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Wednesday's Questions & Answers For Oral Answer


Wednesday's Questions & Answers For Oral Answer

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

Questions to Ministers

Foreshore and Seabed—Development of Government Proposal

1. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statement that she had heard that “traditionally Mâori did not consider they owned those areas but they were most certainly kaitiaki. Now there may be the genesis of the answer in that.”; if so, what specific work is the Government doing on changes to its original proposals on the seabed and foreshore?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes. The concept is encompassed in the Government proposal.

Hon Bill English: Noting comments from yesterday’s hui by one participant that he detected “a considerable shift in the Government’s position” and that the Government “had options up their sleeve which we have persuaded them of”, could she explain to the House what shift the Government has indicated at the hui and what new options are being considered?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Perhaps, as Dr Cullen was reported as saying yesterday, also, people are now getting into the detail of the proposal.

David Benson-Pope: What recognition is there already of the kaitiaki role of Mâori?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Considerable recognition in the law—for example, the Resource Management Act 1992, passed under the National Government requires that decision makers under that Act must have regard to kaitiakitanga, which is defined as the ethic of guardianship by tangata whenua of an area in accordance with tikanga Mâori, and as including the ethic of stewardship. All territorial authorities have been working with this concept for a decade. There are also references to kaitiaki in the Fisheries Act 1996, the Te Ture Whenua Mâori Act, and the Ngai Tahu Claim Settlement Act, all passed under a National Government

Hon Richard Prebble: How does the Prime Minister reconcile Dr Cullen’s publicly reported assurances to Mâori in the Marlborough hui yesterday that the Mâori Land Court would be left to define “customary rights”, and not the Crown by statute, and her own assurances she has given privately—for example, to a law firm—that customary rights would be limited by statute; or is the Government saying one thing to Mâori in the hui and another thing to the public, and that is why the Government does not want television to report it?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It is clear in the Government proposal that the Mâori Land Court could not, as the end point of its work on a claim, go to fee simple title. I know that ACT is far more interested in property rights than customary rights. Our opinion is that Mâori generally are very interested in the customary rights element of the proposal.

Bill Gudgeon: If the Government is discussing a co-partnership on the foreshore issue with Mâori, what are the Government’s intentions concerning the co-partnership?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: In the detail of the Government proposal there is recognition to systems for acknowledging those who have mana over or ancestral rights of association with an area. There is then further reference to what rights could ensue from the acknowledgment of mana over or ancestral rights of association with an area. As I pointed out in answer to an earlier question, the concept of kaitiakitanga and the ethic of stewardship are now well embedded in the law.

Gordon Copeland: Does the Prime Minister consider taking the kaitiaki or guardianship concept as a starting point that it might yet prove possible to give ownership to all the people of New Zealand over the foreshore and seabed, as guardians of these assets for present and future generations?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: That is inherent in the concept of public domain. The principles the Crown set out also include the principles of regulation, but in upholding Mâori customary rights, undoubtedly the concept of kaitiakitanga will be important.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is she dancing around the pinhead with all sorts of new expressions and concepts, many which do not belong in this country—[Interruption] Like your republican idea of a public domain. Why is she doing that when she actually said, on the day after the Court of Appeal decision, that she would clarify the law to ensure that the ownership of the foreshore and seabed lay with the Crown? Why is she backing down on that statement?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: What I said that day was that there would need to be clarifying legislation. I am looking forward to the member making it very plain to Mâori audiences that he believes there should be legislation for Crown ownership. That is not the message he wants to get around to Mâori.

Hon Bill English: Can the Prime Minister explain just what the Government means when its spokesperson Margaret Wilson says that the Government is now interested in taking a stronger co-management perspective; can she reassure the House that she is not headed down the path of a partnership arrangement for owning and regulating the seabed and foreshore?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I recognise that concepts of partnership are completely alien to the National Party. What I will say is that the notion of kaitiakitanga is a very deep one to Mâori, and that that party, when in Government, legislated, for example, in the fisheries legislation for there to be management devolved to iwi over fisheries areas.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Prime Minister now seeking to back down from her very words on the day she and Margaret Wilson put out a joint press statement that they would clarify the ownership of the foreshore and seabed as being with the Crown, which is precisely what she said; and with regard to her invitation to me, is she aware that we made a statement on day one, as well, and that unlike her we are not backing down from it?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The statement I made was that there would need to be clarifying legislation, and there will be.

Hon Richard Prebble: My supplementary question to the Prime Minister—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: That is the only warning today. Mr Prebble alone has the floor.

John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder why it is that when a person on this side of the House interjects during a question—

Mr SPEAKER: It was actually a person over there.

John Carter: You were looking at this side of the House.

Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry if I was. It was a person on the Government benches, and I gave that person—and everyone—one warning.

Hon Richard Prebble: Would the Prime Minister clarify the answers she gave to my supplementary question, when she enunciated the novel legal principle that customary rights are not a property right; if that is her view, why does she not front up at one of the Government’s 11 huis to see how she gets on?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: That, of course, twists what I said. What I said was that ACT was very interested in property rights and could not give a damn about customary rights.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister has done it again. I am quite happy to go myself with her to a hui and have her explain how customary rights are not property rights. I would love to be there.

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that is not a point of order.

Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister stand by her statement that: “I am the most modest Prime Minister I know, in my opinion”, and does that modesty extend to admitting that she has backed down on the statements made a couple of days after the Court of Appeal decision first came out, when she confirmed what most people thought—that the Crown owned the beaches and the seabed?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Government has put out a clear proposal. It is in listening mode, and, unlike the member, I have a lot to be modest about.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the remarks, comments, and reportage from the Prime Minister on day one, before she did her somersault.

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

Education—Best Evidence Synthesis

2. Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY (NZ Labour) to the Minister of Education: What feedback has he received from the education sector on the publication of the Best Evidence Synthesis research?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): The feedback I have received to date has been very positive. The Best Research Synthesis draws together educational research and evaluation evidence about how to improve learning. It draws on evidence, not on theory or ideology. I have spoken to a number of people within the sector since the material was released and I am very pleased to hear that the research has been generating very positive discussions in staffrooms around the country. It will be of great assistance to teachers in improving classroom practice, and to the Government in setting professional development and other priorities.

Dr Ashraf Choudhary: What are some of the findings of this research?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The research has found that within the education system, the quality of teaching practice by teachers is the largest influence on the achievement of children in schooling—greater than school level influences and other factors such as classroom programme, curriculum, resources, or socio-economic environment.

Hon Brian Donnelly: To what extent are the Best Evidence Syntheses informing the work on benchmarking of qualifications being carried out in the compulsory sector, so that what teachers are paid can be related to skills and knowledge most closely associated to positive learning outcomes?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The quality of teaching practice and how it relates to the salary system is something that is certainly part of those discussions, and the Ministry of Education is drawing on this for that purpose. It is fair to say that there is not always unanimity on the point.

Bernie Ogilvy: Can the Minister confirm that Best Evidence Synthesis research applies scientific strategies that limit bias to their assembly, critical appraisal, and synthesis of all relevant studies on a specific topic, yet seeks to exclude so-called “poor quality studies” via explicit validity checks; and can he tell the House what explicit validity checks were employed in the case of the studies he has just mentioned, because I am sure we are all dying to know?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: As far as is possible, looking carefully at the research to ensure the research is based on evidence is the validity check that is important. There are a number of researchers who have relied very heavily on theory or ideology in their research. What this does is work out what actually works, not the sometimes questionable material that sits behind it.

Immigrants—Deportation Appeal

3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: What does she intend to do about Hassan Ahmed Shaqlane, who has won an appeal against deportation from New Zealand whilst serving an 8-year prison term for rape and kidnapping?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): I signed a deportation order for Mr Shaqlane on 30 May 2002 because I was satisfied that he ought to be deported from this country. Mr Shaqlane won his appeal to the Deportation Review Tribunal, which is an independent tribunal. I am awaiting Crown Law advice as to whether this is a case that can be appealed. I note that such an appeal can only be on a point of law. I am advised I will have Crown Law advice by the end of next week.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Having regard to the fact that there was an Immigration Bill before this House just last week, and there have been countless examples like this since she was aware of it at the time she signed the deportation order, why had she not changed the law to get rid of this flotsam and jetsam that are threatening the safety of New Zealand citizens?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I think the member is confused with another loophole in the law that was closed in the Parliament last week. It is not this loophole that was mentioned on the front page of the New Zealand Herald this morning. This is an individual who exercised his independent right to appeal to the Deportation Review Tribunal. I will not do what the former Minister of Immigration did, and comment on the nature of the decision of the Deportation Review Tribunal, which led the editorial in the New Zealand Herald to comment: “The Government’s apparent dismissal of the Deportation Review Tribunal looks like another heavy-handed, cloven-hoofed political blunder to rank with the Tourism Board.” It is not; it is worse. The tribunal is not simply an instrument of public policy like the Tourism Board; the tribunal holds judicial power over the fate of individuals.

Hon Mark Gosche: What steps has the Government taken to address the concerns of victims of crime in deportation matters?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: As a result of this very instance happening once before while I was the Minister of Immigration, I raised with the Minister of Justice the need to amend the victims of offences legislation so that victims of crime could have their concerns raised directly with the Minister before any deportation order was signed, and so that they could make representations to the Deportation Review Tribunal. In 2002 this Government introduced the right of victims of crimes to be heard by the Deportation Review Tribunal, which is something that that side of the House never addressed.

Marc Alexander: What is the cost to the taxpayer of an 8-year prison sentence for Hassan Ahmed Shaqlane, and in light of the fact that that offending vermin has already cost the taxpayer two court trials, would not a one-way ticket to Mogadishu be a cheaper option?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: As Minister of Immigration I am not responsible, nor am I able, to answer the question in respect of how much it cost to keep him detained for a criminal offence. However, I repeat to this House that it was this Government that gave the victims of crime the chance to be heard. This particular case was heard 6 days before the new law came into effect.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could the Minister tell us why she is pleading incapacity, when she is the very Minister who had us sitting here overnight and early in the morning under urgency to overturn a High Court decision, and send out 20,000 people who were not criminals, and why it is that she can now defend this criminal?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I am not defending this criminal. I signed a deportation order. That individual has the right to appeal to the Deportation Review Tribunal. We are making a decision now as to whether we appeal that decision, which is more than what existed when that member was the Deputy Prime Minister—exactly the same rules applied at that time.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Minister making up a hopelessly incompetent and weak defence, when she had laws passed here under urgency that caused 20,000 non-criminals to have their applications totally overturned that day, against a High Court ruling that she sought to appeal, and how can she say that, in this case, she is acting in a way that is consistent with her behaviour in July of this year, or is she just plain hopelessly incompetent?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The legislation allows individuals to appeal a deportation order signed by me, and that appeal right existed when that member was the Deputy Prime Minister. When I was in a situation once before where somebody who had been convicted of very serious charges had had a deportation order overturned by the Deportation Review Tribunal, I went to the Minister of Justice and sought a change to the law so that the victims of crime could have a say. I am not going to comment on the nature of the decision of the Deportation Review Tribunal. To quote from the New Zealand Herald in 1999, it would be disturbing if the Government had declined to reappoint tribunal members because the Minister of Immigration did not like the tribunal’s decisions. That is what happens when a Minister of Immigration speaks out against judicial decisions.

Mr SPEAKER: There were too many interjections during that answer. I want the Minister to have the opportunity to answer. Some interjections are permissible.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Minster making this country a soft option for every rapist, kidnapper, and murderer—which are the cases she has had before her—and why has she not taken action on them, and is she going to deport the African who has knowingly infected New Zealand women with AIDS—yes or no?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have taken action in the particular case that the question was about—I signed the deportation order. That member has no right to raise in this House the ability to remove an appeal right when that member did nothing for 2 years when he was the Deputy Prime Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As the most experienced parliamentarian here by a long way, and having regard to your knowledge of the Standing Orders, I point out that if I did not have a right to raise it, I am certain that you or the Clerk would have raised it with me. But let us please not have this trade union lawyer describing what my rights are.

Mr SPEAKER: The member has a perfect right to raise the point he raised, and the Minister has a perfect to give the answer she gave.

Hon Tony Ryall: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Our colleague Mr Peters raised a specific issue of a case involving a man who knowingly infected New Zealand women with HIV, and Ms Dalziel did not answer that question.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I make the point that the matter is sub judice. The individual has been charged; he has not been found guilty.

Economy—Duality of Results

4. GORDON COPELAND (United Future) to the Minister of Finance: Is he concerned with the apparent duality of our economy, whereby one side of the ledger registers good health—robust growth, lowering of unemployment and inflation—yet the other side exhibits clear signs of ill health, with a widening trade deficit and a marked decline in foreign direct investment; if not, why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): Yes.

Gordon Copeland: Can the Minister explain the point of New Zealand having “one of the world’s most open regimes for foreign direct investment” when, as Professor Peter Enderwick of Waikato Management Schoolpoints out, New Zealand’s economic environment is beset by factors that have actively discouraged foreign direct investment, such as Government intervention in key industries, uncertainty over property rights, and infrastructure constraints like roading and electricity?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: If New Zealand did not have reasonably strong inflows, then I doubt that the New Zealand dollar would be up the levels it is and the exporting sector would be doing rather better. We would not have a two-speed economy.

David Parker: What factors are driving the deterioration in the current account?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The primary circumstances are weak world demand and a relatively weak US dollar, which have led to the New Zealand dollar going up against it. That, of course, leads to an increase in imports and a reduction in exports.

Dr Don Brash: Is it not true that at a time when the export sector is under considerable pressure from the appreciation of the New Zealand dollar, the Government should be doing everything possible to ease pressures on export industries, and not burden them with increased compliance costs, proposals to extend minimum holiday entitlements, more complicated occupational safety and health requirements, and taxes on methane emissions?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I do note that while the Government is concerned about the present position, it is nothing like as bad as the situation that occurred in 1994-95, when the New Zealand dollar was allowed to rise to US70c.

Sue Bradford: Is the Minister concerned about another kind of duality in the economy, whereby on the one hand we have an apparent lowering of unemployment, while on the other hand thousands of jobs are being lost at present in sectors like forestry, clothing, information technology, and elsewhere; and if he is concerned, what is his Government doing about it?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: In any modern economy there are sectors that flourish a bit better than other sectors do. The fact is that any job losses recently have been largely concentrated on a few relatively small sectors, notably certain parts of the timber processing area that service the United States market—where there have been some very serious downturns. Generally speaking, the labour market remains extremely buoyant; indeed that is one of the reasons we have a large current account deficit.

Gordon Copeland: What assurance can the Minister give that the Government is addressing the drop of more than US$1.5 billion in foreign direct investment in New Zealand over 2001, as reported by the UN-sponsored—[Interruption]—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Gordon Copeland: —World Investment Report 2003?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government’s growth and innovation framework and the associated sectoral strategies are very much designed to encourage large-scale investment within New Zealand, but I do not think that has been the major driving factor in terms of the present current account situation. As we have just recently seen in the galleries, there is a good deal of imported goods within this economy.

Dr Don Brash: Does the Minister recall criticising the Reserve Bank’s implementation of monetary policy in the mid-1990s when there was a similarly difficult tension between a very buoyant domestic economy and a high exchange rate putting great pressure on the export sector, and is he finally willing to concede that situations of this kind are rarely caused by monetary policy, and were not in the mid-1990s?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Even though two-speed economies recur from time to time, the skill of the driver can still be quite crucial.

Gordon Copeland: Noting those answers, is the Minister serious about addressing the significant trade deficit and fall off in foreign direct investment when he failed to mention or to confront those issues or problems during his recent speech in Singapore?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have had very strong feedback on the speech in Singapore from some rather unlikely sources, and modesty forbids from naming them.

Foreshore and Seabed—Proposal for Consultation

5. STEPHEN FRANKS (ACT NZ) to the Prime Minister: What assurance can she give that her Ministers attending hui on the foreshore and seabed are upholding the four principles in the Government’s 18 August 2003 “proposals for consultation” paper?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): A firm one.

Stephen Franks: How does the Prime Minister reconcile Dr Cullen’s assurance to Marlborough Mâori yesterday that the Mâori Land Court would be left to define customary rights with her private assurance to a select group that those rights would be delimited by statute, and has television been barred from hui in case it reports discussion that would show that the so-called principle of certainty will mean nothing when activist judges are left to make up the law as they go?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The member will be well aware that the Government’s proposal prevents the Mâori Land Court issuing fee-simple title over these areas.

Hon Bill English: Can the Prime Minister confirm statements she made on Mana News, at quarter to 7 in the morning to make sure that most New Zealanders did not hear them, when she said that she expected there would be a much stronger role for Mâori in these processes?

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I raise a point of order about that question. We have clearly had a practice of reasonably broad and liberal interpretations of the Standing Orders, particularly around the use of epithets, imputations, etc. It is difficult to appear on Mana News at any other time than at quarter to 7 in the morning—that is when the programme is broadcast. To imply some kind of conspiratorial theory around that is not appropriate within the Standing Orders.

Mr SPEAKER: As far as I am concerned that comment was not necessary to make the sense of the question right. I would like the question asked without that comment in it.

Hon Bill English: Speaking to the point of order, Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: No—

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a matter of fact that most New Zealanders do not hear the Mana News. Are you now ruling that we are not allowed to state a matter of fact, just because the Prime Minister does not like it?

Mr SPEAKER: No, I am not doing that at all. The question can be asked without reference to that particular point, which is a matter of opinion. I do not know how many people listen to that programme. I do, but then I perhaps get up earlier than most.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a pretty serious matter when you are now allowing the Government to start editing the Opposition’s questions. It is absolutely part of the question. The Prime Minister is prepared to make statements on Mana News at a time that has been scheduled so that most New Zealanders will not, in fact, hear it, including Mâori. I am a former Minister of Broadcasting and they often complained about the bad time that they were given. That, I think, is a crucial part of the question: Will the Prime Minister now answer the question when the rest of New Zealand is listening? In fact, it would be great to see whether she is prepared to front up at a hui.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: That is not the point. The point is that in the question was that there was a direct imputation that the Prime Minister was deliberately appearing at that time in order to avoid most people hearing it—[Interruption] Members, by interjecting, even though improperly under the Standing Orders, are confirming precisely the point I am making. That imputation is not necessary to the question. Mana News is on only at quarter to 7 in the morning.

Mr SPEAKER: Let me say that statements of fact can be included in questions only if they are strictly necessary to render the question intelligible. Could the member restate the question, and I will allow him to do so.

John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Given the ruling that you have just made, can we assume that you will apply same ruling in response to the Government’s answers to questions where there are often suggestions, imputations, and all sorts of things. Now, if that is the standard, then that is fine from the questioner’s point of view. I assume that the same standard will also apply in regard to Standing Order 372 where the replies are not meant to have any statements such as that, and often do.

Mr SPEAKER: If I wanted to rule out everything that was said in that way there would be hardly anything ever said at question time. As far as I am concerned, I am prepared to allow a little bit of give and take, as all members know. I have been here long enough to allow that to occur. I invite the Leader of the Opposition to re-ask the question.

Hon Bill English: Is the Prime Minister willing to go on the 6 o’clock news on both television channels to make the same kinds of statements that she made on Mana News, which is not heard by the majority of New Zealanders, outlining the Government’s back-down to positions of kaitiaki, co-management, and a much greater role for Mâori in resource processes?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am very happy to go on television news to talk about the 1998 customary fisheries regulations, in which a National Government gave to Mâori the right to make general fisheries regulations.

Mr SPEAKER: I would like the Prime Minister now to address the particular question, which asked whether she was prepared to go on television to discuss the same sort of issues she did on Mana News.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: People will get the same answers to the same questions. I might say that Mana News will be delighted at the advertising it has had today, even if the Leader of the Opposition never gets up early enough to hear it.

John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How come you can rule out part of the question—

Mr SPEAKER: I did not. I allowed the question to be restated, and the—

John Carter: You ruled out the part that Mr English made about the Prime Minister, yet you do not rule out the part the Prime Minister made about the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member cannot get away with that. As far as I am concerned, I want there to be a reasonable flow. I then allowed the member to ask a question. He asked a question in a perfectly responsible and reasonable way and, in fact, got his point across just as well. That is why I allowed it. As far as the Prime Minister’s answer is concerned, her last sentence was not in order and will be disregarded.

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think you have ruled fairly on that. I just wonder why it required the intervention of my senior whip to get you to make that ruling. The statement was quite audible to you when it was made. You sat and took no action until the point of order was raised.

Mr SPEAKER: I thought the point of order was raised the minute the Prime Minister made the comment, and the member knows that.

Metiria Turei: Will the Government apply its principles of open access, regulation for future generations, and protection of customary interests consistently to foreshore and seabed, and prevent the sale of the Westhaven marina into private ownership, or do those principles apply only to Mâori-owned land?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I do not have the details of the Westhaven marina here with me.

Stephen Franks: Will the Government define in statute the limits to customary rights over seabed and foreshore to distinguish between valid and invalid claims; if not, how can New Zealanders be sure that judges will not invent or revive Mâori customary interests that neither Parliament nor the common law would recognise to make customary rights an exclusive race privilege?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As I have stated several times, there is a clear limit being placed in the proposal that prevents the Mâori Land Court issuing a fee-simple title.

Hon Bill English: Does she agree or disagree with the following statement reported in the New Zealand Herald today: “Signs of a thaw in the stand-off between the Government and iwi leading the foreshore and seabed issue emerged yesterday after a hui on the tribe’s home turf.”; are there or are there not signs of a thaw in the stand-off?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Government has now been listening at three hui. It appears we are beginning to be heard on the details of the proposal.

Housing New Zealand—Community Renewal Projects

6. GEORGINA BEYER (NZ Labour—Wairarapa) to the Minister of Housing: What community renewal projects are being undertaken to refurbish Housing New Zealand Corporation properties?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Housing): Work has begun on the $27 million Talbot Park community renewal project in Glen Innes, Auckland. The project involves the modernisation of over 100 State house apartments and improvements to parks, roading, lighting and streetscapes. It is also proposed that 59 existing Housing New Zealand properties will be demolished to make way for 97 new homes. We look forward to working with local authorities and to their playing their part to enable this and other neighbourhood renewal projects to occur.

Georgina Beyer: Can one assume that other State housing modernisation and maintenance projects are being undertaken?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Alongside the six community renewal projects in Fordlands, Aranui, Clendon, eastern Porirua, Talbot Park, and Northcote, this financial year Housing New Zealand intends to complete energy efficiency retrofits on 2,500 State houses, modernise 600 State homes, and undertake $124 million worth of maintenance. That is a huge improvement in investment in the quality of State housing, every dollar being necessary, because of the neglect under the National Government.

Dr Wayne Mapp: In light of the fact that Housing New Zealand is now increasingly renting well-maintained houses from private landlords as part of its total rental stock, why does the Government not start selling some of the stock that is rented to long-term tenants so they can have a real chance of home ownership? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: I distinctly heard an interjection in the background there. If I could identify that member he would be going.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Government does, of course, support homeownership and it has just introduced a trial mortgage insurance scheme. But, no, we are not going to sell houses. The National Government sold 13,000 of them and that is why we have a problem now.

Deborah Coddington: As well as the refurbishment that the Minister is boasting about, will he confirm that from 1999 to 2002, taxpayers spent $30.5 million repairing damage done by tenants to Housing New Zealand properties, but recovered only $10 million of it from tenants, and that taxpayers are subsidising this destructive behaviour to the tune of $20 million; if so, what is he going to do about that?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I do not have the figures with me, obviously, but I am willing to get them for the member, and even for the member who I think is the National Party spokesperson on housing, although I am not sure. I am willing to get those figures. Of course the Government takes a very strong approach to people who want to damage property. We want to make sure that Housing New Zealand houses are well looked after. I think the reason that they were not, during the National Government’s term, is that the Government then was just a landlord, and people did not respect the houses they were in because it did not respect tenants.

Deborah Coddington: I seek leave to table answers to my written questions to Mr Maharey stating that damage done by tenants from 1999 to 2002 cost $30 million.

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

Foreshore and Seabed—Media Ban from Consultation Hui

7. KATHERINE RICH (NZ National) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs: What role, if any, has Te Puni Kôkiri had in banning media from recording seabed and foreshore consultation hui?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Mâori Affairs): Te Puni Kôkiri has had no role in banning the media from recording seabed and foreshore consultation hui. It has been up to the local whânau, hapû, and iwi to determine the role of the media in each of the consultation hui. Te Puni Kôkiri’s role has been as the facilitator between the local whânau, hapû, iwi and the media.

Katherine Rich: How does the Minister reconcile that statement with a media advisory from Te Puni Kôkiri to the media, stating: “Re hui at Omaka Marae tomorrow. Please note that media may attend the pôwhiri but cannot enter whare nui during hui. Interviews can be conducted before and after the hui.”?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The email was subsequently corrected to make it clear that the restrictions on the marae were at the request of the local people, and that was not the actual wording in the email.

Katherine Rich: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In order to correct the record for Hansard purposes, I was reading an extract from the original email that was sent.

Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, but the member has made her point.

Mahara Okeroa: What role has the media played in each of the foreshore and seabed consultation hui?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I am more than satisfied that the media interest in attending and recording these hui has been well catered for. The media have been able to record the pôwhiri; sit in and take notes of the meetings; interview Ministers before and after the hui; interview participants before, during, and after the hui; and have been allowed time to film set-up shots before the hui begin in the whare nui.

Katherine Rich: When taxpayers are paying for these hui and it is the Government that has decided when and where hui will be, and when the Government had the option to hold those hui in places where the media were allowed to attend but it did not take that decision, how does the Minister explain the ban on media recording and reporting speeches when they are delivered at hui?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: There was no ban.

Rodney Hide: Is this House to take it that the Government’s definition of consultation on the foreshore is this: there will be consultation, paid for by the taxpayer; the Prime Minister will not be fronting; non-Mâori will not have an opportunity to have an input; and the media, which the New Zealand public rely on to get their information about this hui, are to be banned—and that this Government is hand in hand with such a ban, and with such a consultation process, as that email shows?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: There are three parts to that question. Can I address them? Firstly, I reiterate that it has been the local people’s wishes that they have uninhibited time to deliver in the whare nui. It is culturally inappropriate to try to remove that. We go into committee in councils and in the local parishes, and we do not let the media in. Let me also assure the member that, on the way through, non-Mâori people have been at those marae, and they have respected the request of the local people not to talk. The other issue is that, in respect of the past three hui, the local people have ensured that those hui have been hui for local people, and even national Mâori organisations have been asked not to enter the discussion.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister may have forgotten, but he said he would address the three parts of the question. He forgot to cover the bit about the Prime Minister not fronting.

Mr SPEAKER: The member did address the question, rather extensively.

Katherine Rich: When today his colleague Trevor Mallard criticises mainstream media coverage of foreshore and seabed hui, does he appreciate the difficulty in giving fair and accurate coverage when media are banned from recording and reporting speeches as they are delivered during hui?

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That cannot be authenticated. I have made no such comment today.

Mr SPEAKER: The member has made the statement that he has made no such comment. The Minister may wish to comment—[Interruption] What did the member say, precisely?

Hon Trevor Mallard: The question was about my comments today. I have made no comments today.

Mr SPEAKER: Without the word “today” in it, the question is in order.

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I have little enough time to look after 15 percent of this population; but certainly, if those comments were made, they were made by that Minister.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister is required, at least, to address the question. To state what the question stated, certainly cannot be taken as addressing it. We already knew that the Minister had said that. What we wanted was the Minister to address the question, and maybe—and this might be hoping too much—to answer it.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I think the point the Minister is making is a fair and absolutely correct one. He is not responsible for Mr Mallard’s comments; Mr Mallard is responsible for his comments.

Mr SPEAKER: That is absolutely correct.

Katherine Rich: Speaking to the point of order—

Mr SPEAKER: I have ruled on the point of order.

Hon Roger Sowry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I really thought that in listening to the points of order you would have stayed with the rulings you have given in the past, which have been that the Minister may comment on the issue. The Minister, as Minister of Mâori Affairs, was asked for his comment on an action taken by another Minister. He was asked to comment as Minister of Mâori Affairs. That is totally in order. In fact, we see questions that contain direct quotes from Ministers being transferred to other Ministers for answer, and you have allowed those transfers on a regular basis.

Mr SPEAKER: That does not occur in this particular question. The Minister was asked to comment on what another Minister said. He chose not to comment. He is entitled to do that.

Katherine Rich: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I was not actually asking the Minister of Mâori Affairs to explain or comment on the points made by Trevor Mallard; I was asking him whether he appreciated the difficulty of mainstream media giving fair and accurate coverage of hui when they are banned from actually covering and recording speeches as they are delivered. So the emphasis really is on whether he appreciates the difficulty faced by the mainstream media.

Mr SPEAKER: I appreciate that point being raised by the member. Perhaps the Minister could address that particular question.

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Can I say again, there was no ban. Can I also point out about the cultural tensions, that two of the first shots on these hui were about Mâori aggression to the Government, and there was somebody doing the wero holding a wooden stick spear in their hand in a very warrior-like welcome, which one will go a long way in this country to see again. The press need a bit of help with some of the cultural insensitivities that our people feel are unethical.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask you to reflect on the series of points of order that took place, the number of them that were needed from several members of the Opposition for you finally to accept the point that, yes, the Minister could elaborate. That is what is happening time and time again in question time. I ask you to reflect on that so that we do have a question time that works in the sense that Ministers are not given the appearance of being shielded by the Speaker, but rather asked to address the questions.

Mr SPEAKER: No, that is certainly not the case, or the member would not be raising points of order. As far as I am concerned, it is valid to insist that an answer is given. I did so, and that was done.

Katherine Rich: I seek leave to table two documents, the first being the media advisory from Te Puni Kôkiri to the media, explaining the ban.

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

Katherine Rich: I seek leave to table a second document, being the New Zealand Press Association article where Trevor Mallard criticises mainstream media.

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

Small Business—Reports

8. H V ROSS ROBERTSON (NZ Labour—Manukau East) to the Minister for Small Business: What recent reports has he received on the increase in the number of small to medium enterprises?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Small Business): According to the Ministry of Economic Development’s report: Small to Medium Enterprises in New Zealand: Structure and Dynamics, which was launched on Monday evening, the number of small to medium enterprises in New Zealand has increased by 2.7 percent in the last 12 months. At the same time, the number of Kiwis employed by small to medium enterprises grew by 2 percent.

H V Ross Robertson: What initiatives is the Government taking to support New Zealand’s locomotive of growth, the small and medium-sized enterprise sector?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: A huge number. To name a few: establishing a small business advisory group involving small business in the heart of Government, and a small to medium enterprise directorate in the Ministry of Economic Development; implementing over 80 percent of the recommendations of the business compliance cost panel, to represent at least 95 percent of potential benefits of the cost reduction. We are also the first Government to take small business seriously enough to appoint a Minister for Small Business. Shortly, my colleague the Hon David Cunliffe will also be releasing a discussion document Tax Simplification targeted directly at small businesses, which will be wide and far reaching.

Lindsay Tisch: Does the Minister believe that the increase in compliance costs over the last 12 months, experienced by 98.2 percent of the 760 mainly small to medium sized businesses, surveyed last month by KMPG Peat Marwick and Business New Zealand, has helped or hindered the growth of small to medium-sized enterprises, which are becoming smaller—and why?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: No.

Mike Ward: What measures can we look forward to from the Government to encourage Government agencies to purchase from these small to medium-sized New Zealand business?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: This Government has taken significant action in exploring those opportunities, and a number of announcements in that regard will be made shortly.

Paul Adams: Noting his answers, is the Minister confident that these small enterprises are able to continue to thrive and grow when, as detailed in the recent Business New Zealand compliance cost survey by KPMG, such enterprises do bear disproportional compliance costs?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Yes.

Mental Health Services—Auckland Region

9. Dr LYNDA SCOTT (NZ National—Kaikoura) to the Minister of Health: Why are mental health services in the Auckland region described as a “time bomb” by staff and why have the number of beds at Waitemata District Health Board’s acute unit Taharoto been reduced from 41 to 35?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Acting Minister of Health): The so-called “time bomb” went off years ago with Waitemata. We have been faced with putting the pieces back together again, and we are doing that. Bed numbers have not been reduced from 41 to 35 at Taharoto Mental Health Unit. Three beds have been temporarily closed.

Dr Lynda Scott: Along with the temporary closure of beds, how many of the 20 extra nurses and therapists the Minister of Health promised in June have been recruited; why have the big solutions to the big problems in Auckland’s mental health services that she promised in December last year not been delivered?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Following the review last year, there has been a workforce development plan. All the district health boards in the Auckland area are working together to deliver mental health services. Instead of the competitive environment of the previous Government, this Government is ensuring that all district health boards work together to provide mental health services to people in Auckland, regardless of where they live, and when and where they need those services.

Steve Chadwick: What has happened in Waitemata since the review of the Auckland mental health services?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Firstly, two non-governmental organisations have been contracted to deliver packages of care within acute units. Secondly, an additional five short-term packages of care have been funded to respond to the demand on acute services. Thirdly, five respite beds have been purchased. The funding was specifically to address the problem of unwell clients being held in police cells. Fourthly, for the medium-term, a non-governmental organisation has been contracted to provide six intensive support rehabilitation beds. Fifthly, an agreement has been reached to expand a number of forensic inpatient beds, with a total of 22 new beds coming to the region.

Heather Roy: What medico-legal protection will she offer mental health workers with patients who need to be in hospital but are not because she has failed to provide a safe environment for them; will those health professionals be hung out to dry, just like all the others, when tragedy next strikes?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: We do acknowledge the pressure on mental health workers, not just in New Zealand but throughout the world. The very reason for the temporary closure of beds is to ensure that staff can adequately carry out the level of care that they want to for those mental health patients.

Sue Bradford: Why, since the Minister says that this crisis has been going for a long time and there has been the Auckland review, detailed workforce planning, and the range of measures the Minister has just been talking about, is the crisis in the Waitemata District Health Board getting worse rather than better; why are the staff continuing to take the extraordinary step of going to the media to say: “Look, this is real, this is happening now, we need help now.”; what is the Government doing about that?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I will try to answer a couple of those. We accept that there is extra pressure in Waitemata. There is some restructuring occurring. We understand that there are three to four managerial position likely to go, through voluntary redundancy. That will mean that there are more clinical staff on the ground to carry out the services that are needed.

Dr Lynda Scott: Why would nurses and doctors want to work in the failing mental health system that is stressed to the limit, under-resourced, and having sick patients discharged too early to make way for even sicker ones; when will the Minister of Health deliver more acute mental health beds for Auckland, as she has repeatedly promised, especially in light of the fact that hospital beds are even more scarce since police refuse to hold mentally ill patients in their cells?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: There are more mental health services in the Auckland region. We are delivering those on a regional basis so that there is not competition between the health entities, as occurred under the previous Government. We have new child and youth services and new family service positions being established, as well. This Government is quite proud of its record in mental health. The funding has gone from $594 million in 1998-99 to over $860 million in the last year, under this Government.

Ministerial Confidence—Immigration, Minister

10. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: On what basis does she claim that the Minister of Immigration is a conscientious and hard-working Minister?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): On the basis of my personal knowledge. I note that that opinion is shared by the head of the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern), who said recently: “Lianne Dalziel has done more to have a sensible policy than any Minister of Immigration I can think of before her”, and he added: “I just don’t see where Winston Peters is coming from.”

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Instead of tirelessly repeating that unmitigated drivel, why does the Prime Minister not tell the 23-year-old New Zealand - born woman who may be paralysed for life after having been shot in the back by an illegal Afghan immigrant, Wali Javad Allahayi, a situation that would not have happened had that man never been allowed into this country in the first place by that incompetent, irresponsible Minister?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: A crime like that is deplorable, whoever commits it, and I hope the full rigour of the law will be applied.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I ask the Prime Minister again: why does she repeat that statement about competence and hard work and conscientiousness when we have in this country, under her administration and under this Minister, these immigrants and refugees guilty of rape, murder, numerous kidnappings, abductions, blackmail, fraud, and forgery—all of which have cost this country a fortune; and can she tell the victims of those crimes as to how responsible that Minister is and she is herself as Prime Minister?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Every New Zealand Government has admitted refugees; every New Zealand Government will find that a very small number will let it down. The Somali whom Mr Peters was drawing attention to earlier was admitted to this country when Mr Peters was Deputy Prime Minister. I do not see him taking personal responsibility for that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Could you ask the Prime Minister to verify what she just said, rather than making it up as she goes along?

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows full well that if that is the case, he has the recourse of writing to me about it.

Genetically Modified Sweetcorn—Prime Minister's Comments

11. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National—Nelson) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statements in respect of “corngate” on National Radio on 11 July 2002, “I believe in total disclosure on this.” and “I’m not putting any restrictions on anyone talking about this.”?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): The statement was made on 11 July, the day after the Hager book appeared, when I said officials should come forward to brief media on what had happened—and they did, that very day.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Will the Government instruct GeneScan—a 100 percent New Zealand Government - owned company—to appear before the Local Government and Environment Committee inquiry, so that we can question them about the test results that go to the core of whether the corn was contaminated; if not, does it not seem extraordinary that a company owned by the taxpayers of New Zealand is not accountable to a select committee of this Parliament?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: This issue has been raised a couple of times before and as I recall the advice I have had was that the Government could not be instructing. If I could make my own views clear, I think it would be preferable if them did come forward, but I do not believe we have the ability to instruct them.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: What sort of example does the Prime Minister think she has set for Syngenta, the company that imported the seed and refuses to front, and GeneScan, the New Zealand - owned company that did the testing and refuses to front, by her decision, despite making a number of phone calls and despite receiving a number of advice, and her own department playing a key role as the Prime Minister; the question is this—

Hon Steve Maharey: Can we have the question?

Mr SPEAKER: The member concerned knows he is not allowed to interject while questions are being asked. He will leave the Chamber.

Hon Steve Maharey withdrew from the Chamber.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: What sort of example does the Prime Minister think she is setting by refusing to front before the select committee, when the company at the centre of the inquiry, Syngenta, is refusing to appear, and so too is the company GeneScan; and why does she not set a good example by fronting, answering the questions, and thus ensuring that we can get those other companies to answer as well?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: There is clearly a considerable difference between the position of seed importers and seed testers at the heart of the issue and the position of the Prime Minister—who was, frankly, very peripherally involved.

Hon Ken Shirley: Is the Prime Minister saying that she cannot force GeneScan to appear before the select committee because, while it is 100 percent owned by the New Zealand Government, it is registered as a legal entity in Melbourne? That may be the legal position, but surely with her Government, with two Ministers as 100 percent shareholding Ministers—why will she not instruct them to instruct that company to make that information available to the select committee; and does she not think it curious that the four critical samples—and they were the largest samples that each showed some GM contamination—were not made available, or is it that those samples do not exist anymore?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As I said, this issue has arisen a couple of times. As I recall the advice I have is that the Government was not in a position to instruct them to appear. I really cannot add to that. I suggest the member put down questions to the responsible Ministers for the Crown Research Institute or State-owned enterprise, or whatever is the holding company.

Biosecurity—Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

12. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Will the Government ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety before it comes into force tomorrow following ratification by the 50th signatory; if not, why not?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: No. There is insufficient time to undertake the ratification process domestically.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Why does the Government not support the right embodied in the Cartagena Protocol of countries to decide for themselves whether they allow the introduction of living genetically modified organisms and the right to use the precautionary principle when making decisions?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS: The Government does support countries’ rights.

Tim Barnett: Since the Government is at the forefront of GM regulation, why does it not ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety now?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS: New Zealand’s domestic regulation for managing genetic modification is already consistent with, and in some ways stricter than, the protocol, but we are not prepared to shortcut the proper ratification processes, including community consultation and parliamentary debate.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Is one of the countries’ rights that this Government supports the right of the United States to send genetically engineered grain capable of being eaten or planted to developing countries as food aid, without informing them that it is genetically engineered, and hence without those countries’ prior consent?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS: I am unaware of the particular case that the member is referring to.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Given that the Cartagena Protocol may be a possible defence against World Trade Organization cases like the one that the United States has taken against the European Union over genetically modified organisms, and that New Zealand has registered third-party status in tacit support of the US position, is that the reason the Government will not proceed with ratification of a protocol it helped negotiate in January 2000?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS: No, it is not the reason that we are not proceeding. The European Union moratorium does allow certain genetically modified lines to be imported into the European Union and grown in European Union countries such as Spain. Those are the lines that were permitted before the moratorium; therefore the reason for banning some GM lines and not others may not be the reasons of biosafety covered by the protocol.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: When the Government said: “In all trade and economic agreements we will ensure that the Government’s ability to regulate as it sees fit for the protection of the environment is not compromised.”, did she realise that current World Trade Organization rules take away that ability, and why will she not support a protocol that strengthens that ability for developing countries that do not have strong biosecurity arrangements?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS: It is argued that there is some conflict at the moment between the biosafety protocol and World Trade Organization sanitary and phytosanitary agreements. That debate is speculative and will be worked out at the first meeting in February.

Question No. 10 to Minister

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): I seek leave to table an extract from a Deportation Review Tribunal decision in respect of the Somali referred to in question No. 10, who was granted residence in October 1997.

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

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)


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