
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.
Hon David Cunliffe: I seek leave to table a document from Australia’s Productivity Commission that sets out the full range of determinants of productivity, none of which appear in the Minister’s press release—
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.
Hon CHRIS CARTER (Labour—Te Atatū) to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Does the Government support the reintroduction of any commercial whaling?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY (Minister of Foreign Affairs)
Hon Chris Carter: When the Prime Minister said on 13 January that he had an initiative to end Japanese whaling, was the proposal to legalise commercial whaling the solution that he was talking about; if not, what was the Prime Minister’s mysterious initiative?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: The Prime Minister would have been referring to the New Zealand Government’s policy in relation to whaling. That policy, and the brief that I have given to our representatives at the International Whaling Commission, headed by former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, is to seek the elimination of whaling in the Southern Ocean as quickly as possible. Our participation in the diplomatic process is an attempt to find a significant step in that direction. Can I remind the member that the diplomatic process commenced in mid-2007 when that member was the Minister responsible. At the time, he claimed that that process was a good means to achieve the elimination of whaling. In 2008 his successor as Minister of Conservation, Steve Chadwick, described the process as “a great step forward” for the International Whaling Commission.
Hon Chris Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked whether the current proposal was the Prime Minister’s initiative that was announced—but no details were given—on 13 January.
Mr SPEAKER: As I heard it, the Minister’s answer described what the Government’s initiative is, and that seems to me to be a reasonable answer to the question. The member does have further supplementary questions to pursue the matter further.
Hon Chris Carter: Did the Prime Minister actually announce a new initiative on 13 January, as quoted in the media, or is it simply a continuation of existing policies?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: I do not have the reference in front of me at the moment, but my very clear recollection is that the Prime Minister was referring to the New Zealand Government’s policy, which is to actively participate in the diplomatic process of the International Whaling Commission to seek the elimination of whaling in the Southern Ocean. That policy was pursued by the previous Government also, when that member was the Minister. It was spearheaded by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, a former Prime Minister under a Labour Government.
Hon Chris Carter: Was the proposal that the Prime Minister raised on 13 January as a bold new initiative—which he was going to share with Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, who was due to arrive the following day—the same policy that the previous Government was pursuing, or was it a return to limited commercial whaling?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: As that member would know better than most, the International Whaling Commission process involves a so-called support group of the small working-group having informal discussions to try to find the best way forward. That involves discussions with a range of our partners, including the United States, whose approach to these matters is very similar to New Zealand’s. The policy that the Prime Minister and this Government are pursuing is one of using that diplomatic process to try to achieve an elimination of whaling in the Southern Ocean at the earliest possible time.
Hon Chris Carter: Does the Minister agree with John Key, who was quoted in the
Kaikoura Star yesterday as saying that commercial whaling “might be acceptable if it was acceptable to others.”, and can the Minister confirm that both Britain and Australia have expressed opposition to this proposal to offer a limited return to commercial whaling but Japan has welcomed it?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: I can confirm that Sir Geoffrey Palmer is one of those exploring a range of solutions in the International Whaling Commission process at the present time. The Government of New Zealand has not given Sir Geoffrey any mandate to accept anything other than the previous policies adopted by the Government of which that member was a Minister.
Hon Chris Carter: I seek leave to table a list of the names of 3,188 people, who in the last 6 days have expressed their opposition to the restart of commercial whaling by New Zealand.
Mr SPEAKER: I take it that this is a list the member has compiled himself—just so that members know the source of the document.
Hon Chris Carter: It is an online petition. It has been signed by 3,188 people in just 6 days.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think it is worth pointing out that there is a proper process for presenting petitions to Parliament, and the member would be well advised to follow it.
Mr SPEAKER: Speaking to the—
Hon Chris Carter: I will do that on Tuesday.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I guess the member has made his point.
Kupe Gas Project—Benefits
JONATHAN YOUNG (National—New Plymouth) to the
Minister of Energy and Resources: What are the benefits to New Zealand from the Kupe gas project?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Energy and Resources)
: The $1.3 billion Kupe gas project was opened by the Prime Minister this morning. It is now fully operational and is one of New Zealand’s most important new infrastructure
developments. Over its lifetime it is expected to supply 254 petajoules of natural gas, about 1.1 million tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and almost 15 million barrels of light crude oil. At its peak it is expected that Kupe will produce 10 to 15 percent of New Zealand’s current annual gas demand, and 50 percent of our current annual LPG demand.
Jonathan Young: What economic benefits have already accrued from the development of the Kupe project?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: There has been a big benefit, particularly in Taranaki, where job creation has been significant. At the height of construction approximately 1,000 people worked on the production station site, and more than 6,000 hours of labour were expended while maintaining a very strong safety record on that site. There has also been a big benefit from the use of New Zealand operators in the supply chain. The project awarded New Zealand companies nearly three-quarters of the overall project expenditure, with about $600 million coming to New Zealand companies. Finally, the Crown is expected to receive around $300 million in royalties over the life of the field.
Charles Chauvel: In light of the Electricity Commission’s warnings about a looming energy supply crisis, is he concerned that, despite having a contractor take all the gas that Kupe field can produce, Genesis Energy recently told the Commerce Committee that after 2016—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why does the member hate children?
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Point of order, Brendon Burns.
Grant Robertson: Grant Robertson.
Mr SPEAKER: Grant Robertson—I beg your pardon.
Grant Robertson: I am considerably younger, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I apologise to the member.
Grant Robertson: I regret to interrupt my colleague, Mr Speaker, but while he was asking that question there was an intervention from across the House asking: “Why do you hate children?”. I object to that statement being made in this House.
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: He wasn’t talking to you.
Mr SPEAKER: A point of order is being heard, and it is a fair point of order. An interjection was made that a member has taken objection to. I did not hear the interjection—I have to be honest about that—so all I can do is to ask whoever made it to please treat the House with a little more respect than that and not make that kind of interjection. It can cause offence.
Charles Chauvel: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Perhaps I could begin the question again.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, Charles Chauvel may recommence the question.
Hon Rodney Hide: Answer the question.
Charles Chauvel: To the Minister—
Hon David Cunliffe: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You may have missed Mr Hide asking the member sitting behind me to answer the question—the question no doubt referring to the previous comment that you ruled out of order. That means that that member is certainly out of order, and I ask that you remind him.
Mr SPEAKER: Again, I did not hear that, I am sorry, because I was focused on the request from Charles Chauvel to recommence his question. Because I did not hear it, there is not a lot I can do. But I ask members to please show the House more respect. I have called Charles Chauvel to start his supplementary—
Hon Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that the House is getting all too precious, because it certainly cannot be out of order for some member—and I did not hear the interjection—to call out “Why do you hate children?”—
Mr SPEAKER: I ask the member to resume his seat. I ask him how that is helping the good order of the House. Offence, rightly or wrongly, was taken, and for understandable reasons. Members do not like the innuendo that they hate children, and I do not blame members for that. I did not ask anyone to withdraw and apologise for it; I simply ask members to show a little more courtesy. That should be the end of the matter.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think I will regret challenging you, but I am now. We have had a member tossed from the House for challenging your authority. You had previously ruled on this matter. You had a member who then got up and repeated a comment that he had been told was offensive to members opposite, and he appears to have got away without even a requirement to withdraw and apologise for doing that. In my opinion, it was a much more open and blatant attack on your authority than the one earlier.
Mr SPEAKER: Members are testing my patience now. The reason why the Hon Clayton Cosgrove was asked to leave the Chamber was because he questioned my fairness; he actually said in an interjection: “Another fair decision”—very sarcastically—“by the Speaker.” That is intolerable; the Speaker cannot allow that kind of thing to go unchecked in the House. I did not hear that it was the Hon Rodney Hide who had made the original interjection. I did not know from the point of order raised that it was that member. But I ask members to just be more respectful of this House. It is this House that matters. I ask members to be slightly more respectful. Interjections at times can be very appropriate and very clever, but some are very unhelpful.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sorry about pushing this, but the point I was referring to was not the original interjection, or the repeating of it by Dr Nick Smith, it was the fact that by way of point of order—
Mr SPEAKER: The Speaker has dealt with the matter and that is the end of the matter.
Charles Chauvel: In light of the Electricity Commission’s warnings about a looming energy supply crisis, is the Minister concerned at all, despite having a contract to take all the gas that the Kupe field can produce, that Genesis Energy recently told the Commerce Committee that after 2016 it does not have enough gas to run its existing gas-fired power stations?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: No, and I make two comments. First, I think the Electricity Commission overstated its concerns about security of supply. We have made a huge effort to change the circumstances in which electricity is governed and produced and the way in which the companies operate, in order to focus more clearly on security of supply. Secondly, I would point out that the previous Government introduced a thermal ban on electricity, which saw a long period of no significant new gas discovery, and we are suffering from that as far as projections are concerned. I am quite confident, now that we have a Government that actually has its head out of the sand and recognises that gas will be a significant contributor to the energy picture in the years ahead, that more discoveries will be made.
Education, National Standards—Effect of Literacy Strategy
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) to the
Minister of Education: By how much did students’ reading and writing improve according to the 2008 evaluation of the literacy strategy, outlined at the top of page 18 in the November 2008 briefing to the incoming Minister of Education?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister of Education)
: I am advised that the briefing to the incoming Minister was referring to an evaluation of the Literacy Professional Development Project, which began in March 2004. The briefing states: “After taking
into account expected growth and maturation, students’ gains in reading and writing were twice those that could be expected without the intervention.” But right throughout the briefing the point is consistently made that the system continues to underperform for a significant minority of students.
Hon Trevor Mallard: What did the dot point under the one the Minister has directly quoted say?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: It states: “Schools accelerated the rate of progress for the majority of the at-risk students by four times the expected rate.” Underneath that, the briefing goes on to state: “Challenges remain. Success for all students requires that every student acquire strong learning foundations in the early years, and remain engaged in learning as they progress through schooling. This is not yet occurring for all students.” This Government knows that one in five students in the system are failing.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister was asked a very, very simple question. I allowed her to go on for some period of time after she had answered it, but she has gone a little too far.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. When a question is as specific as Mr Mallard’s was—it asked the Minister to tell us what is in the first dot point under some other lines and other such—and the Minister then chooses to read out the passage, surely that is complying totally with it. For her to be required to read out only the bit that suits the member asking the question is inappropriate.
Mr SPEAKER: Members asking questions chose their questions. The Minister answering does not choose the question. The member asked a very simple question, and the Minister’s answer went beyond what the member had asked. If the member, who is an experienced member—he is the Leader of the House—checks the Standing Orders, he will find that material beyond that necessary to answer the question should not be included. The Minister answered the question and then went on. I had no objection to her going on for a while, but once she started talking about what her Government was doing, she was well beyond what the question had asked.
I call the Hon Nick Smith for a point of order, and I urge him to read the Standing Orders before he challenges the Speaker.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point is that when a member has asked for a very specific item to be read out, it is the duty of the Minister to ensure that the public is given the proper context. We can all take half-quotes out of reports and create a particular impression. I think it is perfectly proper for a Minister to ensure that the full context of such quotes is—
Mr SPEAKER: I have heard sufficient from the honourable member. Answers are meant to be succinct and relate to the question asked. I allowed the Minister to go on in order to provide context, but once she started to talk about the wonderful things her Government was doing, she was going beyond the question asked. I have to be fair, when Ministers go on for too long in answering, including material beyond that which was asked for. It is the members who are asking questions who have the right to determine what is asked. Ministers do not have the right to say: “Well, I wish they’d asked that.” and give an answer in accordance with that. That is not the way it works.
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sorry, Mr Speaker, but, in fact, I did not talk about the wonderful things that this Government is doing. If I had done that, I would have referred to the national standards. What I talked about was the one in five—
Mr SPEAKER: I tell the Minister that it would be wise for her to sit down. I will not be trifled with in this way.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. A few moments ago while Gerry Brownlee was speaking, you called him to order and he continued to speak. That was—
Mr SPEAKER: The Speaker is the sole judge of these matters, and I do not take that kindly.
Hon Trevor Mallard: When will most students who were in year 1 in 2004, when this programme was introduced, sit National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) level 2?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: When they are ready.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I tell members of the Government benches that one of them will be leaving the House also, if there is not a little more respect and discipline. The Hon Trevor Mallard, on a point of order.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I will come back to it.
Colin King: Did the briefing to the incoming Minister of Education endorse the Government’s moves to ensure that parents receive information on their child’s progress, in plain language?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: The briefing stated: “Clear reporting of assessment information also promotes transparency within the education system and assists parents to monitor their children’s progress.” The Ministry of Education was recognising, as this Government has recognised, that parents need plain language reports on how their children are progressing and what parents can do to help.
Hon Trevor Mallard: In which year will most students who were in year 1 in 2004 sit NCEA level 2?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Most students are at NCEA level 2 in either year 11 or year 12.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Will those students who will be sitting level 2 in 2015 have the advantage of the professional development that was introduced in 2004 for their entire school career; and why did the Minister not accelerate that professional development to ensure that all kids could have it, rather than take the standards approach?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I am advised that the costs of the Literary Professional Development Project were extremely high, and the required experience is not available on a national scale. In fact, the costs of that project were so high that even in the best of times that the previous Government enjoyed, it did not roll the project out right across the sector. It could not do it, even with all the money it had. The ministry is currently looking at the evidence from that project, and that will inform us as we roll out support for our national standards.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I seek leave to table a document that shows that by 2008, 44 percent of primary and intermediate student teachers had had that training.
Mr SPEAKER: What is the source of this document?
Hon Trevor Mallard: It is the briefing to the incoming Minister.
Mr SPEAKER: But that is publicly available. [Interruption] A point of order is being considered. I have ruled out the tabling of documents that are currently available. I mean, that document was prepared for the current Minister.
Treaty of Waitangi Settlements—Progress
Hon TAU HENARE (National) to the
Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations: What recent progress has the Government made towards its goal of settling all historic Treaty claims by 2014?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations)
: Yesterday the Crown signed terms of negotiation with Te Ātiawa at Ōwae Marae at Waitara, and terms of negotiation with Taranaki tūturu at Pūniho Marae. These milestones mark an important step in the process of settling the remaining historic claims in Taranaki. I acknowledge all those who were present yesterday, including parliamentary colleagues from both sides of the House. I especially mention the local MPs Tariana Turia and Jonathan Young, who have played an important role in helping to progress these negotiations.
Hon Tau Henare: What is the significance of settling the remaining historical claims in Taranaki?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Yesterday also marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the Land Wars. Taranaki was the scene of some of the gravest Treaty breaches in New Zealand’s history, including the destruction of Parihaka in 1881. If New Zealand is to move forward, it is important that we address the wrongs of the past, and that is why this Government is so keen to settle the remaining historical claims in Taranaki.
Hon Peter Dunne: With regard to claims, is the Minister concerned about the actions of the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust trustees in blocking duck shooters from accessing the Pencarrow lakes during the eight weekends a year of the duck shooting season; if so, what steps can be taken to resolve this without setting a precedent for similar exclusions of public access in future settlements?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Yes, I was concerned by initial reports that the trust may have purported to act outside the terms of the Treaty settlement with Taranaki Whānui. The iwi, as landowner, has the right to exclude recreational activities only if there is “a risk of a significant adverse effect to the environment”. The iwi believes, for a number of reasons, that such a risk is posed by didymo, and also by the irresponsible actions of some hunters. I can assure the member I am looking very closely at the situation.
Education, National Standards—Effect on Māori Student Achievement
KELVIN DAVIS (Labour) to the
Associate Minister of Education: Will the new national standards in respect of kura help raise Māori student achievement in those schools; if so, how?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Associate Minister of Education)
: The standards will help those Māori students in kura, because they are designed to complement the marautanga, the curriculum, of the kura.
Kelvin Davis: Why, when he was asked “What is the Ministry of Education’s official vision for students?” by student magazine
Salient in 2009, did he answer “That’s a hard question to answer because I’m not really happy with their vision myself,” and are national standards a part of the Ministry’s vision he is unhappy about?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: My delegation is for kura, and I am very happy, in accordance with the member’s questions, that those standards will suit kura and produce better results amongst the tauira.
Kelvin Davis: Does he stand by his statement “Having bought into a relationship with the government, this limits our capabilities …”; if so, is an example of these limitations when he told Māori that national standards were dangerous, only to have John Key come out and shut him down?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: I stand by what I said, and I do all the time. The thing about Māori standards is that we have a consultation process going on, and 47 kura are reporting back on the process. We have 18 regional networks, and ultimately we will have them all feeding back to us so that we can, if you like, hone the final result.
Kelvin Davis: Why are national standards being trialled in kura, but not in immersion units within mainstream schools?
Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES: National standards are being trialled in kura because of the special nature of the marautanga, the curriculum, and its relationship to the kura movement. There are several types of kura, which is why we have to look at how the standards fit kura with Aho Matua, kura without Aho Matua, and kura that are total immersion schools.
Waihopai, Satellite Facility—Provision of Intelligence to US Government
KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the
Minister responsible for the GCSB: Does the GCSB’s satellite facility at Waihopai provide intelligence for use by the United States Government?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister)
: on behalf of the
Minister responsible for the GCSB: In accordance with the longstanding practice of successive Prime Ministers, the Prime Minister is not prepared to discuss operational matters relating to the GCSB.
Keith Locke: Is it his opinion that the acquittal of three peace workers yesterday at the Waihopai trial represented disquiet over anything that aids the US war effort in Iraq; if not, why not?
Mr SPEAKER: Does the Minister feel comfortable answering that question? It was a pretty marginal question.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I simply repeat the previous answer: the Prime Minister is not prepared to discuss any matters relating to the GCSB.
Keith Locke: Does he take out of yesterday’s not guilty verdict an implication that it was the spy base, not the defendants, undertaking illegal activity by aiding the illegal American war—
Mr SPEAKER: I ask the honourable member how that can possibly be a matter for ministerial responsibility. The Minister responsible for the GCSB has no responsibility for the decisions of the courts. There is no ministerial responsibility whatsoever for the decision of a court. I will allow the member to rephrase his question to bring it within the Minister’s responsibility.
Keith Locke: Is it the Minister’s opinion—
Hon Gerry Brownlee: No, he won’t give it.
Keith Locke: I am trying to read the question. Is it the Minister’s opinion that there was an implication in the verdict at the trial yesterday relating to the Waihopai station that it was perhaps involved in illegal activity in aiding the illegal war in Iraq?
Mr SPEAKER: I fail to see how the Minister has any responsibility for that supplementary question. I cannot allow it because it is not a valid question in the area of the Minister responsible for the GCSB. He should not be answering questions with respect to opinions about the outcome of court matters. That has nothing to do with his responsibilities. If the member has a further supplementary question—
Keith Locke: I have a supplementary question. First, I will just explain in relation to your point—
Mr SPEAKER: Is this a point of order?
Keith Locke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. At the trial, evidence was raised in relation to the GCSB’s operations at Waihopai. It is relevant to the Minister’s responsibility for that agency.
Mr SPEAKER: To save wasting further time of the House, I hear what the member is saying. If there has been evidence presented about the base that the Minister is responsible for then that is another matter, but the member must remember—and I am
on my feet—that the Minister is not responsible for the outcome of any court case. That is not the Minister’s responsibility.
Keith Locke: What is his response to evidence presented at the trial showing that the Waihopai spy base intercepted communications to aid the war in Iraq, even as New Zealand was opposing that same war?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: In accordance with a longstanding practice, the Prime Minister is not prepared to discuss operational matters relating to the GCSB.
Keith Locke: Will he give an assurance that the GCSB collected no intelligence in response to an American request in early 2003 for information about United Nations Security Council members leading up to the United Nations Security Council vote on the Iraq war?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I simply repeat the answer to the earlier question.
Keith Locke: What was the Government’s total expenditure on the Waihopai spy base in the last financial year?
Mr SPEAKER: The dilemma we have now is that that supplementary question is strung a long way from the substantive question. To expect the Minister to have that information at his fingertips based on the substantive question—if the Minister has the information, I do not want to deprive the House. I invite the Hon Bill English to answer if he has any information that he wishes to impart. He is indicating that he does not have that information.
Keith Locke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Would the Minister assure the House that he will provide that information to the House?
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. I am trying to help the honourable member, but that is not a point of order. The member has one further supplementary question, should he wish to use it.
Keith Locke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have heard it in this House before that if Ministers do not happen to have the information with them, they can give an assurance to the House that they will provide it at a later point.
Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry, but that is not a point of order. The member still has a couple of supplementary questions available and he can ask them if he wishes.
Keith Locke: Will the Minister provide to the House, at a later date, the total Government expenditure on the Waihopai spy base in the last financial year?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As I have reiterated a number of times, the Prime Minister is not prepared to discuss operational matters relating to the GCSB.
Keith Locke: I seek leave to table a memorandum by United States national security agency officer Frank Kozar calling for a surge of interceptions against United Nations Security Council members opposed to the war. It is dated 31 January 2003.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Public Sector Job Cuts—Front-line Services
GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the
Minister of State Services: Did any of the 1,480 public sector positions cut last year provide front-line services; if so, how many?
Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of State Services)
: The Government bases its cap on core Government administration on the predominant nature of the departments, and not on whether individual staff members are predominantly administrative or front-line. Some departments in the cap have some front-line roles, and some departments outside the cap include some administrative roles. Therefore, some of those 1,480 net positions cut will have come from departments inside the cap that may also have some front-line services.
Grant Robertson: So is the Minister saying that some front-line staff positions have been cut? Does he therefore consider it a good thing that some of the positions cut include border security staff, regional conservation staff, child abuse prevention staff, and the people who run the school library service?
Hon TONY RYALL: In respect of the issue of MAF Biosecurity officers—the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is within the cap—a number of those biosecurity officers no longer have work because of a significant downturn in the number of used Japanese motor vehicle imports into New Zealand. Therefore, fewer biosecurity officers were needed and the headcount was reduced, with no drop in service.
Grant Robertson: Does the Minister accept that reducing so-called back-office staff in agencies like Child, Youth and Family actually means that social workers will spend less time with families in need, and that this will lead to poorer services for all New Zealanders?
Hon TONY RYALL: I am advised that the reduction in positions at Child, Youth and Family was the result of restructuring last year to streamline the administrative functions, and that the social workers there are working very well to provide good quality services for New Zealanders. The Minister for Social Development and Employment tells me that social workers are spending more time working with their clients.
Jacqui Dean: What reports has the Minister seen of public reaction to the cap?
Hon TONY RYALL: I have seen a number of very interesting reports. I have seen a report from the Public Service Association national secretary, Mrs Brenda Pilott, that describes the cap on public service numbers as a farce. I also saw a report from Mr Goff, saying last night on television that he thinks Labour would probably have capped public service numbers as well. This tell us that New Zealanders have a Government that recognises the tight economic circumstances of the country we are in, and that we are moving resources to support improved front-line services.
Grant Robertson: Is the news reported on Radio New Zealand this morning that the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) office in Blenheim is to be replaced by a drop-box an indication of the kind of front-line services we can expect from this Government; if so, can we expect a tape-recorder to replace social workers, or a cardboard cut-out to staff our borders?
Hon TONY RYALL: I am fortunate to be advised by the Minister for ACC that the premise of the member’s question is completely wrong.
Grant Robertson: I seek leave to table a transcript from
Morning Report this morning that states that the ACC office in Blenheim—
Mr SPEAKER: The member will not use that mechanism. He knows that he cannot seek leave to table a transcript of a recent common radio report.
Grant Robertson: Is the Minister telling the House that Blenheim physiotherapist John Chamberlain was incorrect when he said that the eight-person ACC office in Blenheim will be replaced by a drop-box—a situation that he said was completely unsatisfactory?
Hon TONY RYALL: I have the fortune of being advised by the Minister for ACC himself that there is no plan of the sort described by that member opposite.
Grant Robertson: Does the Minister think that his approach to cutting front-line services, and the less than transparent process around State sector reform and the mining of the conservation estate, might have contributed to some public servants blowing the whistle on his Government’s activities? Would he not be better off focusing on making Government more transparent rather than undertaking a witch-hunt in the public sector?
Hon TONY RYALL: I must say that a question on transparency in Government, coming from the party opposite, is very rich. The fact is that the National Government
has inherited a very difficult economic situation, whereby that party opposite when in Government increased the size of the Public Service by 50 percent over a 9-year period. This Government has put a cap on the number of core Government administrators, which has allowed us to move resources to improve front-line services.
Mr SPEAKER: That question provoked a fair bit of noise in the House. I hope members have let off sufficient steam.
Treaty of Waitangi Settlements—Crown Facilitator Tukoroirangi Morgan
DAVID GARRETT (ACT) to the
Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations: How much has Tukoroirangi Morgan been paid by the Office of Treaty Settlements as a Crown Facilitator since 16 November 2008, and has he been paid on a hourly rate, or as a fixed charge?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations)
: Between 16 November 2008 and 1 March 2010 the Office of Treaty Settlements has paid Mr Morgan $171,093.61, GST inclusive, for facilitation work with a number of claimant groups. Mr Morgan was paid at an hourly rate with a cap limit.
David Garrett: Can he assure the House that Tukoroirangi Morgan has not been charging for the same hours twice, once to the Office of Treaty Settlements and again to the Tainui Māori Trust Board; if not, will he release all invoices submitted by Mr Morgan to ensure there has been no double-dipping?
Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: In answer to the honourable member, I say that have no ministerial responsibility for whatever charging arrangements Mr Morgan may have with Waikato-Tainui. I guarantee the honourable member that any payments made by the Crown to Mr Morgan for facilitation work have been for services with the iwi groups I mentioned in my answer to the member’s primary question. That work is quite different from the Crown’s engagement with Waikato-Tainui.
Questions to Members
Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill—Submissions
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Labour—Manurewa) to the
Chairperson of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee: How many submissions were heard on the Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill?
Hon JOHN CARTER (Chairperson of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee): Three hundred and forty-one.
Hon George Hawkins: Were the media present during the hearings, and can he confirm that two of the newspapers,
The Aucklander and
Gulf News, not only reported on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee but also made submissions to it?
Mr SPEAKER: I call the Hon John Carter, in so far as the question is in order.
Hon JOHN CARTER: I am afraid I cannot recall whether those media made submissions.
Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill—Submissions on Māori Representation
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Labour—Manurewa) to the
Chairperson of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee: Did the committee hear submissions on the Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill relating to Māori representation?
Hon JOHN CARTER (Chairperson of the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee)
Hon George Hawkins: Is the Māori Party represented on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee; if so, were Māori Party members present when those and other submissions were made?
Mr SPEAKER: The composition of select committees is a matter commonly known to the House. If the member is referring to whether a member attended a committee, that is not in order. I will allow the member to repeat his question to make sure that I heard it correctly.
Hon George Hawkins: Is the Māori Party represented on the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee; if so, did they attend any of the submissions?
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon George Hawkins: The answers are—
Mr SPEAKER: No, the Speaker is on his feet. We cannot allow a question like that.