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Questions Of The Day Transcript - 19 March 2003

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

Questions 1-12 – 19 March 2003

Questions to Ministers

Legal Aid Services—Planning

1. TIM BARNETT (NZ Labour—Christchurch Central) to the Minister of Justice: What plans does he have to pilot publicly provided legal aid services?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Justice): A publicly provided legal aid service will commence early next year to provide criminal legal aid services in the Auckland and Manukau courts. Under the pilot, which was foreshadowed under the Legal Services Act, up to a third of criminal legal aid services in these courts could be provided by public lawyers, working alongside private lawyers. The pilot, as indicated in the Legal Service Act, will be properly evaluated.

Tim Barnett7Tim Barnett: What are the benefits of having a publicly provided service alongside private providers?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Most overseas jurisdictions with legal aid regimes similar to New Zealand’s, including Canada, Australia, England, and Wales, have a mixture of publicly and privately provided legal aid services. Research indicates that this is, in fact, the mixture that produces the best results. In particular, a mixed system creates the incentives for each system to improve the quality and consistency of representation, and ensures best value for the taxpayer’s money.

Richard Worth: If the Minister is truly concerned about the provision of good and strong legal aid, why has he overlooked or ignored the proposal that would involve the Legal Services Agency calling for tenders from both law firms and barrister groups to tender for legal services work on a bulk basis, with consequent improvement in the quality of legal services provided?

.Hon PHIL GOFF: Indeed, I have foreshadowed just that. Again, in the Legal Services Act that is another option that the Legal Services Agency will be looking at, and will implement in due course. However, we want to do these things one at a time, so that the Legal Services Agency is able properly to implement each of the pilot schemes that it has in mind.

Stephen Franks: What rules or other steps will the Minister take to ensure that this new service is not simply on top of existing services, and that it does not simply fund endless appeals and other cases without merit?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The same set of rules will apply in terms of eligibility for legal aid for publicly provided services, as privately provided services. What having a public system can do, of course, is ensure that some of the concerns that have been expressed about the cost of legal aid services can appropriately be measured, and the quality of those services, against the public sector provider. Equally, the private sector provider, under a mixed system, ensures there is proper competition; and we can measure one system against the other.

Dail Jones: What steps will be taken to ensure that the public providers will have adequate qualifications and experience, as opposed to the private providers?

Hon PHIL GOFF: It is very important that the public sector providers do have the appropriate qualifications and experience. For that reason, the widest range of legal aid work will be available to public lawyers from the District Court to the Court of Appeal, including duty solicitor schemes. That way we can get a mixture of senior and more junior staff, and the junior staff of course can be mentored by the senior staff. That is also a career structure within the public sector that will attract the right sort of people.

Iraq—Foreign Policy

2. Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT NZ) to the Prime Minister: In light of the failure of the United Nations Security Council to resolve the Iraq crisis, will she now review New Zealand’s foreign policy which she described yesterday “has at all times been based on its strong support for multilateralism … and for upholding the authority of the Security Council”; if not, why not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): The Government will not be reviewing New Zealand’s foreign policy, because it believes that multilateralism is the appropriate way to resolve international disputes.

Hon Richard Prebble: Will the Prime Minister clarify what she means by a multilateralist approach, and does she not concede that the only reason Saddam Hussein made any disarmament gestures was the presence of a quarter of a million US, British, and Australian troops in the Middle East, and if so, what contribution have the multilateralists, France, Germany, Russia, and New Zealand, made to the cost of this show of force, or are multilateralists just bludgers always calling for more time because it costs us nothing?

Mr SPEAKER: There were three questions there. Two questions can be answered.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Government believes the UN process was working. What happened was that some powerful countries walked away from it.

Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister believe that the United Nations process would have worked at all, without a credible threat of military force from the US?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: At the time the inspectors went back in, there was very little US presence. The presence built up thereafter. Kofi Annan and Mr Blix and most nations, including ours, agree that the pressure was helpful. It did get traction. The process was working and should have been left to work.

Rod Donald: Can the Prime Minister confirm that the multilateral system would have been perfectly capable of dealing with the Iraq situation if the US and UK had been willing to abide by the UN Security Council majority, who clearly opposed the motion in favour of war proposed by the coalition of the killing?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Government believes that the process was working. Furthermore, our position is that we will uphold Security Council resolutions, whether we agree with them or not. That is what being in a multilateral process means.

Hon Peter Dunne: In the light of the failure of the efforts through the United Nations, is the Prime Minister prepared to take a leaf out of the book of her illustrious predecessor Peter Fraser, and promote a reform of the United Nations decision-making procedures so that we do not get to this type of intolerable impasse in the future?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Government does not believe that we were at an intolerable impasse. We had a process that was working and should have been able to continue to work.

Hon Richard Prebble: Will the Prime Minister further clarify what she means by multilateralism, as she should know that only five nations, including New Zealand, joined Britain in declaring war on Nazi Germany in September 1939, compared to the more than 30 nations that are in the coalition of the willing, and would the Prime Minister have advised Britain to follow a multilateralist approach, take Hitler to the League of Nations, and allow diplomacy to take its course?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The member is well aware that the United Nations was not in place at that time. His history book will also tell him that the United States was not one of the five.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know that the Prime Minister says she is an expert on foreign policy. It was called the League of Nations. Now could I have the question answered?

Mr SPEAKER: She did answer the question. [Interruption]

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The reason there is a sporadic outburst of interjections from this side is that Mr Prebble clearly referred to the League of Nations—we all heard it. The answer that came back disputed what he said and claimed that it was the United Nations that he referred to. We all know that the Prime Minister was wrong, and we should not be allowing her to slide over it like you did.

Mr SPEAKER: The member is not going to disagree with what I said, because what I said stands. I say to the member that as far as I am concerned, the Prime Minster addressed the question. The member might not agree with the answer, but that is what democracy is all about.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The reason there is a sporadic outburst of interjections from this side is that Mr Prebble clearly referred to the League of Nations—we all heard it. The answer that came back disputed what he said and claimed that it was the United Nations that he referred to. We all know that the Prime Minister was wrong, and we should not be allowing her to slide over it like you did.

Mr SPEAKER: The member is not going to disagree with what I said, because what I said stands. I say to the member that as far as I am concerned, the Prime Minster addressed the question. The member might not agree with the answer, but that is what democracy is all about.

Overseas Students—Work

3. GORDON COPELAND (United Future) to the Minister of Immigration: Can overseas students work in paid employment while enrolled in a long term course of study in New Zealand; if so, how much work are they permitted to undertake?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): Yes, students on long-term tertiary courses may, on application, work for 15 hours per week during term time, and for extended hours during vacations.

Gordon Copeland: If the Prostitution Reform Bill becomes law, is there any way to prevent brothel owners from importing women from at-risk countries like Thailand on student visas, and employing them to work as prostitutes in brothels?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: If such an establishment were to bring in people for one purpose but to apply for a different permit, then that particular employer would in fact be in breach of his or her obligations and would be guilty of offences under the Immigration Act. The point the member raises is a very good one, and it was something that I became aware of late last week. Therefore, I have asked for work to be undertaken with the promoter of the bill and the Minister of Justice to ensure that we exclude all immigration permits from the area of brothel-keeping and prostitution.

Dave Hereora: How does the provision of education to overseas students in New Zealand contribute to the New Zealand economy?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Trade New Zealand has estimated the economic value of the export education industry to New Zealand in 2002 at $1.7 billion. That is why it is important that we do follow up on the issue that has been raised by the primary questioner.

Pansy Wong: How can overseas students concentrate on their study or 15-hours of work when some of them still have to queue outside the New Zealand Immigration Service at the crack of dawn, and what is the Minister doing to fix the problem?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Students do not have to queue outside the Immigration Service at the crack of dawn. If that member were to be helpful and advise members of different communities in Christchurch that they do not actually have to go into the Immigration Service, as I have been trying to do for the last several weeks—there has not been one helpful contribution from that member—then I would take her seriously.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You have consistently ruled, Mr Speaker, that all a Minister has to do is stand up and address the question. Are you going to extend that rule to allowing a Minister to stand up and attack the questioner and allow that to stand as an answer to a question?

Mr SPEAKER: No, the Minister was addressing the question. The member may not have liked it. I allowed a certain amount of comment to come back from the other side at that point, and that applied.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is it that after 4 years, every time something goes wrong—for example, people paying for others to queue for them; prostitutes being brought into this country, about which she claims she knows nothing at all; or, worse, the Japanese school in Auckland that she now claims was illegally started, which had people falling asleep because they were working 7 days a week in restaurants illegally—she knows about it only when somebody tells her, and if that is how incompetent she is, why does she not resign?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have done more as Minister of Immigration than the member did in addressing warts that existed in the system the whole time that he was in a Government and could have addressed these problems. The point is that people who come to this country as students have an entitlement to work if they apply for open work permits. The original questioner has raised a serious question, and that member would do well to listen to the answers.

Larry Baldock: In light of that serious issue, has the Minister received any reports that indicate the practice of importing women into New Zealand on student visas to work as prostitutes is already taking place; if so, will she review the rules covering the granting of student visas, with a view to eliminating this practice?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Again, the point the member raises is a good one, because the current law does not make prostitution illegal. It makes the act of soliciting illegal, and it also covers the activities of brothel-keeping and living off the earnings of prostitution—so there actually is a gap in the existing law. I do not have any evidence that people are being brought in under student permits to act in brothels. I do have good evidence that people are coming in from some countries on visitors visas, and are working unlawfully in brothels.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why does the Minister blandly rise in the House, day in, day out, giving an assurance with regard to these questions, when, for example—

Mr SPEAKER: I have allowed a little bit of toing and froing on this, but my patience is now at an end. There will be no more interjections. I want to hear Mr Peters’ question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why does the Minister give these bland assurances, day in, day out, when, for example, in the case of the Japanese school in Auckland, she had no idea what the students were doing, she had no idea that the school was operating, she had no idea of the level of illegality; and after a murder was committed she still has no idea of what happened there? Surely, she does not have the resources to give the assurances she has given this House?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have answered the questions on the issue of the Columbus Academy very clearly, by reference to the fact that the individual student who was killed on those premises—which is now the subject of an intense police inquiry—entered New Zealand visa-free, from Japan, in 1997—a familiar year.

Gordon Copeland: What course attendance and academic progress requirements do overseas students currently face in order to maintain their student visas; and is the Government moving to monitor these for compliance continuously throughout the year, as is being done now in the United States?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Institutions that have enrolled international students under these student permit provisions are obliged to advise the Immigration Service either that the individual student is not complying with his or her student permit by attending courses, or that he or she is failing to meet the course requirements.

Iraq—Disarmament

4. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Would the New Zealand Government change its view opposing military action to disarm Iraq in the event of Iraq using biological or chemical weapons; if not, why not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): As spokespersons for other Governments have observed, that question is hypothetical. Our opposition was to unilateral military action. The use by any nation of chemical biological weapons would almost certainly be regarded as a breach of international peace and security and, as such, the Security Council would be bound to address how to restore international peace and security.

Hon Bill English: Does that mean that she intends to follow the lead of a number of spokespeople for the French Government who have said that if Saddam Hussein starts using chemical or biological weapons, that would “change completely the situation for the French Government”?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Of course, it creates a new situation that the Security Council should address. I note that the member cannot decide whether troops should be sent at the moment.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Rather than wait around for something that may or may not happen, has she made her Government’s view clear to the Iraq Government that should it use biological or chemical weapons her Government would then take the appropriate response?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The New Zealand Government is totally opposed to the use of biological or chemical weapons, as are all those many, many countries that signed UN conventions. In our view, the UN Security Council would almost certainly regard that as a situation where force would need to be used under Article 42.

Rod Donald: Does the Prime Minister agree that a United States military invasion of Iraq is the single most likely event to cause Iraq to use chemical or biological weapons, if it has them, in which case—

Mr SPEAKER: I will not warn Dr Lockwood Smith again. Members can ask their questions in silence. That is part of our democratic process. The member will be able to ask his question in silence. Every member has that right. Please start again.

Rod Donald: Does the Prime Minister agree that a United States military invasion of Iraq is the single most likely event to cause Iraq to use chemical or biological weapons, if it has them, in which case anyone opposed to the use of those weapons—as I am sure the National Party is—should oppose this illegal, unjust war; if not, why not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Clearly, Iraq is preparing to fight, but there are mixed views as to whether it would use such weapons. Dr Blix has opined that he thinks on balance it would not. Others have said that it might. However, in our view, no such use of such weapons can ever be condoned. They should never be used.

Hon Bill English: Even if the Prime Minister regards this as a matter that should be dealt with by the UN, does that mean it makes no difference to New Zealand’s stance over the war, or that it would change New Zealand’s stance over the war?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Our objection is to unilateralism, just as the member’s was last week.

Rod Donald: Will the Government be making the strongest possible representations to the United States to ask it not to use nuclear weapons in Iraq, given that the US has declared that it is prepared to use nuclear weapons if it is confronted by chemical or biological weapons; if not, why not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Government is totally opposed to the use of any weapons of mass destruction by any country for any reason.

Mr SPEAKER: Question No. 5.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I thought that Mr Lockwood Smith called for a supplementary question, which he is entitled to do.

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, and the rules are that the ACT party, for example, have eight supplementary questions. It can use them up when it wishes. The National Party has a supplementary question on every question, and when a member asks a question, it has a second supplementary question, which it has had. If the National Party is prepared for Dr Lockwood Smith to ask one, it then forgoes one of its other questions. Does the whip want to have Dr Lockwood Smith ask a question? [Interruption] That is fair enough. That is perfectly acceptable.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith101Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: How does she describe to this Parliament, or claim in this Parliament, the success of the United Nations weapons inspections process, when it seems that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction deployable within 48 hours?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The member has no evidence of that whatsoever.

Imported Meat—Labelling

5. SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister for Food Safety: Can she confirm that 16,862 tonnes of pork, 9,204 tonnes of beef, 2,078 tonnes of lamb and 953 tonnes of mutton were imported into New Zealand in the year to December 2002; if so, is there any requirement that any of this meat be labelled so that New Zealand consumers can know whether they are buying New Zealand or imported meat?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister for Food Safety): No, I cannot confirm exact import figures. However, I am advised that although there is no requirement to label the country of origin, imports are accepted from only countries that have comparable quality assurance programmes to our own.

Sue Kedgley: Does the Minister agree it is a fundamental consumer right to know what is in food, and where it comes from, and that it is deceptive and misleading for imported meat products to be unlabelled, or claim, as this item does, that it is made in New Zealand, when in fact the pork is imported from Canada?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Country of origin labelling in New Zealand has not been accepted as mandatory because we have fair trading laws, and I would suggest that anybody who brings in a substance and then claims it to be a New Zealand - made product would want to look to the fair trading laws. However, when one does look at imported product and country of origin labelling it is rather confusing as to how that product would be labelled, because one could have part of the product that comes from another country whilst the majority of it comes from New Zealand; how would that product then be labelled?

Sue Kedgley: Why are New Zealand officials vehemently opposed to mandatory country of origin labelling, and even threatening to opt out of Food Standards Australia New Zealand on this issue to avoid introducing it in New Zealand, when it is such a basic consumer right?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I have already addressed that issue. New Zealand has fair trading laws that are different to Australia. All products in New Zealand are covered by our fair trading laws, so we do not believe that we need country of origin labelling because it is not a food safety issue.

Sue Kedgley: What is the basis for the Government stating in briefing papers that “New Zealanders have no interest in country of origin labelling”, when a 2002 Food Standards Australia New Zealand survey found that New Zealand consumers do want country of origin food labelling, and will she require her food safety department to undertake a wide-ranging public consultation and nationwide survey on country of origin labelling before making a final decision in a few weeks’ time on this issue?

Hon ANNETTE KING: In January this year a discussion document was issued by Food Standards Australia New Zealand to examine the issue of country of origin labelling. It has been open to Australian and New Zealand people to make submissions. It will be considered in April, and at that time we will look at what evidence is provided. If I remember correctly, there were 18 submissions made.

Transport Strategy—Reports

6. LYNNE PILLAY (NZ Labour—Waitakere) to the Minister of Transport: Has he received any reports about support for the Government’s recently announced New Zealand Transport Strategy?

Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Transport): Yes, I have. The Automobile Association has commended the Government for developing a 10-year strategy for transport. The Auckland Business Forum has indicated its support of the strategy’s broad purpose and objectives. Transfund has indicated to me that it has received eight applications from councils for alternatives to roading, funding, 20 applications for walking and cycling projects, and has approved $23 million of transport regional development funding for projects in Tairawhiti and Northland.

Lynne Pillay: Has he received support for this strategy from any other sources?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes. I received comment that transport priorities should be changed to emphasise economic value and safety, and that there would be tolls and private funding to deal with Auckland congestion. These comments came from the Leader of the Opposition. Assisting economic development and safety and personal security are two of the strategy’s objectives announced in December last year. Toll roads and private funding are both included in the Land Transport Bill introduced at the same time. The Leader of the Opposition seems to be 4 months’ behind on both issues. Nevertheless I welcome his support. They are big improvements on the comments of his transport spokesperson who wants a 4-lane highway from Auckland to Wellington.

Hon Roger Sowry: Does the Minister agree with the statement of Simon Carlaw of Business New Zealand: “The major concerns to business from this radical change in transport policy are prohibitive cost increases for road users and continuing neglect of important roading projects. These will both ultimately impact on the competitiveness of the economy and its ability to grow and deliver the living standards we all want.”; if so, what changes does he intend to make to the land transport strategy to allow it to achieve its own stated goal of helping New Zealand return to the top half of the OECD, or has he abandoned that goal?

Mr SPEAKER: The first two questions can be answered.

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am sure that Simon Carlaw would agree that the land transport strategy, Land Transport Management Bill, and significant funding increases that have been put in place by this Government, are a huge advantage over what was in place under the previous National Government. Any changes to be made to that bill are currently being considered by the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, and the Government will wait to hear its deliberations.

Ron Mark: Will the Minister tell the House whether he has received letters of congratulation from the Hurunui District Council, the Waimakariri District Council, or from the Christchurch City Council as a result of his proposals to defer roading projects such as the northern arterial and the Awatere bridge in the Hurunui district?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I may well have received such letters, but do not recall them offhand. The issue that the member raises is, of course, the draft plan put out by Transit. There are currently consultations going on. I am aware of all those projects that have been deferred. I expect the people concerned to be making strong submissions to Transit, and we will wait and see its final deliberations in the middle of the year.

Deborah Coddington: Why will the Minister not concede that the land transport strategy will not solve any of New Zealand’s transport problems, because it will result in even more paralysis by consultation, especially when tolls and public-private partnerships are concerned?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: That is just not the case. In fact, there has been an enormous amount of consultation leading up to the presentation of the strategy and the bill. My advice to that member, if she wants to take part in consultation, is to have electorate offices in other parts of the country and not just in her party leader’s flat.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Have any applications for alternatives to roading been received under the new strategy; if so, what impact will they have in reducing pressure on road use?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes, there have been a number of applications to that particular pool, and they have been very positive indeed. They have been things like: investigation of the Marsden Point rail link, funding for the Hamilton transport centre, and investigation into extending the Clandeboye Dairy Factory link. Many of those involving rail will take some considerable pressure off the roading network, and will produce a much more multi-modal transport strategy, which the Government, along with the Greens, support.

Larry Baldock: Given that the New Zealand land transport strategy outlines a vision to be realised by 2010, how much importance does the Minister attach to the passage of the Land Transport Management Bill as a means for providing flexible road-funding alternatives to help reach that goal?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: We attach quite a lot of significance to that. We simply cannot fund, traditionally, the kinds of projects that everybody wants. We need more flexible arrangements. I thank the United Future party for its support of that bill. There are currently submissions before the select committee, and we will wait and see what the deliberations of that committee are before we consider any changes to be made to the bill.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: What level of consultation or demand came from the United Future party, in particular Mr Dunne, on the question of Transmission Gully, or did he just XXX over as usual?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: There was considerable discussion and consultation with the United Future party before the introduction of the bill. That party is most concerned about alternative funding mechanisms, and those include public-private partnerships and tolls. Certainly Transmission Gully is one of the kinds of projects that would be considered as part of that proposal.

Immigrants—Categories

7. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: How many of the 2.045 million people who entered New Zealand as visitors in the year ending December 2002 changed category after their arrival?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): In fact, 1.341 million visitors’ permits were granted at the border in the year ended December 2002. Of these, 16,600 people were granted a student permit, 11,400 were granted a work permit, and 8,800 were granted a residence permit following their visitor’s permit.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that the Department of Statistics give the figures as being 2.045 million—and she has lost 1 million already—and given that the total sum of the other three categories does not amount to the number who are engaged in this country, is that part of the new wave immigration she has declared to talk about in a—

Gerry Brownlee: Third wave!

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —No, it is called new-wave immigration—series of five lectures, one of which was scheduled for Thursday, 13 March, at the Durham Street Methodist Church in Christchurch, advertised in this huge advertisement here, and how many people came along to this telephone-booth audience?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The Methodist Church in Christchurch is running a series of Lenten discussions, and I was invited to contribute to that. I did not do a head count, but there were at least 50 people in the audience at the church on the afternoon. I am sure the member knows full well what the inside of a church looks like. I know that the member has treated flippantly the suggestion of my colleague the Minister of Statistics to actually explain how these figures work, but that 2 million figure includes New Zealanders who live overseas and Australians.

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: Has it been official for New Zealand that visitors can apply to become workers, students, or residents without being required to leave the country and apply off shore?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Yes, it is. People who have visited New Zealand before deciding to apply to study here, take skilled employment here, or live here permanently, are in an excellent position to make an informed decision about whether it would be the right choice for them. Settlement outcomes for new permanent residents are enhanced if they are already engaged in the New Zealand education system or labour market.

Hon Murray McCully73Hon Murray McCully: What are the resourcing implications for the Immigration Service if a significant proportion of the growing numbers of people entering New Zealand as visitors apply to have a change of status once they have come here, and what is the Minister doing to address those resourcing issues?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: They have always been able to change their status in New Zealand.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Firstly, why on earth would 700,000 New Zealanders coming back to this country be described as visitors, and, secondly, where do those 36,200 that she referred to in those three categories appear in the statistics?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I seriously wish that member would take up the offer of the advice that he has been given in terms of a briefing on these statistics. I will quote from them, yet again: “In the preparation of migration statistics the classification of each passenger is primarily determined by the passenger’s response on the arrival or departure card to the question on intended or actual length of stay or absence. If the person’s intention changes later during a trip, then they may also change their migrant category.” And the warning: “Data users should recognise the limitations inherent in the information supplied by travellers.”

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I again ask the Minister where in the statistics do those three categories amount to 36,200 actually appear at the end of the year; that is what we are asking?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: As the Minister of Immigration, I am not responsible for the collation of the department of statistics’ external migration statistics, which are released every year. The only reason that I try to explain to the member, week in week out, is that I have never come across an individual who cannot comprehend that these statistics are different from the immigration permit statistics.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest of respect, I think you should stop the Minister and put her out of her misery if she cannot answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: That is just a political point. It has nothing to do with this.

"Better Regulation of the Building Industry in New Zealand"

8. MARK PECK (NZ Labour—Invercargill) to the Minister of Commerce: Has she been informed of any reaction to the release of the discussion document “Better Regulation of the Building Industry in New Zealand”, and what is the purpose of the discussion document?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Commerce): The response has been overwhelmingly positive from the building industry, no doubt as a result of the extensive consultation with and input from the building industry task force and other key stakeholders. The purpose of the discussion document is to focus attention on the long-term solutions required to address the systemic failure of a deregulated building industry.

Mark Peck: Why was the Building Act review broadened in the wake of the weathertightness problem?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Weathertightness is a symptom of a greater problem. Treating the symptom alone does not treat the cause. The problem in this case was the ideological hands-off, “leave it to the market” 1990s approach, which allowed that failure to occur. I am determined to find front-end solutions so that we minimise the risk of building failure occurring again. I invite the Opposition to play a constructive role.

Hon Harry DuynhovenHon Harry Duynhoven28: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sorry to interrupt proceedings, but none of here could hear any word of the answer from the Minster to that question.

Mr SPEAKER: I think that the member has raised a valid point. I would like to let things flow on a Wednesday afternoon. Sometimes I think that one can be a little bit too harsh by interrupting all the time, but the member is completely correct. I want the Minister to have opportunity to answer questions in a little more silence from now on. Supplementary question, Wayne Mapp.

Dr Wayne Mapp: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is an issue of factual correctness. The Minister should know that the Labour Party actually voted for that legislation.

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that that is political comment. Would he please ask his supplementary question.

Dr Wayne Mapp: Can the Minister advise this House and thousands of New Zealand homeowners—people who are purchasing their homes now—of what date, or what month, the Building Industry Authority will be promulgating the building code issues on treated timber for exterior framing? When will that happen?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I suggest that the member reads the front page of this morning’s New Zealand Herald.

Dr Wayne Mapp: Point of order—

Mr SPEAKER: No, I want to the Minister to give a more informative answer, if only to inform me, too.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The New Zealand Herald reports this morning that the Building Industry Authority yesterday announced that it would release proposed changes to the building code for consultation next month.

Dr Wayne Mapp: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was specifically about when the Building Industry Authority would actually promulgate the changes to the building code, not issue a consultation paper. Obviously I am aware of the issue—that is why I asked the question. People want to know the answer.

Mr SPEAKER: I have to judge whether the Minister addressed the question. She has said she will add a little bit to it.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: As the member knows, there has to be a consultation process prior to any promulgation. The consultation process will begin with the release of the consultation document next month.

Hon Roger Sowry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. By way of interjection, we invited the Minister to say she did not know what the date was, because she had been asked about it twice. First, she told the member to refer to the New Zealand Herald, then, when she was drawn on that, it became apparent that the New Zealand Herald article was not about the question at all, in terms of promulgation. When the Minister was asked to confess that she did not know the answer to the question, she said from across the House that she did know the date. If the Minister is able, by way of interjection, to say that she does know the date, she should tell that to the House, as she was asked to do.

Mr SPEAKER: That is not what the member said. I heard the Minister’s comment.

Murray Smith: Given that the Government Administration Committee is due to report on its inquiry into leaky buildings within a matter of days, why did the Minister feel the need to pre-empt that report, and risk there being contradictory recommendations from the select committee, which will serve only to confuse the public?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The select committee report is a vital part of the Government’s time line, but I could not wait to include any recommendations in the discussion document. I have been very mindful of the submissions that were made to the select committee in the process of its work. I reassure the select committee and submitters to its review that their submissions and the select committee’s report are an integral part of the wider review, and they will be part of the decision-making process.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave of the House to table the voting record from when the Building Act was passed in 1991, where the Minister who has described it as “ideological dogma” voted for it.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is.

Electricity—Price and Supply

9. GERRY BROWNLEE (NZ National—Ilam) to the Minister of Energy: Has he been informed of the comments by Tiwai Point aluminium smelter general manager operations, Tom Campbell, regarding the current price and availability of electricity in New Zealand where he says, “We are very concerned what this means for the winter and about the future of power supply in New Zealand”; if so, is he also concerned?

Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister of Energy): Yes, I have been informed, and, yes, I am concerned.

Gerry Brownlee: In the light of the fact that the hydro lake levels are at only 86 percent of the average level for this time of the year, that the lake inflows are at only 67 percent of the average level for this time of the year, and that electricity demand for the first 2 months of the year was 6 to 7 percent higher than the demand last year, does he believe there is a possibility of electricity shortages, brown-outs, and blackouts this winter; if not, why not?

Hon PETE HODGSON: I discussed those matters at some length a few days ago with the major electricity users group, of which Comalco is a member. Industry generally understands the fact that thermal power stations have this year been running much harder, much earlier than is normal—and I do not think the industry would declare itself to be happy about that. There are two reasons for that: firstly, there is a possibility of a dry-year risk, but it is simply too early to say; and, secondly, some questions regarding the ready availability of alternative fossil fuels this winter still remain outstanding.

Mark Peck: Can the Minister tell us what the underlying problem is, given that dry-year risk is something we face every year?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The member is quite correct. The underlying problem is that the Maui gas field is running down earlier than expected. The next major gas field, Pahukura, is not yet
on-stream, so the increased use of coal and distillate for electricity generation is very likely this year, and probably for the next 2 years, as well.

Gerrard Eckhoff: What is the Minister’s view of the bureaucratic planning procedures imposed under the Resource Management Act, which will delay the construction of even renewable sustainable energy developments, such as project aqua, for years, and will the Minister revisit the hydro development proposal for the West Coast, or will he continue to allow the Department of Conservation to dictate New Zealand’s energy development?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Generally speaking, the planning legislation works quite well for, as it happens, non-renewables, because they are generally smaller and more compact. But the member does raise an issue of consequence in respect of renewables, which is why the Government, about a month ago, indicated its intention to change the Resource Management Act. The legislation will be introduced later this year.

Gordon Copeland: Is the Minister concerned at the rapid increase in the wholesale price of electricity and the inability of New Zealand companies to obtain long-term supply contracts, and does he have some answers to those concerns?

Hon PETE HODGSON: If the member is referring to high prices today, that is occasioned by the fact that a bit of kit has gone down, and will probably stay down for several days, I believe. As far as people being exposed to high prices is concerned, businesses that are high consumers generally insulate themselves from the spot market through buying hedges, which are more expensive than the average spot price but less expensive than the current spot price.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Given the failure so far of the deregulated energy market to deliver security of electricity supply, or other elements of the Government’s policy statement, and hence the likelihood that the Government may need to regulate the industry further at some stage, will the Government refrain from making any further commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services, in energy services, that would further restrict the Government’s ability to regulate the electricity market; if not, why not?

Hon PETE HODGSON: There are long bows, then there are gigantic ones. I rather suspect we have just seen an example of the latter.

Gerry Brownlee: Does he agree with the power company, TrustPower, which has said that New Zealand faces the prospect of either cutting production in our industrial establishments now and saving on household consumption now, or having blackouts and brownouts this winter?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Generation companies and retailers in general are moving to inform the public that a bit of conservation now may not be a bad thing. TrustPower’s press statement yesterday is one example of that. There are several others.

Maori Sports Casting International—Grants

10. RODNEY HIDE (ACT NZ) to the Minister of Maori Affairs: When Te Puni Kokiri granted $10,000 to Maori Sports Casting International for a training wananga for 14 sportscasters on 6 and 7 July 2002, did it know and approve $5,400 of that money being spent on an awards ceremony and dinner for 50 guests on 6 July; if not, why not?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Associate Minister of Fisheries): Yes.

Rodney Hide: Does this Minister believe it is acceptable that over half of the taxpayers’ money granted to train 14 sportscasters was spent on a dinner—an old-fashioned booze-up, with a band—for 50 guests, including two Labour MPs seeking re-election, one of whom wore a Labour Party rosette and gave a campaign speech; if so, how does this Minister justify that use of taxpayers’ money?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: No, and my concerns have been communicated to the chief executive of Te Puni Kôkiri. Can I tell that member that my colleagues receive many invitations to attend a range of events, and I am certain that that member, at that time, attended a whole lot of similar events. On this occasion, both members attended the event, just as many others in the House, including the member, would have attended similar functions at that time.

Hon Richard Prebble: Point of order—

Mr SPEAKER: That answer was too long, and there were points in it that were not necessary to complete the sense of the answer.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was not the point of order I was raising. I made no objection to the length of the answer. The point of order I was raising was that we asked the question, and because of noise by his colleagues, I had no idea what the answer was. I do not know what justification he is giving for spending $5,400 on a piss-up.

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that I will not have language like that used in the House. There are certain levels of decorum, and that exceeds them. The member will stand and withdraw that comment.

Hon Richard Prebble: I withdraw and apologise—it was $5,400 spent on a “very good evening”.

Mr SPEAKER: I heard the answer to the question.

Hon Murray McCully73Hon Murray McCully: Given that tens of millions of dollars have been given away in grants by Te Puni Kôkiri over the past 3 years, and that there has been no monitoring or evaluation of those grants, is it not the case that he has no idea how much money has been given away by his department to fund booze-ups in election year, to be attended by Labour Party politicians; and, if that is the case, what is he doing to find out about it?

Mr SPEAKER: The first two questions can be commented on.

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I offer to that member to journey with me to the ministry to peruse the compilation of both the audits that have been run on performances by other ministries that this Government has funded over a whole range of activities in relation to capacity building.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have all endeavoured to understand the answer to the question that Mr Cully asked of the Minister, and that answer had nothing whatsoever to do with the question. Words like “compilation” or “computerisation” might sound impressive, in his circles, but it does not help this House, at all.

Mr SPEAKER: I understood what the Minister was saying in relation to that question.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your assistance in gaining some clarification from the Minister. Is what he said actually “bureau-speak” for another invitation to another booze-up?

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that is trifling with the House. [Interruption] Does the member want to leave the House? He is going the right way about it. I do not want that sort of frivolity.

Mahara Okeroa: My question to the Minister of Mâori Affairs is—“a good question”. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that is out of order, and if any comment like that is made again, the member will not be asking the question. Just ask the question.

Mahara Okeroa: Does the Minister consider that investing in training for Mâori language broadcasting is important?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Yes, I do. [Interruption] Hang on; I have not finished the answer. In 2001—

Mr SPEAKER: The question was answered. Supplementary question, Rodney Hide.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister, having told us the answer is yes, is perfectly entitled to let us know why. As it has cost so much to the taxpayer, I think we are entitled to hear the answer.

Mr SPEAKER: If the Minister wants to give a brief comment, I will allow that.

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Yes, I do. In 2001 some 245,000 Mâori adults had access to a Mâori radio station. Nearly 73 percent of these people listened to a Mâori radio station. It is a very important medium.

Rodney Hide: Given that this booze-up was hosted by Mr Hemana Waaka of Mâori Sports Casting, funded by Te Mângai Pâho to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, does this Minister still have complete confidence in the head of Te Mângai Pâho, Mr Trevor Moeke, who, as a man in the communications business with Mâori around the country, apparently—and he would lead us to believe this—did not know what countless other Mâori, including this Minister, knew, that is, that his manager, Mr Tame Te Rangi, was a convicted fraudster; if Mr Moeke does share his confidence—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is sufficiently long.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I am not having a point of order on that. The member has had a long question, and he has had two parts to it. That is sufficient.

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: There was no such event for hundreds of thousands of dollars held by Mr Hemana Waaka, and most certainly if members read the press release, there is a review of both the processes and the activities around this whole activity.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was asking the Minister whether he had confidence in Mr Trevor Moeke, and I note that the Minister did not address that question. In fact, he refused to express confidence in him.

Mr SPEAKER: The member can say what he likes, but the Minister did address the question.

Immigrants—Employment

11. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: Does her Ministry permit immigrants of working age to enter New Zealand without the prospect of jobs; if so, why?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): Yes. The only categories that require an ongoing job offer for residence to be granted are adult children and siblings and the family quota categories of the family-sponsored stream; the Samoan quota and Pacific access categories of the international humanitarian stream; as well as the work to residence programme covering the talent visa and the priority applications list under the skilled business stream. The general skills category introduced in 1991 is based on employability criteria rather than actual employment.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why then is immigration continuing when jobs are not available for migrants due to racism in New Zealand, as claimed by her colleague the Minister for Economic Development in the Dominion Post of 12 March, and when will she call a halt to the strain on New Zealand taxpayers’ money admitted by Mr Anderton when he said that many of them—he was talking about $1.5 million being granted to them—were unemployed migrants unable to get work because of racism, and further, that grants were taking people off welfare and putting them into good jobs; when are we going to deal with New Zealand—

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have not seen the article. I have no idea what the member is talking about.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: You haven’t seen the article?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: No.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, get up in the morning and go and read the newspaper.

Mr SPEAKER: The member will stand, withdraw, and apologise for that comment. That is a personal and rude comment to make in this House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You did not stop her from claiming to have no knowledge of a critical area within her portfolio just a few days ago. She made that objection. She said she had not read the newspaper, and I said to her that she should get up in the morning and read the newspaper. What was objectionable about that?

Mr SPEAKER: I am just saying that once I might be prepared to overlook. Further than once, I think that is going too far. I have made the comment and that is where the matter rests.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This Minister made derogatory comments earlier in this House about my colleague Pansy Wong, saying that she was not doing her job properly, and you said that was OK. I find it totally inconsistent now that Mr Peters makes a light comment about her habits in the morning, and suddenly that is out of order. I simply ask for some consistency in your rulings.

Mr SPEAKER: That is probably fair enough, and I apologise.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I cannot answer the specific question because I have not read the article concerned. I can say that the rate of emergency benefit uptake in the general skills category under this Government has reduced significantly.

Georgina Beyer: What changes has the Government introduced since 1999 to reduce the risk of recent migrants taking up emergency benefits?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: On 1 October 2001 we introduced a 3-year residence requirement for wider family-sponsored migration, coupled with a statutory declaration that enforces the obligation to meet the cost of family-sponsored migrants for 2 years after their arrival. This Government did that.

Pansy Wong: Does the Minister accept the research commissioned by her own ministry, which concluded that the net financial gain from New Zealanders born overseas for the year 2002 is $1.7 billion, which would have led to more job prospects; if so, why did she then raise the level of English language requirement, which will reduce the number of Asian migrants in particular and lessen the financial gain?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The standard of a 5 average in IELTS that has been increased to a 6.5 is for the principal applicant in the general skills category only. It applies only to people who are tertiary qualified to claim residence under that category, and I am getting sick and tired of people who are misrepresenting the basis of the policy change, which is all about qualified, skilled jobs for qualified, skilled migrants.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How many Mâori MPs from the Labour Party have visited her office complaining about the use of taxpayers’ money for foreigners, when hundreds of thousands of Mâoris are left on the economic scrap heap, and who were those Mâori MPs?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: As Minister of Immigration I have met with the entire Government Mâori caucus. Not one other Mâori member of Parliament has raised it with me.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. First of all, I am a Mâori member. The Minister should wash her mouth out. I seek leave to table the Dominion Post article “Politics and News” of 12 March this year in which—

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: You took a long time to get out of bed!

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Yes, but at least I wasn’t under the bed like you were. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: A little bit of jocularity was in order, but the Minister will now stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I withdraw and apologise.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table this Dominion Post article of 12 March under the headline “Anderton defends $1.5 million grant”.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest respect, the junior whip said that there was an objection. I was chastised—

Mr SPEAKER: The member will please be seated. As the member knows, any member can take objection. That is what leave means, and that is where the matter ends.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I understand that, Mr Speaker, but I am relating to the fact that I was chastised for the telling the Minister to get out bed and read the article. I have now endeavoured to show it to her, and that is the reaction. I think I am owed an apology.

Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry, but that is irrelevant to the question that was put to the House.

National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Assessments

12. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National—Nelson) to the Minister of Education: Why did the New Zealand Qualifications Authority advise all principals and all heads of departments in a circular dated 7 March 2003 of a “study to evaluate the feasibility of schools assessing some NCEA level one external standards” when the Cabinet decision on NCEA required at least 50 percent external assessment?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): That is a question that I asked, as well, although without the Cabinet reference, which is not strictly correct, and not in such parliamentary language.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: How can this Government possibly contemplate dumping more National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) assessment on schools when it has not provided a single dollar to schools for the extra costs, when it has doubled and in some cases trebled the cost to parents, and when the New Zealand Qualifications Authority has had a huge increase in taxpayer funding for the NCEA, and is that not a classic example of the Government taking the money and expecting the schools to do the work?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No, and that is why the advice was withdrawn by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority within a few days of it being issued because it had not been and would not have been authorised by the chief executive, the board, or myself.

Jill Pettis: Can the Minister advise whether he has indicated that there will be a review of the NCEA?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Yes, but not until we have completed implementation this year and next.

Deborah Coddington: What is it exactly about an exam set and marked internally by a school that makes it external?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: That is a very good question, and if one looks at the circular it does not make sense, and that is why it is withdrawn.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: How can employers, parents, students, and this Parliament have any confidence in the New Zealand Qualifications Authority when they can put out a memo one moment and withdraw it the next, given that this is the fifth document put out by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority on NCEA that turns out to be wrong?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think it is fair to say that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s record recently up until this point had been a lot better than it has been in the past. This is a glitch, it is wrong, and I think there are probably a number of public servants who are not very happy as a result of their errors.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave to table the memo that was sent to all schools and all heads of department in respect of this issue of the NCEA.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that memo. Is there any objection? There is.

15:13:52 End of QOA

End of

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)


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