Questions to Ministers
Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Immigration Service
1. Hon MURRAY McCULLY (NZ National—East Coast Bays) to the
Minister of Immigration: What specific matters has she requested that Mr Andrew Lockhart, General Manager of the New Zealand Immigration Service, investigate, as reported in today’s
New Zealand Herald, and why has she done so?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration)
: I spoke with the general manager, Mr Andrew Lockhart, last night after I had spoken to the
New Zealand Herald, and asked him to inquire into the allegations that had been raised by a
reporter concerning a complaint made to the Ombudsman and responses from the New Zealand Immigration Service. I felt there were sufficient concerns raised by the journalist to refer the matter to the general manager, but I did say that I would need to know what the Ombudsman had been asked for. Prior to coming down to the House I was advised that the matter has been referred to the Secretary of Labour, and that terms of reference for the review are being drawn up today.
Hon Murray McCully: Given that Mr Lockhart was one of the recipients of the “We agreed to lie in unison.” memorandum, how could it be that Mr Lockhart was one of the officials who falsely advised the Ombudsman that such material was not held by the Immigration Service, and what sort of reliance would this House place on any report he might make?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The member obviously did not hear the last bit of my answer to the first question. The matter has been referred to the Secretary of Labour. Terms of reference for the inquiry are being established today.
Hon Murray McCully: Now that it is clear Mr Smith lied to the
New Zealand Herald on 12 December, and both Mr Lockhart and Mr Smith lied to the Ombudsman, has it occurred to the Minister that Mr Smith’s memo stating “We agreed to lie in unison.”, might be a very accurate record of her officials’ intentions?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: As I explained in the House yesterday, the conversation on 12 December was in fact an accurate answer to the question that had been put to Mr Smith. There is no confirmation as to the details of the issues relating to the Ombudsman. I would wait until the results of the inquiry before making those allegations here or anywhere else.
Rodney Hide: Could the Minister explain to this House why the public should have any confidence in her department when its top communicating expert said: “We agreed to lie in unison.”, when the Minister herself told this House that she had been lied to by her own staff, and when we now discover, courtesy of the
New Zealand Herald, that the same department has lied to the Ombudsman; why should we have any confidence in this department when its staff appear to be a pack of liars?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have not said that anyone has lied to me in respect of this matter. I have also asked for an inquiry into the question that has been raised in the
New Zealand Herald this morning. I will await the results of that inquiry.
Rodney Hide: I seek the leave of the House to table the
of the Minister’s answer on 15 October 2000, when she said that her officials had not told her the truth.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Iraq—Defence Force Deployment
KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Has the failure of the United States - led occupation forces in Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction strengthened the Government’s view that it was right to reject calls from National and ACT to join the invasion of Iraq?
Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
: New Zealand stands by its decision not to be involved in the invasion of Iraq. Nothing that has happened since has suggested that our approach—that any such action be multilateral and only as a last resort—was other than sensible.
Mr SPEAKER: If Mr Smith wants to interject on someone he should do it from his own seat and not move closer to a speaker. He has done it three times and cannot do it again. He can interject from his own seat.
Keith Locke: Does the almost universal Iraqi hostility to the occupation troops following the invasion of Iraq strengthen the Government’s position, which the Minister has just referred to, of favouring multilateral, peaceful solutions to problems like the Iraq crisis, and of giving a very strong mandate to the United Nations?
Hon PHIL GOFF: While multilateralism was not employed in terms of the decision to invade Iraq, I think it is becoming increasingly obvious that there would be real advantages from a greater multilateral effort to ensure that stability and reconstruction can take place in Iraq.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: What is New Zealand’s current approach to the situation in Iraq?
Hon PHIL GOFF: New Zealand has undertaken actions that it foreshadowed before the conflict as being appropriate. We have provided humanitarian aid, we have contributed assistance to mine clearing, and we will help rebuild civil society under United Nations Resolution 1483 with engineering assistance and assistance to the Iraqi ministry of agriculture.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Is it his Government’s view that the world would be a better place were Saddam Hussein still in power in Iraq today?
Hon PHIL GOFF: Nobody would mourn the removal of Saddam Hussein per se. He was one of the bloodiest tyrants of any dictatorship in the world. But the peace was always going to be harder to win than the war, and that is proving to be the case today.
Hon Ken Shirley: Does he agree that the failure to locate Saddam Hussein does not mean that he never existed, and does he believe that, there having been the invasion, the demise of the Saddam Hussein regime is a positive or negative outcome from a New Zealand perspective?
Hon PHIL GOFF: Saddam Hussein certainly did exist, and he was the same Saddam Hussein who in the 1980s, regrettably, was supported by Western powers and armed by Western powers, notwithstanding that he had all the same characteristics that he has today. There are many dictatorships around the world that it would be ideal to remove, but the increasing realisation is that when one removes a dictator one does not remove the problems in that country; sometimes one simply magnifies them.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a very specific question: is it a positive or negative outcome, from a New Zealand perspective? That was a question to our Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and he cannot answer that question.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did answer the question.
Paul Adams: Has the Government’s view that it was right to reject calls from National and ACT to join the invasion of Iraq been strengthened by the comment made on National Radio: “They”—referring to the US—“are at pains to say that both the Iraqi war - type decision and the nuclear policy are separate from how they treat trade.” by the National Party leader, Bill English, on Friday, 20 June?
Hon PHIL GOFF: I have seen the comment made by Bill English from Washington, DC, in which he explicitly denied there are difficulties in the trading agreement with the United States as a result of either the non-nuclear policy we have pursued for many years, or, indeed, our non-involvement in the Iraqi war—[Interruption] Dr Lockwood Smith was part of that same delegation that Mr English was reporting on. I also saw the comment from Bill English saying—
Mr SPEAKER: I have warned, and will not warn again, about people who move closer to a person answering a question. They can interject from their own seat—there is no objection to that—but they must not move closer to the person answering. [Interruption] I have not heard the Minister’s final answer.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a longstanding Standing Order of this House that Ministers do not have responsibility for statements made by other political parties. My question to you is why you did not intervene, given that that was the third sentence we have had from the Minister that breached that Standing Order.
Mr SPEAKER: No, the Minister was asked to comment on the particular statement. He was perfectly entitled to do so.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has been a longstanding custom in this House that if Ministers choose to refer to members opposite in answering their questions, they can expect those members to interject. I think it is unfair to rule that out.
Mr SPEAKER: Members can, provided that they do so from their own seat. That is the point I have made. There is a Speaker’s ruling to that effect. It will be upheld.
John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We perhaps have an unusual set of circumstances in that, while you are correct in your ruling, the fact is that Dr Lockwood Smith, in this case, has not moved his seat. Indeed, Dr Lockwood Smith and Dr Nick Smith have been sitting in those seats since the beginning of question time, and they were positioned there because of a whip’s instruction. It is not as though Dr Lockwood Smith has moved to interject; he has been sitting there, and actually asked his question from there. It seems appropriate that, on his getting the response that he did, he should be able to make comment across the House in response.
Mr SPEAKER: I refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 123/7 made in 1996, stating that interjections are not in order at all during question time. I have allowed them to occur, but I am going to allow them to occur only in accordance with other rulings made by previous Speakers—rulings that go back as long as I have been in this House. Interjections can be made but they are to be made from the person’s seat.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This helps to explain the frustration felt on this side of the House. We have constant rulings from you that Ministers have answered questions whereas in fact they have not addressed what their own policies are, yet they are allowed to stand and talk at length about the policies and comments of another party. That might be fair enough, but in that case they should be asked to explain at length what their own comments and their own policies mean.
Mr SPEAKER: That is a political point the member is making, and we will see how the supplementary questions go.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a separate issue completely. I welcome your ruling, which reinforces that members may not move to a different seat to gain advantage in interjecting. I raise with you the issue that in numerous debates on legislation going through the House, other presiding officers in the Chair, acting on your behalf, have not upheld that ruling. Indeed, in many general debates we have seen Government members move to other seats to gain advantage when interjecting, and be allowed to do so. I have raised points of order in that vein in the past, but they have not been supported by the Chair. I respectfully ask that we have some uniformity in such decisions.
Mr SPEAKER: I welcome the member’s point of order, and I think the other officers have heard it.
Keith Locke: Does the Minister think that the anti-war stand that he has just articulated is compromised by our placing army engineers in a British military unit in Iraq, given the growing hostility of the Iraqi people towards the occupation troops and the almost daily targeting of them?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The proposed deployment of New Zealand Defence Force engineers is in fact in response to Resolution 1483, which was passed, I think unanimously, by the United Nations. These engineers are not part of the occupation forces. They are there to do the job that we said we would always be there to do, and that is to assist the civil reconstruction of Iraq. Clearly, putting civilian engineers in a situation that is still dangerous is not possible, but there is work, such as sanitation and water supplies, that needs to be done and that our Defence Force engineers can do and will do.
Keith Locke: Can the Minister assure us that if by chance our military people in Iraq do take a prisoner, that prisoner will not be passed over to United States jurisdiction, because of the clear mistreatment of prisoners by the United States administration there—the fact that they are not allowed access to a lawyer of their choice, and are subject to military tribunals that have the death penalty?
Hon PHIL GOFF: Our engineers will be there to do construction work. It will be no part of their task to take prisoners.
Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Immigration Service
Hon MURRAY McCULLY (NZ National—East Coast Bays) to the
Minister of Immigration: Is she aware, as reported in the
New Zealand Herald, that the Ombudsman had requested, from New Zealand Immigration Service officials, material which should have included the memorandum which contained the words “Everyone had agreed to lie in unison,” and that New Zealand Immigration Service officials denied to the Ombudsman the existence of such material; if so, how does she explain these actions?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration)
: I am advised that the Ombudsman responded to a complaint from Sarah Boyle, office of the Leader of the Opposition, that the New Zealand Immigration Service had declined to release any information on the individual concerned under sections 6(a), 6(d), and 18(c) of the Official Information Act. I can confirm that the Secretary of Labour will be inquiring into the matter. However, preliminary inquiries have identified that, as there was more than one person dealing with the matter—from the Office of the Ombudsmen and from the New Zealand Immigration Service—a communication breakdown could explain the different answers. However, I am awaiting a full report.
Hon Murray McCully: Does the Minister accept that if both Mr Smith and Mr Lockhart did mislead the Ombudsman about the existence of that memorandum, this would be a most serious matter, and might very fully explain why Mr Smith wrote in his memo: “Everyone had agreed to lie in unison,”?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: My initial advice on this matter is that they were asked different questions, that Mr Smith in fact never had any direct dealings with the Ombudsman, and that in fact it was done through a third party, who had not prepared the media log. There is the ability, in this situation, for an explanation to arise out of the inquiry. I would like to wait until the inquiry has completed its work before I commented on it, and I hope that that member is prepared to apologise, if he has attacked the reputations of people unreasonably.
Deborah Coddington: On what date did she first learn that Mr Ian Smith had written to the Ombudsman stating that he had no record of correspondence or memoranda that commented on the Zaoui case?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: There is no such date, because I am not aware that Mr Smith wrote directly to the Ombudsman.
Hon Murray McCully: Are these words from the letter signed by Mel Smith, Ombudsman, correct: “I subsequently received advice from Mr Ian Smith” —of the Immigration Service—“that he has no record of any such information, nor is he able to recall any information of this nature.”, and is she disputing those words signed by the Ombudsman?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: As I said to the
New Zealand Herald reporter last night, it depends what question he was asked.
Hon Murray McCully: Is she aware that the Ombudsman’s officials interviewed Mr Smith on this matter, and that the Ombudsman, Mr Smith himself, spoke to Mr Smith, who is the spokesperson for her ministry, and that it was on the basis of specific assurances in the face of persistent Opposition requests that Mr Smith, Ombudsman, wrote saying that Mr Ian Smith had no record of such information and could not recall such information?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: That is the subject of the inquiry. But my advice is that those investigations were conducted by email, and in fact the direct email link is with another member of staff from the New Zealand Immigration Service, who attached an email from Ian Smith. It depends on what Mr Smith was asked to provide.
H V ROSS ROBERTSON (NZ Labour—Manukau East) to the
Minister of Education: What reports has he received of the success of Government literacy initiatives in schools?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education)
: A literacy project in Otara and Mangere is making significant improvements in the reading skills of 6-year-olds, according to research I released at the school last week. The research is a watershed for literacy teaching in New Zealand and shows that professional development of teachers has made an enormous difference to student learning.
H V Ross Robertson: What was a key finding regarding those children in low-income, low-decile school areas and for the wider environs?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: A key finding was that schools and teachers that are able to sustain high levels of achievement are the ones that track the progress of their students over time and use that information to adapt and target their teaching. The study also found that children can achieve, regardless of their socio-economic background, and that professional development should focus on raising teachers’ expectations of what their students can do. The study backs up what our Government has been focusing on in education. Although I realise we now talk about “reducing disparities”, this result is a clear win out of the closing the gaps initiative.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: If the Government has been so successful in its literacy initiatives, why do the results of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, released in April this year, show New Zealand children ranked 13th, which is second bottom of English-speaking countries, and having the longest and greatest disparity in literacy learning; and therefore how can the Minister describe those appalling results as “very pleasing”?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: A number of factors should be taken into account. First, the long tail is a legacy of the National Government’s abandonment of poor schools. Secondly, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study includes a number of countries that measured children who were a year older than the New Zealand children, and that says something for the difference.
Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Immigration, Minister
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the
Minister of Immigration: Did she say “If there was an agreement to lie, heads would roll, absolutely they would”; if so, in terms of her ministerial responsibility, why did she say that?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration)
: Yes, because the implication was that I was a party to such an agreement. I was not a party to any agreement. There was no such agreement. I have also been assured by the general manager of the New Zealand Immigration Service that there was no such agreement. I made the comment, because if I lost confidence in the service I would be able to refer that matter to the Secretary of Labour.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Minister not prepared to admit that this is a matter to do with her administration of her portfolio over a long period of time, that she has had an experience in the past where she claimed her officials were not telling her the truth, as late as 11 October 2000, and that her words bind her in this matter when she said on Television One last night: “If there had been an agreement to lie, yes I would have to resign.”, and that does not include whether she knew, because if she did not, she should have been fired for incompetence, anyway?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The advice I have received from the general manager was that there was no agreement to lie. I was not a party to any agreement to lie, and I stand by what I say.
Hon Murray McCully: Does the Minister accept that if it is found that both Mr Smith and Mr Lockhart misled the Ombudsman as to the existence of information he sought from them, that those facts, on top of Mr Smith’s answer to the
New Zealand Herald
in December of last year, would be absolutely consistent with there being an agreement to lie amongst those officials?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: No, it would not be consistent with that, and it would not be inconsistent, either. I make the point that all employees of the Department of Labour have a responsibility to carry out their duties to the best of their ability. They are required to act with integrity in all matters. I take those obligations seriously.
Gerrard Eckhoff: Why should anybody have confidence in the Minister’s recent statement that “heads would roll, absolutely they would” when on 11 October 2000 she stated in this House: “I was misinformed by the Immigration Service” and “I am not prepared to stand up to justify it when my officials have not even told me the truth.”; and how many heads rolled, absolutely rolled, during that fiasco?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I can certainly inform the member that I felt very bruised at the end of that experience. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Perhaps the Minister might like to expand on that a little further.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I am aware there were personal grievance issues arising out of that matter.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was very specific and asked “how many heads rolled” as a result of that incident. Whether or not there were personal grievance matters, the answer does not point to the specific question, which was, “how many heads rolled”.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did address the question in terms of the issue of personal grievance. I am not here to judge the answer. An answer was given.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point is that a person may have brought a personal grievance action and been restored to the former position. We just want to know how many heads rolled, and why does she not know?
Mr SPEAKER: I was going to invite the Minister to continue answering the question.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I do not know the answer to that question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given the Ombudsman’s statement that points to his being denied disclosure of a very critical document, and, second, that no referral to the Ombudsman—at that level of any administration—would be brought to the Minister’s attention immediately, how can she now say, in any competent way as a Minister, that she did not know what was going on in her department?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: It is true that on most occasions I am aware when a request has been lodged under the Official Information Act. On this occasion I was not aware that an Official Information Act request had been lodged or that there had been a complaint made to the Ombudsman. This is a matter I have raised with the Immigration Service. I am unhappy about that fact.
Hon Murray McCully: In the light of the Minister’s statement to the House yesterday that the original questions were responded to by the spokesperson from the Immigration Service and herself from her ministerial office, and that she claimed to be well briefed on this matter early in December, what responsibility does she take for the compliance of her officials with an Ombudsman’s inquiry that has lasted over 6 months?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: There appears to be a non sequitur—the beginning of that question does not relate to the end—and I cannot see the connection at all. I was present in my office when the phone call came through on 12 December. The information I received at the time indicated that the individual from the Immigration Service had answered the question he was asked. If journalists do not ask precisely the correct question, then officials cannot be blamed for answering the question they are asked. I think the member should await the result of the inquiry of the Secretary of Labour on the other matter.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How many suspected terrorists came into this country and were arrested and sent to prison in the 2 weeks prior to the Zaoui case, or the 2 weeks prior to 12 December 2002; more important, how can it possibly be that, although the Minister is informed in most cases about Official Information Act requests, this one, at a much higher level—a complaint to the Ombudsman—was not brought to her attention, and, that being the case, why should she not just resign for being utterly incompetent?
Mr SPEAKER: There were four questions there. Two were outside the scope of the original question. The last two questions were in order and the Minister may comment on those.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I am not aware of any other individual who was detained in the maximum security prison in the 2 weeks leading up to 12 December. In response to the second question, most Official Information Act requests that relate to an individual person are managed through a different section in the Immigration Service. The member can appreciate that lawyers and immigration consultants acting for people who have appeals and reviews, make requests under the Official Information Act on a regular basis. They are not referred to my office. This one should have been referred to my office, and I have raised the matter with the Immigration Service.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How could the Minister claim that Mr Smith has some sort of sanctuary in the question asked of him by the journalist when, in fact, the question was the other day and no other suspected terrorists had been picked up in the prior 2 weeks, so only one person could be the person who was the subject of the original inquiry; and why is she always a Minister who never knows what is going on in her department?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The answer to the first question is that the question that was put to Mr Ian Smith, as I understand it, was a question that was very explicit about it having occurred the night before. In fact, the individual concerned had arrived on 4 December.
Foreshore and Seabed—Māori Land Court
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National—Nelson) to the
Associate Minister for Courts: How many applications for foreshore and seabed have been lodged with the Māori Land Court at each of its seven registry offices since 19 June 2003 and what areas are covered by these applications?
Hon MARGARET WILSON (Associate Minister for Courts)
: Since 19 June 2003 there have been 16 foreshore and seabed applications in the Māori Land Court. One of these was received in each of the Takitimu, Waiariki, and Tairawhiti registries. Two applications were received in each of the Waikato and Aotea registries, and nine were received in the Te Taitokerau registry. It has not been possible, unfortunately, in the time available to compile a list of the areas covered in the applications, but if the member requires this information, then I am happy to provide it to him in response to a written question.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting that the Auckland Māori Land Court registrar has confirmed nine new applications for title, covering the areas of North Cape, Bay of Islands, Hokianga Harbour, Kaipara Harbour, Waitemata Harbour, Manukau Harbour, Papamoa Beach, Waihi Beach, and the Hauraki Gulf, does she stand by her press statement on the day following the Court of Appeal decision, that stated it was a narrow technical decision that would have no practical effect; and if hundreds of thousands of hectares and hundreds of kilometres is minor and technical, what does she think would be major?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: The decision of the Court of Appeal was technical in the sense that it related to whether there was jurisdiction for the Māori Land Court to hear such matters. My understanding is that there were claims that had been lodged before that decision. They had been waiting to see whether there was jurisdiction for the court to hear it, so in that sense, yes, it was a jurisdictional issue, but not one of substance.
Martin Gallagher: In order that we can be crystal-clear, in terms of the law as it currently stands, do Māori applicants have the right to have customary rights in relation to the foreshore and seabed determined by the Māori Land Court?
Mr SPEAKER: That is seeking a legal opinion. There are Speakers’ rulings about that, but the Minister may comment if she wishes.
Hon MARGARET WILSON: Yes, and that was the issue that was determined by the Court of Appeal judgment. That was the matter that was outstanding.
Stephen Franks: Can the Minister confirm that the Government fears the agenda of the Māori Land Court hearing these claims; if not, why not—when she appointed to that court activist Caren Wickliffe after she claimed that our Government institutions were not legitimate, that Pākehā notions of property were not legitimate, and that we need a national Māori body politic, made up of iwi and hapū representatives, to exercise real and substantive self-government, and applauded a Fijian statement after the coup that said: “Without land you are not a Fijian. You should not exchange it, you should not sell it, and you cannot replace it.”?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: This Government does not fear the Māori Land Court, or much else, I would suggest. The Government has total confidence, as I do, in the Māori Land Court. I was not the Minister who was responsible for those appointments, though I was consulted before they were made. In fact, it is the Minister of Māori Affairs who makes those appointments.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the Minister’s answer to my initial question, which asked about the areas concerned, the Minister replied that she had not been able to acquire the information in time for questions today—which was reasonable—but said that if I wished to obtain that information I would need to obtain it by way of a written question. I suggest that a more appropriate way forward would be for the Minister to provide the information to me as soon as it is available, so that I do not have to use up additional questions when the Government has not been able to answer.
Mr SPEAKER: There is no restriction on the number of written questions a member can ask—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: There’s a timing issue—
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister said a “written question”. I heard her reply. I would expect the Minister to give a prompt reply, and she has just indicated that she will.
Hon MARGARET WILSON: Yes, I am happy to do that. It is just that it takes some time to get all the applications in the areas, and to do the precise calculations.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting the statement that the Government would legislate to ensure that foreshore and seabed are owned by the Crown, when will this House see the legislation to implement that Government policy?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: The Government is working assiduously on this issue, and will have an answer as soon as practicable. We hope that will happen not only in the fullness of time but early in the fullness of time.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister had any reports from her department, or wherever, outlining the ACT party leadership’s attitude or the National Party leadership’s attitude on Treaty of Waitangi issues such as this; and how does it accord with the 2003 expressed policy from the same sources?
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister is not responsible for the ACT party or the National Party, and therefore the question is too wide.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Could I just submit, though, that if she has received such a report from her department—it would be most unusual for a department not to submit it to a Minister—on the previous history of these events, then it is within the ambit of her responsibility.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes. If she is asked: “Has she received a report on the policies?” she certainly can answer that question.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I draw your attention to Speaker’s ruling 128/6. The ruling was made by Deputy Speaker Gerard, and states: “If a Minister is asked a question about a report, or whether the Minister has received a report … The Minister, in answering about the report, cannot be hypothetical about what may or may not be the effects of another political party’s policy.” I would have thought that that referred to the exact question that was asked by Mr Peters.
Mr SPEAKER: No. Mr Peters asked whether any reports had been received, and that is a perfectly proper question to ask.
Hon MARGARET WILSON: I have received no specific reports, but in preparation for the answer to this question today I noted the excellent speech made by the Hon Dr Nick Smith during the second reading debate on the Ngāi Tahu bill, which, I think, was a model of how there was cross-party support on these matters.
John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is where we now run into some difficulty. We have difficulty—and this point was made a previous point of order—getting Ministers to comment on their own policy, yet that Minister made a statement about previous National Party policy. She had already answered the question by saying, yes, she had received the report. That was all she was asked, and that is all she needed to say.
Mr SPEAKER: That is perfectly correct, but I did not take it as an offensive comment in any way. The senior Opposition whip is technically correct.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Presumably it is legitimate to ask whether a Minister had received a report on Government policy as it has been applied in the past, as it may differ from policy today. What is not, I would have thought, legitimate—and it may seem strange for me to raise this point—is to be asking for a report on Opposition policy, because, then, that is a wide open invitation to breach the Standing Orders and the rulings in relation to what ministerial responsibility is. I would have thought that it really is a matter of whether it relates to previous actions of Governments or whether it is on current issues of party policy.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, the member is perfectly correct.
Truancy—National Student Database
MARC ALEXANDER (United Future) to the
Minister of Education: Does he agree that a national database of school students would assist in identifying truant and transient students, as proposed in Labour Party policy for the last three elections?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education)
Hon Brian Donnelly: Does the Minister agree with his ministry officials who told the select committee that the best way to deal with consistent absenteeism was not to prosecute parents but was through collaboration with professional workers in the external agencies, and if the ministry is not going to be required to use the law, what is the point of having such a law?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Generally, I agree that that is right. They do, of course, on occasion use the law.
Jill Pettis: Does the Minister believe that the proposed database is in fact the be-all and end-all to fixing this problem?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No, I do not. One only has to look at the other side of this House to work out that turning up is not enough.
Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that that was just designed to create disorder. He will withdraw and apologise for that last comment—after his first words.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I withdraw and apologise.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting that the Minister told Parliament yesterday that a national database was not Labour policy in 2002, when it was; that officials said a review on truancy would be completed by December last year, but it was not; and that they said there would be a report on database options by June this year, and there was not, are the Minister himself and his ministry getting advice from immigration officials on how to lie in unison?
Mr SPEAKER: That question is not in order.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Yesterday the Minister said, quite categorically, that it was not Labour Party policy. That is a direct contradiction of what he said today. If that is not incorrect, what is it? I think the Minister should be accountable for giving such incorrect information 2 days in a row.
Mr SPEAKER: The comment “lie in unison” was out of order and should not be used.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not quite sure what redress I have when the member opposite makes up comments from yesterday. I was very careful yesterday to indicate that I was not absolutely sure on the matter. As has been clear from the question, I did not remember accurately but I did put some put real brackets around my answer yesterday.
Mr SPEAKER: All I am saying is this: that is getting into an argument, not a point of order.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave to table the Minister’s answer yesterday. It was not part of the 2002 pre-election policy.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection. Now, I apologise to Mr Alexander. I did not realise the member had not had the first supplementary question. I call the member now.
Marc Alexander: In the light of the Minister’s statement in the House yesterday that “one of the things we learnt in Government was that setting up massive computer systems without knowledge of how they were going to be used is not the best approach”, did he discover this problem in Labour’s first term; if so, why was the database still Labour’s election policy in 2002?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: We have discovered quite a lot more in the past 12 months around schools’ ability to interact with central government agencies via databases. What is clear is that there are at least 700 schools that do not have that ability, and that is something I was certainly not aware of when this policy was put into the 2002 election manifesto.
Metiria Turei: Does the Minister agree that the most important factor in managing truancy is not the keeping of a simple list of students, but rather their active engagement in education; if so, what is the Minister doing to provide support to returned students, such that they want to stay in school and not wag?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I agree with the basic premise behind the question. We do need to make sure that students are enthused about learning and staying engaged in education. That is why the Government is focusing on quality teaching and teaching that is effective for all students, regardless of their background. What is clear is that students who are doing well at school and are engaged and focused do not truant.
Marc Alexander: In the light of the admission to a select committee last week by Ministers Goff, Dalziel, and Dyson that their agencies failed Bailey Kurariki, a habitual truant, will he as Minister of Education follow this honourable path and admit that, in this case, there were and are things that the agencies under his control could have done better?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Certainly.
Marc Alexander: Can the Minister explain why setting up a national student database to stop truancy is not a priority for the Government, yet legislation that stops our returned servicemen from smoking at their local Returned Services Association is?
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister can answer the first part of the question.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It is not a question of having problems doing the legislation; it is a question of schools having the means and the systems to interact with a national database. They do not.
Judy Turner: Does the Minister think it is appropriate that at least two-thirds of secondary students on the roll of the Correspondence School are considered at risk, when those kids have demonstrated an unwillingness to attend school and would therefore find it difficult to have the self-discipline to learn at home?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Again, I agree with the basic premise that underlines the question. The Correspondence School is not an ideal option for students at risk. The one point I would make to the member is that over the last few years, between 1996 and 2002, in both primary and secondary schools, truancy has dropped.
Judy Turner: Does the Minister expect truancy officers to do their job effectively, when their funding has not increased for 5 years and some truancy services, like the one in Patea, pay their staff from community grants to maximise the resources the ministry gives them; and is this what Labour meant in 1996 when it promised to adequately fund efforts to combat truancy?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think that the problem in Patea is related to community confidence with the school. That is why, I understand, there are only about 80 children on the roll of the secondary school. It is a much wider issue than truancy there.
Hon Brian Donnelly: I seek leave to table the pages from the 2001-02 financial reviews that report the Ministry of Education statements referred to in my question.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that. Is there any objection? There is.
Marc Alexander: I seek leave to table Labour’s education policy from the 1996, 1999, and 2002 elections.
- Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the coalition agreement between United Future and the Labour Party, which shows that at that point in time this matter was never raised.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that agreement. Is there any objection? There is.
Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Inquiry
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the
Minister of Immigration: Will she hold a full independent public inquiry into her and her department’s handling of suspected terrorist Ahmed Zaoui’s arrival and stay in New Zealand; if not, why not?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration)
: No. Given that the matter is not finally resolved, and because security matters and other issues cannot be commented on publicly, it is not possible at this stage to hold such an inquiry.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why should anyone have any confidence in an in-house whitewash inquiry, when the Minister previously described those people involved in this inquiry in the following terms: “It has let this House and this country down. I am not prepared to stand up to justify it when my own officials have not even told me the truth.”, and, moreover, when she did not know today whether any heads had rolled as a consequence of that; why would anybody have any confidence or trust at all in the inquiry, which she will have handled by her own officials?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have not asked the border and investigations officers of the Immigration Service to conduct the inquiry. I have been advised today that it has been referred to the Secretary of Labour. The terms of reference are being drawn up as we speak.
Russell Fairbrother: Do any parts of the Immigration Act applying to Mr Zaoui prevent disclosure of any details of the case; if so, when did they come into effect?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Yes. They came into effect on 1 October 1999.
Hon Murray McCully: When the Minister first had this matter raised with her by the
New Zealand Herald, on Monday, why did she not seek a full and comprehensive briefing on the background, so that she could make a decision about the need for an inquiry at that point, or is it the case that she did ask for such a briefing and the department withheld important information from her?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: There was nothing on the Monday night that required a request from me to the department for an inquiry. The issues that were raised last night with me, with the journalist concerned, raised questions about how an Ombudsman had been responded to. That was an entirely different matter.
Heather Roy: Is the real reason she will not hold a full, independent public inquiry because she is concerned that she will be found to be one of the people whom top immigration spokesman Mr Ian Smith is complaining about who did not stick to the original song?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have said to this House on more than one occasion, and will continue to say it, that I was not involved in any agreement to lie, and my department was not involved in any agreement to lie, and I will continue to say that until members accept that that is the case. The real reason I cannot have an inquiry into the matter is that it is not finally resolved, and, because of security matters and other issues that cannot be commented on publicly, as a result of legislation that came into effect on 1 October 1999, this is not an appropriate time for an inquiry.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Minister aware of the following facts: first of all, the Immigration Service is part of the Department of Labour; second, on matters of national security a full public inquiry can hear such matters in camera, on application, where they are relevant to that inquiry; and, third, why would she go on weakly defending glaringly obvious liars and conspirators while denying New Zealanders the right of a full public inquiry into this whole dodgy, disgraceful affair?
Mr SPEAKER: Only two of those questions are to be commented on.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Yes, I am aware that the New Zealand Immigration Service is an arm of the Department of Labour; of course I know that. The second question, which I have been advised is the only other question I can answer, is very plain. With regard to the matter that the member raised, which has now completely escaped me—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I will again bring the matter to the Minister’s attention.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Oh yes, the member raised the question of whether—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will bring the question again to her attention.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: No, no—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: She said the question completely escaped her, and I want to help her out.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have recalled the question now.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: But I am getting sick and tired of this.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister said that she has remembered.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The second question related to the fact that we could hold a full public inquiry in camera. It would not be a public inquiry.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is not a frivolous matter for the Minister to be trying to laugh away. The reality is that I asked whether she was aware that, in a full public inquiry or a commission of inquiry, if matters of national security are claimed to be part of the evidence, then that part of the evidence can be heard in camera. To then say that I was suggesting that a full public inquiry be held in camera, in total, is an absolute nonsense, and I wish you would take it seriously.
Mr SPEAKER: I think the Minister could rephrase the answer that she gave, and I invite her to do so.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Given that the matter is not finally resolved, issues of security and other issues that cannot be commented on publicly are at the heart of the question that the member put to me, which was about my department’s handling of suspected terrorist Ahmed Zaoui’s arrival and stay in New Zealand.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can matters of national security, if they are to be raised in this case, possibly be properly dealt with by the Department of Labour or the Immigration Service; how can she possibly give that as a reason she is not going to hold a full public inquiry?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I need to refer the member to, I think, Part 4 of the Immigration Act, which deals with matters of security. That part of the Act came into effect on 1 October 1999. It addresses issues of security.
Climate Change—Partnership, United States
DAVID PARKER (NZ Labour—Otago) to the
Convenor, Ministerial Group on Climate Change: What progress has he made in building a climate change partnership with the United States?
Hon PETE HODGSON (Convenor, Ministerial Group on Climate Change)
: Very good progress. Last week I met a United States delegation and we agreed on a number of new climate change partnership projects. These include work on climate change science; technology development; greenhouse gas accounting in forestry and agriculture; engagement with business; cooperation with developing countries; and climate change research in the Antarctic.
David Parker: Will these partnership projects with the United States include any work on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions?
Hon PETE HODGSON: Yes. The list of projects agreed with the United States includes further research into measuring and mitigating agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. This reflects the fact that the United States, like New Zealand, recognises the significance of agricultural greenhouse gases and the importance of finding ways to reduce them.
Gordon Copeland: Will the Government consider joining the climate action partnership between the United States and Australia, as an alternative way of addressing climate change, in the event that Russia fails to ratify and the Kyoto Protocol collapses; if not, why not?
Hon PETE HODGSON: The partnership to which the member refers is a research partnership between the US and Australia. New Zealand has a research partnership between itself and the US, and it has a research partnership between itself and Australia. We kind of are in there, anyway.
Rod Donald: What exactly is the value of signing a protocol with a country that refuses to commit to the Kyoto Protocol because it might hurt its economy—even though a viable economy would not be feasible if there were runaway greenhouse gas emissions—and that is prepared to see low-lying Pacific islands become submerged, simply because it wants to maintain its present lifestyles?
Hon PETE HODGSON: The United States and New Zealand of course have a different view on the Kyoto Protocol. The United States has decided not to ratify it. New Zealand already has, along with, I think, 101 other nations. However, the fact is the United States science base is very strong, very well informed, and very keen to collaborate with New Zealand, especially in addressing certain gaps. There is a bunch of oceanographic work in our southern oceans that needs to be done. There is a bunch of work that can be done with and for Pacific Island nations to help them manage mitigation.
Dr MURIEL NEWMAN (ACT NZ) to the
Minister of Police: What is the role of forensic investigation in solving crime and does he consider it to be important?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police)
: The role of forensic investigation is to determine evidence. Where there is forensic evidence, I am advised that the police consider its investigation important, and I agree.
Dr Muriel Newman: In the light of the Government’s $4 billion surplus, why has he allowed a critical bottleneck to develop in forensic examinations, with front-line police now having to wait up to 9 months for criminal evidence to be examined, and up to 2 years for the analysis of drug scenes; and what does he say to police and the victims of crime who regard his failure as justice delayed, which is justice denied?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: In all cases where the police have vital evidence, it is processed quickly. I told that member, in answer to question for written answer No. 6863, lodged on 16 July, that as of 1 July 2003 there were 59 samples in the DNA national database that were classified as “work in progress”. The national database receives an average of 875 samples per month.
Mahara Okeroa: What is the role of forensic investigation in solving crime, and does he consider it to be important?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Well, the obvious examples include fingerprinting, document examination, ballistics, computers, photography, and DNA. Local and international expertise is assessed as required. For example, in the double-murder Barlow case the ballistic examination was carried out in Germany.
Richard Worth: Against the background of the surpluses in the police budget, which the Minister spoke about yesterday, why is he not taking immediate steps to contract out forensic work and avoid the current delays in the prosecution of murder, burglary, and methamphetamine cases, or is this a case of his praying for the miraculous delivery of resources and dithering in the meantime?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: What I am praying for is an Opposition that actually knows that the work is already contracted out to the Institute of Environmental Science and Research.
Dr Muriel Newman: Exactly how many of the 23 homicides, 970 sexual attacks, and over 1,800 robberies and grievous assaults that remain unsolved are unsolved as a result of the backlog in DNA forensic testing by the institute?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: If the member wants that precise information I am happy to provide it. But I can say that all urgent work is done quickly by the forensic people. Less urgent stuff, or evidence that is not likely to present a solution, is not dealt with as quickly.
NANAIA MAHUTA (NZ Labour—Tainui) to the
Associate Minister of Tourism: He aha ngaa kaupapa i te Kawanatanga. He tautoko ngaa mahi taapoi Maaori?
Translation: What is the Government doing to support and develop Māori tourism throughout New Zealand?
Hon DOVER SAMUELS (Associate Minister of Tourism)
:Kei te whakatakoto te Kāwanatanga te rautaki ki te tau 2010 te pūtea $1,000,000 mō ngā tau e toru ki te tautoko i ngā rōpū Māori tāpoi kia tūai i roto i ia rohe, ia rohe puta noa i te motu. The Government has made a commitment to Māori tourism by implementing a key recommendation from the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010. This Government has set aside funding of approximately $1 million over 3 years to develop Māori regional tourism groups right around New Zealand.
He aha ētehi o ngā taonga tūturu Māori e pai ana ki ngā manuwhiri tuārangi i tō rātou taunga mai ki Aotearoa?
- [An interpretation in English was given to the House.]
[What are some aspects of traditional Māori life that appeal to visitors from afar when they land here in New Zealand?]
Hon DOVER SAMUELS:
Kei te maha ngā manuhiri e haere mai ana ki te whai i ngā tikanga Māori. Kei te whakamīharo rātou, ngā manuhiri, ki te ātaahua o ngā waiata me ngā mihi whakatau i roto o te reo Māori me te reo o ngā mātua tūpuna. Te tohu tēnei wiki, ko te kōrero i te reo Māori.
Many visitors who come to New Zealand come for a Māori cultural experience. They show their appreciation when they are entertained by waiata and mihi of welcome in the Māori language—the language of our tūpuna. It is particularly significant this week to encourage our people to speak in the Māori language—this being Māori Language Week.
Kei hea tētahi wāhi marumaru mō te mana whakairo hinengaro me te mana ahurea Māori, kei whakahekea ki te tūranga o te tiki kirihōu?
- [An interpretation in English was given to the House.]
[Where will Māori intellectual property and cultural rights be placed in the strategy to protect them so that their status is not reduced to that of a plastic tiki?]
Hon DOVER SAMUELS:
Koia tēnā tētahi a ngā tirohanga a te rīpoata a te Kāwanatanga mō ngā āhuatanga e pā ana ki ngā tāpoi Māori e pā ana ki te iwi Māori. Nā, ko tēnā ko tētahi o ngā taonga e kōrero nei i roto o te rīpoata kei te whai i te Kāwanatanga.
There is a report from Te Puni Kōkiri in terms of branding Māori and using a standard in terms of the presentation and production of the Māori tourism product right throughout Aotearoa.
Defence Force—Security Assets
SIMON POWER (NZ National—Rangitikei) to the
Minister of Defence: Does the Government have any plans to update the New Zealand public on the extent of New Zealand’s military and security assets by way of a white paper or similar document; if not, why not?
Hon MARK BURTON (Minister of Defence)
Simon Power: How much of the $2 billion of defence spending promised by the Government will be funded from accumulating depreciation, as noted by the former chiefs and reported in the
New Zealand Herald this morning?
Hon MARK BURTON: I can assure the member that all of the long-term development plan will be funded from a combination of capital injections, available finance through—[Interruption]—I am sorry; I got an interjection from a very helpful colleague—from depreciation, and various other matters.
Simon Power: How much?
Hon MARK BURTON: I do not have the exact figures with me. I am happy to provide them to the member. But the key thing is, of course, that there is a long-term development plan, and it does lay out a comprehensive, systematic acquisition programme in keeping with the policy framework that this Government published in 2000.
Tim Barnett: Has he seen any other reports on the need to address the state of New Zealand’s military assets?
Hon MARK BURTON: Yes. In the
New Zealand International Review, Simon Power, speaking personally, is reported as saying: “I acknowledge that the National and National-led Governments did not allow defence spending to keep pace in the 1990s.” Further, in relation to the effectiveness of our Defence Force, he said: “Courage is no substitute for good policy and appropriate equipment for that policy.” I agree, and that is why we put in place a coherent policy and implementation process.
Keith Locke: How does the long-term development plan, which the Minister has just referred to, help us develop assets for peacekeeping such as we are doing in the Solomon Islands at present?
Hon Mark Burton: What it does is ensure that we have an acquisition process that is rationally and logically based on the defence policy framework that was published in 2000, then outlined in the defence statement of 2001. There is a direct connection between what we are doing in the world and how we are going to do it.
Simon Power: How can the Minister expect us to take his reassurances seriously when even today the deployment of an Air Force Iroquois helicopter was not possible because of the breakdown of the Hercules transport plane?
Hon MARK BURTON: Unlike the member, I am not in the habit of attacking our Defence Force personnel when they are working on a very hard and full programme. I can say precisely, because the very upgrade programmes that are required to put in place the modernisation of the Air Force are in the long-term development plan. Tenders are being called for. That alone, the Air Force upgrades, will involve the expenditure of between $900 million and $1.1 billion.
Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH (NZ National—Rodney)
: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would appreciate it if you would be prepared to reflect on the ruling that you appear to have imposed on the House today in respect of interjections being permissible only from a member’s own seat. The reason I raise the matter is this. During a number of debates in Parliament, it is common practice when the House is not full for members to gather, often around their whips’ desks, and speak from those points. It means that there can be much more interactive debate, and, what is more, if members were not allowed to interject from those points, they could not really take part in the debate. What that would mean is that members would have to sit in their own seats around this Chamber, and that would destroy the spirit of debate in the Chamber, because some members who wanted to interact in the debate would be forced to speak from way up the back of the Chamber. I am concerned that if you were to enforce that absolutely, it would be somewhat damaging to the spirit of the Chamber.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House)
: My understanding of the Speaker’s ruling is that one should not move one’s seat in order to be able to interject better. I think the National Party was in some difficulty today because so few of its regular front bench were here that it needed to fill up those seats with back-benchers; otherwise, it would have looked terribly thin on television. In that sense, it seemed to me that Dr Lockwood Smith was moved forward merely to fill up some of the gaps left by his absent colleagues, and, therefore, had to interject from that position.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister, I am afraid, has gone a little far there—that was a reference to members’ absence. I think the member has raised an interesting point, and I am going to think about it. But I just want to say that Speaker’s ruling 123/7 states: “While interjections have traditionally been permitted during debate, they are not in order at all during question time.” I take a little more liberal view on that than some of my predecessors, and perhaps that is my mistake. I prefer, however, to allow there to be the odd comment, provided that it is not unreasonable. I did not think that the one comment made by the member concerned, the member who raised the point of order, was unreasonable, but another colleague of his had about four or five goes, and I thought that that was going too far. I will be reasonable about it, but I do not want to be too reasonable.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education)
: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that there is probably an additional point that could be made, and it has to do with our using the advice of experienced members of the House. I think that on occasions like this it would have been more appropriate to invite one of the most experienced National Party members, Mr Williamson, to come to the front, rather than to have him in the gallery.
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. The member is trying my patience now, and being silly.
Smoke-free Environments (Enhanced Protection) Amendment Bill
DAVID BENSON-POPE (Senior Whip—NZ Labour)
: I seek leave that not withstanding Standing Order 145(1)(b), the votes cast for each party on the second reading of this bill may include votes cast for the Ayes and Noes, and abstentions.
Dail Jones: I did not quite catch what the member said. I was engaged on something else, and it is obviously a very important issue.
DAVID BENSON-POPE: The leave is a consequence of the agreement at the Business Committee that allows a split vote by the National Party or any other party, should it wish to do so.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Clem Simich): Is there any objection to that course of action? There appears to be none.
- Debate resumed from 25 June.
PITA PARAONE (NZ First)
: Tēnā koe. As I mentioned earlier in this debate, the New Zealand First caucus has allowed its members to have a free vote on this bill. I have chosen to exercise my own vote in support of this bill, the reasons for which I have already declared to this House.
It would be useful at this point to look at the opinions of those who encounter the effects of tobacco use on a daily basis. I am not talking about those who work in the hospitality industry, but those who encounter the effects of tobacco use every day. I am talking about those who work in the medical profession, who have come out strongly in favour of this bill. In fact, 99.9 percent of those approached in a recent survey, amounting to over 1,000 doctors, supported the concept of smoke-free workplaces, including bars and clubs. I suggest that the reason they are in favour of smoke-free legislation is that they know, through their experience, the realities of the eventual effects of smoking on health. Every day in clinics and hospitals they see and treat people who have respiratory problems, cancers, heart disease, strokes, and so on, all of which are linked to smoking.
Passive smoking is now recognised as a causal factor in the onset of smoke-related illness. It is one thing to be told all these statistics; it is another thing to witness them in reality. Health professionals do so on a daily basis, and that is why one would be hard-pressed to find a health worker who is not in favour of limiting the opportunities for smoking and exposure to smoke, and of sending out a clear message that smoking is not conducive to good health.
The medical profession is not the only professional group that has come out in favour of this bill. Scientists are well aware of the harmful quantities of toxins in cigarette smoke. The hard evidence of the presence of such substances, which to most of us evoke lethal poisoning in detective stories, is a scientific fact. A scientific report on tests carried out on non-smoking bar staff after a normal shift revealed that their bodies had taken in cigarette smoke. So why, when most other workers are protected, is this group overlooked? Well, they will not be for much longer, and that is only fair and just.
Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act employers are obliged to protect their staff and the public from hazards. It has been clearly established that cigarette smoke is a hazard capable of killing people. Therefore we need to act in a manner that is consistent with other legislation, whether or not we might agree with such legislation. Evidence from other countries where smoke-free legislation has been introduced shows that smoke bans have not adversely affected the hospitality industry. Having said that, I still have a number of concerns about the bill, not least of all being the freedom of choice for people to smoke when and where they choose.
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Associate Minister of Health)
: Kia ora. I am very pleased to speak today in the second reading debate on the Smoke-free Environments (Enhanced Protection) Amendment Bill. I would like to focus on a key element of this bill that seems to have become almost lost in the race by some to protect the so-called rights of smokers in this country. What about the rights of workers? This bill is not about only public health; it is about workers’ rights. The title of the bill highlights that. The bill seeks to enhance protections for workers in a wide variety of environments in which they work. The Smoke-free Environments Act of 1990 provided valuable groundwork, and many New Zealanders now take smoke-free offices for granted.
The 1990 legislation was successful in reducing workers’ exposure to second-hand smoke from 31 percent down to 21 percent in just 1 year, and since then we have seen a further drop to 17 percent. But that legislation, progressive though it was at the time, addressed only half of the workplaces in which second-hand smoke is a health and safety issue for workers. That half tended to be the white-collar office workers. What was missing, and what this bill incrementally expands on, is a universal protection for all workers, regardless of what type of indoor environment they work in. Those who work in factories, warehouses, schools, hospitality venues, taxis, shared work vehicles, and the like also have a right to work in a place that will not kill them by exposing them to the risks of second-hand smoke. If the Californian experience is anything to go by, the bill will, hopefully, have the spin-off of encouraging more people to adopt smoke-free environments at home for their children, as well.
The bill will provide 100 percent smoke-free protection in all indoor workplaces where two or more people work in a common airspace. It will include volunteers who work in these workplaces. It will include taxis, work vehicles, passenger lounges, internal areas of ships, trains and planes, marae, and other community spaces to the extent that they are workplaces and workplace cafeterias. The Health Committee has considered that some exceptions are appropriate, such as workplaces that are a private citizen’s home or a temporary residence. But separate indoor smoking areas for workers will go, and with them the need for employers to have a written policy on smoking in the workplace. Employers will still have to comply with health and safety legislation. The bill makes this explicit. Employers will have a duty to take all reasonable practical steps to ensure a smoke-free indoor work environment for workers and volunteers, and smokers themselves will have a duty to abide by the same rules.
Smoking is not just a harmless habit. It is a very serious health issue. Under the hazard identification code in the Health and Safety in Employment Act, tobacco smoke is a significant workplace hazard. Second-hand smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals, 200 poisons, and over 40 cancer-causing compounds. The sidestream smoke that others breathe in is actually more dangerous than the mainstream smoke that smokers inhale directly from a cigarette. Exposure to that second-hand smoke is a known health hazard that kills nearly the equivalent of our total road toll each year—an estimated 388 people. There would be an outrage if we did nothing to reduce our road toll because of the rights of a few dangerous drivers. Similarly, tobacco smoke, as something that fits the health and safety legislation’s top category of workplace hazard, cannot be tolerated or minimised. It must be eliminated entirely from the workplace.
We tend to think of bars, restaurants, and clubs primarily as places in which we can have a drink and a meal, and socialise. However, for more than 10,000 New Zealanders those hospitality venues are their workplaces. The 100 percent smoke-free workplaces policy proposed in this bill is about consistency. It will include those previously neglected workplaces and the workers themselves. The provision will also include sports clubs, Returned Services Associations, and recreational clubs if they employ workers or if they have a liquor licence. As the Health Committee found, there is overwhelming support for a level playing field for all hospitality venues. Hospitality workers should not have to choose between their job and their health, yet this is the situation for many because there is no level playing field for the health and safety rights of workers.
Hospitality workers are particularly vulnerable because they are exposed to high levels of second-hand smoke on a daily basis. I tell Mr Jones that non-smoking workers in hospitality venues breathe in smoke for up to 8 hours a day whether or not they like it. A 2001 study found that New Zealand restaurant and bar workers faced up to four times the exposure to second-hand smoke as compared with someone who actually lived with a smoker.
Employers also pay the cost of smoking through lower staff productivity, higher accident compensation premiums, and the risk of occupational safety and health prosecution for failing to provide a safe workplace. We as taxpayers pay, too. Our health system is burdened with unnecessarily sick workers and the estimated $200 million per year cost of all tobacco related illnesses. We also pay emotionally with the unnecessary pain and distress of loved ones falling ill or dying from the effects of second-hand smoke. So what is the answer? Well, last year the Irish Government, facing the same smoking and worker-health issues as New Zealand, commissioned an independent report from a working group of experts on the effects of second-hand smoke exposure. Their advice was very blunt. Current ventilation technologies are simply inadequate for protecting workers. They reported that, despite attempts by the tobacco industry to play down the possible danger from environmental smoke, the only viable way to ensure protection from the deadly effects of exposure to second-hand smoke was to have a total smoking ban on every indoor workplace.
If Ireland, California, New York, Sweden and Norway can live with smoke-free pubs, then why cannot we? The answer is increasingly clear to the rest of the world, too. An increasing number of Australian states and Canadian provinces are phasing out equal amenity provisions—or ventilation options, as they are called—in favour of 100 percent smoke-free environments. They are realising that having smoking and non-smoking areas in the same premises just does not work. It is about as useful as dividing a swimming pool into the peeing and non-peeing areas! Smoking in workplaces may have been tolerated in the past, but we now know a lot more. In the 21st century we know too much about the risks of smoking, and second-hand smoke, to let the practice continue.
Unions are behind the legislation. They know the value in protecting the workers. I have every sympathy for those smokers who continue to be addicted to nicotine. Most got sucked in when they were still teenagers—I was one of them. I take my hat off to those who have the courage and strength to succeed in quitting. Three-quarters of New Zealanders do not smoke, and we demand the right to have a smoke-free environment. Yet, strangely, time after time during the second reading of this bill, I heard members of Parliament stand and apologetically defer to the so-called “rights” of smokers to ruin the ability of the rest of us—the vast majority of New Zealanders—to enjoy a quiet beer and conversation with our mates down at our local, because of the smoke they endanger us with. I do not accept the claims made by the hospitality industry and the tobacco industry that business will decline if we can all enjoy smoke-free workplaces and hospitality venues. The experience from California shows that business increased after the introduction of smoke-free environments. I compliment the Health Committee on the work it has done, and I look forward to the passage of the bill through the House.
SUE KEDGLEY (Green)
: This bill will probably do more to improve the health of New Zealanders than any other bill before the House this term, and, as such, it should be supported by every member of this House. It is nonsensical for some parties to claim that this bill is somehow a conscience issue that should be voted on according to an individual MP’s conscience, when in fact it is a specific public health measure, and when there are no moral issues in the bill—none at all. Certainly, the bill is widely supported in the community—in particular, by the 75 percent of us who do not smoke and who are fed up with coming home from a night on the town, smelling like an ashtray, with our eyes and throats hurting, and our hair and clothes wreaking of smoke. Most people, including myself, are counting the days until we can breathe clean, unpolluted air in cafes, and bars and do not have to risk our health every time we decide to go out on the town.
It is nonsensical to claim, as some parties are, that it is not the Government’s role to intervene to protect people from harmful exposure to tobacco smoke. We have laws requiring cyclists to wear helmets, people in cars to wear seatbelts to reduce their risk of harm, and we expect the Government to protect us from exposure to cancer-causing substances, like asbestos and dioxin, so why on earth would we not expect it to take similar steps to protect us from the well-documented harm of second-hand smoke? The truth is that some MPs and parties in this House are sounding like King Canute trying to stem the turning tide. They are reciting discredited arguments from the tobacco industry, and using discredited tobacco-industry tactics to try to water down or defeat all or parts of this bill.
The tobacco industry has used every trick in the book over the past 4 decades to oppose every form of tobacco control and to try to influence our political process. It has flown in so-called independent expert witnesses to cast doubt on the harm of second-hand smoke, tried to conceal the evidence of harm from cigarette smoke, lobbied against legislation, objected to health warnings, and misled the public about the very real health issues involved in second-hand smoke. We know all of this thanks to an excellent report by two researchers—Nick Wilson and George Thomson—which has exposed the tactics the tobacco industry used in New Zealand. The report shows that the industry knew it was pushing a product that was addictive and a killer but, still, it spent billions of dollars trying to cover up the evidence of the harm of cigarette smoke so it could keep on selling its harmful, addictive product.
It is disgraceful that the industry was able to delay effective protection from exposure to second-hand smoke for so long, and in so doing contribute to hundreds—or, more likely, millions—of preventable deaths. But it is disgraceful, too, that some of those tactics are still being used today by opponents of this bill, who are doing the bidding of the tobacco industry by trying to water down or throw out this important piece of public health legislation. We can see the hand of the tobacco industry at work in frantic, last-minute lobbying, postcards we have been bombarded with, and MPs singing the tobacco industry tune—that property rights are more important than non-smokers’ rights, and that ventilations will somehow solve the problem of second-hand smoke, whereas compelling evidence has been presented to the Health Committee that they will not. It is galling, too, that a party that brands itself as being family friendly, and supported this bill all the way through the select committee, is now trying to throw out the central provision of this bill.
If smokers were harming only themselves with their habit, then the arguments of opponents would sound credible. But the truth is that every time a patron in a bar, or a club, or a Returned Services Association lights up he or she puts at risk the health of any other person who happens to be around, because two-thirds of the smoke from a cigarette is inhaled, then exhaled into the air, so that everyone in the room breathes in that smoke. Of course, we have been told that second-hand smoke contains 50 chemicals that are known to cause cancer. There is overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that second-hand smoke is a leading cause of death and disease, and causes about one person to die a premature death every day in New Zealand. The Heart Foundation estimates that people who are exposed to second-hand smoke increase their risk of heart attacks by about a third, as well as increasing their risk of the other fatal diseases that plague smokers. The foundation says that bars and places where smokers concentrate pose the greatest risk to passive smokers, because of the concentration of smoke in those places.
Armed with this knowledge, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to cigarette smoke’s harmful effects and allow thousands of workers to be exposed on a daily and continuous basis to those harmful effects. We must be honest and acknowledge that smoke-free zones in cafes and bars are simply not working, because smoke travels throughout an entire room, and, to continue the Minister’s analogy, I say it is like trying to have a non-chlorinated zone in a swimming pool by allowing chlorine only at one end. We must acknowledge, too, that hospitality venues are not just places to socialise but are workplaces for staff who have to work around the clock with smoking patrons continually. Nobody should have to risk their health to go to work, nor should workers be forced to choose between their health and their jobs. Yet we heard numerous heartrending submissions from workers who had had to do just that and whose health had been severely compromised as a result.
This bill will benefit everyone in society, including the hospitality industry. There are no high compliance costs—no building alterations are required, and employers, particularly those in the hospitality industry, can look forward to reduced staff sickness and absenteeism, and reduced chances of litigation. I predict, as others have, that the vastly improved environments in bars will actually mean more, not fewer, patrons. But there must be a level playing field in the implementation of the bill, and it must apply to all bars and clubs equally, and that is why the Green Party is vehemently opposed to last-ditch efforts to exempt Returned Services Association clubs from the provisions of this bill. That is absurd, and we must resist last-minute, pork-barrel attempts to garner votes from Returned Services Associations and other clubs, and we must have an across-the-board approach.
I would like to signal that the Green Party will seek to amend the bill so as to ban the sale of toys that imitate the act of smoking to anyone under the age of 18. Cigarette toys are being sold to children as young as 3, and those toys basically teach children how to become the smokers of tomorrow. I have here seven different toy products that have been sent to me from all around the country. There are squirting cigarettes, cigars—all sort of cigarettes, and all these products are designed to make children think that smoking is somehow cool and fun. Cigarette companies have long targeted young people in their marketing campaigns, knowing, as Philip Morris puts it, that today’s young person is tomorrow’s potential regular customer, and that the vast majority of smokers begin to smoke while in their teens. So if we are serious about trying to discourage our children from becoming the addicts of tomorrow, we must prohibit the sale of products like these, which are specifically targeted at young children, to encourage them to think smoking is cool and to get hooked at a young age.
I will also be seeking to amend the legislation in order to remove the penalties, infringement notices, and prosecution procedures that apply to individuals. We would prefer that we rely on social pressure, not penalties, for getting smokers to comply with the new law. Enforcement has not been an issue in other places, like California, for example, where there are no specific penalties, yet there has been 92 percent compliance after 1 year. I think we can expect the same high compliance rate here in New Zealand. Finally, we strongly support requirements that the bill require full disclosure of the contents of tobacco products, and that all of the more than 600 additives used in tobacco products—used to enhance the taste of tobacco smoke, numb the throat, and so forth, to make cigarettes more palatable for first-time users—ought to be disclosed on tobacco products.
Mr SPEAKER: I understand that there is to be a split speech, between Mr Hughes and Dr Hutchison—3 minutes and 7 minutes.
DARREN HUGHES (NZ Labour—Otaki)
: It is a pleasure to rise in support of the Smoke-free Environments (Enhanced Protection) Amendment Bill. This is a very important piece of legislation that has come before the House, and it is worthy of the support of all members. I want to pay tribute briefly to my predecessor, Judy Keall, who shepherded the bill through the select committee stage. I think the Health Committee’s report is a very good one. It has picked up on a number of the points that submitters raised about making sure there was a level playing field.
I am particularly interested in the provisions that, I believe, provide safeguards for young people, both as patrons of pubs, clubs, and cafes, and as workers in those venues. Often, young people work for very low wages and for very long hours in conditions that are very smoky. There is no doubt that that has an impact on their health. I think this bill is an important way of safeguarding young workers in the economy. That is one of the reasons that I will be supporting the bill. The other, of course, is that pubs, clubs, bars, and cafes are often frequented by lots of young people, and young people generally get addicted to cigarette smoking during their teenage years, or when they are under 18, and putting people into venues where it is very smoky of course has an impact on their health. When I go to such venues, see that they are very smoky, and look around and count the number of people who are smoking, I see that it is actually very few, and the point is that a very few people at those venues have a huge impact on the rest of the people there. I believe that this bill is about making sure that those venues are enjoyable for all New Zealanders, and about making sure there is clean air for all people who want to have fun recreation time in New Zealand.
Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (NZ National—Port Waikato)
: I thank my parliamentary colleague, the member for Otaki, Darren Hughes, for giving me part of his speaking time. I think that very much goes in the spirit of this bill, which recognises the huge public health gains that can be achieved by its passing.
It is important to understand that National regards this bill as a conscience issue, and I am speaking as an individual rather than as the National Party. For me, the basic issue regarding this bill is one of freedom—freedom of choice about whether one has to partake of other people’s smoke. It is somewhat ironic to hear some of the spokespeople from the ACT party talking about loss of freedom. As I understand it, basic libertarian philosophy advocates as much individual freedom as possible, provided there is no harm to others—and second-hand smoke, unequivocally, does harm others. I would go so far as to say that the 25 percent of New Zealanders who do smoke impose on those around them, particularly their children, and diminish their freedoms. It is just not possible to move away or go to another restaurant if a child has been taken there by its parents.
As someone who has been a practising clinician for over 25 years, I have good reason to be deeply concerned about the issue of all New Zealanders having the freedom to breathe clean air. I spent 2 years in the United States as a pathology resident, and one of the most indelibly awful sights was the dissection of the lungs of heavy smokers, and I would recommend that activity if one wants to be put off. When I became a specialist obstetrician, I could not have had more clearly re-enforced on me the profound implication for a baby, both before and after birth, of having smoking parents. There is absolutely no doubt that babies and young children who are consistently exposed to second-hand smoke are deprived of achieving their full potential.
Stopping smoking and eliminating second-hand smoke in public places and at work is one of the most clearly identifiable public-health prevention programmes known. There is a whole raft of epidemiological evidence to support that statement. It is for this reason that the design of this bill is so important. Undoubtedly, the workplace-smoking issue is of high importance. The recent case in Australia—an employee of a Returned Services Association successfully sued because her unsafe, smoking workplace was considered to be the cause of her cancer—will inevitably have ramifications in New Zealand.
Many people working in the hospitality industry here are up in arms about the possibility of banning smoking in restaurants, bars, and casinos, and, originally, thought had indeed been given to having separate smoking rooms. But one of the quite outstanding examples of where this has been quite unnecessary—because banning smoking has worked in an opposite, positive, direction—has been the South Island smoke-free dining and accommodation guide. Last year I had the opportunity of visiting the Gresham Hotel in Dunedin, which has recently become smoke-free and has actually increased its patronage from something like 200 people a week to 2,000 a week. Bands play there free of charge because they like the environment.
One startling anomaly in New Zealand is that the Health and Safety in Employment Act is not being enforced. In fact, in 2001 the Occupational Safety and Health Service defined in its handbook that second-hand smoke is a significant hazard, capable of causing serious harm, and death. Theoretically, employers are required to identify and control hazards—including all hospitality venues. I think that there is a huge case for the occupational safety and health laws to be better enforced in New Zealand. The tobacco legislation is undoubtedly, in essence, about freedom of choice. If adults decide that smoking is what they want to do, and if they smoke in situations that do not impact on others, including minors, then that is up to them.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the work of Action on Smoking and Health. I realise that that group might not be popular in all sectors of New Zealand society, but it has relentlessly stuck to its guns on this issue. It has worked really hard to present the New Zealand public with quality information so that individuals can make an informed choice. I also acknowledge the big contribution made by the New Zealand Heart Foundation, and related organisations that have also worked very hard to see this bill progressed. Legislation like this is controversial. It does not suit everyone. However, I believe that in 20 years’ time the next generation of New Zealanders will be very glad that a huge effort was put in by this generation to help the majority of our children have the freedom of choice of a smoke-free environment.
NANAIA MAHUTA (NZ Labour—Tainui)
: For anyone who is listening to this debate, I point out that the bill provides specifically for the protection of workers, volunteers, and the public from the effects of second-hand smoke. I thank all the officials and advisers who helped the Health Committee deliberate over some difficult and challenging issues.
The intent of the bill should really be understood against the context of a whole lot of smoke-free legislation that has occurred. The Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 and the subsequent amendments, and the Smoke-free Environments Regulations 1999 provided that there would be a restriction on smoking in workplaces; required all workplaces to have a policy on smoking, and to review that policy annually; required that we restrict or ban smoking in restaurants, bars, casinos, public transport, and certain other public places, and also regulate the marketing, advertising, and promotion of tobacco products, and the sponsorship by tobacco companies of products, services and events; required that we ban the sale of tobacco products to people under the age of 18 years; and required that we provide for the control and disclosure of the contents of tobacco products. In a sense, though, we all know what is reality in our communities: smoking kills. That is really what it comes down to. So, in that context, this particular bill to protect the rights of workers, I think, goes in the right direction.
I do not want to spend too long in this debate speaking on issues faced by the select committee, but I do want to highlight one point in particular. A lot of discussion came up in our select committee about whether to legislate for marae to be included within the ambit of this bill. Clearly, all submissioners said, and their advice to us was, that that would not be a positive step if we wanted to strike a balance between individual and collective responsibility. Also, the harder challenge for us all is to create an environment within our public health policy context where people voluntarily move to reduce smoking, and produce a voluntary ban. That is the best way to do it amongst our marae. Indeed, we heard advice from people involved in the Auahi Kore campaign and the Aukati Kai Paipa campaign, key workers on the ground who go amongst Māori communities and Māori people, and they said that people were doing it anyway. In fact, they were getting calls from people from marae asking how to become smoke-free.
Let us be realistic: how do we take some practical steps? That is the way to ensure that people take some individual and collective responsibility to reduce and minimise the effects of smoking amongst our whānau groups. The benefit is that we will have an environment that promotes health and well-being in its entirety, and that is really what we want to see. No one knows more than Māori women that the effects of smoking have hurt them tremendously. In fact, the rate of deaths as a result of smoking is an absolute travesty, with regard to the figures relating to Māori women. I comment on that aspect because I know that there were a lot of views around our select committee table to consider legislating to include marae.
One of the difficulties around that is that marae are places where there is no paid workforce. A lot of the people there are volunteers, and a lot of the work that happens there is on a voluntary basis. So, in terms of the strict provisions and context of this particular bill, it would be a farce to try to apply them to a marae context. But that does not mean that Māori communities and marae are not addressing these issues in a serious way. In fact, they are. When one visits a marae one will see signs saying: “He wāhi auahi kore” me “Kaua e momi paipa”, or things like that, and that demonstrates that we are dealing with these issues anyway.
I am concerned about those people—and these views were expressed amongst our select committee—who scratch the edge of racist sentiments in saying that we are providing one law for some and one law for others. In fact, this legislation provides a level playing field. All workspaces will be covered by this legislation, as they should be. I support that.
I also want to comment on some of the concerns of owners of bars and casinos, who said that if those businesses were included in this legislation, they would lose clientele. If one just walks down one’s main street—I have done it in Hamilton—goes in bars, and asks the people there about the smoking provisions, they themselves say that they are moving in this direction because their clientele want a more smoke-free environment. So I do not think that the intention of the bill is at odds with business. I think that the intention of the bill provides a safer workplace for workers, and that is important.
It also sends out a clear signal, in terms of public health policy, that we are really serious about encouraging smoke-free environments. As for all those places that are not covered, such as marae, I suggest that they are already dealing with this issue. This legislation brings a sense of urgency in terms of how we better deal with encouraging minimisation of the harm smoking causes amongst our families and our communities. I am also happy that schools and early childhood centres are included in this legislation. It is an important step forward.
Mr SPEAKER: According to the leave already granted by the House, there will be a party vote, but parties can split their votes.
A party vote was called for on the question,
That the Smoke-free Environments (Enhanced Protection) Amendment Bill be now read a second time.
||Labour 52; New Zealand National 3; New Zealand First 4; Green Party 9; United Future 8.
||New Zealand National 24; New Zealand First 9; ACT New Zealand 6.
|Bill read a second time.
DAVID BENSON-POPE (Senior Whip—NZ Labour)
: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Could the National whip confirm that he did cast 27 votes on this occasion?
LINDSAY TISCH (Junior Whip—NZ National)
: We are casting 27 votes. We are casting a vote for Maurice Williamson. We hold his proxy.
Mr SPEAKER: That is fine.
MOANA MACKEY (NZ Labour)
: “E mahara iho ana, he waka ka urutomo; he ika rere ki Hikurangi rā ia.” Ka maumahara hoki ki aku tīpuna, arā, a Hone rāua ko Wahine, a Elsdon rāua ko Zeta; haere e ngā mate, haere atu koutou i te huanui, i te ara kua papa tauria e te tapuwae kauika tangata. Takoto mai koutou i te urunga e kore nekehia, i te moenga e kore hikitia. Haere, haere, haere, whakaoti atu koutou.
Ki taku iwi a Ngāti Porou, aku mātua a Janet rāua ko Hone, taku tuahine a Erin, taku teina a Tūrei, ngā whanaunga, ngā hoa piripono, ngā mihi nui mō tā koutou tautoko mai i tēnei tamaiti, mokopuna i runga i tēnei huarahi hōu i tēnei rā me ngā rā kei mua. Ki aku hoa mahi hoki o Te Rōpū Reipa, te Pirimia Helen Clark, tēnā koe. He mihi atu tēnei kia koutou katoa. I te ika rere, mai i te tihi o Hikurangi maunga horapa ana ki te ao.
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.
- [An interpretation in English was given to the House.]
[“I thought the canoe was securely moored, but it became like a flying fish to Hikurangi.” I think of my grandparents as well, Hone and Wahine, Elsdon and Zeta. Farewell the dead, depart on the highway, on the well-worn track. Lie there at the entrance on the resting place where you will not be disturbed. Depart, leave, go on your way for ever.
To my Ngāti Porou people, to my parents Janet and Hone, my sister Erin, my young brother Turei, to my relations and close friends, my special acknowledgments to you all for supporting me, your child, on this new pathway today and in the days ahead. I want to acknowledge my colleagues of the Labour Party as well; and to the Prime Minister Helen Clark, thank you, too. This is a greeting to you all. From the flying fish from the peak of Hikurangi, spread your net out to the world. Greetings, greetings, and greetings to you all.]
It is an honour to stand in this House and deliver my maiden statement. I pay tribute to all those who have gone before me and paved the way for my development and acceptance in this great House. In particular, I acknowledge the many women who have passed through these halls and the sacrifices they made to bring about the changes that have allowed me to stand here today and accept my place in this Parliament. I am proud to stand here as the 86th woman to be sworn into the House of Representatives.
While we, as women, have certainly come a long way in the 60 years since the election of our first woman member of Parliament, I fear that we may have become too complacent. New Zealand, with nearly 30 percent female representation in this Parliament, sits at 16th out of the 133 countries listed by the Women in National Parliaments sector of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. I hope that by 2019, the 100th anniversary of the law change allowing women to stand for Parliament, we are a little closer to achieving 50 percent representation for women in this Parliament.
I believe that the next issue we must tackle on behalf of women is equal pay for work of equal value. After 30 years of equal pay law, women’s average total weekly earnings are still 23 percent lower than men’s earnings. In Labour’s 2002 election policies, we pledged we would develop a programme to promote equal pay for work of equal value and, where appropriate, introduce measures to address the gap between male and female wage rates. I pay tribute to the work done by the Hon Margaret Wilson in this area and the advances that are being made. This is no mean feat, as we are unfortunately operating in quite a different industrial environment from that which existed at the time of the short-lived Employment Equity Act of 1990. But I have confidence in the passion and commitment I have seen displayed by the women MPs and members of my own party on this issue, and I look forward to working with them to progress this cause.
As has become blindingly obvious to all over the last week, I come from a political family. For as long as I can remember, politics has been discussed and debated, and Labour Party meetings were, for me, as normal as going to school. Current events were routinely discussed at the dinner table, and punishments and curfews were always seen as a starting point for ongoing good-faith negotiations. One of my most vivid childhood memories is of being age 6 and marching with my mother in the 1981 anti-Springbok tour protest in Auckland. I can still remember the complex understanding I had of what that event was about. I remember my mum explaining in some detail the situation in South Africa, and then feeling the injustice of the situation fill me with anger. I was so incensed that, to the horror of my teacher at the time, I even talked about it at show-and-tell. I also remember the chaos when papa came, all the way from the coast, grasping prized tickets to the All Blacks - Springboks test match. Mum grabbed the tickets, put them in her mouth, and chewed them up. These are the moments that have stuck with me throughout the years—and papa did eventually start talking to mum again.
But my parents’ values and ideals were not limited just to the political arena. We were not a wealthy family, although we certainly had enough to put food on the table. Yet we never took for granted what little we had, and always knew there were plenty of other families who had far less. I always knew that I came from a privileged family. We did not have much money but my parents and grandparents loved me, encouraged me, and provided a stimulating learning environment, free from conflict and free from fear. The consistency of the messages I received in my upbringing, mirrored in the political activism that I observed, cemented the values and principles of the Labour Party in me from an early age.
Looking back at this period of my life, it was not an easy time to grow up in a bicultural household. At school I was constantly forced to choose between my two families. At the beginning of each school year it was required that for ethnicity I select one box only. I used to alternate between the two. I hate to think what I did to the statistics at that time. It was extremely confusing as a young child to be told constantly that I could not be both, when quite obviously I was.
Māori was barely spoken at all at my primary school, and I lived in fear of new teachers or replacement teachers who would come in and absolutely murder the pronunciation of my name. The teasing that always ensued meant that not only did I come to resent my name but also I would fake illness whenever I knew our regular teacher was going to be away, in order to escape the inevitable humiliation. Looking back now, I have to wonder how hard it was for the kids who actually looked different and whose customs and upbringing meant they behaved differently. If I felt marginalised because of my name, I cannot even begin to appreciate what they went through.
We moved to Gisborne when I was 7. Although the cultural environment was noticeably different, it was not until I started at Ilminster Intermediate, a fantastic school in Kaiti, Gisborne, that I even encountered te reo Māori in the classroom, and this continued throughout my studies at Lytton High School. It is hard to explain just what a relief this experience was. It validated a part of me that, until this point, had not only been ignored by the education system but discouraged. It comes as no surprise to me that, according to the 2001 census, people in my age group are the least likely to speak Māori of all the age categories. It is one of my greatest regrets that I cannot speak the language of my grandparents. However, what is encouraging and bodes well for the future of the language is that nearly half of all Māori speakers now are under the age of 25.
I firmly believe that the Māori language should be taught in all our schools, at least up to high school level. I cannot think of any reason that an official language of this country should not make up a compulsory part of the primary school curriculum. I certainly wish it had been that way in my day. People might have pronounced my name correctly, for a start.
Whilst at primary school I soon learnt that not all my peers, if any, shared an interest in politics. Trying to change a topic of conversation from what we were going to name our ponies, to the relative merits of the corporal punishment debate was always a lost cause. It did not take me long to work out that the only people willing to indulge me were the teachers, and with my already well-developed social barometer I realised that was not a good look. So I withdrew from political life at age 8½.
At the legal age of political consent I joined the New Zealand Labour Party, and while at high school I joined a group of my friends up and we formed the Gisborne Labour Party youth branch. The Hon Peter Dunne even came to Gisborne to present us with the Labour Party charter.
As is often the norm, university was the beginning of my serious political activism. The introduction of the student loan scheme, means testing of student allowances, and skyrocketing student fees made for a fairly volatile student body. The Government had campaigned on removing the $1,300 tertiary tuition fee, and it had. What it did not tell us was that it was replacing it with a $3,000 tertiary tuition fee. Student protests were well attended, although, not surprisingly, completely ignored. It was incredibly frustrating, and the media seemed intent on focusing on some random anonymous idiot who had spent his student loan on a holiday to Bali or a widescreen television, and ignoring the majority of us who worked all though university, sometimes to the detriment of our studies.
We soon found out, once we left university, that not only did we have to start our working lives in serious debt but also the debt was significantly larger than expected, due to the interest that had accrued while studying. I am proud that Labour has already reduced the immense burden of tertiary education costs for students by introducing a fairer loan scheme, freezing fees, and increasing access to allowances.
Access to quality education and training is a key priority for this Government, and I acknowledge the excellent work done by my colleague the Hon Steve Maharey in this area. To this end, the policy I am most proud of is the Modern Apprenticeships scheme. It is changing the lives and futures of more than 3,000 young New Zealanders, and filling the skills gaps that threaten to choke economic growth. The commitment to increase this number to 6,000 by the end of the year is a fundamentally important policy initiative for young New Zealanders.
I became involved in Young Labour, the youth wing of the Labour Party, around this time as well. I stayed in the organisation until 2000. During that time I became acquainted with such political heavyweights as Darren Hughes. I have no doubt that I would not be where I am today, were it not for the experienced networks and friends that Young Labour brought me.
I currently reside in Lower Hutt, having moved to Petone in 2001. In that same year I became involved in the Hutt 20/20 local body campaign and was elected to the Petone Community Board. The Petone Community Board is a never-a-dull-moment affair, as I am sure my community board colleague Murray Smith would agree. Anyone who thinks that local government politics is boring has obviously never been to one of our meetings. The meetings are sometimes a tad long—Murray—but obviously the Petone Community Board is the magical portal into this place, so I will not complain.
I do wish that local government matters were subject to the same public scrutiny as central government politics. Some of the most important decisions concerning our environment are made at local government level, and in many cases these decisions are being made by people with extraordinarily scary agendas, in my opinion.
It is time to swing the lens of the microscope that focuses so intently on central government over to local government once in a while. After all, it is also publicly elected and just as publicly accountable.
It has not been the easiest time to be a young New Zealander. Growing up in the 1990s sucked. The politics of the right made it a particularly divisive and destructive period, and coming from somewhere like Gisborne where workers, students, and families were particularly vulnerable, it was felt even more acutely. Families at the bottom of the heap struggled to cope, and the pressures placed on those families throughout those years are now being seen in our youth offending and youth suicide statistics. It is hard to find the time to teach your children how to cope with life and all its challenges when you are quite simply not coping yourself.
New Zealand’s youth suicide rate is a national tragedy. Too many of our young people, particularly our young Māori men, are taking their own lives through anger, frustration, and despondence. I certainly do not profess to have the answer. However, consistency of message is extremely important. It is difficult to get the message across about asking for help when you need it. It is not an indication of failure or weakness, and does not make you a burden on anyone, but we have politicians attacking people for doing just that by receiving State assistance. I am proud of our social welfare system and the safety net it provides for those who need it. I believe that when it comes to providing for your family it is not only your right to receive assistance, should circumstances get you down, but also it is your responsibility to ask.
This Government is also committed to helping people make the transition into paid employment, and under this Labour-led Government we have seen the unemployment rate at a 15-year low. The hangover from the 1990s is still being felt now. Nine years of having your rights and concerns ignored by those who make the rules, has resulted in a seriously apathetic young population. More young people than ever are struggling to find their identity and to feel they have the power to control their own lives. It is one thing to be reviled, but it is far worse to be invisible. Too many of our young people feel invisible, and that is a tragedy.
In a global world it is even harder to find your feet. It is incredibly depressing to think that we live in a world where some multinational companies have more power than some Governments. It perpetuates a sense of futility. I am proud to stand here as part of a Government that understands the importance of New Zealand’s role as a member of the international community, but is not afraid to stand apart from others and take a stand where we believe it to be appropriate. New Zealand’s independent voice will not be lost in the melting pot of international politics, and this message is an important one for our rangatahi youth.
It is much easier to find your place in a global world when you have a strong sense of identity at home. This is why the work of the Labour-led Government, since 1999, in support of the arts, culture, and creative industries has been so vitally important. The arts give voice to our culture and our heritage, and embody what sets us apart from the rest of the world. Many people on the other side of the House have voiced strong opposition to the Government’s spending in this area. There is a saying about knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing, and that is particularly pertinent in this instance. With a stronger sense of cultural identity, young New Zealanders will be much better equipped to find their place in the world. An important facet is the need to have a stronger focus, at all levels of schooling, on teaching the history of our country, as a priority. While this is not a problem unique to New Zealand, the highly politicised nature of issues pertaining to Māoridom makes our particular case far more urgent. Fear is a powerful political motivator, and fuelled by ignorance it can create explosive conditions.
New Zealand is entering a challenging phase of its political development. We are told by many that we should be afraid—afraid of treaty claims, afraid of immigrants, and afraid of science. I do not want to say much on the immigration issue, except to say that Kiwis enjoy the freedom to go and work or play in just about any country in the world that takes our fancy. We consider it a basic right. That cuts both ways. I welcome the diversity that comes with the arrival of new cultures in Aotearoa and I refuse to be told that I should be afraid of it.
I was at high school when the National Party was elected in 1990. It promised it would not cut weekly pay, weekend pay, or pay received for overtime. As it turned out, that was one of the first things to go. The introduction of the Employment Contracts Act in 1991 was one of the darkest days in the history of New Zealand’s industrial relations. I remember at the time that I had an after-school and weekend job working for a less-than-model employer. He actually danced around our workplace when the law was passed. Before the Governor-General’s signature was even dry on the new legislation, he had cut penal rates and adopted what would soon become the signature “take it or leave it” stance on contract negotiations. Although a lot of what he did operated outside the law, even under the Employment Contracts Act, he often commented that the huge shift of power towards the employer, which was embodied in the Employment Contracts Act, was indicative of a change in culture in industrial relations and that justified his actions.
That experience precipitated my first contact as an employee with a union. I have been a strong advocate of unions ever since. The 1990s were an exceptionally difficult time for the union movement. A generation of young people entered the workforce under the shadow of the Employment Contracts Act, and, tragically, that became the norm. Trying to organise workers to stand up for themselves was difficult, when in many workplaces rocking the boat or wearing your union colours on your sleeve could perceivably result in missing out on promotions or being labelled a troublemaker. More and more workers were casualised, as employers saw the opportunity to save money by having a flexible workforce, and work conditions decreased until most companies had contracts that, for the worker at the bottom of the heap, merely reflected what was required by law. The mantra: “If you don’t like it there are 10 others lined up outside who would jump at the opportunity” reverberated around the workplaces of our nation. Most astonishing of all is that some parties would have us go back to this situation.
The introduction of the Employment Relations Act in 2000 heralded a new era in employment law. According to opponents the world was going to end and unions would run wild across the country, crippling every industry with expensive strikes. But, after all, unionised workers are just reasonable people who, collectively, simply wish to be paid fairly for the work they do and be able to support themselves and their families with dignity. It strikes me as only fair that if a company can have a whole team of lawyers looking after its human resource interests, without anyone raising an eyebrow, then I should be allowed one union organiser.
This Government has done much to improve the working conditions and rights of workers in New Zealand. It seems to me that if you want to talk about family-friendly policies, then ensuring your loved ones can be reasonably expected to return home each night would be at the top of my list. There is no doubt that New Zealand families are under greater strain than in previous times. Longer working hours and less career stability no doubt lead to high stress levels and strained personal relations, which impact negatively on family dynamics.
In my short working-career I have worked in both the private and public sector science industries. When I decided to study science I never envisaged it would become such a controversial area. It is true that the science community has never really had to be that accountable to the public before, but I do not believe that that is simply because it has not wanted to. I have taken great umbrage at the portrayal of scientists as unscrupulous and unethical. Many of these men and women have spent their working lives on research and technology that they believe will make a difference in their field. I am sure we all partake of scientific discoveries on a regular basis and silently thank the individuals or groups whose hard work and innovation have made our lives that little bit easier.
During the election campaign I found the genetic engineering debate extremely frustrating. There was a tendency on both sides to tell only half the story, which meant that meaningful debate was impossible. You had to be for or against with no shades of in-between. I believe there will be developments in gene technology that will be of hugely positive benefit, just as I have no doubt there will be those that I would not touch with a bargepole. I believe the Government’s decision to proceed with caution, following the advice of the royal commission, is the sensible thing to do. We stand to improve hugely the health of our people, our biodiversity, and our environment; and we deserve that choice.
There are people whom I wish to acknowledge. To Graham and Janette Kelly, I wish you every happiness in your new life. Graham played an important role in the extremely difficult part of our party’s history, and I will not forget what he went through. To my friends, many of whom are here today, I thank you for your support and for not thinking I was a total loser for being so politically active. To Phil and “Goff office”, thank you for your friendship and camaraderie over the last year. It has been a pleasure working with you all, and at least my food supplies are now safe from Phil’s late-night forays around the office. To Labour Party members the length and breadth of Aotearoa, particularly my Petone posse and the Gisborne gang, especially Pat and Sue who are here tonight, thank you for the faith you have shown in me. It is your hard-working commitment that keeps this proud organisation strong. To my Labour colleagues, I look forward to working with you all, and especially acknowledge the support you continue to give to the youth sector of our party.
To my family and whānau in this House—Bill Gudgeon, David Cunliffe, Doug Woolerton, and my cuzzie from the coast, Parekura—I am proud to serve alongside you. To our Prime Minister, the wonderful Helen Clark, you have always supported the development of younger members of our party, and I stand here as a testament to your faith in the youth of our organisation.
To my family and whānau, you have made me what I am, for better or worse. To my grandparents who could not be here in body, Nanny and Papa, Grandpa, and Maudey, I know you are with me in spirit. To my brother and sister, Turei and Erin, this means I am officially the best! To my dad, John, thank you for all your love and support, and can I just reiterate you are still under strict media embargo. To my mother, hereinafter known as Janet, I would not be standing here today if it were not for the respect I have for you as a parliamentarian, a mother, and a friend. Just taihoa with the embarrassing stories and we will get on just fine. To my extremely tolerant Kelvin, who does not even like politics, thank you for being my rock in what has been a roller coaster of a year. Kia ora mai koutou katoa.
- Sitting suspended from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.