Questions & Answers for Oral Answer - 26 February
Thursday, 26 February 2004
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
POO: Question No. 1 to Minister
1. Immigration Service—Enquiry
2. Holidays Act—Reports
3. Health Services—Waiting Lists
4. Early Childhood Education—Quality
5. Seabed and Foreshore—Dual Title
POO: Question No. 4 to Minister
6. Marine Life—Exotic Marine Pests
7. Seabed and Foreshore—Customary Title
8. Conservation, Department—Assistance to Communities
9. Small Business, Minister—Reported Comments
10. Border Security—Levy
11. Mâori Affairs, Minister—Customary Title
12. Refugees—Deportation, Sri Lanka
for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
for Oral Answer
Question No. 1 to Minister
GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Question No. 1 in the name of Dr Brash was taken to the Clerk’s Office this morning and accepted as a question set down for answer by the Prime Minister. I appreciate that a Government can change the name of the Minister who will be answering a question, but in this case the provisional question sheet had the question addressed to the Prime Minister. About an hour and a half later the Order Paper turned up, and obviously there had been some kerfuffle, because the question was addressed to the Minister of Immigration. We understand the embarrassment the Government would naturally feel about the report—
Mr SPEAKER: Would the member please come to the point of order?
GERRY BROWNLEE: The point is that although a Government may choose to send a question to another Minister, we ask whether it is reasonable to do that after a question has appeared on the provisional Order Paper? The real point behind this—and you will recall we had a incidence of this earlier in the week—is that the answers that are given today will not be given in the name of the Prime Minister, whereas the answers given last Thursday by Dr Cullen were given in the name of the Prime Minister. These are matters that should rightly concern the Prime Minister. I would have thought it reasonable that, although the Government may wish to have a stronger Minister answering these sorts of questions, this particular question should still be set down to the Prime Minister.
14:04:55Mr SPEAKER: I shall deal with the first matter very briefly. Right up until the question is asked the Government can determine whether there is to be a change. This question was originally lodged to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister transferred it to the Minister of Immigration. Questions to Ministers are addressed to portfolios, not to individuals. It is true that no one holds the portfolio of Minister of Immigration at the moment, and will not do so until later this afternoon. However, there has been an Acting Minister of Immigration since the Minister resigned, and the Acting Minister is currently the Hon Paul Swain. Authority to that effect has been given to me. I refer members to Speaker's ruling 143/5: "Where an Acting Minister has been appointed, the Acting Minister is for all purposes the Minister and does not answer a question on behalf of anyone." On that basis 37 written questions have been lodged to the Minister of Immigration during the course of this week.
GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I have made the ruling.
GERRY BROWNLEE: Yes, you have. But with respect, I think you have missed the point.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I have not missed anything.
GERRY BROWNLEE: The point is that there is a published question sheet for today.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will be seated. That was the very first point I made. At any time up until 2 o’clock when the question is being asked, the question can be transferred.
GERRY BROWNLEE: With respect, that is not the point. The point I am making is that although the Government can transfer a question, and there is no argument about that and we have not questioned that today, surely it is our right to make apparent who that question was intended for. Today the Clerk’s Office published a sheet of today’s questions, with this question addressed to the Prime Minister. That was withdrawn, and I have to say that is extremely unusual. Then the question sheet was reprinted and recirculated, with this question going to the Minister of Immigration, who, we now find, will be answering questions but not being held accountable for anything he says.
Mr SPEAKER: I have had provisional advice, and I stand by my previous ruling.
1. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Minister of Immigration: Does he stand by the Government’s decision to accept an internal inquiry by the Secretary of Labour as an appropriate response to allegations that officials had agreed to “lie in unison”, and how is he able to reconcile Dr Buwalda’s finding that there was “no evidence that officials deliberately misled the Ombudsman” with the conclusions in the Ombudsman’s report released today?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Transport), on behalf of the Minister of Immigration: Yes, both the Ombudsman and the Secretary of Labour found there was no evidence that officials were involved in any agreement to lie in unison. However, the Ombudsman did find that two officials, in respect of their duties under the Official Information Act, had: “failed in different ways to display the professionalism and diligence required of public servants”.
I am advised by the Secretary of Labour that following his report he has already initiated disciplinary proceedings and performance management action. He has told me today that he intends to take the Ombudsman’s findings into consideration in determining any future action.
Dr Don Brash: Given the Minister’s response to that question, does he now wish to express regret that his Government did not allow the independent inquiry called for at the time by the National Party?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: In hindsight, an independent inquiry would have been better.
Martin Gallagher: What did the Ombudsman’s report state precisely and what action has been taken as a result?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The report was a severe blow for the conspiracy theorists in the Opposition. No evidence was found on any agreement to "lie in unison", on any agreement whether Mr Zaoui had been detained. Besides commenting on the two officials, the report found that the manner in which the Immigration Service handled official information requests was sloppy. I have been advised by the Secretary of Labour that the guidelines for handling official information requests are being reviewed and that ongoing training will be given to ensure they are being applied.
I take seriously the obligations on the public service in respect of the Official Information Act, and have instructed the Secretary of Labour to report to me on the implementation of those guidelines by the end of March.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Having regard to the $300,000-plus cost so far of having this terrorist in the country; the fact that three countries—France, Belgium, and Switzerland—have found him to be so, and got rid of him; and now with the independent Ombudsman’s report, and every other cost, what on earth is this man still doing in New Zealand?
Mr SPEAKER: It is a bit wide of the original question, but the Minister may comment very briefly.
Mr SPEAKER: That is a bit wide of the original question, but the Minister may comment very briefly.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am awaiting a recommendation from the inspector-general, and at the appropriate time I will make a decision.
Keith Locke: Was the secrecy surrounding Mr Zaoui’s presence here motivated by the same anti-democratic reason advanced by the police in a memo, 6 days before the “lying in unison” memo, stating there is: “the political risk that he"—Mr Zaoui—"will try to gain some support by utilising the media”; and, if not, what was the reason?
Mr SPEAKER: That is getting very, very wide of the original question, which related specifically to an internal inquiry by the Secretary of Labour. I allowed the Minister to comment on Mr Peters question, which was also wide. I will allow the Minister to comment on this question, but I do not want it to go any wider.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just missed the first part of the question. Would it be in order to repeat it?
Mr SPEAKER: The very first part can be repeated.
Keith Locke: Was the secrecy or super secrecy surrounding Mr Zaoui’s presence here motivated by the same anti-democratic reason advanced by the police in a memo, 6 days before the “lying in unison” memo, stating there is: “the political risk that he"—Mr Zaoui—"will try to gain some support by utilising the media”; and if that was not the motive, what was?
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister may comment briefly.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: No, because they are not related.
Dr Don Brash: Noting that the State Services Commissioner previously has said that Dr Buwalda had done "a good job" in producing a report that had the hallmarks of "fairness and thoroughness"—a statement that is directly contradicted by the Ombudsman today—how can the House have any confidence in the inquiry by the State Services Commissioner into events involving the Prime Minister's own electorate office and the actions of one of her Ministers?
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister has no responsibility for the State Services Commission.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Ombudsman’s report make any reference to the fact that this man Zaoui had three hearings in respect of France, Switzerland, and Belgium, all of which found him a terrorist risk with regard to their populations; and what on earth is he doing in New Zealand?
Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the question is in order, because it refers to the report.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: No, the report made no reference to the matters the member raises.
Rodney Hide: In light of this report, which confirms at least the unprofessional behaviour of senior immigration officials when responding to an official information request, and to the Ombudsman, and given the series of scandals that have rocked the Immigration Service, including the “sex for visas” scandal that the department did not call the police in to investigate, does this Minister now accept that the department is scandal-ridden and out of control; and what will this Government do to give New Zealanders confidence in a department that is responsible for determining who will and who will not be a New Zealander?
Mr SPEAKER: There were three questions there. The Minister may comment on two.
Hon Paul Swain: I do not accept the first part of the question. As far as the second part is concerned, both myself and the Secretary of Labour are working on those recommendations, so the public can have confidence in this important department of State.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask you to reflect again on the question that Dr Brash asked the Minister, which Michael Cullen was very quick to say there is no ministerial responsibility—that belongs to Trevor Mallard. In reality, I have just looked at the question, and the first part, I think, does stand. You have given other members the opportunity to have parts of their questions heard by the Minister and answered. I suggest it would be only reasonable to let Dr Brash ask that question again, leaving out the last reference to the State Services Commission.
Mr SPEAKER: I am prepared to be generous on this occasion. If the reference to the State Services Commission is removed, then the member can ask the rest of that question. [Interruption] The part that refers to the administration under control of the Minister of State Services is not relevant. I am sure the member can adjust the question concerned.
Dr Don Brash: Noting that the State Services Commissioner has previously found that Dr Buwalda had done “a good job” in producing a report that had the hallmarks of “fairness and thoroughness”—a statement that is directly contradicted by the Ombudsman today—how can the House have any confidence in the Secretary of Labour?
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There are two points. The first is whether it is the original question, and the second point is that a question about whether the House should have confidence in the Secretary of Labour, is a matter for the State Services Commission and for me.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I am going to rule that the Minister can answer that question.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The House can have confidence in the Secretary of Labour. The reality is that both reports found no evidence. The two inquiries differ, in the sense that the Ombudsman has greater powers. For example, he can accept information on oath and is also able to proffer an opinion. The Secretary of Labour is required, in order to act, to have evidence and facts.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That answer may have been an address to the question, but I think the Minister needs to reflect on what he said. Has he said that it is OK to mislead the House and the public—
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. That is debating material.
2. JILL PETTIS (Labour—Whanganui) to the Minister of Labour: Has she received any reports on the Holidays Act 2003?
Hon MARGARET WILSON (Minister of Labour): Yes. I see it has been reported that Dr Brash has now clarified his understanding of bereavement leave, which he had mis-termed “tangi leave”. He has now said: “I may be incorrect, but I didn’t make it up off the top of my head.” Is that another example of a National Party U-turn, or a cynical grab at votes using the race issue?
Jill Pettis: Can the Minister further advise whether she has received any reports on bereavement leave?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: Yes. I have seen reports from Richard Worth attempting to quantify bereavement leave as expensive for employers, based on an unlikely example of an employee attending a funeral almost every week during the year. It is another example of using race to cynically grab votes. The Holidays Act gives the same rights and confers the same obligations on everyone, regardless of race. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I can tell members that the reception for the Minister of Labour’s question is perfect outside this building. If members cannot hear in this building and they want me to ban all interjections during answers, then I will. I heard the Minister’s answer.
Hon Roger Sowry: To the outgoing Minister of Labour—
Mr SPEAKER: To the Minister of Labour. The member knows that he made a mistake.
Hon Roger Sowry: I am relatively new on this bench. Does the new Holidays Act 2003, unlike the Act it replaces, allow bereavement leave to be taken an unlimited number of times in a year, and can employees take the leave in instances where they are not related to the deceased but have some “cultural responsibility”, unlike the situation under the previous Act?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: The Act allows every employee to take 3 days’ leave on the death of a specified family member. There is also provision for every employee to have one extra day’s leave for the death of a person who is close to him or her. That, however, is at the discretion of the employer. Factors that are suggested may be taken into account are the closeness of the relationship and the significance responsibility someone may have. That would include any cultural responsibilities relating to that death. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister is interjecting far too much, and it is all in the second person. I am not leaving anyone alone.
Paul Adams: What steps has the Minister taken that will help employers to comply with the conflicts and adverse administration ramifications, such as recording the specific details of each leave day taken by employees and engaging in complicated formulae to determine accurate pay rates, that the introduction of the Holidays Act 2003 will demand?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: The department has sent out 150,000 information packs to employers. Certainly, we know from monitoring the call centre that queries have been coming in and have been answered, and the department is using all its resources to inform members about the implications of the legislation and how to make sure that it is implemented correctly.
Health Services—Waiting Lists
3. BARBARA STEWART (NZ First) to the Minister of Health: Does she have any concerns regarding current waiting lists; if so, what does she intend to do about them?
Hon RUTH DYSON (Associate Minister of Health), on behalf of the Minister of Health: Managing waiting lists remains a key priority for this Government, and we will continue to focus on issues as they arise. That is why we will soon be announcing a major new orthopaedic project, for example.
Barbara Stewart: What has the Minister done since 1999 to fix waiting lists, given that every day we are bombarded with stories such as: “Many gallstone patients in Auckland must now suffer at least four attacks of severe pain and vomiting in a year to qualify for surgery.”, and can she explain what she intends to do about this crisis?
Hon RUTH DYSON: I would like to specifically address of the issue of gall bladders that the member raised in her supplementary question. Ten percent of New Zealanders have gallstones, and of that 10 percent, only 4 percent will have symptoms in any one year. A significant number of those people do not require surgery. My understanding is that accepted clinical evidence states that a single attack of biliary colic will not warrant surgery. It is usual and accepted practice to wait several months to a year to determine whether there are recurrent attacks.
Steve Chadwick: What are some of the actions that this Government has taken to address the issue of waiting lists?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Unfortunately, I do not have time to go through them all, but amongst other things, we have increased spending on health by nearly $3 billion; we have made performances of the district health boards publicly available; we are committed to an orthopaedic project to address the issues raised by the Orthopaedic Association
to ensure that people get better access to major joint surgery; we have increased the number of radiation therapists in training across the 3 years, from 46 in 1999 to 104 in 2004; we have improved working conditions for health professionals through pay increases; and we have ensured a programme of replacement for new linear accelerators.
Dr Paul Hutchison168Dr Paul Hutchison: Why are unacceptably long delays in treatment forcing men with prostate cancer to have to join women with breast cancer in travelling to Australia for private radiation treatment; after 4 long years, what will she do about it?
Hon RUTH DYSON: In addition to the points that I raised in answer to the supplementary question asked immediately prior to Dr Hutchison’s question, in 1996-97, 3,090 publicly funded cardiac procedures, for example, were delivered. In 2002-03, that number had risen to 5,333 publicly funded cardiac procedures. Another example is that in 1998-99, 34,555 people waited longer than 6 months for treatment. By 2002-03, that had dropped to 10,178 people.
Mr SPEAKER: There were far too many interjections, and the answer was too long. Interjections will be in the third person, not in the second, or members will not be making any more today.
Judy Turner: In light of the fact that Auckland cancer patients are still waiting up to 14 weeks for treatment, or have to travel to Australia, while the district health board desperately tries to fill 10 radiotherapy positions with overseas professionals, can the Minister give the New Zealand public an assurance that when the publicly funded radiation therapy trainees graduate at the end of this year, they will ignore offers of more lucrative positions overseas, and help to reduce waiting lists here, despite the fact that they are not bonded to work in New Zealand, and are even told in their recruitment brochure that: “Medical radiation therapy is an international profession. If you decide to travel, the world is your oyster.”; if so, why?
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was obviously a very long question. You may recall that the words “in the light of” were used at the start of that question. Yesterday you pulled up members on the Opposition side of the House for not starting a question with a question word. “In the light of” does not seem to me to be a question; it is a statement, as is “given”, and as are various other things that we get pulled up for. I think that although the Labour Party is relatively new here, it is getting on in time. We are halfway through this Parliament.
Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member. As a former teacher myself, I acknowledge his expertise in this area. I will now tighten up very considerably on that. The word “given” is not a question word, so that word will not be allowed in future. “In the light of” is not a question, either. Now we will have specific questions asked, and the first few words can be ignored. We will now have the specific question answered.
Hon RUTH DYSON: I am happy to do that. In relation to waiting times for the Auckland District Health Board, I agree with the member’s concerns, and it is true that the Auckland District Health Board is currently experiencing delays in radiotherapy treatment. It has an establishment of 50 medical radiation therapists, but has seven vacancies. I am pleased that all other centres are working to capacity, and are managing to commence treatment within the agreed time. The Auckland District Health Board has approved the purchase of a linear accelerator, which is expected to be commissioned by the end of this year.
Barbara Stewart: Why are New Zealanders in their thousands waiting for cancer treatment, knee operations, hip operations, heart surgery, and eye surgery, etc., with scheduled surgery repeatedly postponed with the explanation that: “There are no beds, so don’t come.”, or that they do not qualify under the “pain ranking system”; is it not a glaring fact that despite an extra $147.7 million in funding from the Ministry of Health, the Minister of Health is failing to provide basic care for New Zealanders?
Hon RUTH DYSON: In relation to the last point that the member raised, that is absolute nonsense, frankly. I recommend that the member, and others who share similar concerns, read the recommendations contained in the Health Workforce Advisory Committee’s recently published document. They outline that a significant lack of investment in both the infrastructure and training needs of our health workforce contributed to the current shortfall in access to treatment. That is why the Government has invested significantly more—nearly $3 billion more—in the health system, part of which will address the very skill shortage that caused the concerns raised by the member.
Barbara Stewart: Is the Minister concerned that the practice of referring patients back to general practitioners, in order to artificially shorten waiting lists, is also having a negative effect on the working conditions of general practitioners, and is contributing to an expected decline in full-time general practitioner numbers; if not, why not?
Hon RUTH DYSON: No, because I have a far higher level of trust in the professionalism of our general practitioners than that member clearly indicates.
Barbara Stewart: I seek leave to table an article outlining the pain ranking system being used at the Waitemata District Health Board.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that article. Is there are any objection? There is none.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Barbara Stewart: I seek leave to table an article outlining a survey that shows that general practitioners are dissatisfied, and that their numbers are declining.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that article. Is there any objection? There is.
Early Childhood Education—Quality
4. LYNNE PILLAY (Labour—Waitakere) to the Minister of Education: What steps is he taking to improve the quality of early childhood education?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): The Government is investing an additional $2 million in three new early childhood centres of innovation. The new centres, which will be in addition to the six begun last year, will strengthen the quality of early childhood education by encouraging provider collaboration, facilitating networks of learning support, building research capability, sharing information, and developing leadership.
Lynne Pillay: Why is the Government focused on improving the quality of, and increasing access to, early childhood education?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Early childhood education provides a foundation for future learning, and makes a significant difference to the way children develop and achieve later in their lives. Research shows that access to quality early childhood education has the greatest benefit for children who are least likely to participate, including those from low socio-economic, rural, Mâori, or Pasifika communities.
Hon Brian Donnelly: Will the Minister confirm that kôhanga reo funding is significantly less per student hour than kindergarten funding; and has the Minister heard from Dr Brash or Gerry Brownlee whether National would take immediate steps to increase kôhanga reo funding, to eradicate this race-based funding differential?
Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the question is in order. The second is not.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The member is right—the hourly rate is lower. But the daily rate is higher, so the member is only partially right. I would not hold my breath waiting for Dr Brash to go into bat for Mâori.
Mr SPEAKER: Mr Brownlee has just about reached the edge of the tolerance level, as far as I am concerned. I have been pretty generous this week.
Rod Donald: How is the quality of early childhood education being improved at those centres that currently adjoin, or are based in classrooms of, schools that he is planning to close?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I do not think there are any early childhood education centres on the sites of schools due for closure, if one wants to be absolutely technically correct about it. I think it is probably a hypothetical question that we do not need to go into.
Hon Brian Donnelly: Would the Minister tell the House what the hourly student rate for kindergartens is, and what the hourly student rate for kôhanga reo is?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I do not have those figures to hand, but I can confirm that the hourly rate for kindergartens is higher than that for kôhanga reo, and I confirm that the average daily rate is higher for kôhanga reo than that for kindergartens.
Seabed and Foreshore—Dual Title
5. Dr WAYNE MAPP (National—North Shore) to the Associate Minister of Justice: Will the Government be reviewing its foreshore and seabed proposal to ensure that there will be no dual title of public domain and customary title, given her answer last week that the Government’s proposals provide “methods of communication that are already provided for in the Resource Management Act”?
Hon MARGARET WILSON (Associate Minister of Justice): No.
Dr Wayne Mapp: In that case, can the Minister tell the House which version of the foreshore and seabed policy the public should believe: the view expressed by Mr Mallard that the notion of rights that are not associated with the title is something the public does not understand, or Dr Cullen’s view that the concept is easy to understand, or even Tariana Turia’s view that Crown ownership would be a lot clearer for her people?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: The policy is an iterative process, and in the fullness of time there will be one version that even the Minister can understand!
Russell Fairbrother: Will customary title in any way limit public access to the foreshore or seabed?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: No.
Dail Jones: Why does the Minister not uphold the rule of law and await the Privy Council decision in the Ngâti Apa case on the foreshore and seabed before taking action—a process that would ensure all New Zealanders are treated equally before the law, and could result in a decision that makes New Zealanders’ angst of the last 8 months completely unnecessary?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: The proposal to change the law encompasses more than the rather narrow point of appeal to the Privy Council.
Hon Peter Dunne: Can I take the Minister back to her original answer and ask her whether, in the light of that, she agrees with the statement made as recently as last evening on television by the Prime Minister that the Government’s policy will not see any exclusivity created with regard to the foreshore and seabed?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: That is correct. Nothing has changed.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Why does the Government not simply accept the view of the majority of New Zealanders, both Mâori and non-Mâori, who want Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed, particularly given that Mr Mallard has said: “You never say never to Crown ownership of the foreshore and seabed.”?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: The Government is ensuring that the foreshore and seabed are clearly stated to belong to the people of New Zealand, and that includes all the people of New Zealand.
Dr Wayne Mapp: If it is the view of the Minister, as stated last week and, apparently, now, that the public domain title confers no extra rights on Mâori than they already have under the Resource Management Act, why has the Government put the country to such uncertainty to create this new concept of public domain title, instead of staying with Crown ownership?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: What the Government is doing is ensuring that the foreshore and seabed belong to all people in New Zealand. The specific reference to the Resource Management Act relates to the involvement of all New Zealanders in that process. This proposal enables clear identification of who should be consulted in what circumstances.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Given the Minister’s—
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member cannot do that. I refer him to Speaker’s ruling 142/6. Please start with a question word.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Why is the Government—
Mr SPEAKER: I have called only Dr Mapp. I have made a new ruling, so I am going to be a little careful in how I impose it, but I thank the members who have raised the point. I refer them to Speaker’s ruling 142/6.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Why is the Government persisting with this new concept, which apparently creates no additional rights other than Crown title, in light of the fact that Mr Mallard himself has said it is not something that the public understands?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: The reason why the notion of the people of New Zealand is an important one is that it is an inclusive notion. For many, the Crown is seen as excluding some. The notion of the people of New Zealand includes the Crown.
Questions for Oral Answer
Question No. 4 to Minister
Hon BRIAN DONNELLY (NZ First): In replying to a previous question, the Minister referred to a daily rate for early childhood education. I seek leave to table the pages from the Budget that demonstrate there is an hourly rate for early childhood education, and not a daily rate.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Marine Life—Exotic Marine Pests
6. NANAIA MAHUTA (Labour—Tainui) to the Associate Minister for Biosecurity: What recent progress has been made to protect New Zealand’s marine environment from incursions of exotic marine pests?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Associate Minister for Biosecurity): An international convention has just been adopted, and it will require ships to cleanse their ballast with mid-ocean water while en route to another country. One ship’s ballast water can carry 300 species or more, and, uncleansed, it exposes New Zealand to the potentially devastating effects of exotic marine pests. New Zealand has been involved from the outset in efforts to find an international solution to that international problem, and has provided research and ideas leading directly to the adoption of the convention.
Nanaia Mahuta: Can the Minister explain how New Zealand has managed the problem of ballast water up until now?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: New Zealand already requires visiting ships to exchange ballast water before discharging in our ports. MAF Biosecurity checks over 3,000 international vessels a year, refusing permission for ships to discharge untreated ballast. However, the new convention will strengthen the ability of Government agencies to enforce that obligation.
Seabed and Foreshore—Customary Title
7. STEPHEN FRANKS (ACT) to the Deputy Prime MinisterDeputy Prime Minister: Is the Government foreshore and seabed policy proceeding on the basis that either or both Mâori ancestral connection or mana moana are enough to establish customary title over the foreshore or seabed; if so, why?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister): Customary title will be able to be issued to recognise mana and ancestral connection—that is its purpose.
Stephen Franks: Why did the Deputy Prime Minister tell me and this House on 18 February that the Court of Appeal “did not suggest the amount of foreshore and seabed with which Mâori had ancestral connections was limited to small and discrete areas”, when the court did not mention ancestral connection anywhere whatsoever; and does he now admit that a statement of that kind was technically misleading in the Dalziel sense?
Mr SPEAKER: That last part is out of order. The rest of it can be answered.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: What the Court of Appeal said—and if the member checks his Hansard, I think he will probably find that I actually said this—was that it was their view, but obviously, of course, not a ruling—that the bundle of customary rights that might add up to something like freehold title would be very difficult to demonstrate and would be relatively rare. Of course, that is not the criteria that the Mâori Land Court applies to the determination of customary land status.
Dave Hereora: What imperative informs the Government’s approach to the foreshore and seabed issue?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The proposed framework is designed to ensure that no new private title is issued over foreshore and seabed—a possibility raised by the Ngâti Apa decision—to protect public access, to recognise ancestral connection between tangata whenua and the foreshore and seabed, and to recognise and better protect customary rights.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Why has the Government proposed the dual title of public domain and Mâori customary title for virtually the entire coastline, which then allows Mâori to apply to the Mâori Land Court for customary rights, which might lead to commercial use, in light of the fact that the Court of Appeal said that customary title would be difficult to establish?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Court of Appeal did not refer specifically to customary title. It referred, as I said, to the bundle of customary rights adding up to something like freehold title. That was the primary statement it made in that regard. What, of course, it was asked to rule upon was whether the Mâori Land Court has jurisdiction over the foreshore and seabed in terms of determination of land status, and what it ruled in fact occurred.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Government stand by its statement in its submission to the Waitangi Tribunal that “the new form of customary title will enhance the ability of whânau, hapû, and iwi to ensure their rights are legally recognised”, and does the Government remain committed to real and effective participation by iwi, hapû, and whânau in management and decision making in coastal marine areas?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, but I think what has to be clear is that the level of that participation will depend to a substantial extent on what the current practice is, and what the current level of connection is. The level of connection between Ngâti Porou, for example, and the management of the coastal marine area on the East Coast is clearly significantly greater than that of some other iwi in terms of what has actually been happening in recent times.
Heather Roy: When he said last week that he was “not aware of any hapû or iwi that has surrendered its association with foreshore and seabed”, and that “customary title already exists in the sense that the connection already exists unbroken since 1840”; if he was not claiming that that justified the Government plan to grant customary titles, what point was he making when no court has ever said this?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I was making the point, which I am sure the member would have been acutely aware of if she had attended the number of hui that I have on this matter, that Mâori feel very strongly the continued existence of that mana and ancestral connection tying them to the foreshore and seabed. If members on the other side would simply grasp that essential fact, they would stop talking about policies that would try to eliminate that connection.
Stephen Franks: Can I therefore assume from the Minister’s answer that he accepts that no court has ever said that ancestral connection or mana moana justified customary title, and the sole reason is because Mâori feel that is what they would like?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It would perhaps be helpful if the member actually read clause 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a serious issue, and I would ask you to consider how, in any way, shape, or form, the Minister’s answer addressed the question raised by Mr Franks. If he thinks the Treaty of Waitangi provides some explanation of this issue, then I think he should explain that to this House.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: That is a debating matter. I would be happy to debate clause 2 with the member outside, as I am engaged in an interesting debate with some Mâori over the nature of clause 3.
Stephen Franks: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Treaty of Waitangi has been expressly excluded by the Prime Minister as having a bearing on this matter and these titles. The point of order is that the Minister knows that and made no attempt to answer the question. He simply made a completely distracting and diversionary comment.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I thought the Minister addressed the question.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I have ruled on that matter.
Rodney Hide: This is a new point of order. Is it then going to be the case that on any question where the Government does not want to answer on the seabed or foreshore issue—
Hon Parekura Horomia: Get it right!
Mr SPEAKER: That is the only warning today.
Rodney Hide —it will be taken as an acceptable answer to a serious and genuine question of public importance for a Minister just to say “read article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi”, and sit down?
Mr SPEAKER: No. However, I think the Minister has indicated that he will give a fuller answer to this, and that might solve the difficulty.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. What concerns me is that in response to the question just asked, you said “No”. That is exactly what you permitted just a few moments before.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, and I am not immune to making mistakes either. Dr Cullen will now say something further.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Your “No” referred to that being a sufficient answer on any occasion, not on that particular question.
Mr SPEAKER: That is absolutely right. That is why I said what I said.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: My answer was adequate.
Before 1840 Mâori had connection with all the foreshore and seabed of New Zealand. The Treaty of Waitangi guaranteed certain rights to Mâori under article 2. That connection remains unbroken from then to the present day. If members opposite are not prepared to recognise that connection, then any solution they come up with, however they phrase it, will ensure that there will be continued problems in this respect into the future.
Hon Peter Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Over recent months I have observed a tendency in this House that every time there is an answer to a question that is less than fulsome you are being required to rule whether a Minister addressed the question. My understanding of the Standing Orders is that you are not obliged, or required, to rule on the quality or content of an answer, which could be seen to be at variance with the ruling that a Minister has addressed the question. It essentially becomes a subjective judgment.
plethora of Points of Order
on this subject every question time, I wonder whether it might not be in order for you to look again at the various rulings about what constitutes an answer and the quality of that answer—for which you are not responsible—and what constitutes addressing the question. It seems to me that you are essentially being placed in a no-win situation every time there is an answer of whatever quality or length and someone says: “I don’t think the Minister addressed the question.” You, as the impartial arbiter, are being forced to make a judgment that I do not think sits with your office.
Mr SPEAKER: I accept the responsibilities of the office I have, but I think the member’s suggestion is a good one. I will look at that, and perhaps bring down a full statement to the House next week.
Conservation, Department—Assistance to Communities
8. GEORGINA BEYER (Labour—Wairarapa) to the Minister of Conservation: Has he received any reports on the Department of Conservation’s efforts to assist communities during recent natural disasters?
Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): Yes. We can all be proud of the efforts of departmental staff to assist communities during both the recent disastrous floods and the earlier fires. The Department of Conservation’s Wanganui conservancy has reported to me that it has assisted people affected by the floods with equipment and labour. One Department of Conservation team spent 2 days cleaning out flooded houses in the township of Waitotara, working with the South Taranaki fire crew.
Georgina Beyer: What has been the response of rural communities to the department’s firefighting efforts?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: Farmers have been fulsome in their praise of the department’s firefighting, which saved lives and property. Robert Shuker
from the Mount Somers community said that the philosophy of the Department of Conservation of hitting fires hard and fast basically had saved Ashburton’s bacon. He said if the Department of Conservation had not stop the fire, it could have travelled down the riverbed and threatened Ashburton itself.
Simon Power: Will the Minister confirm that he has done absolutely everything he can to ensure all steps have been taken to avoid a lahar from Mount Ruapehu, an event that, if it occurred now or in the near future, would add to the massive devastation already impacting on the Manawatu-Rangitikei as a result of recent flooding?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: The primary question today was about fires and the recent floods, but I am happy to comment on that question.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister can answer.
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I am happy to comment on that question.
Mr SPEAKER: Please do so.
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I myself—
Mr SPEAKER: I wish the Minister would answer the question. He was asked a question, and I want him to answer it. He should not have made that introductory comment.
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I am endeavouring to do so. I would like to point out to the House that I am not obliged to, but I am happy to.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister will now stand, withdraw, and apologise to me, then he will answer the question.
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I withdraw and apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: Please answer the question.
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I can assure the member that I personally visited the lahar last year, that my staff are focused on this issue, and that the Government is taking every step it possibly can to avoid what is a natural phenomenon that has occurred many times before and will occur many times again.
Brent Catchpole199Brent Catchpole: What discussions has the Minister had with other Ministers regarding the need for assistance for communities following the recent storms; especially, has he received any assurances as to the form and timing of that assistance, and, in particular, when the assistance take place; if not, why not?
Mr SPEAKER: There were three questions there. The Minister may answer two of them.
Hon CHRIS CARTER: As Minister of Local Government and Minister of Conservation, I am responsible for the operation of my own department in that area. Primarily, emergency response is the responsibility of another Minister. However, I can assure that member that the Government and Cabinet are very focused on those issues, and we are working hard on them.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance. Given that the primary question did not clarify which natural disaster, will you accept a question about the floods in the Manawatu?
Mr SPEAKER: Yes.
Brent CatchpoleBrent Catchpole199: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like you to reflect on the answer from the Minister to my question. I asked when such assistance would be in place. I do not believe he answered that question.
Mr SPEAKER: The member actually asked three questions. The Minister answered at least two of them, and that is all he is required to do.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Has the Government called for any reports on the extent to which the flooding and slips in the Manawatu might have been exacerbated by deforestation and land management in the catchment, and are there any plans for reforestation to limit the seriousness of any future disasters?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I have asked the Department of Conservation to give me a full report on the impact of the recent floods, which, of course, were the subject of the primary question today. I am awaiting that report.
Small Business, Minister—Reported Comments
9. Hon ROGER SOWRY (National) to the Minister for Small Business: Who was he referring to when he was talking about the “big end of town” in a recent speech, and does he stand by his statement that he is “getting a bit tired of hearing their knee-jerk responses and a tendency to view everything by way of victimhood, with the Government to blame”?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Small Business): Business New Zealand, the Business Roundtable, and yes.
Hon Roger Sowry: Does he realise that Business New Zealand represents 76,000 businesses in New Zealand, from the very smallest size and right across 54 industry groups; and, therefore, should he not be willing to accept its right to speak on behalf of small business, rather than to have him label it as a whinger?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Firstly, I have never labelled it as a whinger. Secondly, it is one thing to lobby Governments; it is another thing to become a political appendage to the National Party.
Darren Hughes: What feedback has he received from actual small businesses, and what are some of the steps this Government is taking to ensure that small businesses continue to prosper?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I have received heaps of positive feedback from people who, hands-on, have grown their small businesses. For example, Jane Stanton from the Seriously Good Chocolate Company was enthusiastic, and described the event as much needed and positive. She also said that the work already done to simplify tax and address compliance costs was helpful.
Mike Ward: What are the hard-working small business people the Minister referred to in his speech telling him about the negative impacts of the “big box” stores on businesses in their communities, and what steps is he taking to support them against the unfair competition from “big box” stores that locate on town fringes, where they enjoy lower rates and lower rents and undermine the town centres?
Mr SPEAKER: That is very wide, but the Minister may comment very briefly.
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: We are grateful for all forms of advice.
Hon Roger Sowry: Has small business expressed any support for the proposed changes to the industrial relations law that Labour is currently trying to enact; if so, for which parts of it?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: A huge number of submissions have been made to the relevant specialist select committee in that regard, and I am awaiting the outcome of its considerations.
Hon Roger Sowry: Has the Minister received any support for the proposed changes to the industrial relations law that this Government is proposing; if so, which part of the law do small businesses support?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: No.
10. GORDON COPELAND (United Future) to the Minister of Customs: Has he received any reports that discuss the merits of his proposed border security levy; if so, have any of the report’s findings given him cause to reconsider whether or not to go ahead with the proposed levy?
Hon RICK BARKER (Minister of Customs): Yes, I have received a number of reports on the merits of the proposed levy. I am pleased to confirm that none of those reports so far have led me to conclude that the levy should be dropped.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister agree with the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report dated December 2003, where it states that on the basis of the Treasury’s own guidelines a policy of full or even significant cost recovery of the additional $20 million expenditure on supply of security from importers and export transport operators is unjustifiable; if not, why not?
Hon RICK BARKER: I suggest that the member look at the beginning of the—sorry, the NZEI. Yes, I have read that report. I had the wrong one. I would just say to the member: one of the things that is said in the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report is that the second objective of the Customs Service is to provide an increased level of security over New Zealand’s trade, so trading partners are assured that this trade poses little or no threat to them. Then the report goes on to conclude that there is no mention in this paragraph about trade access. That is a ridiculous statement to make. The logic in that report is flawed in almost every respect.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There was some confusion there. I wonder whether the Minister could confirm for us that he was reading the right answer to that supplementary question.
Mr SPEAKER: No. The member is just trying to be silly.
Clayton Cosgrove: What are the benefits for exporters from the proposed new border security arrangements?
Hon RICK BARKER: There are many benefits, but most important, the proposed arrangements will ensure that exporters are able to comply with security requirements of importing countries before their goods arrive at their border, ensuring a rapid and certain clearance of their goods, rather than uncertainties that may arise in costly delays. Second, and more important, exporters will be able to choose the port they wish to export from—all 13 New Zealand seaports or every airport—with unrestricted choice. This is a different model from what is being proposed by overseas countries, where some ports are secure cleared and others are not.
Shane Ardern: Is the Minister aware that all New Zealand’s export industries, which represent 70 percent of the country’s income, all of our shipping companies, all of our airline companies, and anybody else who is involved in exporting or importing, is 100 percent opposed to the $20 million extra tax this Minister will impose on them; if he is, will he do a U-turn on this stupid socialist tax?
Hon RICK BARKER: Mr Ardern, as usual, has things back to front. First, exporters are being requested to consider paying for $8 million, importers $4 million, and trans-shippers $8 million.
Shane Ardern: Add them up.
Hon RICK BARKER: In fact, trans-shippers are not New Zealand exporters. They are trans-shippers, they are foreign nationals, they are not New Zealanders, and so it is not New Zealand business. I also want to say that I have spoken to many, many exporters who agree with the model being proposed by the New Zealand Customs Service, and support it.
Peter Brown: Does the Minister ever recall stating that increased border security was in the interests of everyone? If he does recall that, why is he imposing the charges only against cargo interests and carriers, and not funding it from Government coffers?
Hon RICK BARKER: Currently the Government meets over 50 percent of the costs of border security. This proposal is not entirely about New Zealand’s border security, it is about getting security clearance for New Zealand goods to enter overseas countries. If we do not have this free clearance, then those goods will be held up on foreign borders, and will incur extra costs. This is about getting access to our foreign markets for those exporters, and it is therefore in the exporters’ interests to have this clearance.
Gordon Copeland: Is the Minister in agreement with the report from Capital Economics dated January 2004, which states that in regard to the proposed levy on importers there exists a “strong and incontrovertible public-good argument for general taxpayer funding, and very little case, if any, for taxing imports”; if not, why not?
Hon RICK BARKER: I have read the document by Capital Economics, and I would refer the member to the first part of it, which says that those who act on the basis of its recommendations do so at their own risk. It seems to me to be a disclaimer, and the member should take that into account before making any reliable statements on it.
Peter Brown: I seek leave to table a press release by the Minister where he states that border security is in the interests of everyone.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document, is there any objection? There is.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister agree that the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament on 10 February: “The security of New Zealanders is also a core responsibility of government” applies to border security; if so, why?
Hon RICK BARKER: That statement is absolutely true, but this proposal is not about meeting New Zealand’s border security, it is about meeting the security requirements of those countries that import our goods. If we do not have this prior security clearance for them, then our goods could suffer significant delays and extra cost. This is absolutely in the interests of exporters.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister not agree that a key service outcome for the proposed border security initiatives will be enhanced security for New Zealanders from the possible actions of terrorists, who could, for example, bring in a bomb in an import container that could kill scores of innocent people in one of our major cities such as Auckland, and does he continue to say that the Crown has no responsibility for such a thing?
Hon RICK BARKER: Of course the Crown has absolute responsibility for that, and that is why we currently fund the New Zealand Customs Service and will continue to do so. Those elements are the responsibility of the New Zealand taxpayer, and we meet them. What the member confuses is that we are making a proposal to meet the security clearance issues for people who are importing our goods. Prior security clearance means our goods will get through their borders quickly and efficiently. Without it, they will not.
Gordon Copeland: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek leave to table the document from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, which states that this step is unjustifiable.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Gordon Copeland: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek leave to table the report from Capital Economics Ltd, which states that there is an incontrovertible public-good argument.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Mâori Affairs, Minister—Customary Title
11. Hon KEN SHIRLEY (Deputy Leader—ACT) to the Minister of Maori Affairs: What does he believe customary title confers?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Maori Affairs): No more or no less than that left to me and my whânau by my tûpuna.
Hon Ken Shirley: Trying to put some flesh on that answer—
Hon Tariana Turia: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is really inappropriate for people to laugh about language or issues they do not understand. That is highly rude and offensive.
Mr SPEAKER: I urge all members to take care when they are making any comment whatsoever about anyone else, and I think the point of order has some merit.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I heard you say that you thought that point of order from Tariana Turia had some merit. That challenges a member’s right to ask a question in this House.
Mr SPEAKER: No, please be seated. I was not referring to either the question or the answer. I was referring to extraneous comments made during the answer—not comments made by the member.
Hon Ken Shirley: In endeavouring to expand on the Minister’s reply, does he believe that customary title granted over the foreshore and seabed confers the right of special consideration, in matters such as resource management applications or marine permit applications, that other New Zealanders who do not hold those customary titles do not enjoy; if so, why?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: No. I would ask that member and other members who like to deny their Mâori whakapapa to read the deliveries that we have developed.
Hon Maurice WilliamsonHon Maurice Williamson115: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is not often I take a point of order like this, but I have no idea what that answer meant. Maybe the translator from Mâori could give us a better idea of that answer.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I heard the member’s first word, which was “No.” I think I understand that, and that was a direct answer to the question. The member said “No.” I heard the word “No”, and I checked that with an authority close to me. I heard him say “No.” You cannot get a more direct answer than that.
Mahara Okeroa: Why is the Government continuing to have discussions on this proposal?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The foreshore and seabed proposal is significant and complex. It is of major importance, especially to Mâori, and certainly to all New Zealanders. We are committed to getting it right, rather than to assuming and making brash, divisive statements.
Gerry Brownlee: Does the Minister accept that some of us in this House are very keen to understand what he means—[Interruption] Who said that?
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. I heard an inappropriate comment from a member. I want that member to stand, withdraw, and apologise for it, and then he will leave the House. Please stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Mahara Okeroa: I stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: Please leave the House.
Mahara Okeroa: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: No. There is no point of order. I have asked the member to leave, and he will obey my instruction.
Mahara Okeroa withdrew from the Chamber.Withdrawal from Chamber
David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I heard the words uttered. I was close by, and the words uttered were: “Who said that?”. I do not understand the offence that could be taken from that.
Mr SPEAKER: I do, because I said there were to be no interjections during questions. I have given a warning already today, and my word will be taken.
Gerry Brownlee: Does the Minister accept that some of us in this House are interested in knowing more about—as the question originally asked—his views on what a customary title confers, and could he then please expand on the answer he gave originally this afternoon?
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the interests of consistency, before you call the Minister, I advise you that we had Dr Mapp interjecting. Does he get to stay in the House?
Mr SPEAKER: I did not hear Dr Mapp interject. Did he interject?
Dr Wayne Mapp: I did not interject. I may have said something to my colleague.
Mr SPEAKER: I did not hear the member interject. If he said he did not, I take his word.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I am more than appreciative that a lot of people want to understand this better. So do a lot of Mâori. A customary title enables the title-holder to participate in the Resource Management Act processes and to apply for customary right, which is a property right.
Dr Muriel Newman: What is the Minister’s response to the comments made today by the Treaty Tribes Coalition that the Government’s handling of the whole foreshore and seabed issue has made Mâori and Pâkehâ bitterly angry, and is now “harming race relations, dividing New Zealand, and undermining the rule of law.”?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA:
[Translation to be inserted]
Mâori Language / Te ReoInterpretation ProvidedHOROMIA, Hon PAREKURA[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]
Dr Muriel Newman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That answer did not appear to address the question that I asked. If the Minister would like me to repeat the question, I would be happy to do so.
Mr SPEAKER: I thought the Minister did address the question, by stating that he did not agree with the comments. That was the interpretation of the first part of the answer.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Your Mâori may well be better than mine—
Mr SPEAKER: It is not.
Rodney Hide: If Mr Cunliffe is going to sit there and chip—
Mr SPEAKER: Mr Cunliffe will leave the Chamber.
Hon David Cunliffe withdrew from the Chamber.Withdrawal from Chamber
Rodney Hide: I did not hear the Minister say that he did not agree with the comments made by the Treaty Tribes Coalition. You have said that he did, and I am at a loss because it seems to me that we now have two replies.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not need any assistance on this matter. I interpreted what the Minister said to mean that, and I therefore assess that he addressed the question. He most certainly did.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I have ruled on the point of order.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I understand from the Minister and from some of the other members in the House that the interpretation was not quite as full as it could have been, and I ask whether the Minister could have permission to reinterpret the comments.
Mr SPEAKER: He does not need it, but it would be helpful to all if he did.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: It is important for me as a Mâori—understanding that those revered elders are in the gallery at present—not to respond to a testing question by a person like that that is really of tikanga relevance.
Mr SPEAKER: The member must not refer to people sitting in the gallery, because that brings them into the debate. The only people involved in the Chamber are the 120 members who are sitting here and who—I want to say—are entitled to sit here. I say to the Minister that perhaps he could rephrase his answer without referring to anybody in the gallery.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are now in a very difficult situation. We had an answer by the Minister of Mâori Affairs in Mâori. We then had an interpretation of what he said. Mr Mallard said that the interpretation of the answer was not a full interpretation, so we know that we have not heard the full answer. We then had the Minister of Mâori Affairs offer in English what he said in Mâori, which was completely different to the interpretation that we had. We have had three answers—all different—to the one question. How can that help the House?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: That point of order—and my understanding is that Mâori is a language that is capable of a range of interpretation into English, which is one of the problems with the treaty—is irrelevant, because you ruled the answer out of order and required the Minister to give a different one.
Hon Roger Sowry: This may be a new point of order. I will let you judge that, Mr Speaker. It arises out of this issue, and I think it is something you will have to go away and consider. We have a situation where a Minister has used, as is his right, the opportunity to give an answer in Mâori. The interpretation has then been given and another member has said—or the Minister whispered to him—that the interpretation, to quote Mr Mallard, was not “as full as it could have been”. Permission was given—which did not need to be given—for the Minister to interpret his own answer. I would like a considered ruling from the Speaker on when the onus is on a member who speaks in Mâori to correct an interpretation. We do get into a difficult situation—particularly in question time, when Ministers, if they give an incorrect answer, have to come to the Chamber at the first opportunity to correct it—when an answer is given in Mâori and the Minister deems that it was not interpreted correctly. At what point should the Minister be required to give the correct interpretation?
Mr SPEAKER: The last point the member raised is a slightly new one. I will go away and think about that. He has asked me to do that, and I will certainly do so. The interpretation is not necessarily a full one. The Minister accepted an invitation to elaborate on it, not to interpret it, and no one is obliged to do that. But I will have a look at the whole issue over the weekend.
Hon Brian Donnelly: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is really about procedure. Quite clearly, when the Minister spoke in Mâori, he referred to a member on the Opposition side of the House in the second person. We know, when we speak in the House in English, that we are not allowed to use the second person because we are referring to you as the Speaker. We have a critical situation now, because members—and rightly so—are able to use the Mâori language, and the same rules should apply.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not need any help on this. I ask the Minister of Mâori Affairs whether he did refer to me in the second person in his answer. Could he indicate whether he did or did not do so?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I did refer to, and I mentioned in the interpretation, “that person”.
Mr SPEAKER: “That person”—not referring specifically to me as “you”? I accept that.
Hon Brian Donnelly: The point is that he used the term “you”.
Mr SPEAKER: If he used the term “you”, he was out of order, no matter whether he spoke in English or in Mâori. But he said he did not.
Dr Muriel Newman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sorry to drag this on, but I seek clarification. In the Minister’s answer in English, he said that he would not respond to my question. I thought that the point of question time is that Ministers are required to respond to the question asked. I seek your clarification on that issue, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: This is elaboration. Perhaps if the Minister wants to make any further comment, he can do so.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: No.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is an important issue. I draw your attention to Standing Order 370(1), which supports the reasoning of my colleague Muriel Newman, in that the only answer she received was that the Minister would not answer, whereas Standing Order 370(1) clearly states: “An answer that seeks to address the question asked must be given if it can be given consistently with the public interest.” I would have thought that the issue in question here is certainly consistent with the public interest.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I repeat that the answer was ruled out of order, in any case, but even so, that judgment about what is in the public interest must lie with Ministers. No one else can make that judgment about what is or is not in the public interest in the nature of the answer. That has been clear at all times with regard to that particular Standing Order. If I can elaborate, the answer given related to the fact that persons in the gallery were responsible for the statement. Because of the member’s feeling and respect for those people, he would, therefore, not respond to the question. That was ruled out of order. Surely it is time to move on from an answer that has been already ruled out of order.
Mr SPEAKER: I ruled that the Minister’s original answer did address the question. When he elaborated, that was out of order, and I ruled it so. This is going too far.
Stephen Franks: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that in response to an earlier point of order by the Hon Peter Dunne, you indicated that you would consider the extent to which the Speaker can, or should, make a judgment on whether a question has been addressed. I ask you to consider the Deputy Prime Minister’s comment, and to give an indication as to whether that is an approach—or if there is any element of that approach—you will favour. If Dr Cullen is correct in saying that the Speaker must leave it to the Minister’s judgment as to whether a matter is in the public interest—when Mr Horomia patently said that he will not answer a question as relevant for everyone as the question about the foreshore and seabed—then there is no meaning to Standing Order 370(1).
Mr SPEAKER: I have been asked by Mr Sowry to give a considered ruling to this, and I will over the weekend.
Hon Brian Donnelly: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to continue with the point of order that I was making before, because the Minister, when he was speaking in Mâori, clearly used the Mâori word for “you”. He then said in his translation that it was “that person”. My question—and I think we need to sort this out—is: do the rules that apply to us when we deliver answers in English apply in the same way when delivery is in Mâori? The question is not a put-down, or anything else. It is purely and simply about getting clarification.
Mr SPEAKER: The answer is yes. I have already ruled that way.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that, with all due respect to members who have raised issues about who said what, and whether it was appropriate in one language or another, the real point is that the Minister told the House that he would not answer, because he did not want to offend people who are in the gallery. That cannot be accepted as an acceptable answer to the question.
Mr SPEAKER: That was his elaboration. I have ruled it out of order.
Gerry Brownlee: It was not an elaboration; it was a translation of the answer he gave to the House. Surely an answer cannot be: “I am not going to answer you, because I may offend people in the gallery.” Surely the Minister must now address the question.
Mr SPEAKER: The original question was addressed, and I allowed the answer. The other matter was out of order, and I did not allow it.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have a very serious situation in front of us. The Minister himself said that the translation he gave in English was not full. He said something in Mâori, and people who cannot speak Mâori did not know what it meant. He was then invited by you, Mr Speaker, to give the full translation. He stood up and said that he was not prepared to give an answer, because of people in the gallery. I assume that that is not what he said in Mâori the first time. I suspect that we have a Minister who is prepared to say some things in the House in Mâori, and is not prepared to have them said in English.
Mr SPEAKER: The interpretation was given. The Minister then elaborated, and the elaboration was ruled out of order. He was not obliged to elaborate, so it does not affect his original answer, which stands.
Hon Ken Shirley: In view of the Minister’s response to my primary question, when he clearly stated that customary title does not confer special consideration to any holder that is not held by all New Zealanders, could he tell the House whether this whole issue is just one big smokescreen, and whether the country is tearing itself apart for no good reason, because of the duplicity and constant changes that his Government is making in regard to this issue?
Mr SPEAKER: There were about three questions there. The Minister will address two of them.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: This Government’s policies are the same as they were before. It is being consistent to ensure that it recognises the rights of all New Zealanders.
John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you give us some clarification of the interpretation of the Minister’s response? The Minister made a comment in Mâori, and it was interpreted. Then, during the course of the discussion, Mr Mallard said that the interpretation was not as full and as accurate as it should have been, and suggested that the Minister might give his own interpretation, which he did. That was then ruled out of order, so does that mean that the interpretation given by the interpreter now stands? I want to know what we are going to have in the records. What is correct, and what is—
Mr SPEAKER: Yes. It does stand as an interpretation, and it addressed the question.
John Carter: Even so, the Minister has said that it is not a full and accurate reflection.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did not say that at all. Parekura Horomia did not say that at all.
Gerry Brownlee: I seek leave at this time to table two documents. One is a letter written by me to the Hon Parekura Horomia asking for a briefing from his departmental officials.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Gerry Brownlee: I seek leave to table a reply from the Hon Parekura Horomia declining such a briefing.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Ken Shirley: I think that we have not resolved this issue. Could I make a helpful suggestion, Mr Speaker? You undertook to consider another matter over the weekend. Could I suggest that in response to question No. 11—and the various interpretations and lack of responses that we have had—you consider that over the weekend and listen to the Hansard tapes to see whether, in fact, the interpretation that you have just given to the House is the correct one. I understand there is considerable confusion, but it would be helpful if you would do that and report back to us next week.
Mr SPEAKER: This is a point of order and I am ruling on it. I have said that I will come with a ruling in answer to the question made by the Hon. Roger Sowry. I refer Mr Shirley to Speaker’s ruling 34/5.
Ron Mark: I will try to be helpful, Mr Speaker. As I sit here as an observer, not partaking in any of the discussion, can I share with you an observation that you might bear in mind when you are making those deliberations? The first observation is that it is not often that we have an MP stand up and immediately make a statement in Mâori and carry it on through. That tends to catch the parliamentary staff a little unawares. If that statement is lengthy, there is a possibility that the staff required to stand up and interpret may not, in fact, get the full gist of the message. I think on some occasions it is likely and very possible that we may not get an exact interpretation, and that makes it very hard for you as the Speaker to judge whether people have been outside of Standing Orders, because you may not have received an exact interpretation, which other people who are more fluent in Mâori may have. That creates a problem.
Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member for that helpful suggestion. I refer him to Speaker’s ruling 34/5. I will certainly consider what he is saying.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: You have referred the House to Speaker’s ruling 34/5. You did not tell us what it said. It says that, regardless of the translation given in the House, when Hansard is recorded a translation will be made for incorporation into Hansard. If, when the translation of the statement in Mâori was made for Hansard, it were to differ from the translation given in the House, and that different translation were to be out of order, how do you then handle that matter when you have ruled that the translation in the House was in order, yet a translation that goes into Hansard may be out of order? How would you handle that circumstance?
Mr SPEAKER: If it is out of order, I will come back to the House and announce so.
Refugees—Deportation, Sri Lanka
12. KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the Associate Minister of Immigration: Will he review his decision to allow the deportation of a 16-year-old Sri Lankan girl in light of questions being raised as to whether the plan he put in place for her care in Sri Lanka will provide for her welfare or indeed even exists?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Corrections), on behalf of the Associate Minister of Immigration: The Associate Minister of Immigration made a decision not to intervene in the removal process. The decision was upheld by the High Court. The Associate Minister has advised that he will not be reviewing his decision.
.Keith Locke: Were any of the safe members of the girl’s family in Sri Lanka, who the Minister said could help her, contacted before she was deported; if so, who were they?
Hon PAUL SWAIN, on behalf of the Associate Minister of Immigration: I am not aware of the detail of that. I can confirm that the girl is in a convent and could be there for some time.
Keith Locke: Will the Minister offer the girl and her grandmother the right to return to New Zealand in view of the uncertainty about her future beyond the temporary accommodation she is in and the possibility that she will be separated from her—
Mr SPEAKER: Because we are in the last supplementary question, I want Mr Mark to stand, withdraw, and apologise for interjecting on Mr Locke—or whomever it was who interjected on Mr Locke. Who interjected on Mr Locke?
Ron Mark: I withdraw and apologise for interjecting.
Mr SPEAKER: Please ask the question again.
Keith Locke: Will the Minister offer the girl and her grandmother the opportunity to return to New Zealand in view of the uncertainty surrounding the girl’s future beyond the temporary accommodation she is in and the possibility that she will be separated from her grandmother, who is her prime support person?
Hon PAUL SWAIN, on behalf of the Associate Minister of Immigration: The Associate Minister has advised that he will not be reviewing the case.
End of Questions for Oral Answer
(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)