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Wednesday’s Questions for Oral Answer

Wednesday’s Questions for Oral Answer

Wednesday, 13 August 2003

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

Questions to Ministers:

1. Member for New Plymouth—By-election

2. New Zealand Food Safety Authority—Reports

3. NZ On Air—Dr Brian Edwards

4. Cabinet—Confidence

5. Cannabis—Compulsory Health Assessments

6. National Library—Support for Public Libraries

7. Foreshore and Seabed—Private Ownership

8. Courts—Access to Justice

9. Speed Cameras—Police Investigation

10. Health Services—Rural Areas

11. Infrastructure—Community Funding

12. Immigration Act—Disclosure of Sexual Services

Member for New Plymouth—By-election

1. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her reported statement that Hon Harry Duynhoven’s comments were the symptom of a man under stress, made when she responded to his reported comments that he was happy to have a by-election but that issues around “the foreshore and seabed” may have meant Labour would “have taken a hammering”; if not, why not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): My comment was a general one and said: “Harry Duynhoven has been distressed by this issue since July 4”. I stand by that comment. Whether he made the remarks attributed to him in this morning’s media is a matter of contention.

Hon Bill English: Is it correct that the Government passed legislation to avoid this vacancy because it was, in the words of Harry Duynhoven, worried that on the foreshore and the seabed it would have taken a hammering, and is it correct that, in Harry Duynhoven’s words, his by-election could have triggered a chain of by-elections?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It is unlikely, given the present state of the polls, the Government would have taken a hammering on any issue, and certainly not in New Plymouth.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Prime Minister think that some of the anxiety on behalf of Mr Duynhoven was because there were other Labour members not prepared to have their names disclosed in this House, as evidenced by the fact that every other party leader gave an assurance that none of their members was affected by section 55 of the Electoral Act, but she was not prepared to; why has she treated this House with such contempt?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I believe the reason Mr Duynhoven was distressed is—having known him for many, many years—there is no more honest member of Parliament in this House than the member for New Plymouth.

Mr SPEAKER: Would the Prime Minister like to comment further on Mr Peters’ question.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: If I could comment on the second part, my understanding is that at the Privileges Committee, the Leader of the House sought a proper survey by the committee of all MPs, which was denied by National and ACT representatives.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have a bit of a dilemma here. The Prime Minister is not a member of the Privileges Committee, and she is not responsible for it, which I guess is the reason that she has just given the House a false answer. I mean, that is not even correct and she should answer for her own actions and not for the Privileges Committee. The chairman of the Privileges Committee has told this House, and he is a member of the Government, that he ruled that the Privileges Committee could not do such a survey.

Mr SPEAKER: Let me just say I heard the Prime Minister and she said it was her understanding. Then it is up to any member to challenge that in questions.

Rod Donald: Could the Prime Minister confirm that the purpose of suspending section 55(1)(b) and (c) was to ensure that the legitimacy of dual citizenship is not undermined for any member of Parliament, rather than to avoid a by-election, notwithstanding that Harry Duynhoven would have won one hands down, given that over 2,000 National Party voters supported him at the last election?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: That is exactly my understanding and I might say that all current issues come up in by-elections, and certainly in this one the feeble state of the National Party would have been an issue.

Hon Richard Prebble: Does the Prime Minister not now realise that the Government is taking a hammering for having changed the law retrospectively; and if it really is her view that the Government would easily win a by-election despite the foreshore issue, and that Mr Duynhoven is an honest man, why does she not tell him to resign and put it to the test?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I see no evidence whatsoever that the Government would take a hammering at a by-election. I suggest that if the National Party is keen to have one, it create one by triggering the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act over Pakuranga.

Hon Bill English: Will the Prime Minister give the House an assurance that apart from Harry Duynhoven, none of her Ministers or members had breached section 55 of the Electoral Act prior to its amendment last week?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I know of no other member.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why was it that the Prime Minister rose in this Chamber a short while ago and told the House that the Privileges Committee had had such a survey ruled out by members of the Opposition when that was demonstrably and palpably not true? Why did she say that, and why could she not give the House an assurance that no Labour member was caught by section 55 of the Electoral Act, before saying that she does not know of anybody?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: In respect of the latter point, I do not know of anybody. In my earlier answer I was quoting from Dr Michael Cullen’s Hansard from yesterday, who said: “At the Privileges Committee I said”—that is, Dr Cullen—“we should have a proper survey by the committee of all MPs, if necessary on oath, to find out the facts. But Mr Prebble immediately said no, and the National Party said no.”

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It does not make the question valid to quote from a previous Minister, and that answer was not correct, as was confirmed by the chairman of the Privileges Committee. The chairman of the Privileges Committee ruled that the Privileges Committee had no such power, a fact that you were no doubt aware of, as well, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister read out the statement made by the Deputy Prime Minister as a reason for her understanding of the particular issue.

Hon Bill English: Why does the Prime Minister think that Mr Duynhoven made the statements that he made, and if she believes that he is so badly affected by stress that he said things that she believes are untrue, why is he fit to hold a ministerial warrant?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I said that whether Mr Duynhoven made the comments was a matter of some contention. Indeed, I am very doubtful that he could have made such a comment, given the great unlikelihood that the current Opposition could give anyone a hammering. The current Leader of the Opposition just got judged by 27 percent of the population to be capable.

New Zealand Food Safety Authority—Reports

2. DAVE HEREORA (NZ Labour) to the Minister for Food Safety: What reports has she received on the first year of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister for Food Safety): The New Zealand Food Safety Authority completed its first year of operation on 1 July. It has been a very busy year for the authority. It has built on existing relationships with industry and various authorities and developed new ones domestically through activities such as the consumers forum and focus groups with territorial local government and public health units, and it has made its presence felt internationally.

Dave Hereora: What are some of the international activities with which the New Zealand Food Safety Authority has been involved?

Hon ANNETTE KING: New Zealand has reached agreement with the US and the European Union on organic equivalents. We have signed off on the European Union vet agreement, putting New Zealand’s export to Europe on a much firmer footing, and we recently achieved the US bovine equivalents agreement, which will save our meat industry around $4 million. These achievements show that the New Zealand Food Safety Authority is an internationally credible and trusted food authority.

Sue Kedgley: Why has the Minister allowed the continued use of nitrofuran veterinary drugs in the pig and poultry industries when these veterinary drugs are banned in many of the countries we export to because they are cancer-causing and thought to pose a public health risk, and what steps has she taken to protect New Zealanders from those known health risks?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Any known health risks to New Zealanders are handled by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and by the setting of food standards between New Zealand and Australia. Any perceived risk would be handled by them. They have not identified risks that we should worry about in New Zealand.

NZ On Air—Dr Brian Edwards

3. RODNEY HIDE (ACT NZ) to the Minister of Broadcasting: Was Dr Brian Edwards correct in his letter that the reason why NZ On Air originally refused to fund his show was “audience reach”, and what is the criterion for audience reach for NZ On Air funding?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Broadcasting): New Zealand On Air makes funding decisions at arm’s length from the Government. I am advised that in February 2000 it turned down an application for funding for a show on Prime Television, in line with its policy to only fund networks with at least 90 percent potential audience coverage. At the time of the application Prime Television had an audience reach of 60 percent.

Rodney Hide: Can the Minister confirm that the programme Edwards at Large, in the critical 18 to 39 age demographic, had 1 percent rating share last Saturday night, registering an asterisk or a zero on the rating scale and that Dr Edwards’ show lost viewers for Television One following the Antiques Road Show and, dare I say it, Waking the Dead, and that TVNZ staff have suggested that Edwards at Large be renamed Six Feet Under?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As entertaining as that might be, programming decisions are based on the potential size of the audience and are a matter for New Zealand On Air.

Mark Peck: What matters is New Zealand On Air required to take into account in deciding what programmes to fund?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The matters New Zealand On Air takes into account in making funding decisions include whether other funding or sought resources have been secured by the programme, the potential size of the audience, whether the programme would promote New Zealand and New Zealand interests, Mâori language and culture, provide for the interests of women, youth, children, persons with disabilities, or minorities in the community, and, lastly, the likelihood that the programme will be broadcast.

Hon Roger Sowry: Has the Minister ever received media training from Brian Edwards, Judy Callingham, or their associates; if so, who paid the bill?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I have no ministerial responsibility for who might or might not pay bills to Edwards and Callingham.

Hon Roger Sowry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There are two issues involved. Firstly, Ministers do have responsibility with regard to who pays the bills, either through their own departments or their own office. If the Minister has had media training, and it has been paid for through Ministerial Services or his own office, he has responsibility for it from his own office, and in that way controls that portion of his Ministerial Services budget. The second point is that the first part of the question asked whether the Minister has received any training from Mr Edwards or Ms Callingham. He did not answer that part of the question.

Mr SPEAKER: In so far as the first part of the question is concerned, if the Minister has received training as Minister of Broadcasting he is obliged to answer that part of the question, and I ask the Minister to do so.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I have never received any training in my role as Minister.

Heather Roy: Was he or his office in touch with Dr Brian Edwards before question time yesterday; if so, who initiated the contact and why?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, my office was in touch through my broadcasting adviser, to clarify that the scurrilous allegations were, indeed, scurrilous.

Heather Roy: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister did not address the final part of my question, which said that if he or his office were in contact, then who initiated the contact.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did, in his first answer. He said his office initiated the contact.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question asked who initiated the contact.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister said his broadcasting adviser had. I heard him say it.

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

Mr SPEAKER: The member had better be careful, because I heard it very clearly.

Rodney Hide: Are you ruling that it was the Minister’s officer who initiated the contact?

Mr SPEAKER: It is not for me to rule. That is what I thought I heard the Minister say.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that the ministry is claiming no knowledge of or not to have received the letter, and somewhat conveniently Dr Edwards is claiming not to know whether he sent it, is this not a case of all the players agreeing to lie in unison?

Mr SPEAKER: There is to be no suggestion that any member of Parliament is telling a lie, and I want the member to give an assurance of that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will rephrase the question. Given that the ministry is claiming no knowledge of or not to have received the letter, and somewhat conveniently Dr Edwards is claiming not to know whether he sent it, is this not a case of all the players, with the exception of the man whose life has been beyond reproach, agreeing to lie in unison?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: What we have here, I think, classifies strictly as a beat-up. This is a letter that Mrs Hobbs’ office has no record of; no action was taken around this letter. The only letter that Mr Garner has is an unsigned letter. The status of that letter clearly has had no influence on any decision. Decisions made by NZ On Air were made absolutely appropriately, and the House knows that.

Hon Roger Sowry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. During that answer the Minister of Education yelled out that Mr Garner had typed the letter himself. I am just wondering whether it is appropriate that a Minister makes those sorts of allegations against a media outlet, in this Chamber.

Mr SPEAKER: Members can make allegations about anybody outside this Chamber—we have free speech. If members make allegations about people inside this Chamber, they must be within the Standing Orders.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I think the member has made a fair point. I know Duncan well. I apologise to him. I know he could not compose a letter that well!

Rodney Hide: Given that Dr Brian Edwards is over 55 years old, lives on Waiheke Island, and has to travel to TVNZ in Auckland for his work, is Edwards at Large really this Government’s Jobs Jolt programme in action, and is Dr Brian Edwards the first recipient?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I would enter into the humour of this, but I want to tell the House that this is a programme properly applied for by Television New Zealand, not Dr Edwards, properly allocated funding through the proper process by New Zealand on Air, and therefore these allegations are completely misplaced.

Cabinet—Confidence

4. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence as Prime Minister in all the members of her Cabinet?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can she have confidence in someone who said: “I think that to blame new New Zealanders for a crime wave is absolutely ridiculous.”, and the figures out this week show that there is not a crime wave, when those from the highest level of the Chinese Government were saying that crime was a serious problem amongst its international students living in New Zealand, and this was all happening right under her nose?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I certainly endorse what the Minister said, but I also note that it has come to the attention of the Chinese Government in Beijing that some Chinese students here are getting into trouble, which reflects badly on their people.

Hon Bill English: Why does she have confidence in the Minister for Land Information, who has decided to continue with his erroneous assertion that one-third of all beaches are privately owned—a contention that she herself has said is wrong?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It is very important to be clear about definitions of what is a beach and what is not. The member seems to be somewhat confused because he wants only the wet beaches to be for the public, not the dry beaches that belong to his mates.

Stephen Franks: Why would she trust her own judgment when she selected a Minister of Statistics who either cannot tell the difference between one-hundredth and one-third, or does not care about the difference between the truth and falsehood, and how does the rest of Cabinet feel having to rely on a Minister of Statistics so plainly disqualified?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am not sure the member could have done any better with long division on the spot in answering a question.

Mr SPEAKER: I call the Hon Bill English—

Rodney Hide: Not in that Cabinet, anyway!

Mr SPEAKER: There is a member about to leave early—

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

Mr SPEAKER: No, no the member will be seated. He will not excuse himself for interjecting when I have already called another member to ask a question.

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

Mr SPEAKER: The member had better have a good point of order or he goes.

Rodney Hide: I have a very good one. In the last question Trevor Mallard interjected and you did not rule him out of order. In this question the Prime Minister interjected and you said nothing—you heard them because they are right beside you.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, that is inaccurate.

Hon Bill English: How can the Prime Minister have confidence in the Minister of Immigration who has approved of her own chief executive investigating whether she is part of the scandal of lying in unison over the Zaoui immigration case?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The present Secretary of Labour took office the very Monday of the week when these allegations were made. Nobody comes to it with a cleaner pair of hands than he does.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: In respect of Cabinet membership how can the Prime Minister have confidence in someone who does not believe that judges, front-line senior police sergeants, and senior overseas Government officials—particularly from the largest populated country on earth—does not seem to know that visitor and immigration crime is serious, and namely that person is herself?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I take seriously the concern that the Chinese Government has about some of the pranks and crimes its young people get up to, and we have undertaken to work with the Chinese Government on the issues of pastoral care that are arising out of a very large number of overseas students coming to this country from the People’s Republic of China—coming I might say, to the immense benefit of towns, cities, and districts throughout New Zealand.

Hon Bill English: Given the success of Dr Brian Edwards in increasing her confidence in the performance of the Minister of Mâori Affairs, does the Government intend to continue to pay Dr Brian Edwards and Judy Callingham to provide media training for Ministers, including the Minister of Broadcasting?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: This is not a matter that falls under the Ministerial Services budget.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table numerous answers in this House from the Rt Hon Helen Clark and her Minister of Police, Mr Hawkins, all denying the aspect of immigrant and visitor crime, and one in particular that points out kidnapping is not a student crime.

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

Cannabis—Compulsory Health Assessments

5. NANDOR TANCZOS (Green) to the Minister of Justice: Does he agree that “diverting minor cannabis offenders into compulsory health assessment for first possession and use offences, rather than a criminal conviction” as recommended by the Health Committee, would help achieve the objective of the Youth Offending Strategy to “prevent and reduce offending and reoffending by children and young people”; if not, why not?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Justice): Currently, the police exercise a discretion regarding the possession or use of small amounts of cannabis, whether to charge an offender, to issue a warning, or to use diversion as a response. With regard to youth offending, Government policy contemplates a wide range of options, including drug education and counselling, treatment, and the use of sanctions where appropriate.

Nandor Tanczos: Does the Minister agree that from a youth justice perspective legislation such as that controlling cannabis ought to be “focused on preventing young people from using cannabis and protecting them from the harms associated with this controlled drug”, as stated in the Health Committee’s report on cannabis?

Hon PHIL GOFF: One of the roles of legislation is to discourage and deter negative behaviour and generally that is done by way of sanctions. As the Health Committee has acknowledged, it is often better to prevent a form of behaviour than to react afterwards. Therefore, education about the negative effects of cannabis use, especially on young people, would need to be a key part of the answer.

Tim Barnett: Will the Government be changing the legal status of cannabis as a result of the Health Committee’s report?

Hon PHIL GOFF: No, in line with the confidence and supply agreement between Labour, the Progressives, and United Future, the Government will not be contemplating any change in the legal status of cannabis.

Craig McNair: Does he agree that the use of the word “minor” in the context of cannabis offending has effect at law; if so, where is the word defined?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The police make a judgment as to whether an offence is sufficiently minor. Instead of charging a person with an offence they may recommend diversion or simply issue a warning.

Metiria Turei: Is he concerned about the implications for the youth offending strategy of the practice highlighted by the Health Committee of schools being quicker to suspend students for cannabis use than for violence, and does he think that suspending young people from school to languish around home or at a mate’s place will have the effect of reducing cannabis use or increasing it?

Hon PHIL GOFF: It may well increase it. Crime statistics show that most crime committed by young people who ought to be at school, in fact are not in school. If a kid is thrown out of school, and that young person is then not under any supervision, to me that produces a greater likelihood of that young person offending in that way.

Judy Turner: Does the Minister agree that it is quite possible to set up successful diversionary programmes without changing the legal status of cannabis?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Yes, that is quite possible. Obviously, the recommendations of the Health Committee will be taken seriously by the Government and its agencies. The Police will seriously consider the recommendations made in regard to the use of diversion, and whether drug education programmes ought to be part of that.

Hon Peter Dunne: Has the Minister received reports directly from the Police or via his colleague the Minister of Police expressing police gratitude for the fact that there is to be no change in the legal status of cannabis, given the significant problems that young people are already facing with drugs in the wider community?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I have not received any such reports, and I have not talked to my colleague the Minister of Police to see whether he has received such reports. The member would need to talk to him directly.

Nandor Tanczos: Can the Minister tell the House what the implications for the youth offending strategy will be as a result of the comments made by the Health Committee that cannabis prohibition is not effective in limiting use, that it makes targeting education and treatment more difficult, and that it exposes cannabis users to hard drugs?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Prohibition can cause some problems, such as those the member has indicated. That was set out in the submissions rather than in a decision by the committee. However, the suggestion that removing the prohibition of cannabis would diminish its use is a long way from being proved; I would think that, to the contrary, the removal of prohibition and the lowering of the price would almost certainly lead to greater use of cannabis.

National Library—Support for Public Libraries

6. DARREN HUGHES (NZ Labour—Otaki) to the Minister responsible for the National Library: What role is the National Library playing to support public libraries throughout New Zealand?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House), on behalf of the Minister responsible for the National Library: The National Library has sponsored a project for a New Zealand - wide, multi-sector consortium, purchasing online resources to reduce the cost to individual libraries, and to broaden access to those products. The consortium represents an opportunity to provide access to electronic resources that sectors such as schools and smaller public libraries would not otherwise have.

Darren Hughes: What else does the National Library do to promote New Zealand books?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It does a very great deal, but, unfortunately, not always successfully. Recently, an author turned up for a book signing in Levin, but was the only one to do so. Our hearts go out to the Hon Richard Prebble in those distressing circumstances.

Foreshore and Seabed—Private Ownership

7. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National—Nelson) to the Minister for Land Information: Does he agree with the Prime Minister’s statement that the amount of foreshore in private ownership is a “very small amount”; if not, why not?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Land Information): Yes.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting that in the Parliament yesterday the Minister said that the Department of Conservation, the Prime Minister, and the former Register-General of Land, Mr Brian Hayes, were all wrong, and that public access was wrong, will he now apologise to this Parliament for his incorrect statement made last week and yesterday, to the public for his incorrect statement made on Television New Zealand, to the Department of Conservation office solicitor for wrongly besmirching her reputation, and also to—

Mr SPEAKER: That is three questions. Two questions are allowed.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Will the Minister also apologise to the people of Nelson—

Mr SPEAKER: No. Two of those questions can be answered.

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: As I have noted a number of times, this is a highly complex issue. Yesterday in the House I pointed out that nobody in the history of this country has ever sized the issue. 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.

Clayton Cosgrove: On what basis did the Minister make his initial assessment regarding the coastline?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I made it clear at the time that my statements were based on Land Information New Zealand’s advice, which was drawn from its preliminary work in the area. I have made information available as it comes to hand in a bid to inform the public of New Zealand at the earliest possible time. In 1993 the Hon Dr Nick Smith told this House that access to our beautiful coastline was a very complex issue. He said: “We should not mislead the public about exactly what those legal provisions are in terms of the complex issue of access. I invite Opposition members to be a little bit more responsible about the way in which they present this issue.”

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Minister remember writing a letter to me and offering his services on the question of statistics and figures, and receiving a reply stating that we do not waste our times with fools; was it the case that he himself got his advice from Lianne Dalziel and that they should both be resigning now?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: No.

Hon Ken Shirley: Why did the Minister, when his error was exposed, not admit that he had made it up and had got it wrong, and fess up and say sorry?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I do not know where that member gets his information from—it is probably from Rodney Hide. I tell him that there have been no errors in anything that I have indicated. As I have said, time and time again, 36 percent of 80,700 kilometres of coastline, as at 1 August, is in private hands, potentially, subject to review by Land Information New Zealand.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Having told the New Zealand Herald last Tuesday that there were significant chunks of foreshore in private ownership, and that we were talking about more than hundreds of kilometres, to repeat the error on Television New Zealand on Wednesday on Holmes, to say again on Thursday that that was true and there were hundreds of kilometres, and to then put out a press statement on Friday saying that I was incorrect—

Mr SPEAKER: The question is too long.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: It is not my fault he gets it wrong so often.

Mr SPEAKER: Carry on with the question.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Would you like me to start again?

Mr SPEAKER: No, ask the question.

Hon Roger Sowry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. From time to time people do have long questions, just as there are long answers. Mr Anderton, for example, regularly gives a long answer—or as regularly as he is asked questions by Progressive. The issue here is your interrupting of a member when he is asking a question. I ask you to be a bit reasonable about it. There is a view that you are being a bit selective in the way that you are interrupting on Mr Smith.

Mr SPEAKER: I am not. Mr Smith yesterday had a very, very long question indeed. I had a look at it and decided that, on the grounds of fairness, I would allow him to have the full question. [Interruption] No, it was an oral question. It was one of the longest, by far, that I have had asked in the House this year. Today, I allowed the member to ask three questions on question No 5 and was going on with a fourth. The member must come to the question concisely. I refer him to Speaker’s ruling 126/2.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: The Minister having said, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday that the amount in private ownership was a third, does he now not owe an apology to all the parties, including the thousand people who protested in Nelson—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: And to Parliament.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: —and to Parliament, as my colleague Winston Peters says—who he said were wrong when they campaigned for foreshores for all because the whole lot was in private ownership?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I feel the sense of frustration as that member grapples with complex issues. I will break it down quite simply. It is an issue of sizing. To some people, the Hon Roger Sowry might be small. To a dwarf, he might be big. The reality is—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I am trying to give a sizing—

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that I do not like reference to people or personal comments, and I want the Minister to stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I withdraw and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: Please answer the question itself.

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: As I have said repeatedly, as and when the information becomes specific and we can start talking about some facts, that will be made available.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mine was a very specific question, which was whether he would apologise. He told Parliament something twice. He has now come to the House today, having accepted that the Prime Minister is correct, and is it not proper that he owes Parliament an apology? For God’s sake, he is the Minister for Land Information.

Mr SPEAKER: The member is not raising a point of order, but a political point.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table two letters, and I want to itemise them. One is a letter from John Tamihere offering his services on the question of facts and figures, and the other is my reply saying one long “There’s a good boy”.

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

Courts—Access to Justice

8. GORDON COPELAND (Whip—United Future) to the Minister for Courts: Does he stand by the statement he made during questions for oral answer on 6 August 2003 that “This Government upholds the right of all New Zealanders to have access to justice and have their disputes resolved before the appropriate court.”; if so, why?

Hon RICK BARKER (Minister for Courts): Yes, because this Government believes that access to justice is important.

Gordon Copeland: If that is the case, how is it that much-needed hydroelectricity schemes on rivers and lakes controlled by the Department of Conservation can effectively be vetoed by Government, so that no opportunity is given for them to make their case to a court or an arbitrator?

Hon RICK BARKER: Parliament itself will have determined that the Department of Conservation has powers over certain parts of New Zealand, in relation to those areas that have natural or historic significance to New Zealand. It is because of that uniqueness and its significance that those areas are deemed to be different from other parts of New Zealand, and it is therefore appropriate that we have a different system. I should also note that decisions made by the Minister of Conservation in that area are reviewable in a court.

Hon Peter Dunne: In the light of the Minister’s assurance that the rights of all New Zealanders to access and justice are paramount, do they extend to the rights of New Zealanders to plead their cases before the courts with regard to access to foreshore and seabed?

Hon RICK BARKER: The matter of foreshore and seabed claims has been put before the court and will be subject to due process.

Gordon Copeland: Will the Minister advocate a review of the Conservation Act to his Cabinet colleagues, to ensure that all New Zealanders, including those wanting to build those much-needed hydro schemes, have access to transparent and open hearings by courts or arbitrators without having to appeal a decision by a Minister?

Hon RICK BARKER: The member has two courses of action in that regard. Firstly, he can take the matter up directly with the Minister of Conservation to see whether the Minister will sponsor a change in legislation, or, secondly, the member can submit to this Parliament a member’s bill, seeking to change Parliament’s view on how it should govern areas of New Zealand that are deemed to have natural and historic significance for New Zealand.

Speed Cameras—Police Investigation

9. Hon TONY RYALL (NZ National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Police: What reports has he received from the Commissioner of Police regarding investigations into hidden speed cameras?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): The commissioner and I regularly discuss a whole range of issues and ideas to reduce crime and bring down the road toll. Specifically, on 18 February 2002, the commissioner provided me with a briefing on a report from the speed-camera programme by the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General.

Hon Tony Ryall: Why is the Government considering a return to hidden speed cameras, when the previous Minister of Transport scrapped hidden cameras in the Waikato – Bay of Plenty region because the pilot programme had not cut speeding or reduced the number of road deaths; or is this just another way of meeting the Government’s target of a 30 percent increase in the number of speeding tickets to be issued by police officers this year?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: The reason the Minister of Transport is having his officials from the National Road Safety Committee look at the issue is to try to reduce the numbers of those crashes and victims of road accidents.

Mahara Okeroa: Why would police investigate the use of hidden speed cameras?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: As members of the National Road Safety Committee the police, alongside other agencies, are looking at a whole range of options towards reducing the road toll. Ideas include strategies to target drink-drivers and excess speed, and increased compliance in the use of restraints. This is about saving lives, not generating revenue—and we know it works.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Was speeding a factor in the recent case when a mental health patient was detained in an Auckland police cell and subsequently died there, despite the fact that a bed was available at the Mason Clinic and the Director of Mental Health at Waitakere in Auckland did not send that young person there?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I do not have that information with me; the original question was about hidden speed cameras. There are none at the moment.

Dr Muriel Newman: Does the Minister accept that the people who pay the fines are hard-working, responsible citizens, while the ratbags, who are the real danger on the roads and who owe almost $500 million in outstanding fines—a half of all fines collected—get away scot-free without having to pay?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I think the best way to not pay fines is not to break the law.

Hon Tony Ryall: Has the Minister bothered to inform his Cabinet colleagues, or the Minister of Transport, of the comments of Mr Gosche, the previous Minister of Transport, who advised that he ordered an end to hidden speed cameras because the pilot programme did not cut speeds or the number of road deaths; or is the Minister intent on increasing the amount of revenue gathered from motorists?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Hidden speed cameras were introduced by the National Government of the day. We decided that a more highly visible highway patrol would have a very good effect. It has, but we are not so silly as not to look at all the options for making our roads a lot safer.

Hon Tony Ryall: I seek leave to table a report that gives the comments of Mr Gosche, advising that he scrapped hidden speed cameras because they did not work.

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

Health Services—Rural Areas

10. JILL PETTIS (NZ Labour—Whanganui) to the Associate Minister of Health: What recent initiatives has the Government announced to improve health for people in rural areas?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Associate Minister of Health): Last Friday a funding package was announced to help rural nurses become nurse practitioners with prescribing rights. The package will help clinical nurse specialists in rural practices to take 1 year off to complete the necessary study to bring their qualifications up to nurse practitioner level. Nurses in rural areas are finding it difficult to meet the necessary criteria to be approved as practitioners because of their isolation and the difficulty in getting replacement locums. This scheme will help them.

Jill Pettis: What other measures have been announced to support improved health outcomes in rural New Zealand?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: This announcement is one more part of the rural funding package of $32 million announced last year by this Government, which is going towards ensuring a better quality of care and better access for people in rural areas. For example, last month I announced the establishment of the rural primary health-care recruitment service. This initiative is helping to ease the burden and reduce costs met by rural providers in recruiting primary health-care workers in rural areas.

Dr Lynda Scott: Has the Minister seen the letter to Minister of Health from Dr Paul Noonan, a rural general practitioner of 21 years in Matamata, who is leaving general practice because of inadequate locum cover and because primary health organisations are forcing one ideological race-based system on all in a way he describes as medically and morally unsound; and how does losing such an experienced GP possibly help rural general practices?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I do not in anyway accept the claims made by that general practitioner. There will always be individuals who have their opinion. We have put in place many schemes in rural areas. The rural recruitment scheme, the locum replacement scheme, and the rural retention scheme help and assist general practitioners. The establishment and development of primary health organisations will again assist in spreading the workload for many general practitioners working under pressure in rural New Zealand.

Pita Paraone: Can those living in rural areas be guaranteed medical care in times in emergency?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: This Government is doing everything possible to ensure that people in rural areas get health care when they need it. We are looking at the ambulatory services throughout this country and we are boosting the skills of rural nurse practitioners so that they can, as the first point of contact, deal with the trauma that they often come across.

Ian Ewen-Street: Is the Minister aware that the primary determinate of poor health is poverty, whether rural or urban; if so, will he be advising the Minister for Social Development and Employment to drop his plan to cut the benefits of people living in rural areas with higher unemployment, because it will lead to poor health outcomes; if not, why not?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I am not aware of any initiatives to cut the benefits of anyone in any area of New Zealand. My good friend and colleague Mr Maharey is putting in place schemes that will upskill people and assist them into employment and give them better incomes so that they can improve their health status.

Dr Lynda Scott: Does this Government see the increase in rural nurse practitioners as complementary to medical care or does it intend to replace general practitioners with nurses, as rural general practitioners leave practices due to the primary health organisation strategy, as Dr Noonan is doing?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Rural nurse practitioners will be complementary. I would like to quote the member herself when she said: “There’s nothing wrong with nurse practitioners working in practices.”

Infrastructure—Community Funding

11. JOHN KEY (NZ National—Helensville) to the Minister with responsibility for Auckland Issues: Does she stand by her statement to the House that “the infrastructure of Auckland and New Zealand cannot be funded on the basis of people on fixed incomes”; if not, why not?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD (Minister with responsibility for Auckland Issues): Yes, and the full sentence is: “The infrastructure of Auckland and New Zealand cannot be funded on the basis of people on fixed incomes who are often in expensive properties.” My point is that the rating system based on land or capital value of a property is not one that takes into account the income of the person who lives in that property.

John Key: How does the Minister reconcile her statement of 6 August when she said: “The regional council made a democratically arrived at decision. It’s not for Parliament to attack that decision,” with the Prime Minister’s comments on Monday that the Auckland Regional Council had set off on “a bonfire”, that the system adopted by the Auckland Regional Council was “biased against lower and middle income people”, and if she is truly doing her job as Minister with responsibility for Auckland Issues, why did she not make those comments before the Prime Minister did?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: I think if the member had bothered to read the New Zealand Herald on Saturday he would see that I had said almost exactly that, but I had made it very clear that I was making those comments as a citizen and not as a Minister. I do not believe it is useful for Parliament or Government to attack local government for doing its job.

Deborah Coddington: Now that she has admitted to the New Zealand Herald on Saturday that as a citizen she deeply disagrees with the Auckland Regional Council’s new rates, will she as the Minister responsible for Auckland Issues apologise to 88-year-old Mrs Janie Farquharson and her blind son for saying on Radio Pacific that if they could not pay their rates they should “talk to their bank of their insurance company and use their assets to pay an $8,500 rates bill,”; if not, why not?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: It is very unhelpful to personalise this issue. This is about trying to find the funds to build the infrastructure that Auckland needs, so that New Zealand’s economy can grow. What I was saying about the individual—and it applies to every individual—is that they have to make sure that their assets are used for their own benefit and to pay for their outgoings. That is the choice every citizen, every ratepayer, every homeowner, and every renter has to make.

Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As a point of clarification, is it acceptable to you and to this House that a Minister can go on Radio Pacific and personalise an issue, then come here and say she is not prepared to personalise the issue?

Mr SPEAKER: That is a political debating point, not a point of order.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it your understanding—it is important for us when asking questions—that a Minister can go on public radio and say “I am speaking as a private citizen” and therefore not be able to be asked in this House on that exact issue as a Minister; or is there no such thing as a Minister going on the public record as a private citizen and speaking on an issue?

Mr SPEAKER: I have not ruled out any question so far in this regard, today. I most certainly will listen to the questions.

Helen Duncan: Why is improving Auckland’s infrastructure so necessary for New Zealand’s well-being?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: Auckland is pivotal to the economic and social well-being of the whole country. Auckland’s regional economic development strategy, for example, advises that Auckland’s economic development is being held up by its infrastructure, much of which has reached design capacity. We need to get the problems fixed.

Mike Ward: Does the Minister agree that the public transport component of the Auckland rate increase would be more fairly funded from the same central government vote that pays for the motorways in this country?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: A large proportion of it is. It comes through Transfund New Zealand in the form of a public transport subsidy.

Paul Adams: Does the Minister agree her party is one that has traditionally upheld the interests of those on fixed incomes; if so, what sort of message does her statement in the primary question send to the Government’s traditional supporters?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: The message is that, yes, of course we care about individuals, but we are also concerned about the economic and social well-being of the country as a whole. Politics is a matter of trying to get that balance.

John Key: Has the Minister taken on board the comments by Mrs Janie Farquharson, an 88-year-old widow on the North Shore facing an annual rate bill of $8,500 when she said: “If she wants to stay in Parliament she had better do a lot of thinking, because, believe me, she won’t have a seat there next time”; if so, how has her thinking progressed from the rather uncaring and “let them eat cake” attitude she portrayed to Mrs Farquharson last week in Parliament?

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have heard this now several times today. Just then the Minister of Health called out an interjection before the Minister got up to speak. When members on this side of the House do it you jump on us and throw us out, but Ministers can do it at will.

Mr SPEAKER: I wonder whether the member would let me run the House. He does not help by contributing in that way. I try to be fair to everybody. I thought the question was properly asked and the Minister was about to start answering.

Rodney Hide: You didn’t hear my point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: The member will please sit down—I have had enough. Not on that issue.

Rodney Hide: You didn’t hear my point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: I heard the point of order. It is not a point of order.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is that the Minister of Health interjected before the Minister with responsibility for Auckland Issues got to speak. My point is that if we do that we get pulled up, we get asked to withdraw and apologise, and we get thrown out. We have heard the Minister of Health, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Education do it, all on the front bench—and you do nothing.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: In terms of the latter couple of claims, the member is confused between answers and questions. He has continuously referred to an interjection made by the Minister of Education. It is a matter of when it was made. The interjection was made during an answer, not during a question. I would be very happy if you were to rule that there would be no interjections during answers. It would certainly make life a lot easier on this side of the House. Secondly, the Minister of Health did make an interjection, but it was after the question had been finished.

Mr SPEAKER: That was perfectly correct. I want to say to people that I would be very happy to have no interjections whatsoever during the whole of question time. That is the current Standing Order and Speaker’s ruling. I will want to discuss that with the Standing Orders Committee. I would be very happy to do that, indeed. It would make my job very much easier all round.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. When you are having those discussions with the committee with power to look at those matters, I hope you do not come down with a finding that would continue what I think is a recent trend in this House to make it a sterile and a septic place. Frankly, it is a debating chamber, and I for my part want to see it alive.

Mr SPEAKER: I completely agree with the member. That is why I think we have one of the liveliest question times of any country in the world. We allow more supplementary questions than any other country I know of. As far as the flow is concerned, I will take notice of it. Direct interjections and noise during the asking of a question are out of order. I did not deem that to be so in this case.

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: I have been thinking about Auckland’s infrastructure problems for the 27 years I have been in public life, and for the whole of my life that I have lived in Auckland. I would like to quote the Mayor of Auckland, John Banks, who told a recent political party conference: “This Labour Government is better connected to this city than any other administration in our country’s history. We recognise that the problems we have with our infrastructure are putting real costs on individuals and businesses across New Zealand and in Auckland, and those costs have got to be met one way or the other. I would prefer them to be met through making sure we have the infrastructure so New Zealand can grow”.

John Key: Does the Minister think that the Auckland Regional Council ratepayers will be well served by Britomart—a building that cost over $200 million to build, a building that will cost $22 million a year to run, and which the operator, Tranz Rail, currently earns $5 million out of total revenue? Does she think Auckland Regional Council ratepayers will be well served by that infrastructure investment?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: Britomart is just one step in improving Auckland’s rail infrastructure. I would suggest that the National Party do more work and think about positive answers for Auckland, rather than trying to bring up trivial and interim objections. That member, who was introduced as a new MP, who admitted he would never have to work again, should start.

Immigration Act—Disclosure of Sexual Services

12. PETER BROWN (Senior Whip—NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: What steps has she taken to ensure that all immigrants who apply for a permit under the Immigration Act 1987 disclose any past, present or intended activities related to the provision of sexual services?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): The amendment to the Immigration Act contained in section 19 of the Prostitution Reform Act took effect on 28 June this year. It states that no permit may be granted “on the basis” that the person has provided, or intends to provide, commercial sexual services, and that is being enforced. If the member or any of his colleagues has come across anyone on a temporary permit who is providing commercial sexual services then I would be grateful for the details, because that would be grounds for revoking the permit and removing the individual from New Zealand—something that could not have happened before the amendment took effect.

Peter Brown: Noting that answer, can the Minister confirm that the Asian syndicate or syndicates that are endeavouring to establish brothels in this country are not in breach of section 19 of the Prostitution Reform Act?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I am unaware of the matter that the member raises, and if he would like to address the issue to me, I will have it investigated.

Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister agree that given the minimal police involvement with the prostitution industry under the new law, trafficking and sex slave activity will probably now be drawn to the police’s attention only when these young women are admitted to hospital or die; if not, why not?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: No, to the contrary, and I would like to acknowledge that it was the member himself who raised the original question in the House that led to some investigation into amendments to the Prostitution Reform Bill, as it was. As I said in my original answer, under the law as it was, if we discovered somebody working on an open work permit in a massage parlour—ergo a brothel—we would not have been able to cancel the permit and remove that person from New Zealand. We can do that now.

Gordon Copeland: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not sure whether the Minister did address my question. I was talking about the situation since the new law came into being and the fact that the police are no longer involved in the sex industry, and therefore it is unlikely, unless someone is admitted to hospital or dies, that the police will find out about sex slaves. I do not believe that question was addressed.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Sorry, I did say “no” at the outset because it will not be less likely, because the people who investigate those who are breaching permits are in fact the Immigration Service. It has more powers than it has ever had, thanks to that member.

Peter Brown: Does the Minister accept that by inserting clause 19 in the Prostitution Reform Act—and I recognise that it was her initiative—there is huge responsibility to comprehensively police it, and if she does recognise that as a responsibility, can she tell us what she is doing to police it?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I can tell that member that I was in Auckland last week launching the advance passenger screening system, which uses the advance passenger processing system, and that the head of border investigations of the New Zealand Immigration Service was very complimentary about a law change that can give them some real teeth.

End of Questions for Oral Answer

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

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