Questions Of The Day Transcript - July 1st 2003
TUESDAY, 1 JULY 2003
Questions for Oral Answer
1. Transport Strategy—Land Transport Funding
2. Mâori Affairs, Associate Minister—Confidence
3. Transport Strategy—Land Transport Funding
4. Solomon Islands—Police
5. Solomon Islands—Pacific Forum
6. Te Mângai Pâho—Reviews
7. Primary Health Organisations—Establishment
8. Home Detention—Sentenced Offenders
9. Business—Compliance Costs
11. Transport Strategy—Green Party
12. Civil Aviation Authority—Confidence
Questions for Oral
Transport Strategy—Land Transport Funding
1. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Transport Transport: What will yesterday’s announcements regarding land transport funding do to help implement the New Zealand Transport Strategy?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Transport): The land transport announcements yesterday take a major step towards meeting the objectives of the New Zealand Transport Strategy.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Besides road funding, what initiatives to address the Government’s other priority areas, such as promoting public transport and walking and cycling to reduce congestion, were contained in the national land transport programme announced yesterday?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The funding allocated in 2003-04 is a balance between maintaining and improving roading, passenger transport, alternatives to roading, and walking and cycling. For example, passenger transport has received $101 million for 2003-04, an increase of $16 million; and walking and cycling receives around $3.8 million, which is a slight increase to resolve the broad problems of things like congestion in our major cities.
Dave Hereora: What does this agreement mean for people in regions like South Canterbury, Marlborough, Kapiti Coast, and the Hawke’s Bay?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Quite a lot. After years of neglect from those people. I am thrilled with the announcements from Transfund and Transit that, for example, the Awatere bridge will be replaced, that the Meeanee Road interchange will be built, that McKay’s Crossing overbridge will be built, and that the Normanby realignment will start this year.
Hon Roger Sowry: Given United Future’s commitment to provide confidence and supply to the Government, with the construction of the Transmission Gully highway pivotal to that agreement, how does the Government’s announcement of excluding Transmission Gully from its 10 year transport priorities ensure that United Future will continue to support his Government on confidence and supply motions?
Gordon Copeland: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question relates to what was in United Future’s confidence and supply agreement. It made no mention of Transmission Gully.
Mr SPEAKER: The question was asked. The Minister can comment.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Quite easily. I saw a statement from Mr Dunne welcoming some of the initial stages, in terms of the planning for that project, and I am grateful for that support.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister seen today’s New Zealand Herald page A5, which says that Auckland has gone from having 18 of the top 20 roading projects to just three; and could he inform us as to what Herculean efforts the Minister with responsibility for Auckland Issues, Judith Tizard, was responsible for in this outcome?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I have seen that report. I have also seen reports that say that Auckland received 18 out of the top 54 places—most of that work done by the Herculean effort of the Minister with responsibility for Auckland Issues.
Larry Baldock: Does the Minister agree that the Government’s objectives in the national land transport strategy could be achieved a whole lot quicker if Transit could borrow against the projected income from Transfund, to begin urgent projects now, instead of wasting more of the economic resources of our businesses due to congestion, accidents, and inefficiency across the country?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes, I do agree with that. That is one of the issues being currently considered by the Government.
Larry Baldock: Does the Minister agree that economic efficiency is the major key component of the national land transport strategy, as stated in his speech last night and comments this morning on National Radio when he said: “The Government is committed to improving the transport infrastructure, so we can achieve our goal of returning the country’s living standards to the top half of the OECD.”; if so, will he ensure that this will be reflected in the final version of the Land Transport Management Bill when it is passed this year?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I know the member is aware that the transport strategy actually mentions five key objectives, and those five key objectives are moving forward as a result of the announcements yesterday.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: When was the review of major projects first announced, and what is the scope of this review?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The review was mentioned in the Speech from the Throne last year, and it also is part of the moving forward package last year. The scope of the review includes those projects over $20 million whose contracts have not been let, and it is important that the review be completed by December.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could the Minister tell us why this Government is entering a review as a result of an agreement with the Green Party, a party that believes that people should walk to work—including themselves?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The reason we agreed to the review was that the Green Party was the only party in Parliament that was prepared to support the 4c petrol increase. What that member wants is more roads but he is not prepared to pay for them. That is the problem he has got.
Keith Locke: How will the Land Transport Management Bill help give further effect to the New Zealand Transport Strategy?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: In a range of ways, but most notably through the ability for tolling and public-private partnerships.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table a document that proves that for every $2 Mr Swain takes he spends less than $1 on the roads—that document being the Budget.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table the Budget. Is there any objection? There is.
Mr SPEAKER: I call question No. 2—the Hon Bill English. [InterruptionI have called Mr English only. [Interruption] Earlyon I said I had called Mr English only. The member will now stand, withdraw, and apologise for that comment.
Hon Chris Carter: I withdraw and apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: And he will leave the Chamber.
Hon Chris Carter withdrew from the Chamber.Withdrawal from Chamber
Questions for Oral
Mâori Affairs, Associate Minister—Confidence
2. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in her Associate Minister of Mâori Affairs (Hon Tariana Turia); if so, why?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister) , on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes, because she is a hardworking and conscientious Minister.
Hon Bill English: How does the Prime Minster reconcile statements made by Tariana Turia this morning on radio: “Well, we’re not even sure it’s going to go so far as being a bill in the House.” with statements by Dr Cullen just 4 days ago that the Government will introduce legislation extinguishing claims to customary title regarding the seabed and foreshore?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Because, to my certain knowledge, my colleague Dr Cullen has never said that legislation will be introduced extinguishing customary title to the “forebed and seashore”.
Hon Ken Shirley: With reference to chapter 3 of the Cabinet Office Manual, which states: “Ministers whose opposition to a Cabinet decision is such that they will not publicly disassociate themselves from it, must resign from Cabinet”—and I emphasise “must”—does the Prime Minister not accept the principle of one law for all in Cabinet, or, for that matter, one law for all across New Zealand?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I can assure the member that the Prime Minister accepts the rule of one law for all in Cabinet. What I can say is that, as the member herself said, there is a process under way, which, at this stage, also includes a caucus committee of Ministers in the Mâori caucus. That process will lead to certain conclusions.
Hon Bill English: What has the Prime Minister said to the Hon Tariana Turia that has led her to make public statements that there may not be legislation in respect of the argument over the foreshore and the seabed?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Nothing.
Questions for Oral Answer
Transport Strategy—Land Transport Funding
3. HELEN DUNCAN (NZ Labour) to the Minister of Transport: What response has he received to Transfund’s and Transit’s transport announcement yesterday?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Transport): I have received a number of responses and too many to comment on. But the Timaru Mayor, Wynne Raymond, said he was delighted and encouraged that the safety concerns at Normanby had been addressed, and the Marlborough Mayor, Tim Harrison, is elated that the Awatere bridge is going ahead.
Helen Duncan: What are the key differences between Transit’s draft State highway plan and the final version?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The difference is primarily redressing the balance between making sure that the priorities of congestion are dealt with in the Auckland region as well as regional priorities through the rest of the country; Transit has done a very good job in addressing this balance.
Hon Roger Sowry: Will Auckland receive a separate funding package as requested by the Auckland Mayoral Forum simply because yesterday’s announcement was not enough; if so, how will the Government impose the extra tax given United Future’s opposition to it?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The Government is working on a package for Auckland, and issues around funding are currently under consideration.
Mike Ward: Has the Minister seen the comments by the cycle advocates network expressing concern at walking and cycling funding apparently being fixed at $3 million, and what is his response to that concern?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I have seen a lot of comments from people saying that they need more money.
Peter Brown: Does the Minister stand by the Government statement that New Zealand will have an affordable, integrated, safe, responsive, sustainable transport system by the year 2010, and if he does stand by that will the $8.6 billion allocated be sufficient; if not, what is the estimate for the shortfall?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes, I do stand by that statement. The Government is currently working on a range of issues to address what has clearly been a transport deficit that was inherited from the previous National Government.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can we have an answer to Mr Brown’s question, which was: what was the shortfall?
Mr SPEAKER: No, Mr Brown did not ask just that. He had two parts to his question, and the honourable Minister addressed that question perfectly satisfactorily.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Well, if that is the case, and it was a pretty serious question addressing a 10-year period, Mr Brown gave the figure, and asked whether there was a shortfall, and what it was. Is it too much to ask the Minister to tell us what that is?
Mr SPEAKER: Perhaps the Minister might care to make another brief comment.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Well, there is debate about this. For example, the Auckland region says that $2.4 billion is the shortfall there. We are currently working through these figures.
Questions for Oral
4. Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT NZ) to the Minister of Police: Has he discussed with the Commissioner of Police the Government’s offer of police to the Solomon Islands; if so, what assurances has the commissioner given that this commitment can be made without affecting New Zealand’s front-line policing?
Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade), on behalf of the Minister of Police: Yes, New Zealand has been asked to contribute to a police-led deployment to restore the rule of law in the Solomon Islands, and Cabinet will shortly make a decision on the shape and the size of that contribution. The Commissioner of Police has been closely involved in the scoping exercise of what is needed and how we can help. A bottom-line consideration will be what New Zealand can do, having regard to the priority that is always given to domestic considerations.
Hon Richard Prebble: What conclusion can the House get from the fact that he has not answered the second part of the question as to whether the Commissioner of Police has given him any assurance that a contribution from the New Zealand Police can be made to the Solomons without affecting New Zealand’s front-line policing, especially since we all know that last year when the Government sent seven police to the Solomons for training the Commissioner of Police strongly objected?
Hon PHIL GOFF: I can tell the member that, unlike last year when there were recruitment problems, overall the number of police is now at its target level, and in the previously difficult area of Auckland, it is actually 10 over its target level. The police commissioner is confident that drawing any support group from across the country as a whole would not leave any areas under-represented.
Tim Barnett: If, let us say, 30 New Zealand police officers were to be deployed to the Solomons, what percentage of the overall New Zealand police force would that represent?
Hon PHIL GOFF: That figure is somewhat arbitrary, but 30 police officers would represent less than a third of 1 percent of the total police force and less than 0.41 percent of the total number of sworn officers.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Given that it takes 9 months from recruitment to graduation before police officers actually reach the front line, how will the police make up the shortfall, which will occur next month, over the 9-month period; or does the Minister agree with the Prime Minister when she said that we could go far beyond 30 before the country would feel a pinch?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The Minister of Police has been very innovative in the way that he has filled the police ranks with competent people. That includes, for example, 74 experienced police officers from the British Isles who are now being deployed at a new cadet-training scheme that has those cadets moving into training at the Police College at Porirua.
Ron Mark: Given that when the commissioner asked the Government for another 169 extra police over 3 years the Government’s response was to announce in the Budget a total of 55 police over 4 years, if the commissioner says to the Minister that such a deployment will have a huge negative impact on policing on the ground, will he will even be listened to?
Hon PHIL GOFF: I can say for a fact that the commissioner is not stating that. He is very happy that with 9,554 members he has the largest police force ever in the history of this country.
Hon Peter Dunne: How will the Minister explain to constituents of mine who are already feeling that community policing is being cut back and that their community policing centre is at threat, that the deployment of a police force to the Solomons will not make that situation worse for them?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The member can explain that to his constituents by stating that because of the extraordinary efforts of Government, the Government is now filling, fully, the quota of police officers that it wants, and that a relatively small number of police officers taken from around the country will not have any noticeable effect on policing in any district. He can also quote to his constituents that the president of the Police Association said it was a good move for the police, and would lead to better policing overall because of the experience officers would gain.
Hon Richard Prebble: Does the House understand the situation to be that the Commissioner of Police earlier this year said that he needed 169 extra police, and the Government gave 55—a deficit of 114—and that the Government has brought in 74 British police so that we can send 40 to the Solomons, so I ask why did we not just send the British police to the Solomon Islands?
Hon PHIL GOFF: This Government is proud of the fact that since becoming the Government it has increased police numbers by 9 percent. I remind that member that when he had a short period of time as Minister of Police, it was one of the occasions during which police numbers in this country decreased. So our achievement is somewhat better than the member’s was when he had his chance.
Questions for Oral Answer
Solomon Islands—Pacific Forum
5. LUAMANUVAO WINNIE LABAN (NZ Labour—Mana) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: What recommendations were made by the Pacific Forum Foreign Ministers meeting in Sydney yesterday in regard to the situation in the Solomon Islands?
Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade): The Pacific Forum Foreign Ministers meeting in Sydney yesterday decided unanimously to recommend to forum leaders a package of strengthened assistance to the Solomon Islands. This will include a policing operation to restore law and order, supported as necessary by armed peacekeepers, and a programme of assistance to strengthen the justice system and to restore the economy and basic social services.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: What multilateral support is being offered for assistance being given to the Solomon Islands in response to their request?
Hon PHIL GOFF: Of course the Pacific Forum itself is a multilateral organisation, and the support was offered unanimously. What is more, more than half the countries present at the forum said they would give not only support in principle but also practical support. The Commonwealth Secretary-General has also endorsed the moves being made by the Pacific Forum countries, and when the matter was referred to the United Nations Political Affairs Department, the United Nations also responded warmly to the effort being made by the forum countries to respond to the request from a sovereign country for badly needed help.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Given that the Minister has indicated that the United Nations is only informed, at best, why does the Minister insist on going through that process, whereas Mr Downer, the Australian Foreign Minister, has specifically said: “The United Nations is unable to deal with collapsing societies such as the Solomon Islands.”?
Hon PHIL GOFF: I think I have spoken to Mr Downer rather more recently than the member. Mr Downer has confirmed that where we can get multilateral support, that really helps the achievement of the objectives being set out. Once a final decision has been made, the same process will be followed with regard to the Solomon Islands as was followed in relation to the deployment in Bougainville. The United Nations will be notified by the Solomon Islands under article 54, and the United Nations will respond warmly to the effort that is being made to restore security and stability in the region.
Keith Locke: In what the Minister has described as essentially a policing operation, would it not be a little bit over the top for the Australia - New Zealand military back-up force—recognising the need for a military back-up force—to be something approaching 2,000 soldiers, when the police will be confronting a relatively isolated and disparate group of criminal elements rather than an organised military force?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The member is right that the proposal is for a police-led deployment. The restoration of law and order is, after all, a policing task and not a military task. The member is also right that we need to have a military back-up of armed peacekeepers because there are estimated to be up to 750 high-powered weapons in the community. I guess the country that should have the greatest say on this is the Solomon Islands, and the Solomon Islands Government has indicated comfort with the sort of figures that were discussed at the forum yesterday.
Hon Peter Dunne: Do the detachments that were discussed at the forum yesterday in respect of New Zealand have the approval of the New Zealand Cabinet at this stage, and if they do not have that approval, what is their status, in terms of both their ultimate approval and the time line by which they might be implemented?
Hon PHIL GOFF: There are a couple of prerequisites before support can go ahead. One is, obviously, the formal request through the Governor-General of the Solomon Islands; the second is for the Solomon Islands Parliament to pass legislation. In anticipation of that, Cabinet will shortly be discussing the nature, the shape, and the size of the deployment that is being made—policing, military, and aid. I would expect Cabinet to be considering that in the near future. It has not been done yet, no.
Dr Wayne Mapp: I seek leave of the House to table a report in the Australian newspaper, the Courier Mail, in which Mr Downer says that the United Nations is unable to solve the problems of rogue States and collapsing societies such as the Solomon Islands.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is.
Questions for Oral Answer
Te Mângai Pâho—Reviews
6. KATHERINE RICH (NZ National) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs: What reviews of Te Mângai Pâho or its senior staff are being undertaken at present, and what is the reporting timetable for each of those reviews?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Mâori Affairs): There are two reviews being undertaken at the moment. The board is in the process of completing its review of the chief executive’s performance and specific conduct relating to allegations made, and I expect to be advised of the outcome in the next day or so. The Audit Office is currently conducting its annual audit of Te Mângai Pâho, and that is expected by mid-July.
Katherine Rich: Noting that comment about the Audit Office, what assurances can the Minister give this House that Te Mângai Pâho funding to Dreamtime Entertainment Ltd has been appropriately spent, given that the company presented 13 cheques totalling $19,810 for petty cash, and the Audit Office could not find any documentation or reconciliations showing how those payments reconcile with that amount?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I look forward to the audit report so I can read that detail that the member seems to have.
Darren Hughes: What will the Audit New Zealand annual audit of Te Mângai Pâho include?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The board has advised me that, as part of its annual review of Te Mângai Pâho, Audit New Zealand will do an in-depth review of the systems, policies, and procedures surrounding the allocation and monitoring of Te Mângai Pâho contracts.
Katherine Rich: How does the purchase by Dreamtime Entertainment of two sets of golf clubs valued at $2,281, ostensibly as props for Te Wero, a youth game show, but now in possession of two company directors, contribute to the promotion of te reo and Mâori culture?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I am sure that that is an issue that will be addressed in the review.
Questions for Oral
Primary Health Organisations—Establishment
7. STEVE CHADWICK (NZ Labour—Rotorua) to the Minister of Health: What progress has been made in the development of primary health organisations since the first one was established 1 year ago?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): The implementation of primary health organisations has far exceeded expectations. We hoped there would be around 300,000 people involved with primary health organisations after 1 year. Today there are 47 primary health organisations, covering 1.7 million people. By October, every region in New Zealand is expected to have a primary health organisation.
Steve Chadwick: What reports has she received regarding the future of primary health organisations?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I have seen many reports, most of them indicating that primary health organisations are here to stay and that the need for low-cost access to primary health care is widely accepted by New Zealanders. I also note the Auditor-General’s comments that the primary health care sector could benefit from a period of stability.
Dr Lynda Scott: Why, at the general practitioners conference on continuing medical education in Taupo last weekend, did not one of the hundreds of general practitioners who were at that conference raise a hand when asked to do so if he or she thought that primary health organisations would improve patient care in this country?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I cannot speak for the general practitioners at that conference, but I can quote from a statement by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, which stated: “The commitment to an improved funding environment for primary health-care is, therefore, significant and timely.” I could quote from general practitioners who are working in primary health organisations, who say that primary health organisations will provide a new way for health professionals to work together in the community to prevent ill-health and provide early intervention. I could provide many testimonies from general practitioners who like working in the way that they are working and are prepared to speak up.
Pita Paraone: What is the Minister doing to address the inequities in the current system, whereby people’s health needs are being addressed differently in terms of cost by virtue of a geographic dint?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Inequities in the provision of primary health-care have existed since we got rid of subsidies for all New Zealanders in the “mother of all Budgets” of 1991, and brought in a community services card. This Government is undertaking to bring back affordable primary health-care to all New Zealanders. We are doing it over time, but we are addressing first those people who need primary health care the most. In the first instance, we are most interested to address the inequities that they face in their health status, but we will address the health needs of all New Zealanders over time.
Sue Kedgley: Given the objective referred to by the Minister of getting health professionals to work together, how many pharmacies are part of primary health organisations, and are any such collaborations between pharmacies and primary health organisations likely to be compromised by the Pharmac stat proposal, which is likely to cause the closure of many pharmacies around New Zealand?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I am pleased to inform the member that pharmacists are increasingly interested in primary health organisations. At 6.30 this evening I am launching the capital primary health organisation, which is made up of a number of Mâori providers and the Wellington Independent Practice Association, and pharmacists are part of that primary health organisation. I have a number of other examples, and I have been encouraging pharmacists to look to work within primary health organisations, because they have a very important role to play.
Heather Roy: What guarantee can the Minister give that the health outcomes from the Ngâti Whâtua primary health organisation will be in any way measurable, given that $1.5 million of taxpayers’ money was spent last year on the Ngâti Whâtua O Orakei Health Clinic, with her excuse for a lack of outcomes there being that “general health gains are difficult to assess”, with an example being spending of $370,000 in 2002 for smoking cessation, which questioning revealed to be just a pilot scheme?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Firstly, the fact that we would want a pilot anti-smoking programme for Mâori to be run by a particular Mâori health provider should be welcomed by this House, but having heard that member’s speech on a bill before this House, I understand that she is not the least bit interested in that. Money spent on health outcomes is hard to measure over a 1-year period, because one is looking to change behaviour in terms of smoking, obesity, and exercise, and one does not get results overnight. This Government is committed to achieving better long-term health outcomes for New Zealanders, and we will see them.
Mr SPEAKER: The answer was too long.
Questions for Oral Answer
Home Detention—Sentenced Offenders
8. RON MARK (NZ First) to the Minister of Corrections: Is he satisfied that sentenced offenders are adequately screened for their suitability for home detention before it is granted?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Corrections): I am confident that the community probation service has got robust procedures in place to ensure that the New Zealand Parole Board has relevant information to assist it in making decisions on home detention.
Ron Mark: Can the Minister tell the House which of the following offences committed by Delaney Mark Tamara make him suitable for home detention: using a loaded firearm against police, assaulting a female, assaulting prison officers, intimidating a court witness by hanging her dog on a clothes line and slitting its throat, stabbing, two counts of aggravated robbery, burglaries, and wilful damage—or have I missed some endearing quality that has rendered that violent criminal as being worthy of home detention?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Of course, I cannot comment on a specific case, but what I can say to the member is that the procedures in place for the probation service to provide information to the Parole Board are robust. The Parole Board is the body that makes the decision, and it is an independent organisation.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Why can this Minister not comment upon a specific case? It is not a matter of things being sub judice. He has gone to trial. This is about a matter of home detention for which he is responsible as the Minister.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister does not have the details. He is perfectly entitled to give that response.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That Minister said: “I can’t comment on a specific case.” It is not a question of whether he had the details; he clearly inferred to this House that it was not a matter that he could comment on from a legal or other restrictive point of view. That is what he said, and I ask him why he is constrained from talking on this case, because he is the Minister responsible.
Mr SPEAKER: The member’s point is not valid.
Georgina Beyer: What matters are required to be covered by the Community Probation Service when reporting to the Parole Board about an application for home detention?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The report must cover matters listed in the Parole Act—namely, the likelihood of an offender committing more offences while on home detention, the nature of the offence or offences, the welfare of the offender, and the safety and welfare of occupants in the residence where the offender is to be detained.
Hon Tony Ryall: How can the Minister stand by his comment that the Community Probation Service provides robust information to the Parole Board when it was the Community Probation Service that recommended a man who went to jail for beating his wife so badly he had to give her cardiopulmonary resuscitation to keep her alive can serve out part of his sentence on home detention with the woman he originally bashed, only to bash her within weeks of his release on home detention recommended by that Community Probation Service, which he says provides robust information to the Parole Board?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: As I pointed out, it is the Parole Board that makes the decision, not the Community Probation Service. The Community Probation Service is not the only organisation that provides information to the Parole Board. It is the Parole Board that makes the independent decision on the information it has before it.
Stephen Franks: Precisely how does the probation service, or any other corrections officer, measure risk to the community for people released when the Minister’s Government thinks that Michael Carroll, a five-time rapist with an assessed two out three chance of seriously reoffending within 5 years, and the second most dangerous prison security classification, is not an undue risk to the safety of the people he was placed amongst; if the Minister will not deal with a particular case, can he tell us precisely which rule or Standing Order allows him to hide behind answering the House?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: As I said, it is the Parole Board, an independent organisation, that makes the decision. The probation service provides information, but it is not the only information that the Parole Board uses to make its decision.
Ron Mark: Why, when police officers’ lives were imperilled while apprehending this dangerous offender, when witnesses were subject to horrific intimidation and then suffered amnesia when questioned in the court, is this Government allowing offenders like Delaney Mark Temara the privilege of home detention?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: As the member knows, home detention has had a lot of support in this particular House—it was actually introduced by the previous National Government—because it has a very, very good record in reoffending rate compared to imprisonment. As that member knows, it is information provided by the Community Probation Service, but, ultimately, the decision is made by the independent Parole Board.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Minister aware that this violent thug is permitted to go shopping on Fridays in Christchurch and to attend carving instruction Monday to Thursday at a venue other than where he resides, and why does the Minister persist in the use of the term “home detention” when it is obvious that it is neither detention nor at home, and how does the Minister ensure that this man is taking his psychiatric medication, as well?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: No, I am not aware of that particular case, but I am aware that there are a number of phases under home detention, which that member supported when he was in the Government.
Mr SPEAKER: The last part of that answer was unnecessary. The member should withdraw it.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I withdraw.
Ron Mark: I seek the leave of the House to table some documents. The first is a document relating to Delaney Mark Temara and his home detention.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Ron Mark: I seek the leave of the House to table a number of reports published at the time that Delaney Mark Temara was tried in May 2000.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those documents. Are they press releases?
Ron Mark: No, they are press reports.
Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection? There is objection.
Questions for Oral
9. H V ROSS ROBERTSON (NZ Labour—Manukau East) to the Minister for Small Business: What success has the Government had in implementing the recommendations of the Ministerial Panel on Business Compliance Costs?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Small Business): Today I have released the Government’s report back on the implementation of the recommendations. I am pleased to announce that over 80 percent of the recommendations are now implemented or are in the process of implementation. Together, these represent at least 95 percent of potential benefits from compliance cost reduction to all small businesses in New Zealand.
H V Ross Robertson: What initiatives have been taken to improve Resource Management Act applications to facilitate resource consents—a common compliance-related complaint of developers?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Additional funding for the Environment Court, and collaboration between the Ministry for the Environment and the Environment Court, mean significant reductions in Environment Court backlog and delays are being achieved, to the extent of over one-third or 1,000 cases in 1 year. The introduction of limited notification has curbed frivolous and vexatious objections. If the member wishes to know more about developments in this area, I suggest he set down a question to the hard-working Minister for the Environment.
Lindsay Tisch180Lindsay Tisch: What was the position of the Ministerial Panel on Business Compliance Costs on today’s tax increase of 3c per litre on petrol, and also its position on the proposed flatulence tax on farmers?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: It had no position on those matters.
Questions for Oral
10. Dr LYNDA SCOTT (NZ National—Kaikoura) to the Minister of Health: What analysis has the Government undertaken into the impact on the pharmacy workforce of a return to stat dispensing?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): Pharmac has been reviewing the 2,500 submissions received regarding the proposal. Included amongst the submissions were a number that raised workforce issues. Pharmac is considering these submissions at present and has investigated many of the concerns, including costs associated with maintaining the current geographical spread of pharmacies. To date, no decisions have been made in relation to this proposal.
Dr Lynda Scott: Is she aware that in the Nelson area alone, pharmacists estimate that five pharmacies are likely to close, 10 pharmacists’ jobs may go or be reduced in hours, nine dispensing staff may lose their jobs, and 15 shop staff may lose their jobs or have reduced hours, and what does the Minister have to say to the people who face job losses if Pharmac’s dispensing proposal goes ahead?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I intend to wait until Pharmac has considered all the submissions because part of its consideration is the provision of pharmacy services around New Zealand, and I know that Pharmac is taking account of that.
Nanaia Mahuta: Is she concerned that young pharmacists will leave the country if stat dispensing is introduced?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Recent evidence from the Pharmaceutical Society’s survey found that over half of the New Zealand – trained pharmacists living overseas plan to return. Most live in the United Kingdom, where stat dispensing is the norm. They are paid 93 pence per item, minus 11 percent mark-up. New Zealand compares very favourably. We pay $5.16, plus a 4 percent mark-up. Members can see why they want to return to New Zealand.
Pita Paraone: Does she think that a stat-dispensing regime would undermine the primary health-care strategy by compromising close control of patients; if not, why not?
Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I do not think that stat dispensing would necessarily undermine the primary health-care strategy. Certainly, it would depend on how pharmacists work with primary health organisations and the primary health-care strategy. There is an opportunity in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Bill to ensure that primary health organisations can have a far greater role in the provision of pharmacy services.
Sue Kedgley: If, as predicted, hundreds of pharmacies around New Zealand close down, do I take from the Minister’s previous answer that she is suggesting that one solution would be to use her powers under the forthcoming Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Bill to open up pharmacies in other areas around primary health organisations and supermarkets, etc. in New Zealand?
Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I am saying that there is the opportunity for pharmacists to work in the primary health-care strategy and in primary health organisations. That was what the member asked me about and that was what I was talking about. However, I would say to the member that it was only at the end of last year—and some members may have forgotten—that headlines in Pharmacy Today stated that pharmacists were overworked because of the number of prescriptions they had to dispense. It may be that with a stat-dispensing approach the number of prescriptions pharmacists are required to dispense would be reduced, and therefore some of their workload would be relieved.
Judy Turner: In view of the concerns expressed by the pharmacy sector about Pharmac’s proposal on stat dispensing, will the Minister consider convening a meeting between Pharmac, district health boards, and the pharmacy sector to address the threat that proposal has on the viability of pharmacies and community access to pharmacy services, particularly in provincial and rural areas?
Hon ANNETTE KING: A very good suggestion was put forward by the leader of United Future that the parties involved—the Pharmacy Guild, the Pharmaceutical Society, Pharmac, and others—discuss the provision of pharmacy services. I am very happy for such a meeting to take place. However, it needs to be around the role and provision of pharmacy services, because in our changing environment we need to look at how we do provide those services.
Dr Lynda Scott: Is the Minister aware that in a survey of members of the Pharmacy Guild in March it was conservatively estimated that 2,000 jobs would be lost in the sector if the Pharmac proposal went ahead; and if pharmacies are going to close and staff lose their jobs, why is this not an issue that the Minister of Health should take some responsibility for, rather than simply passing the buck?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I have to say that I have taken my lead in this respect from when we changed from stat dispensing to monthly dispensing. It happened in 1996 and the then Minister of Health, Mrs Shipley, in conjunction with Mr Williamson, decided that that issue was to be decided by Pharmac. Its job was to manage the pharmaceutical schedule. I have taken my lead from that and I am watching very carefully as to what is happening and ensuring that there is the provision of pharmaceutical services, not in terms of the management of the schedule.
Transport Strategy—Green Party
11. LARRY BALDOCK (United Future) to the Minister of Transport: Can he confirm that the Mt Roskill Extension, the Esmond Road Interchange, the North Shore busway, the Hewletts Road/Maunganui Road overpass and the Wellington Inner City Bypass highway projects are all now subject to review because of an agreement between the Government and the Green Party?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Transport): Yes, and it was also foreshadowed by the Government in the Speech from the Throne last year. The Transit authority and the Transfund board will be making final decision on the outcome of the review by December.
Larry Baldock: Is the Minister saying, by his previous answer to question No. 1 to the leader of the New Zealand First Party, that when the Government made that deal with the Greens in the previous Parliament it had no choice but to accept the Greens demands; if so, does he think the country should be rejoicing now that the Greens can no longer hold us all to ransom, because the Government has a more reasonable choice with United Future to help solve the country’s problems?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: It would be highly inappropriate to comment on the second part of the question. I can say that as part of coalition agreements and discussions with parties under an MMP Parliament, the Greens provided support for the petrol price increase; and that provided the Government with the ability to fund a number of the projects that were announced yesterday.
Lynne Pillay: When will the major projects review be completed?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The review will get under way immediately. It will be completed by December 2003. This tight time frame will ensure that any delays are kept to an absolute minimum and that final decisions can be made as soon as possible.
John Key: Why is the Minister letting the Greens hijack the Government’s transport strategy; and in doing so, does he accept he is threatening the confidence and supply arrangement between United Future and Labour?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Because I am not.
Peter Brown: Is the Minister aware that it does neither him nor his Government any good by allowing rumour to develop and persist around the projects that were outlined in the principal question by giving credence to a bunch of wacky baccy skateboarders, simply because they roll over every time he wants to increase the price of petrol?
Mr SPEAKER: The phrase is a little infelicitous but I will ask the Minister to comment.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I do not think I will comment on that particular part of the question. I will say that the Greens did provide support, and it is interesting to note that the vast majority of Opposition parties want to spend more money on roads but are not prepared to provide Government support to be able to do that.
Stephen Franks: Now it appears that the Greens—who have no support agreement with Labour—have more clout than the Hon Peter Dunne, who has bound himself to support Labour, should Wellingtonians, seeing the bypass project again at risk from Government policy, be begging Mr Dunne to please stop championing roading efficiency here in case he proves even more successful than he has been to date in getting changes in Government policy?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I work very constructively with the United Future Party. Can I just say that it is not just about roading, it is about a wide range of transport projects, including walking and cycling. About 3 percent of the funding goes towards walking and cycling, which is about the ACT party poll result. That party will need to keep pedalling faster if it wants to get above the 5 percent threshold.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Can the Minister confirm that the Greens and the Government have an ongoing cooperation agreement on transport, and that we are working on a range of transport issues, including vehicle emissions, various legislation, coastal shipping, rail policy, and the review of major projects, which was announced last year?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes, I can confirm that.
Larry Baldock: What is the Minister’s response to Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast’s comments, who said she feared the review would be used to further delay the Wellington inner-city bypass project, and that she hoped the Wellington City Council and other local authorities would be given a chance to set the terms of reference?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Sometimes that mayor worries a lot, unduly. This review will be robust, and it will be completed by December.
Questions for Oral Answer
Civil Aviation Authority—Confidence
12. RODNEY HIDE (ACT NZ) to the Associate Minister of Transport: Does he have full confidence in the Civil Aviation Authority; if not, why not?
Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN (Associate Minister of Transport): Yes.
Rodney Hide: Could the Minister then please explain why the flying public should have confidence in the Civil Aviation Authority, when he, as Minister, says he has to await the results of a State Services Commission inquiry before answering such straightforward parliamentary questions as to whom does flight inspector Mr Richard Cox report, and what were his expenses for the year—or does he expect the public to fly blind, while he is not prepared to?
Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN28Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN: My confidence is based on the fact that when the issue was raised, first, a full internal review took place, and as a result of that review the chair asked the State Services Commissioner to conduct a full independent review. I have answered many questions on the issue and am very pleased with what has taken place to date.
Mark Peck: What reports has the Minister seen on the performance of the Civil Aviation Authority?
Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN28Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN: In May of this year Colmar Brunton surveyed a range of customers of the Civil Aviation Authority, including pilots, maintenance organisations, doctors, and airline operators and owners—a total of 302 respondents. Thirty-one percent rated the performance of the Civil Aviation Authority as excellent, and a further 56 percent rated its performance as between five and seven out of 10.
John Key: Why is it that he as Minister refused to answer parliamentary written question No. 5776—whether flight inspector Richard Cox was working privately for the company he was inspecting—when the State Services Commissioner disclosed that very fact in his terms of reference only a few days later; and does the Minister no longer think he is accountable to Parliament?
Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN28Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN: I did not refuse to answer the question. I simply said this was a matter that was being investigated by the State Services Commissioner. The member cannot have it both ways. We cannot actually have an independent inquiry then have the Minister coming over the top of it and answering questions. It seems to me that we leave the inquiry to do its job properly, then report on that.
Rodney Hide: In the light of the Minister’s confidence in the Civil Aviation Authority, does he believe it appropriate that the Civil Aviation Authority director, Mr John Jones, approved his “top fight inspector, Mr Richard Cox” to tout for business as a safety consultant from an airline operator that he had, through the Civil Aviation Authority, just grounded and had under inspection; or is misusing the Civil Aviation Authority safety rules to profit privately par for the course and something he says we should have confidence in?
Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN28Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN: These are exactly the sorts of matters that are being investigated by the inquiry. Mr Hide has made many allegations such as that just now, and I have asked him on several occasions that if he has evidence to back up his claims, to please provide it. Action will be taken very quickly when he does so.
Rodney Hide: To help the Minister, I seek the leave of the House to table the very answers to the question he has given me that confirm everything I have just said.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that. Is there any objection? There is.
Hon HARRY DUYNHOVENHon HARRY DUYNHOVEN28: I seek to table the terms of reference for the review by the State Services Commissioner of the Civil Aviation Authority matters raised.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As the Minister has now tabled the terms of reference, is he prepared now to answer all the written questions he turned down?
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order; it is a point of debate.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not want to carry this on.
Rodney Hide: I have got myself in a difficult situation, and so has the Minster because he said that I had made allegations, yet he has just tabled the terms of reference, which state precisely what I asked him about.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, and that is a debating point. It may well be made in debate, but it is not a point of order.
End of Questions for Oral Answer
(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)