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Questions & Answers For Oral Answer Tuesday

Questions & Answers For Oral Answer 1 Tuesday, 16 December 2003

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

Questions to Ministers 1

Foreshore and Seabed—Minister's Comments 1

Tertiary Students—Student Support 2

Immigration—Public Health 2

Border Security Bill—Counter-Terrorism Bill 3

Te Arawa Lakes Settlement—Development Rights 3

Health Services—Capital Development 4

Foreshore and Seabed—Mana Whenua Title 5

Food Standards—Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council Meeting 6

Question No. 7 to Minister 6

Kiwi—Conservation 6

Families Commission—Appointments 6

Violent Offenders—Christmas Parole 7

Health, Associate Minister—Te Ngawari Hauora 8

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers

Foreshore and Seabed—Minister's Comments

1. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Do the comments made by the Hon Tariana Turia, in relation to management of the coast and sea, that “… there is no way that tangata whenua will ever give up our rights voluntarily, or allow them to be subject to anyone else’s authority. We will never agree that the Crown or anyone else should hold them on our behalf.” represent Government policy; if not, why were such comments made by a Minister of the Crown?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): No, because Government policy has not been finalised.

Dr Don Brash: What is her understanding of the reason that Mrs Turia’s speech was not run past her office, and which of the “multiplicity of meanings” did she take from Mrs Turia’s statement?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The speech was finalised very late. I have not given any particular interpretation to the speech. I thought it left a great deal of room.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: What are her thoughts on these comments from her erstwhile Minister: “However, we did not expect that we should have to abandon our tikanga just because they are not familiar to immigrant communities.”; is that a racist statement, or does that have a multiplicity of reasonings and interpretations, too?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I can rely on the member to take the worst inference from it. However, the member has advised me that she was referring to those immigrant communities in Island Bay that she referred to earlier in the speech, which were Shetland islanders, which is part of my heritage, and Italians.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just saw a pig fly past that window.

Mr SPEAKER: A happy Christmas to the member, too.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: What opportunities does she see for the management of the coastal area to be exercised by a partnership between hapû with customary rights and elected local government?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The concept of partnership and management is not novel. It is provided for already in customary fisheries regulations and in other areas, and I am sure there is scope for some such arrangements.

Hon Peter Dunne: Is it still her position that in resolving this issue and the interests of what she has previously described as the 15 percent, the interests of what she has previously described as the 85 percent cannot be overridden or compromised?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: From the outset I have said that I am looking for people of goodwill from across the communities to work on something that will see all New Zealanders move on together on the issue.

Dr Don Brash: In light of Mrs Turia’s statements, will the Prime Minister explicitly undertake that the Crown in one form or another will hold ownership of the foreshore and seabed on behalf of all New Zealanders; if not, why not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Over a number of months the Government has set out why it believed that a public domain approach was a more inclusive approach than the Crown approach favoured by New Zealand First, National, and ACT.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Prime Minister to give us those variations of interpretations that we out there in the community—not being privy to her information, of course—should take from these words from Tariana Turia: “We will never agree that the Crown or anyone else should hold them on our behalf.”?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No one is proposing that anybody hold anybody else’s customary rights.

Dr Don Brash: Does she have confidence in Mrs Turia as a member of her executive; if so, why?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Yes, because she is a hard-working and conscientious Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister tell us whether it is true that on this issue Tariana Turia has told her that she is talking about the foreshore and seabed and its ownership—right or wrong?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: We are talking about the customary rights of Mâori. That is what the Government is endeavouring to address in a way that takes the whole country forward together, not divides it up like Opposition parties want.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have asked the Prime Minister to tell the House whether the Minister Tariana Turia was talking about the question of the ownership of the foreshore and seabed—not some vague attack on Opposition members, who are not responsible for that speech. Did Tariana Turia tell the Prime Minister that on this issue she was talking about the foreshore and seabed ownership—Mâori ownership at that?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No.

Hon Richard Prebble: Why will the Prime Minister not admit to this House what the whole country knows, that one of her Ministers has given a speech saying, in effect, she does not accept the sovereignty of this Parliament, that she does not accept the laws of this Parliament should apply to all New Zealanders equally? Why will she not accept that and then explain to us why such a Minister is still a Minister?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I will not accept it because I do not believe it to be true.

Dr Don Brash: Noting her press release saying she will be the sole judge of whether Tariana Turia has breached the Cabinet Office Manual in respect of collective Cabinet responsibility, is it that there are to be two standards of citizenship and two sets of rules depending on whether a Minister is Mâori, in the same way that she intends to create two standards of citizenship on the foreshore?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: There is one rule, and that is that the Prime Minister makes a judgment. I am very happy to have my record as a party leader running a successful Government compared with theirs any time.

Tertiary Students—Student Support

2. MOANA MACKEY (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: How is the Government assisting tertiary students over the summer period?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): Good news! This summer Student Job Search is aiming to place more than 30,000 students in employment. The Government funds Student Job Search operations during the summer; student associations fund it during term time. Study Link pays Student Job Search $3.4 million a year, including nearly $1 million from Budget 2003, targeted towards skilled job placements and a snap job-matching programme. It is very popular with students.

Moana Mackey: Does the Government also provide direct assistance to students?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Even more good news! Yes, a range of support is available from Study Link. For example, if the cost of buying work clothes cannot be met, Study Link can help with a work-study grant. The unemployment benefit student hardship is a weekly payment to help meet living costs while students look for full-time work. Usually students will help to qualify for a student allowance during term time to get the support. We have done all these things with the support of students. That is why they support them.

Sue Bradford: In the light of the current Budget surplus, when will the Minister restore entitlement to an emergency unemployment benefit to all genuinely unemployed students in summer—a move that he supported back in the 1990s?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Apart from the 30,000 students that Student Job Search has been funded to place this year, I should note that last year, during the summer period, over 20,000 students received help through what is known as the unemployment benefit student hardship, which is the emergency unemployment benefit, in practice. Those students will access it again this year if they need it.

Bernie Ogilvy: Does the Minister intend to clear up the anomalies of testing of parental income for student allowances of those under the age of 25, and testing the personal income of those under 25 on any other benefit, including the unemployment benefit student hardship; if not, why not?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The member will be aware that we have just finished a consultation exercise with students and others around the country on student support matters, and I hope to make some announcements around those issues next year.

Immigration—Public Health

3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: Is she confident that immigrants granted permanent residency in this country will not be a future burden on our health system; if so, why?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Immigration): No, no more than I can guarantee that any person born in New Zealand will not be a future burden on the health system.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister read a letter by Dr Andrew Montgomery in the New Zealand Herald of 13 December, in which he states: “Immigration Service medicals have long been regarded as a complete joke by doctors. Further, I came to the conclusion years ago that we either have the healthiest bunch of migrants on the planet or many are lying. There is no requirement to check for hepatitis viruses or HIV, nor is there any requirement to look for surrogate indicators such as liver function tests—all basic stuff.”; does she not think she has a responsibility to the New Zealand taxpayer to ensure that we do not import such people with such conditions into our country?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: No, I have not seen that letter. Some of the information he has referred to is incorrect; besides which, the policy he has referred to is the one that was in place when the member was the Deputy Prime Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a fact that the Government has constantly changed its immigration policy. It cannot be the same policy that was in place when we were in Government and when we did not have a hopeless Minister of Immigration.

Mr SPEAKER: That was not a point of order.

Dianne Yates: What has the Minister done to review all aspects of immigration health screening and related policies?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The Immigration Service has undertaken a comprehensive review of immigration health and disability screening policy. Final decisions are due to be taken very soon and announcements will be made after that. One of the reasons that this review has taken so long, and why we are still applying the policy we inherited, is that such a comprehensive review has not been undertaken before. I note that Tuariki John Delamere, in an article in the Otago Daily Times, stated: “Not once during the two years that I sat in the New Zealand First caucus, and not once during the two years we sat in the Cabinet together—”

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: “—do I recall Winston Peters ever raising immigration as an issue of concern.”

Mr SPEAKER: When I call a point of order, the member sits down.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I intend to table that article in order to put the truth of the matter to the House. However, nothing in that article relates to the medical condition of immigrants. That is why it is wide of the question that I originally asked her and got the usual diversion—which she has a penchant for doing.

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

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Minister think it is fair to try to liken New Zealand-born citizens in this country and their medical conditions to those whom she, as the Minister of Immigration, imports; will she refer herself to Dr Andrew Montgomery’s words when he states: “Perhaps the Prime Minister would like to intervene and reject the applications of at least 8 percent of migrants who will, based on the known epidemiology of those viruses in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia, certainly be carriers of hepatitis B or HIV.”, and when will she be responsible as a Minister in terms of who she brings into this country?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: That member is well aware that I have a table of statistics that shows HIV infections at its highest rate from Africa occurring in 1998, and he knows perfectly well that that occurred while he was the Deputy Prime Minister. I have the statistics here and I am happy to table them in the House, but I think that member needs to be aware that there is a range of conditions that can end up in serious problems with the health system—for example, some people who drink end up with cirrhosis of the liver and some people who smoke end up with emphysema.

Mr SPEAKER: I thought that the last part of the Minister’s comments were not in the best interests—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: That’s OK.

Mr SPEAKER: The member might think it is OK, but I am the Speaker, not him.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: What’s coming next?

Mr SPEAKER: I will decide that, not him. I would like the Minister to withdraw the last two sentences of her answer.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I withdraw.

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

Rt Hon Winston Peters: In respect of health checks for people coming to this country, does the Minister pay any regard to those who are taking Valium because they cannot handle stress—and who “go nuts” frequently—when they have visions of responsibility; yes, or no?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I know perfectly well what that member is trying to refer to, but I think that the important thing he needs to remember is that rules existed when he was the Deputy Prime Minister, which he did nothing about. This Government is about to make substantial changes to health and disability screening policy, and, just as with all the other changes we have made to immigration policy, there will be a reduced cost to New Zealand’s health system as a result.

Border Security Bill—Counter-Terrorism Bill

4. GORDON COPELAND (United Future) to the Minister of Customs: Does he stand by his comment of 2 July 2003 that “the [Border Security] bill will sit alongside the Counter-Terrorism Bill in strengthening the legislation protecting New Zealanders and New Zealand’s interests” and the reported statement that the Border Security Bill would enhance New Zealand’s overall security for the benefit of everyone; if so, why?

Hon RICK BARKER (Minister of Customs): Yes, because it is true.

Gordon Copeland: Is the Minister therefore prepared to acknowledge again in the House today that the fundamental principle behind the Border Security Bill is one of national security; if not, why not?

Hon RICK BARKER: The bill covers three aspects: travel security, supply-chain security, and law enforcement and immigration matters. Three of those are direct costs to the State and will be met by the State.

Tim Barnett: Are there provisions in the Border Security Bill that will be of direct commercial benefit to New Zealand’s exporters?

Hon RICK BARKER: Yes, there are. The bill contains provisions for the introduction of a completely new supply-chain security regime that will ensure the quick passage of our exports across international borders—thus avoiding delays, extra handling, and extra storage costs—which will be of direct benefit to exporters.

Shane Ardern: In the light of that answer, if the Minister thinks he is so right, why was he not upfront with this charge from the start, instead of waiting until the bill had gone through the select committee process and submissions had been heard; or did he think that it would go through and nobody would notice it?

Hon RICK BARKER: I intended it to go through with everybody noticing it. The matter has been referred to all exporters. Exporters and others interested are invited to make their submissions to the select committee, after the submissions have been heard, the select committee will report. It is a very open process.

Gordon Copeland: Why does the Government—unlike the United States Government, which on 10 December released a further $179 million, following earlier grants of $245 million, in federal funds for port security grants—refuse to fund the implementation of the much-required port security measures here, instead of planning to levy the cost on to exporters?

Hon RICK BARKER: That is a matter before the select committee for consideration. The Government has put its view out, the select committee is hearing submissions from exporters on it, and I will wait for the select committee’s report.

Gordon Copeland: Whilst acknowledging the need to react to the US container security initiative, does the Minister concede that an underlying rationale behind the proposed port security measures, as outlined in the Border Security Bill, is the protection of New Zealanders against terrorists using the supply chain to import terrorism into our country; if not, why not?

Hon RICK BARKER: I do not entirely accept that tenet. Yes, there is an element of that in order to protect New Zealand, and the New Zealand taxpayer will pick up the cost of that. There is an element that is of direct benefit to others, and they should accept that cost, as well.

Gordon Copeland: I seek leave to table the document from the Department of Homeland Security in the USA that announces a further $179 million in grants to secure America’s ports.

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

Te Arawa Lakes Settlement—Development Rights

5. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations: Why did the Crown’s Te Arawa lakes settlement offer include the provision that individuals and businesses that wish to build new structures on the lake bed will need to ask the permission of Te Arawa after settlement, and is it envisaged that individuals and businesses will need to pay a fee to Te Arawa in order to receive permission to build new structures?

Hon MARGARET WILSON (Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations): The reason the Crown and Te Arawa agreed to this settlement offer was that we believe in settling historical grievances with fairness and finality. On the second question of whether Te Arawa will charge fees to build new structures that are attached to the lake beds, that would be a matter of negotiation between the parties involved.

Dr Don Brash: Is it now the case that the Government’s general policy on seabed and foreshore includes provisions like those in the Te Arawa proposal, requiring consultation with iwi prior to any development or enterprise being established, presumably in return for a fee; if not, can the Minister explain the reasons for any differences?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: The proposals relating to foreshore and seabed will be announced tomorrow. In terms of the Te Arawa settlement, the difference is that it is a settlement of a historical grievance, whereas the foreshore and seabed issue relates to common law customary rights recognition.

Mita Ririnui: What do the provisions of the Te Arawa settlement say about existing structures and public access?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: Owners of existing structures such as jetties, boatsheds, and permanent moorings in or anchored on the lake beds will have the same rights and obligations with regard to those structures as they have now. In relation to public access, the public will enjoy the same rights of access as they have done in the past.

Metiria Turei: Will the Government use the process in the Te Arawa lakes settlement for the foreshore and seabed issue, given its potential as a model of coexistence between Mâori developmental rights, the continued exercise of kaitiakitanga, secure, non-saleable title, and guaranteed public access?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: Although the origin of the Te Arawa settlement, as I said, was based in a grievance—breach of the treaty—and foreshore and seabed comes from common law customary rights, it is true to say that this Government’s general approach to all grievances of this sort and all issues of this nature is a win-win situation to accommodate the interests of all.

Hon Ken Shirley: Why does the Minister say the reason for this is that it is a historical grievance, when in 1922 a full and final settlement was negotiated and legislated for, with an annual payment made for the past 80 years; why now is the Government revisiting this issue at variance to its foreshore and seabed policy of public domain?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: The 1922 agreement was not a treaty settlement over the lakes, nor was that agreement confined to the lakes itself. It was an out-of-court agreement concerning ownership litigation and other unresolved grievances. So I think it is a misrepresentation to say that in fact it was a full and final settlement for a treaty breach, whereas that is what is being conducted here. The member might find it interesting to read the history of it. It is quite interesting.

Dr Don Brash: Why is the Government trying to draw a distinction between treaty claims, such as those involving lakes, and common law cases, from which the foreshore and seabed issues arose?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: Because there is a legal difference.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could the Minister tell this House and the country what the difference is for Mâori between a lake bed and a foreshore or seabed that adjoins the land on the coast of this country; what is this great difference about which she speaks?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: The Crown has been involved—not with Mâori generally, but with iwi, hapû, and whânau—on these issues, and whether it be a treaty settlement or what is the nature of the common law customary rights depends upon whom one is talking to, not upon having some generalised global term.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like you to consider how that could possibly be an answer or a reply to Mr Winston Peters’ question, which was: what is the difference? We had a nice dissertation about whânau, iwi, and hapû, but not once did I hear an explanation of the difference. The Minister sneered at the question before explaining that there was a difference and now she cannot explain what it was.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I thought the Minister did address that question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked Margaret Wilson what this difference was that she had referred to in a prior question, but what the difference was in particular for Mâori, whether one is Ngâpuhi, Ngâti Porou, or Te Arawa. When it comes to these sorts of resources, what is the difference that she perceives is being addressed here? She should answer that question because it goes to the nub of the difference between the Arawa settlement and the settlement that she plans, surely, to announce tomorrow.

Mr SPEAKER: Having heard the member I invite the Minister to comment.

Hon MARGARET WILSON: It is not for me to talk on behalf of Te Arawa or any other iwi, hapû, or whânau that is involved with the Crown. The point I was trying to make is that one cannot make those generalised statements. That is the basis upon which the Crown deals with Mâori in the context of whom they represent.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I could not agree more with the Minister in her answer, except that she is not being asked to speak for Mâori—she is being asked to speak for the Crown. Now can we have an answer on behalf of the Crown?

Mr SPEAKER: No, I think the Minister did address the question specifically in her second answer.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have raised two points of order on this question. You relented and said that the Minister had not pointed out the difference. She then stood up, gave a babble of words, and still did not identify the difference when you asked her to. It seems to me that if we raise a point of order that you accept, the Minister answering the question is honour-bound and obligated to address what the difference is. Or are we to conclude that, in fact, there is no difference—or, if there is, that this Minister is unable to give it—and you, Mr Speaker, having seen that she is unable to give it, are happy to go along with that, notwithstanding your instructions.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The Minister was asked what, from the perspective of Mâori, is the difference. She replied that she does not speak on behalf of Mâori on this matter. She has no ministerial responsibility to do so.

Mr SPEAKER: Just because members are not satisfied with a Minister’s answer, it is not a point of order. Ministers choose to address questions in their own way.

Health Services—Capital Development

6. DAVID PARKER (Labour—Otago) to the Minister of Health: What recent announcements have been made regarding capital development in the health sector?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): Yesterday we announced, as promised, redevelopment funding of nearly $35 million for Wairarapa and Dunstan hospitals. This honours a promise and a commitment made by this very good Labour-Progressive Government.

David Parker: Has Dunstan Hospital received the funding requested; if so, what services will be provided?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, the redevelopment will mean new hospital wings for inpatient, outpatient, and community services. This will secure a quality future for a hospital greatly in need of investment. The hospital will be rebuilt by the Otago District Health Board and will work closely with the local community. I thank the member for his hard work. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: I want members, particularly those on the front bench, to address interjections other than in the second person.

Dr Lynda Scott: Why has it taken 4 years, leading to the threatened resignation of the whole Dunstan Hospital board, before the Minister came to the decision to fund the hospital rebuild; and, if the local member did such a splendid job, why did the Minister indicate that she had had no contact with him when she was asked for details of all correspondence, diaried meetings—formal and informal—on the issue of Dunstan Hospital?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Because unlike the National Party, we talk to each other. Labour members do not have to write a letter to get through a Minister’s door. That member was—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: A certain amount of interjection is reasonable but that was overdoing it.

Hon ANNETTE KING: One does not have to write a letter to get through the door of a Minister’s office in this Government. It may have happened before, but not in this Government. I tell members that that member was nothing but a pest. He was in and out of my office advocating for Dunstan Hospital for over a year. In conclusion, to the first part of the member’s question, this hospital asked for funding in 1998 and was turned down by a National Government.

Georgina Beyer: What factors were taken into consideration in allocating this funding, and can the Minister make comment on whether or not, as far as Wairarapa is concerned, that this is an improvement from previous years under a National-led Government.

Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the question is in order.

Hon ANNETTE KING: This Government takes advice from the National Capital Committee to ensure it does not make the same mistakes that were made in the past when ad hoc decisions were made, and business cases were never properly worked out, leaving the people of the districts with a legacy to try to pay for them. In the case of the Wairarapa, constituents can look forward to a very good new hospital with 37 integrated beds for medical and surgical patients, a new obstetrics and neonatal service, and a new 6-bed integrated intensive care and coronary-care unit etc. Wairarapa hospital was under threat of closure under the Nats, now the people have a hospital for the future.

Georgina Beyer: Will this package provide certainty for health service delivery in the Wairarapa in the future?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Absolutely. Let me remind this House that in the 1990s that hospital was under threat of closure. There is no way this Government would bulldoze down a $27 million facility, even if the Opposition might.

Dr Lynda Scott: I seek leave to table a letter to Katherine Rich from the Minister detailing diaried meetings, with formal or informal conversations, since January 2002.

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

Hon ANNETTE KING: I seek leave to table the fact that the member Katherine Rich never made any representations at all.

Mr SPEAKER: It is a rather unusual thing to ask to table nothing. I don’t really see—

KATHERINE RICH: Absolutely right.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table a list of the hospitals that Helen Clark closed when she was Minister of Health—all 29 of them.

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

Foreshore and Seabed—Mana Whenua Title

7. GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Will the Government’s proposals to address the foreshore and seabed issue include any provision for Mâori to establish a mana whenua title; if so, what will be the scope of such a title?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): The Government’s proposals will be released tomorrow, and the member will just have to wait until then to hear the details.

Gerry Brownlee: Noting that last week in the House the Prime Minister said that yes, there would be mana whenua title issued, and that there are now some 8,700 kilometres of New Zealand’s coastline subject to seabed and foreshore claims currently before the Mâori Land Court, how long will it take to investigate who holds mana whenua over these areas, and who will decide?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I think the member is noting things that I do not recall saying at all, but he will have to wait until tomorrow to hear the details.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek two things. Firstly, I seek leave to table Hansard reports of last week in which the Prime Minister did indeed answer as I have suggested; and, secondly, to re-ask the question, since her memory will then be refreshed.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table the documents and to re-ask the question. Is there any objection? There is.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is an extremely important issue that will exercise the minds of New Zealanders over the coming months. In the House last week Dr Cullen answered for the Prime Minister—

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Answering what?

Gerry Brownlee: With all due respect, I say to the Prime Minister that we went through this exercise with the Speaker. I specifically asked him—and it is in the record—whether we were talking to Dr Cullen or the Prime Minister, and he said we were talking to the Prime Minister, so we take his word. He is a very honourable man. The answer was “Yes”. Therefore, if the answer is “Yes”, why can we not have an answer to who will decide who gets these titles, and how it will be decided that they have mana whenua over those areas.

Mr SPEAKER: We took leave of the House as to whether the question would be re-asked, and objection was taken. If the member wants to ask another supplementary question, he can do so.

John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are now in a real difficulty with regard to Ministers, or the Prime Minister in this case, answering questions that have been put quite legitimately by the deputy leader of the National Party. If a reference was made last week, as it was, to a particular matter that has been raised in the question and the Minister cannot remember, that is not the questioner’s fault; it is matter for the Prime Minister to be aware of and to answer. Otherwise we will have a situation where the Opposition will want to put questions down and the Minister merely stands up and says: “I can’t remember”, and that is the answer. That is just not good enough.

Mr SPEAKER: That is an interesting point of order, and I respect him for raising it. I thought the Prime Minister said that she did not recall making remarks. That is not a point of order.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is it that she is prepared to treat this House and the public with so much contempt, and that their democratic institution is not to be told what the Government’s policy is, until it is told in such circumstances where she cannot be questioned, which belies the statement that she is a person who front-foots issues?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The whole subject has been extensively debated in this House, and I am sure it will be again next year.

Gerrard Eckhoff: Will the Prime Minister rule out allowing Mâori to fish, camp, or squat in areas where or when all other New Zealanders cannot; if not, why not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: If the member checked the law covering customary fishing regulations he would find there are already rights conceded under them that are not available to other New Zealanders, and that long predates this Government.

Gerry Brownlee: Since there are now some 8,700 kilometres of New Zealand’s coastline subject to a seabed and foreshore claim currently before the Mâori Land Court, how long will it take to investigate who holds mana whenua, and who will decide?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The member is trying to anticipate what may or may not be in a proposal tomorrow. As I have told him, it will be released tomorrow, and he can examine it at length.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Noting the Prime Minister’s comment that this subject has been widely debated in the House, and recalling that in her absence there was no debate on the issue, I now seek leave for there to be a debate on this particular issue immediately upon conclusion of question time today.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought for that. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Food Standards—Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council Meeting

8. SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister for Food Safety: Can she confirm that all agendas, papers, discussions and minutes from the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council meeting last Friday are confidential; if so, when, if ever, will these documents be made public?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister for Food Safety): Papers from the ministerial council are not released in either country. This has been the case since the council was established in 1996, a position that the ombudsman has upheld. However, all food standards and policy directions agreed to are subject to public consultation process in both countries.

Sue Kedgley: Can the Minister explain why a representative of Australian local government can attend the secret ministerial council meeting, whereas New Zealand members of Parliament, and even those with a vital interest in food issues, are unable to attend, or even obtain a copy of the agenda or minutes of these meetings?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Because this is the longstanding tradition that was established when the council was established.

Steve Chadwick: Has the Minister seen any reports concerning public awareness that a meeting of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Council Ministers was taking place in Auckland last Friday?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, I have seen a press release from Sue Kedgley, dated last Thursday, in which she said the meeting was about to occur in total publicity blackout. The council meeting was actually included in the ministerial media diary a week before taking place. A number of media attended the media conference at the end of it, and a media communiqué was issued. The only person who seems to be suffering from blackout is Sue Kedgley.

Sue Kedgley: Given the vital interest in food issues amongst New Zealanders, why does her Government continue to support keeping all policy papers, agendas, and meetings of the ministerial council secret and beyond the reach of the Official Information Act?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Because all food standards that are agreed to, and policy directions, are subject to public consultation before the Ministers make the decision. They are out there in the public, if the member cares to read them.

Sue Kedgley: Did the secret ministerial council meeting discuss the secret results—

Government Members: Ha, ha!

Mr SPEAKER: Every member in this House is entitled to ask questions, with silence from other members. I ask Ms Kedgley to start again.

Sue Kedgley: Did the ministerial council meeting, which was held in secret, discuss the secret results of the testing of GE food that was carried out earlier this year, and did the Minister explain to the meeting why she refuses to release these test results and is currently struggling to suppress them, against my request to release them under the Official Information Act?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No. First of all, the meeting was not a secret meeting. It was well advertised before the meeting was held.

Rod Donald: What about GE testing?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No, we did not discuss GE testing, because that was discussed at the previous meeting, before the report was released. The report was then released.

Question No. 7 to Minister

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): I seek leave to table a copy of the minutes of a meeting on 4 December 2003 between Government Ministers and Te Ope Mana a Tai, in which the Government’s position is clearly stated with regard to the seabed and foreshore issue.

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

Kiwi—Conservation

9. GEORGINA BEYER (Labour—Wairarapa) to the Minister of Conservation: What steps are being taken to promote kiwi conservation?

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): Many steps. Kiwis are actively protected in several key areas, while, at the same time, enhanced methods of controlling stoats are being developed. Better control of alien predators is the key to the long-term protection of vulnerable native birds.

Georgina Beyer: Are any new kiwi populations being established?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: Yes, last week I joined the Rangitâne iwi, the National Wildlife Centre Trust, and others, in the release of brown kiwi in the Wairarapa’s Mount Bruce forest. Kiwi became extinct there over 100 years ago. They can now be safely returned, thanks to intensive pest-control.

Nandor Tanczos: Does the Minister agree that intrinsic to the success of the kiwi recovery programme at Lake Waikaremoana is the good working relationship between the local hapû Ngâti Ruapani and the Department of Conservation—a relationship developed through responsive discussion over a considerable period of time—and what lessons does he think this might have for other areas of Government policy?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: In the massive task we face of preserving our native species, it is very important that all groups—from iwi, recreationists to the general public, the Department of Conservation, and others—work together to preserve these critical and unique species for New Zealand.

Families Commission—Appointments

10. PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: In regard to the Families Commission, when does he expect the appointments to be in place and will the United Future party have any powers of veto?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): The Families Commission will commence operations on 1 July 2004. Appointments will be made in May 2004. An independent panel will conduct the interviews. Appointment recommendations will be reviewed by Labour, Progressive, and United Future representatives. No member of that group will have power to veto. Cabinet will make final appointment decisions, as it does on all similar appointments.

Peter Brown: Will the Families Commission be able to address the problems of older families and their concerns over finance, health, end-of-life concerns such as espousing my Death with Dignity Bill, and will the commission be able to concern itself with those issues for those folk; if not, why not?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, it will.

Moana Mackey: How many formal expressions of interest have been received for Families Commission appointments?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: One-hundred-and-eighty-six formal expressions of interest were received and a number of other informal inquiries were made, reflecting the fact that many New Zealanders see the Families Commission as an excellent opportunity to promote and strengthen families as a core institution in our society.

Judith Collins: Will appointees to the Families Commission be required to read the recent Swedish study of almost 1 million children published in the highly regarded Lancet Medical Journal, which showed that children with a single parent are twice as likely to develop a psychiatric illness such as severe depression or schizophrenia, to kill themselves, or to develop an alcohol-related disease?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I doubt whether appointees will be required to read anything. However, I hope that they read widely and understand the notion of scientific causality.

Hon Peter Dunne: Will the Minister confirm that there is a ministerial advisory committee on the establishment of the Families Commission, on which United Future is represented, that is presently looking at the type of briefings that incoming commissioners will require as part of their induction process, and that the matters that have been raised already in question time will be matters that that panel could well consider?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: There is such a panel. United Future representatives are making an outstanding contribution to that panel. Part of that contribution is to look at the wide range of issues that incoming members will undoubtedly canvass?

Dr Muriel Newman: Is the Minister prepared to give an assurance that every member of the Families Commission will be strongly supportive of the type of pro-family values that not only would be recognised by churches throughout the country but that on 11 June 2002 Peter Dunne stated that the United Future party would be standing up fearlessly for?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I can give a guarantee that members of the Families Commission will endorse, support, and strengthen families in all of their diversity.

Peter Brown: Noting that answer in particular, will the Families Commission be able to concern itself with homosexual families and address the issue of two men living together in a homosexual relationship with a desire to adopt children?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: If that is what the member wants, I am sure that it will take it up.

Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take it from that answer that the Minister will consult with New Zealand First on what we want. That was a flippant answer to a genuine question that concerns a number of people. If you are going to let him get away with that you might as well let him get away with anything.

Mr SPEAKER: I thought that the reply was a little flippant. I would like the Minister to give a slightly different answer.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, as we have said consistently all the way through the debate, the Families Commission will be able to look at families in their full diversity in New Zealand.

Hon Peter Dunne: Can the Minister confirm that groups like Plunket, parents centres, and various other agencies that work with families have, since the passage of the legislation last week, made a huge number of public comments supporting this as a positive and worthwhile initiative that is long overdue?

Mr SPEAKER: This is the last day of questions for this year, and I am just that tiny wee bit more reasonable than on other days, but there were too many interjections during the asking of that question, and the members—I think, very senior members—know it.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I happen to have a couple of quotes here from organisations. The Plunket Society said that the Families Commission was one of the greatest gifts New Zealand families have received in a long time. Parents CentresNZ said the Families Commission was a step in the right direction for parents.

Peter Brown: Will the Minister give the House the assurance that if the Families Commission involves itself in controversial issues such as I have endeavoured to outline, United Future will have no power to undermine the commission or veto any of its recommendations?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The commission is established, of course, under its own legislation, so people will not have the ability to veto its investigation of such things as gay families if the member might seek to do that.

Violent Offenders—Christmas Parole

11. STEPHEN FRANKS (ACT) to the Minister of Corrections: How many of the 242 prisoners released early for Christmas were serving sentences for violent offences, and how many had already served a previous custodial sentence?

Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Corrections): I am advised that the information could not be obtained within the time available. However, the number of inmates released this Christmas is fewer than in 1995 when 292 inmates were released, or in 1997 when 315 inmates were released, under a previous National Government.

Stephen Franks: Why has the Minister not made sure he could answer such a simple question when I asked his predecessor a similar question at this time last year, and how does he know whether this Christmas bonus for crime will protect the community when he does not even know what they have been locked up for?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: It is not a Christmas bonus for crime. The reality is that actually getting the information in the way that the member is seeking is difficult because of manual requirements on computers etc., and, as a result, I have not been able to get the information in the time available.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are facing an interesting situation. It is, possibly, the last day for questions, and we have a Minister who just gets up and says that he has not had the time or the inclination to get the answer. Normally when Ministers are in that situation, they say that they will get the information for the member and deposit it in the Parliamentary Library. The member has not made that commitment, which seems to indicate that actually he is defying the House and does not want to give the information, because if he did deposit it, it would turn out to be very embarrassing.

Mr SPEAKER: No, if that last comment were true the Minister would be committing a very serious breach, as the member knows. The Minister gave the answer that he had not had the time to get the information. I have to accept that as an answer.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I realise that you cannot direct answers—and you have just told us in the House that you would like them to be different—but it would be nice for you to point out to the Minster that the normal practice in this House is that when a Minister cannot provide the information in time, he then gives a commitment that he will, and that he will make it available to all MPs.

Mr SPEAKER: I think that is a fair point.

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am happy to give the member that commitment.

Martin Gallagher: What is the policy on Christmas release, and what changes, if any, have been made to this recently?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Inmates can be released only if their release date falls between 15 December and 5 January. The Department of Corrections has recently reviewed the Christmas release policy to ensure that offenders serving less than 6 months will now not be released early unless there are extenuating circumstances. This is a change from the policy in place under the previous Government, whereby there was no restriction in terms of short-term sentences.

Hon Tony Ryall: Why has the Government made this change in policy when this time last year the Government was defending the fact that an Invercargill man sentenced to 1 month’s imprisonment was in prison for less than 90 minutes before he was released?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Firstly, it was the policy of the previous National Government. But having said that, the policy was not right and needed to be changed.

Keith Locke: Will the Minister be recommending the release before Christmas of the jailed elected MP Ahmed Zaoui, particularly as the Refugee Status Appeals Authority has determined that, unlike some of the people referred to by Mr Franks in his original question, Mr Zaoui has not committed any violent offences, and the authority recommends he be allowed to live in our community as a refugee?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: No.

Stephen Franks: How many of those released in the Christmas bonus last year have shown their gratitude by committing more crime this year? If the Minister does not know, will he undertake to find out and let us know, given that that is surely the right measure of the success of his Christmas programme?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I do not have that information available, but I am happy to make information available.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am just seeking your guidance and assistance, and an assurance from the Minister that my concerns and fears are not valid. In his question Mr Franks wanted to know the number of inmates who were serving sentences for violent offences who had been released. We know that has been a very controversial issue over the past year, and one the Minister has had some difficulty dealing with publicly. Then the Minister went on to say in his answer that he could not answer that because the information was not available to him. We have all sat in select committees and heard how wonderful the integrated offender management system is. We all know that the Minister has email and fax available. There are only 242 prisoners involved. In the space of the 4 hours he would have had all of those emails through to him and been able to report to the House—unless, of course, he is deliberately seeking to avoid answering the question.

Mr SPEAKER: No. I have ruled that comment out before. The member has not raised a valid point of order. In fact, the Minister, in response to a supplementary question from Mr Franks, said that he would supply the information when he received it.

Health, Associate Minister—Te Ngawari Hauora

12. Dr WAYNE MAPP (National—North Shore) to the Associate Minister of Health: Did she provide the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister’s office with a copy of her speech to Te Ngawari Hauora yesterday, and what response or reaction has she received from the Prime Minister since the delivery of the speech?

Hon TARIANA TURIA (Associate Minister of Health): My office provided the Prime Minister with a copy of my speech at the time of delivery. The Prime Minister has stated publicly that she thought my speech could be read to have a multiplicity of meanings.

Dr Wayne Mapp: In this multiplicity of meanings, which groups of immigrant communities did the Minister refer to in her speech—or are not all New Zealanders immigrants, whether they came yesterday or 1,000 years ago?

Hon TARIANA TURIA: That is probably correct. In the speech I gave yesterday I stated that we welcomed the contribution that all diverse cultures and communities bring to our nation, and I specifically referred to the Italian and Shetland Island communities of Island Bay.

Mark Peck: What was the reason for her visit to Te Ngawari Hauora yesterday?

Hon TARIANA TURIA: I was presenting Te Ngawari Hauora its certificate of accreditation from Quality Health New Zealand. Te Ngawari Hauora is a community organisation providing a range of quality health services, and I congratulated the trust on its tremendous achievement.

Heather Roy: Why does the Minister not believe that the same laws should apply to all New Zealanders?

Hon TARIANA TURIA: As the Associate Minister of Health I do not have any responsibility to answer that question.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister could perhaps be a little fuller in her comment on that particular question.

Hon TARIANA TURIA: I understand that the questions I am being asked are as the Associate Minister of Health. I am happy to answer questions relative to that, but not questions outside of that. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: She is being questioned as Associate Minister of Health. As such, she gave the answer she gave, and that was her answer.

Hon Richard Prebble: Unless you are ruling that the Associate Minister of Health has no obligation for her administration to follow the law—which might be the case—of course she has an obligation. The question she was asked—it must apply in health as well as anywhere else—does the law of New Zealand apply to all New Zealanders or not? Maybe in health it does not. Maybe there is a different law for different New Zealanders. But if that is her policy, surely we are entitled to know it.

Mr SPEAKER: I just say again, the advice I received was that the member is the Associate Minister of Health, she gave an answer, and that was her answer.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. No matter what position she might hold, while she holds some sort of warrant from the Queen she is bound to give an answer as to the views that she may hold on the question of the laws of the country and whether, as the question asked, they apply equally to everyone. The Minister can, by Associate Minister status, avoid that, yet a full Minister cannot. I do not see the distinction. The fact is that she holds a warrant from Her Majesty the Queen and she therefore has an obligation to answer the question, which is a pretty simple one. Why is she having difficulty in answering it?

Mr SPEAKER: All I can say is that I have in front of me the delegated responsibilities of the Hon Tariana Turia, which is all policy matters relating to Mâori health policy implementation, Mâori health service development, national radiation service, and the New Zealand Blood Service. She can only be asked questions in her own right relating to matters delegated to her.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Does that mean an Associate Minister who goes out and makes a speech from which a “multiplicity of meanings” can be taken cannot be questioned by the House as to exactly what was meant in that speech, when it was delivered by that person as a Minister?

Mr SPEAKER: No, but any member is quite entitled to ask the Prime Minister about that, and I think that was done. As far as the Minister is concerned, members are entitled to ask about policy matters that are specifically delegated to her.

Stephen Franks: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My colleague Heather Roy’s question was not restricted in any way. It asked the justification for discriminating under the law between different groups of New Zealanders. That form of discrimination exists in the health sector. There is no reason why the Minister should not make a comment about the justification—if there is one—for that, given that she had made a speech in which she said that one group of New Zealanders did not accept the sovereignty of the Crown in respect of the seabed and foreshore.

Mr SPEAKER: As long as it is confined to her delegation, and I assume that it now is, I ask whether the Minister would care to comment on those matters, specifically referring to those she has been delegated with. Perhaps Heather Roy could restate the question.

Heather Roy: Why does the Minister not believe that the same laws should apply to all New Zealanders?

Mr SPEAKER: This is in relation to the Minister’s particular area.

Hon TARIANA TURIA: I do not recall saying so that that member can make an inference that I do not believe in one law for all New Zealanders.

Dr Wayne Mapp: Why did the Minister, in a speech to Te Ngâwari Hauora, a health organisation, say: “... there is no way that tangata whenua will ever give up our rights voluntarily, or allow them to be subject to anyone else's authority. We will never agree that the Crown or anyone else should hold them on our behalf.”?

Hon TARIANA TURIA: That was a clear view that was expressed by tangata whenua at the eleven consultative hui held to discuss the Government’s earlier proposals.

Dr Wayne Mapp: Given that she spoke to a health organisation about all those 11 hui, does she then, as stated in her speech, believe that management rights convey to tangata whenua some control over the beaches and the foreshores, and what would that mean for all other New Zealanders?

Hon TARIANA TURIA: Mr Speaker, I need your guidance on this. Am I answering this in relation to the speech I made, or as the Associate Minister of Health?

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister has been asked the question as Associate Minister of Health. She can be asked the question in relation to the delegation that she has.

Hon TARIANA TURIA: Could the member repeat the question?

Dr Wayne Mapp: Given that the Minister’s prior answer specifically referred to the 11 hui, does she believe that the exercise of management rights referred to in the speech provides some form of control over beaches and foreshore, and what does that mean for the rights of all other New Zealanders?

Hon TARIANA TURIA: That particular comment is related to the beliefs and practices of my constituency. I was merely telling the people at the hui of that situation.

Dr Wayne Mapp: Will the Minister, who holds a Crown warrant, be voting for the Government proposals, which will inevitably limit in some way tangata whenua rights—which have often, after all, been claimed to include Mâori ownership of the seabed and foreshore?

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister does not have any responsibility for that particular area within her delegated responsibility.

Dr Wayne Mapp: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. She must have responsibility over how she votes.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister has responsibility only over the matters that are delegated and listed to her, and I have read those out twice.

Dr Wayne Mapp: I rephrase the question, then. How will ownership of the seabed and foreshore as claimed by Mâori, which is extensive, be affected by the Government proposal, which will inevitably limit it?

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. What does that have to do with it?

Mr SPEAKER: That is absolutely right.

Gerry Brownlee: It is somewhat of a new ruling to us that Associate Ministers can answer only questions confined to their delegations, even though they are out in public making various speeches.

Mr SPEAKER: That ruling has been there for about 100 years.

Gerry Brownlee: We learn something every day. Once again, this is an issue that is of considerable public import. We have been allowed to ask the supplementary question, and I would appreciate the opportunity to re-ask the question of the Hon Tariana Turia.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member has already had a go.

Gerry Brownlee: He was interrupted during that process by all sorts of catcalls from the other side of the House. I do not think he was given a fair go. He was put on the spot fairly quickly. It is only reasonable that, on the last day of the year, for the last supplementary question of the year, we get to ask a question.

Mr SPEAKER: In the spirit of that, I will allow the member to ask it.

Dr Wayne Mapp: In exercising her delegated responsibilities for health, given that the Government proposals will inevitably limit, in some way, tangata whenua’s rights, how will the Minister be voting on those issues?

Hon TARIANA TURIA: The member will have to wait until March to find out.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will note that the speech Tariana Turia made the other day was entitled “Sharing and Partnership: the Value of Mâori Custom”. I recall very well her “holocaust” speech, in which her questioning in Parliament did not meet any such limitation, at that time. Now, in December 2003, we find that all of a sudden the Minister has been cocooned by a new ruling: she can say any old thing in the country as a Minister, yet not be questioned on it. I do not believe that in any other Western Parliament—certainly not in that of the UK or Australia—such a ruling would be given in order to give a Minister that sort of protection. Otherwise, she could literally say any old thing, any old time, at enormous embarrassment to the administration—and to Lianne Dalziel as well, but she is not dealing with that right now, is she; it is a bigger problem, really—either domestically or internationally, and get away with it. It cannot be that she can go out and make a speech like that one, and not be subject to parliamentary questions on it.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister is not answerable for her speech in question time, unless it relates to her delegated responsibilities. That is no new rule; it has been established over all the time I have been in Parliament.

End of Questions for Oral Answer

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)


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