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Questions & Answers for Tuesday


Questions & Answers for Oral Answer

Tuesday, 12 August 2003

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

Questions to Ministers:

1. Economic Development—Growth

2. Foreshore and Seabed—Crown Ownership

3. Local Government—Advocacy

4. Television Programme—Edwards at Large

5. Employment—Growth

6. Foreshore and Seabed—Private Ownership

7. Recreational Areas—Walking Access

8. Prosecutions—Religious and Spiritual Factors

9. Curriculum—Information Technology

10. Recreational Areas—Crown Pastoral Leases

11. Television New Zealand—Kaihautû Appointment

12. Recreational Areas—Landowners' Rights

Economic Development—Growth

1. Hon MATT ROBSON (Deputy Leader—Progressive) to the Minister for Economic Development: What steps has the coalition Government taken to develop a set of economic indicators that will objectively measure economic development and New Zealand’s growth?

Hon JIM ANDERTON (Minister for Economic Development): On Thursday of last week I released two Ministry of Economic Development reports. The first is on economic benchmark indicators. The second outlines the progress this coalition Government has made in assisting the New Zealand economy to prosper and develop. For the first time in New Zealand, this coalition Government has compiled a set of 17 indicators that will measure objectively not just the health of the New Zealand economy but the progress we are making in continuing the high rates of growth we have achieved over the last 4 years.

Hon Matt Robson: What are the key indicators?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: The Ministry of Economic Development has identified 17 indicators, including labour productivity, research and development, gross domestic product, educational attainment, and international openness, among many others that I have not time to go into now. Labour productivity in New Zealand is low by OECD standards, yet it is a key contributor to living standards. Although our labour productivity rates are still low, productivity rates have picked up in the last few years. Our research and development, particularly in the private sector, has been low by international standards, although recent trends are encouraging.

John Key: Will the indicators include an eighteenth category for fringe lunatic policies and broken promises; if so, what does the Minister predict will be the economic impact of the Government’s impending support of 4 weeks minimum holiday legislation, the imposition of 17 tax increases since 1999, and the current practice of giving huge lumps of corporate welfare to wealthy multinationals or deadbeat companies like Matauri X?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: The proof of this pudding is in the eating, and in question No. 5 this afternoon the Minister for Social Development and Employment will answer a question on some other indicators that are very positive. It behoves this House to sometimes celebrate success, even if it is from political opponents, and I wish the Opposition would start practising that.

Pita Paraone: In the light of the last question, could the Minister tell the House what the significance of the indicators is?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: Those indicators put the Government of New Zealand in the role of an honest broker as far as the economic performance of the country is concerned. Until now, Governments have reported a series of statistical results over a range of factors, which may or may not have significant impacts on our economy. For the first time, we have identified those indicators that measure economic performance, and which need to be developed so that New Zealand can continue to climb up the OECD ladder.

Rod Donald: Which of those indicators will ensure that the Government can tell whether today’s growth is genuinely sustainable or whether it is simply passing problems to the next generation, as has been the case, for example, with dioxins contaminating soil and water, chlorofluorocarbons damaging the ozone layer, and greenhouse gas emissions changing the climate; if the Minister cannot answer that, when will the Government develop such indicators?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: Not only has the Government developed measurements for economic development, but it has also developed measurements for social development, and will announce some measures for cultural development later this year. I think that this Government can hold its head up very high in terms of the achievements it has made across the whole spectrum of development issues. New Zealand is better in terms of the well-being of its individuals, the progress of its economic development, the regions of the country being in such strength, the environment of New Zealand being in good heart, and looking to the future to build on the progress that has already been made.

Rod Donald: When will the Government have economic indicators that ensure that the costs of crime, accidents, pollution, and resource depletion do not add to growth, and does he agree with the United Nations System of National Accounts handbook that it is important to accurately subtract the negatives in order to measure an economy’s real performance?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: That is the precise reason that there are 17 economic indicators. There are social well-being indicators and there are cultural indicators, and, in my view, they are all pointing in the right direction.

Foreshore and Seabed—Crown Ownership

2. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does her statement that “No one is going to get any new exclusive ownership to the foreshore and seabed.” mean that she will ensure that the Crown has exclusive title to the foreshore and seabed; if not, why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Prime Minister: The Prime Minister’s statement means what it says. The member will just have to be patient. This is a more complex issue than simplistic billboard slogans allow for.

Hon Bill English: If the issue is simple enough that the Prime Minister can state: “There will be no private ownership of the beaches and the seabed.”, why can she not say whether there will be exclusive Crown ownership of the beaches and the seabed?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The member will just have to wait. But as I pointed out to him before, legislating for Crown ownership would not prevent Mâori customary rights, as he seem to think that would.

Hon Richard Prebble: Can the Prime Minister explain her introduction of the word “exclusive” into the foreshore and seabed debate; does it mean that the Crown will not allow any new title that has any degree of exclusivity to it, such as the ability to demand rents for marine farming, or is the Prime Minister using the word “exclusive” to mean that Labour is willing to see the creation of any new title over the foreshore and seabed, providing it is not 100 percent?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, and generally speaking, apart from mussels, etc., marine farms exist above the seabed, not on it.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked a serious question as to whether it was one sort or the other, and the answer I got was “No”. That cannot be an answer. I asked the Prime Minister whether she could explain in what sense she was using the word “exclusive”. That answer cannot, in any way, address the question. I did not ask anything about where the foreshore limits are.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am quite happy to state that what the Prime Minister is referring to there is that the existence of freehold title, which is possible under the present Mâori Land Act system, would provide exclusive rights of ownership.

Metiria Turei: Does the Prime Minister agree that new exclusive ownership does not include Mâori customary title, which, as a pre-1840 existing right, is not new, and, as a tikanga-based collective form of ownership, is certainly not exclusive; if not, why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Mâori customary rights could only pertain to particular Mâori and particular places for particular purposes. They could not possibly apply to all New Zealanders in the same way.

Hon Peter Dunne: When the Prime Minister told a press conference yesterday that there would be some groups that would be disappointed at the Government’s eventual decision, to which groups was she referring?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Those on the extremes.

Hon Richard Prebble: I’m pretty upset already.

Mr SPEAKER: That is the one interjection that I am warning about.

Hon Bill English: Does the Government intend to legislate for exclusive Crown title to the beaches and the seabed?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The member will have to wait a few more days to see the Government’s proposals to their full extent. I do note that some 10 years ago, in this context, the member himself said that environmental groups and public access groups are the most openly racist groups in our society.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why would we be expected to have any confidence in this Government’s handling of this issue when, by its own behaviour, it has indicated its preference for one side of the debate, namely, its consultation with some Mâori to the exclusion of all other New Zealanders?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: In the Labour caucus we normally have discussions internally first, then we go for public consultation outside. That is exactly what will be happening in this case. There will be full public consultation on the proposals, which will be in the public arena.

Hon Peter Dunne: When the Government eventually announces its plans, will they include plans to legislate definitions of Mâori customary usage, customary right, and customary title; if not, why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: In terms of Mâori customary usage and Mâori customary rights, those are matters for iwi, hapû, and whânau groups to establish in front of the Mâori Land Court. Clearly, the main ones of those are already established in legislation, in terms of the recognition in the Fisheries Act of Mâori customary fishing rights.

Hon Bill English: Why is the Prime Minister able to say that no private title will be given to beaches, but has been unable to say who will own those beaches—whether it is the Crown or someone else?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I suggest that the member do some more work investigating other jurisdictions. He may discover some interesting answers to that question.

Local Government—Advocacy

3. LARRY BALDOCK (United Future) to the Minister of Local Government: Does he continue to stand by his statement that “As Minister of Local Government it is my responsibility and indeed my privilege to act as an advocate for local government.”?

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Local Government): Yes.

Larry Baldock: In his role as advocate for local government, has the Minister had his officials undertake any research into the likely costs that will be imposed on local councils—and, therefore, passed on to ratepayers—as a result of the proposals in the dog control bill, the Local Government Law Reform Bill (No 2), such as new fencing requirements; if not, why not?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: My officials are examining the whole range of issues that come up in that particular legislation.

Gerry Brownlee: As the Minister considers himself to be an advocate for local government, will he also concede that he should be an advocate for ratepayers; if so, can he tell us what he has done for the ratepayers who come into the Auckland Regional Council area and who are facing rate increases of 34 percent - plus?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: Firstly, I will remind that member that I meet very regularly with ratepayer groups, mayors, and councillors, but, finally, I will repeat what I said last week in answer to a question related to this one—local authorities set their own rates and they are accountable for them.

David Parker: What recent steps has the Minister taken in order to engage with local government?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: As I said just a few seconds ago, I regularly meet with mayors and councillors. Yesterday, I met with over 25 local authority representatives on infrastructure issues. This Friday I will meet with a large number of South Island mayors. Next week I will meet with mayors from the central North Island in Waipukurau, and in 2 weeks’ time, I will meet with mayors from the Manawatu area in Fielding.

Hon Ken Shirley: Further to an earlier question, will the Minister tell the House why his self-proclaimed, enthusiastic advocacy for local government does not extend to the interests of ratepayers who are compelled to pay for it all?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I stand by what I said a few minutes ago. I am very happy to meet with ratepayer groups, councillors, and people who work in local government, and I do so very regularly.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Aside from attending all those meetings, does the Minister believe he is acting strongly enough as an advocate for local government in proposing, as he did in his reply to question No. 7 on 29 July, that local government bodies should have no greater rights than any individuals in New Zealand in the decision on whether genetically engineered organisms should be released in their areas; and will he reconsider this position, as they have asked?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I would be the first to concede that I could do better, and I will try harder.

Larry Baldock: In his role as advocate for local government, can the Minister give this House an assurance that he will seek to minimise any additional consultation requirements for local councils that arise from proposals in the dog control bill; and does he have any plans to secure central government funding to prevent additional costs from adding to the burden of ratepayers, as may have been indicated this morning on Morning Report?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I could never be an advocate for minimal consultation. I believe that the people of New Zealand are ratepayers and deserve as much consultation as possible, and a chance to have their voices heard, by their local authorities.

Larry Baldock: In his role as advocate for local government, has he had any discussions with the Minister for ACC regarding a nationwide education campaign for dog owners to improve on the 8,677 reported dog-bite incidents that cost the Accident Compensation Corporation $967,000 last year, thereby saving the Accident Compensation Corporation and local authorities money and the additional burden of more regulation?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: The Government recognises that a public education campaign about dog safety is very important, and we are doing just that.

Larry Baldock: Therefore, in his role as advocate for local government, does he intend to take this matter up with the Minister for ACC, if not, why not?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: The whole Cabinet has been involved in the discussion of the public campaign for dog safety. The Minister for ACC was a powerful voice in that discussion.

Television Programme—Edwards at Large

4. RODNEY HIDE (ACT NZ) to the Minister of Broadcasting: Did his predecessor, the Hon Marian Hobbs, receive any representation from Dr Brian Edwards advocating that New Zealand on Air fund a “Larry King Live” meets “Top of the Morning” style television programme for himself, and what funding did New Zealand on Air eventually provide to his programme “Edwards At Large”?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Broadcasting): There is no record of any such representation in either ministerial or departmental files. It has been brought to my attention this morning that Dr Edwards drafted a letter on 24 January 2000 to the Hon Marian Hobbs about a programme proposal he had put to Prime Television, noting that Prime was not eligible for New Zealand on Air funding, and his own view that this was an anomaly. There is no indication that the letter was ever signed or sent to the Hon Marian Hobbs. In 2003 New Zealand on Air allocated $190,000 for twelve 1-hour episodes of Edwards at Large.

Rodney Hide: Can the Minister confirm that New Zealand on Air originally turned down funding for Dr Edwards’ show, only subsequently to fund his show after the Hon Marian Hobbs had appointed Dr Edwards’ wife, Judy Callingham, to the New Zealand on Air board; how are the public supposed to escape the inevitable conclusion that Judy Callingham’s New Zealand on Air board position—

Hon Bill English: It gets worse and worse every day.

Mr SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition is not immune from what every other member must go through. I want him to stand, withdraw, and apologise, for interjecting.

Hon Bill English: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Roger Sowry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Whilst the Leader of the Opposition did interject, there were also several Labour members who interjected on the question whilst it was being asked—I see Mr Hide nodding as well—and I wonder why we have a different set of rules for those Ministers.

Mr SPEAKER: We have not. I did not hear any interjection. I heard a specific, loud interjection from the Leader of the Opposition; but I give a stricture to any member from now on that that is the final warning for the day. Perhaps Mr Hide could start his question again.

Rodney Hide: Did New Zealand on Air originally turn down funding for Dr Edwards’ show, only subsequently to fund his show, after the Hon Marian Hobbs had appointed Dr Edwards’ wife, Judy Callingham, to the New Zealand on Air board; how are the public supposed to escape the inevitable conclusion that Judy Callingham’s New Zealand on Air board position and New Zealand on Air funding for her and her husband, Dr Brian Edwards’, new show is just payback for this Prime Minister and other Ministers’ media trainers?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: In February 2000 New Zealand on Air declined an application for a Brian Edwards programme on Prime on the basis that Prime was not a national broadcaster. I am informed that Judy Callingham’s conflict of interest in this matter, when the application was made in June 2003, was recorded at the start of the meeting in June 2003, she absented herself; received no documentation, took no part in the decision, and the decision was made in a proper reviewable fashion.

H V Ross Robertson: What role, if any, does the Minister have in funding decisions by NZ On Air and in programming decisions by Television New Zealand?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: None. Section 42(2) of the Broadcasting Act prevents the Minister from giving NZ On Air a direction in respect of funding a particular programme or gathering or presentation of news and current affairs, while section 28(1) of the Television New Zealand Act forbids Ministers from giving a direction to Television New Zealand in respect of a particular programme or programmes, or the gathering or presentation of news and current affairs. In summary, that is why people can have confidence and that is why that scumbag comment should be treated in the way it has been treated.

Mr SPEAKER: The member will stand, withdraw, and apologise for that last sentence.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I withdraw and apologise.

Katherine Rich: So is the Minister absolutely sure that former Minister of Broadcasting Marian Hobbs did not receive a letter from Dr Brian Edwards seeking NZ On Air funding for his show, from an “enlightened Government and Minister of Broadcasting”, or is this just another case of another document going missing, as we have seen in the immigration portfolio?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The office of Marian Hobbs has no record of such a letter, there is no evidence of a reply, there is no evidence of action taken because of that letter, and there is nothing that shows the Minister received that letter at all. In fact, I understand the letter that Mr Duncan Garner has, for example, is an unsigned letter.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I ask the Minister whether he understands that Larry King is someone who is intellectually competent, capable, and internationally respected, whereas Dr Brian Edwards is a very nasty, failed Labour Party candidate from 1972—when every other marginal seat had been won, he lost in Miramar—and that he has spent his time slagging off Opposition MPs; and surely this is not appropriate in an outfit that is meant to be independently politically operated and run in the interests of the New Zealand taxpayers. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Who was the person who interjected at that point? The member will leave the Chamber.

Hon John Tamihere withdrew from the Chamber.Rodney Hide point of order

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know that the Hon John Tamihere is quite pleased to have been kicked out and not have to answer any questions, but we do have a question set down for that Minister. It is—

Mr SPEAKER: The member will please be seated. I once before made an observation about whether a Minister should be sent from the Chamber because he or she interjected when he or she should not have, because I had ordered the Minister to do so, and I was told quite specifically that one rule applied for everybody—and it does. The Minister should not have interjected, and he copped the penalty. That is it.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have an interesting dilemma. If you look through questions for oral answer, the toughest question set down today is question No. 6 to Mr Tamihere. It is about actual remarks that he made. The easiest way now for a Minister to say “I was happy to answer questions in the House but I was sent out by the Speaker”, is to interject. The proper penalty for Mr Tamihere might be to ask him to withdraw and apologise, and maybe suspend him later. For you to decide to let him out of answering question No. 6 will mean that that Minister can go around the country and say to everybody that a third of the nation’s beaches are in private ownership, and when he is asked a tough question about it, all he has to do is interject and the Speaker will throw him out.

Mr SPEAKER: I think, on reflection, there is an important issue here. I will ask Mr Tamihere to return for his question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will refresh the Minister’s mind and ask whether he understands that Larry King is an internationally respected and capable interviewer, whereas Dr Brian Edwards is a very nasty, biased, Labour-oriented media commentator who loses no time in slagging off Opposition members, despite the fact that he was a miserable failure in 1972 when the Labour Party won every other marginal seat in that landslide but he lost.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I share the member’s admiration of Larry King, but I give the following report of Brian Edwards’ programme: “I think that there have been some good things done, like Brian Edwards, whose politics I am diametrically opposed to, but, nonetheless, he remains one of the best interviewers New Zealand has ever had”, so said Deborah Coddington, and I agree.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not interested in Deborah Coddington’s comments. I am interested in his comments as a Minister. The day he can put up some sort of wishy-washy evidence from a very new, “barely been here 5 seconds” member is simply not adequate. We want an answer from the Minister.

Mr SPEAKER: The member addressed the question perfectly adequately.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am unclear. Is Mr Tamihere allowed in the Chamber until his question comes up?

Mr SPEAKER: I have allowed Mr Tamihere back because people want him to answer his question. As soon as he has finished his question he will go again.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will see that question No. 6 and question No. 10 are for Mr Tamihere. If he comes back for those two questions, then that will be appropriate. In the meantime, because he was a naughty boy he should be asked to go.

Mr SPEAKER: I ask members to be reasonable about this. Mr Tamihere had better not say a word between now and his two questions. We will keep him there for now.

Rodney Hide: How does he reply to complaints from within TVNZ that he and Marian Hobbs have turned State television into Labour Party television, and that the only way—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: The member can carry on.

Rodney Hide: I will start again. Over here we get interrupted and one loses one’s place.

Mr SPEAKER: I did not hear an interruption.

Rodney Hide: Then you should come and sit down the back where we sit.

Mr SPEAKER: I have had enough today, and I mean that. There will be silence when questions are asked, and that goes for every single person in this House. Will the member please repeat his question?

Rodney Hide: How does the Minister reply to complaints from within TVNZ that he and Marian Hobbs have turned State television into Labour Party television and that the only way for New Zealanders to now get unbiased news is to switch to John Campbell on TV3, who is prepared to put the tough questions to Government and to get fined by the Governor-General’s husband, who chairs the Broadcasting Standards Authority and is another Labour Government appointment, for doing so?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: With contempt, as the question deserves.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You are the person who gets to decide whether a question is appropriate. You did not demur about the subject of that question. What gives this Minister the right to take an arrogant view and he will not answer, and to bring into question your ruling of this House.

Mr SPEAKER: He addressed the question. He gave a description of how he regarded the question. That was what he was asked to do.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I bring this matter up now because it is the end of a question to which my point of order relates. During an earlier question the Leader of the Opposition certainly interjected somewhat loudly with the words: “It gets worse and worse”, and he was required to stand, withdraw, and apologise. That is fair enough. However, during the course of that last question we had a Minister, who is given the courtesy of the floor of the House to answer, accuse another member of being a scumbag in the accusation that was made, yet gets only the same penalty applied to him. I want to restate that we are getting increasingly concerned that people on this side of the House cop it when you want to stamp authority on the House, but there seems to be a much lesser standard for that side. A direct attack on a member must be far worse than someone simply pointing out that a situation was getting into an appalling state.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: It is naturally an Opposition tactic to accuse you of bias all the time in question time and elsewhere. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: The member will now stand and leave the Chamber for interjecting on a point of order. He knows that that is out of order. He will please leave.

Gerry Brownlee withdrew from the Chamber.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: That claim was certainly one of bias on your point and was factually incorrect. The Minister was ruled out of order and had to withdraw and apologise for the comment.

Mr SPEAKER: That is perfectly correct.

Employment—Growth

5. LYNNE PILLAY (NZ Labour—Waitakere) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What recent reports has he seen on employment growth?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): Last Friday, Statistics New Zealand released the household labour force survey results for the June 2003 quarter. Employment growth of 15,000 was stronger than expected, driving unemployment down to a 16-year low of 4.7 percent. A total of 148,000 more people have been employed since the Labour-led Government has been in office. Our unemployment rate is now considerably below the OECD average of 7.2 percent.

Lynne Pillay: What difficulties have employers reported in finding labour, and how is the Government responding?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The latest quarterly survey of business opinion indicated that a third of employers report difficulty in finding skilled labour, a historically high one-seventh of all firms report labour as one of their main constraints, and particular industries, such as construction, report labour as a constraint for 37 percent of firms. In response, the Government has built on other policies to announce the Jobs Jolt employment policy to assist more people into employment and to address labour and skill shortages.

Katherine Rich: Does he agree that the unemployment rate would have increased had there not been 10,000 people in the last quarter leaving the labour force altogether, and that by adding another 16,000 people to the invalids benefit and sickness benefit since 1999, the problem of unemployment is further hidden?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No, I think the two main reasons for unemployment falling from 5 percent to 4.7 percent is that there are a number of young people between the ages of 20 and 29 who have chosen educational opportunities at this time, to lift their skills, and a surge in employment in what might be called population areas, such as construction, the service industry, and hospitality. I think that is the main reason for it.

Foreshore and Seabed—Private Ownership

6. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National—Nelson) to the Minister for Land Information: Why did he say “I stand by those statements” in response to my question last Wednesday, “Does the Minister stand by his statement to the New Zealand Herald that: ‘significant chunks of the foreshore’—not the Queen’s chain, the foreshore—‘has private ownership title’ and that we are talking thousands and not hundreds of kilometres of private title to the foreshore?”, when the Department of Conservation office solicitor told the Planning and Development Committee in respect of the foreshore “the proportion of private title is probably very small (less than 1 percent of the coastline)” and the Prime Minister is reported today as saying foreshore ownership was a “very small amount”?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Land Information): I refer the member to my answer to question No. 6 of last Wednesday. Given the preliminary work done, and given the fact that it was a hugely complex issue, I stand by those statements.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why does the Minister maintain the facade of those statements, that large amounts of foreshore are in private ownership, when the Prime Minister says that it is a very small amount, when official Department of Conservation papers say that it is less than 1 percent, when Public Access New Zealand says he is misleading the public and the Parliament, when Otago University surveying lecturer and expert on seaward boundaries says that in 25 years of experience he can think of only one title that went to the low-water mark, including foreshore, and when numerous surveyors all over the country say that no titles they have seen include the low-water mark and the foreshore; why does the Minister not just concede he got it wrong?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Notwithstanding the list of people just mentioned by the Hon Dr Nick Smith, none of them can be correct because nobody has ever sized this issue, in the history of this country. At this particular point in time Land Information New Zealand is working assiduously to size it. Once it is sized, the information will be made available.

Moana Mackey: Would the Minister consider it prudent to base Government policy in such a complex area on a 10-year-old, nine-line legal opinion?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Definitely not. I tend to agree with the Department of Conservation chief legal adviser, Jonty Somers, who reported “… a great deal of weight could not be given to the 1993 assertions” and “It is impossible to know what was the basis of Mrs Mansfield’s 1 per cent figure. Land Information is the only agency that would have that information.” For the edification of Dr Nick Smith, even if it were 1 percent of 18,700 kilometres, this is 1,870 kilometres that most Kiwis would suggest is quite a sizeable chunk.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know we do have a problem with numeracy standards, but I think if the Minister reflects on 10 percent of 18,000 kilometres, I think it is 1,800 and not the figure that the Minister used.

Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

Dail Jones: As the Prime Minister appears to be more in favour of the 1993 report rather than the Minister’s view—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry, Mr Jones, but comments are being made from a number of places, and I cannot quite hear what the member is saying. Would the member please repeat his question?

Hon Roger Sowry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The comments are being made because of the degree of frustration. The Minister clearly knows that he has given a wrong answer. His colleagues are telling him that his answer was wrong. It would be easier perhaps if the Minister gave the right answer now, and then we could move on.

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I would move the decimal point one place.

Dail Jones: As the Prime Minister appears to be more in favour of the 1993 report, what advice has the Minister received from the Prime Minister that his views are inaccurate by more than a small amount, are inflammatory, and are causing as much damage to the attitudes of New Zealanders as those of the leader of the National Party Opposition?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: None.

Hon Ken Shirley: Can the Minister of Statistics tell the House how we can believe anything he says—[Interruption]

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister is the Minister of Statistics, but this question is to the Minister for Land Information. The member cannot swap portfolios halfway through a question.

Hon Ken Shirley: A decimal point tripped me up!

Mr SPEAKER: Please restate the question.

Hon Ken Shirley: Can the Minister tell the House how we can believe anything he says after, when challenged, he stood by his untrue statements, which the Prime Minister now confirms were untrue, and in the light of the fact that he pleaded guilty in February 1995 to two charges of forgery and two charges of uttering forged documents?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Because I am a good bloke, and I can be trusted.

John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. During the course of Mr Shirley’s question there were some utterances from three or four members from the Government benches. They should be asked to leave the Chamber in the same way as Mr Brownlee was asked to leave because he interjected during a point of order. I heard them. There were three or four members who muttered about the fact that Mr Shirley had commented on the issue of fraud that Mr Tamihere had been involved in.

Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry; I did not hear those comments. I will listen very carefully.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting that even the Prime Minister conceded that the level of private foreshore ownership is a very small amount, and further confirmed that it was probably about 1 percent, can the Minister confirm to the House that his official public relations adviser is the former Iraqi Information Minister?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: No.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If the problem had not been sized, and has still not been sized, why did the Minister make a comment to the extent that he has, then revert to saying that he was talking about potential private ownership, and then go on the Holmes programme and make a prize idiot of himself?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: There is no doubt that there are 18,700 kilometres of New Zealand coastline, excluding the Chatham Islands. There is no doubt that as at 1 August, from official information from Land Information New Zealand, there is potentially up to 6,600 kilometres of the coastline—and for the edification of the member for Tauranga, that is not the foreshore. The foreshore is the wet bit that gets wet now and then. Seabed is the stuff that gets wet most of the time, but not all the time. Above the high-water mark is the beaches or the coastline. Potentially, up to 6,600 kilometres of the coastline might be in private ownership. As I said, at the moment they are being researched by Land Information New Zealand.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why on the Holmes show, in front of the New Zealand public, did he say that one-third of the beach is potentially privately owned, and noting that the Oxford Dictionary definition of “beach” is “Seashore or lakeshore covered with water-worn pebbles or sand between the high and low-water mark”, on what possible basis did he make that claim on New Zealand television?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines the word “foreshore” as “part of the shore between high- and low-water marks”, or between water and land cultivated or built on.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That question was not about a comparative reading of dictionaries but about his answering beyond that, having had an explanation of what the foreshore would be. Frankly, I am disturbed, and I am sure that a lot of Mâori members of this Parliament are, at the level of straight-out, second-class, paternalism that has been bestowed on some Mâori members who are not fit to be in Cabinet, but are there, or Ministers of the Crown who should not be there. That is not an adequate answer for anybody, and to tolerate it really is a case of inverse racism.

Mr SPEAKER: No, it is not. I thought that an answer was given. The Minister is perfectly entitled to doubt a definition and to quote an authority, and he did so.

Recreational Areas—Walking Access

7. MARTIN GALLAGHER (NZ Labour—Hamilton West) to the Minister for Rural Affairs: What reports has he received on walking access to rivers, lakes, the coastline, and other parts of New Zealand’s countryside?

Hon JIM SUTTON (Minister for Rural Affairs): Yesterday, the land access reference group chairman John Acland and I issued the group’s report, Walking Access in the New Zealand Outdoors. It is an excellent report and I recommend that members read it carefully.

Martin Gallagher: What is the Government doing with that report?

Hon JIM SUTTON: The report is now available for people to read and to make their views known. The Government is consulting people for the next 4 months. We are not pre-judging that consultation. No decisions have been made on this issue.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting that the Minister for Land Information, in foreshadowing the release of this report, said that significant chunks of foreshore were in private ownership, amounting to hundreds of kilometres, and that one-third of our beaches were privately owned, where might I find that particular fact in those 111 pages?

Hon JIM SUTTON: This report is not about ownership. I understand that Mr Tamihere’s department is still carrying out work on ownership.

Dail Jones: Bearing in mind that chapter 9 on page 72 of the report indicates that the Acland group has not identified a demand for “as of right” access, what is the point in continuing with any further discussion on the matter if there is no demand for it?

Hon JIM SUTTON: The group also found that there is a very strong commitment by the New Zealand public to the principle and practice of the Queen’s Chain. I suggest that the member read the report carefully and he will find much that is worth pursuing in it.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Has the Minister seen the case of the Pâkehâ multimillionaire toilet paper magnate, John Spencer, who has blocked walking access to beautiful cactus beach on Waiheke Island, and what steps will the Government take to ensure that all New Zealanders, both Pâkehâ and tangata whenua, can have legal access to the brilliant white sand and azure waters of this national taonga?

Hon JIM SUTTON: As I have just mentioned, the Government has not made decisions. We will not presume the outcome of the next 4 months of consultation with the public.

Prosecutions—Religious and Spiritual Factors

8. CRAIG McNAIR (NZ First) to the Minister of Police: Do the police ever take into account any alleged religious or spiritual values when deciding whether to prosecute for any crimes; if so, why?

Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Transport), on behalf of the Minister of Police: Religious or spiritual values are not relevant to decisions on whether a prosecution should commence or continue.

Craig McNair: Are there any plans or measures in place that would prevent people from breaking the law by claiming it is part of their religion—for example, has he investigated whether smoking marijuana is an essential part of being Rastafarian?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Not that I am aware of. Whether someone is Rastafarian has absolutely nothing to do with whether a prosecution would continue.

Mahara Okeroa: What factors, then, are important to police in making decisions to prosecute?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: The Solicitor-General’s guidelines outline the critical factors. Police must first consider whether there is admissible and reliable evidence that an offence has been committed by an identifiable person. The evidence needs to be sufficiently strong to establish a prima facie case. If there is an evidential basis for a prosecution, police need to determine whether the public interest requires the prosecution to proceed.

Nandor Tanczos: Given his answer to the primary question, can the Minister tell the House what the basis is for discriminatory policing, which leaves Mâori more likely to be arrested and convicted for cannabis use than middle-class Pâkehâ smokers, like Peter Dunne used to be in his youth, and—

Mr SPEAKER: I think that the member might, on reflection, care to be very careful before bringing members of this Parliament into comments such as that. I would prefer that he asked the question without reference to that.

Nandor Tanczos: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I understand it is on the public record that Peter Dunne has admitted to having used cannabis in his youth.

Mr SPEAKER: That was not relevant to making the question intelligible. Perhaps the member could restate the question.

Nandor Tanczos: Can the Minister tell the House what the basis is for discriminatory policing that leaves Mâori more likely to be arrested and convicted for cannabis use than the general public, and that, after taking account of rates of use and prior convictions, as has been highlighted in the Christchurch health and development study and by the Health Committee inquiry into cannabis?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am advised that decisions on prosecution are made without fear or favour.

Craig McNair: Does the Minister agree with other members’ use of Bible quotations and claiming adherence to alleged Christian values to justify hiding past crimes; if so, how do police view those actions?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: As I said before, the police are required to take into account the Solicitor-General’s guidelines. Someone’s religious or spiritual beliefs have absolutely nothing to do with whether a decision is made to prosecute.

Nandor Tanczos: Is the Minister concerned at the admission by the president of the New Zealand Police Association, Mr Greg O’Connor, as reported by the Health Committee in its inquiry into cannabis, that “police have targeted people on the basis of their dress”, and what does he intend to do about it?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: No. The fact of the matter is that the advice I have received is that decisions on whether police proceed are made without fear or favour. I hope I have that clear.

Curriculum—Information Technology

9. Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY (NZ Labour) to the Minister of Education: What initiatives has the Government put in place to promote the development of new approaches to information and communications technologies in teaching?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): I am happy to announce that 10 new e-learning scholarships will be made available to help teachers expand teaching and learning through information and communications technology. Over $4 million has been earmarked for those year-long scholarships over the next 4 years, which will greatly contribute to national and international research as new approaches to learning through information and communications technology are developed and shared.

Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Why are information and communications technologies viewed as such an important issue in modern teaching?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Information and communications technology has become an essential life skill. It is vitally important that we give teachers greater opportunities to enhance their expertise in this area, and that we encourage them to pass that on to others. Freeing up 10 teachers to lead this work is very exciting, but I do want to deny rumours that Maurice Williamson is one of them.

Recreational Areas—Crown Pastoral Leases

10. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for Land Information: Does the current system of tenure review of Crown pastoral lease land include any requirement to ensure public access to public land and waterways that are adjacent to any freeholded pastoral lease land; if not, why not?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Land Information): Crown land, including public land and waterways, may be included in a review, in which case access would be able to be provided. I respectfully refer the member to section 36(3)(ab) of the Crown Pastoral Land Act in that regard. In any case, access will need to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Will the Government be directing the Commissioner of Crown Lands, who has stated to public access interest groups that he is not obliged by the tenure of use system to provide for access to conservation areas, to do so now; if not, why not?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: The Government is presently reviewing the total policy in regard to the Crown Pastoral Land Act in the review process. I would like to think that within the next couple of weeks we will be able to come back to the House with clear directions in that regard.

Clayton Cosgrove: What reports has the Minister received on the progress of the Crown pastoral tenure review process?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: There are over 160 leaseholders participating in the review at the moment. Out of 16 tenure reviews that were substantially completed as at 30 June 2003, over 45 percent of the leased land had been permanently returned to the Crown estate in terms of its conservation values, and access has been provided to all but one.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does the Minister agree with the statement by the Prime Minister, reported in the New Zealand Herald, that the amount of foreshore ownership was “a very small amount”?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: That has nothing to do with the primary question, or with any supplementary questions.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The original question is in respect of access around public waterways, which makes the issue I raised of considerable public interest. I think it is reasonable for me to expect an answer from the Minister for Land Information as to whether he agrees with the Prime Minister’s point.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I suggest that the member read the question again. The question is about the current system of tenure review of Crown pastoral lease land, which has nothing to do with the foreshore.

Mr SPEAKER: It is up to the Minister as to whether he wishes to provide an answer in this area. He said that it is not part of this particular question, and that is his answer.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Will the Government consider amending the Property Law Act, which enables landowners to extinguish easements across their land through the courts without any public process; if not, how will the Minister ensure that access negotiated during tenure review is secure?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: We will factor section 129B of the Property Law Act—which is what I suspect the member is talking about—into our review processes.

Television New Zealand—Kaihautû Appointment

11. KATHERINE RICH (NZ National) to the Minister of Broadcasting: Can he confirm, as reported in the media, that the appointment of a Kaihautû by Television New Zealand Limited is related to its charter responsibilities and can he advise the House what specific functions will be carried out by the person recently appointed to that position?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Broadcasting): Under the Television New Zealand Act, staff appointments are the responsibility of the chief executive. I am advised that as part of filling its charter requirements, TVNZ’s senior management board felt it appropriate to appoint a person with the appropriate background in both the local television industry and Mâori culture.

Katherine Rich: Why was the position not advertised in the normal way; why was there no job description for the position until the successful applicant was chosen?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I am advised that, for this operational matter—which, of course, is a matter for TVNZ’s management—it was felt that the traditional process of using a recruiter or advertising in print was not an effective way of reaching the right candidates. After consultation with a number of prominent Mâori figures, who were consulted separately, a number of appropriate candidates were identified, with a shortlist invited for interviews in front of a panel of three people.

Darren Hughes: Has he seen any recent reports supporting public service television?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I am pleased to note that after many years of opposition, Katherine Rich, on Media Watch on Sunday, supported public television and the high level of local content it brings. I welcome the National Party’s—

Mr SPEAKER: That really has nothing to do with the original question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If this so-called appointment of a kaihautû has any merit, what on earth are we doing spending hundreds of millions on the Mâori Television Service, which is being set up right now; if the Mâori Television Service has any merit, why on earth are we putting up this sort of tokenistic appointment as some sort of sop to the Mâori people; did he consult with the “TWs” of his caucus on this matter?

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

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The matter, of course, is one for the management of TVNZ, but TVNZ believes that, because it is a national broadcaster, it has an obligation to provide mainstream programming in English that reflects Mâori interests and values for all New Zealanders. That is why it made the appointment.

Deborah Coddington: How can New Zealand have any confidence in his answers when journalists within TVNZ see the appointment of Hone Edwards to the top management table as Ross Armstrong in disguise and a return to that chairman’s censoring of journalists who cover contentious Mâori issues like Tariana Turia’s Holocaust comments, John Tamihere embarrassing his caucus, and Ella Henry’s bullying of traffic cops?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Putting aside all the extraneous material and addressing the question of why Mr Edwards may be a person to hold this position, I say to the House that Mr Edwards has held a number of positions in Mâori television broadcasting, TVNZ, and the independent production community over the last 19 years as producer, director, reporter, and editor. He is currently head of commissioning of programming for the Mâori Television Service. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Mâori and linguistics and a post-graduate diploma in journalism. He will now be one of the 10 people reporting directly to Ian Fraser as the chief executive officer of TVNZ.

Katherine Rich: Can he see the contradiction in appointing a kaihautû when, at the same time, TVNZ is cutting costs, cutting the news budget, making staff redundant, and cancelling high-quality current affairs and drama programmes?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I ask the Minister again: has he consulted with the “TWs” in the caucus on the merits of having a Mâori Television Service that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and, alongside it, having an appointment of this type in Television New Zealand?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I think the member is referring to the Mâori Television Service. I am not the Minister responsible for that service. He might like to put a question to either of the two Ministers responsible. Mr Edwards’ job is one that is the responsibility of Television New Zealand’s management. I do not consult with anybody on it. The members of that management make their own decisions.

Katherine Rich: Did the agreement worked out between TVNZ and unsuccessful applicant Ripeka Evans involve any commitment, undertaking, or promise from TVNZ to engage or commission Ms Evans to undertake any form of consultancy, contract, or programme production?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I am aware of the person whom the member is speaking about, but because this is a matter for TVNZ’s management, the details she raises would not properly be in my hands, anyway.

Recreational Areas—Landowners' Rights

12. Hon KEN SHIRLEY (Deputy Leader—ACT NZ) to the Minister for Rural Affairs: With regard to the Acland report, will he give an unqualified and clear assurance that the Government will not in any way diminish private landowners’ rights to control access to their land; if not, can he assure property owners that they will be fully compensated for any restrictions imposed on their property rights for public access?

Hon JIM SUTTON (Minister for Rural Affairs): The member seems to have confused the Land Access Reference Group report with Government policy. It is not. It is out for public consultation, which landowners can be involved in, and no decisions have been made.

Hon Ken Shirley: Given that the Acland report observes: “The property rights ethos predominates in New Zealand. It cannot realistically be expected that this will change quickly to accommodate access pressures”, and also in the light of the recommendation, in the executive summary, to provide mechanisms for its promotion and enhancement, can the Minister tell the House what sort of mechanisms he has in mind?

Hon JIM SUTTON: The member should read the report with both eyes. The group also found overwhelming support for the retention, extension, and completion of the Queen’s Chain.

Georgina Beyer: Notwithstanding answers to previous questions, could the Minister reiterate what the Government is doing with this report?

Hon JIM SUTTON: The report is now available for people to read and make their views known. The Government is consulting with people until the end of November. We are not prejudging the result of that consultation. No decisions have been made on this issue.

Dail Jones: In the light of the Minister’s earlier answer, is he now denying that this report arose out of the Labour Party’s manifesto, which contained promises to clarify public rights of access to rivers, lakes, seashores, and public land?

Hon JIM SUTTON: The Labour Party manifesto certainly undertook that work would be done on this issue, and that is exactly what we are doing.

Gerrard Eckhoff: Will the landowner in the Tekapo area of the South Island high country who refused access to the Prime Minister—after which the access issue suddenly became important—still in the future be able to refuse the Prime Minister access, if he chooses not to negotiate access or, indeed, to receive compensation for that access?

Hon JIM SUTTON: I am not aware of any such incident. I note that the member is the same member who last night likened me to Robert Mugabe. When he gets his head on straight, I will be prepared to engage seriously with him on these issues.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask you to reflect on the answers we are successively hearing to questions in this House. We have seen it from three Ministers today, and on a number of other occasions, whereby they abuse the questioner and consider that to be an answer. The question is in order. Telling an MP to get his head screwed on before the Minister might bother to answer the question certainly cannot be accepted in this House, by you, as addressing the question.

Mr SPEAKER: I think that the very last comment made by the Minister—about a member and his head—should be withdrawn and apologised for.

Hon JIM SUTTON: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Peter Dunne: Is it the Government’s current view that the public does have a right of access over private land; if it is not, what is the Government’s current view on these matters?

Hon JIM SUTTON: If I heard the question correctly I can confirm to the member that, yes, there are numerous situations in New Zealand where the public does have a legal right of access to private land. If he is asking me the Government’s view on that matter, the view is that that is correct, but that the traditions in New Zealand of free and open access along all waters edge—as embodied in the concept of the Queen’s Chain—is under threat, and we have increasing numbers of occasions when private landowners are blocking access to public land and public waters. That is unacceptable to a great body of New Zealand public opinion.

End of Questions for Oral Answer

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)


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