Questions Of The Day - 5 September 2002
(Uncorrected transcript - subject to correction and further
Questions 1-12 5 September 2002
QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Airline Safety--Civil Aviation Authority
1. Hon. ROGER SOWRY (Deputy Leader--National) to the Minister of Transport: Does he have full confidence that the Civil Aviation Authority's procedures and audit processes for proper airline safety standards and checks are adequate; if not, why not?
Hon. PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Transport): Yes.
Hon. Roger Sowry: Given his confidence, why is the Director of Civil Aviation, John Jones, only now saying that the Civil Aviation Authority may require pre-flight inspections of wing tops, and why has this been overlooked in the past, given that it appears to have been a major contributing factor to a part falling off a plane over Auckland?
Hon. PAUL SWAIN: As I indicated yesterday, the Civil Aviation Authority is engaged in an investigation. Further to yesterday, the Civil Aviation Authority has advised me that Air New Zealand has acknowledged that human error was a factor in the incident with the wing panel and that additional procedures after aircraft maintenance are being implemented. The Civil Aviation Authority expects to have a draft report on the incident within a week. Finally, I advise the House that in November 1998 the former Minister of Transport, Maurice Williamson issued a press statement under the heading: ``Air safety regulation system sound'', and I agree with him 100 percent.
Lynne Pillay: Are the Civil Aviation Authority's safety audit procedures different from those employed by other regulatory authorities internationally?
Hon. PAUL SWAIN: No. The Civil Aviation Authority follows the internationally recognised audit practices, with all auditors having received appropriate approved training. A key comparison between New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States showed that similar procedures are used with similar results. The Civil Aviation Authority was audited within the last 2 years by representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organisation as part of its international safety oversight programme. The organisation found no significant shortcomings in the Civil Aviation Authority's safety procedures and processes.
Peter Brown: Noting that the ministry is making determined efforts to ensure that Air New Zealand's international safety reputation is maintained--which is a move that we support--how will the Minister convince the travelling public that replacing four bolts in a panel, when there should have been 120, will never, ever happen again?
Hon. PAUL SWAIN: That is a good question. As I said before, Air New Zealand has now acknowledged that human error was certainly part of the problem. It has instigated additional procedures, and has given as much assurance as possible that a similar incident will not occur again.
Deborah Coddington: Why does the Minister continue to express confidence in Air New Zealand, when there were still three significant panel detachments--one of which hit the tail plane--even after its planes were audited some 16 times, and does the Minister not believe it is time for the Federal Aviation Administration to be brought in to audit the auditors?
Hon. PAUL SWAIN: I have already outlined the answer to the first part of the question. The answer to the second part is no.
Sue Kedgley: Does the Minister have full confidence that the Civil Aviation Authority's procedures for ensuring airport safety are robust, given that the Civil Aviation Authority has still not implemented the International Civil Aviation Organisation's rule, which was adopted more than 2 years ago, and which requires that airport runway safety ends on international airports be extended for safety reasons; if not, why not?
Hon. PAUL SWAIN: I am not fully conversant with that, but I do know that that is one of the issues still being considered. If the question is whether I have confidence in the Civil Aviation Authority, yes, I do.
Larry Baldock: Following the Minister's answer to my question in the House yesterday, has he made inquiries regarding the other incidents admitted to by Air New Zealand in yesterday's Dominion Post article; if so, can he now answer whether the relevant safety authorities were informed of those incidents at the time?
Hon. PAUL SWAIN: I cannot quite recall what those incidents were. However, as I understand it, all incidents that have come to light, particularly in the media, were fully reported to the safety authorities.
Hon. Roger Sowry: Given that the Civil Aviation Authority said on Monday that it may bring forward a routine maintenance check to be done on Air New Zealand's aircraft in November, why will the Minister not insist that such a check be brought forward, and that the most rigorous safety standards be applied to it?
Hon. PAUL SWAIN: As I reported, additional safety checks are being implemented. The report from the Civil Aviation Authority is due within a week.
Youth--Employment, Education, and Training
2. GEORGINA BEYER (NZ Labour--Wairarapa) to the Minister of Social Services and Employment: What reports has he received on the long-term costs associated with young people not being in employment, education or training?
Hon. RUTH DYSON (Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment), on behalf of the Minister of Social Services and Employment: I have seen recent British research commissioned by the Department of Education and Skills, which estimates the cost of not being in employment, education or training in terms of such things as higher unemployment rates, lower earnings, higher teenage pregnancy rates, and a higher incidence of ill health. The British research notes that if 10,000 people were removed from the group ``not in employment, education or training'', the long-term savings would be œ450 million in resource costs, and œ520 million in public finance costs.
Georgina Beyer: How many young people fall into the ``not in employment, education or training group'' in New Zealand, and what are the long-term costs of not having that group actively participating?
Hon. RUTH DYSON: The household labour force survey for the June 2002 quarter reported the lowest unemployment rates in 14 years, at 5.1 percent. However, it also indicates that there are some 23,000 young people in the 15-19 year age group who are unemployed. There may also be as many as 8,000 who are not in the labour force or at school. I have asked officials to estimate the long-term costs of that situation, and if the British research is any indication, then removing 10,000 from that category would involve long-term savings to the New Zealand taxpayer in excess of $1 billion.
Hon. Roger Sowry: Rather than reading ``the British research'' to the House, why does the Minister not act with his own department to ensure that the case of a 16-year-old girl who is currently working as a prostitute in Hamilton is able to be looked after, and stop the nonsense we are now seeing, with the police having to go to court tomorrow to convince the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services that it should look after her?
Hon. RUTH DYSON: One would expect that members opposite would want to share in a celebration of the fact that we now have the lowest rate of unemployment in 14 years. However, it does not surprise me that Mr Sowry is, as usual, leading the whingeing.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I want the Minister to address the question.
Hon. RUTH DYSON: I did, in the first part.
Mr SPEAKER: I want the Minister to address the question in a way that is compliant with the Standing Orders.
Hon. RUTH DYSON: I am delighted that in the most recent household labour force survey for the June 2002 quarter we had the lowest unemployment rate in New Zealand in 14 years. As the member has drawn to our attention, this has not achieved a perfect solution.
Hon. Roger Sowry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was quite specific. Reports have been released from the police 15 minutes ago. The Minister can shake her head, but if she cares to look at those reports she will see that tomorrow the police are taking court action to ensure that the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Service will take responsibility for a 16-year-old girl in Hamilton currently working as a prostitute. Given that the Minister was prepared to quote British examples of success with children who are not in education or training, and this is clearly one such case, what is she doing about that? It is a direct responsibility of the Minister's department, and she has not addressed that question.
Mr SPEAKER: The last seven or eight words of the Minister's answer addressed the question, but the earlier part did not. I wonder whether the Minister would elaborate briefly.
Hon. RUTH DYSON: The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Service and police are not in this area of ministerial responsibility. However, if the member wishes to raise the individual circumstances with me privately, I would be happy to take them up.
Hon. Roger Sowry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was to the Minister of Social Services and Employment. I thought that the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Service was part of the responsibility of the Minister of Social Services and Employment. I need clarification on that, because the Minister has said this is not something that is the responsibility of the Minister of Social Services and Employment. If that is the case, we would need to direct our questions to some other Minister.
Hon. RUTH DYSON: The member is correct, if the delegations have not been tabled with that referral.
Hon. Trevor Mallard: I think the member does have a valid point. It is something this side of the House will clarify. As he will be aware, it is slightly complicated for a Minister answering on behalf of another Minister, who does not share a delegation, but is answering on behalf of a Minister outside the area of normal delegation. We will have this clarified. I think the member is probably right.
Mr SPEAKER: I confirm that. I have not yet received any notification of delegations. I have taken this up with the Clerk. I shall ask the Government to ensure that this is tabled with me as soon as possible. I thank the member for raising the point.
Ron Mark: Why does this Labour Government continue to ignore basic common-sense advice given to it by ordinary New Zealand families on this very same issue, telling it the very same things that this wonderful British report now seems to have enlightened it with, and is this going to be the same sort of pattern we saw shown by this same Government when it adopted de-institutionalisation theories that the British Government has since backtracked on as well?
Hon. RUTH DYSON: No.
Sue Bradford: Given the Government's positive approach to this issue of youth unemployment, will the Government be giving increased infrastructure support to the Mayors Task Force for Jobs in this term of Parliament, given that the task force goal is that by 2005 no young person under 25 will be out of work or training?
Hon. RUTH DYSON: No specific financial budgetary allocation has been made in respect of the Mayors Task Force for Jobs, but, as the member accurately pointed out, the task force has highlighted this very issue as a priority for it over the coming 3 years.
3. Rt Hon. WINSTON PETERS (Leader--NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: Can prospective New Zealand residents enter New Zealand visa-free?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): Yes, if they are from a visa-free country.
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: Will the Minister tell us about the advice she recently received, that those who enter New Zealand visa-free cannot be effectively risk-profiled as to their suitability, security, or health, and if so, what plans does she have to address this situation?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: It has already been announced in the Budget this year that we are entering into an arrangement to take up the advanced passenger processing system, which gives us access to a lot more information than we are able to obtain currently.
Dianne Yates: To how many countries has New Zealand granted visa-free waivers, and what impact would suspending those arrangements have?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: New Zealand is currently visa-free to visitors from 51 countries. In addition, Australians do not need permits to be in New Zealand. The impacts of suspending all these visa waivers would produce a significant adverse effect on New Zealand's bilateral relationships as well as on trade and tourism.
Hon. Murray McCully: Is the Government currently giving consideration to the revocation of any of the visa-waiver agreements this country has, on the basis that they have been abused by asylum seekers or illegal immigrants, as was the case with the agreements in relation to the Czech Republic and Thailand; if so, in respect of which countries is the Government giving that consideration?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: No.
Hon. Richard Prebble: Is it correct that New Zealanders can enter many countries, like Australia and the United Kingdom, visa-free, and then subsequently apply for further permits; if so, if it is OK for us, why is it not OK for them?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: New Zealanders are able to enter, visa-free, a number of countries round the world, including the United States. Obviously Australia has the same agreement as we do. It is a trans-Tasman travel arrangement. Those countries also include most European nations and Japan. I am sure if we were to cancel visa-free arrangements with those countries there would be retaliatory measures taken against New Zealanders wanting to travel to those countries.
Metiria Turei: Is there some racial bias in the complaints about having visa-free status, in that those complaints are commonly directed against countries with predominantly non-white populations?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: The decision to grant a country visa-free status is based on the likelihood of compliance with permits once people actually enter the country. We have developed risk profiles over many years and over many Governments.
Matt Robson: Does the Government have any plans to introduce a whites-only policy for residents or visa applications; if not, why not?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: No.
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: Why is the Minister pretending this is all normal, when her officials advised her, after the Budget, in the following manner: those who enter New Zealand visa-free cannot be effectively risk-profiled, but the New Zealand Immigration Service's offshore branches report increasing numbers of applications from high-risk individuals seeking visitor visas when their real intent is to look for work once in New Zealand, and what of the thousands of people in New Zealand who fit that description already?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: We debated the Transnational Organised Crime legislation just prior to the general election, and created new offences and new penalties. There are significant penalties for people involved in entering the country illegally, and particularly for the purposes of working illegally.
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: I seek leave to table page 34 of the briefing paper--
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: It has already been tabled!
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: Well, apparently the member has not read it yet. There are no cartoons with it, though.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: I seek leave to table the entire briefing to incoming Ministers.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Skill New Zealand--MŽori Training
4. GORDON COPELAND (United Future) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education): Can he confirm that Skill New Zealand has been asked to be proactive in giving preference to MŽori owned and operated skill training providers?
Hon. TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): I am advised that this is not the case.
Gordon Copeland: Is the Minister then satisfied that Skill New Zealand is giving preference to those training providers who are producing the best outcomes for MŽori regardless of the ethnicity of their owners or operators?
Hon. TREVOR MALLARD: That is certainly the policy of the Government, and I have had no information to indicate that that is not the case.
Simon Power: If the Minister is so concerned about the outcomes for MŽori in tertiary education, why is he strangling private training establishments with a funding moratorium, when they proportionally have double the number of MŽori students compared with public tertiary institutions?
Hon. TREVOR MALLARD: That is because there are more MŽori post-secondary in training and education than PŽkehŽ.
Dr Ashraf Choudhary: What progress has been made under this Government for MŽori participation in post-secondary education?
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister might like to correct what he just said, because it is plainly absurd and ridiculous. He said that there are more MŽori--
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, that is a point of debate, and the member has further supplementary questions.
Hon. TREVOR MALLARD: There has been significant progress in MŽori participation over the last 3 years. MŽori have risen from 14 percent of all students in a formal programme of study in 1999 to 17 percent in 2001. Nineteen percent of MŽori were in some form of post-secondary education in 2001, up from 13 percent in 1999. For the first time ever, the proportion of MŽori is higher than the general population.
Deborah Coddington: Can the Minister inform the House whether during negotiations over the agreement on confidence and supply the United Future Party's leader expressed any reservations or made any comment whatsoever about race-based legislation or policy; if not, is the Minister surprised by the question?
Hon. TREVOR MALLARD: Nothing would surprise me in this House. I think it is fair to say that the discussions with United Future were full and frank, and discussed a number of areas. I was not involved in the detail of any agreement. If members want to read the agreements, they have been tabled in the House.
Nandor Tanczos: Is the Minister concerned that according to figures on the Skill New Zealand website only 62 percent of MŽori and Pacific learners in youth training went on to employment or further education, and what will he do for the other 38 percent?
Hon. TREVOR MALLARD: I am very concerned about any student who leaves school without going on to employment or further training.
Ron Mark: With that in mind, is it his intention to make student loans more widely available so that young people seeking to get qualifications such as heavy combination licences and driver conversion courses are able to access student loans to do that, or are we to continue to ostracise those people who do not have the desire, the need, or the ability to slot themselves into purely tertiary education?
Hon. TREVOR MALLARD: Eligibility for student loans is so wide at the moment that we have found cases of people getting a student loan to do skin diving in Tonga. In fact, if we are looking at the range of student--
Hon. David Carter: What are you going to do about it?
Hon. TREVOR MALLARD: That happened under the policy established by the National Party, and this Government has been moving quietly with institutions to tighten that up. Student loans for skin diving in Tonga might be the National Party's policy; it is not the policy of this Government.
New Zealand and Television New Zealand
5. STEPHEN FRANKS (ACT NZ) to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises: Why has he withheld the full section on the business outlook for Radio New Zealand Limited, and most of the business outlook for Television New Zealand Limited, when releasing his incoming briefing papers?
Hon. MARK BURTON (Minister for State Owned Enterprises): The material withheld is commercially sensitive.
Stephen Franks: When 21 other State-owned enterprises have all had their outlooks released, including some facing bleak futures, why should we not conclude from the suppression that the Hon. Marian Hobbs left Radio New Zealand and TVNZ facing financial desperation without special charter grants, and can he confirm that TVNZ alone wants a grant worth more than $30 million?
Hon. MARK BURTON: The policy has been to release as much as is prudent. There were other small omissions from other parts of the total briefing document. I suggest that if the member wants to ask operational questions he should ask them of the Minister responsible. Although I am responsible for 18 State-owned enterprises, I do not have ministerial responsibility for either Radio New Zealand or Television New Zealand.
David Benson-Pope: Is it usual practice to withhold from public release material that is commercially sensitive?
Hon. MARK BURTON: Yes.
Gerry Brownlee: Can the Minister confirm that since Labour came into office Television New Zealand had dropped $410 million in value by last year, and, with even greater equity lost this past year, is that not the reason he left the business outlook out of the briefing papers?
Hon. MARK BURTON: I can confirm for the member that I am not the Minister responsible for Television New Zealand or Radio New Zealand. I can suggest to him that the briefing to the incoming Minister for State Owned Enterprises included material from the Crown Company Monitoring Advisory Unit on other matters, as well. I do not report to Cabinet on those two companies. A different Minister is responsible.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How do we get into a situation where a member of the ACT party presumably went down to the Clerk's Office this morning, taking the briefing paper released by the Minister for State Owned Enterprises with the various parts missing from it, lodged the question, and had it accepted; then a Minister is able to stand up in the House and say that he is not responsible.
Mr SPEAKER: The member has made a valid point, and I will look at this matter further, because I think on this occasion it should have been transferred right at the start if the Minister was not specifically responsible for the State-owned enterprise. I will look at this matter and report a little later in question time.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is the second time today that we have one of these sorts of incidents. Given that the Government does seem willing to tell people what it is doing, I seek the leave of the House now that this question be transferred to the appropriate Minister, whoever that might be.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to transfer this question.
Hon. MARK BURTON: I think the problem is that the question that was asked related to the document that I was responsible for releasing. Unfortunately, the member's subsequent questions moved on to a whole different area for which I am not responsible. The original problem arises out of the direction the member took the supplementary question in--which none of us could predict.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave was sought, and I am going to--
Gerry Brownlee: Why don't we have a debate?
Mr SPEAKER: Because I actually thought that if he was adding something to my knowledge of this, and to the House's knowledge, it might have been helpful, and I am going to seek leave. Leave is sought to transfer this question to the appropriate Minister. Is there any objection? There is.
Mr SPEAKER: Point of order, Stephen Franks.
Stephen Franks: If the Minister was able to form the view--
Mr SPEAKER: Just a moment. Is the member raising a point or order or asking a supplementary question?
Stephen Franks: It was a point of order, but I am happy to make it a supplementary question if that is how you classify it.
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. There is an order in which I take the House for supplementary questions. The member will get another chance, but I am hearing from parties that have not asked questions yet.
Sue Kedgley: Can the Minister confirm that any increased profits generated by BCL Ltd through its Telecom expansion plan, which was outlined in this incoming briefing paper, will be invested back into TVNZ and not into the consolidated account; if not, why not?
Hon. MARK BURTON: I regret to have to say, again, that this question relates to the area of responsibility of another Minister.
Sue Kedgley: I seek leave, then, to have my question transferred to another Minister who can answer it.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to transfer that question to another Minister. Is there any objection? There is. I will have a look at this--[Interruption] I am going to move on to the next question, and I will return to this when I have had a little bit of a chance to have a think about it--
Gerry Brownlee: Point of order--
Mr SPEAKER: --and I do not really think I need any further assistance at this time.
Gerry Brownlee: I think this will be helpful, because the point I am wanting to raise with you is that, as the State-owned enterprises Minister, the Hon. Mark Burton is required to report to Cabinet every quarter on the financial performance of State-owned enterprises, of which TVNZ is one. Now, if he is able to stand up in the House today and say ``I don't have responsibility for this'', what on earth is he required to report to Cabinet for?
Mr SPEAKER: That is precisely what I am going to have a look at in the next few minutes.
6. TIM BARNETT (NZ Labour--Christchurch Central) to the Minister of Justice: What impact has the removal of mandatory life sentences for murder, where such a sentence would be manifestly unjust, had since the Sentencing Act 2002 came into effect on 30 June 2002?
Hon. PHIL GOFF (Minister of Justice): The new Sentencing Act created an exception to mandatory life sentences with a minimum 10-year non-parole period for murder, because in a small number of cases, predominantly mercy killings, this sentence would be manifestly unjust. This discretion was used recently in the case of 77-year-old Rex Law, who killed his wife--to whom he had been married for 54 years--who had advanced Alzheimer's disease. The mitigating factors were able to be taken into account in a much reduced sentence.
Tim Barnett: What reports has the Minister had on the overall response to the amendment to the legislation as it impacted on the case of Rex Law?
Hon. PHIL GOFF: The general response has been overwhelmingly positive--from Mr Law's family, from the legal profession, from the Sensible Sentencing Trust, and from the public at large. I doubt that anybody believes that Mr Law should spend the remaining years of his life in prison, as the previous law would have required. The law does not condone mercy killing, but it does reflect the common-sense view that the sentence should reflect the circumstances of the offence and the offender. The new law is now more flexible, and it allowed that to happen.
Hon. Tony Ryall: Why is the Government opposed to allowing a jury of New Zealanders to decide how such a homicide should be classified instead of a judge?
Hon. PHIL GOFF: In the past, what would generally happen in the case of a mercy killing like this is that it would go to a jury, the jury would regard it as manifestly unjust, and therefore find somebody who has committed murder guilty of a lesser offence. In this case, of course, Mr Law pleaded guilty to murder, and therefore did not require a jury trial.
Ron Mark: Is it not true that that process was always available, as was exampled in the Janine Albury-Thomson case of July 1998, and therefore should the House and the country not view this question as simply a patsy question designed to divert the nation's attention from the fact that the Sentencing and Parole Act, as passed by the Minister, in no way goes to meet the Norm Withers referendum that 92 percent of New Zealand voted for?
Hon. PHIL GOFF: Of course the member is absolutely wrong. There would have been no discretion in this case, because Mr Law pleaded guilty to murder. Under the old law he would have received a mandatory life sentence and 10 years minimum before parole. Members may interject that he would not have, but I have the sentencing record of the court here where the judge makes that point explicitly.
Marc Alexander: Can the Minister tell the House what impact the removal of mandatory life sentences for murder in cases other than those for which it is self-evidently unjust--as in the Rex Law case--has on victims' families, and how does he assess their needs for a definitive sentence, if not, why not?
Hon. PHIL GOFF: In this particular case the family member of Mr and Mrs Law, their only child, of course welcomed the chance for the court not to sentence his father to 10 years minimum in prison. The mandatory--
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The junior whip over there--
Mr SPEAKER: Please come to the point--
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: I thought that was your responsibility, not hers.
Mr SPEAKER: Come to the point of order.
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: My point is that he was asked for the case that was the exception being recited in the House, not the one that he is reciting now.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, but he was coming to that. The sentence he had just started was going to deal with that. I will judge the answer on that sentence. [Interruption] Please be seated.
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: I raise a further point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: No, please be seated. I heard the response and the Minister had not finished. I will hear him finish his answer.
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: I raise a further point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: It had better be a good point of order.
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: It is a new point of order Mr Speaker. You said that he was coming to it. Now, unless you are clairvoyant you could not possibly know that, nor do we.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will stand, withdraw, and apologise for those comments.
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a further point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Now I want to make another point. I heard the Minister start the second sentence when he was quite clearly coming to that other question. That is what I heard. The Minister will now continue.
Hon. PHIL GOFF: The threshold level for the application of this discretion is manifestly unjust. It will apply to a very narrow range of cases, mercy killings perhaps, a suicide pact, or, in the case perhaps of a seriously battered person who lashes out and kills a partner. In those cases the families of the victims would be quite understanding that that would be an out of the ordinary situation where 10 years minimum is not an appropriate sentence.
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: I raise a further point of order, Mr Speaker. That is precisely what my objection was. He was asked what of the victims of other families in cases unlike the one he has been reciting. He has made no attempt to answer that question at all.
Mr SPEAKER: I judge that he did address the question and that he did make an attempt and that is where the matter ends.
7. Hon. MURRAY McCULLY to the Minister of MŽori Affairs: What official papers, if any, have been released by him today in relation to the Maori Television Service; and what confidence, if any, should those papers give members as to his stewardship of the Service?
Hon. PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of MŽori Affairs): Today a series of papers requested under the Official Information Act relating to the establishment and operation of the MŽori Television Service have been released. I am confident that the documents show that all parties are dedicated to bringing a MŽori television channel to air and that we are very serious about establishing the service for the long term.
Hon. Murray McCully: Given that the papers released by the Minister today show that the MŽori Television Service directors spent a large amount of their time and energy arguing about their fees, rather than trying to establish a television channel, and bearing in mind the Minister's previous assurances that directors would receive only $18,000 a year, and Mr Fox $36,000, on what basis did he persuade Cabinet on 12 March to provide an additional $84,000 in fees for directors, and allow directors to act as consultants earning--
Mr SPEAKER: That is a very, very long question, indeed, and there were interjections during the last part of it. While a question is being asked I want to hear it. The member is entitled to have his question heard without interjection. Can we please have the last part so that I can hear it, and there will be no comments.
Hon. Murray McCully: On what basis did the Minister persuade Cabinet on 12 March 2002 to provide an additional $84,000 in fees for directors and allow directors to act as consultants, earning another $720 per day?
Hon. PAREKURA HOROMIA: In respect of the last part of that member's question, it is not too unusual for that practice to happen on boards. Cabinet made collective decisions, and this Government is continuing with that collective decision-making.
Mahara Okeroa: Why have all documents not been released?
Hon. PAREKURA HOROMIA: Papers that relate to the transmission platform are withheld on the basis that it is commercially sensitive information and that negotiations are still in progress. In respect of documents concerning the consultancy human relations company, negotiations are going on between that company and the board, and those documents have been withheld.
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: Is one of the reasons that some papers have not been released due to the fact that they disclose a contract or contracts without tender for a business associated with a MŽori Television Service director?
Hon. PAREKURA HOROMIA: No, that is not my understanding. I do not have that detailed information, but if that member is prepared to write to me I will answer him.
Rodney Hide: Did the papers released include the audit of Derek Fox's expenses; if not, why not?
Hon. PAREKURA HOROMIA: There are several audit summaries, and that member is more than able to peruse them. Parts have been released, but some parts have not.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was not an answer to my question. I asked the Minister whether the audit of Derek Fox's expenses had been released; if not, why not? The Minister did not even attempt to answer that question. He picks up his pay each week, why does he not answer the question?
Mr SPEAKER: The last sentence is totally unnecessary to the sense of the point of order made. If the Minister wants to comment further I will hear him now.
Hon. PAREKURA HOROMIA: There is detail on issues around Mr Fox. If it is that definitive, the member can also write to me and I will answer him in full.
Murray Smith: How much has the recent debacle within the MŽori Television Service cost the service both in terms of direct expenses incurred in order to identify and resolve the problems, and in terms of lost productivity?
Hon. PAREKURA HOROMIA: The issues that arose and slowed things down are well known. I do not have the exact figure, but I am more than happy to make that available to that member.
Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am a little troubled with the way we are getting answers in this House. In the last three questions the Minister has answered he said that if members write to him--that is, the questions asked by the Rt Hon. Winston Peters, Rodney Hide, and Murray Smith--he will supply the answers. If he gets those answers I would like him to read them to the House.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister addressed the questions. I am not responsible for whether the answers are satisfactory. All I can is that Minister said there is a large document there and that he could not recall the exact figures concerned. They were supplementary questions, not the original question, however he has volunteered to provide the information. That is sufficient at this stage.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Do we now take it, given you have stood up and given that advice to the House, that it is acceptable that, although the Opposition parties have to go to quite some extent to verify questions they have placed with the Clerk each morning, a Minister--knowing full well that he will get questions about papers that he is going to release like this--is able to come into the House and simply say in answer: ``I haven't looked at that yet; write me a letter.'' What is the point in having questions in the House, and having Ministers here every day to be accountable in their portfolios, if we are just to be able to excuse their lack of knowledge by them saying: ``Write to me, and I will have my officials write back to you.''?
Hon. Trevor Mallard: I think if there is a primary question looking for the level of detail that members have been asking for, the member could well have a valid point. The problem comes when someone asks a supplementary question. I have been doing some other paper work here but I heard Mr Smith's supplementary, which asked for a very detailed response around matters of both finance and productivity, and which might be well written up or might well not be. When a question is looking for that level of detail, then I think it is important that some notice is given. Frankly, I think that the Minister was very generous in offering to get the information and give it to members. I would not have.
Mr SPEAKER: The last comment was distinctly unhelpful and nothing to do with the point of order, at all. Anyway, it was grammatically incorrect as well. I want to repeat what I said earlier. An original question requires close attention to detail, but not every supplementary question that asks a detailed point can be answered by the Minister. The Minister has said that he will provide the answer.
Hon. Murray McCully: Has the Minister seen, among the papers he released today, a letter from a Mr David Cox of the State Services Commission to Mr Fox, the chair of the MŽori Television Service, on 8 March, saying in relation to the proposed letter of engagement to Mr John Davy: ``We must insist that nothing is signed.'', and ``Our lawyer has advised me that the agreement is in no form to be even offered to anyone, let alone signed.''? Can I ask the Minister what steps he took, following the receipt of that letter, before he and his chief executive signed off on that arrangement?
Hon. PAREKURA HOROMIA: It was a pre-letter, and a summary of the situation at that time. We took the appropriate action following broad discussions.
8. HELEN DUNCAN (NZ Labour) to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage: What steps has the Government taken to support the New Zealand music industry?
Hon. JUDITH TIZARD: (Acting Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage): Most recently, the Government is investing $345,000 in an initiative launched by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, last week, which will give 30 New Zealand musicians the chance to perform live before music industry leaders from key export markets such as Europe, the United States, and Australia at the America's Cup village in late November. A conservative estimate suggests that the last America's Cup had an economic benefit to New Zealand of over $640 million, and we are determined to capitalise on that by providing this opportunity to showcase the broadest range of New Zealand's creative enterprise and talent to the world.
Helen Duncan: What other steps has the Government taken to promote the New Zealand music industry?
Hon. JUDITH TIZARD: We set up the Music Industry Commission, we funded NZ On Air's phase four scheme, and we provided the cultural recovery package funding to promote contemporary New Zealand popular music. This year the commission led a successful delegation to the Midem 2000 Trade Fair in France. It coordinated the extraordinarily successful New Zealand music month in May, published handbooks including Pacifica to support young Pacific musicians, and produced educational CD-ROMs for schools. NZ On Air reports that there is seven times more New Zealand music being played on New Zealand radio in the last year.
Hon. Murray McCully: Is the Minister aware of the efforts of the world-champion parliamentary rugby team to promote New Zealand music through participation in the annual rugby match against a New Zealand musician's team as an Eden Park curtain-raiser later this month; if so, in what capacity does she intend to promote this event?
Hon. JUDITH TIZARD: I am not sure that it is completely relevant to the parliamentary rugby team, but I note that the Australasian Performing Rights Association's Nature's Best compilation of the most popular New Zealand songs has reached platinum sales five times, making it the highest-selling New Zealand compilation of all time. I ask the member whether rugby is the game with the round ball or the oval ball.
Mr SPEAKER: I have to acknowledge a personal interest in this because I have been invited to be a guest commentator during that game.
Dail Jones: What support has the Minister been giving to music in New Zealand generally, including classical music, opera, and general music, as opposed to just New Zealand music, and are all the other aspects of music in New Zealand to be eliminated in the Minister's pursuit of one part of all the culture that is available to our country?
Hon. JUDITH TIZARD: I assure the member that classical music and serious music is also New Zealand music. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra had a hit record released by the Naxos publishing company in Britain last month. I am delighted at the member's support for that.
Mike Ward: Is the Minister concerned about the threats to the New Zealand youth music radio network; and, if she is, in view of the fact that it is the primary vehicle for the airplay of New Zealand music can we look forward to additional support for New Zealand youth radio?
Hon. JUDITH TIZARD: We have information that states that in the last month one commercial radio station, for example, was playing over 30 percent New Zealand music. I assure the member that while the youth radio network is an important initiative, which we continue to work on, student radio, commercial radio, National Radio, and Concert FM should all be congratulated on the enormous work they have done to promote New Zealand music across radio in New Zealand.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Once again we have the situation where Mr Ward has asked a specific question relating to whether the Minister was aware of the threats. We received no answer at all. We heard about other radio stations--
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Rodney Hide: Are you going to listen to this?
Mr SPEAKER: I have already heard enough to indicate that the member is indicating the Minister did not address the question. She did.
Heather Roy: How many CDs have been sold as a result of the Government's supposed support of the New Zealand music industry, costing thousands of taxpayers' dollars, and if this is not the measure of success, what is?
Hon. JUDITH TIZARD: I do not have that information, but if the member would like to set this down as a specific question I would be happy to get it for her. However, the measure of the success of New Zealand music is the number of bands that are making a full-time living out of it, the number of records, the amount of intellectual property held in New Zealand for the benefit of New Zealanders, the level of exports, and the enjoyment that New Zealanders get out of their music.
Stock Exchange--Disclosure Requirements
9. JOHN KEY (NZ National--Helensville) to the Minister of Commerce: Does she have full confidence that appropriate disclosure requirements are being met by companies raising capital on the New Zealand Stock Exchange; if so, why?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Commerce): I am fully confident that both the New Zealand Stock Exchange and the Securities Commission are effectively monitoring the market and that they investigate potentially serious breaches of securities legislation.
John Key: Will she be demanding a Securities Commission inquiry into newly listed plastics manufacturer, Vertex, after yesterday's substantial negative variation to the prospective forecasts, resulting in a loss of nearly $20 million to New Zealand investors, especially in light of the fact that that comes recently after the sell-down of Tranz Rail, which resulted in a $102 million loss.
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: No.
Mark Peck: What steps has the Minister taken to ensure confidence in New Zealand's capital markets?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: The Government has a number of initiatives aimed at promoting confidence in New Zealand capital markets and ensuring that the interests of investors are protected. The Securities Markets and Institutions Bill is currently awaiting its second reading. The Government is also undertaking a fundamental review of securities trading laws.
Stephen Franks: Is the Minister aware of any reason that directors would not be personally liable to disappointed investors if their forecasts were knowingly misleading, and has she a view on whether it is likely the Securities Commission can routinely take over hindsight scrutiny of forecasts without pushing up compliance costs to the scrupulous, or scaring them all off providing any forecast--as has happened in the US?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: The member will no doubt be pleased to know that the stock exchange has announced this afternoon that it will be taking a close look at the Vertex Group Holdings Ltd, the subject of the earlier question, and referring it to the market surveillance panel. I am confident that the system that we have in place will produce a result.
John Key: Why does she have confidence in the process being followed by the New Zealand Stock Exchange, given the alarming pattern of emerging recent floats and sell-downs that failed to meet their forecast, including Genesis, Frucor, Tranz Rail, and Vertex--let me make it simple for the Minister, the only one that has been successful in 2 years is Briscoes?
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: The Securities Commission monitors and enforces breaches of disclosure requirements by companies raising capital in New Zealand.
Simon Power: We know that.
Mr SPEAKER: Now I will hear the answer in silence. I am sick of those comments.
Hon. LIANNE DALZIEL: I would like to refer the member to the issue relating to the disclosure by Wakefield Hospital and the report that was taken in that regard, where the commission identified a number of possible breaches of securities law, and stressed the importance of full-risk disclosure and proper disclosure of forecast financial information. I understand the commission has now referred that report to Wakefield shareholders and to the companies office.
Crimes of Violence--Media Linkage
10. PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader--NZ First) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Does he accept that there is a linkage between videos and publications depicting explicit sex and graphic violence, and crimes of violence in the community; if so, what does he intend to do about it?
Hon. GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Internal Affairs): No, I have been advised that research on the relationship between viewing violent or sexually explicit material and physical offending is inconclusive. Researchers have not been able to demonstrate conclusively that viewing such material leads to sexual or violent offending.
Peter Brown: Is the Minister not aware of recent criminal cases that clearly outline a direct linkage between pornographic material and violent crime, and further the study by Sue Lightford of Child, Youth and Family Services, where she studied 20 young sex abusers and found all had been subjected to hard core pornographic material; if he is not aware of such linkage, does he not think it worthwhile investigating the issue.
Hon. GEORGE HAWKINS: I can advise the member that the Government Administration Committee had an inquiry into--
Peter Brown: What are you doing yourself?
Mr SPEAKER: The member asked a question, and the Minister is entitled to give an answer to it.
Hon. GEORGE HAWKINS: The Government Administration Committee started an inquiry before the election. It has now taken that up again, and it will report to the House before the end of this year.
Russell Fairbrother: What information has the Minister received on the work of the Internal Affairs censorship compliance team?
Hon. GEORGE HAWKINS: The censorship compliance unit is one of only a few specialist units of its type in the world. It undertakes proactive online investigations into people trading in objectionable material--mostly child pornography. To date, 460 New Zealanders have been identified as trading in objectionable material. Over 100 cases have been successfully prosecuted in the District Courts, which has a further 25 cases currently pending. Three New Zealand Internet offenders have been identified every month. The censorship compliance unit contributes intelligence about offenders to overseas law enforcement agents. That has led to several notable arrests and prosecutions.
Judith Collins: What official reports or scientific evidence has the Minister received about any link between those publications and crimes of violence in the community, and what are the titles and dates of those reports?
Hon. GEORGE HAWKINS: If the member wants the information to be so specific, then perhaps she would like to put down a written question. However, I can say that the police have told me they cannot discount there being a linkage between violent videos and crime.
Paul Adams: In the light of the horrific crimes committed by young people in our nation, which are often an enactment of what they have watched on their television screens, is the Minister prepared to give a directive to tighten our censorship laws?
Hon. GEORGE HAWKINS: It would be a foolish person who would do that before the Government Administration Committee has reached its findings.
Peter Brown: In the light of the answer given to Mr Adams, and an earlier answer given to Mr Fairbrother, will the Minister confirm that he will appoint a Deputy Chief Censor of Film and Literature before 16 September, as he is legally bound to do?
Hon. GEORGE HAWKINS: I will be taking a name to Cabinet for appointment very shortly.
Te Hauora o
Te Tai Tokerau Trust--Services
11. PHIL HEATLEY (NZ National--Whangarei) to the Minister of Social Services and Employment: On what date did he or the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services first become aware of alleged under delivery of services by Te Hau Ora o Te Tai Tokerau Trust, and what alerted him or the department to the under delivery?
Hon. RUTH DYSON (Associate Minister of Social Services and Employment), on behalf of the Minister of Social Services and Employment: Family Start in Whangarei was originally delivered by a joint venture between the trust and the Royal Plunket Society of New Zealand. That arrangement dissolved in September 2000, at which point the trust took sole responsibility. On 12 November 2001 a letter was received from staff raising concerns about the service, and the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services has been working with the trust since that date. When it became clear that resolution of their concerns was not achievable, approval was suspended and then revoked.
Phil Heatley: Why did the Minister not act 18 months ago, in March last year, when the well respected organisation Plunket pulled out of a partnership with Te Hauora o Te Tai Tokerau Trust, which delivered the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services contracts together, citing and submitting to the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services a comprehensive KPMG Legal report at that time, stating that the organisation had serious problems?
Hon. RUTH DYSON: Those concerns were considered to be matters of difference between the trust and Plunket. The new contract, which was then monitored quarterly, was seen to be effective in ensuring that those concerns were monitored.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: Has the Minister heard reports of developments within the Te Hauora o Te Tai Tokerau Trust, including the appointment of a new interim chair?
Hon. RUTH DYSON: Yes, I am aware of those reports. Although it is encouraging that the board and local iwi are working to restore confidence, the first priority is still to ensure that public funds are secure and available to deliver services. That is why legal steps are currently being taken to ensure that that is the case.
Dr Muriel Newman: Given that the Minister has known about concerns over the trust's financial mismanagement for 18 months, could he explain exactly why he told the House just days before the health contract was cancelled that: ``Having checked the health funding, it is continuing.'', when he must have known that it was under serious question, and explain how the House can have any confidence in anything he says, given his total mismanagement of this issue?
Hon. RUTH DYSON: My understanding is that the member's assertion is, in fact, entirely untrue, and that the concerns of the department are for underdelivery of services.
Phil Heatley: Does the Minister join in with the Hon. Tariana Turia's apology of Friday 16 August, made at the _________ Marae in Whangarei, which stated that she had known about this for some time and that she wished she had acted sooner?
Hon. RUTH DYSON: I am not able to put myself back into that position on 16 August.
Question No. 10 to Minister
Peter Brown: I seek leave to table three media reports indicating a direct link between pornographic material and crime.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those documents. Is there any objection? There is.
12. KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: What diplomatic initiatives has the Government taken to discourage the Governments of the United States, Great Britain and Australia from undertaking or supporting military action, such as a pre-emptive strike or invasion against Iraq, and what further steps is the Government planning to reinforce any existing initiatives?
Hon. PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade): New Zealand has counselled that any action against Iraq should be collectively determined and carried out under a United Nations Security Council mandate, and that, at this point, unilateral military action would risk the unity and the effectiveness of the international coalition against terrorism. My visit next week to New York, Washington, and the European Union will allow me to hold bilateral meetings to discuss those issues relating to Iraq directly with the United States, the European Union, and a range of other countries.
Keith Locke: Will the Government be withdrawing military staff from the United States Central Command in Florida now that the central command is actively involved in planning for an invasion of Iraq?
Hon. PHIL GOFF: Our New Zealand staff with the United States Central Command are engaged solely with military action against terrorism in Afghanistan.
Graham Kelly: Are New Zealand's views on a military strike against Iraq shared by others within the Bush Administration?
Hon. PHIL GOFF: The debate about a strike against Iraq is ongoing within the United States Administration. However, there are certainly very important voices within the Republican party--who are listened to within the Administration--that share exactly our views. I would refer members to General Brent Skocroft who is the former national security adviser to President Bush Senior. He makes comments such as there being no evidence to tie Saddam to the September 11 attacks. He says an attack on Iraq would seriously jeopardise the global counter-terrorist campaign. He says that an attack would have huge consequences on the global economy. He said that there is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Why has the Government closed the door in working militarily alongside our most longstanding friends and allies, Britain, Australia, and the United States, without at least first appraising itself of the evidence they clearly have about Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction?
Hon. PHIL GOFF: That evidence has not yet been made available. I heard a speech by Vice-President Cheney saying that he thought they might have it, but they have not been able to produce the evidence yet. Where there is a United Nations mandate and where there is a clear and imminent danger to world peace, New Zealand has never hesitated to make a stand and a contribution. That is why we, with Australia, are the only non-European countries currently engaged in Afghanistan, both in peacekeeping and in military service. At the moment no clear and imminent threat has been shown. At the moment there is no UN mandate, or mandate under international law, to take that action.
Hon. Ken Shirley: Following the Minister's reported statement in today's Dominion Post that there should be no attack on Iraq, has he seen the recent statement from the United Kingdom's Labour Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, on Iraq, and with reference to the following quote, why does he and New Zealand's Labour Government say that Mr Blair is wrong: ``The Americans in raising this issue are not wrong; they are right. The reason why our place is beside them in addressing this issue is not because of some misplaced allegiance, or because of blind loyalty. It is because it is the right thing to do. If the 11th September teaches us anything, it teaches us the importance of not waiting for the threat to materialise, but when we can see the signs of that threat in front of us, dealing with it.'' Which part of the quote does the Minister disagree with?
Mr SPEAKER: The member has read the quote and it was too long a question. He does not have to add to it.
Hon. PHIL GOFF: Just as the debate is ongoing within the US Administration, so too, the debate is ongoing within the British Labour Government. I find myself aligned with Jack Straw, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the United Kingdom, and Colin Powell, both of whom have put emphasis as a first step on getting the United Nations weapons inspectors back into Iraq before one even thinks about a military strike.
Hon. Peter Dunne: Does the Minister expect to be meeting the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in his visit to the United States next week, or the President of the United States to be contacting directly our Prime Minister to discuss the United States plans with regard to Iraq; if not, why not?
Hon. PHIL GOFF: I have ongoing meetings with Colin Powell, usually at multilateral arrangements such as United Nations general assembly. I may see Colin Powell there. I am certainly seeing Richard Armitage. That will be one of the aspects on the agenda for our discussions.
Rt Hon. Winston Peters: If the United States President takes to Congress compelling unequivocal evidence on the level of the threat, what then would the Government's position be?
Hon. PHIL GOFF: As I mentioned in my primary answer, New Zealand would require a United Nations mandate for such action and evidence of a clear and imminent threat to the world of Iraq's use of weapons of mass destruction. Equally, I am aware, as the member mentioned the United States Congress, that leading figures within the Senate and the House of Representatives have expressed severe doubts about taking such a strike against Iraq.
Keith Locke: When will the Government be reducing New Zealand's involvement in the United States war planning and operations by withdrawing SAS contingent from Afghanistan, particularly in view of the Australian Government's statement this week it may soon be withdrawing its special forces contingent in Afghanistan?
Mr SPEAKER: That is rather wide of the original question. The Minister may comment very briefly.
Hon. PHIL GOFF: Our military forces in Afghanistan have played a very important role that has won huge respect for what they have done. However, matters relating to their operational deployment are not discussed by the Government in public.
No. 5 to Minister
Mr SPEAKER: I want now to return to Question 5, and I have a reasonably lengthy ruling, which I want to read. The question relates to the briefing paper prepared for the Minister for State Owned Enterprises. The question as lodged was therefore correctly addressed to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises. However, the briefing paper included material on TVNZ and Radio New Zealand. TVNZ is specifically excluded from the Minister for State Owned Enterprise's responsibility and conferred on the Minister of Broadcasting. Radio New Zealand is a Crown entity, not a State-owned enterprise and has never been the responsibility of the Minister for State Owned Enterprises at all. It is specifically the responsibility of the Minister of Broadcasting. If members wish to ask questions of TVNZ and Radio New Zealand they must address the questions to the Minister of Broadcasting. It would probably have been best for the question to be transferred to this Minister in the first place, but as the briefing paper was for the Minister for State Owned Enterprises that was a call for the Minister to make. This has put Stephen Franks at a disadvantage. The best course that I would like to recommend would be to permit him to lodge another question to the Minister of Broadcasting and have it dealt with as an extra question next Tuesday. I hope that is satisfactory for the member. I am asking for leave for my course of action to be followed. Is there any objection? There is not.
(Uncorrected transcript - subject to correction and further editing)
End of Questions for Oral Answer.