Questions and Answers For Tuesday
Tuesday, 26 August 2003
Questions to Ministers:
1. Solomon Islands—Military Deployment
2. Compliance Costs—Reduction
3. Environment, Minister—Confidence
4. Foreshore and Seabed—Public Domain
5. Rental Housing—Government Initiatives
6. Gambling Bill—Council Powers
7. Refugees—Missing Asylum Seekers
8. Mâori Television Service—Commencement Date
9. Waikato—High Tech Industry Developments
10. Compliance Costs—Reduction
11. Immigration—Public Health, Auckland
12. Alcohol—Public Consumption
Solomon Islands—Military Deployment
1. LUAMANUVAO WINNIE LABAN (NZ Labour—Mana) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Why have a further 125 New Zealand military personnel been sent to the Solomon Islands and how long will they be deployed?
Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade): The New Zealand Infantry Regiment on stand-by will be deployed to the Solomon Islands at the end of this week, probably for a period of up to 3 months. The deployment is to support police-led operations about to commence, aimed at securing illegal weapons not handed in as a result of the recent amnesty.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: How many weapons are still thought to be at large and what will be the actual role of military personnel be?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The numbers are improving all the time. At the end of last week some 2,700 weapons have been handed in, including 550 high-powered weapons. As of last evening that number had increased by 655, so 3,355 weapons were handed in—of those, 628 are high-powered. Our estimate is that probably just over 300 high-powered or military weapons are still out in the community. The police will act under search warrant to secure those weapons, with the military in the background and as an escort to ensure deterrence against violent resistance and as a quick-reaction force, if that is required.
Dr Wayne Mapp: When the Minister indicated on his visit to Australia in June this year that New Zealand could deploy between 100 and 200 armed forces personnel, why did the Government initially send 105 support and logistics people, but only now decide to send 125 infantry combat soldiers; has the situation deteriorated that they need that capability, or did he receive a phone call from Mr Downer?
Hon PHIL GOFF: When we announced on 14 July that we would be sending a deployment to the Solomon Islands, we announced that those who were needed immediately would go immediately. That included the helicopters, the support personnel, the headquarters staff, an engineer element, a medical, civil, and humanitarian group. We said that the infantry would be on 7-day stand-by until they were needed. At the end of the amnesty, as I mentioned in my initial answer, we are now spreading out across the whole of the Solomon Islands. There is now an actual need for the infantry company, and the company will be sent, as indicated previously, when it was needed.
Keith Locke: How will the security provided by the New Zealand military personnel assist tribal leaders in advancing community peace-building projects and grass-roots development, and how will New Zealand assist in advancing such projects?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The key role of the military will be to back up the police-led deployment, and the key first task is to bring in the weapons. Until the weapons are secured, the prospects of going on to start the process of rebuilding the Solomon Islands, economically and socially, cannot be done. Part of the deployment, however, will be working directly on civil and humanitarian projects, and the New Zealanders in these sorts of deployments have a very good reputation for working alongside local people to achieve those ends.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Is the Minister really suggesting that the situation in the Solomons now is potentially more dangerous, and thus needs 125 combat soldiers now, than it was at the initial deployment?
Hon PHIL GOFF: No, the member should listen. The reason the people are going up there is that we have moved from phase 1, which did not require the people on the ground because it was a voluntary weapon hand-in, to stage 2 where the police are now being based in six different areas of the Solomons Islands that require that sort of military back-up. The level of danger is no higher today than it was 5 weeks ago, but obviously when people go in to secure weapons from people who have not voluntarily given them up, we need the military back-up behind the police.
2. Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT NZ) to the Minister for Small Business: As the Business NZ - KPMG Compliance Cost Survey reveals only three of the 760 New Zealand businesses surveyed say that compliance costs have not increased under this Government, and identifies health and safety, tax, employment relations and ACC as having the largest increase in compliance costs and given the Government has legislated in each of these areas, what, if anything, will it do to reverse this trend of increasing compliance costs for business?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Small Business): Firstly, I would like to thank Business New Zealand for providing some significant information in helping this Government on the way through compliance cost issues. Secondly, if the member had read the report a little more carefully, he would have seen that in the vast majority of areas questioned—in fact, 13 areas out of the 18—up to 80 percent of respondents actually said that compliance costs had either not changed or decreased. I welcome all feedback from business on compliance costs, and also welcome people to read the document carefully.
Hon Richard Prebble: Would the Minister care to clarify that if I read to him: “It is clear that recent changes to employment legislation, particularly HSE, has had a dramatic impact on reordering the issues of priority, likely changes to the Holidays Act and the Employment Relations Act, and possible moves on pay equity will only continue this trend”, and, given that, what is this Minister doing about it?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I respectfully refer the member to table 22 on page 31 of the report.
Mark Peck: What other steps have been taken by this Government to reduce compliance costs?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: As I have previously told this House, this Government has shown great dedication to reducing compliance costs. For example, we are implementing over 80 percent of the recommendations of the business compliance cost panel, which represents at least 95 percent of potential benefits for compliance cost reduction. After a careful review of the last 12 years of Government in this country, in the last 3 years under this Government we have achieved more in the tax simplification area with regard to debt and hardship provisions, use of money interest provisions, and adjustments to trading stock, and have made business a lot better placed to conduct in this country.
Lindsay Tisch: When numerous surveys this year, including the Economic Freedom of the World: 2003 Annual Report, the National Bank small business monitor, the Auckland Chamber of Commerce red-tape register survey, and now the Business NZ - KPMG Compliance Cost Survey, which all tell of business compliance costs and regulatory creep being an increasing problem under this Government, why does the Minister continue to deny that this Government has burdened the business community with more red tape and compliance?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: We have never denied that compliance and regulations are issues with business. There is no country in the world that does not have a compliance and regulatory regime. The 2003 Index of Economic Freedom, published by the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing organisation, and the Wall Street Journal describe New Zealand’s regulatory regime as relatively light and transparent, and commented that it is easy to establish a business in New Zealand. However, more important, it ranked New Zealand third in the world, which has improved since 1998. Australia, as one of our biggest trading partners, ranked ninth.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister find it ironic that the Business New Zealand - KPMG survey indicates that the very employee stress that his Government had tried to legislate out of existence has merely been transferred on to small business employers, thus inhibiting their productivity, efficiency, and business growth, and who would he suggest that stressed employers now turn to?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I do not find it an irony, at all.
Hon Richard Prebble: How does the Minister reconcile his statements to the House today that the Government’s Employment Relations Act has not increased compliance costs with the fact that he voted against Margaret Wilson’s proposals, which were recently taken to Cabinet, to allow employers to take union fees off people who do not belong to the union; to change unjustified dismissal, now to be unfair dismissal; and to actually introduce the provision whereby an employer who wins a tender has to take over the employees of the firm that has lost? Why did he vote against all that if he says that compliance costs are not a problem?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I do not where the member gets his information from, but, as usual, it is wrong, wrong, and wrong.
3. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in the Minister for the Environment following her reported statement “Um, I don’t know” in response to the New Zealand Herald’s question “Are you happy to eat GM products?”?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: With reference to the Minister’s statement, “In this area, we are into management of risk or limitation of risk”, does she think that the 68 percent of New Zealanders who told the New Zealand Herald’s weekend poll they wanted the moratorium continued will tolerate this approach of allowing the risks to increase?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government is putting in place one of the strongest regulatory regimes in the developed world. The Minister is absolutely correct to say that one is always involved in management of risk.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does she have the confidence in herself to appear before the select committee inquiry into GM corn, noting that she personally made phone calls to key scientists; her own department’s quite extensive involvement; that she said publicly during the election that there would be total openness by all those involved; and that she accused TV3 of ambushing her; or will Labour members on the select committee block the Prime Minister being able to appear before the committee?
Mr SPEAKER: No, that question is not related specifically to the question that was asked.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question we have before the House is about confidence. My question was about the Prime Minister having the confidence to front before a select committee, and it is also about the safety of GM products. I have to say to you, Mr Speaker, that the central issue of the inquiry by the select committee is the very issue of public confidence and the safety of genetically modified products.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The original question is about the Prime Minister’s confidence in the Minister for the Environment. One cannot expand it beyond the Minister for the Environment.
Mr SPEAKER: That is perfectly correct, and that is the advice I have received. The question must be related to the original question, which was about the Minister for the Environment.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I noticed while Dr Nick Smith was asking his question, that Mr Trevor Mallard and Dr Michael Cullen were having a conversation with you. I fear that they may have been suggesting to you that the question was out or order. That is not a proper process. If they believe that the question is out of order, then the proper approach is not to whisper in the Speaker’s ear but rather to take a point of order and make that point.
Mr SPEAKER: If I thought they were doing that, they would have been ordered from the Chamber. I listened to the remarks the Clerk made. I always take the advice of the Clerk, and I had in my own mind the difficulty with that particular question, and I have ruled accordingly.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave of the House to be able to ask the question, because I think there is significant public interest in whether the Prime Minister will appear.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought. Is there any objection? There is.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. While I accept the response that you gave to Mr Hide, none the less a number of us did see the mutterings from Dr Cullen and Mr Mallard, and it does cause us concern. Further to that, quite often in these situations where you have felt the question strayed from the pure intent of the primary question, you have, rather than ruling it out, invited the questioner to rephrase his or her question so it does comply with the Standing Orders and meets the test that you are obliged to apply on behalf of the House. I wonder whether this case might be a similar one.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, I think that is a reasonable request. I will let Dr Smith have another go.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does the Prime Minister agree with the answer from the Minister for the Environment when asked: “Are you happy to eat GM products?”, which was “Um, I don’t know”, and is that Government policy?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It is always helpful when people take quotations in their full context. The Minister for the Environment actually said: “Um, I don’t know, I travel quite a lot, I probably have ingested it and not known it.” She went on to say, I thought, with her usual facility with words: “ I tell you, I’ve had a helluva lot more fears about some of the chemicals on our things.”
Hon Brian Donnelly: Pursuant to the Business and Economic Research economic analysis of the risks and opportunities that may arise from genetically modified (GM) technologies that was contracted as part of the Government’s response to the royal commission report, why has the Government ignored its findings in relation to GM organisms in the human food chain?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I do not think it is true that we have ignored those findings. We have followed a complete precautionary approach all the way through, and have continued to do so. The point that has been made frequently, of course, is that it is almost certain that GM foods are already in the New Zealand food chain.
Rodney Hide: In the light of the Prime Minister’s answer to the primary question, on what date did the Prime Minister learn that her brother-in-law had advised the Minister for the Environment by email that: “In my opinion the genie is out, and it will be impossible to adhere to the present zero NZ GM standard in the long term.”, or is this another one of those communications about which the Government, um, does not know?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am sure I can obtain an answer for the member, but I do not have the information in front of me to answer a question specific about that date.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting that the moratorium on GM is to end in just 7 weeks’ time, why should New Zealanders have any confidence in the Government’s regulatory regime when the very best that the Minister who is responsible for that regime can say, when asked: “Are you happy to eat GM products?”, is “Um, I don’t know”, plus a lot of other confusion, and does the Prime Minister believe that that is good enough?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I think a number of members could learn sometimes to say “don’t know”, when they do not. The Minister was actually saying that she travels a lot and did not know whether she has ingested GM products.
Hon Brian Donnelly: Is it true that on 9 April 2003 the Cabinet policy committee directed the Environmental Risk Management Authority to carry out further work on how it would assess economic impacts, and that the implications of that policy were not to be reported until 31 October 2004; if so, how can the Government be confident that the Environmental Risk Management Authority has the capacity for economic analysis of applications in the interim?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, but fundamentally it is not the Environmental Risk Management Authority’s role to make economic judgments. People make those judgments based on a number of considerations. It is not the authority’s primary role. It is for the person who is investing in the product to make those economic judgments. What I am getting fascinated by is a clear sign that two parties in this Parliament are doing U-turns on this policy.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the second to last answer the acting Prime Minister did not seem to know anything about the subject. All of a sudden he makes an allegation that two parties are making U-turn on a very fair question, which simply was: “Why are we going to have a clearance 1 year before there is an economic report in from the Environmental Risk Management Authority?”. Frankly, he can say all those things, but he cannot make allegations about other parties’ policies.
Mr SPEAKER: He can actually make a comment. He can make a comment, but of course, that comment may not necessarily be accepted by any other member of the House. It stands as that.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Given that the Minister in charge of the Environmental Risk Management Authority does not know whether she is happy to eat GM products, can the Prime Minister tell us whether she is happy to eat GM products?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I think that the Prime Minister has eaten the Leader of the Opposition on a number of occasions in this House and he is some kind of GM product. [Interruption] I withdraw and apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: I will have the answer now please.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: While I am—
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. There will be no reference to the absence of any member in this House. That is a long established rule.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There was no reference to the Prime Minister’s whereabouts whatsoever. I just said: “Where is she.”. She could be outside for all members know.
Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that she is not in the Chamber, as I do too, and that is just playing with words.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am the Prime Minister’s deputy, not her food taster. I do not know what the Prime Minister’s taste in food is.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: What is the Prime Minister’s response to major exporters Zespri, ENZA Ltd, Heinz-Wattie Ltd, Sanitarium, and to the many small food exporters that say they have built a market reputation on GE-free foods, and that releasing GE crops will damage their export earnings?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: My reading of the evidence is that while there is some evidence to demonstrate that in particular crop areas genetically modified crops may have a lesser market because of fears, there is no real evidence that that translates across into other exports of other products from the same country.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Are small fast-growing, niche-marketing, value-added export businesses like Lisa’s healthy foods, now turning over $6 million, New Zealand free-range egg and poultry company getting twice the price of US eggs in the US, and Celtic Organic Winery
consistent with the Government’s growth and innovation strategy; if so, will the Government support their development and protect their market advantage?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: There are countries that are successfully exporting genetically modified food, non - genetically modified non-organic food, and organic food simultaneously.
Foreshore and Seabed—Public Domain
4. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statement that “the foreshore and seabed should be public domain”, and does this mean her Government will move to extinguish indigenous title?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Prime Minister: The Government’s proposal is for the foreshore and seabed to be public domain. The Government’s proposals deliberately do not use the concept of ownership or the term “title”.
Hon Bill English: Is the Court of Appeal correct when it states that Mâori customary title must be extinguished before it can be regarded as ceasing to exist, and if the court is correct, will the Government move to extinguish indigenous title?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: What the Government has stated is that the law at present, the Te Ture Whenua Mâori Act, will be changed so that the provision whereby one can move from the recognition of Mâori customary rights to the granting of freehold title will be removed.
Jill Pettis: Could the Minister advise the House further what the Government is proposing to do to protect Mâori customary interests in the future?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government proposed there should be processes to enable the customary interests of whânau, hapû, and iwi in the foreshore and seabed to be acknowledged, and specific rights to be identified and protected. The Government is also proposing for a process to recognise ancestral connection between whânau, hapû, and iwi in particular areas of seabed and foreshore.
Dail Jones: Is her use of the term “public domain” linked to the use of that term by the USA—a federal republic—to signify land owned and controlled by the State or Federal Government, what we in New Zealand—a constitutional monarchy—call Crown land and local body land, or is it linked to international copyright law, which includes in the “public domain” icons such as Pinocchio, Santa Claus, and ____________________ Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Some parties go five better than that, in my experience in this House. No, the term “public domain” is actually used in New Zealand as well. Interestingly enough, I find myself in agreement with the co-leader of the Green Party. The term that is used in English, which has some historical relevance, is the idea of the “commons”.
Hon Ken Shirley: Given that both the Prime Minister’s and the Attorney-General’s initial response, following the Court of Appeal decision, was to assert Crown ownership and to legislate accordingly, and that their position now is to legislate for non-ownership, could the Prime Minister tell the House what is the practical difference between public domain and Crown ownership?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: One very important difference is that the language of ownership is clearly divisive in this context. If one wants to be divisive, as one’s main purpose, then continue to use the concept of “ownership” as the main consideration.
Metiria Turei: Given the Government’s timetable for hui for Mâori consultation on the foreshore issue, what timetable of other public meetings has the Government organised to bring Pâkehâ and Mâori New Zealanders together to explore options and potential resolution; if none, why not, given the damage to our community caused by the irresponsible, racially divisive rhetoric being touted about by other politicians?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That member cannot use that phrase in relation to politicians in this House, and she should be asked to withdraw and apologise, and wash her mouth out.
Mr SPEAKER: That last comment was unnecessary. I just say the last part of the member’s question was unnecessary to complete the sense of the question, and I ask the Minister to reply to the earlier part.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government certainly will be holding discussions. I know that many Government members are going to be holding discussions with a whole range of local groups in areas such as recreation, environment, access groups, and so on. We will be discussing with whânau, hapû, and iwi, via the hui process. I think in terms of legal decisions to be made around consultation in these sorts of areas, we would be rather hard-pressed to explain why we are consulting everybody simultaneously.
Hon Peter Dunne: If “public domain” refers to land or space held on behalf of all New Zealanders, who actually owns it?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The essence of the Government’s decision is that we do not need to express the concept of ownership in this regard, and, surprisingly enough, that appears to have the support of 58 percent of the public, compared with 20 percent—which a number of parties are fighting over—who support Crown ownership.
Hon Bill English: What action will the Government take in the light of the following statement made by New Zealand’s highest court—the Court of Appeal—
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: No, the Privy Council.
Hon Bill English: —OK, the second-highest court—“Mâori customary title is no different from any other common-law interest which continues to exist, unless and until it is lawfully abrogated.”?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: We are going to remove the notion of moving to freehold title as part of the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act. The notion of title, in itself, is simply a statement of what one’s rights are.
Dail Jones: If, as the Prime Minister says, no one will own the land, would it then follow that no one can trespass on the land and therefore beach parties on the foreshore at Mount Maunganui at New Year, or on Takapuna beach, or on Te Atatu beach, will run rampant and uncontrolled because no one will be committing an offence, because no one owns the land and therefore no one will be trespassing on it?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The common misconception underlying that is that one has to own something in order to regulate it. Parliament is sovereign, and, under parliamentary authority, regulation of almost anything can occur. There are two questions on today’s Order Paper complaining that this Government is regulating far too many things it does not own.
Hon Ken Shirley: Is it still the Government’s intention to transfer the ownership of the foreshore and lake beds of 14 Rotorua lakes from the Crown to Mâori; if so, why is the ownership of the lake foreshores and lake beds different from the coastal foreshores and seabed?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Those are part of a treaty settlement. This is not a treaty issue; it is an issue arising out of common-law rights and the expression of customary rights, and those need to be settled in a different way.
Hon Bill English: Given the Court of Appeal’s view that indigenous title will continue to exist until it is lawfully abrogated, can the Prime Minister confirm whether the Government intends to legislate in a way that will extinguish indigenous or customary title?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Court of Appeal uses a range of language, particularly the language of customary rights. It points out that customary rights are extinguished unless that is explicitly so by means of legislation. Unlike the member opposite, this Government is not proposing to limit that expression of customary rights.
Rental Housing—Government Initiatives
5. GEORGINA BEYER (NZ Labour—Wairarapa) to the Minister of Housing: What initiatives is the Government taking to promote stable tenancies?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Housing): I announced a package of measures to assist landlords and tenants at the New Zealand Property Investors Federation conference on Saturday. The package includes improved support for tenancy tribunal judgment creditors who are having difficulty locating a debtor, more practical assistance for Work and Income clients who are at risk of losing a tenancy, and the development of better access to tenancy tribunal public records, and information seminars for landlords to spread best practice. It is a balanced package aimed at assisting both good tenants and good landlords.
Georgina Beyer: What will be the benefits of those initiatives?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I think the benefits from the changes are clear. Tenants will be less likely to lose their home through eviction, and landlords will be less likely to miss out on recovering money that the tenancy tribunal has ordered a tenant to pay. Overall, the relationship between tenants and landlords should be more balanced and enhanced by the measures that were announced on Saturday.
Sue Bradford: What consultation, if any, did the Government undertake with tenants protection groups, civil liberties groups, and beneficiary advocacy groups in the development of the latest legislation on residential tenancies, and will such groups have any further opportunity at all to have an input into those substantial changes?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: There was a good deal, which is why a number of tenancy agencies came out in support of the changes over the weekend. They will continue to be involved in discussions.
Marc Alexander: Will the ability for courts to use Government-held address information to trace tenancy tribunal order debtors be extended beyond the Ministry of Social Development to include departments like Inland Revenue in recognition of the fact that not all recalcitrant tenants are beneficiaries?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes. We are ensuring that databases, apart from the Ministry of Social Development, can be used, but not the Inland Revenue Department.
Marc Alexander: In the light of the move to ensure that tenants are not evicted by covering their rent arrears through Work and Income, is the Minister concerned that, although that should ensure the landlord gets paid, it does not make such tenants any more responsible for their actions when the taxpayer always picks up the tab; if not, why not?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: One of the problems we have is with bad landlords and bad tenants. There is a problem on both sides of the equation, and the member can tell from my answers so far that this Government is determined to get a balanced relationship between both partners so that they can have a good, stable tenancy.
Gambling Bill—Council Powers
6. SUE BRADFORD (Green) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: What is his response to comments by Manukau Mayor, Sir Barry Curtis, about the Gambling Bill that “we asked for powers to be given to councils to control the number and location of gambling outlets in their area … But sadly this intention is not evident in the Gambling Bill … Unless the proposed legislation is changed we will not be given the tools needed to control the problem.”?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Internal Affairs): The bill does give councils the power to develop polices controlling the number and location of gambling outlets in their district. Councils may veto all gaming-machine sites established after 17 October 2001. These powers extend to non-casino gaming machines in pubs and clubs.
Sue Bradford: How can the Minister possibly say that the Gambling Bill gives communities control over gambling when the Manukau City Council will be able to exercise control over just 9 percent of all the pokies in the city; does he approve of a situation in which, no matter how much South Aucklanders want to greatly reduce the number of pokie machines in their community, this bill and this Government will not let them?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Venues already licensed on 17 October 2001 do not have perpetual rights.
Lynne Pillay: Does the research quoted by Sir Barry Curtis find similar problem-gambling representation rates to previous research?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Yes. The Manukau City Council report refers to research that puts the rate of problem gambling at between 1.1 and 3.1 percent of the population. This is consistent with other research on the prevalence of problem gambling.
Judith Collins: Is the Minister proud of the fact that, during his time as Minister, the number of pokie machines outside casinos has increased from 13,812 to 25,221?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: This Government is proud that it is doing something about the gambling problem that this country faces, and I hope the member opposite will support the Government when the Committee stage of the bill comes up.
Brent Catchpole: Given that the Minister has failed to provide local councils with the powers that they requested to control the number and locations of gambling outlets, what confidence can communities have that the funds raised in their areas will not be siphoned off into a centralised fund distributed to organisations sympathetic to the Government?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I do not think the member should listen to rumours of other parties. We are not centralising the funds one little bit. I have told him that before. He ought to listen.
Sue Bradford: Is the member concerned by the recent Manukau City social impact report, which cites the proliferation of non-casino gaming machines as causing “neglect of children, relationship break-up, debt, eviction, and forced mortgagee sales”; why will he not support amendments to the Gambling Bill giving Manukau—and all other councils—the ability to control the explosion of problem gambling in our communities?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: The bill does give councils the power to develop policies controlling the number and location of outlets in their districts.
Refugees—Missing Asylum Seekers
7. HELEN DUNCAN (NZ Labour) to the Minister of Immigration: Did she follow up on the claim that an asylum seeker had gone missing from an Auckland refugee hostel, that there had been a cover up by the New Zealand Immigration Service and the Refugee Council and that he had neither been found nor deported?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): Yes, I did. The individual concerned had not gone missing from the hostel because he was not staying at it. Therefore, there was no cover-up by the Immigration Service or the Refugee Council. The police advised the Immigration Service that the individual concerned was arrested on 14 April 2003 and remanded in custody. During the remand period he was served with a removal order, which was executed after he was convicted. He was removed on 5 August 2003.
Helen Duncan: What advice can the Minister give someone who was aware of circumstances that raise concerns about an individual’s immigration status?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: People should write to me as Minister or to the New Zealand Immigration Service so that the facts can be ascertained. In this case, the person who had these concerns could have been told that the individual had been removed from New Zealand some 9 days before the press release was issued, which may have left Mr Peters, to quote the Dominion Post, with egg on his face.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: In view of the fact that the New Zealand Immigration Service funds the refugee centre in west Auckland and that this man’s clothes were picked up by the police from that refugee centre, what has the Minister done to stop a night supervisor and a group of Iranians from supplying illegal drugs to refugee occupants of that hostel?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I would just like to highlight to that member that he has not produced one single shred of evidence to support any claim he has made in respect of this case. This individual did have his clothes picked up by the police, but he had not been staying there for several months and he was never detained at the hostel.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Yes he was.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: He was never detained at the hostel, because he in fact claimed refugee status prior to the operational instruction of 19 September 2001 coming into effect.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Would the Minister be surprised to learn that my informant comes from the centre for refugees at Henderson, whence this person was domiciled for a short time, and, second, that in addition to being supplied illegal drugs by a night supervisor and a group of Iranians, there was also the same degree of access to alcohol supplied by the same supervisor and group of Iranians; and what on earth are New Zealand’s taxpayers doing paying for this farce, about which she apparently knows very little?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Given that the individual complainant has written to the member concerned and not one single shred of evidence that has been produced has actually been substantiated, I would like to see some real evidence from that member before he wastes my time again.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it true that the Minister told a reporter on 14 August that there were “lots of immigrants in New Zealand” who are legal immigrants, that there are lots of illegal immigrants in New Zealand; and how many are there that she is aware of?
Hon Lianne Dalziel: Lots of legal immigrants?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: That is what she said on 14 August, when she was being a smart alec—and 20,000 overstayers in this country illegally—
Hon Lianne Dalziel: I didn’t say that.
Mr SPEAKER: I want the question to be asked. The member does interpolate but other people do too, and that is out of order. Please ask the question from the beginning.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I hesitate to hold things up, but the member did actually ask in the first attempt at the question whether she stated there were lots of “legal” immigrants. I am sure he meant to say “illegal”.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, the member did say that. I would ask him now to restate his question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I said—and I will repeat it—is the Minister aware of her comments on 14 August to the effect that there were “lots of illegal immigrants in New Zealand”, and is she also aware of the fact that there are about 20,000 illegal overstayers; and what on earth is she doing about it, and how come she is not smiling anymore?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The reason that I am not smiling is I am utterly confused by the ridiculousness of a question that asks me to recall a comment that I do not recall ever making to the media on 14 August, because on 14 August I told the media that Winston Peters had got it totally and completely wrong, which is why the Dominion Post said he had egg on his face over the matter.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table a document dated 10 August by someone from the migrant centre for refugees at Henderson, whose name I cannot possibly divulge, which outlines the facts that this Minister is so gaily denying, again.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is not asking another question; he is asking to table a document?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Yes.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Question No. 8 to Minister
Hon MURRAY McCULLY (NZ National—East Coast Bays): In view of the absence of the Minister of Mâori Affairs on urgent public business, I seek leave to defer this question till next sitting day.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to defer. Is there any objection? There is. Please ask the question.
Mâori Television Service—Commencement Date
8. Hon MURRAY McCULLY (NZ National—East Coast Bays) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs: Is it correct that the Mâori Television Service was due to commence broadcasting in June 2002, and when is the channel now expected to commence broadcasting following the resignation of its chief executive, Derek Fox, last week?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House), on behalf of the Minister of Mâori Affairs: Yes. The to-air date is still dependent upon a number of operational activities, as identified in the Mâori Television Service’s 2003-04 statement of intent. Good progress has been made on a number of those issues.
Hon Murray McCully: Given that the Mâori Television Service, under the supervision of the Minister of Mâori Affairs, has now lost two chief executives in addition to both the chairman and the chief executive of Te Mângai Pâho, is now running over 18 months late in meeting its target on-air date and has UHF frequencies that will cause interference to several hundred thousand New Zealand television viewers, can the Minister assure the House that the Minister of Mâori Affairs has everything under control?
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I hesitate a little to bring this up, but it is my understanding that the member who is asking the questions has extensive radio interests. If he gives me an assurance that that is no longer the case, then I will accept it, but he certainly did, recently.
Mr SPEAKER: No. The member asked a legitimate question; he deserves a legitimate answer.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Mâori Television Service legislation has now been passed and the board is in control of the operation and development of the Mâori Television Service. Certainly, it has been taking longer to achieve conclusion than would have been hoped, but a number of factors have contributed to that.
Mahara Okeroa: Could the Minister explain the progress that the Mâori Television Service has made, to date?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Suitable studio and accommodation premises have been found and staff recruited, while 1,100 hours of programming have been completed, operational funding issues have been resolved, and transmission issues are, hopefully, close to being resolved.
Deborah Coddington: Does the Minister think it is acceptable that the Mâori Television Service board drop its investigation into the complaint that Derek Fox sexually harassed a female staff member, just because Derek Fox has resigned; if so, are there two standards in this country—one for the Mâori Television Service, and one for every other employer who has to abide by health and safety in employment regulations?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: That is a board matter. Of course, if further complaints are to be made, then that could well be a police matter.
Hon Murray McCully: Is the Minister able to confirm reports that the Government is now considering a proposal to use different UHF frequencies for the Mâori Television Service, because the allocated frequencies, at 35 to 38 on the band, would have the effect of causing interference to some hundreds of thousands of New Zealand television viewers; if so, can the Minister advise when the Government will decide that matter?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The member’s friends in Sky have certainly been involved in discussions with the Mâori Television Service on this matter. The issue he refers to is one of Sky and, indeed, of a number of other users illegally camping on broadcasting frequencies reserved for Mâori broadcasting.
Deborah Coddington: In the light of his answer to my previous supplementary question, why will the Minister not direct the board of the Mâori Television Service to allow Derek Fox to clear his good name through a board inquiry?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It was Mr Fox’s conclusion that he was better to resign, at that point.
Waikato—High Tech Industry Developments
9. MARTIN GALLAGHER (NZ Labour—Hamilton West) to the Minister for Economic Development: What innovative high-tech industry developments has the coalition Government been involved with in the Waikato region recently?
Hon JIM ANDERTON (Minister for Economic Development): Among a number of innovative Waikato businesses that Government agencies have been working with, one particular high-tech development is Pacific Aerospace. Industry New Zealand, Trade New Zealand—now New Zealand Trade and Enterprise—along with Investment New Zealand and Tech New Zealand have all been working closely with Pacific Aerospace, New Zealand’s only aircraft manufacturer. They have been supporting their manufacturing overseas marketing development, as well as international certification of the new aircraft, the PAC 750LX, which is able to lift large payloads and can operate from small landing strips.
Martin Gallagher: What is the significance of this company?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: Pacific Aerospace is a successor of the New Zealand Pioneer Topdressing Company established by Ozzie James in 1954, and exports fully built aircraft as well as aircraft componentry. The company manufactured the Fletcher topdresser, an icon of New Zealand agriculture. It is now exporting to Singapore, Thailand, Australia, and the United States, and is planning export activity in Europe and Africa. This new aircraft is a world leader in its class. It will be an ambassador for New Zealand innovation around the world. It expects by the end of 2004 to have earned $25 million extra in export income, and by 2005 a further $30 million, with extra sales increasing year on year.
R Doug Woolerton: Do the innovative high-tech developments include a tax or levy on the emissions of dairy cows—Waikato’s main income earner—and where were the Labour members for Hamilton when the flatulence tax was being debated in Garden Place last Friday?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I think that New Zealand making a contribution to the problem of global warming is extraordinarily innovative and very responsible.
10. LINDSAY TISCH (NZ National—Piako) to the Minister for Small Business: In light of the Business NZ - KPMG Compliance Cost Survey released yesterday, does he acknowledge that the Government’s attempts to reduce business compliance costs have failed; if not, why not?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Small Business): No, for the reasons I outlined in response to question 2 this afternoon. For the edification of the member, compliance costs and regulation are a journey not a destination, and under this Government it will be a wonderful journey for all businesses.
Lindsay Tisch: How does he explain results of the KPMG survey that show that compliance costs are estimated at $3,400 for each employee of a small business, and have increased for the majority of businesses over the past 12 months; and does he accept KPMG’s comment that the Government needs to do more than the current tinkering to reduce compliance costs?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: No.
H V Ross Robertson: Has the Minister received any reports at all suggesting how New Zealand businesses manage compliance costs?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Yesterday I released the perception survey prepared by Massey University on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Development, which shows that the majority of businesses deal readily with compliance requirements, as they acknowledge it as part and parcel of doing business. The survey also found that business concerns with tax-related compliance requirements were minimal and declining.
Lindsay Tisch: Does the Minister accept the Auckland Chamber of Commerce survey that small businesses with less than five staff are spending 172 hours annually, or nearly 4½ weeks full time on Government red tape and compliance issues, and does he consider this satisfactory; if not, what does he intend doing to reduce the cost for small businesses?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: We welcome all this information, and it is informing our policy debate. I tell the member that the Hon David Cunliffe will be releasing some significant information in that regard to alleviate these issues.
Dr Muriel Newman: With regard to the escalation in compliance costs since Labour has been in power, what is the Minister’s response to claims that his Government, with its anti-business agenda, is being driven by its cronies in the unions?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Like that member’s leader, obviously the information she gets is absolutely incorrect and wrong.
Immigration—Public Health, Auckland
11. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Health: What reports has she received, if any, about the adverse effects of immigration since the 1999 election on public health in the Auckland region, and what action has she taken?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): While I do not have any specific reports with regard to the impact of immigration on health in the Auckland region, I am aware that this and other issues relating to overseas students, overstayers, etc., have been of concern to district health boards. In recognition of these concerns the Government has put in funding of $5.8 million for each year from 2001 to 2003. It also changed the method of updating population changes, including immigration, to ensure appropriate distribution of funding takes place annually.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister confirm the percentage of TB cases in the Auckland region in the last 12 months that were born outside New Zealand as being 75 percent of those cases, and why would she not regard this, as in any other country by any Minister of Health, as an act of treason against the interests of New Zealand people?
Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I cannot confirm those cases. However, I would be happy to get the figures for the member. I know I have in my papers cases that go back a number of years that show that we have had cases of TB coming in, particularly from refugees into New Zealand. However, it is nothing new; it has gone on for quite a number of years.
Dr Lynda Scott: Why is the population-based funding formula based on 1996 census figures, which do not take into account the large number of new immigrants, at around 30,000, and refugees who are part of the Auckland district health board population, meaning the Auckland District Health Board is $8 million worse off, and why do overseas students not have some form of health insurance?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The member is correct that assessment on population for New Zealand has been done on census. She may not have heard me in my answer say that we have changed that, and from this year onward annual information will be available from Statistics New Zealand on population changes, including immigration, which will be used to inform the appropriate distribution of funding for district health boards. This is a first. I am glad this Government has done it, because having migrants come to New Zealand is not a new thing; it has been going on for decades. Ensuring that we fund it correctly is new, under this Government. The member also asked about overseas students. I am pleased that work has been done by the Minister of Immigration, the Minister of Education, and myself on ensuring in the future that overseas students have medical insurance. It is a shame that it did not happen a long time ago.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I again ask Minister: what has she done to tackle the rate of tuberculosis incidence in Auckland that is twice that of the national average, and does she not admit that the cause of that is unmedically tested immigrant students, and refugees as well, and why should one not regard this as an act of treason against the health interests of the New Zealand people?
Mr SPEAKER: Two of those questions can be answered.
Hon ANNETTE KING: First of all, the member did not ask me what I had done about tuberculosis, in his original question. He asked me what figures I had, and I said I could not provide those figures but that I was happy to get them for him. These days tuberculosis is a very treatable disease. It is treated with high levels of antibiotics. I can assure the member that any person who gets tuberculosis in New Zealand, whether a new migrant or a New Zealander, is treated with the very best of care.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table by way of one example an article from the Dominion Post of 5 August 2003, where a Hutt dental worker dealing with over 100 school children was diagnosed as having tuberculosis.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
12. MARC ALEXANDER (United Future) to the Minister of Justice: What reports has she received, if any, about the adverse effects of immigration since the 1999 election on public health in the Auckland region, and what action has she taken?
Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Justice): Drinking alcohol in a public place is an offence under the Summary Offences Act for under-age drinkers, who are subject to fines. Under the Local Government Act limited bans on all drinking of liquor in a public place can be imposed by by-laws, with breach of by-laws subject to fines up to $20,000. While it is not generally illegal to drink or be drunk in a public place, sanctions, including fines and imprisonment, can be imposed under the Summary Offences Act on those who behave in a disorderly or offensive manner.
Marc Alexander: Is the Minister concerned that the only legal mechanism that Wellington police employed when they recently cracked down on 80 under-age drinkers—one as young as 9—in the central city, was to take them home and fine their parents $200, when in many cases parents did not seem to care or admitted that they could not control their children; if so, what does he intend to do about it?
Hon PHIL GOFF: It is appropriate if the police decided to lay charges against parents for not exercising proper care over their children. It is not appropriate, of course, to enter convictions against 9-year-olds. That has never been legal in New Zealand. The obvious thing for the police to do under, I think, section 48 of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act or under the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act is to take people who are suffering from drunkenness to their home whether they be a child or an adult. If adults cannot be taken home, they can be put in a police cell for 12 hours to sober up.
Tim Barnett: Is there evidence that local liquor bans reduce some of the problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption?
Hon PHIL GOFF: Yes. The police credit by-laws banning public liquor consumption from central business districts in some parts of New Zealand with significantly reducing disorder, antisocial behaviour, and alcohol-related criminal offending. [Interruption] The member is not in Courtenay Place now. He should show some order when I am trying to answer a question. The success of targeted bans indicates that this approach is effective and appropriate, as long as it is properly notified in advance, and has public support for being reasonable in all the circumstances.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the Local Government (Prohibition of Liquor in Public Places) Amendment Bill, which United Future voted against.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that bill. Is there any objection? There is.
End of Questions for Oral Answer
(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)