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Questions for Oral Answer: Uncorrected Transcript

Questions for Oral Answer

WEDNESDAY, 30 JULY 2003

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

Questions to Ministers:

1. Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Immigration Service

2. Iraq—Defence Force Deployment

3. Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Immigration Service

4. Literacy—Initiatives

5. Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Immigration, Minister

6. Foreshore and Seabed—Mâori Land Court

7. Truancy—National Student Database

8. Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Inquiry

9. Climate Change—Partnership, United States

10. Crime—Forensic Investigations

11. Tourism—Mâori Initiatives

12. Defence Force—Security Assets

Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Immigration Service

1. Hon MURRAY McCULLY (NZ National—East Coast Bays) to the Minister of Immigration: What specific matters has she requested that Mr Andrew Lockhart, general manager of the New Zealand Immigration Service, investigate, as reported in today’s New Zealand Herald, and why has she done so?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): I spoke with the general manager, Mr Andrew Lockhart, last night after I had spoken to the New Zealand Herald and asked him to inquire into the allegations that had been raised by a New Zealand Herald reporter concerning a complaint made to the ombudsman in responses from the New Zealand Immigration Service. I felt there were sufficient concerns raised by the journalist to refer the matter to the general manager, but I did say that I would need to know what the ombudsman had been asked for. Prior to coming down to the House I was advised that the matter has been referred to the Secretary of Labour and that terms of reference for the review are being drawn up today.

Hon Murray McCully: Given that Mr Lockhart was one of the recipients of the “we agreed to lie in unison” memorandum, how can it be that Mr Lockhart was one of the officials who falsely advised the ombudsman that such material was not held by the Immigration Service, and what sort of reliance would this House place on any report he might make?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The member obviously did not hear the last bit of my answer to the first question. The matter has been referred to the Secretary of Labour. Terms of reference for the inquiry are being established today.

Hon Murray McCully: Now that it is clear Mr Smith lied to the New Zealand Herald on 12 December, and both Mr Lockhart and Mr Smith lied to the ombudsman, has it occurred to the Minister that Mr Smith’s memo stating, “We agreed to lie in unison”, might be a very accurate record of her officials’ intentions?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: As I explained in the House yesterday, the conversation on 12 December was an accurate answer to the question that was put to Mr Smith. There is no confirmation as to the details of the issues that relate to the ombudsman. I would wait until the results of the inquiry before making those allegations here or anywhere else.

Rodney Hide: Could the Minister explain to this House why the public should have any confidence in her department when its top communicating expert said: “We agreed to lie in unison”, when the Minister herself told this House that she had been lied to by her own staff, and that we now discover, courtesy of the New Zealand Herald, that the same department has lied to the ombudsman; why should we have any confidence in this department when they appear a pack of liars?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have not said that anyone has lied to me in respect of this matter. I have also asked for an inquiry into the question that has been raised in the New Zealand Herald this morning. I will await the results of that inquiry.

Rodney Hide: I seek the leave of the House to table the Hansard of the Minister’s answer on 15 November 2000 when she said that her officials had not told her the truth.

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

Iraq—Defence Force Deployment

2. KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Has the failure of the United States - led occupation forces in Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction strengthened the Government’s view that it was right to reject calls from National and ACT to join the invasion of Iraq?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade): New Zealand stands by its decision not to be involved in the invasion of Iraq. Nothing that has happened since has suggested that our approach—that any such action be multilateral and only as a last resort—was other than sensible.

Mr SPEAKER: If Mr Smith wants to interject on someone he should do it from his own seat and not move closer to a speaker. He has done it three times and cannot do it again. He can interject from his own seat.

Keith Locke: Does the almost universal Iraqi hostility to the occupation troops following the invasion of Iraq strengthen the Government’s position, which the Minister has just referred to, for multilateral, peaceful solutions to problems like the Iraq crisis and give a very strong mandate to the United Nations?

Hon PHIL GOFF: While multilateralism was not employed in terms of the decision to invade Iraq, I think it is becoming increasingly obvious that there would be real advantages from a greater multilateral effort to ensure that stability and reconstruction can take place in Iraq.

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: What is New Zealand’s current approach to the situation in Iraq?

Hon PHIL GOFF: New Zealand has undertaken actions that it foreshadowed before the conflict as being appropriate. We have provided humanitarian aid, we have contributed assistance to mine clearing, and we will help rebuild civil society under United Nations Resolution 1483 with engineering assistance and assistance to the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Is it his Government’s view that the world would be a better place were Saddam Hussein still to be in power in Iraq today?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Nobody would mourn the removal of Saddam Hussein per se. He was one of the bloodiest tyrants of any dictatorship in the world. But the peace was always going to be harder to win than the war, and that is proving the case today.

Hon Ken Shirley: Does he agree that the failure to locate Saddam Hussein does not mean that he never existed, and from a New Zealand perspective does he believe it is a positive or negative outcome having had the invasion and demise of the Saddam Hussein regime?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Saddam Hussein certainly did exist, and he was the same Saddam Hussein who in the 1980s regrettably was supported by Western powers and armed by Western powers. Notwithstanding that, he had all of the same characteristics that he has today. There are many dictatorships around the world that it would be ideal to remove, but the increasing realisation is that when one removes a dictator one does not remove the problems in that country; sometimes one simply magnifies them.

Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a very specific question: is it a positive or negative outcome from a New Zealand perspective? That was a question to our Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and he cannot answer that question.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did answer the question.

Paul Adams: Has the Government’s view that it was right to reject calls from National and ACT to join the invasion of Iraq been strengthened by the comment made on National Radio: “They”—referring to the US—“are at pains to say that both the Iraqi war - type decision and the nuclear policy are separate from how they treat trade.” by National Party leader, Bill English, on Friday, 20 June?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I have seen the comment made by Bill English from Washington, DC, where he explicitly denies there are difficulties in the trading agreement with the United States as a result either of the non-nuclear policy we have pursued for many years, or, indeed, for non-involvement in the Iraqi war—[Interruption] Dr Lockwood-Smith was part of that same delegation that Mr English was reporting on. I also saw the comment made by Bill English saying—

Mr SPEAKER: I have warned, and will not warn again, about people who move closer to a person answering a question. They can interject from their own seat. There is no objection to that, but they must not move closer to the person answering a question. [Interruption] I have not heard the Minister’s final answer.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a longstanding order of this House that Ministers do not have responsibility for statements made by other political parties. My question to you is why you did not intervene, given that was the third sentence we have had from the Minister that breached that Standing Order.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the Minister was asked to comment on the particular statement. He is perfectly entitled to do so.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has been a long custom in this House that if Ministers choose to refer to members opposite in answering their questions they can expect those members to interject. I think that is unfair to rule it out.

Mr SPEAKER: Members can, provided they do so from their own seat. That is the point I have made. There is a Speaker’s ruling to that effect. It will be upheld.

John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We perhaps have an unusual set of circumstances, in that, while you are correct in your ruling, the fact is that Dr Lockwood-Smith, in this case, has not moved his seat. Indeed, Dr Lockwood-Smith and Dr Nick Smith have been sitting in those seats since the beginning of question time, and they were positioned there because of a whip’s instruction. It is not as though Dr Lockwood-Smith has moved to interject; he has been there and actually asked his question from there, and in getting the response that he has it seems appropriate that he should be able to make comment across the House in response to the question.

Mr SPEAKER: I refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 123/7 made in 1996 stating that interjections are not in order at all during question time. I have allowed them to occur, but I am going to allow them to occur in accordance with the other rulings that have been made by previous Speakers—rulings that go back as long as I have been in this House. Interjections can be made but they are made from the person’s seat.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This helps to explain the frustration felt on this side of the House, where we have constant rulings from you that Ministers have answered questions, whereas they have not addressed their own policies yet they are allowed to stand and talk at length about the policies and comments of another party. That might be fair enough, but they should be asked to explain at length what their own comments and policies mean.

Mr SPEAKER: That is a good political point the member is making, and we will see how the supplementary questions go.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a separate issue completely. I welcome your ruling, which reinforces that members may not move to a different seat to gain advantage in interjecting. I raise with you the issue that in numerous debates on legislation going through the House, other presiding officers in the Chair, on your behalf, have not upheld that ruling. Indeed, in many general debates we have seen Government members move to other seats to gain advantage when interjecting, and been allowed to do so. I have raised points of order in that vein in the past but they have not been supported by the Chair. I respectfully ask that we have some uniformity in such decisions.

Mr SPEAKER: I welcome the member’s point of order, and I think the other officers have heard it.

Keith Locke: Does the Minister think that the anti-war stand that he has just articulated is compromised by placing army engineers in a British military unit in Iraq, given the growing hostility of the Iraqi people towards the occupation troops and the almost daily targeting of them?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The proposed deployment of the New Zealand Defence Force engineers is in fact in response to Resolution 1483, which was passed, I think unanimously, by the United Nations. These engineers are not part of the occupation forces. They are there to do the job that we said we would always be there to do, and that is to assist with the civil reconstruction of Iraq. Clearly, putting civilian engineers in a situation that is still dangerous is not possible, but there is work, such as sanitation and water supplies, that needs to be done and that our defence force engineers can do and will do.

Keith Locke: Can the Minister assure us that if by chance our military people in Iraq do take a prisoner, that prisoner will not be passed over to United States jurisdiction because of the clear mistreatment of prisoners by the United States administration there; the fact that they are not allowed access to a lawyer of their choice and are subject to military tribunals that have the death penalty?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Our engineers will be there to do construction work. It will be no part of their task to take prisoners.

Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Immigration Service

3. Hon MURRAY McCULLY (NZ National—East Coast Bays) to the Minister of Immigration: Is she aware, as reported in the New Zealand Herald, that the Ombudsman had requested, from New Zealand Immigration Service officials, material which should have included the memorandum which contained the words “Everyone had agreed to lie in unison” and that New Zealand Immigration Service officials denied to the ombudsman the existence of such material; if so, how does she explain these actions?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): I am advised that the ombudsman responded to a complaint from Sarah Boyle, office of the Leader of the Opposition, that the New Zealand Immigration Service had declined to release any information on the individual concerned under sections 6A, 6D, and 18C of the Official Information Act. I can confirm that the Secretary of Labour will be inquiring into the matter. However, preliminary inquiries have identified that, as there was more than one person dealing with the matter—from both the ombudsman’s office and the New Zealand Immigration Service—a communication breakdown could explain the different answers. However, I am awaiting a full report.

Hon Murray McCully: Does the Minister accept that if both Mr Smith and Mr Lockhart did mislead the ombudsman about the existence of that memorandum, this would be a most serious matter, and that it might very fully explain why Mr Smith wrote in his memo: “everyone had agreed to lie in unison.”?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: My initial advice on this matter is that they were asked different questions and that Mr Smith in fact never had any direct dealings with the ombudsman, and that in fact it was done through a third party, who had not prepared the media log. There is the ability in the situation for an explanation to arise out of the inquiry. I would like to wait until the inquiry has completed its work before I comment on it, and I hope that that member is prepared to apologise if he has attacked the reputations of people unreasonably.

Deborah Coddington: On what date did she first learn that Mr Ian Smith had written to the ombudsman stating that he had no record of correspondence or memoranda that commented on the Zaoui case?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: There is no such date because I am not aware that Mr Smith wrote directly to the ombudsman.

Hon Murray McCully: Are these words from the letter signed by Mel Smith, ombudsman, correct: “I subsequently received advice from Mr Ian Smith of the NZIS that he has no record of any such information, nor is he able to recall any information of this nature.”, and is she disputing those words signed by the ombudsman?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: As I said to the New Zealand Herald reporter last night, it depends what question he was asked.

Hon Murray McCully: Is she aware that the ombudsman’s officials interviewed Mr Smith on this matter, and that the ombudsman, Mr Smith himself, spoke to Mr Smith, who is the spokesperson for her ministry, and that it was on that basis of specific assurances in the face of persistent Opposition requests that Mr Smith, ombudsman, wrote saying that Mr Ian Smith had no record of such information and could not recall such information?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: That is the subject of the inquiry. However, my advice is that those investigations were conducted by email, and in fact the direct email link is with another member of staff from the New Zealand Immigration Service, who attached an email from Ian Smith. It depends on what Mr Smith was asked to provide.

Literacy—Initiatives

4. H V ROSS ROBERTSON (NZ Labour—Manukau East) to the Minister of Education: What reports has he received of the success of Government literacy initiatives in schools?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): According to research I released at the school last week a literacy project in Otara and Mangere is making significant improvements to the reading skills of 6-year-olds. The research is a watershed for literacy teaching in New Zealand and shows that professional development has made an enormous difference to student learning.

H V Ross Robertson: What is a key finding from this research for children in low-income, low-decile school areas and for the wider environs?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: A key finding was that the schools and teachers that were able to sustain high levels of achievement were the ones that track the progress of their students over time and used that information to adapt and target their teaching. The study also found that children can achieve, regardless of their socio-economic background, and that professional development should focus on raising teachers’ expectations of what their students can do. That backs up what our Government has been focusing on in education. While I realise that we now say “reducing disparities”, this is a clear win out of the closing the gaps initiative.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: If the Government has been so successful in its literacy initiatives, why did the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study results, released in April this year, show New Zealand ranked 13th, second bottom of English-speaking countries, had the longest and greatest disparity in literacy learning, and why is that the Minister has described those appalling results as “very pleasing”?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: A number of factors should be taken into account. First, the long tail is a legacy of the abandonment under National of poor schools. The second point that should be made is that the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study includes a number of countries that measured children a year older than the New Zealand children, which says something for the difference.

Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Immigration, Minister

5. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: Did she say “If there was an agreement to lie, heads would roll, absolutely they would”; if so, in terms of her ministerial responsibility, why did she say that?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): Yes, because the implication was that I was a party to such an agreement. I was not a party to any agreement. There was no such agreement. I have also been assured by the general manager of the New Zealand Immigration Service that there was no such agreement. I made the comment, because if I lost confidence in the service I would be able to refer that matter to the Secretary of Labour.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Minister not prepared to admit that this is a matter to do with her administration of her portfolio over a long period of time, that she has had an experience in the past where she claimed her officials were not telling her the truth, as late as 11 October 2000, and that her words bind her in this matter when she said on Television One last night: “If there had been an agreement to lie, yes I would have to resign.”, and that does not include whether she knew, because if she did not, she should have been fired for incompetence, anyway?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The advice I have received from the general manager was that there was no agreement to lie. I was not a party to any agreement to lie, and I stand by what I say.

Hon Murray McCully: Does the Minister accept that if it is found that both Mr Smith and Mr Lockhart misled the ombudsman as to the existence of information he sought from them, that those facts, on top of Mr Smith’s answer to the New Zealand Herald in December of last year, would be absolutely consistent with there being an agreement to lie amongst those officials?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: No, it would not be consistent with that, and it would not be inconsistent with that, either. I make the point that all employees of the Department of Labour have a responsibility to carry out their duties to the best of their ability. They are required to act with integrity in all matters. I take those obligations seriously.

Gerrard Eckhoff: Why should anybody have confidence in the Minister’s recent statement that “heads would roll, absolutely they would” when on 11 October 2000 she stated in this House: “I was misinformed by the Immigration Service” and “I am not prepared to stand up to justify it when my officials have not even told me the truth”; and how many heads rolled, absolutely rolled, during that fiasco?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I can certainly inform the member that I felt very bruised at the end of that experience. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Perhaps the Minister might like to expand on that a little further.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I am aware that there were personal grievance issues arising out of that matter.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was very specific and asked “how many heads rolled” as a result of that incident. Whether there were personal grievance matters does not point to the particular specific question, which was, “how many heads rolled”.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did address that in terms of the question of personal grievance. She addressed the question. I am not here to judge the answer. An answer was given.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point is that a person may have brought a personal grievance action and been again restored to their former position. We just want to know how many were rolled, and why does she not know?

Mr SPEAKER: I was going to invite the Minister to continue answering the question.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I do not know the answer to that question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given the ombudsman’s statement that points to his being denied disclosure of a very critical document, and, second, that no referral, at that level of any administration, to the ombudsman would not be brought to the Minister’s attention immediately, how can she now say in any competent way as a Minister that she did not know what was going on in her department?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: It is true on most occasions I am aware when there are Official Information Act requests lodged. On this occasion I was not aware that an Official Information Act request had been lodged or that there had been a complaint made to the ombudsman. This is a matter I have raised with the Immigration Service. I am unhappy about that fact.

Hon Murray McCully: In light of the Minister’s statement to the House yesterday that the original questions were responded to by the spokesperson from the service and herself from her ministerial office, and that she claimed to be well briefed on this matter early in December, what responsibility does she take for the compliance of her officials with an ombudsman’s inquiry that has lasted over 6 months?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: There appears to be a non sequitur in that the beginning of that question did not relate to the end, and I cannot see the connection at all. I was present in my office when the phone call originally came through on 12 December. The information I received at the time indicated that the individual concerned from the Immigration Service answered the question he was asked. If journalists do not ask precisely the correct question, then an official cannot be blamed for answering the question that they are asked. I think the member should await the result of the inquiry of the Secretary of Labour on the other matter.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How many suspected terrorists came into this country and were arrested and sent to prison in the 2 weeks prior to the Zaoui case, or the 2 weeks prior to 12 December 2002; more importantly, how can it possibly be that, while the Minister is informed in most cases about Official Information Act requests, this one, at a much higher level—a complaint to the ombudsman—was not brought to her attention, and, that being the case, why should she not just resign for being utterly incompetent?

Mr SPEAKER: There were four questions there. Two were outside the scope of the original question. The last two questions were in order and the Minister may comment on those.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I am not aware of any other individual who was detained in the maximum security prison in the 2 weeks leading up to 12 December. In response to the second question, most Official Information Act requests that relate to an individual person are managed through a different section in the Immigration Service. The member can appreciate that lawyers and immigration consultants of people who have appeals and reviews request that information under the Official Information Act on a regular basis. They are not referred to my office. This one should have been referred to my office, and I have raised this with the Immigration Service.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How could the Minister claim that Mr Smith has some sort of sanctuary in the question asked of him by the journalist when, in fact, the question was the other day and no other suspected terrorists had been picked up in the prior 2 weeks, so only one person could be the person who was the subject of the original inquiry; and why is she always a Minister who never knows what is going on in her department?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The answer to the first question is that the question that was put to Mr Ian Smith, as I understand it, was a question that was very explicit about it having occurred the night before. In fact, the individual concerned had arrived on 4 December.

Foreshore and Seabed—Mâori Land Court

6. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National—Nelson) to the Associate Minister for Courts: How many applications for foreshore and seabed have been lodged with the Mâori Land Court at each of its seven registry offices since 19 June 2003 and what areas are covered by these applications?

Hon MARGARET WILSON (Associate Minister for Courts): Since 19 June 2003 there have been 16 foreshore and seabed applications in the Mâori Land Court. One of these was received in each of the Takatimu, Waiariki, and Tairawhiti registries. Two applications were received in each of the Waikato and Aotea registries, and nine were received in the Te Taitokerau registry. Unfortunately, it has not been possible in the time available to compile a list of the areas covered in the applications, but if the member requires this information, I am happy to provide it to him in response to a written question.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting that the Auckland Mâori Land Court registrar has confirmed nine new applications for title covering the areas of North Cape, the Bay of Islands, the Hokianga harbour, the Kaipara harbour, the Waitemata harbour, the Manukau harbour, Papamoa beach, Waihi beach, and the Hauraki Gulf, does she stand by her press statement on the day following the Court of Appeal decision that stated that it was a “narrow technical decision” that would have no practical effect; if hundreds of thousands of hectares and hundreds of kilometres is minor and technical, what does she think would be major?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: The decision of the Court of Appeal was technical in the sense that it related to whether there was jurisdiction for the Mâori Land Court to hear such matters. My understanding is that there were claims that had been lodged before that decision. They had been waiting to see whether there was jurisdiction for the court to hear it, so in that sense, it was a jurisdictional issue but it was not one of substance.

Martin Gallagher: In order that we can be crystal-clear, in terms of the law as it currently stands, do Mâori applicants have the right to have customary rights in relation to the foreshore and seabed determined by the Mâori Land Court?

Mr SPEAKER: That is seeking a legal opinion. There are Speakers’ rulings about that, but the Minister may comment if she wishes.

Hon MARGARET WILSON: Yes, and that was the issue determined by the Court of Appeal judgment. That was the matter that was outstanding.

Stephen Franks: Can the Minister confirm that the Government fears the agenda of the Mâori Land Court hearing these claims; if not, why not—when she appointed to that court activist Caren Wickliffe, after Ms Wickliffe had claimed that our Government institutions were not legitimate, that Pâkehâ notions of property were not legitimate, and that we needed a national Mâori body politic, made up of iwi and hapû representatives, to exercise real and substantive self-government, and who applauded a Fijian statement after the coup that said: “Without land you are not a Fijian; you should not exchange it, you should not sell it, and you cannot replace it.”?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: This Government does not fear the Mâori Land Court—or much else, I would suggest. The Government has total confidence, as I do, in the Mâori Land Court. I was not the Minister who was responsible for those appointments, though I was consulted before they were made. The Minister of Mâori Affairs makes those appointments.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the Minister’s answer to my initial question, which asked for the areas concerned to be identified, the Minister replied that she had not been able to acquire the information in time for questions today—which was reasonable. But she said that if I wished to obtain that information I would need to obtain it by written question. I suggest that a more appropriate way forward would be for the Minister to provide the information to me as soon as it is available, so that I do not have to use up additional questions because the Government has not been able to answer.

Mr SPEAKER: There is no restriction on the number of written questions a member can ask—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: There’s a timing issue—

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister said a “written question”. I heard her reply. I would expect the Minister to give a prompt reply, and she has just indicated that she will.

Hon MARGARET WILSON: Yes, I am happy to do that. It is just that it takes some time to get all the applications in the areas, and to do the precise calculations.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting the statement that the Government would legislate to ensure that foreshore and seabed are owned by the Crown, I ask: when will this House see the legislation to implement that Government policy.

Hon MARGARET WILSON: The Government is working assiduously on this issue, and will have an answer as soon as practicable. We hope that will happen not only in the fullness of time, but early in the fullness of time.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister had any reports from her department or wherever, which outline the attitude of the ACT party’s or the National Party’s leadership on Treaty of Waitangi issues such as this; and how does it accord with the policy expressed in 2003 from the same sources?

Mr SPEAKER: Unfortunately for the member the Minister is not responsible for the ACT party or the National Party, and therefore the question is too wide.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Could I just submit, though, that if she has received such a report from her department—it would be most unusual for a department not to submit to a Minister—of the previous history of these events, then it is within the ambit of her responsibility.

Mr SPEAKER: Yes. If she is asked a question whether she has received a report on the policies, she can certainly answer that question.

Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I draw your attention to Speaker’s ruling 128/6. The ruling was made by Deputy Speaker Gerard, and states: “If a Minister is asked a question about a report, or whether the Minister has received a report … The Minister, in answering about the report, cannot be hypothetical about what may or may not be the effects of another political party’s policy.” I would have thought that that referred to the exact question that was asked by Mr Peters.

Mr SPEAKER: No. Mr Peters asked whether there had been any reports received, which is a perfectly proper question to ask.

Hon MARGARET WILSON: I have received no specific reports, but in preparation for the answer to this question today I noted the excellent speech made by the Hon Dr Nick Smith on the second reading of the Ngâi Tahu claims settlement legislation, which was a model of what I thought of as cross-party support on these matters.

John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is where we now run into some difficulty. The point was made in a previous point of order that we have difficulty in getting Ministers to comment on their own policy, yet that Minister made a statement about previous National Party policy. She had already answered the question by saying, yes, she had received the report. That was all she was asked, and that is all she needed to say.

Mr SPEAKER: That is perfectly correct, but I did not take it as an offensive comment in any way. The senior Opposition whip is technically correct.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Presumably it is legitimate to ask whether a Minister had received a report on Government policy as it has been applied in the past as it may differ from policy today. It may seem strange for me to raise this point, but I would have thought that it was not legitimate to be asking for a report on Opposition policy, because that is then a wide, open invitation to breach the Standing Orders and the rulings in relation to what ministerial responsibility is. I would have thought that it is really a matter of whether it relates to previous actions of Governments or whether it is on current issues of party policy.

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, the member is perfectly correct.

Truancy—National Student Database

7. MARC ALEXANDER (United Future) to the Minister of Education: Does he agree that a national database of school students would assist in identifying truant and transient students, as proposed in Labour Party policy for the last three elections?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): Yes.

Hon Brian Donnelly: Does the Minister agree with his ministry officials who told the Education and Science Committee that the best way to deal with consistent absenteeism was not to prosecute parents but through collaboration with professional workers in the external agencies, and if the ministry is not going to be required to use the law, what is the point of having such a law?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Generally, I agree that that is right, though they do use the law on occasion.

Jill Pettis: Could the Minister advise as to whether he believes that the proposed database is the be all and end all to fixing this problem?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No, I do not. One only has to look at the other side of this House to work out that turning up is not enough.

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that that was just designed to create disorder. He will withdraw and apologise for the comment made after his first sentence.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting that the Minister told Parliament yesterday that a national database was not Labour policy in 2002, when it was, that officials said a review on truancy would be completed by December last year, but it was not, and that they said there would be a report on database options by June this year, and there was not one, is the Minister and his ministry getting advice from immigration officials on how to lie in unison?

Mr SPEAKER: That question is not in order.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Yesterday the Minister said quite categorically that it was not Labour Party policy, which is in direct contradiction to what he said today. If that is not incorrect, what is it? I think the Minister should be accountable for giving such incorrect information 2 days in a row.

Mr SPEAKER: The comments “lie in unison” were out of order and should not be used.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not quite sure what redress I have when the member opposite makes up comments from yesterday. I was very careful yesterday to indicate that I was not absolutely sure on the matter. As has been clear from the question, I did not remember accurately but I did some put real brackets around my answer yesterday.

Mr SPEAKER: All I am saying is that that is getting into an argument, and not a point of order.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave to table the Minister’s answer yesterday, that it was not part of the 2002 pre-election policy.

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

Marc Alexander: In the light of the Minister’s statement in the House yesterday that “one of the things we learnt in Government was that setting up massive computer systems without knowledge of how they were going to be used is not the best approach”, did he discover this problem in Labour’s first term; if so, why was the database still Labour’s election policy in 2002?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: We have discovered quite a lot more in the past 12 months around schools’ ability to interact with central government agencies via databases. What is clear is that there are at least 700 schools that do not have that ability, and that is something I was certainly not aware of when this policy was put into the 2002 election manifesto.

Metiria Turei: Does the Minister agree that the most important factor in managing truancy is not the keeping of a simple list of students, but rather their active engagement in education; if so, what is the Minister doing to provide support to returned students, such that they want to stay in school and not wag?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I agree with the basic premise behind the question. We do need to make sure that students are enthused about learning and staying engaged in education. That is why the Government is focusing on quality teaching and teaching that is effective for all students, regardless of their background. What is clear is that students who are doing well at school and are engaged and focused do not truant.

Marc Alexander: In the light of the admission to a select committee last week by Ministers Goff, Dalziel, and Dyson that their agencies failed Bailey Kurariki, a habitual truant, will he as Minister of Education follow this honourable path and admit that in this case there were and are things that the agencies under his control could have done better?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Certainly.

Marc Alexander: Can the Minister explain why setting up a national student database to stop truancy is not a priority for the Government, yet legislation that stops our returned servicemen from smoking at their local Returned Services Association is?

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister can answer the first part of the question.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It is not a question of having problems doing the legislation, it is a question of schools having the means and the systems to interact with a national database. They do not.

Judy Turner: Does the Minister think it is appropriate that at least two-thirds of secondary students on the roll of the Correspondence School are considered at risk, when these kids have demonstrated an unwillingness to attend school and would therefore find it difficult to have the self-discipline to learn at home?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Again, I agree with the basic premise that underlines the question. The Correspondence School is not an ideal option for students at risk. The one point I would make to the member is that over the last few years, between 1996 and 2002, in both primary and secondary schools, truancy has dropped.

Judy Turner: Does the Minister expect truancy officers to do their job effectively, when their funding has not increased for 5 years, and some truancy services, like the one in Patea, pay their staff from community grants to maximise the resources the ministry gives them, and is this what Labour meant in 1996 when it promised to adequately fund efforts to combat truancy?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The problem in Patea is related to community confidence with the school. That is why, I understand, there are only about 80 children on the roll of the secondary school. It is a much wider issue than truancy.

Hon Brian Donnelly: I seek leave to table the pages from the 2001-02 financial reviews that report the Ministry of Education statements referred to in my question.

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

Marc Alexander: I seek leave to table Labour’s education policy from the 1996, 1999, and 2002 elections.

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

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek to table the coalition agreement between United Future and the Labour Party that shows at that point in time this matter was never raised.

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

Algerian Suspected Terrorist—Inquiry

8. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: Will she hold a full independent public inquiry into her and her department’s handling of suspected terrorist Ahmed Zaoui’s arrival and stay in New Zealand; if not, why not?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): No. Given that the matter is not finally resolved, and because security matters and other issues cannot be commented on publicly, it is not possible at this stage to hold such an inquiry.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why should anyone have any confidence in an in-house whitewash inquiry when the Minister previously described those people involved in this inquiry in the following words: “It has let this House and this country down. I am not prepared to stand up to justify it when my own officials have not even told me the truth.”, and, moreover, when she did not know today whether any of the heads rolled as a consequence of that, why would that help any confidence or trust at all in the inquiry that she will have handled by her own officials?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have not asked the board or investigations officers of the Immigration Service to conduct the inquiry. I have been advised today that it has been referred to the Secretary of Labour. The terms of reference are being drawn up as we speak.

Russell Fairbrother: Do any parts of the Immigration Act applying to Mr Zaoui prevent disclosure of any details of the case; if so, when did they come into effect?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Yes. They came into effect on 1 October 1999.

Hon Murray McCully: When the Minister first had this matter raised with her by the New Zealand Herald on Monday why did she not seek a full and comprehensive briefing on the background so that she could make a decision about the need for an inquiry at that point, or is it the case that she did ask for such a briefing and the department withheld important information from her?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: There was nothing on the Monday night that required a request from me to the department for an inquiry. The issues that were raised last night with me with the journalist concerned raised questions about how an ombudsman had been responded to. That was an entirely different matter.

Heather Roy: Is the real reason she will not hold a full independent public inquiry because she is concerned that she will be found to be one of the people whom top immigration spokesman, Mr Ian Smith, is complaining about who did not stick to the original song?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have said to this House on more than one occasion, and will continue to say it, I was not involved in any agreement to lie, my department was not involved in any agreement to lie, and I will continue to say that until members will accept that that is the case. The real reason that I cannot have an inquiry into the matter is that it is not finally resolved, and because of security matters and other issues that cannot be commented on publicly as a result of legislation that came into effect on 1 October 1999 this is not an appropriate time for an inquiry.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Minister aware of the following facts: firstly, the Immigration Service is part of the Department of Labour; secondly, on matters of national security a full public inquiry can hear such matters in camera on application where they are relevant to that inquiry; and thirdly, why would she go on weakly defending glaringly obvious liars and conspirators while denying New Zealanders the right of a full public inquiry into this whole dodgy, disgraceful affair?

Mr SPEAKER: Only two of those questions are to be commented on.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Yes, I am aware that the New Zealand Immigration Service is an arm of the Department of Labour; of course I know that. The second question, which I have been advised is the only other question that I can answer, is very plain. With regard to the matter that the member raised, which has now completely escaped me—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I will again bring the matter to the Minister’s attention.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Oh yes, the member raised the question of whether—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will bring the question again to her attention.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: No, no—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: She said the question completely escaped her, and I want to help her out.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have recalled the question now.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I am getting sick and tired of this.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister said that she has remembered.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The second question related to the fact that we could hold a full public inquiry in camera. It would not be a public inquiry.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is not a frivolous matter for the Minister to be trying to laugh away. The reality is that I asked whether she was aware that in a full public inquiry or a commission of inquiry, if matters of national security as part of the evidence are claimed then that part of the evidence can be heard in camera. To then say that a full public inquiry had been suggested by me to be held in camera in total is an absolute nonsense, and I wish the Minister would take it seriously.

Mr SPEAKER: I think the Minister could rephrase the answer that she gave, and I invite her to do so.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Given that the matter is not finally resolved, issues of security and other issues that cannot be commented on publicly are at the heart of the question that the member put to me, which was my department’s handling of suspected terrorist Ahmed Zaoui’s arrival and stay in New Zealand.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can matters of national security, if they are to be raised in this case, be possibly properly dealt with by the Department of Labour or the Immigration Service; how can she possibly give that as a reason she is not going to hold a full public inquiry?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I need to refer the member to, I think, Part 4 of the Immigration Act, which deals with matters of security. That part of the Act came into effect on 1 October 1999. It addresses issues of security.

Climate Change—Partnership, United States

9. DAVID PARKER (NZ Labour—Otago) to the Convenor, Ministerial Group on Climate Change: What progress has he made in building a climate change partnership with the United States?

Hon PETE HODGSON (Convenor, Ministerial Group on Climate Change): Very good progress. Last week I met a United States delegation and we agreed on a number of new climate change partnership projects. These include work on climate change science, technology development, greenhouse gas accounting in forestry and agriculture, engagement with business, cooperation with developing countries, and climate change research in the Antarctic.

David Parker: Will these partnership projects with the United States include any work on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Yes, the list of projects agreed with the United States includes further research into measuring and mitigating agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. This reflects the fact that the United States, like New Zealand, recognises the significance of agricultural greenhouse gases and the importance of finding ways to reduce them.

Gordon Copeland: Will the Government consider joining the climate action partnership between the United States and Australia as an alternative way of addressing climate change in the event that Russia fails to ratify and the Kyoto Protocol collapses; if not, why not?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The partnership to which the member refers is a research partnership between the US and Australia. New Zealand has a research partnership between itself and the US, and it has a research partnership between itself and Australia. We kind of are in there, anyway.

Rod Donald: What exactly is the value of signing a protocol with a country that refuses to commit to the Kyoto Protocol because it might hurt its economy, even though a viable economy would not be feasible if there were runaway greenhouse gas emissions, and a country that is prepared to see low-lying Pacific Islands become submerged, simply because it wants to maintain its present lifestyles?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The United States and New Zealand of course have a different view on the Kyoto Protocol. The United States has decided to not ratify it. New Zealand already has, along with, I think, 101 other nations. However, the fact is the United States science base is very strong, very well informed, and very keen to collaborate with New Zealand, especially in addressing certain gaps. There is a bunch of oceanographic work in our southern oceans that needs to be done. There is a bunch of work that can be done with and for Pacific Island nations to help them manage mitigation.

Crime—Forensic Investigations

10. Dr MURIEL NEWMAN (ACT NZ) to the Minister of Police: What is the role of forensic investigation in solving crime and does he consider it to be important?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): The role of forensic investigation is to determine evidence. In terms of forensic evidence, I am advised the police consider its investigation important; and I agree.

Dr Muriel Newman: In the light of the Government’s $4 billion surplus why has he allowed a critical bottleneck to develop in forensic examinations, with front-line police now having to wait up to 9 months for criminal evidence to be examined and up to 2 years for the analysis of drug scenes, and what does he say to police and the victims of crime who regard his failure as justice delayed, which is justice denied?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: In all cases where the police have vital evidence it is processed quickly. I told that member in answer to question for written answer No. 6863, lodged on 16 July, that as of 1 July 2003 there were 59 samples in the DNA national database classified as “work in progress”. The national database receives an average of 875 samples per month.

Mahara Okeroa: What is the role of forensic investigation in solving crime and does he consider it to be important?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Although the obvious examples include fingerprinting, document examination, ballistics, computers, photography and DNA, I point out that local and international expertise is assessed, as required. For example, in the double-murder Barlow case the ballistic examination was carried out in Germany.

Richard Worth: Against the background of the surpluses in the police budget, which the Minister spoke about yesterday, why is he not taking immediate steps to contract out forensic work and avoid the current delays in the prosecution of murder, burglary, and methamphetamine cases, or is this a case of praying for the miraculous delivery of resources and dithering in the meantime?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: What I am praying for is an Opposition that actually knows that the work is already contracted out to the Institute of Environmental Science and Research.

Dr Muriel Newman: Exactly how many of the 23 homicides, 970 sexual attacks, and over 1,800 robberies and grievous assaults remain unsolved, as a result of the backlog in DNA forensic testing by the institute?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: If the member wants that precise information I am happy to provide it. I can say that all urgent work is done quickly by the forensic people. Less urgent stuff, or evidence that is not likely to present a solution, is not dealt with as quickly.

Tourism—Mâori Initiatives

11. NANAIA MAHUTA (NZ Labour—Tainui) to the Associate Minister of Tourism: He aha ngaa kaupapa i te Kawanatanga. He tautoko ngaa mahi taapoi Maaori?

Translation: What is the Government doing to support and develop Mâori tourism throughout New Zealand?

Hon DOVER SAMUELS (Associate Minister of Tourism):

[Mâori text and interpretation to be inserted.]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

The Government has made a commitment to Mâori tourism by implementing a key recommendation from the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010. This Government has set aside funding of approximately $1 million over 3 years to develop Mâori regional tourism groups right around New Zealand.

Nanaia Mahuta:

[Mâori text and interpretation to be inserted.]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Hon DOVER SAMUELS:

[Mâori text and interpretation to be inserted.]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Many visitors who come to New Zealand come for a Mâori cultural experience. They show their appreciation when they are entertained by waiata and mihi of welcome in the Mâori language—the language of our tupuna. It is particularly significant this week to encourage our people to speak in the Mâori language—this being Mâori Language Week.

Metiria Turei:

[Mâori text and interpretation to be inserted.]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Hon DOVER SAMUELS:

[Mâori text and interpretation to be inserted.]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Of course there is a report from Te Puni Kôkiri that says in terms of branding Mâori and using he tâpoi Mâori as a standard in terms of the presentation and production of the Mâori tourism product right throughout Aotearoa.

Defence Force—Security Assets

12. SIMON POWER (NZ National—Rangitikei) to the Minister of Defence: Does the Government have any plans to update the New Zealand public on the extent of New Zealand’s military and security assets by way of a white paper or similar document; if not, why not?

Hon MARK BURTON (Minister of Defence): Yes.

Simon Power: How much of the $2 billion defence spending promised by the Government will be funded from accumulating depreciation, as noted by the former chiefs and reported in the New Zealand Herald this morning?

Hon MARK BURTON: I can assure the member that all of the long-term development plan will be funded from a combination of capital injections, available finance through—[Interruption] I am sorry; I got an interjection from a very helpful colleague; from depreciation and various other _____________.

Simon Power: How much?

Hon MARK BURTON: I do not have the exact figures with me. I am happy to provide it to the member. But the key thing is, of course, that there is a long-term development plan, and it does lay out a comprehensive, systematic acquisition programme in keeping with the policy framework that this Government published in 2000.

Tim Barnett: Has he seen any other reports on the need to address the state of New Zealand’s military assets?

Hon MARK BURTON: Yes. In the New Zealand International Review, Simon Power, speaking personally, is reported as saying: “I acknowledge that the National and National-led Governments did not allow defence spending to keep pace in the 1990s.” Further, in relation to the effectiveness of our Defence Force, he said: “Courage is no substitute for good policy and appropriate equipment for that policy.” I agree, and that is why we put in place a coherent policy and implementation process.

Keith Locke: How does the long-term development plan, which the Minister has just referred to, help us develop assets for peacekeeping, as we are doing in the Solomon Islands at present?

Hon Mark Burton: What it does is ensure that we have an acquisition process that is rationally and logically based on the defence policy framework, published in 2000 and then outlined in the defence statement of 2001.There is a direct connection between what we are doing in the world and how we are going to do it.

Simon Power: How can the Minister expect us to take his reassurances seriously when even today the deployment of an Air Force Iroquois helicopter was not possible because of the breakdown of the Hercules transport plane?

Hon MARK BURTON: Unlike the member, I am not in the habit of attacking our Defence Force personnel when they are working on a very hard and full programme. I can say precisely, because the very upgrade programmes that are required to get the modernisation of the Air Force in place are in the long-term development plan. The tenders are being called for, and that alone will involve the expenditure of between $900 million and $1.1 billion on the Air Force upgrades.

Question Time

Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH (NZ National—Rodney): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would appreciate it if you would be prepared to reflect on the ruling that you appear to have imposed on the House today in respect of interjections being permissible only from a member’s own seat. The reason I raise the matter is this: during a number of debates in Parliament, it is a common practice when the House is not full, for members to gather, often around their whips’ desks, and speak from those points. It means that there can be much more interactive debate, and what is more, if members were not allowed to interject from those points, they could not really take part in the debate. What that would mean is that members would have to sit in their own seats around this Chamber, and it would destroy the spirit of debate in the Chamber because someone would be forced, if they wanted to interact in the debate, to speak from way up the back of the Chamber. I am concerned that if you were to enforce that absolutely, it would be somewhat damaging to the spirit of the Chamber.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House): My understanding of the Speaker’s ruling is that one should not move one’s seat in order to be able to interject better. I think that the National Party was in some difficulty today because there were so few of the regular front bench in the Chamber that they needed to fill up the seats with back-benchers, otherwise it would look terribly thin on television. In that sense, it seemed to me that Dr Lockwood Smith was merely moved forward to fill up some of the gaps left by his absent colleagues, and therefore had to interject from that position.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister, I am afraid, has gone a little far there—that was a reference to absence. I think the member has raised an interesting point, and I am going to think about it. But I just want to say that although interjections have traditionally been permitted during debate—Speaker’s ruling 123/7—they are not in order at all during question time. Now, I take a little more liberal view on that than some of my predecessors, and perhaps that is my mistake. I prefer, however, to allow there to be the odd comment, provided that it is not unreasonable. I did not think that one comment by the member concerned, who raised the point of order, was unreasonable; it was the fact that another colleague of his had about four or five goes. That, I thought, was going too far. I will be reasonable about it, but I do not want to be too unreasonable.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that there is probably an additional point that could be made, and it has to do with using the advice of experienced members of the House. I think that on occasions like this it would have been more appropriate to invite one of the most experienced National Party members, Mr Williamson, to come to the front, rather than to have him in the gallery.

Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. The member is trying my patience now, and being silly.

End of Questions for Oral Answer

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)


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