Questions & Answers for Oral Answer - 25 February
WEDNESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2004
for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
Earners - Conditions
2. Haparangi A4 - Settlement
3. Schools - Network Reviews, Invercargill
4. Reducing Inequalities Policies - Reported Comments
5. Accident Compensation Corporation - Performance
6. Primary Health Organisation - Funding, Maori
7. Hector's Dolphins - Tagging
8. Employment Relations Law Reform Bill - Unions
9. Painted Apple Moth - Spraying, West Auckland
10. Treaty of Waitangi - Ministerial Responsibility
11. Work and Income Service - Placements, Auckland
12. Local Government - Maori
Questions for Oral
Questions to Ministers
Questions for Oral
Low-Wage Earners - Conditions
1. HELEN DUNCAN (Labour) to the Minister of Labour: What progress has the Government made in improving the conditions of low-wage earners?
Hon MARGARET WILSON (Minister of Labour): Excellent progress. This Government has increased the adult minimum wage from $7 an hour in 1999 to $9 an hour in 2004. This is in addition to the lowest unemployment rate in decades, 4 weeks' annual holiday, and 12 weeks' paid parental leave.
Helen Duncan: Has the Minister received any reports on the effects of employment relations reforms?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: Yes. As Treasury advice on the reforms reflects, although wide ranging, they are unlikely to have a big impact. This is in marked contrast to the comments made by Dr Brash, who believes we should remove all minimum employment standards, including a minimum wage, minimum holiday entitlements, parental leave, and equal pay.
John Key: Did the Government make the decision to raise the minimum wage before or after it saw the Herald-DigiPoll on Monday; and if we are to believe it was before, would she describe the timing of the announcement as desperate or coincidental?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: As I am sure the honourable member is aware, there is a process that takes place for a determination in this matter that started sometime last year. Therefore, the timing of it was, of course, appropriate. It was time to be announced.
Peter Brown: What progress has the Government made in its 4 years of office in improving the lot for people employed casually - working people who would like a permanent job but are forced to take casual employment?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: The member raises an excellent point, and that is why in all the reforms we have not made the distinction between full-time and casual employees.
Haparangi A4 - Settlement
2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader - NZ First) to the Minister of Maori Affairs: With respect to the reported $1.6 million Haparangi A4 settlement, what is the total amount to be paid to the proprietors and is he happy with all the details?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Maori Affairs): With respect to the Haparangi A4, the total settlement was based on the cash payment of $1.6 million plus the return of Crown shares in the property. I am happy that it has been settled.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I take it that the Minister is happy because he is unaware of the background details, which include the proprietors of Haparangi A4 being given a request for an account that totals $825,585 - well over half of the receipts to the Haparangi A4 proprietors - and when will he do something about the Treaty of Waitangi industry, and all the teat suckers who are on it?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Any costs associated with taking this action are a matter for the claimant and his or her legal advisers. There are a whole lot of teat suckers who have more than their snouts in the trough - they have their whole heads in it.
Mahara Okeroa: Why did the Government settle with the owners of the Haparangi A4 trust?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The Maori owners and descendants of former owners of Haparangi A4 took action in the High Court against the Crown in 1996 on a number of causes of action relating to the Crown's administration of the block since 1933. Officials recommended that settlement should be completed on the commercial aspects of settling the High Court action without specific admission of legal liability.
Gerry Brownlee: Does this new tough talk from the Minister of Maori Affairs about treaty teat-suckers not only having their snouts in the trough but their whole heads, reflect a total buy-in on his part to the U-turn that Helen Clark has announced on the Government's attitude to Treaty of Waitangi and other race matters?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Like my trim, slim new look, I have always said that, and I am trying hard.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: If the Minister takes that attitude, then what steps did he or any of his colleagues take to find out the facts behind the preparation of this claim, and what steps did he take to ensure that the details were brought before the Maori Affairs Committee, or his office as the presiding Minister, or is this sort of practice to go on with the people, the taxpayers, and Parliament being totally ignored as what is right and fair?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The settlement is totally kosher, and it is fair. Any business after the settlement related to the cost is between the people we settle with and those who are creditors to those people.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Minister not understand his own responsibility in allowing the proprietors to be forced to go through a process controlled by one group of people - namely, Sir Graham Latimer and the Crown Forestry Rental Trust - where $825,000 is claimed of a $1.6 million settlement to 21 operations, of which 15 are in some way associated with the law - and why we need 15 different law firms or practitioners, I do not know - and there are six others also to be paid out before the owners get anything at all?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: My understanding is that 23 need to be paid out, and, certainly, there is a long history of people who have sucked off this industry. We are doing a lot better than people did in 1996 and 1998, when they paid out in relation to the kiwifruit settlements in Tauranga.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the Haparangi A4 creditors demand that sets out the $825,000 - .
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is not.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the $92 million-dollar settlement for the Maori owners of the kiwifruit industry, who were owed a duty of care by Treasury and the former Government and never got settlement until I arrived on the scene.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is not.
Schools - Network Reviews, Invercargill
3. ROD DONALD (Co-Leader - Green) to the Minister of Education: Will he cancel the current round of school reviews following the report in the Southland Times that a meeting of Invercargill representatives of primary and secondary schools, education unions, and the city council "felt it was inappropriate to proceed with anything assisting with the review, such as making submissions or collecting data."; if not, why not?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): No. The Invercargill community has gone through the process, and many people in the area are now seriously looking ahead to grasp the opportunities they will get when the changes are implemented. I have said I will look very closely and carefully at submissions before I make my final decisions. If people choose not to give me additional submissions, then they will be at some disadvantage.
Rod Donald: Will the Minister concede that his decision to suspend future school reviews has galvanised opposition to the current round of closures, and does he now agree that it would be more sensible to extend the moratorium to the 11 districts currently under review?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Yes, and no.
Dr Ashraf Choudhary: What are the potential benefits of completing the school reviews in Invercargill?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Currently, there are over 3,500 spare spaces for students in Invercargill schools. The sum of $33 million will be freed up if those proposals proceed.
Katherine Rich: Why should Invercargill parents and kids be disadvantaged just because their school reviews fell on the wrong side of two bad polls for his Government?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Invercargill parents will be advantaged by having a higher quality of education through funding that is currently being wasted on maintaining empty buildings and unused grounds being made available for extra teachers, computers, teacher-aides, and other things that will enhance education.
Pita Paraone: Notwithstanding the Minister's response to the reviews being conducted in the Invercargill area, will the Minister consider reviewing the position with regard to the Kawakawa-Moerewa area, in order to meet the aspirations of the Ngati Hine people to have an educational institution of which they can have a sense of ownership; if not, why not?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Yesterday, when I responded to that question, both that member and the member sitting in front of him, who knows the issues very well, were supportive of the direction I was taking.
Bernie Ogilvy: Does the Minister agree with the view of Business and Economic Research Ltd that the current round of school reviews "appear to have little relationship to the economic development strategy of the appropriate region"; if not, can he confirm that at no stage during the review process was he briefed by officials from the Ministry of Economic Development, as stated by Jim Anderton in a response to a written question?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I have had discussions with people from Business and Economic Research Ltd. I have had a look at economic impact reports. I have seen indicators for South Canterbury, for example, which 2 years ago had 4 percent growth in domestic product, but a 4 percent drop in the number of school-age kids. There is a relationship, and I think the relationship is that strong schools mean that people want to go to areas, and schools that are tipping over mean that they want to leave.
Rod Donald: In the face of threatened legal action and civil disobedience from school boards, teachers, and civic leaders to his plans to close 71 schools, would it not be less stressful on all concerned if he extended the moratorium?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I cannot protect people from self-inflicted stress from their taking legal action.
Rod Donald: Finally, does he not agree that it would be better to cancel the current round of reviews and focus the available resources on ensuring a smooth transition for those schools that do want to close, in the light of his statement yesterday that it will be impossible to get the builders necessary to do all the work to have the schools open for January next year?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think the member should take a lot of care in generalising from a very specific comment about an affected area.
Reducing Inequalities Policies - Reported Comments
4. GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader - National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her reported claim that to advocate that New Zealanders should be dealt with on the basis of need not race is "divisive" and "a desperate campaign by a beleaguered party"; if not, why not?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): I stand by my view that the Orewa speech set out to divide New Zealanders against each other. Media coverage since would suggest it has, and that is not something the National Party should be proud of.
Gerry Brownlee: Given her Government's spectacular U-turn on these issues, does she stick by her statement made in the House on 17 February, that: "I have no second thoughts about a policy approach designed to pit white against brown, and rich against poor, in New Zealand. I will fight that to my last breath."; if so, does she now admit that her Government's policies have been designed to pit white against brown, or is this U-turn just a desperate move by her desperate and beleaguered Government?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I certainly will fight to the death against those policies of privilege preached by the Opposition, because I happen to have a vision of society where people work together and do not set out - [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I do not mind the odd interjection, but there are far too many. The Prime Minister is quite entitled to have an answer I can hear - some interjection, yes, but that sort of interjection, no.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I happen to have a vision for a society where we go forward together and do not see policies based on privilege for the rich, leaving a large, marginalised, brown underclass in their wake.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Prime Minister have any reports that suggest that before the Orewa speech, regardless of its content, Dr Brash had ever raised anything to do with the Treaty of Waitangi or those issues in his maiden speech, or at any subsequent time before the Orewa speech?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I have been around politics a long time, and I can certainly remember no such previous interest by Dr Brash - ever.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Prime Minister agree with the statement made by Jonathan Milne in the Sunday Star-Times that one of the justifications for special assistance is "that Maori have never recovered from having their entire economic base taken in the 19th century"; if so, does she agree that the current National Party campaign relies on the denial of colonisation and dispossession?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: On many occasions I have found myself not in agreement with Mr Milne, but I would agree that dispossession of the poor is something the National Party is very interested in continuing, while it redistributes towards the rich in this country.
Hon Ken Shirley: Was she sincere when she said that to advocate that New Zealanders should be dealt with on the basis of need not race, to quote her, is "divisive" and "a desperate campaign of a beleaguered party" - was she sincere when she made those comments some weeks back; if not, why has she changed her mind?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I said from the outset, when that speech was leaked to the Government, that it set out to be divisive. It has been divisive, and anyone looking at our media in the last month can see what it has done and the bruised and hurt feelings of Maori throughout this country.
Hon Peter Dunne: In light of the comments referred to in the original question, and also the Prime Minister's comments yesterday that the consensus relating to treatment of issues concerning Maori had been shattered, what steps does the Prime Minister now think ought to be taken to re-establish a national consensus on that issue?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As the member says, I have indeed referred to the shattering of what has been a consensus between Governments for many years on how these kinds of issues are approached, and I have referred to the need to find a new balance. I think there is a time now for voices of reason and moderation, and I look forward to working with the member on that, because I know that is where he stakes his place in politics.
Gerry Brownlee: Will the Prime Minister admit that her new position on divisive legislation is motivated by polling information, or will she tell the House that she has agreed all along with Dr Brash and her new Coordinating Minister, Race Relations, who told the Dominion Post: "The treaty is in quite a few Acts and there are principles sitting there quite inconsistently and in some cases incoherently"; if not, why not?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I have seldom found myself in agreement with Dr Brash on anything, because he brings a lot of baggage to this job across privatisation, pension cuts, and many other things that are abhorrent to me. So the last thing I would find myself in agreement with him on is his setting out to divide Kiwis on this basis.
Gerrard Eckhoff: What principle has driven the U-turn by her Government from race to needs-based, and why does she not accept that she and her Government were completely out of step with 90 percent of New Zealanders and, indeed, with the centre-right of this nation?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I pride myself on being out of step with the right 100 percent of the time. That whole question has a false assumption, which is that this Government and Governments before it have set out to divide on the grounds of race. That is not so.
Gerry Brownlee: Will she concede that it is her Government's policies, in particular her policies around the seabed and foreshore, which is proving to be an absolute debacle, that have led to the huge buy-in to the issues raised by Dr Brash, to such an extent that she has tried to change this debate into a racial issue, going to the extreme extent of appointing Mr Mallard, of all people, as the Coordinating Minister, Race Relations?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The questioner could not possibly have said those words with a straight face, and he did not. I have said throughout on foreshore and seabed -
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I said them with a straight face, and I seek leave to say them again.
Mr SPEAKER: I think the member is overdoing it a little bit. The member has sought leave. Is there any objection? There is.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The member's face was as straight as it was when he went around south Auckland and would not admit to a single Maori group that he had cut its funding, which we saw on 20/20.
Gerry Brownlee: That's right.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: "That's right.", he says - and that is where we get specific. There is not a single thing he would change. That is the truth. Addressing the issue of the foreshore and seabed, I have gone the length and breadth of the country over the past 8 to 9 months saying that this Government will not settle for exclusive possession going into the hands of any group but that we will also respect customary rights - and I heard Mr Brownlee on Morning Report this morning say there are customary rights that should be respected.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Prime Minister as to whether -
Gerry Brownlee: Grasping at straws.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is very, very lucky indeed. I said the next person who interjected during a question being asked was going to leave. He is very lucky indeed, and that is his final warning.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I ask the Prime Minister as to whether before Orewa, and that Damascus experience, there was anything of any substance different between the National Party's policy and Labour's, as best evidenced by the fact that Doug Graham got a knighthood for what he was doing and is now adviser to Dr Brash?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I have not been able to find differences of substance. I would say that this Government has been more generous.
Dr Don Brash: I seek leave to table two documents. The first one is the text of my speech in the general debate, the first one after I became the leader of the National Party, in which I expressed grave concern about the Treaty of Waitangi.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to
table that. Is there any objection? There is. [Interruption]
I am sorry, Dr Brash. There is to be no comment during
Points of Order
Dr Don Brash: I seek leave to table the preliminary results of a survey conducted in the Northland electorate of Maori members on the roll, which showed that 88.75 percent of those Maori supported the idea that the treaty should not be used as a basis for creating greater civil, political, or democratic rights.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I seek leave to table Mr Brownlee's words recognising that there are customary rights that should exist.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Is it her understanding that customary rights, in these circumstances, can be given only to Maori, not to Pakeha?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: In the way in which they have developed under the common law, which is not unique to New Zealand - that is my understanding.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table a very well-known speech by the then leader of the National Party, Jim Bolger, in 1990, promising to settle everything to do with Waitangi in 10 years, which we will receive today with a sense of d¨¦j¨¤ vu.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Accident Compensation Corporation - Performance
5. STEVE CHADWICK (Labour - Rotorua) to the Minister for ACC: Has she received any reports containing recent assessments of ACC's performance internationally?
Hon RUTH DYSON (Minister for ACC): Yes. An Australian report on workers' compensation comparison shows that, although 6 years ago, Accident Compensation Corporation and Australian levies were similar, New Zealand rates are now on average 65 percent less than those of Australia. This gives New Zealand a clear competitive advantage in most industries.
Steve Chadwick: Can the Minister explain why the Accident Compensation Corporation's levy rates are now so much lower than those in Australia?
Hon RUTH DYSON: There are a number of reasons. As the Accident Compensation Corporation has focused more on injury prevention and rehabilitation - in line with legislation that this Government introduced in 2001 - we have kept our workplace injury rates down, compared with Australia, and have provided much more effective rehabilitation. The corporation's administration costs are about one-third of Australian schemes. We have far fewer disputes, and that is, in part, due to the corporation's no-fault principles.
Peter Brown: Is the Minister aware of any reports or letters that indicate the concerns that physiotherapists have with the endorsed provider network scheme, particularly in Auckland; if she is aware of those concerns, can she give the House an assurance that she will address them positively?
Hon RUTH DYSON: I am very aware of concerns that some physiotherapists, both in Wellington and in Auckland, have with the Government's proposed roll-out of the endorsed provider network scheme. Their primary concern is the agreement, which the Government reached during the piloting of that, for there to be no co-payment in response to an increased subsidy to the health provider - in this case, the physiotherapist. That group of physiotherapists believe that it is their right to continue to charge. I cannot, therefore, guarantee that that issue will be satisfactorily resolved, but I am happy to continue to work with them on it.
Steve Chadwick: How is our scheme generally viewed overseas?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Frankly, with envy. As well as the levy achievements that I have just outlined, the accident compensation scheme has cushioned New Zealanders against the impact of substantial worldwide hikes in private insurance premiums. Many observers around the world will be wondering why on earth National - if it ever gets the chance - plans to privatise the Accident Compensation Corporation and expose New Zealanders to similar costs, inefficiencies, and uncertainty.
Primary Health Organisation - Funding, Maori
6. HEATHER ROY (ACT) to the Minister of Health: What methodology was followed to produce 20 percent extra primary health organisation funding for each enrolled Maori, for all deprivation and age levels, and what specific needs does this extra 20 percent funding address?
Mr SPEAKER: Before I ask the Minister to answer the question, I inform members that she did contact me earlier and advise that the specific answer to the question was seven pages in length. Of course, she cannot give all that out in the answer that she is giving now, but I have told her that she can have a little longer time than usual. At the end of the question she will seek leave to table the full answer.
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): The methodology has been on the Ministry of Health's website since 2002, and what follows is an indication of the methodology used. Step 1: (a) assemble historical utilisation rates by age and gender; (b) multiply (a) by $35 per consultation for under-6s, and by $25 per consultation for all others; (c) weight the product of (a) x (b) by anticipated increased demand and additional needs - children only; (d) add the historical practice nurse subsidy; and (e) add $1.78 per person for health promotion. Step 2: using the above rates, apply weightings for ethnicity and deprivation of 20 percent. Step 3: add high users, and so on. The 20 percent weightings for ethnicity and deprivation are applied to the primary health organisation to provide services to improve access for the most needy.
Gerry Brownlee: How long does this go on for?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Mr Speaker, you gave me permission to make my answer a little longer than usual; I do not think Mr Brownlee heard you say that.
Mr SPEAKER: I thought that the Minister stuck within the ruling that I made.
Heather Roy: Was the Ministry of Health's head of clinical services, Colin Feek, correct about the 20 percent ethnic weighting for primary health organisations when he stated: "I'll be quite honest - that's a slightly arbitrary figure", and that: "We just felt that 20 percent weighting was enough to shift the balance. We don't have any science behind it."?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Dr Feek was correct, in that the weighting applies not just to ethnicity. The Ministry of Health decided on a 20 percent weighting by looking at previous services that had worked, and used that figure as a weighting in the formula. There is no exact science behind it - it is very difficult to get exact science. It is important to know that the weighting is not just for ethnicity, which is the only thing ACT concentrates on. There are also weightings for age, gender, and deprivation.
Dianne Yates: Of the factors that attract funding for any public health organisation, which category attracts the highest level of funding?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The highest level is derived from having a high use health card - for people with the highest need. If people have a high use health card, regardless of whether they are black, white, brindle, rich, poor, young, or old, they attract the highest amount of funding. It is obviously a needs-based policy.
Dr Lynda Scott: Is the way that Dr Colin Feek has described the ethnicity weighting the usual way to determine how to spend a huge amount of taxpayer money - that is, there was no science behind it; it was just plucked out of the air as an arbitrary figure - and when will the Minister admit that the implementation of primary health organisations has been a disaster for patients who have high health needs but are denied cheaper health-care because they are not of the right race or do not live in the right location?
Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I do not agree, because people with the highest health needs, as I have just outlined, are those who have a high use health card. They attract the highest level of funding, regardless of whether they are rich or poor, no matter what colour they are, and regardless of whether they live in Kaitaia or Invercargill.
Sue Kedgley: Has the Minister seen the Decades of Disparity: Ethnic mortality trends in New Zealand 1980-1999 report, which provides compelling evidence that one reason that Maori health is poorer, and is in need of targeted assistance, is the new-right reforms of the 1980s and 1990s; given that evidence, what does she think would be the likely impact of another term of a new-right Government on Maori health?
Mr SPEAKER: The member may comment on the first part of the question.
Hon ANNETTE KING: I think any move to new-right politics would be disastrous on the health of the poor, the needy, and those who are relying on a Government like this to ensure they get better health-care.
Dr Muriel Newman: In light of the Minister's claim in question time last week that in addition to the 20 percent Maori funding allowance, primary health organisations also get "20 percent more if they have a majority of people who are elderly or young", will she table the formula that shows that 20 percent allowance for age, and, if she cannot, will she admit she was wrong and apologise for misleading the House?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The formula is available to the member. I think she needs to listen to what I said. The funding is built on a basic formula, and then has add-ons to it. I am happy to give it to the member if she has not been able to get it off the Ministry of Health's website.
Dr Lynda Scott: When will she admit that the implementation of primary health organisations has been a disaster for patients who are denied cheaper health-care because they are not of the right race or do not live in the right location, for doctors, only 9 percent of whom think primary health organisations will improve patient care, and for district health boards, which are picking up the pieces - for example, by Middlemore Hospital of the primary health organisation that has gone into liquidation - and stop this experiment that is doing irreparable harm to primary care in this country?
Hon ANNETTE KING: More has been done for primary health-care, in terms of the investment of money and concentrating on the needs of New Zealanders, under this Government than we have seen in many decades. I take heart from my meeting this week with the Independent Practitioners Association Council, the organisation that represents the doctors who are in the primary health organisations, which came to me and said those doctors believe the primary health organisations are the way of the future and they want to work constructively with us.
Deborah Coddington: If the primary health organisation funding was really needs-based instead of race-based, would the formula not have true causal factors like obesity and smoking alongside age and gender as measures of health needs, instead of race; is she not just guilty of stereotyping?
Hon ANNETTE KING: If the member wants to put in obesity and other issues like that, I would say she would be guilty of stereotyping. What we have in any formula are some key components. Some of the key components that are recognised, not just in the health funding formula but in the formula that was devised for decile funding in schools by, I think, Dr Lockwood Smith, include such things as ethnicity, lower socio-economic status, and so on. That has been accepted in New Zealand for many years.
Stephen Franks: As best as I can understand the Minister's answers, she thinks a race loading -
Mr SPEAKER: Would the member please ask a question, not make a statement.
Stephen Franks: If the Minister considers that it is not race stereotyping to have a race loading because she hides it amongst four or five other factors, what is it that generates the race loading?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I find it remarkable that that member does not know that the health status of Maori and Pacific people in New Zealand, particularly, is worse than that of other New Zealanders. That is not stereotyping; it is a fact. They die 9 years earlier than other New Zealanders, they have more cancers in every category except skin cancer, and in almost every health statistic that is available, Maori, Pacific, and low-income New Zealanders are worse off than other New Zealanders. Do we not want to address those issues? Yes, we do.
Dr Muriel Newman: I seek leave to table the funding formula, which shows the 20 percent funding allowance is based on race, not age.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Mr SPEAKER: Does the Minister want to table her answer?
Hon ANNETTE KING: It is on the website.
Peter Brown: Will the Minister advise the House whether Maori get their fair share of superannuation, and whether they get their fair share of rest home entitlements?
Hon ANNETTE KING: That is a very good question, because in terms of paying taxes, Maori pay taxes too - but 0.57 percent of Maori are alive after the age of 65 years, in comparison with around 14 percent of the population that is over the age of 65.
Stephen Franks: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I believe that the Minister should be given an opportunity to avoid misleading the House. She appears to be saying that a stereotype is not a stereotype when it is statistically true.
Mr SPEAKER: No. That is a debating point.
Hector's Dolphins - Tagging
7. SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister of Conservation: Will he urgently review the proposed tagging of endangered Hector's dolphins with satellite-linked transmitters; if not, why not?
Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): No. I have looked into this matter and given careful consideration to the criticisms that have been raised. I am satisfied that the trial using ultra-light tags on just three Hector's dolphins is well designed, with meticulous attention being paid to the welfare of the dolphins. Satellite tagging is used routinely on marine mammals overseas.
Sue Kedgley: Does the Minister acknowledge that tagging dolphins is an invasive procedure, which involves capturing them by their tails, dragging them into a boat, drilling three or four holes through their dorsal fins, and bolting the tag in place, and that as well as causing these exquisite creatures to suffer, it may put their lives at risk - therefore, why would the Department of Conservation not use other, safer techniques that give better information about dolphin distribution?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: Handling any endangered species carries risk, but my department is interested in the conservation of those species. We have great experience in using electronic tracking devices. I remind that member that but for tracking devices we would not have been able to save the kakap¨, which is a far more endangered species.
David Parker: Why is more information needed on Maui's dolphin?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: There may be 150 or fewer of these dolphins left. Time is not on our side. Trying to find these dolphins in thousands of square kilometres of ocean is like looking for needles in a haystack. Aerial surveys are helpful, but we urgently need to know more about their daily and seasonal movements. Satellite tagging could give us those answers.
Hon Tony Ryall: Would the Minister explain why the Government is prepared to spend more on a sophisticated monitoring system for dolphins than it is for people on home detention and repeat sexual offenders?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I have the privilege of being responsible for endangered native species. That question might be better directed towards another colleague.
Larry Baldock: Does the Minister think that any discomfort and small risk to the dolphins is preferable to their ending up in a can of tuna; and does he also agree that the Department of Conservation is having a bad day indeed when even its old allies, the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society and the Greens, are opposing their efforts to save an endangered species?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: The Department of Conservation, and indeed myself, have a sense of urgency about saving Maui's dolphins. There may be fewer than 200 of these creatures left, and we have to take every means we can to try to save them.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Minister acknowledge that the information that could be obtained by the use of transmitters and satellite tagging is unlikely to be robust enough to support, for example, further restriction on fishing methods, and therefore is unlikely to contribute much to the long-term protection of the species?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I must stress to the House that the activities that the Department of Conservation will be involved in during the next few days on this issue are just a trial. Just three specimens will be involved. If the trial is successful and provides us with opportunities for further conservation action, then we will certainly look at that.
Sue Kedgley: Why did the Department of Conservation go against the advice of its own scientists, as well as conservation and animal welfare groups; and is not the almost unanimous outcry over the proposed trial from groups and individuals - who are usually highly supportive of the department's efforts on species conservation - good reason for the Minister to put the proposals on hold, at least to allow further investigations into their validity?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I would concede that there is debate over these techniques. That is why we are involving ourselves in a trial involving just three specimens. If the trial shows that there are conservation actions we can take, we will certainly take them because we are determined to try and save Maui's dolphin.
Employment Relations Law Reform Bill - Unions
8. JOHN KEY (National - Helensville) to the Minister of Labour: Does she stand by her statement relating to the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill: "every employee remains totally free to choose whether they wish to join a union. Employees have a right to make a genuine choice, and protecting choice is a stated aim of the Act."; if so, why?
Hon MARGARET WILSON (Minister of Labour)183WILSON, Hon MARGARET14:46:12Hon MARGARET WILSON (Minister of Labour): Yes, because the choice is protected by Part 3 of the Employment Relations Act and its amendment.
John Key: Can the Minister confirm that the incoming Minister of Labour, Paul Swain, along with Cabinet colleagues John Tamihere and Jim Anderton, were all opposed to her changes to the Employment Relations Act because they recognised that that was nothing more than compulsory unionism by stealth, and does she believe that that was the reason she was mercilessly shoved to one side by the Prime Minister; if not, why not?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: I am sorry, but I cannot confirm that for the honourable member. We always have vigorous discussion, and all points of view are put in our policy making, unlike the National Party, where there is only one voice and no discussion.
Hon Mark Gosche40Hon Mark Gosche: Does the Employment Relations Act and its amendment meet all of our international obligations to protect freedom of choice for employees and employers?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: Yes. The Employment Relations Act complies with the principles underlying ILO Convention 87, and also Convention 98.
Paul Adams: In light of the emphasis in the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill on facilitating collective agreements arising from a genuine bargaining process, is there any guarantee that those workers who want an individual agreement instead can get one, if a company decides to offer only collective agreements in order to save on negotiating costs; if not, do employees really have the right to make a genuine choice?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: Yes, the employees do have a right to negotiate an individual contract with their employer, and if the employer declines to give them that choice, that would bring into question whether the employer was complying with the legislation.
John Key: Does the Minister believe that her sacking as Minister of Labour is in any way linked to the fact that she has foisted a set of labour laws on New Zealand business that are unbalanced and anti - freedom of choice; and now, in the face of plummeting poll ratings, how long does she think it will take the incoming Minister, Paul Swain, to reverse completely her amendments?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: I am happy to stand by my record in terms of the employment relations framework. As has been indicated, we have the lowest strike record we have had in years. We have had increased productivity, we have had low employment, and we now have a framework in which the vast majority of disputes are settled, without disagreement, through the Mediation Service.
Painted Apple Moth - Spraying, West Auckland
9. LARRY BALDOCK (United Future) to the Minister for Biosecurity: Is the goal of the aerial spraying programme in west Auckland to eradicate the painted apple moth; if so, why?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Associate Minister for Biosecurity), on behalf of the Minister for Biosecurity: Yes, the goal is eradication. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry estimates the potential economic impacts to planted forest, horticulture, and amenity values associated with the spread of the painted apple moth to range from $58 million to $356 million over the next 20 years. There are also possible impacts on market access and the conservation estate.
Larry Baldock: How can the Minister reconcile that answer with spray programme project director Ian Gear's comment, made when he announced a halt to the spraying in Hobsonville and Meola Creek, that the battle is being won as there has been a reduction in moth numbers; and does this mean that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is in fact having to admit defeat in the battle for eradication and that the ultimate goal is now one of "spray to reduce", rather than "spray to eradicate"?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: No, it is the reverse, in fact; it is actually a victory. The scientific experts advising the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry have recommended a reduction in aerial treatments, as no sign of moths has been discovered in certain areas for some time. Apart from one moth found in the week ended 18 January, no moth has been caught since May last year, so we are confident that we are winning the battle against the moth. But we cannot afford to take any chances. The reduction will be on an area-by-area basis, and the discovery of any remnant moth colonies may trigger further aerial operations.
Lynne Pillay: What is to stop there being further moth incursions into New Zealand?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: Continuous improvement in biosecurity. This Government has spent more than $50 million a year more in baseline biosecurity funding than previous Governments, and we have ensured that 100 percent of inward aircrew and passengers, as well as sea containers, are checked. More risk material, such as giant African snails, is being stopped at the border now because we are looking harder.
Larry Baldock: Can the Minister assure the people of west Auckland that the department has in place sufficient monitoring controls to prevent the resurgence of the moth, a return to spraying, and all the subsequent inconvenience and possible health risks associated with it?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: The department, obviously from an economic basis, is absolutely sure that it will continue with the surveillance and with the stopping of passage of vegetation to ensure that we do not have a re-incursion.
Larry Baldock: Can the Minister also assure the people of west Auckland that, when the programme is all done and dusted and the show has left town, the department will continue to have measures in place to advise or treat health problems not immediately apparent at the time of spraying?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: Yes.
Treaty of Waitangi - Ministerial Responsibility
10. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader - NZ First) to the Coordinating Minister, Race RelationsRace Relations: Can he explain what is meant by the Prime Minister's reported comments "Mr Mallard will also take responsibility for general issues concerning the Treaty of Waitangi, such as the place of references to the treaty in legislation. There has been no clear ministerial responsibility in this area at all."?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Coordinating Minister, Race Relations): My understanding of the Prime Minister's comment is that while there was some responsibility within the Maori affairs portfolio of the treaty issues from a Maori perspective, and there was responsibility for settlement of historical grievances with the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, there was no Minister with clear overall ministerial responsibility in respect of the place of the treaty.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Will he accept the offer - given the absolute mess that Labour and National have created in this area - of New Zealand First to apprise him of the questions that we have asked in this House on countless occasions over many years, and the offer to sort out the legislation now?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: This Minister is always happy to have all reasonable assistance.
Gerry Brownlee: When the Prime Minister said that Mr Mallard's responsibility would be for general issues concerning the Treaty of Waitangi, such as the place of reference to the Treaty of Waitangi in legislation, did she tell him that she had previously delegated that specific role to the Hon Tariana Turia, and I quote from the previous delegations under the name of Tariana Turia: "Responsibility for treaty clauses in legislation", and did she also tell him why Tariana Turia was being replaced, and can the Minister confirm that that was for a degree of incompetence in that role?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: There are a number of questions there. I think the key point I want to make is that Ms Turia's delegation was from a Maori affairs perspective as a delegation from the Minister of Maori Affairs. I think the Prime Minister described my view as an overview - a helicopter view. Anyone who thinks that Ms Turia is not good at putting her point of view is just very, very foolish. But it does not surprise me that Gerry Brownlee thinks that.
Gerry Brownlee: Mr Speaker, are you going to let that go?
Mr SPEAKER: Since the member has taken offence, I will ask the Minister to withdraw that very last comment.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I withdraw.
Work and Income Service - Placements, Auckland
11. DAVE HEREORA (Labour) to the Associate Minister for Social Development and EmploymentSocial Development and Employment: What is the Ministry of Social Development's Work and Income Service doing in the Auckland region to assist professionally qualified migrants find suitable work?
Hon RICK BARKER (Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment): Work and Income has a number of programmes to assist migrants into work. One of these is a partnership between Work and Income and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce. This has been very successful. Already, almost 200 people have participated in the programme, with over half getting permanent work in their relevant professions. I would like to record my appreciation for the contribution by the Auckland Chamber of Commerce and its members who have made the programme a success, and I look forward to seeing it grow in success over the years.
Dave Hereora: How does this work experience programme assist migrants to find work?
Hon RICK BARKER: Because the Chamber of Commerce takes a lead role in the programme, it opens up opportunities for migrants to gain work experience in the New Zealand context. The prospective employer gets a better understanding of migrants' abilities, and creates a situation more likely for a successful employment outcome. The programme is so good that in the last week the Chamber of Commerce has been approached by 40 new employers interested in the scheme. I look forward to the chamber having continued success.
Bill Gudgeon207Bill Gudgeon: If Work and Income is making an effort to assist professionally qualified migrants to find suitable work, would the Minister give a categorical assurance to this House that this will not be done at the expense of our own citizens?
Hon RICK BARKER: Some of these migrants are citizens of New Zealand, but I want to give that member an unqualified assurance that it is not at the expense of any other group. In fact, this Government and Work and Income have been outrageously successful. We now have the lowest unemployment record in New Zealand for 16 years, and we should all congratulate the service on that.
Local Government - Maori
12. KATHERINE RICH (National) to the Associate Minister of Maori Affairs (Social Development)Maori Affairs (Social Development): Does she stand by her comment on National Radio yesterday that: "It's very difficult for Maori people to get into local government because of the so-called democracy of one person, one vote."; if so, why?
Hon TARIANA TURIA (Associate Minister of Maori Affairs (Social Development)): Yes, that is the view that I hold, and if I am mistaken perhaps the member could help me.
Katherine Rich: Has the Minister raised her concerns about "so-called democracy of one person, one vote" with the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and what kind of democracy would she like to see operating here in New Zealand?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: The kind of democracy that I would like to see operating in New Zealand is the politics of inclusion, not exclusion.
Mita Ririnui: Is the Minister aware of any information that relates to Maori representation in local government?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: The local government website shows that only 5.5 percent of Maori people are represented. That does not compare favourably with our representation in this House, which is 16.6 percent under MMP.
Hon Ken Shirley: Does the Minister now accept that she made an incorrect statement on the Nine to Noon radio programme yesterday when she claimed that Maori were not guaranteed a certain number of seats at council tables under legislation passed by her Government; if she does not accept that, then how does she explain the provisions of the Local Government Act that were passed by her Government that provide for separate, race-based electoral rolls and separate, guaranteed, race-based seats at council tables - how does she explain that?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: My understanding is that the legislation provides that local government can make its own decisions about how voting will take place.
Katherine Rich: Following her comments about inclusion, does she stand by her comments in that same interview that Maori deserve special rights because "We can't go anywhere else. We've got nowhere else to go home to. We can only be here.", and where does she think seventh-generation non-Maori New Zealanders can go, because the doors to Scotland certainly are not open anymore?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: I certainly believe that tangata whenua, as the indigenous peoples of this land, have rights as guaranteed under article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi. I think it would be best if that member put that question to seventh-generation New Zealanders.
Stephen Franks: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Standing Orders and Speakers' Rulings provide for the Speaker to grant extra questions when questions are simply not answered. It appears to me that a number of questions have simply not been answered; the Minister has just parroted slogans. Is this an occasion when you might grant a few extra supplementary questions?
Mr SPEAKER: No.
Katherine Rich: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In my previous question I used a question word, "where". When one uses that word one expects an answer to include a location of some sort. I asked where the Minister expected seventh-generation New Zealanders who are not Maori to go, and I did not get an answer to that question.
Hon TARIANA TURIA: Do you want me to answer the question, Mr Speaker?
Mr SPEAKER: Yes.
Hon TARIANA TURIA: Well, I have never ever said to any New Zealander, whether first, second, third, or seventh generation, that he or she needs to leave this land, so I am unsure of why the question has come.
Katherine Rich: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think the Minister runs the risk of misleading House. When we see headlines like "Turia suggests Pakeha can go home", the implication is that if we do not like special treatment for Maori, we have some other place to go.
Mr SPEAKER: If I thought any member of this Parliament could write the headlines in the New Zealand Herald, I would be very keen to apply.
Mita Ririnui: Is the Minister aware of any local level initiatives to promote Maori participation in local government?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: We are all aware in this House of the good work done by Environment BOP to ensure the inclusion of Maori people.
Katherine Rich: I shall ask the same question again. If the Minister has made comments that Maori deserve special rights because "We can't go anywhere else. We've got nowhere else to go home to. We can only be here.", where does she think seventh-generation non-Maori New Zealanders can go if they disagree with this Government's special treatment of Maori?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: I have already answered that question. With regard to the newspaper report that the member was floating in front of us, I think she should put that question to the New Zealand Press Association reporter, who misquoted me.
Hon Ken Shirley: I seek leave to table a transcription of the Nine to Noon radio programme yesterday that clearly shows that the Minister made an incorrect and misleading statement.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that transcript. Is there any objection? There is.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table details in respect of Environment BOP that demonstrate Maori will go from being 3 of 14 members to 2 of 11 - and how that increases the ratio, I do not understand.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
(uncorrected transcript - subject to correction and further editing)