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Questions And Answers For Oral Answer Wednesday


Questions And Answers For Oral Answer Wednesday, 12 November 2003

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

Questions to Ministers:

1. Algerian Refugees—Suspected Terrorists 1

2. Child, Youth and Family Services, Department—Confidence 2

3. Child, Youth and Family Services, Department—Masterton Murders 3

4. Mental Health—Patient Safety 3

5. Child, Youth and Family Services, Department—Masterton Office 4

6. Employment—Reports 5

7. Navy—Prisoner of War 5

8. Dunstan Hospital—Redevelopment 7

9. Capital and Coast District Health Board—Mental Health Patient Death 7

10. Immigration, Minister—Confidence 7

11. International Students—Pastoral Care 8

12. Douglas Fir Seedlings—Destruction 8

Questions to Members

1. Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Lobbying 9

2. Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Scientific Evidence 9

3. Masterton District Council (Montfort Trimble Foundation) Bill—Second Reading 10

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Algerian Refugees—Suspected Terrorists

1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: Why has she answered questions with regard to Ahmed Zaoui, Obaidullah Rahemy, Wahidullah Rahemy and Mohammed Saidi, when the acting Minister of Immigration yesterday repeatedly refused to supply any details of an alleged case involving another suspected terrorist from Algeria?

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister advised me that she has a slightly longer answer than usual.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): Mr Zaoui impliedly waived his right to confidentiality under section 129T(4) of the Immigration Act; the Rahemys did not claim refugee status under their own names, and details were made public by the court. I have o commented on Mr Saidi’s case only to the extent that I am able to under the law, and to respond to that member’s assertion that I gave him residence when I did not. The New Zealand Immigration Service has not received information from any local or international agency alleging that we have “another suspected terrorist from Algeria”. I should point out that even Mr Zaoui’s security risk certificate is not based on him being a suspected terrorist. There was concern about him on arrival in New Zealand, as it was believed he admitted membership of the Armed Islamic Group. The Refugee Status Appeals Authority found that he did not. The lesson to be learned from the Zaoui case is not to mount a media beat-up from speculation and rumour.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given the Minister’s previous reluctance to answer any questions on suspected terrorists, bogus refugees, and fraudsters, can we assume that she is now trying to avoid further embarrassment by claiming she is unable to disclose any information about a 22-year-old arrival from Algeria; and when will she stop hiding behind her department and privacy clauses, instead of giving New Zealanders the right to know when their national security may be at stake?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The public interest always needs to be balanced against the need to maintain national security. In addition, under section 129T—which was made very clear to the House yesterday—information on refugee claimants may not be released unless the person waives that right or matters are already in the public domain, which impliedly gives that right—as is the case with Mr Zaoui.

Dr Wayne Mapp: Can the Minister verify that the Immigration Service spokesperson was correct when she was quoted in today’s New Zealand Herald saying: “In neither of those cases have we been advised by other agencies that they are considered to be, or are suspected of being, a terrorist.”, or is the case actually similar to the case of Ahmed Zaoui, which resulted in a national security certificate being issued some months after his initial detention?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The information the member read out first is the correct statement of fact—that is, no external agency, either internally within New Zealand or externally outside New Zealand, has indicated any security risk threat from those two individuals.

Keith Locke: Given that the Minister has commented on the Ahmed Zaoui case, why will she not withdraw the security risk certificate against Mr Zaoui—which she can, by law, do at any time—as Mr Zaoui is now having to go to the High Court to get any more than the vaguest idea of the charges against him under the security risk certificate; and how can she countenance such an abuse of judicial process as this secret justice that applies under the security risk certificate?

Mr SPEAKER: ]There were three questions there. The Minister may answer two of them.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Part 4A of the Immigration Act makes it very clear that there has to be a balancing between the public interest and the individual’s rights. The individual’s rights in that case are protected by the fact that the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security gets to see the classified security information upon which the security risk certificate was issued, and which I made a preliminary decision to rely on.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister tell this House why she treats it with such contempt that she, her associate, and all others on her side have refused to give information to this House but have happily told the New Zealand Herald the story last night when the House had risen; and what is stopping her from telling us the circumstances of Sala Edeen Bouta, whom, according to the law, any MP can visit if he or she likes—why can we not hear about those circumstances or is she again overseeing a department that has agreed to “lie in unison”?

Mr SPEAKER: There are three questions there. Two can be answered.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The Refugee Status Appeals Authority decision in the Zaoui case made it very clear that media speculation about his status as a suspected terrorist—which were the authority’s words, not mine; never mine—was part of the problem that was faced in this country. Section 129T does not allow any information to be given under those circumstances.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I ask the Minister again: how is it that this man, Sala Edeen Bouta, comes all the way from Algeria, past scores and scores of Muslim countries, to New Zealand; and how is it that she has allowed this country to be advertised as the softest touch in the whole world?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I would be surprised if this country were described as “the softest touch in the world”, given that it was under this Government that the operational instruction operating at the border has made it a much tougher regime—because we have a right to know who is in our country, where they have come from, and why they are here.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If that is true, how on earth did he get here?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I will not provide any information about any individual, because I have an absolute obligation under the legislation that the member voted for.

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Child, Youth and Family Services, Department—Confidence

2. JUDY TURNER (United Future) to the Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment: Does she have confidence that the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services’ systems and front-line staff consistently deliver best social work practice; if not, why not?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment), on behalf of the Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment (CYF): In general, yes. However, the two reports released today clearly show that high-quality social work practice is not happening as it should. In the particular cases of Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson, the chief social worker’s and the Children’s Commissioner’s reports show that social work practice did not comply with social work standards within the department. That is totally unacceptable.

Judy Turner: In light of the fact that Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Service staff failed to follow not one, but a number of established policies and procedures in the Olympia and Saliel case, which the service acknowledges contributed to the deaths of the girls, can she give an assurance that New Zealand’s children are made safer by simply restating the policies to the service’s staff over the last year?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The point that the member makes is a good one, and that is that both of these reports show that over the last 4 years, a large number of protocols, practices, and training programmes have been put in place, but in this case it appears they were not followed. It will be a challenge for the department to ensure that those processes are indeed followed by every single social worker in every single situation.

Georgina Beyer: What is being done to ensure that the department’s systems and front-line staff can consistently deliver best social work practice?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Since this Government was elected in 1999, we have been committed to the best possible social work practice. For example, we have increased social work wages, recruited more staff, and instituted an increase in the baseline of this department’s funding, which is now 50 percent higher than when we came in. With the completion of the recent baseline review, we have continued these improvements with investment of $11.55 million over 3 years to ensure that the department’s systems are efficient and effective. We are recruiting even more social workers, strengthening regional management, instituting social work professional registration, and investing more in training.

Mr SPEAKER: I will not warn members again about interjecting from a seat very much more favourable than their own.

Katherine Rich: When the roopu team in Masterton overseeing the Aplin sisters’ cases had a caseload 36 percent higher than the non-Mâori case team, managed files of greater complexity, and had a key leadership position in that office eliminated, does she accept that as a result of the Labour Government’s restructuring at the front line, front-line staff on that team were on a hiding to nothing; if not, why not?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Labour Government has not restructured the front line of social workers in this country. The major restructuring that took place around front-line social work was the institution of the practice managers system, which runs across the country, and indeed the support of supervisory staff for those front-line staff workers.

Barbara Stewart: Given the difficulties experienced by the service in providing the level of care and protection required by at-risk children, has the Government considered developing a team-based approach that would utilise the resources of the police, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Health and reduce the likelihood of children slipping through the cracks in the system; if not, why not?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As a direct result of the report on James Whakaruru, a child who died in 1999 and whose death was reported on by the Commissioner for Children, the Government did indeed institute protocols among the police, educators, the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, health workers, and other people who come into contact with the community. These reports show that those protocols are in place, and unfortunately on this occasion did not get used.

Sue Bradford: Will the Minister consider supporting changes to the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, so that the chief social worker can in future be an integral part of the top level leadership team for the department, so that some of the problems that have happened up till now will, hopefully, no longer occur?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, the chief social worker in the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services has traditionally occupied a position of being leader of the profession rather than being a line manager. I think it is partly a compliment to the current chief social worker, Shannon Pakura, that so many people would like to see her have line accountability. That is, of course, a matter for the department rather than for the Government, but it certainly makes good sense to me.

Judy Turner: Does the Minister agree that the comment from the Masterton social work supervisor that Olympia and Saliel’s social worker “knows them better than they know themselves” demonstrates the reality that investigations of ongoing abuse must be done objectively by an independent team, in order to ensure that the same failure of the social worker and supervisor to comprehend the significance of the allegations does not occur again?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: That makes very good sense.

Judy Turner: Does the Minister believe that the failure of the social worker and her supervisor in this case to follow up established policy and procedures was a result of systemic problems or was it an individual error in this case?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Both the chief social worker’s report and the Commissioner for Children’s report would indicate that the systems were in place, but they were not used by that social worker and by that social worker’s supervisor.

Judy Turner: In light of the fact that the social worker had a longstanding and familiar 13-year relationship with the Aplin-Jetson-Howse family, and presumably understood the volatile dynamics of the situation, can the Minister explain how a letter was sent to the home in which Bruce Howse resided, referring to “new information”, which ultimately incensed Howse and contributed to the murder of these two girls?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, I can confirm that this case does stretch back to 1994, and in the case of the letter the member describes, I find it inexplicable that a letter was sent to the household, enabling it to be opened by that man, which, of course, led to the tragic events we now face.

Judy Turner: Does the Minister intend to implement the Commissioner for Children’s recommendation that independent teams carry out investigations?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Government has yet to consider all the recommendations, which were divided up amongst departments to look at. At the present time, as I mentioned, we have already had a report that has required teams within communities to be involved where child abuse is in place. We will have to consider whether we can improve on that in the light of this report.

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Question 3 to Minister

KATHERINE RICH (National): I seek leave of the House to hold over my question until the associate Minister is available to answer questions.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to hold over the question. Is there any objection? There is.

KATHERINE RICH: It is funny she is not here.

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that is out of order. She will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

KATHERINE RICH: I withdraw and apologise.

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Child, Youth and Family Services, Department—Masterton Murders

3. KATHERINE RICH (National) to the Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment (CYF): Were the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services’ policies and procedures followed in the case of Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson; if not, why not?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment), on behalf of the Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment (CYF): There are clear departmental and inter-agency policies and tools to guide every social worker in his or her work, and both the Commissioner for Children and the chief social worker found that those policies were, and are, fundamentally sound. In this case, however, these policies and procedures were not followed by the social worker and the supervisor involved.

Katherine Rich: When Ron Burrows’ concerns for Coral Burrows’ safety were not judged by the department as worthy of being a notification, and when Olympia Jetson’s note that, “My dad is going to kill me” was not treated as a separate notification, why should the people of New Zealand have any faith that other heartfelt calls to the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services will be dealt with effectively?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: These were tragic situations—there is no doubt about it—but people around the country need to know that around 27,000 notifications are filed with the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services each year. The number of child deaths remains much the same each year, as tragic as that figure is. People need to know that we have not yet heard in full about what happened in the case of Mr Burrows’ phone call to the department, one of many hundreds of thousands that have been received—

Katherine Rich: 21 minutes!

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The phone call lasted 21 minutes. I repeat that the member knows nothing about social work. That is not an unusual time to spend on the phone with a social worker about a case. We need to wait until we get further information on that case.

Moana Mackey: What has been done to ensure that social workers have clear processes and procedures in place, and are able to follow them?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Protocols and practice guidelines have been developed and implemented for social workers to assist them in their duties, partly as a result of the death of James Whakaruru in 1999. These include clear processes in the case of suspected child abuse, whereby the social worker is required to use the risk estimation and sexual abuse protocol. These are specifically designed to lead to appropriate action. Social workers are required by departmental standards to inform the police of sexual abuse allegations, and to work cooperatively with them. We have also put in place more resources to support front-line social workers, including practice managers and more supervisory staff. These processes have been put in place for a reason—to protect children. Tragically, it appears that in this case, they were not followed.

Dr Muriel Newman: In light of yet another damning report on Labour’s child welfare agency, what responsibility does the Minister accept?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: When one is a Minister, one takes full responsibility for what goes on in one’s department. I am sure the Associate Minister feels exactly that this is the way things should be. I point out that there would not be a person in this country who would not want the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services in the hands of this Government, with the resources it has put in, rather than in the hands of the previous Government, which cut its resources year on year.

Katherine Rich: While the Whakaruru report of June 2000, Judge Mick Brown’s report in December 2000, and today’s Aplin report all raise serious concerns about social workers not using the tools provided to assist them in determining the level of risk to children, why, under the Minister’s watch, is the current recorded use of the risk assessment tool by social workers at only 80 percent nationally?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: It is tragic that James Whakaruru died in the 1990s. One of the things Labour has done on its watch has been to ensure that the Whakaruru report, prepared by the previous Commissioner for Children, has had its recommendations implemented. Part of this was to ensure that we have protocols across the country, but the member points out something that both the commissioner and the chief social worker pointed out—that Labour has good policies and fundamentally sound policies. Tragically, in this case, they were not followed by the two people who, of course, no longer work for the department.

Katherine Rich: When Saliel Aplin had voiced fears that “Bruce will kill us”, and Olympia Jetson had written “My dad is going to kill me”, and Howse had threatened to do a “Ratima”, why were any of these cries for help not classed as notifications?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I think the member knows that this is the subject of the two reports that have been released today. It is up to the two people involved to explain fully why they did not report the allegations made by the children, and which led to their deaths. It is a tragedy. Those social workers clearly did not follow practices that were in place. Our challenge as a department is to make sure that they are followed by every social worker, in every circumstance, in the future.

Katherine Rich: When cases like these ones often begin as being assessed at the lower levels of urgency in terms of rankings within the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, how can the Minister sleep at night knowing that 3,132 children in the lower urgency rankings are currently waiting to see a social worker?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Not only do Ministers at times lie awake wondering about these kinds of issues; there is no doubt that every social worker in the country who is involved in these circumstances lies awake at night, too. We have in this country a highly professional group of people working within the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, and I repeat: there would not be one person in this country who would not want to see this department in our hands, increasing resources and working with it, rather than in the hands of that member’s Government, which cut resources almost every year it was in office.

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Mental Health—Patient Safety

4. SUE BRADFORD (Deputy Musterer—Green) to the Minister of Health: Is she confident that patients and staff are safe in psychiatric units around New Zealand, including those in the Taharoto unit on Auckland’s North Shore?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): I am confident that patients and staff in psychiatric units are generally safe. However, there will always be times when patients are very unwell that both patients and staff face risks. I am advised that the Waitemata District Health Board adheres to national standards of safety and follows best practice to minimise those risks.

Sue Bradford: Is the Minister aware of a number of recent serious incidents at Taharoto this year, including one in which a female staff member was held hostage by a patient with a knife; and why are such incidents not being properly reported and dealt with by police and health and safety officials?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, I am aware of recent incidents within the inpatient unit at Taharoto. As the member is probably aware, the Waitemata District Health Board has initiated a review of that, which it hopes to have available in early December. There has been wide consultation with staff and consumers, and the results and the recommendations will be shared with all interested parties. Having said that, I know the member is aware that within inpatient services of mental health services we do have some very seriously unwell people, and at times it does require that staff are put into positions where they are at risk. Although the services try to minimise that as much as possible, there always does exist a risk within mental health units.

Dr Paul Hutchison: Why did the Minister promise more nurses, therapists, and beds for acute mental health services in June, yet the result at Taharoto acute mental health unit was a cut back from 41 to 35 beds; and, even if the beds are restored, how can anyone have confidence in the mental health system when the Minister does the opposite of what she says?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Quite to the contrary. I have increased mental health funding across the whole of the Auckland region—a part of New Zealand that was starved of mental health funds for years. Because there may not be beds in one unit—an old unit in Auckland—that does not mean that other new beds have not been, and are being, opened. That is exactly what is happening in Auckland. Thank goodness this Government has shifted money into the Auckland area, because it was not funded anywhere near the levels of the South Island and the lower North Island.

Sue Bradford: Is it true, as I have been reliably informed it is, that around three-quarters of the staff, or more, at the Taharoto unit on weekends are actually bureau casuals; if so, does she believe that this is a safe way to operate an acute unit, especially given what she has just told me earlier and in the light of the findings of the Buckle inquiry released yesterday, which dealt with some of the same matters?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The Buckle inquiry and many other inquiries over the years have shown us one continuing problem—that is, a shortage of people prepared to work in mental health services. Staff training and retention is a very high priority. In fact, some of the additional money we have put into mental health has been earmarked for wages for services and for the training of mental health staff. I am pleased to say that the latest report of the Mental Health Commission shows there has been an increase in the mental health workforce in New Zealand, both within inpatients and community services, but we still have some way to go to have the staff we need.

Sue Bradford: When will the Government stop reviewing the situation at the Waitemata District Health Board and its mental health services, and, instead, deal effectively with those who it appears are refusing to take immediate action to improve what is, in fact, a critically desperate situation at the Taharoto unit?

Hon ANNETTE KING: As I said in my first answer to the member, one of the things the staff wanted was a review in terms of staff safety. So I am not quite sure whether the member did not want that to happen—the staff certainly did. As I said, the staff will be advised of the review outcome in early December.

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Child, Youth and Family Services, Department—Masterton Office

5. KATHERINE RICH (National) to the Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment (CYF): What specific concerns, if any, did she or her officials have concerning the administration or management of the Masterton office of Child, Youth and Family Services and how have these been addressed?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment), on behalf of the Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment (CYF): The chief social worker’s report finds that rather than management issues in this particular case, the departmental policies and procedures were not followed by the social worker and supervisor concerned. However, as I noted earlier, we have had a highly experienced supervisor as well as additional social work resources in the Masterton office for some time.

Katherine Rich: When the Children’s Commissioner’s report says that the Masterton roopu team had a caseload 36 percent higher than the non-Mâori team, managed cases of greater complexity, and had a key leadership position eliminated, does she support the department’s dismissal of the commissioner’s recommendation “to review the effectiveness of roopu teams and the resourcing, training, and professional support of these teams”; if so, why?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As I mentioned earlier to another question, one of the jobs now for all departments will be to take both of these reports, in light of them both now being released, and to judge how we can build on the improvements of the last 4 years. It may be that that particular recommendation will need to be considered.

Moana Mackey: What support has the Masterton office received during the time of this Government?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: We have taken a number of steps to support the Masterton office over recent years including on-site management, providing additional support and practice advice from the chief social worker’s advisory team, additional social work resources including a full-time practice manager, strengthening collaboration with other agencies, contracting an additional position of social worker in schools in Masterton, and working closely with community partners on initiatives to address family violence such as the community campaigns initiated by the local mayor, Bob Francis, and the local MP, Georgina Beyer.

Dr Muriel Newman: Is his best defence to those damning reports on Labour’s child welfare service and the human tragedies they describe simply to assert that there would have been even more tragedies if he had not have been the Minister for the last 4 years?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Our best defence, of course, is to say that this is a tragedy, that we have been rebuilding this department for the last 4 years, and that we will continue to build this department until we get it right. We take full responsibility for things when we are the Government, and that is our best defence.

Katherine Rich: Can the Minister explain to the House why the roopu team in the Masterton office had a caseload 36 percent higher than the non-Mâori team?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No, I do not have the details for why caseloads were higher at that particular time for the Mâori team versus the general team. But what I can say to the House is that caseloads vary across the country, and they vary because of the circumstances of different offices. We would need to inquire specifically as to why that was the case here.

Deborah Coddington: Can the Minister look any woman in the eye in New Zealand and say that he trusts the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services to look after any children, let alone children at risk; if not, why does he not take accountability for the department?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Accountability is an interesting issue, and certainly the Associate Minister, I am sure, takes responsibility for her department. But can I just say to the House that Child, Youth and Family Services, like health, like the police, and like all services that deal with the very difficult situations in our society, will have occasions when cases arise that all of us deplore, but the department answers 27,000 notifications every year. These social workers do a fantastic job, and they have my 110 percent support in doing that job.

Katherine Rich: When the Commissioner for Children states in her report that the roopu team did have 36 percent more cases than the other team in the office, and the department says in its report that: “There is no reason to believe that the roopu teams are resourced or supported in any way different from non-roopu teams.”, who is correct?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: What the Associate Minister would say, I am sure, is that we have received these two reports today, and that particular issue clearly is one of concern and it will be explored.

Katherine Rich: What is the point of having separate services for Mâori if they are going to be under-resourced and over-lumbered with caseloads higher than for general teams?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Of course there would be no point in having resources put into Mâori social work services if they are over-worked and under-resourced. We are a Government that of course has lifted the baseline by 50 percent in this department. We have increased the number of social workers. We have put new practices in place, right across this country. One of them is to ensure that we do have Mâori social workers who can work with Mâori clients. That is our commitment and we will get it right, unlike the previous Government.

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Employment—Reports

6. MARTIN GALLAGHER (Labour—Hamilton West) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What recent reports has he received on employment and unemployment?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): Twenty-six thousand more people were employed in the September quarter, according to the household labour force survey.

Hon Trevor Mallard: What a good Minister.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: That is right. This is the biggest quarterly increase in employment since the series began in 1985. Over 176,000 more New Zealanders are in paid work since the Labour-led Government took office, which is a 10 percent increase in the number of people who are employed. The ANZ Job Series released today shows a 2 percent rise in October, confirming that we are entering a summer with a very healthy labour market. I cannot imagine worse news for the National Party.

Martin Gallagher: What progress has been made on reducing the unemployment rate among groups that have historically experienced higher levels of unemployment?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: With unemployment at an overall low in 16 years, at 4.4 percent, it is particularly pleasing that unemployment has fallen amongst those groups that have been at higher risk. Unemployment amongst 21 to 24-year-olds has dropped by 6 percent, Mâori unemployment has dropped to 9.7 percent, Pacific unemployment now stands at 6.6 percent, and long-term unemployment has dropped by 17 percent. We now have the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in the OECD, with our unemployment rate lower than that of our main trading partners.

Sue Bradford: What will the Minister do to ensure that new workers who have benefited from the growth in jobs are not punished by the Reserve Bank pushing up home mortgage interest rates, and is he concerned that approximately 151,000 New Zealanders are still jobless, while a further 104,000 part-time workers want more work than they can currently get—in some cases, a lot more work?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: What the Reserve Bank Governor does, of course, is up to the Reserve Bank Governor, but there is certainly nothing in the results that were released yesterday that we believe should imply a need for a change in interest rates. Yes, we are always concerned when New Zealanders are looking for a job, but once again I have to say that, along with unemployment going down, we need to stress that employment has risen dramatically. We now have more people in employment than ever in the history of this country, and if we can carry on in this way, we will ensure that anybody who wants a job can get one.

Paul Adams: Is the Minister aware of reports from industries that face serious skill shortages, such as those experienced by electricity network companies seeking linesmen, and does he acknowledge that these shortages hit consumers by pushing up prices for services, such as the case of electricity linesmen where the Commerce Commission has been told that the shortage will push up electricity prices?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, we are aware of shortages of skill, and that is why the Government has adopted a wide range of policies to try to address that, ranging from the Modern Apprenticeship scheme to the target of 150,000 people in training by 2007, and large increases in funding. The list is way too long to go through. So, yes, we do understand there are skill shortages; yes, we know that puts pressure on prices; and that is why we are investing so much in skill.

Hon Mark Gosche: Has the Minister seen other policy suggestions to assist more people to move from benefits into employment?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes. I guess against the backdrop of booming employment and dropping unemployment. I have seen suggestions that the unemployed should queue outside post offices, wait for a job, and be paid up at the end of each day. I have seen suggestions that the unemployment benefit should be axed altogether. I have seen suggestions that work-for-the-dole schemes should be returned instead of people getting a real job with a real wage. The author of all these brilliant ideas is “Dr Mogadon Brash”.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister knows that he cannot say that, and he will withdraw and apologise for that comment.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I withdraw and apologise.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek the leave of the House to table the list of post offices closed by a Labour Minister called Prebble.

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

Rodney Hide: I seek the leave of the House to table the list of post offices that were opened while Mr Peters was in power.

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

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Navy—Prisoner of War

7. RODNEY HIDE (ACT) to the Prime Minister: What action did she take on receiving my letter to her dated 19 March 2002 detailing Mr Ross Lynneberg’s pay dispute, dating back to when the New Zealand Government transferred him from the Royal New Zealand Navy to the Royal Navy, and does she agree with Hon Mark Burton’s letter of 26 September 2003, confirming that Mr Lynneberg’s pay was ₤238-10-0 short while he was held prisoner of war by the Japanese but that he won’t be paid the shortfall and that “all options have now been fully explored”?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): When the letter was received from Mr Hide, staff sought advice from the office of the Minister of Defence. Dr Cullen then responded to the member on my behalf in June 2002 and noted that the Minister of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force were taking the issue up with the British Government. They did that without success. Mr Burton last wrote to Mr Lynneberg in September this year saying that he will personally raise the issue with the British Defence Minister when he is in London. I understand that that meeting will occur this week. Mr Burton will contact Mr Lynneberg when he returns to New Zealand.

Rodney Hide: How does the Prime Minister square her Government’s failure simply to pay Mr Ross Lynneberg the pay that he is owed with her statement to the Returned Services Association annual national meeting on 9 June this year that: “As a Government we have put a high priority on seeing that those who serve our country overseas get properly thanked and acknowledged.”; and does she think that Mr Ross Lynneberg has been properly thanked and acknowledged when he has not even been paid what this Government acknowledges he is owed?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: What the Minister has acknowledged is that Mr Lynneberg was owed the money by the Royal Navy to which he was seconded, and volunteered to be seconded, I understand, in 1941. I understand that the New Zealand Defence Force did meet its pay obligations to Mr Lynneberg at the end of the war.

Simon Power: As the Prime Minister will travel the world to honour veterans and attend ceremonies throughout New Zealand, why has it taken so long for this matter to be actioned by the Hon Mark Burton?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: There has been quite a lot of toing and froing on this matter from the time it was first raised with Ministers by Mr Lynneberg. I am satisfied that Mr Burton and his officials have gone to a great deal of trouble to try to track who owed what, when, and how.

Ron Mark: What kind of message is this Government sending to the men and women of our Defence Force when, on the one hand, it crows about its massive surpluses and oversees the payment of $42,000 to a violent convict in Dunedin, yet dismisses most callously pleas for assistance from former soldiers, such as Damien Ngapata who was severely burned in an accident and George Ngapata

who is now a tetraplegic; and now we find out from a World War II veteran and former prisoner of war Ross Lynneberg that he only wants to be paid for the job he did?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The point is that he was in the employment of the British at the time. That is why Mr Burton is quite properly taking up the matter with the Secretary of State for Defence this year.

Rodney Hide: On looking through this file, does the Prime Minister realise that when Mr Lynneberg headed off overseas to war, on behalf of all New Zealanders, the New Zealand Government made a solemn promise to him to top up his pay that the British would provide, and that 60 years on this Government is saying “Not our problem. Doing nothing.”?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The New Zealand Government did top up the pay. Furthermore, I am advised that all the topped-up pay it was responsible for was paid to Mr Lynneberg at the end of the war.

Rodney Hide: In light of the Prime Minister being able to find $60,000 for writers that she and her expert literary panel like, why can she not just find the $17,500—not counting interest—owed to Mr Ross Lynneberg, who suffered terribly at the hands of the Japanese and who has travelled here today to see this Prime Minister’s response.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The member is asking the New Zealand Government to pay the wages owed by another Government. That is the point that has been made consistently. We all feel tremendous sympathy for Mr Lynneberg, who was a prisoner of war for 4 years. He was in the employment of the Royal Navy at the time he was captured.

Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek to put a motion that parliamentarians have a whip round and pay the man the money, $17,000, and reclaim it from the British.

Mr SPEAKER: The member does not need leave for that. He just has to write to every member.

Peter Brown: I will lead the way. I will put in $300.

Mr SPEAKER: The member does not need leave to do that. I will certainly help. He does not need leave.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have discussed this with my ACT colleagues. Each MP could put in $100—we have each got it in our pockets. Mr Lynneberg is here. He does not want charity, actually. He just wants his pay that this Prime Minister is denying him.

Mr SPEAKER: This is becoming farcical. The member knows that this is not the place to raise that particular issue. Any member is entitled to write to any other member asking for that sort of thing. That is not part of question time.

Rodney Hide: I seek leave to table my letter to the Prime Minister, dated 19 March 2002.

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

Rodney Hide: I seek leave also to table the letter from the Hon Mark Burton dated 26 September 2003 to Mr Lynneberg—

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that letter.

Rodney Hide: —stating yes, he is owed the money, but he is not going to get paid.

Mr SPEAKER: That is the last warning for the member.

Rodney Hide: I am sorry, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I do not care. Please be seated while I am on my feet. The member knows that that is out of order.

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

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am perfectly entitled to explain what is in a letter, without you interrupting. It might have escaped your notice that this is a terrible injustice on a serviceman, and if I am not allowed to table a letter properly, it is a disgrace in this House.

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows the letter is referred to in his question, he asked to table that letter, no one had any objection to it; the member went outside the bounds of what is acceptable. [Interruption]

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to draw your mind back to when many of us first came to this Chamber, and we received very formal instruction on behalf of the Speaker’s office, by senior members of this House, as to how we were to behave inside this Chamber, and the processes and procedures we were to follow. One of the courses of instruction we received was on how to table documents. In that course of instruction the Standing Orders were made very clear to us that we were to do a number of things: one, give the title of the document, the date, from where it came, and a brief outline of what was contained in it. My concern is that increasingly, over the last few years, the impression has been given that the House does not want the contents of certain documents to be aired publicly here on the floor. Right at the point in time when a member of Parliament is about to explain specifically—according to the Standing Orders—what a document is about, he is promptly sat on his butt. I would ask you to consider exactly how that has been administered, because it does seem a little unfair.

Mr SPEAKER: It has not been administered in any different way for all the 37 years I have been in the House. I want to repeat: all that is necessary is to identify sufficiently the document to be tabled. I judged that we had identified that document.

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

Mr SPEAKER: I am warning the member that I have ruled, and there had better be a new point of order.

Rodney Hide: I seek leave of the House to table the Rt Hon Helen Clark’s speech to the Returned Services Association annual national council meeting this week.

Document laid on the Table of the House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. During that last discussion with Mr Hide, Mr Mallard made a statement that is bound to lead to parliamentary disorder. It was an allegation against a member of this House, and he should be asked to back it up or stand up, withdraw, and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: I will ask the member whether he made an unparliamentary comment about another member. If he did so, I want him to stand, withdraw, and apologise. [Interruption] I did not exactly hear. I heard there was a noise, and I did not hear the exact statement. I was listening to a point of order. If the member made an unparliamentary statement, he is to stand, withdraw, and apologise. He did not. I accept his word.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Let me tell you what he said—without mentioning the member. He said: “Tell X to pay her bills, too.” He knows he said that. We all, over here, heard him. So you take his word; I do not. I want an apology.

Mr SPEAKER: The statement is ambiguous. It is not unparliamentary, but he was out of order for interjecting. I will ask him to withdraw for interjecting.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I withdraw.

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Dunstan Hospital—Redevelopment

8. STEVE CHADWICK (Labour—Rotorua) to the Minister of Health: What progress is being made towards the redevelopment of Dunstan Hospital?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): Considerable progress has been made towards a new facility at Dunstan. I visited the hospital in December 2002 to see the state of it, and since then the district health board, the Ministry of Health, and the trust have undertaken a lot of work. As I have already announced, I will be in a position to outline the time frame for redevelopment and funding before Christmas.

Steve Chadwick: What representations, if any, have been made by MPs on this issue?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I have received endless representations from the local member of Parliament, David Parker, who in fact has worn a track to my door and overheated the telephone line on this issue. He took me to the hospital in December last year to advocate further for a new facility. I had one letter from the Hon Peter Dunne in August 2000 but I have never heard from Katherine Rich, although to read news reports she would have people believe that she was the main promoter. As far as I can see, she has promoted only herself.

Pita Paraone: Why has Dunstan Hospital been allowed to deteriorate to the point where it has posed a health and safety hazard; and how many other hospitals are there in similar circumstances?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I am pleased to tell the member that there are not many hospitals like Dunstan left. Most of them are part of a building project, including the old Kew Hospital in Invercargill. It waited for years for redevelopment, and did not get the money until we became the Government. I could also name many others. Dunstan is a hospital that needed redevelopment as it had been neglected for a long time. I am glad to say we have taken it seriously and will fund it.

Mark Peck: When was Dunstan Hospital last substantially upgraded?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The last substantial redevelopment was about 50 years ago. For the last 3 decades National held the Otago electorate and it did not redevelop it. In the most recent decade two leaders of the National Party—both were Ministers of Health: Mrs Shipley and Mr English—did nothing. They did not upgrade it. It was not until we became the Government that the issue was taken seriously. People will have a new hospital in Dunstan, and they can thank this Government for listening to them rather than going out, making speeches, and pretending to listen.

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Capital and Coast District Health Board—Mental Health Patient Death

9. Hon ROGER SOWRY (National) to the Minister of Health: Will she be ensuring that the 20 recommendations made in a recent report into the death of a mental health patient in the care of Capital and Coast District Health Board will be followed up; if not, why not?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): Yes, I am advised that most of the recommendations have already been implemented, and the rest will be completed by December this year.

Hon Roger Sowry: If the Minister has been advised, and accepts the advice, that most of the recommendations have been implemented, why was it that Mr Chad Buckle was able to walk out of Capital and Coast’s mental health unit just a month after the hospital had committed itself both to reducing the number of exits from wards and to introducing a swipe card system; and is this the same ward that allowed a patient to walk out of it earlier in the year and who was then killed after entering a tiger enclosure at Wellington Zoo?

Hon ANNETTE KING: It is the same ward—ward 27 of Wellington Hospital. It is a ward with patients who are there under compulsory treatment orders. It also has voluntary patients, who are allowed to leave because they are not committed patients. However, the district health board has recognised that it did not have good enough surveillance. It has now put in place a number of measures to address that issue and make it more difficult for those patients who should not be leaving to leave.

Darren Hughes: Has the provision in mental health services in the Capital and Coast District Health Board area improved?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, I am advised by Dr Peter McGeorge that mental health services have improved in that district health board over the last 5 years. For example, there has been a 26 percent increase in access to services, a mental health help-line was set up in March last year, and new services such as home-based care and respite care have been added.

Hon Ken Shirley: Does the Minister accept that many of the mental health problems at Capital Coast Health result from misdirection of resources, and how does she justify the fact that the man she mentioned, Dr Peter McGeorge, the head of that mental health sector, has commuted to work from Auckland to Wellington for the full duration of this Government’s administration?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The decision to have Dr McGeorge come from Auckland to Wellington was made by the board, and I think it probably reflects the fact that we have in New Zealand a shortage of highly skilled psychiatrists. However, I would say that the flight of Dr McGeorge to Wellington would be able to give a lot more service to the people of New Zealand than that member flying from Auckland or wherever it is to come to Parliament.

Hon Roger Sowry: How can the Minister claim in the House today that the mental health services for Capital Coast Health have improved, when Mr Buckle’s father phoned the staff the night before, emailed the staff, and then phoned them on the morning of his son’s death regarding his son’s mental state, and when will the Minister institute a proper inquiry, rather than accepting the manager’s word that the unit is safe, when there have been two deaths, which she seems to pass off lightly?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I certainly do not pass any death off lightly. I need to say to that member, if he is going to look at reports into mental health problems, there were 70 of them before I became Minister. A proper review was carried out, not a manager’s report. It was the review that Mr Buckle was talking about this morning. Maybe the member missed that.

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Immigration, Minister—Confidence

10. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in the Minister of Immigration given recent publicity of events surrounding the New Zealand Immigration Service?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: She is no longer hard working and conscientious.

Mr SPEAKER: The member was asked a question and an answer was given. There was no other reason required.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: When did the Minister of Immigration tell her as Prime Minister that she had become aware of senior officials at the New Zealand Immigration Service operating their own “jobs for visas scam for would-be immigrants by providing job offers at the service that would enable foreign nationals to secure fast-track, permanent residency within 1 month; how many of these job offers were made available and what action did she take as Prime Minister when the Minister of Immigration told her that?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I do not recall having any specific advice on such allegations. If the member wants to put down a proper question, one will look at it.

Dr Wayne Mapp: How can the Prime Minister have confidence in a Minister who refuses to answer specific questions in Parliament on her portfolio responsibility, when the whole nation can read many of the details of particular issues in today’s New Zealand Herald, and where is the accountability of that Minister to this Parliament, which is surely one of the basic requirements of ministerial responsibility?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Of course it is one of the basic requirements of responsibility, but a Minister of Immigration will always be somewhat constrained in what he or she can say in individual cases.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is she telling the House that the Minister of Immigration has not told her about the New Zealand Immigration Service assisting with the recruitment of foreign nationals into jobs at the service, effectively replacing and displacing New Zealand citizens and residents already here in the employ of the service, and overlooking suitably qualified persons from within resident ethnic communities, and can she tell the House why she knows nothing about that?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I repeat that I do not recall having a specific briefing on such allegations. If the member wants to ask a proper question about it, he should put it down.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Prime Minister seen a document entitled The Sweeping Pool, in which the front page is written by her Minister, describing the “lying in unison” press man Ian Smith as “Puff Daddy”, and on the back page, she will see the names of the recruitees, one of whom came here from India, got the job for 1 month, and then resigned from the department and set up his own immigration service; what sort of sham is going on under her Minister, and when will she take account of it herself as the Prime Minister?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I cannot recall any specific brief about these allegations, which is all they are. If the member wants to put the question down properly, he will get a full answer.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek to table the front page of the November 2002 Sweeping Pool issue, which sets out some of the evidence about which I was speaking and which quotes the Minister of Immigration.

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

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, we have a Prime Minister who tells a member of Parliament, on a matter on which she is apparently ignorant, to put down a question, and then—

Mr SPEAKER: This is not a point of order.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: But I have not finished it.

Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. I am not warning the member again, I will name him. This was a request to table a document, and the request was denied. Any member can do that, and they did. The member may not raise by way of a point of order a rejection of that particular point.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: My point of order is that I do not think that, on a matter to do with the department, it is fitting for the Prime Minister to tell a parliamentarian who has been scandalised for years by that sort of thing under this Minister, to put a question down, when it is her job to put a question down to her Minister.

Mr SPEAKER: In fact that is just the point I made. That is not a point of order.

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International Students—Pastoral Care

11. LYNNE PILLAY (Labour—Waitakere) to the Minister of Education: What steps is he taking to ensure that international students studying at New Zealand secondary and composite schools receive a high standard of pastoral care?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): Under the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students, schools must provide a range of support services for foreign fee-paying students, including advice on accommodation, courses, welfare facilities, and health services. From next year, the Education Review Office will start assessing in depth the extent to which the code has been implemented, including through inspecting a random sample of home-stay placements.

Lynne Pillay: How will the Education Review Office go about monitoring the implementation of the code?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The Education Review Office will monitor the implementation of the code through its regular education reviews, and include information from the new in-depth investigation in its regular reports on individual schools. By mid next year, the review office will also produce an education evaluation report on the pastoral care of foreign fee-paying students based on information and recommendations from those individual reports.

Bernie Ogilvy: In the light of the focus of the primary question on pastoral care for school students, will he give serious consideration to United Future’s proposal to extend the social workers in schools programme to all decile 1and 2 schools?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It is not a matter I have immediate responsibility for. If the social services spokesperson took it up with my colleague the Minister for Social Development and Employment, I think that would be useful. I might say that if the economy continues to be damaged by the sabotage work of Pansy Wong in China, the ability to do that will not exist.

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows he is out of order in saying what he said and commenting in that way on a member of Parliament. I want him to withdraw and apologise.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know it is very unusual to ask for an explanation or reason in this area, but when a member of Parliament is deliberately undermining the New Zealand education industry in China, that is, in my opinion, sabotage.

Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, and the member knows that.

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Douglas Fir Seedlings—Destruction

12. IAN EWEN-STREET (Green) to the Minister for Biosecurity: Why was a shipment of Douglas fir seedlings infected with pine pitch canker seized and destroyed this week and why was it ever allowed to leave California for New Zealand?

Hon JIM SUTTON (Minister for Biosecurity): A consignment of Douglas fir scions—unrooted cuttings—in a secure quarantine facility in Kaiapoi was destroyed last week because it was infected with a fungus provisionally diagnosed as pitch pine canker, a disease New Zealand does not have. The cuttings were from an area considered to be free from pitch pine canker, and have been in quarantine for the past 9 months, so any infection could be detected and destroyed without risk to our environment.

Ian Ewen-Street: Is it not the case that the destruction of the seedlings was, effectively, the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, and it became necessary only because 3 months before the seedlings were imported the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry had removed the fence at the top of the cliff by declaring 20 counties of California to be free of pine pitch canker, against the specific advice of Dr Michael Ormsby, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s national adviser on forest biosecurity; if this is not the case, what is the case?

Hon JIM SUTTON: The rules for the import of either animals or plants are not made by me or any Minister, but by the chief technical officer, and on a scientific basis. In the light of this occurrence, the ministry has immediately suspended any further imports of pitch pine canker host material from the United States and will review its long-term requirements.

David Parker: What does this interception demonstrate about our biosecurity surveillance system?

Hon JIM SUTTON: Quite simply, it demonstrates that quarantine works. Imports are required to be held in quarantine where there is any potential risk, so that the disease status can be ascertained. As the Douglas fir case last week shows, the system has worked. The Government has a strong commitment to biosecurity, with annual baseline expenditure increased by more than $50 million since we were elected in December 1999.

Ian Ewen-Street: Given that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization describes a pest-free area for phytosanitary purposes as being “demonstrated by scientific evidence”, on what specific scientific evidence was the decision made to declare these 20 counties in California to be free of pine pitch canker?

Hon JIM SUTTON: I am not qualified to instruct the member on the scientific evidence, but I can say that this country relies very much on people applying honest science to quarantine and import-export requirements, and it would be most inappropriate for New Zealand to make decisions on what is acceptable in quarantine on the basis of political comments rather than on the basis of honest science.

Ian Ewen-Street: Given that pine pitch canker has caused so much damage to lateral pine forests in California that radiata pine has been classified as an endangered species there, does the Minister agree that our biosecurity agencies should be focused on managing the necessary risks associated with trade and tourism, rather than flirting with the utterly unnecessary risks such as this case; if not, why not?

Hon JIM SUTTON: To accuse the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of flirting with unnecessary risks simply illustrates the reason why politicians are not given carriage of the decisions on quarantine.

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Questions to Members

Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Lobbying

1. Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future) to STEVE CHADWICK (Member in charge of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill) Is she concerned that the payment of taxpayer funds to anti-smoking groups for the purposes of lobbying members of Parliament and media to support smoke-free legislation will have an undue influence on the consideration of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill?

STEVE CHADWICK (Labour—Rotorua): No, I have confidence that MPs are capable of forming their own opinions.

Hon Peter Dunne: Can the member assure the House that in her roles as both the sponsor of the bill and chair of the Health Committee that considered it, she did not at any stage advise the Ministry of Health, or groups such as Action on Smoking and Health, that they ought to start lobbying members of Parliament to support this legislation?

Mr SPEAKER: The member cannot answer the question as chair of the select committee, but she can answer as the member in charge of the bill.

STEVE CHADWICK: No.

Sue Kedgley: Is the member concerned that the hospitality industry, which organised vigorous postcard campaigns and vigorously lobbied MPs on the bill, may have unduly influenced the consideration of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill?

STEVE CHADWICK: No, all sides of the debate and all points of view were put to all members of Parliament.

Rodney Hide: Supplementary question—

Mr SPEAKER: No, I have awarded two supplementary questions to members.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a very important issue. I am waiting to ask my question. Where does it say that the ACT party is not entitled to ask a question of this member?

Mr SPEAKER: It is entirely at my discretion. The member should read Standing Order 2.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask you to use your discretion and allow ACT to ask a question.

Mr SPEAKER: I will allow ACT to ask one supplementary question on one of the three questions to members. Does the member wish to take it on this one?

Rodney Hide: No, I will defer to my good friend Heather Roy.

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Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Scientific Evidence

2. Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future) to STEVE CHADWICK (Member in charge of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): Is she satisfied that all available scientific evidence has been considered during the passage of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill?

STEVE CHADWICK (Member in charge of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): I am satisfied that all positions on the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill were fully canvassed and supported, where appropriate, by scientific evidence. The Health Committee carefully heard and considered 397 submissions. No organisation that wished to put its views forward was denied this opportunity. All the scientific evidence placed before the committee was considered before the committee made any recommendations.

Hon Peter Dunne: When the member wrote to Mr Jonathan Olsenof the Cuba Cigar Emporium Cocktail Lounge and Bar —with regard to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research report—that “While Gavin Fisher’s methodology for an exhaust emissions report was accepted, the reason that his other report into air quality at Bream Bay was not, was because he never set out for the report to be used to support an air quality standard, with relation to the current legislation before Parliament”, on whose advice was that conclusion reached, given that the select committee did not consider the original National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research report?

STEVE CHADWICK: That is quite correct. The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research report came in after the closure of submissions on the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill.

Hon Peter Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I appreciate that you are not responsible for the content of the member’s answer, but I put it to you that the primary thrust of that question did not relate to the timing of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research report, as much as it related to the advice that she, as sponsor of the bill, received about it. The member did not answer that point at all, so I seek your indulgence to have her answer it.

Mr SPEAKER: If the member would like to add a sentence or two, then she can if she wishes.

STEVE CHADWICK: Could the member repeat the particular portion of the question that concerns him?

Hon Peter Dunne: I will do it very briefly if I may. I am sure the member is familiar with—

Rodney Hide: No, we need a bit longer.

Hon Peter Dunne: I am a reasonable person.

Mr SPEAKER: Please be reasonable and do what you said you were going to do.

Hon Peter Dunne: I am assuming that the member does not want me to read the quote again. The essence of the question was, given that the committee did not consider the report, and her quote rejects it, on whose advice did she make that rejection?

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I refer you to the principal question. The question was whether the member was satisfied that all available evidence had been considered—not whether she considered it, or whether particular evidence was considered at a particular time, but whether all evidence was considered during the passage of the bill. That includes during the debates on the second reading and the Committee stage. To get into this kind of detail is to go well beyond the range of that question.

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, but question was about advice given to her, so I will allow it.

STEVE CHADWICK: I was happy with my original answer to the question.

Rodney Hide: In hearing all the available scientific evidence in the select committee, was the committee ever advised by the—

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member—

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, I was just about to rise and say that the question was out of order.

Rodney Hide: I will rephrase.

Mr SPEAKER: No. The member has had his chance.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I notice that oftentimes, when a question has been put wrongly, the Speaker allows it to be rephrased. You have specifically said that the ACT party can ask a question, and now you are denying us one.

Mr SPEAKER: No, there was another member calling, and I will call that member, because he has not had a go yet. The member will get a go on question No. 3.

Peter Brown: Will the member clarify her position: is she saying that the select committee—

Mr SPEAKER: No, she will answer not as chair of the select committee, but as the member in charge of the bill.

Peter Brown: Will the member clarify her position: is she saying that she is aware of all the scientific evidence that people chose to put there, or is she saying that she has heard all the scientific evidence per se?

STEVE CHADWICK: As I said originally, I am satisfied with my original answer relating to the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill.

Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I took that question because the member’s original answer was not clear to members on this side of the House. It was a very simple question.

Mr SPEAKER: I cannot judge the quality of the answer. The member has given an answer and addressed the question.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your indulgence. You promised the ACT party a question.

Mr SPEAKER: You will get one in question No. 3.

Rodney Hide: What about question No. 2?

Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry, the question is about the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill. All right, on this occasion.

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Masterton District Council (Montfort Trimble Foundation) Bill—Second Reading

3. MARC ALEXANDER (United Future) to GEORGINA BEYER (Member in charge of the Masterton District Council (Montfort Trimble Foundation) Bill): Has she received any positive feedback from her Wairarapa constituents regarding the scheduled advancement of the Masterton District Council (Montfort Trimble Foundation) Bill through its second reading today?

GEORGINA BEYER (Member in charge of the Masterton District Council (Montfort Trimble Foundation) Bill): No, and neither have I received any negative feedback.

Marc Alexander: In light of the fact that the passage of this bill will release $5 million from the Montfort Trimble trust to the Masterton district for further reinvestment in forestry, what sort of reaction does she expect to face from her constituents if she allows this bill to be delayed a second time for the sake of progressing the anti-choice smoke-free legislation?

GEORGINA BEYER: As far as I am aware, I have no intention of delaying the bill any further. Whatever the House may decide is up to the House.

End of Questions for Oral Answer

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)


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Gordon Campbell: On Judith Collins’ Efforts At Self Correction

Thousands of prisoners currently in prison may be entitled to an earlier release than expected – and compensation – because Corrections has incorrectly calculated their term of imprisonment. Unless of course, the government buries its mistakes by changing the law and retro-actively getting itself off the hook… More>>

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More Justice & Corrections

Sector Opposes Bill: Local Government Bill Timeframe Extended

The Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has asked the Select Committee to extend the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). More>>

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Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>

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Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>

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General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

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