Mr SPEAKER: I want to correct the division list on the first reading of the New Organisms and Other Matters Bill. The Ayes are 105, the Noes are 9.
Hon RICK BARKER (Minister of Customs)
: That was a speech that shows why Winston Peters is considered by many to be a de facto Leader of the Opposition. It also shows why Winston Peters will always remain in Opposition. Winston Peters was, some time, a member of a Government. He was a lamb in Government, but he has become a lion in Opposition. All the issues that he has talked about today, he had the opportunity as Treasurer to do something about, but he did nothing. It will be very galling for Winston Peters to know that in respect of all the issues he identified, this Government has done fantastically well. For example, unemployment is at an all-time low in this country—an 18-year low. We have the highest level of apprenticeships, and the highest record level of growth. Winston Peters talks tough on crime—but when, during the time of his Government, did we see someone sentenced to 33 years in jail? When did we see anybody sentenced to 27 years in jail? That has happened under this Government. Those penalties are the toughest penalties to be handed down in my lifetime. This Government is committed to building three more jails. Do we hear any support from the Opposition? Not on your nelly! The Opposition joins the legions of the opponents of the
jails. This Government is tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, and we are going to get results.
Winston Peters wants to move along the aisle to where Bill English sits, because he wants to be the Leader of the Opposition, and he has every chance—because what does Bill English stand for? He made some of the most extraordinary statements I have seen, in all my life, from a politician campaigning to be the Prime Minister. When I looked at his campaign, I thought: “What’s that guy campaigning for?” This is a man who spent years in politics and still does not know what he is campaigning for. He leads a party that once had a proud record in building cohesiveness in our society. I admired Duncan MacIntyre. He could speak
Māori. He was respected by
Māori, and he tried to make sure that New Zealand was a cohesive society. I did not agree with a lot of his politics, but a lot of it was good. This National Party wants to create division in New Zealand with its attack on
Māori. Bill English and other National members want to attack
Māori seats. As Ranginui Walker said, they want to get brownie points by attacking
Māori. They want to destroy the history we have had—over 100 years of
Māori seats. Everybody in New Zealand accepts them. But National wants to take the
Māori seats away, unilaterally. I say to the National Party that
Māori should have the seats as long as
Māori want them—and those were the words of the National Party in 1993. That is what Tony Ryall said. That is what all the National Party speakers said, as well as the leader of the ACT party, Richard Prebble. That is what they said. But now they want to beat up on
Māori seats, and they use the phrase “One state of citizenship” or “One citizenship’’, and that is code for “One nation”.
The National Party flip-flops. I want to hear a clear statement from National about whether it will be running candidates for
Māori seats in the next election—that is the challenge. Will there be rhetoric, simply to get the votes? Are National members going to do that, or will they listen to what Tau Henare says and not do that? Or will National do another flip-flop, like it did with Iraq? The National Party had three positions on Iraq. We had a flip here, a flop there, and a flip somewhere else. National supported the Government in sending the SAS into Afghanistan, then it wanted them to come home again, then it said it was a mistake. Where does the National Party stand on the issue of
Māori seats? We want to hear a definitive statement. Will the National Party be standing candidates in the
Māori seats at the next election? We want to see whether that will be National’s stated policy.
The Government deserves a strong Opposition. We need someone to hold this Government to account. But only part of the Opposition is working, and that is Winston Peters and New Zealand First. The ACT party is here only part time; it has not cast nine votes all this year. It is here only part time. It is a part-time Opposition that we have from the ACT party, and there are flip-flops in the National Party. Fran O’Sullivan wrote very poetically on 7 April when she wrote about Bill English. She wrote that the National leader, Bill English, is dead meat; left hanging far too long to ever again provide a tempting morsel.
Hon ROGER SOWRY (Deputy Leader—NZ National)
: It is no wonder that David Cunliffe yesterday said that it was one of the worst days of his life. It is no wonder that yesterday, around the corridors, David Cunliffe was so upset at not making Cabinet. When we heard that speech from the new Cabinet Minister, we saw that there was no vision, no mention of his new portfolios, and no pride in his new job, at all. Instead, he came into the Chamber, parading his new shirt, and was content to stand here, and shout and rant and rave. I have to say it is no wonder that David Cunliffe, Nanaia Mahuta, and Judith Tizard—all the people who thought they were going to be in Cabinet—managed to find something else to do other than listen to that Minister.
I say to the House and to New Zealanders that we are starting to see a trend from this
Prime Minister. It started with an incident that was referred to as the “paintergate” incident, when the Prime Minister, just over a year ago, stumbled on a new phrase. The new phrase for her was: “I have no personal recollection of that event.” Firstly, she had signed a painting. She had no personal recollection of that, at all. She did not recall signing it. Then when it came to her attention that she had signed not just one painting but about half a dozen paintings, she said that perhaps she could recall it, but lots of other people had done it—everyone had done it, in fact. Then, of course, everybody became nobody, and suddenly in the Prime Minister’s terms it was “time to move on”. So we did move on. We moved on to the “corngate” affair.
In July of last year, just before the election campaign, the Prime Minister, when asked about a release of genetically modified corn, responded that she did not recall it. She said that her memory would be pretty stretched in that area. She said we were expecting her to dredge up from her memory, but that she had no recollection.
That is what she said about “corngate”. Then, when suddenly the documents started to fall off trucks, people started to talk about the release, and the requests made under the Official Information Act started to come out, the Prime Minister said: “It’s time to put this behind us and move on. It is time to move on.” And we did. We moved on to December of last year and Gregory
Fortuin’s mediation with the Alliance, and to the Alliance meltdown—and all that became public. The Prime Minister was asked in the House when she first became aware of Mr
Fortuin’s involvement with the Alliance negotiations. She said that she was not aware of it until after his involvement began. When she was asked when it began, she said: “I have no recollection of being briefed on that matter.” When asked whether she had any meetings and briefings on it, she said that she probably did but she had no recollections of them. Mr Fortuin, by this stage, had gone, and it was time to move on. And we did move on.
We moved on with the OECD growth targets, and with the revelations this year that the Government had decided in 2001 to talk about New Zealand reaching the top half of the OECD by 2011. That being a goal, that being in a foreword that was signed by the Prime Minister, that being set in concrete, and that being the vision, the Prime Minister was asked about it. She started firm and strong, like a Prime Minister who says what she believes, and said: “No time frame was established.” She then moved to: “I have no recollection of this event.”
SIMON POWER (NZ National—Rangitikei)
: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Could I refer you to Speaker’s ruling 53/2. The constant barrage that my colleague had to endure from the member for Otaki, who shifted his seat to better position himself for interjections, is something that this House has had a long custom of discouraging. I ask that you speak to the member about the fact that if he is going to change his seat he should not use that to his advantage to interject on members who are carrying out their contribution to the general debate.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Clem Simich): I thank the member for raising that point. He is quite right. It had crossed my mind that Darren Hughes had changed seats specifically for the general debate. But, I guess, if I can stand it, members can, too. It is the general debate.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National—Nelson)
: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. During the course of that 5-minute contribution by the deputy leader of the National Party there was over 3¾ minutes of continuous shouting from members of the Government. I took note because it was just a shambles. In other words, there was shouting from Government members for more than half the time. We are supposed to live in a democracy, where a Government can be held to account in this House, but how can that be possible when a member, for over two-thirds of his speech, by my rough calculation, is subject to constant barraging? If our Parliament is to deteriorate to that
extent we may as well shut up shop.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Clem Simich): I ask Darren Hughes to cease the interjections. They were a bit loud, but it is the general debate.
Hon KEN SHIRLEY (Deputy Leader—ACT NZ)
: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not aware of anywhere in the Standing Orders where there is a special provision for the general debate. The point of order raised by the honourable member Mr Power was quite correct. There is no special provision in the Standing Orders that means there is some lower standard for the general debate. Sure, it is robust, but the Standing Orders still stand, and they make it quite clear that members cannot reposition themselves to gain benefit for interjection. I am glad that you have brought the matter to the attention of the offending member, but I was concerned with the suggestion in your ruling that there is some special lower standard for the general debate.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National—Nelson)
: It has been a longstanding Speaker’s ruling that interjections will be rare and reasonable—the latest Speaker has added to it—and, perhaps, occasionally witty.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Clem Simich): I agree.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: These are 5-minute contributions. The reason I chose not to take a point of order during the speech made by the deputy leader of the National Party was that that only adds to the breaking up of a member’s speech. Does the Speaker’s ruling that interjections are to be rare and reasonable apply to the general debate; if it does can you please enforce it?
DAVID BENSON-POPE (Senior Whip—NZ Labour)
:I cannot help but observe the double standard being exhibited by the speaker from the Opposition, given the extraordinary 5-minute barrage my colleague Mr Barker faced during his contribution.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Clem Simich): I thank members for that. These speeches are very short speeches. If members could show much more restraint, it would be appreciated, but it is entirely up to the members. I take the member’s point—it is a point that occurred to me, too. The barrage against Rick Barker was of the same intensity as the barrage from the Government benches when the Hon Roger Sowry was speaking; maybe a little louder. It is entirely up to members. I ask them to show restraint because the speeches are of only 5 minutes duration.
LARRY BALDOCK (United Future)
: I want to discuss the results of the
New Zealand Medical Journal survey announced on 4 April in relation to the health behaviours of our year 9 to 13 youth. The study covered 9,570 students from 133 randomly selected secondary schools across New Zealand in 2001. I raise the matter today because serious issues were revealed in those survey results, and I do not believe it is satisfactory to ignore them. The survey covered health choices such as wearing seat belts, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana, and sexual intercourse. Each of those categories bears further analysis, as do the questions that relate to violence, suicide, and family life that were covered by the survey.
Today I will focus on one issue and make some comments in relation to the current sexual education programmes in our schools. When the sexual activity results were announced in the media, the first commentator said something like: “Well, there are not as many sexually active kids as we all thought. It’s not as bad as we were led to believe.” The survey revealed that two-thirds of our young people had never had sexual intercourse. If people were expecting that the majority of young people were sexually active, then the results could be seen as positive. It is certainly a point worth making that not every young person is “doing it”, as the sitcoms on television continually try to tell us. However, my thoughts upon hearing those media comments were immediately directed towards the 33 percent of young people who are doing it.
I have to say that further examination of the statistics reveals a more depressing
figure. The two-thirds figure is an average across the ages represented in the survey. It was actually revealed that 16 percent of our 13-year-olds, 33 percent of our 15-year-olds, and 48 percent of our 17-year-olds are sexually active. That has to be tragic for our nation. Who is weeping for our young people in this nation? Who will protect their innocence, and fight for their right to have a childhood? Would any of us in this House who are parents really want our 13-year-old children to be included in those percentages?
Last weekend I attended a wedding where a young couple had chosen abstinence in their relationship before marriage. What a stunning ceremony as the couple exchanged their vows! Statistics and surveys all over the world overwhelmingly give them a better chance of a happy, sexually fulfilled future. Do our youth get told that what happens in the back seat of a car at 13, 15, and 17 cannot be compared to what can happen when sex is supported by commitment, intimacy, and a life-long relationship?
On my return from Sweden last year, I briefly visited Washington and met Dr Wade Horne, who is the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services with the Bush administration. He was able to inform me that teenage pregnancy in the US is showing substantial decline. I asked what his programme was that was making a difference. He said: “We are simply telling the young people that they can postpone sexual involvement until marriage, and the young people are responding to the challenge in great numbers.” Our young people need to be told the truth, and the truth is that condoms will reduce the risk if one is sexually active, but they do not guarantee safe sex.
The survey further revealed that 29 percent of the female survey participants aged 13 to 17 had thought about killing themselves in the last year. Ten percent had tried in some way or another to take their own lives. How many of these precious young lives came from the 30 percent that had already been sexually active? Did no one tell them that a piece of rubber will not protect their hearts? Later today, we will continue debating in this House whether to legalise prostitution. Will this be the future career choice for our next generation?
Many excellent programmes are being used in schools in parts of the country. I applaud the work of Parenting With Confidence, the Family Education Network—with its postponing sexual involvement programmes—and Campaign For Our Children. These programmes must raise their own funds, or require school boards to pay from their tight budgets. I ask the Government to give school boards the choice as to which programmes they wish to use in their schools, by allowing the funding to be provided on a fairer distribution basis than the current system, which favours the Family Planning Association.
Hon KEN SHIRLEY (Deputy Leader—ACT NZ)
: I would like to stress the importance of veracity—old-fashioned truthfulness—from the executive wing of any Government. When Ministers or officials of any Government fail—in public interviews, or in the Parliament of that particular country—to be fully truthful, then that is the precursor to loss of trust, and without trust there is no integrity. Without truth, openness, and transparency, the very democracy we cherish is placed in danger. This week in the House, that truthfulness has been brought into question. It appears that Ministers of the Crown, under pressure, do make it up. They are prepared to expand the truth, or, conversely, to be very economic with the truth, to the point where truth and the meaning of truth are lost. I put it to all members that when we face that situation, democracy is undermined.
The Resource Management Amendment Bill (No 2) was actually introduced by this Government. It did not go to a select committee. It was a conscious decision of the executive of Government to put it in this bill, to introduce it into this Parliament, under
urgency, and bypass the select committee process. What we had was the Prime Minister of this Government—the Prime Minister of the country, actually, but the head of this Government—telling the nation on an interview with Paul Holmes on Newstalk 1ZB that the references to “ancestral landscapes” and “spiritual resources” were inserted by the select committee. That just cannot be, because that bill did not go to the select committee. It is true that the previous bill, the Resource Management Amendment Bill, contained those references—which I believe are very offensive—but that committee actually had a Government majority. It was a Labour majority, so whichever way one wants to cut the mustard, that was the policy decision of that Labour Government—to introduce nebulous terms like “ancestral landscapes”, “ancestral lands”, and “spiritual resources” into our planning laws. When challenged on that, it is saying that various papers came over and did not make reference to them.
Well, I am sorry, but the Prime Minister said that on Monday this week her department requested that the Ministry for Culture and Heritage supply her with all the papers relating to the definition of heritage in that Act. It was then told that the references to “ancestral landscapes”, “spiritual resources”, and “cultural landscapes” were not mentioned. They are contained in the definition in the Act. That is an extraordinary situation. Today I invited the Prime Minister to table those papers, so that Opposition members could check the veracity of that statement. What did we get? We got obfuscation—“I’m sort of looking at the papers.” Having claimed that she had researched them thoroughly, and no references were contained in them, we are now told that they are sort of being examined and pored over, and will be released in good time. Why were those papers not tabled today? That challenges the very veracity—and certainly the openness and transparency—of this Government. Government members are sneaky and deceitful.
We have had numerous incidents when this Government, in a corner, has resorted to deceit and sneakiness to try to get off the hook. “Paintergate” was a classic example of that. That was a dishonest act by our Prime Minister—there is no question about it. Last week in the House, the Prime Minister made a claim that “everyone”—in fact, I have the words here—was looking at whether there was going to be “a Franco-German-Russian link-up, with good links through to the Chinese.” She said “everyone”, but she was challenged to name one. She avoided two questions to name one, then, when pushed, said: “It’s perfectly clear to any student of the English language that ‘everyone’ is used in the generic sense.” So everyone becomes nobody.
Hon ROGER SOWRY (Deputy Leader—NZ National)
: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. During that speech, the senior Government whip, Mr Benson-Pope, yelled out across the House: “You are nothing but a bunch of crooks!”. I think it was directed at the member who was on his feet, but it was said in a way that reflected directly on you. I believe that is grossly offensive, and he should be required to withdraw and apologise.
DAVID BENSON-POPE (Senior Whip—NZ Labour)
: I did not use the word “you” and reflect on the Speaker.
Hon KEN SHIRLEY (Deputy Leader—ACT NZ)
: I did not hear the comment, but it makes it worse to find that the member did use those words, and that he directed them at me. If he did, and he is nodding his head confirming that, I certainly take offence. He should stand, withdraw, and apologise.
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Clem Simich): I thank Mr Shirley for assisting me. The member was speaking so vigorously that I did not hear the comment. But the comment has been heard, and the member indicates that it was said. I ask the member to withdraw and apologise.
David Benson-Pope: I withdraw and apologise.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National—Nelson)
: I raise a point of order, Mr Chairperson. During the course of the 5-minute contribution from Mr Shirley, I took note that there were 37 interjections. Twelve of those were made by the chief Government whip, and nine were made by Jill Pettis, who is a junior whip. My understanding is that whips should be setting an example. My point to you is that if the Speaker’s ruling is that interjections are to be rare and reasonable, does the Speaker believe that 37 interjections in a 5-minute speech complies with thatruling?
The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Clem Simich): No, I do not. It is quite clear that they would not comply with that ruling. But in a case like that, if the interjecting is not upsetting the speaker, which it clearly was not—and in most cases in the general debate, it assists the speaker—then there is no problem. But if members are having difficulty following the speech because of the interjections, then I thank the member for raising that matter. However, I go back to when this debate started and the Hon Rick Barker was speaking. I did not keep count of how many interjections there were, but they were much louder. They were not as great in number, but they were louder. They were drowned out because Mr Barker’s speech was very loud. It was not aggressive, but it kind of drowned out the interjections. I point out to the two whips—and I did call order on both of them while they were interjecting—that they have a responsible position in this House, more so than ordinary members, and I ask them to please desist.
CLAYTON COSGROVE (NZ Labour—Waimakariri)
: I thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker, for your balance and protection regarding this side of the House. I say from the outset that I welcome the Opposition’s interjections. I eat them for breakfast, as we all do on this side of the House. Every time they open their mouths, they are condemned. It is just another illustration to the New Zealand people of what a bereft, useless group of whingers and whiners they are. All they can do is squawk from that side. All that the deputy leader of the Opposition—the little squawk box, formerly from Otaki—can do is sit there and squawk away. Well, I eat him for breakfast, and I enjoy it, because it shows them up for what they are.
As for the ACT contribution, I would never in my wildest dreams accuse anyone in the ACT party of being a crook, especially Mr Hide—the only honest man in politics! Mr Shirley stood up and talked about integrity and truthfulness. What a laugh it is to be hearing about integrity and truthfulness from that lot when we recall Owen Jennings and pyramid schemes, Rodney Hide and dodgy investment schemes, physical indiscipline and intimidation by Mr Hide on Waiheke Island—in the odd toilet, I am told—Donna Awatere-Huata and her scandal, and the Pipitea Street scandal. That genius from the ACT party thinks he is being credible. He thinks he is convincing New Zealanders that he is a credible bloke, and that the people should back his party when he stands up and talks about integrity and truthfulness. Give me a break! I am absolutely gobsmacked. I am speechless on that count.
Today’s general debate is another example of the stark contrast between the party that is bereft of ideas—that is, the National Party; a party of whingers, and it is hard to attack a party that has no ideas—and the Labour Party, which has notched up substantial achievements. Labour enjoys—and I say this not in an arrogant but a very humble way—the support of 50 percent of our countrymen and women.
Jill Pettis: It has 52 percent.
CLAYTON COSGROVE: Oh, it has 52 percent support—I lose count—up against a party of mediocrity.
The deputy leader of the Opposition took the first call for the National Party, because the Leader of the Opposition did not want to. The deputy leader is the trumpet boy for the National Party. Could he tell us the secret of his success over the last couple of years?He complained about the interjections from Mr Darren Hughes. If I were Mr
Sowry, I would too, because it was Mr Hughes who buried him at the last election. Maybe in a couple of years, Mr Hughes’ housekeeper, or somebody else, will stand and bury him again. Mr Sowry—the “Al Bundy” from Otaki—should go back to
Hannahs and sell shoes, because I am sure he is an expert at that. He is not cutting the mustard in here, and the people of New Zealand see it every time he gets up. They just giggle, as we do over here. All the Opposition can do in a general debate is complain and whimper about interjections. Well, come on team! Where are they? Let us hear them. They are all very silent. They are like stunned mullets.
Let us look at National’s leadership. There is a leadership crisis in the National Party, and we know it. Mr English is on the rocks, on the skids. Don Brash wants the job, and would crawl over powdered glass in bare feet to get it. He wants to be the first statue to fly over the pigeon, and he might well be. He will get there. National members have tried everything for weeks. Do they have any policy ideas? No. Have they made any policy announcements? No. All they have done is try to attack the Prime Minister on every little minor issue. They will have a go at every little grubby bit of dirt. The one thing they have not been able to do is knock her off her perch and convince the people of New Zealand to lose faith in her. The people of New Zealand have faith in the Prime Minister, and that has been demonstrated. The Opposition should give up—they are on a loser. They have tried it for months; they blew an election apart trying it. I say to Opposition members: “Attacking the Prime Minister, team, does not work.”
Maybe Mr Sowry, the great genius of the Opposition, can go back with that other genius and tactically brilliant general, Mr McCully, who did a brilliant job at the last election, and circle the wagons for Custer’s last stand. Maybe they can actually work out that their tactics are not working, for tomorrow we will write another Budget. Tomorrow there will be yet another opportunity for us as a Government, in a humble but not arrogant way, to show the stark difference between the Labour Party—a party of ideas, a party that keeps its word, a party that delivers 4.4 percent economic growth, a party that delivers the lowest unemployment for 15 to 20 years, a party that delivers 5,000 apprenticeships for our young folk—and the National Party, which has been blown apart and decimated.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National—Nelson)
: Nothing could be more amusing than hearing a Labour member talking about this Government and Prime Minister keeping their word, when example after example shows that we can do anything but trust the word of the Prime Minister. Time after time we see a lack of accountability. This Parliament is about accountability, and whether it comes to the power crisis, whether it comes to important issues, like resource management law, whether it comes to important issues about the goals and the economic goals that this country has, this Prime Minister has been found, time and time again, to be what can at least be described as economical with the truth.
What we found out is that the official papers continually contradict what the Prime Minister is telling the people of this country. There is a blame game going on. When they found out that the silly spiritual, cultural, and ancestral heritage provisions of the Resource Management Act were no good, who was blamed? It was the select committee, we were told, that had got it wrong. It was the officials who had got it wrong; it was nothing to do with the Prime Minister! Then we found out that the Prime Minster had signed out a very specific instruction that those provisions be included.
John Carter: She said she couldn’t remember.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: She said she could not remember. I have to say that that is not good enough. If the Prime Minister put her signature to a piece of paper, instructing officials, then she has to be held to account. I say that we cannot trust this Prime Minister’s signature, and that is an indictment on the standards of this Parliament and
this country. I simply ask this: can we judge the Prime Minster by the standards that she set herself?
Jill Pettis: Eighteen percent and falling!
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I say to Jill Pettis that when Helen Clark was the Leader of the Opposition, what was the standard that she sought of Jenny Shipley? Oh, she said: “They’re a bit tough now. Don’t want to be judged by the standards I set for Jenny Shipley!” Because it was simply Jenny Shipley’s oral word. Never was it found out that Jenny Shipley dishonoured her signature. Yet on five separate occasions, we have now caught the Prime Minister out, where her signature is not to be trusted.
I ask members to take one of the most important issues that should be at the core of the Budget. The Prime Minister signed out a statement that said the goal of her Government was to get New Zealand into the top half of the OECD within 10 years. That is what her signature said. But she stood up in the House and said: “No, it was nothing to do with me. Never did that—that was some official. That was someone else. Don’t blame me.”
Hon Ken Shirley: “I wasn’t conscious.”!
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: She said: “I wasn’t conscious.”, but I say “Not good enough!” We then come to substantive issues. I say that one of the reasons that the people of New Zealand are treating with contempt the Government’s aim to try to get New Zealanders to save power, is that the situation is everyone else’s fault! It is not Pete Hodgson’s fault; it is not the Prime Minister’s fault that they had a crisis in 2001; it is not their fault! I say to the people opposite that they have been in Government for 4 years—it is their fault. They must take responsibility. They must have accountability, and that is what members on this side of the House ask.
Now I turn to the issue of “corngate”. Right in the middle of the election campaign, the Prime Minister says things—because she did not tell the truth.
Clayton Cosgrove: What?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Did the Prime Minister tell the truth, I ask Mr Clayton Cosgrove, when she said there were further tests? We got the official papers—
Jill Pettis: We, won, you lost, too bad!
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Well, it was lies, you see, I say to Jill Pettis. The Prime Minister told the people of New Zealand that there were further tests, and we at the select committee have been searching through the papers looking for more tests. They do not exist. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, in the middle of an election campaign, was economical with the truth. I say to members opposite that they should stop telling porkies. Chris Carter is not prepared to take accountability for his decision to decline a new power station on the West Coast. He said it was the court, when he got into a tight spot and was caught out. I say to members opposite that they should start telling the truth. When they get in a tight spot, they should defend their decisions. They should not try to blame others, because accountability in this Parliament matters.
STEVE CHADWICK (NZ Labour—Rotorua)
: I would like to speak in this debate today—before tomorrow, because tomorrow the country will hardly blink an eye with our prudent fiscal management, and New Zealanders will sleep well in their beds, confident that this is a Government that admires the principles of veracity and accountability that our Opposition has recognised here today. This country knows what it has got. It is a country with hands-on leadership out there in the electorate. Every electorate is exhausted with busy Ministers rolling up their sleeves and going out to the people. We have projects coming out of our eyeballs in every electorate, looking at crime reduction strategies, building up primary health organisations, looking at truancy, and getting on with the work. We have great policy, strategy, long-term vision, and
It is tragic when the deputy leader of the Opposition has to acknowledge us humble back-benchers and worry about which of us will come through with an opportunity outside of Cabinet. Opposition members cannot attack our front bench; it is too strong, and they certainly should leave the leadership alone.
I turn now to our leadership. We have brave and committed leadership, leading New Zealand Inc. into the global environment. Our leader is intelligent and astute, as we have seen with her handling of Iraq. Also with the America’s Cup, we will be out there marketing New Zealand on the world stage. We have a leader who gets behind the tough issues and remains committed and consistent.
I want to talk about one tough issue, and that is the
Māori seats, which are very dear to our hearts. Our
Māori MPs are certainly not second-class MPs, and we on this side are proud to have a
Māori caucus, and that is thanks to the
Māori seats. That invisible man—the Leader of the Opposition—“Mr Wiremu
Pākehā”, is about to abolish the
Māori seats, and it is going down like a lead balloon in our electorate. I want to read for members—
Hon Roger Sowry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is well known that according to the Standing Ordersmembers have to call members by their correct name. If we called the member on her feet what her colleagues call her, that would be out of order. I ask you to ask the member to call our Leader of the Opposition by his correct name.
STEVE CHADWICK: I forgot the name of the Leader of the Opposition, and I am sorry about that. I want to read to members an article from a very esteemed
Māori journalist in our local papers: “If you are in politics and out of power, and out of the loop, and you are looking for a headline, then the best cheap shot to line up is a
Māori one. The New Zealand First obsession is called the so-called treaty industry, and ACT seems to just fire at anything that builds capacity, moves, and is
As a country we are not yet ready for the argument to abolish seats for
Māori in this country, and I think it will doom the Leader of the Opposition to invisibility for the long term. Ask the people what they want, and the people will say by going on the
Māori seats or on the general roll. That is what they do.
Māori will decide. My children will decide, and it is certainly not an issue for a referendum.
Simon Power: Have a referendum.
STEVE CHADWICK: No, they will decide which seats they will go on, and they have, and they have chosen differently in my family. I have two on the general roll and one on the
Māori roll, and that is their choice. We will not change that, and we will stand beside our
Until we as a country realise, until we have settled the treaty settlements—and we are on an absolute roll here with the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations—and until we work out our destiny on arguments, which at the moment are based purely on
Māori representation to the Privy Council, until we sort out the Supreme Court Bill, the settlement, the
Māori seats and whether they choose to go on it, we are not ready for one standard for this nation. My children are not ready for it yet. They are asserting that they want to take part in their own destiny.
I also point out some of the other issues on health that are really rather peculiar. Sadly, the Opposition is leaning on back-to-the-future policies, and that is reflected by the National spokesperson on health in a letter dated 6 May stating: “I say to GPs, retain your independent practitioner associations. National sets your right to set fees.” Goodness gracious! National is supporting the old network. The Opposition has not woken up to the fact that it is growing public health organisations around the country, and by the end of this year we will have 40 percent of New Zealanders registered with a
public health organisation, and some very excited general practitioners out there.
JUDITH COLLINS (NZ National—Clevedon)
: There was one part of the contribution from the previous speaker from Labour that was sensible, and that is when she said that the people should decide about
Māori seats and general seats. She said that the people should decide, did she not? We should have a referendum. Not only should we have a referendum on that particularly important constitutional issue, but we should have a referendum on the other constitutional issue facing this country, and that is the abolition of the Privy Council and its replacement with a politically correct little group appointed by the Hon Margaret Wilson, the Attorney-General.
The rule of law is absolutely the most important feature of our cultural identity, of our country, of our way of life, and of our constitution. The rule of law is under extreme threat from this Government, and I shall give members the facts. In 1990, 5,276 commercial filings in the High Courts of New Zealand took place. Last year there were 1,300. That is about a quarter, and there is a reason for that. Lawyers and people who use the courts have completely lost faith in that Attorney-General, in that party, and in its court system. What has she got for it? She is going to give us some little patsy group that she wants to put together. She has come up with all sorts of little arguments about it.
I am happy to quote from Alan Galbraith QC, one of the top commercial lawyers in this country, who has spoken about his concern about the erosion of the rule of law. He said that in practice much of the real law is now put into arbitrations, and the reason is that they have lost faith in our court system that that Attorney-General has been administering for the last 4 years. It was that Attorney-General whom the Hon Justice Dyson
Heydon, a High Court judge of Australia, referred to when he talked about the threat to the rule of law, where judicial activism has created the present state, which, they said, at least is not as bad in Australia as it is in New Zealand. That is what the Australian judiciary thinks about us: it is not as bad as it is in New Zealand, because we have an appalling situation. [Interruption]
Mr Galbraith went on to say—for that “Minister” from Wanganui, who should occasionally take a call, instead of screaming like some banshee. One thing I will say about that particular member from Wanganui is that she could get a job stripping the paint off the walls of Parliament, should we ever wish to change the colour. Honestly, what an appalling sound that cackle is.
Mr Galbraith went on to say that it is important that the New Zealand court system maintains the integrity and confidence of the commercial community in its processes and outcomes. I know that that member might not want to hear the facts. I know that she does not want to hear any sensible argument. I see David Cunliffe, the would-be Cabinet Minister who should be in his own seat, because, No. 1, he is interjecting out of order, and he is not in Cabinet, and never will be. Oh dear, what a shame, too bad! That Attorney-General says that we should have our own Supreme Court. Canada, which has its own Supreme Court, has 136 permanent appeal judges from which they select their final Court of Appeal. Australia has 37 permanent appeal court judges.
Do members know how many we have? We have five. That is all we have, and we are trying to compete with Canada, which has 136. Both of those countries, Canada and Australia, have federal systems. Both of them have a system where there is a constitution to protect their people. They have a constitution and a federal system. In this particular Parliament we have only one House. We have no other protection constitutionally, and the Supreme Court will not be able to protect us.
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister of Youth Affairs)
: I am delighted to rise today to acknowledge a good friend and colleague in the Labour Party who has been promoted to Cabinet, the Hon Rick Barker. He epitomises everything that is good and great about
a Labour Party member. He was born on the West Coast—born out of the good labouring stock of the West Coast where the blood runs deep in the Labour Party, and where our founding fathers of Labour begat the party. I just want to honour and acknowledge him today during the general debate in the House.
The general debate was led off by one of the many leaders of the Opposition, fragmented as they are—I think that the Tory boys over there think that he is their leader: the Rt Hon Winston Peters. He is obviously looking a bit tired and jaded. An interesting thing about the Rt Hon Winston when he walks into this House in his pinstripes, dressed like a zebra—black, white, black, white—is that he finds it very hard to strike a position. He is all over the place. The other thing is that when one sees him in question time he is a person who suffers from serial indignation and serial whingeing. After listening to Winston Peters during a couple of speeches one feels like going home and doing the proverbial with the razor blades on the wrists. But I think that the House owes it to itself to lift above that.
The other interesting observation that I happened to make was that when Winston Peters wanders into the House, we see this ragtag mob walking behind him. God bless the most professional Speaker the House has ever had: even he struggles to identify them and know them! The security personnel continue to stop them at the door and ask them who they are, and whether they are part of the cleaning gang, and what the hell is going on. Rumour has it that there are 13 members in the New Zealand First caucus, but we know that there is only one who meets in the caucus room on a Tuesday, and that is the leader.
But notwithstanding that, I do have a challenge for the
Māori members of New Zealand First. They regularly rock up here and vote against
Māori-related matters. They will then walk out of this House—and I find this duplicitous—and into the communities and regale with another story altogether. So let us get it right. Will they stand in the
Māori seats in the next election? Will they stand as Mr Ed—
Edwin Perry: No.
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: “Mr Ed” up there has agreed that they will not stand in the
Māori seats. I accept that, because, for the first time on the New Zealand First list, the people in Tauranga will know that there are about six natives lining up on it. So for the first time, at least, they will know that on that list we have some
Māori coming out of the closet, and that is great. I acknowledge that today, and I take the honourable members’ word—Mr Perry’s word and Mr Mark’s word—that they are not going to stand in the
Māori seats at the next election. So now we have them owning up. Now when they go back into their communities they will sing a different tune.
Edwin Perry: No they won’t.
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Yes they do. I will move on to another point about the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ pogrom against immigrants and the like. He gets awfully confused over numbers, and thank the Lord that he does not have the cheque-book of the nation in his hands any more, and more than likely will not ever be allowed near it. Let us hope like hell that never happens, because it is a scary thought. He just does not understand the numbers, and if one does not understand the numbers on basic immigration, one can never understand the numbers on the country’s fiscal risk and capabilities.
I want to acknowledge the tireless work of the Attorney-General, particularly in terms of treaty settlement processes. I want to acknowledge that Te Uri o Hau has been settled. I want to acknowledge that an agreement has been settled with Tuwharetoa ki Kawerau. I want to acknowledge the Taranaki people’s settlements. I want to acknowledge
Ngāti Awa on the eastern seaboard. When one puts all these together, they have all come down the pipeline in a significant way. We are moving on nationhood-building processes. It has been this Attorney-General who has broken the back of it,
without the whisky soirées and the cigars. It has been done with some integrity and credibility, and not behind closed doors.
RON MARK (NZ First)
: I started out in this debate asking the question, why did John Tamihere not get the job that Rick Barker got? There is a man who speaks the truth and speaks openly—but now I know why he did not get the job. He has just answered my question!
Darren Hughes: Is he in Cabinet?
RON MARK: Well, one is in Cabinet and one is not. I want to bring to the attention of this House that right now there is a looming problem facing this country that the Government continues to ignore, about which it closes its eyes, buries its head in the sand, and pretends that it does not exist. It is about law and order. Right now we have shown the House that there have been glaring gaps. The first gap that was brought to my attention by a businessman in Christchurch was that of deferred sentencing. This businessman came to me and asked: “How is it that a woman who embezzled my company of $100,000 and got sentenced to 18 months’ jail, is out on the streets, wandering around, and worst of all, the thing that got her into trouble in the first place—playing the pokies—she is back doing in the Hoon Hay Working Men’s Club?”. Well a bit of investigation found that not only was that one person out on a deferred sentence, having been sentenced to jail, we now know that there are 461 people out on the streets having been sentenced by a judge to jail for the seriousness of their crimes.
Brent Catchpole: How many?
RON MARK: Four hundred and sixty-one! So I asked the hapless Rick Barker, how this could be so? We got the answers from that man. He said that nobody who had committed a serious crime would be out on a deferred sentence, or that nobody who had committed a serious crime would, worst of all, be on home detention, and the reason people were on a deferred sentence was that they had applied for home detention. Well, excuse me, but at the last election in 1999, I thought 92 percent of the population said that when someone was sentenced to jail, he or she would go to jail. That is not what has happened.
But even worse, today I got information from the Minister’s own office. Let us look at the crimes that these people have committed who have been given deferred sentences that allow them to be put back into the community. Are they minor offences? Well, are they heck! There is one person in Wellington who committed manslaughter. Do we get any more serious than that? Probably murder and serial killing—but manslaughter!
There are four people out on the streets who have been convicted of kidnapping and abducting people, and this Government allows them to be given deferred sentences—go home, stay at home with their wife and family, and be at large in the community! Indecent assault—seven people! There have been 31 cases of grievous assault by people out on the street within moments of having been sentenced to jail, and there are nine people convicted of serious assault. I am appalled at the Attorney-General, a female who waxes lyrical about men who bash and injure women. There are five people who were convicted of threatening to kill or do grievous bodily harm. If members think that is bad, I will turn the page and have another look. Sixty-five people who deal in cannabis, and 33 who deal with other drugs, have been released into the community, having been sentenced to jail.
I find that absolutely laughable, particularly in the light of the fact that last night we sat in the House and debated a Government motion that saw fit to make methamphetamine a class A drug. So we have a confused Government. Ask me if it is confused—by heck is it confused! Last night the Government said that drugs were top of the agenda. It was top of the agenda as a big offence and we need to protect our kids and community. Today we find that the Government has released 99 drug dealers into
Dail Jones: How many?
RON MARK: Ninety-nine drug dealers were sentenced by a good judge to jail, and let out into the community under this Government. Is that hard on law and order? No it is not. Has New Zealand First found out about it? Yes we have. Can they fix it? No they cannot. Can we fix it?
Dail Jones: Yes we can.
RON MARK: By oath we can. We will fix it, and we will keep applying pressure to that hapless Government. We will keep embarrassing it in the public arena until it fixes these faults and puts them right. Because the message for this Government is that ordinary New Zealanders do not like the fact that they have put 99 known convicted drug dealers back on the streets. Ordinary New Zealanders do not like the fact that they have people who have committed manslaughter and grievous bodily harm back on the streets, and they are sending this Government a loud and clear message.
DIANNE YATES (NZ Labour—Hamilton East)
: It is amazing, is it not, that that party whose member has just finished speaking says that it is going to fix it! That party was actually in coalition with the National Party, and it was going to fix an awful lot of things a few years ago. All it did was fix up Mrs Shipley and give us Bill English. That is a great bonus for the country, is it not? We have a completely divided Opposition—a nit-picking Opposition.
When people have nothing to say in a debate, they attack personalities. We have seen in this House, over the last couple of weeks, attacks on personalities, not attacks on issues or on policies. We have an Opposition that is totally devoid of policy. It knows we have one of the most popular Prime Ministers ever—a Prime Minister who has integrity and who says what she thinks. All we can see from the supposedly brilliant Bill English is personal attack after personal attack—which will not wash.
We have just had an attack from Judith Collins on the issue of the Supreme Court. I say to the National Party that it should grow up and let New Zealand grow up. New Zealand has an opportunity, through the Supreme Court Bill, to grow up as a nation. I thank John Tamihere for talking about our nationhood and about New Zealand being a nation. I say to the Opposition that it has a chance, through the Supreme Court Bill, to add to the nationhood of New Zealand. So let us see the Opposition’s mettle, and let us see its support.
I do not want to be negative, but I ask where National’s policy is. We have spent a good deal of time as the Government in undoing that party’s mistakes—13,000 State houses were sold off, and we have to retrieve those. We have health and education systems that were bitten with the bug of privatisation. What was that doing? It was just paying out to National’s cronies.
But when we come to
Māori and Pacific Island people—yes, we have the treaty settlements, but, what is more important, we have the unemployment rate of
Māori and Pacific people going down. People are getting jobs and are able to earn a living. People are becoming full New Zealanders because they can have those jobs, and get decent earnings.
I thank the Minister for Economic Development and the Prime Minister for growth in New Zealand. I also thank Minister Maharey for the Modern Apprenticeships scheme. I want to talk as the Minister, I mean the member, for Hamilton East—I would not mind being the Minister for Hamilton East—to say that the partnership going on between local government, central government, and some of the trusts in our city is absolutely marvellous. The Prime Minister turned the sod a week ago on the Innovation Park in Hamilton, and during the “smart growth day” last Friday I visited a wonderful firm in Hamilton called
Biozone.This company was started by a man called Richard Allan and
employs eight people, who, because of grants from this Government, have been able to attend trade fairs in the United States.
They are also able to do market research and develop an e-commerce strategy. They are people who are now selling education resources in the United States, in the UK, and in Australia. They are looking for contracts in India—and I ask why. It is because they got assistance from the Labour-Progressive Government to do that, and those grants have been invaluable, particularly in terms of their graphic technology. This is a good-news story, and it is happening in the electorate of Hamilton East. Not only
Biozone but 11 other firms have received assistance to help them grow from being small businesses to larger businesses, to export, and to increase New Zealand’s wealth. It is a good-news story and, once again, I thank the Minister for Economic Development for that.
There have been at least 93 awards in the last week, worth $1.2 million. I give members information about other firms: A.R. Jacobsen, which is developing frost protection systems; a Polynesian firm which is developing a golf tee tool; a firm developing anaesthesia care medical hardware, which is being worked on increasingly in New Zealand at the moment; Grasshopper Ltd, which is producing a digital imaging software product, and Health Concepts, which got a grant to help with business planning. These are but examples.
- The debate having concluded, the motion lapsed.