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Questions Of The Day Transcript - 26 June 2003

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

THURSDAY, 26 JUNE 2003

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers:

1. Seabed and Foreshore—Crown Ownership
2. Budget 2003—Growth Targets
3. Seabed and Foreshore—Crown Ownership
4. Government Superannuation Fund—Unfunded Liability
5. Seabed and Foreshore—Crown Ownership
6. Accident Compensation—Injury Reduction
7. Taxation—Food Tax
8. Drugs—International Trafficking
9. Prostitution Reform Bill—Policing
10. Petrol Tax and Road User Charges—Revenue
11. Boating—Safety
12. Prisons—Protestors at Northland Site

Questions for Oral Answer
Seabed and Foreshore—Crown Ownership

1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Did she say “Ownership of the foreshore and seabed has long been considered to lie with the Crown”; if so, does that remain her position today?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes and yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If that is the case, what does the Prime Minister and her erstwhile deputy intend to discuss with the Mâori members of the Labour Party caucus?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: What we intend to discuss with them, and with others outside this Parliament, is how to reconcile the traditional rights of all New Zealanders for access to the foreshore and seabed with the customary rights of Mâori.

Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister agree that legislation that confirms that the Crown owns the seabed and the foreshore will have the effect of extinguishing native customary title—exactly the customary title that Mâori members believe is the source of their customary rights?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No.

Hon Ken Shirley: Can the Prime Minister explain to the House why her Government is continuing to negotiate the transfer of ownership of the shore and bed of 14 Rotorua lakes, when the public access issues are a direct parallel to the foreshore and seabed issues?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: That is a specific historical claim, and is very similar to the agreement arrived at by the previous Government in respect of Lake Taupo.

Metiria Turei: Given the serious concerns raised by Mâori over the foreshore issue, and the statement of opposition made by Labour’s own Mâori caucus, will the Prime Minister now commit to ensuring that the Government will now act honourably, engage with Mâori in a good-faith dialogue, and, as a sincere gesture of reconciliation, withdraw its threat to use a legislative hammer against Mâori customary title?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government has acted honourably throughout, and will enter into discussions with a range of people, including the Mâori caucus, which is the only fully mandated body in New Zealand with full electoral representation. That will be designed to achieve an outcome whereby the traditional rights of all New Zealanders, including Mâori, are reconciled with Mâori customary rights.

Hon Peter Dunne: Does the Prime Minister agree with the assertion of her colleague the Associate Minister of Mâori Affairs that the outcome to be sought here ought to be one where mum, dad, and the kids can continue to go to the beach to have a barbecue in the way that they do today, and if she does agree with that assertion, will she give the House an assurance that any legislative changes will enshrine that right?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, though I doubt whether that exact wording is likely to be used in the statute.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If the right lies with the Crown, and therefore the Mâori right is extinguished by that statement, what is there to reconcile other than that her Mâori members will play lapdog on this issue?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: As Mr Bolger’s ex-poodle, I can assure him that none of the Mâori members—

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member will—

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I withdraw and apologise. If there was any suggestion—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He should withdraw and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: He said precisely that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, he did not. He should withdraw and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: He did.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, he did not.

Mr SPEAKER: I heard him. Please be seated.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: The member had better not challenge my word in any way. I heard him.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: You might have heard him, but I did not, nor did anybody down here, and they have just told me so.

Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. I heard the member withdraw and apologise.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: If any of my Mâori colleagues are to be seen as lapdogs, they certainly have some bite. Might I say that the Government’s position remains what it is—that Mâori customary rights are not to be extinguished. They are to be recognised and to be reconciled with the traditional rights of New Zealanders, which previously have been expressed in terms of the assumption of a Crown title.

Hon Ken Shirley: How can the Prime Minister claim that it is a win-win situation, when for generations New Zealanders in this country have had free access to our coastline, foreshore, and seabed, and there is now a proposal to have a special privileged restricted use by one class of New Zealanders based on the arrival date of their forebears?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The member is not aware that general freehold title can co-exist with other rights over land. I suspect he has never had even an easement over his own property.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the answer we have been given in this House today mean that there will be a different law for Mâori, as opposed to the rest of New Zealand, on the issue of the foreshore and seabed; yes or no?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: My understanding is that Mâori customary rights could pertain only to Mâori. However, I will seek any reports that might be available from the member that would suggest otherwise.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not think we have to put up with smart alec answers like that. The reality is that the Riparian right is not restricted to Mâori, and many people know that—though he does not. I am asking whether there will be a different law, and I do not need a smart alec answer of that type. He has not found a new way to answer the question. And he got it wrong in the law as well.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister addressed the question.

Hon Bill English: Since the Minister has referred in each answer to Mâori customary rights in respect of the seabed and the foreshore, can he tell us what those customary rights are?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Obviously not. The purpose of any law —[Interruption] Well, what the Court of Appeal ruled, if the member cared to think about it, is that Mâori could apply to have those customary rights recognised through the Mâori Land Court. It is up to individual iwi and hapu to make a claim what those rights are in their case. It was a silly question.

Mr SPEAKER: No. The last comment is to be withdrawn.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I withdraw. I shall simply think that.

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, no. Now the member will withdraw and apologise.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I withdraw and apologise.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Prime Minister’s answer mean that this Government thinks that the Court of Appeal got the decision wrong; if that is not the case, what does it intend to legislate when the issue is related to title?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: What the Government intends to legislate is about how we reconcile the traditional rights of all New Zealanders—expressed very well by Mr Peter Dunne—with the fact of Mâori customary rights. I am fascinated that parties opposite are arguing that property right should be extinguished by legislation, particularly the party which most stands by property rights.

Hon Ken Shirley: I seek leave to table a website posting of the Prime Minister’s dated 22 June 2003, stating that ownership of the foreshore and seabed has long been considered to lie with the Crown.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table an article dated 24 June in which the Attorney-General says that the Crown is going to clarify that, in fact, the seabed and foreshore is owned by all New Zealanders in the form of the Crown.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Questions for Oral Answer
Budget 2003—Growth Targets

2. GORDON COPELAND (United Future) to the Minister of Finance: Is he confident that the growth targets projected in this year’s Budget can be met; if so, why?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): Strictly speaking, the Budget sets growth forecasts rather than growth targets. At present I see no reason to believe that they will not be met.

Gordon Copeland: Is the Minister concerned that the significant effects on the economy, such as job losses and reduced consumer demand will result from the downturn in the export education industry, currently our fourth biggest foreign exchange earner at $1.8 billion per annum, when the number of student visa applications from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong in March were down 30 percent on last year; if so, what solutions does he propose?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes. That has already been the subject of some discussion at Cabinet committee level. The Minister of Education has reported that significant efforts are being put in to widen the catchment areas for overseas education, away from an over-dependence on the North Asian markets.

Mark Peck: What is the growth forecast track in the Budget, and how much confidence does the Minister have in it?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Budget forecast growth of 2.2 percent of 2003-04 year followed by what in effect is 3.2, 3.1, and 2.8. The risks, which were on the downside at the time of the drawing up of those forecasts, have significantly reduced, particularly around the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), the electricity situation, and around the performance of the United States economy.

Hon David Carter: Why should New Zealanders have any faith in his Government achieving even Budget forecasts, particularly given Business and Economic Research Ltd’s release yesterday, which said: “Economic mismanagement has choked out a perfectly sound period of growth and we are in for 2 to 3 years of a stalled economy.”?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: A slow-down to 2.2 percent growth will, by international standards, still be a very high level. Most of Europe is forecast to have growth of about 1 percent or less over the coming year, and, of course, part of that criticism was based on a view that the Reserve Bank Governor was operating monetary policy too tightly. It is clear that the present Governor loosened monetary policy earlier than his predecessor would have done.

Gordon Copeland: Even if foreign students can be sourced from countries outside Asia, and assuming that terrorist threats to travellers and a high dollar prove to be temporary dampeners on the export education industry, does he agree that negative reports in the international media on our attitude to foreigners, arising from New Zealand First’s xenophobic policy line, pose a more enduring problem for the economy?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I think that there is little doubt that adverse reports of that sort do badly affect that industry.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I want to say, on reflection, that that question had an unnecessary comment in it. I would like the member now to ask it without that reference to New Zealand First in it so that I can hear it fully. Please re-ask the question. The Minister is not responsible for New Zealand First policy.

Gordon Copeland: Even if foreign students can be sourced from countries outside Asia, and assuming that terrorist threats to travellers and a high dollar prove to be temporary dampeners on the export education industry, does he agree that negative reports in the international media on our attitude to foreigners pose a more enduring problem for the economy?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes. That kind of negative reporting about our attitude to foreigners does not affect just the export education industry. I think it affects our general trade and investment relationships.

Gordon Copeland: As State schools also rely on the income provided by foreign fee-paying students to finance capital works and extra staff, has he made provision for additional pressure on the education budget as a result of the downturn in the export education industry?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, not at this point because it is not anticipated that the impact on the secondary system is likely to be great in the short term. There will be continuing students from previous years. But, clearly, we do keep monitoring the situation. It is one of significant concern to the Government.

Questions for Oral Answer
Seabed and Foreshore—Crown Ownership

3. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Is it her Government’s policy that ownership of the seabed and foreshore lies with the Crown, and does this mean that Mâori will never gain ownership of the seabed and foreshore?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Prime Minister: It is the Government’s policy that we will act to uphold rights of public access to and use of the foreshore and seabed for all New Zealanders, while at the same time protecting Mâori customary rights.

Hon Bill English: As the Prime Minister would not answer that question, will she answer this one: is the Government’s proposed legislation intended to prevent Mâori proving customary title to the seabed and foreshore?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: We are at a very early stage of discussions, but what I can say is that there is no intention to use legislation to prevent Mâori from establishing customary rights.

Stephen Franks: Will the Prime Minister guarantee that the customary rights deal that the Government is seeking will not mean that a Pâkehâ might be stopped from throwing a fishing line off a beach while his Mâori neighbour carries on?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It depends on what his Mâori neighbour is carrying on doing, I think.

Mr SPEAKER: On reflection, I wonder whether the Minister—

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Mr Speaker, “carries on” has a specific meaning I was trying to avoid in that context.

Mr SPEAKER: No, no. I wonder whether the Minister could actually address the question.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Customary rights may exist for some groups, as they do in many societies, and they are established by legal processes that we hope legislation will help to clarify. General rights of access and usage will be ensured by legislation.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Prime Minister to take some legal advice on this matter and to understand that the Court of Appeal has said that there may well exist a right of Mâori ownership now, and title, and a customary right, as well; if that is the case, does the Government propose legislation to foreclose on that customary right and title in respect of all of the seabed that Mâori are claiming on?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Customary title can only arise out of customary rights. There is no intention to legislate to override customary rights. They are established historical rights, and guaranteed by the treaty.

Hon Bill English: Why cannot the Government just state in the Parliament—what it has worked so hard to get New Zealanders to believe in public—that its proposed legislation is intended to prevent Mâori from proving customary title to the seabed and the foreshore; and why cannot the Prime Minister say that here and now, having dodged the answer five times already today?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: There is no intention to legislate to override customary rights. I note the member was unable to state his position at all, describing it as “irrelevant, in any case”.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why are a number of editorial writers in this country firmly of the opinion and writing articles on the abolition of this right, by way of law—a position the Prime Minister firmly planted in their mind—yet in this House she has not had the integrity to—

Mr SPEAKER: No. That is an indictment on a member’s integrity, and is out of order. The member will rephrase the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why has she not shown sufficient respect for this institution to stand and give us a plain, direct, and honest answer of the nature she imparted to editorial writers in this country when the issue first broke?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government bears no responsibility for editorial writers in New Zealand.

Stephen Franks: Can I take it from the Prime Minister’s eventual answer to my previous question, that she will not rule out, in the deal she wants, the possibility of areas of beach and seabed where Mâori have rights their Pâkehâ neighbours cannot share?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: If a group of people, whoever they are, have customary rights, those rights pertain to that group.

Hon Bill English: Given the Prime Minister’s refusal to answer a direct question six times in this House today, about whether the Government intends to extinguish Mâori customary title, can we now draw the conclusion the Government does not intend to legislate to extinguish Mâori customary title?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: If the member cares to read the Te Ture Whenua Mâori Act he will find the Mâori Land Court does not actually have the power to grant customary title.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister give the House, for the last time, one very clear answer—does the Government intend to introduce legislation to change the current import of the law, as reported by the Court of Appeal, to the extent it will remove the customary title rights of Mâori to the seabed and foreshore; yes or no?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Members keep asking a question about something that does not exist—customary title. Customary rights exist in New Zealand. The Mâori Land Court is unable to grant customary title. One of the issues that was required to be addressed is how legislation can provide clearly for Mâori customary rights, while preserving the rights of all New Zealanders for access and usage.

Questions for Oral Answer
Government Superannuation Fund—Unfunded Liability

4. ROD DONALD (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Finance: What is the projected change in the net unfunded liability of the Government Superannuation Fund for the year to 30 June 2003, and how does this compare with the projected net change in the 2002 Budget?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): Since the 2002 Budget Economic and Fiscal Update, the unfunded past-service liability for the Government Superannuation Fund has increased by $2.4 billion.

Rod Donald: How much of overseas investment losses contributed to the deterioration of the unfunded past-service liability of the Government Superannuation Fund in each of the last 2 years, and how do these results compare with the performance expectations of the fund—that is, there is a chance of no more than 1 year in 6 years of an unexpected deterioration of more than $200 million in any one year?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Unfortunately, I do not have those exact numbers, but I can tell the member that the bulk of that $2.4 billion - change is due to interest rate changes and the application of a discount rate that has reduced over the last year. Those tend to be cyclical changes, which reverse out over time. The international markets have been bear markets for the last 3 years, and, as I heard somebody comment at the weekend, if we all invested just in property, as a certain party does, we would not necessarily do any better over the long term.

Hon David Carter: With the Government Superannuation Fund having made significant losses during the last 2 years, how confident is the Minister that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund will achieve greater than a 9 percent annual return, as he has consistently predicted?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Those are not my predictions; those are Treasury’s numbers applied to—[Interruption] It is not a matter of washing one’s hands. No Government in my experience in recent times is as ________.

The basic numbers apply to the Government; Treasury produces the numbers. The board of Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund—[Interruption] Well, I am interested to learn that that is what the National Party did. I shall go back and look with interest at some of their Budget exercises now.

Rod Donald: Can the Minister confirm that the Government Superannuation Fund will now need to earn 9.6 percent after tax for the next 8½ years to meet its own investment target of 6.5 percent over its first 10 years; and is he concerned that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund will fail to meet its expected performance targets, too, given that the deputy chair of the Government Superannuation Fund is the chair of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, and that both funds use Frank Russell Co. as advisers?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: There are a number of questions there. The principal advisers to the board of guardians are not the firm of Frank Russell Co. They use different advisers. They have only subsidiary advisers in Frank Russell Co. I think that the member should wait for the asset allocation before rushing to comment on it. They have not made up their minds yet on that. This fund is not to be drawn down for 20 years, and so the performance over the next few years is actually largely irrelevant—taking the longer-term view. I remind the member again, as I remind members opposite, that over the last 80 or 90 years, on average, equities have outperformed Government bonds, etc., and any fund that takes a long-term view will be balanced between the two.

Hon David Carter: With the Government Superannuation Fund having made significant losses during the last 2 years, how confident is the Minister that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund will achieve greater than a 9 percent annual return, as Treasury had predicted, and on which figure he then sold this package to New Zealand?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: That was not the basis on which the package was sold. The basis was securing the future of New Zealand superannuation, and I note that we still have only a couple of parties in this House that clearly are prepared to sign up to that, in terms of both funding and payment.

Rod Donald: Does the Minister agree that extending the 6 percent savings incentive that is currently available to employees earning more than $60,000 to those hard-working New Zealanders who earn less than $60,000, would be a better way to use taxes than the superannuation fund gambling them on the overseas sharemarket; and how much would such a policy cost?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: To extend what is proposed in the bill introduced this afternoon, and to go to that 6 percent differential, would cost an additional $54 million a year—I think it is. But the member misses the point. That is about private savings. I trust that the Green Party is now not suggesting there is a trade-off between private savings and New Zealand Superannuation.

Questions for Oral Answer
Seabed and Foreshore—Crown Ownership

5. GERRY BROWNLEE (NZ National—Ilam) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs: Will he be advising the Government that ownership or title to the seabed and foreshore should, for the best interests of Mâori, be held by the Crown; if not, why not?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Mâori Affairs): I will be working with my Government colleagues, in the best interests of the country, to find a balance between Mâori customary rights and the ability of all New Zealanders to access the foreshore and seabed. The goal is to ensure that on the way to nationhood we get a positive result.

Gerry Brownlee: When he and his Government colleagues meet with the Mâori Council next week to discuss this issue, will he be attending that meeting as a Government Minister representing the Crown and the Crown’s interests, or as a Mâori member of Parliament representing Mâori interests in being able to claim the foreshore and seabed?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: We will firstly meet with more than the Mâori Council. I cannot avoid being a Mâori, and I am also a member of a collective Cabinet. I will be meeting as both.

Mita Ririnui: Is he confident that the interests of all New Zealanders will be accommodated in the Government’s process for dealing with this matter?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Yes, I am confident that in working through this process we will reconcile Mâori customary rights with all New Zealanders’ ability to access the foreshore and seabed.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Minister agree with the statement by Moana Jackson, a lawyer who has given is view on this matter, when he says:

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: If Mr Solomon was the chairman of the Mâori Fisheries Commission, I could understand that question. He is not the chairman of the Mâori Fisheries Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I concede. This is one of those occasions where I have been caught out by that sharp Minister. Mr Edwards has earned his dollar today. I seek leave of the House to ask the question again without the wrong address being given to Maui Solomon.

Mr SPEAKER: I will go halfway with the member. I will ask the Minister to assume that Mr Solomon is not the chairman of the Mâori Fisheries Commission. Could he give an answer to the question?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: That is his opinion. One thing with this Government and this Mâori caucus is that we respect the opinion of all Mâori, from Mr Jackson, to Mr Solomon.

Rodney Hide: Does he stand by his statement in this House yesterday that he, as a Mâori, has customary rights to the seabed and foreshore not enjoyed by non-Mâori; will he tell this House what he believes those rights are, or is that something he is prepared to say only on a marae?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I do not recall saying that. I say that some Mâori have married Pâkehâ, and some Pâkehâ have married Mâori, so we have to work out where everybody gets a fair share and a fair say in this, and cut the marae business out.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have a situation where the Minister cannot remember that he said in the House: “It has been my understanding that Mâori have customary rights”, and then going on to speak about him having those rights. Now he is saying that he cannot answer the question because he cannot remember saying that. Having reminded him what he said, I suggest he be asked to say whether he stands by that, and clarify.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member might have said that at the start, but then he went on to address the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest respect, a little diatribe on the framework of this country and on the question of keeping away from the marae from the Minister did not address the question he was asked in any way, shape, or form. Does the Minister stand by his words of yesterday? He denied his words of yesterday and left the whole thing alone completely. We have no answer, as far as that Minister goes. I say to you, Mr Speaker, that I have spent some time in the last weeks watching two Parliaments in operation: Australia, which is on television, and the British Parliament. Frankly, this is an abiding disgrace when it comes to question time. You might have a different view, but I am giving you mine. Over there, the Ministers answer questions, which are not questions on notice. These Ministers are given 4 hours’ notice and they still do not answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: Let me just say that I listen to the Australian Parliament too, and there is very rarely ever a supplementary question at all, the Minister has 3 minutes to answer a question, and the questioner has about 40 seconds to ask it. That is an issue that every Government of Australia states it will change when it comes into office, and never do.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I seek leave that we adopt the Australian practice at question time.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought. Is there any objection? There is.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do want to challenge your ruling, because this is outrageous. There are two standards in operation for this Minister. That can in no way—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rodney Hide: I am not sitting down—

Mr SPEAKER: The member sits or he goes.

Rodney Hide: No, I want to—

Mr SPEAKER: The member leaves.

Rodney Hide: OK. I will leave.

Mr SPEAKER: The member leaves.

Rodney Hide: There is no point here—

Mr SPEAKER: A member cannot challenge Speaker’s ruling. The member will please leave.

Rodney Hide: There’s no point here asking question.

Mr SPEAKER: I will name the member if he says another word. The member will please leave.

Rodney Hide: There is no point—

Question time interrupted.

Rodney Hide was named and withdrew from the Chamber.Withdrawal from Chamber

Question time resumed.

Questions for Oral Answer
Accident Compensation—Injury Reduction

6. HELEN DUNCAN (NZ Labour) to the Minister for ACC: Can she report any progress on the development of effective measures to reduce New Zealand’s injury rates?

Hon RUTH DYSON (Minister for ACC): I had great pleasure today in launching the New Zealand injury prevention strategy. The strategy has been developed after extensive public consultation and input from many people involved in injury prevention in our communities. It has two key goals of achieving a positive safety culture in New Zealand in creating safe environments.

Helen Duncan: How will the strategy help to reduce injury rates?

Hon RUTH DYSON: The strategic will enable better collaboration and integration of effort between a wide range of agencies in organisations. It will ensure there are no gaps in injury prevention activity. It will help to strengthen the capability of the injury prevention workforce and will promote better quality and dissemination of injury information.

Dr Paul Hutchison168Dr Paul Hutchison: Why is it that despite her Government saying that it would focus on accident prevention for the last 3½ years, death rates for motor accidents in New Zealand remain over 50 percent higher than in Britain, and moderate to serious injuries have risen by 14,000 between 1999 and 2002; and why should anyone believe her new measures are any more effective than her past failed rhetoric?

Hon RUTH DYSON: As the member should know—because I am sure he is a member who does read the information provided to his select committee—in fact the number of road fatalities has gone down. However, the number of serious injuries—that is, people who have been involved in serious incidents and have, perhaps, permanent or complex injuries—has increased, and that is due to a variety of factors. The member should also note that in some of the accounts, because of the classification of injuries, the fact that the number has gone up is not necessarily a reflection of the fact that the rate of injuries has increased. Our significantly increased participation in the paid labour market since the election of the Labour-led Government is a fair example of why that is the case.

Questions for Oral Answer
Taxation—Food Tax

7. HEATHER ROY (ACT NZ) to the Minister of Health: Will she rule out proposing a “differential food tax”; if not, why not?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): Yes. There is not even a fat chance that this will happen.

Heather Roy: Why is the public health directorate working on a tax that the Government has no intention of introducing, or is this just another example of how, under this Minister, precious health dollars are being wasted?

Hon ANNETTE KING: A public health discussion document was released in October 2002 to look at new legislation for public health. In that discussion document submissions were called for. A number of submissions said we ought to impose a “fat tax”. The Ministry of Health is providing advice on the submissions.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Can the Minister explain the difference in the Government’s approach between proposals by officials within the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry for a flatulence tax, which has been heartily endorsed by the Ministers concerned, and the propositions by officials for a “fat tax”?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I cannot explain why there is a difference, other than to say that the Ministry of Health and the Minister have no interest in a “fatulence” tax.

Sue Kedgley: As part or her Government’s strategy to reduce the amount of high fat, high sugar food that children eat, will the Government be developing a healthy eating policy for schools that asks them not to sell, promote, or sponsor the high-fat and high-sugar foods that undermine our national nutritional goals; if not, why not?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, that work is well under way. The member, I know, is aware that health-promoting schools in New Zealand have already undertaken a lot of work in ensuring that the food that tuck shops sell to children for their lunches is healthy food. But it is also backed up by the Healthy Eating – Heathy Action plan that was released only a few months ago.

Judy Turner: Has the Minister considered funding parent education as a positive strategy for addressing child obesity issues?

Hon ANNETTE KING: There are a number of parenting classes that are funded, particularly parenting classes from organisations like Plunket. There are also parenting classes in terms of health eating carried out in schools. I do not have specific funding to fund such a programme, but a number of agencies already provide it.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why is it now OK to buy sex, but not McDonald’s?

Mr SPEAKER: That is not the Minister’s responsibility.

Hon ANNETTE KING: I have never made any claims on that, at all.

Heather Roy: On what date did she learn that her officials were working on proposals for a differential third tax, as she confirmed in a written parliamentary question, and has she definitely put a stop to it?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The Ministry of Health is not working on a Government proposal for a fat tax. The member should be very well aware of that. I have been aware for some time that the ministry has been working on the public health discussion document since the submissions were first received.

Questions for Oral Answer
Drugs—International Trafficking

8. CLAYTON COSGROVE (NZ Labour—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Customs: Is the New Zealand Customs Service doing its part to stamp out the international trafficking of illegal drugs across the borders of our major trading partners?

Hon RICK BARKER (Minister of Customs): Yes, New Zealand Customs drug investigators recently responded to a call from Australian authorities in the investigation of large-scale cocaine trafficking into Australia, possibly using New Zealand as a transit point. The operation resulted in the arrest last week of 20 people in Sydney, Denmark, and the United States for conspiracy to import cocaine.

Clayton Cosgrove: Is there evidence that New Zealand is being used as a transit point to get drugs into other countries, and what additional support is the Government providing in the fight against international drug trafficking?

Hon RICK BARKER: Yes, intelligence available to the Customs Service shows that New Zealand continues to be used as a transit point for bulk drug shipments into larger drug markets such as Australia and the United States. This Government has allocated an extra $1.9 million this year in the Budget to boost a drugs team in customs in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, which means 12 specialist investigators and four intelligence analysts to help combat the worldwide drug problem.

Hon Peter Dunne: Is the Minister concerned that rising instability in the Pacific—for example, as the current situation in the Solomons demonstrates—is hampering efforts to curb international drug trafficking in our area; and if he shares that concern, has he made specific proposals to his colleague the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade about ways in which New Zealand might act to alleviate that; if so, what are they?

Hon RICK BARKER: The issues raised by the member are of a concern. As yet we have nothing to suggest that the instability in the Pacific has had an impact on the drug trade in New Zealand. However, New Zealand and Australia continues to work through customs organisations through, for example, the Oceania Customs Organisation, to help ensure the quality and integrity of customs organisations throughout the Pacific.

Questions for Oral Answer
Prostitution Reform Bill—Policing

9. Hon TONY RYALL (NZ National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Police: What reports has he received from the New Zealand Police regarding the ramifications of the passing of the Prostitution Reform Bill?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Justice), on behalf of the Minister of Police: During the course of the debate on the Prostitution Reform Bill, the New Zealand Police provided the Minister with four papers on the bill, dated between April 2001 and February 2002. Those reports were all provided to the select committee.

Hon Tony Ryall: In the light of the concerns more reportedly expressed by a Tauranga prostitute called Sabrina, who predicts increased gang involvement and the likelihood of more women working as prostitutes to support hard drug habits, what specific parts of the Prostitution Reform Bill will prevent gangs from becoming involved in the vice industry; particularly, what will prevent the Mongrel Mob from using a front-man without convictions to set up a brothel?

Hon PHIL GOFF: It is noteworthy that the police report to the select committee made the point that there was already extensive gang involvement in prostitution. I can table the document if the member shakes his head. I have it in front of me. I shall answer the second part of the member’s question by saying that the amendment in the name of the member for Mt Roskill to the bill sets up a certification process that excludes from operation of places of prostitution anyone with gang offences or with serious criminal convictions. I refer the member to the definition of “operator”, which, under the amendment, not only deals with the front person but the people who pulls the strings behind the scenes. That amendment has been very welcome by the New Zealand Police.

Sue Bradford: Can the Minister assure the House and the public that there will be no more police raids, arrests, or prosecutions relating to soliciting or brothel-keeping offences pending the implementation, very shortly, of the Prostitution Reform Act.

Hon PHIL GOFF: Of course I cannot give that assurance. First, I do not direct the police on operational matters, and, secondly, it would be improper to direct the police not to enforce the law as it is until the law changes.

Larry Baldock: What guarantees can the Minister give that the police will be able to keep gangs and criminals out of the brothel business, which the Minister of Justice considered to be unconscionable, given that they have not been able to keep them out of the massage parlour industry; and will he commit additional resources for the police to be able to monitor the new industry, or will it be left to local government to take care of?

Hon PHIL GOFF: It will not be left to local government. The only role that local government plays is in terms of the location of any such brothel. The assurance I can give to the member is that the legislation has been drafted quite skilfully to ensure that anybody that not only controls a brothel as an operator, but also the people who stand behind that individual, who have gang connections, will be committing an illegal act, and there are severe penalties for it. I believe that the bill has the additional advantage that at the moment police have control over only massage parlours where half of prostitution takes place. At the moment, under existing legislation, police have no control at all, for example, over escort agencies; under the new bill, they do.

Peter Brown: Specifically, does the Minister believe that this Act will create a greater demand for police resources or a lesser demand?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I think it means that we will have a redirection of police resources, away from simply dealing with soliciting—which will now be legal under the law—to actual crimes, including those crimes committed against prostitutes, which are often very severe, and the member knows that well. Now those prostitutes will have no fear of coming forward and being charged with other offences that were prostitution-related when they are raped or are seriously assaulted. That must be a good thing for New Zealand.

Hon Tony Ryall: I seek leave to table a report in which the president of the Police Association labels the Goff amendments as unworkable and very, very naive.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked a specific question whether there would be a requirement for more police resource or less police resource. The politics in the Minister’s answer did not come anywhere near addressing that question.

Mr SPEAKER: No. I thought the member did address the question perfectly satisfactorily. In fact, he gave a lengthy answer that was probably too long.

Questions for Oral Answer
Petrol Tax and Road User Charges—Revenue

10. PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Transport: How much has been collected in petrol tax and road user charges since February 2002 and how does this compare with the previous sixteen months to February 2002?

Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Transport): The figures I will refer to are for 15 months, because the figures for June are not yet in. I am advised that since February 2002 approximately $1.4 billion was collected from petrol taxes, compared to approximately $1.2 billion in the previous 15 months. I am also advised that since February 2002 approximately $817 million was collected from road-user charges, compared to approximately $721 million for the previous 15 months.

Peter Brown: Noting that answer, is it the Government’s intention to reduce or remove the 4.7c per litre petrol tax imposed on motorists in February last year, when it promised it would be in existence for only 16 months?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: No, because we never said any such thing.

Hon Roger Sowry: How does the Minister reconcile Labour’s pledge card promise of no extra taxes with work that he has going on in his ministry to impose a new petrol tax of up to 10c a litre?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Easily, because we said there would be no rise in income tax for those earning under $60,000.

Dave Hereora: What has the increase in funding since February 2002 been used for?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am advised that since February 2002 the extra funding has gone to improve the transport infrastructure, including an extra $94 million for road construction, $30 million for regional developments, such as logging roads, and an extra $36 million for passenger transport.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Which New Zealanders will benefit from the extra funding spent since the moving forward package?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: All New Zealanders.

Questions for Oral Answer
Boating—Safety

11. H V ROSS ROBERTSON (NZ Labour—Manukau East) to the Associate Minister of Transport: What steps is he taking to enhance boat safety in New Zealand?

Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN (Associate Minister of Transport): This month I launched a new maritime rule requiring all recreational bodies to have a suitable lifejacket for every person on board. Last year 18 of the 25 deaths that occurred during recreational boating could have been prevented if life jackets were worn. I believe that adherence to this new life jacket rule, along with other safety measures, will have a significant impact on recreational boating incidents.

H V Ross Robertson: With this large number of deaths through the not wearing of life jackets being acknowledged, can the Associate Minister tell the House what other steps the Government is taking to reduce deaths in recreational boating?

Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN: The Government recognises that in itself the new maritime rules will not guarantee a change in behaviour. However, the Maritime Safety Authority continues to work hard to educate the boating community on the importance of life jackets, through a television campaign over the past 6 months. We are now able to add “and it is the law” to that message.

H V Ross Robertson: Is there anything proposed to enhance safety in wakas?

Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN: The requirement to carry personal floatation devices does not apply if the training or the ceremonial event is supervised and if a support vessel is able to assist in an emergency, remains nearby, and carries enough personal floatation devices for everyone on board, in this case, the waka. In practice, national waka safety guidelines established jointly by iwi and the Maritime Safety Authority in 2001 have meant that the use of support craft and the implementation of safety plans have become routine.

Questions for Oral Answer
Prisons—Protestors at Northland Site

12. NANDOR TANCZOS (Green) to the Minister of Corrections: Does any agreement exist between the Department of Corrections and the protestors who have been occupying the proposed Northland Prison site regarding the terms on which the occupation would be permitted to remain?

Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Corrections): No, not since the protesters broke the agreed terms.

Nandor Tanczos: Does the Minister accept that the terms of the agreement were that the occupation must be peaceful, must not impede traffic into and out of the site, and must not create a public safety hazard; and can he explain how the actions of one individual in burning a disused ute in the middle of a field—actions that have been repudiated by the occupiers—breaks the terms of that agreement?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Since the occupation, I am advised that protestors have set fire to a car, blocked the access way, cut fences, blocked the main highway, and ignored hygiene issues. The protestors were advised that they no longer had permission to be on the site and they were asked to leave. They refused. They were then advised that they were trespassing. Trespass notices were posted but were torn down. Police have now been asked to remove the protestors, and they will be removed.

Georgina Beyer: What positive benefits will there be for the community with the establishment of the Northland regional corrections facility?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: There will be many benefits for the local community with the establishment of this facility, including the creation of 180 new jobs once the prison opens. It is expected that most of these jobs will be filled by local Northland people.

Nandor Tanczos: Can the Minister confirm that despite attempts by the occupiers to achieve some mediation between the Department of Corrections, police, and the Taumata kaumâtua, the department has refused to take part in such mediation; and will he guarantee that no action will be taken to evict the occupation until the Taumata kaumâtua have had an opportunity to hui, which is expected to be next Wednesday?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: No. Everybody’s patience has run out.

End of Questions for Oral Answer


(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)


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