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Questions and Answers For Oral Answer Wed March 3

Questions and Answers For Oral Answer Wednesday, 3 March 2004

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

Questions for Oral Answer 1

Questions to Ministers 1

Treaty Claims—Settlement 1

Crimes Act—Gangs 2

Schools—Closures, Invercargill 3

Regulations—Complaints 4

Question No. 3 to Minister 4

Question No. 2 to Minister 5

Economic Development—Limited Employment Locations 5

Crown Forestry Rental Trust—Costs 6

Employment Relations Law Reform Bill—Reports 6

World Trade Organization—Multilateral Negotiations 7

Disputes Tribunal—Cases 7

Tourism—International Media Profile 8

Resource Management Act—Mâori Participation 8

Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Amendment Bill—Reclassification 9

Questions to Members 9

Employment Relations Law Reform Bill—Submissions 9

Question No. 2 to Minister 9

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers

Treaty Claims—Settlement

1. Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs: Does he agree with the Minister for Social Development and Employment, the Hon Steve Maharey, that: “It is perhaps time to set a date when all grievances must be settled so we can all move on,”; if not, why not?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Mâori Affairs): Yes. The settlement process needs to be sped up, but I have not considered a deadline.

Hon Richard Prebble: Would the Minister advise Parliament whether this answer means that he has done a U-turn on treaty policies and the policy is now different, in which case, in what way; and, if he has made no U-turn on the settlement of treaty grievances, can we conclude that it is business as usual?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I have been consistent. As I said in a media statement on 3 April 2003: “It is in everyone’s interests that a process for resolving claims happens as quickly as possible,”. There is no U-turn from this Minister.

Dave Hereora: Does the Minister consider that the treaty will still be relevant in 20 years’ time?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Yes. Even when all historical claims are settled, the Crown continues to have an ongoing obligation to Mâori under the treaty. This is an obligation that this Government takes seriously.

Gerry Brownlee: Did the Minister see the One News item last night, in which the Prime Minister said on this matter: “I neither support nor don’t support it.”, and then did he see—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: That is the one warning about interjecting while questions are being asked, and that is the only warning today.

Gerry Brownlee: Did the Minister see last night’s One News, in which the Prime Minister was quoted on this matter as saying: “I neither support nor don’t support it.”; then did he read this morning her changed position, when she said: “I didn’t get where I am today without being concerned about public opinion.”, and does he think that that may, in fact, indicate that this Minister soon will be doing a U-turn?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: No, I did not see the news, because I was very busy, as a Mâori Minister, doing other things, nor did I read the newspaper this morning, because I was, again, busy doing other things. I tell that member that there is no U-turn from this Minister of Mâori Affairs, but I am interested in what the spokesperson for Mâori Affairs in that party is on about. Tell me about your policy.

Mr SPEAKER: The last sentence is out of order. It is not in order to ask a member to tell another member about his policy. That can come in the course of debate.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I understand the Minister’s intention. Notwithstanding the comment you just made, I therefore seek leave to indicate to the House the National Party’s exact policy direction in that matter.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to do that. Is there any objection? There is. [Interruption] That is for me to say, but I agree with the member.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, the Minister erred, not because he asked Mr Brownlee a question but because he asked you about your Mâori Affairs policy. I know you have one, but that party does not.

Mr SPEAKER: I am flattered to think that, after 36 years, I have had the odd comment to make about the odd thing, but I think the member was technically correct. We will now move on.

Metiria Turei: Does the Minister agree that the treaty settlement process is about providing just resolution to our nation’s historical conflicts, so should not be subject to a unilaterally imposed time limit, whether it be the totally unreasonable 2008 deadline of the ACT party, or the more generous but still unachievable 10 years opined by the Hon Steve Maharey?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: This Government will not compromise the integrity of the process, as we want settlements to be fair and durable and to be understood by the two partners in this country, brought together by the Treaty of Waitangi.

Pita Paraone: Would it not be preferable for all New Zealanders that the time frame spoken about be applied to the lodging of claims, rather than that mentioned by the Minister’s colleague the Minister for Social Development and Employment, the Hon Steve Maharey, as that would allow for fair and enduring settlements to be negotiated unconstrained by time; if not, why not?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I say to my learned friend from Ngâpuhi that, most certainly, it is something we need to consider.

Hon Peter Dunne: In light of the Minister’s comments yesterday, will he be taking specific proposals to Cabinet at some point in the future to give effect to his support for a specific limit being introduced?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: That is for the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations to forward. We continually have good discussions in Cabinet about the treaty.

Hon Ken Shirley: In light of the Minister’s comment that neither he nor his Cabinet have engaged in a U-turn, and that they are conducting business as usual, how does he reconcile the statement made by his colleague the Attorney-General, who a week and a half ago said that a time limit was impossible, with the statements made by Minister Steve Maharey, who said that we must have a time limit? How can he reconcile those two positions and call them “business as usual”?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: As with leadership U-turns, Ministers can have separate opinions. That is what makes this Government strong.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister received any reports on the viability of such suggestions made previously, as best evidenced by these comments: “National completely rejects the separatist policies pursued by Labour. Our goal must be, over time, to eliminate all legislation based on race.”—a quotation from a speech made at Orewa by Jim Bolger on 23 January 1990?


Metiria Turei: Does the Minister agree with comments made yesterday by Shane Jones and other Mâori leaders that it is not just Mâori but also the Crown that drags the chain on the settlement of historical wrongs?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: That is correct. From time to time, that is right.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I ask the Minister again what reports has he had on the viability of such commitments and promises, as best evidenced, in historic terms, by these comments: “From this point on, my Government will maintain a non-racist stance by pursuing policies that deal with disadvantage solely on the basis of need, not race.”, in an “I have a dream” speech by Jim Bolger on 23 January 1990—for the New Zealand Herald’s sake?

Mr SPEAKER: What were the member’s first words?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: “Has he had any reports on the viability”—

Mr SPEAKER: Members can ask that.

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The notion, nuances, and development of the fiscal envelope by that party are well known.

Rodney Hide: Is the House to take from the Minister’s answers today that the Government’s policy is to speed up the treaty settlement process, but to do so without an end date in mind, and so, therefore, to speed up the process and keep it going for ever and a day?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The member may wish that, but no.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the “I have a dream” speech made on 23 January 1990 at, of all places, Orewa, where all these things seemed to be so new.

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

Hon Richard Prebble: Is the House to conclude from the Minister’s remarks that he has been working as hard as he can to make settlements as fast as he can, that he will continue to be busy, busy, and that settlements will be made no faster in the future than they were in the past?

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have now gone a fair way from the original question. We now have the Minister being asked a question for which he is not responsible. The Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations is responsible for treaty settlements, not the Minister of Mâori Affairs.

Hon Richard Prebble: Of course the House knows that is not so. The Minister of Mâori Affairs has a significant role in the settlement process. His officials give advice and he gives advice—in fact he has just told us that he might be one of the Ministers who has been dragging the chain. If he can say that about himself, why can I not ask questions about his performance?

Mr SPEAKER: I will settle it this way. The Minister can answer in so far as his responsibilities allow him to do so on this particular issue.

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: As usual, the Government is making its best endeavours, and we act in the collective here. There is no U-turn about that.

Crimes Act—Gangs

2. MARC ALEXANDER (United Future) to the Minister of Justice: Is he confident that section 98A of the Crimes Act 1961 concerning participation in a criminal gang is being utilised effectively to combat the spread of gangs and their related criminal activities; if so, why?

Hon MARGARET WILSON (Acting Minister of Justice): Yes. Since the Government made changes to section 98A in 2002, the number of prosecutions brought by the police has increased dramatically. Last year 76 prosecutions under section 98A were brought, compared with the total of 16 for the 5 years previously. So far 10 of those charges have resulted in convictions for that offence. Some of the remaining cases presumably are yet to be determined by the ourts.

Marc Alexander: Noting the Minister’s answer—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member should start his question with a question word. That is not a question word. We had that issue raised, quite properly, by Mr Brownlee last week. I have ruled that supplementary questions have to begin with a question word.

Marc Alexander: Why is it that in the last 4 years, only a pathetic 12 people have actually been convicted of participation in a criminal gang, when the Government’s own figures suggest there are at least 10,000 gang members out there, and what possible confidence can the public have that the Government is doing anything to halt the rise of gangs and the gang-controlled drug industry, in particular the P epidemic, when the average period of imprisonment for those 12 people was a paltry 16½ months?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: The statistics relating to convictions are a matter for the courts. In the process, I understand that although charges are frequently brought under section 98A, they are normally brought in conjunction with other charges. That is why there are fewer convictions. Presumably during the period, charges are sometimes withdrawn or not proceeded with, when convictions are already received for other offences.

Tim Barnett: What was the nature of the changes made by the Government in 2002 to section 98A of the Crimes Act?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: The changes made to section 98A simplified the legal test for what constituted an organised criminal group. It broadened the scope of who could be considered to be a member of that group, and it increased the maximum penalty for participation in a criminal gang from 3 to 5 years’ imprisonment. Police noted that the changes made by the Government to that section made the law “more relevant to the gang situation within New Zealand” and anticipated an increase in the use of this charge, as the statistics show.

Richard Worth: Why does the Government not get serious about organised crime and breaking up the criminal gangs, rather than saying—as it has been since 31 July 2003—that it is still reviewing the Proceeds of Crimes Act 1991; when does dithering stop, and action begin?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: The Government has been considering this matter, and it hopes a bill will be introduced by the middle of the year. This Government has a policy of consultation and not imposing its will on others without consultation.

Ron Mark: Is it not the case that in November 1997, the New Zealand First - National coalition Government passed the Harassment and Criminal Associations Bill, which significantly increased the powers of the police and the courts so that society could better deal with gangs and organised crime, and is it further not the case that the only reason section 98A of the Crimes Act has not been enforced is that, as indicated by the Minister’s own figures, the police have no confidence in many of the trendy, liberal-minded judges who are more concerned about civil liberties than they are about the safety of the public?

Mr SPEAKER: Criticism of the judiciary is to be regarded very carefully, but the first part of the question is certainly in order.

Hon MARGARET WILSON: I understand there are a variety of reasons as to why in fact prosecutions do not lead to conviction, and that frequently depends upon the nature of the trial and the types of offences that are brought.

Marc Alexander: Does the Minister consider that 5 years is a sufficient maximum penalty for gang members, when, in one particular case, a convicted offender received no sentence of imprisonment at all; if so, what is the point of legislation when it provides such completely ineffectual results?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: Under our system of criminal justice, it is for the courts to hear the facts in the particular case and to determine it according to those circumstances, not for Parliament to make a predetermination on the basis of facts unknown.

Marc Alexander: Has the Minister considered any proposals to remedy the obvious failures of the current law dealing with gangs, such as a tougher property confiscation regime that removes the profit incentive from gang-related criminal activity, along the lines of the Western Australian model, as proposed by United Future; if not, why not?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: We are aware of United Future’s support for the Western Australian scheme, and that has been one of the proposals looked at. The bill will be introduced, we hope, by the middle of this year, or certainly shortly thereafter.

Schools—Closures, Invercargill

3. Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister of Education: What will be the difference between the process followed by the ministry facilitator and the process to be followed by the mediator with respect to the proposed closure of 13 Invercargill schools?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): I am pleased that the member asked me this question. During the two previous education reviews, while he was in Government, whenever there was a meeting in Invercargill that member used to head for Auckland—

Mr SPEAKER: Now the Minister will answer the question.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: As the member is aware—because he attended the meeting—the facilitator consulted with the community and developed possible models for future schooling provision. The ministry then used this information to form recommendations to me, and I made decisions that became the proposals announced in January. The mediator will review those proposals, any alternative proposals lodged as part of the submissions, and community views, then make a recommendation. I do welcome the member’s interest, at last.

Hon Bill English: If the facilitator has already consulted with the community, as the ministry’s website says he will, has developed alternatives, has presented data and information, and passes that on, ultimately, to the Minister for decision, why should schools engage with a mediator for whom there are no terms of reference and who can follow only the same process of consultation and presentation of alternative models?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Because I think that they think, and communities around the country are thinking, that they will get better results. There are alternatives. Simon Power is aware, for example, that that member’s policy could be applied to Taihape, and of the 10 schools there, one of which will be merged, there will be one fewer school according to my approach; according to Bill English’s approach, there will be nine fewer schools. They will be down to one school in Taihape under his policy.

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to raise two points. The first is that, in response to the primary question, the member was out of order. He does that habitually, and I suggest that there needs to be some sanction on him from the Chair; otherwise, he will just keep doing it. The second point is that in respect of the matter the Minister raises, he is consistently misrepresenting material that he has read somewhere. He continues to do it each question time. I have the right, as a member of this Parliament, to have my word accepted; how he represents it is simply wrong, and he should not be allowed to continue to do so—and, in any case, it is not his responsibility.

Mr SPEAKER: I just want to say to the member that, as far as I am concerned, if a member states something, then his word is accepted, and I accept the member’s word.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I seek leave to table two documents. The first document outlines the Bill English position on education development initiatives, which has been published.

Mr SPEAKER: It is sought to be tabled. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The second document is an application of that policy to the current education development initiative areas that shows that significantly more schools would close.

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

Lynne Pillay: What alternative approaches to reviews has he seen, and does he intend to adopt them?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I have seen a number of approaches to reviews. The one that is loudest, the one that is most coherent, and the one that has some elements of logic behind it is that one of Bill English’s, and I think it stinks.

Hon Bill English: What do they think of yours? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I think the riposte was a suitable response.

Rod Donald: Does the Minister agree that, with the benefit of hindsight, he could have avoided the current school review shambles by adopting a whole-of-Government approach that took account of the economic and social costs of possible closures on the wider community, and will he guarantee that those costs will now be treated seriously in the reviews that he is still determined to proceed with?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The very firm feedback I have had from a number of areas is that weak and failing schools are a major reason for population decline. I want to avoid that.

Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware of a Budget paper entitled Proposal Network Reviews, dated 19 June 2003, which sets out in great detail his plans to review, over 5 years, 500 schools and close 200 of them; and does he now still stand by his statement that he had not kept his Cabinet colleagues apprised of his actions; and does he agree that the Prime Minister can say she never knew what was proposed?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Our Prime Minister knows quite a lot. She does not know the detail of all the discussions between Dr Cullen and me.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister confirm that the true position is that he had informed his colleagues, that they did know—including the Prime Minister—that he planned to review 500 schools and close up to 200 of them, and that the Prime Minister and he have both made misleading public statements to cover up a very messy back-down where they have both been defeated by public opinion?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No, I do not accept that, because it is incorrect. I would remind the member that the number that he suggested is less than the number that were closed in the 1990s.

Hon Bill English: I seek leave to table a document, Vote Education Proposal Network Reviews—

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

John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I was going to raise this matter at the end of this question, but I am pleased that, in fact, we have had the situation where Mr English sought to table a paper. Earlier on during this particular question the Minister of Education, Mr Mallard, sought to table two papers. He was allowed, without interruption from you, to say all that he wanted to say, and then you asked whether there was any objection. In the case of Mr English, he was part-way through and you interrupted. It seems that often when we are looking to table papers we are interrupted, but the Minister or Ministers are not. I wonder whether we can have a situation where someone who seeks leave gives purely just the title of the document, or else the person can finish his or her request to table.

Mr SPEAKER: If the document has been referred to by way of a supplementary question, and everyone is well aware of the document concerned, as I think I was and everyone else was, then I do not need to have its description entirely repeated.

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You are going to have to go a bit further than that. Before question time the Minister of Education got up and asked leave to table some documents, and in the process of simply asking leave, before any question had been asked, made a debating point about the content of those documents. You ignored it.

Mr SPEAKER: I made a mistake, and I apologise to the member.

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Do we therefore have your assurance that, in the case of Mr Mallard, he will be treated in the same way as the rest of the House in respect of requesting leave to table documents?

Mr SPEAKER: Absolutely.


4. CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Finance: Has he received any reports recording complaints about the level of regulation in New Zealand?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): Indeed, I get a lot of such reports, particularly from the National Party, from ACT, from the Business Roundtable, and from Business New Zealand, complaining continually that the Government is choking off growth in the economy by excessive regulation. They do that despite the strong economic performance of recent years, despite record levels of employment, and despite the effect their comments may have in deterring foreign investment in New Zealand.

Clayton Cosgrove: Has he seen any independent commentary on New Zealand as a place to do business?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, just by chance I have. There is, indeed, a new independent report out that compares countries with each other, as opposed to taking an absolutist view, and it is carried out by the World Bank, which I think Dr Brash used to work for at one point. In a survey covering more than 130 countries, New Zealand was rated as the least regulated economy and as one of the easiest places to start a new business. That assessment is in line with recent reports from Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, and I tell the Opposition to wait a bit longer for an IMF report that is coming out soon, too.

John Key: Does the Minister acknowledge that the current Government’s policies in relation to holidays and employment law will, in the future, lead to a deterioration in New Zealand’s performance as measured by the World Bank today; and, if growth is important to this Government, can he tell the House why on earth the Government has appointed Margaret Wilson as Minister of Commerce?

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sorry to interrupt, but when a member on the Opposition side of the House called out during a question, you said very firmly that that would be the last time that would be happening in the House. We have had the entire Government front bench calling out, and all you did was to call out “Order!”. I suggest that we need some consistency between the Opposition benches and the Government benches.

Mr SPEAKER: I think I do my very best to maintain consistency. Occasionally during an answer a somewhat witty comment is made, and one cannot rule out a little bit of laughter. I thought the member was asking a very good question, and he was making his point extremely well. The Minister is not responsible for the appointment of Ministers; that is the Prime Minister’s job. [Interruption] The first part of the question is in order.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I can quote from the World Bank report: “Good regulation does not mean zero regulation.” This Government is committed to needs-based regulation.

Paul Adams: Is the Minister aware of the legion of small and medium sized business owners who, despite not having the facility to produce a glossy report, are none the less wholly discontent with the current suffocating regime of regulations, compliance with which demands considerable time that otherwise could be spent on growing their businesses; if so, what does he plan to do to ease their strain?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I refer to another press statement reported in this morning’s New Zealand Herald from my excellent colleague Mr David Cunliffe. We have announced, obviously, that we are having a 6.7 percent discount for the early payment of provisional tax in the first year. Work is proceeding in areas in relation to aligning GST with provisional tax payments, and on a number of other moves to simplify taxation for small business. This is needs-based deregulation.

Question No. 3 to Minister

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have now had the opportunity to review the document that was tabled by Mr English, and I now want to invite him to correct the statement that he made when he told the House a lie.

Mr SPEAKER: That point of order is out of order. It is a debating point. We are to have a Budget Policy Statement debate shortly, and I suggest that that is the time to raise that particular matter, or by letter to me for another particular offence that is not mentioned in this House.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can I ask you to ask the member for Clutha-Southland whether he intends to table the document that he described, because he has not.

Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Bill English sought to table a document, he was given leave, and he tabled it. [Interruption] I will not be interrupted while I am on my feet. I do not care who the person is. As far as I am concerned I accept that the member asked for the document to be tabled. He has tabled it, and that is the end of the matter. There are other ways of dealing with this matter, as the Minister well knows.

Hon Trevor Mallard: We’re off to the Privileges Committee.

Mr SPEAKER: I now ask the Minister to leave the Chamber. I will not have any more interjections like that.

Hon Trevor Mallard withdrew from the Chamber.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think there is some difficulty with your answer, in that we are no wiser as to what the course of action should be for a member to take. In this circumstance if, for example, someone says that he or she intends to table Shakespeare, and tables something entirely different to the document that was described, what is the course of action that the House should take in respect of that member?

Mr SPEAKER: Speaker’s ruling 127/4 states that members must sufficiently describe the document they intend to table. If they deliberately mislead the House that is dealt with in a different way, and that is by writing to me. However, I judged that the member asked to table a document, it was accepted in good faith, and I accept that he tabled what he asked to table.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I take it from that last comment that you are not prejudging any letter you may receive, because I see you have not seen the document that was tabled, and therefore cannot make a judgment that it was in fact the document that was sought to be tabled.

Mr SPEAKER: Absolutely! I have not seen the document, and if I have any further business in this I will most certainly read it very, very carefully. It has been handed only to the Clerk; it has not been handed to me.

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I remind you that our senior whip, John Carter, in fact took the issue up with you in relation to how well the document in question was described. I am sure that you will take into account the Hansard description as far as it was able to be given by Mr English. It could well be that Mr Mallard understood that a different document was being tabled to the one that was actually being requested for tabling, given that that full request was not heard.

Mr SPEAKER: That is hypothetical, and I will deal with the situation if I have to.

Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I will not ask you to have Mr Mallard back, but perhaps you might decide that you do want to have him back. On dealing with matters of disorder, especially when a member makes an allegation across the House, that, by innuendo, implies that a member has misled or lied to the House, Speakers have required that allegation to be withdrawn and apologised for. In this case there is no doubt about that. When a member calls out “You’re off to the Privileges Committee.”, there is a clear understanding that he is saying that a member has misled the House. That is a most grossly disorderly statement. In fact, what should have happened is that the Minister should have been required to rise, withdraw, and apologise, given an appropriate warning, and then sent out. I just say to you that we are now in a position where Mr Mallard has been able to make a grossly disorderly comment and it has been allowed to stand on the record. He has not been required to withdraw and apologise. I regard that as a very unsatisfactory situation.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Prebble has covered the innuendo raised by Mr Mallard about my tabling of a document. I raise the additional point that Mr Mallard called me a liar, certainly within your earshot, as he sat in his chair. That further compounds the problem raised by Mr Prebble. It is not my intention to allow Trevor Mallard to bully me into submission, or this side of the House. I am sure he will continue to use those tactics; however, we will need your intervention as Speaker sometimes to ensure that he is required to comply with the conventions of this House. One convention is that if a member labels another member a liar, that has to be withdrawn, and there has to be an apology. He then also has to withdraw and apologise for the matter raised by Mr Prebble.

Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not think that we want to see Mr Mallard at the moment. I think the proper answer is for you to rule that before Mr Mallard can resume his seat he must raise a point of order and withdraw and apologise. I did not realise that he started to call the right honourable gentleman a liar. However, if that is the case, it most certainly cannot stand, and he most certainly should withdraw and apologise to the whole House for making those two statements.

Mr SPEAKER: I did not hear him use that word. If I had, I would have required him to withdraw and apologise immediately and then he would have been sent out. The member is perfectly correct. When the Minister comes into the Chamber next he will be asked to withdraw and apologise for that comment. He will be asked whether he made that statement. If he says that he did make that statement, then he will have to withdraw and apologise for it. I will not call him back until he comes back. At that point he will have to do something.

Question No. 2 to Minister

RON MARK (NZ First): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I thank you for your forbearance. It is something totally different, and I am just taking the opportunity during this pause. At the end of my supplementary question in question No. 2, you cautioned me, quite appropriately, as to the appropriateness and the acceptability of my breaching conventions by criticising the judiciary. I fully accept that. With that in mind, I seek the leave of the House to table the sentencing notes by Judge Durie on the trial and conviction of Warwick Whare Reuben Kershaw, the man who murdered that wee 3-year-old girl Anahera.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave has been asked to table those. Is there any objection?

Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We must object to that. The member, by implication, is saying that he is correct to criticise the judiciary. He most certainly cannot use the House to do that.

Mr SPEAKER: The member is seeking leave. Any member can object. Objection is raised.

Economic Development—Limited Employment Locations

5. SUE BRADFORD (Deputy Musterer—Green) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Is he confident that all 265 towns named by Work and Income as limited employment locations offer no job prospects and no potential for local economic development?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): The 259 localities released today—and for the most part they are not towns—were selected having considered the following: the number of local people already looking for work; the number of job placements made in the area over the last year; the local employment opportunities, and the availability of local transport to travel to work. The alert list is a live list that will be regularly reviewed. If new opportunities are created in a locality—and with the Government’s regional development policies, I am sure they will be—that locality will be removed from the list forthwith.

Sue Bradford: Can the Minister confirm that in the light of the announcement today that, should it have been a real situation, Pikea’s father in Whale Rider would not have been able to return to Whangara, which has been placed firmly on the no-go list?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: There are, of course, no no-go lists or dead-zone lists, or whatever words the member wants to call them. It would depend on whether he or she could pass the job seeker requirements. I do not know why anybody in this House would want a benefit paid to somebody who is an active job seeker if they have said that they have no way of meeting the job seeker test.

Hon Richard Prebble: Before we pursue this much further, the member should be asked to authenticate those statements. I saw the movie, and there was no sign that he was on an unemployment benefit.

Mr SPEAKER: Is the member talking about the Minister or the member?

Hon Richard Prebble: The member.

Mr SPEAKER: The member, in her supplementary question, does not have to authenticate in the way she has to for the original question

Georgina Beyer: How will the Government’s limited employment locations policy assist unemployed people seeking work?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: We have a very low unemployment rate in this country, and we want to ensure that everybody gets a job. The policy is designed to encourage people to seek work in locations where there are good work opportunities, discourage people from moving to locations where there are few or no opportunities, and ensure that local people already seeking work are not further disadvantaged by having other job seekers move to that area.

Judith Collins: Why should this House believe that Work and Income New Zealand will apply this policy, when not one person who has moved to a remote area within the past 5 years has failed any work-test requirement?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The member might like to know that Work and Income New Zealand changed its name to Work and Income some years ago. It is worth keeping up. [Interruption] I am just saying.

Mr SPEAKER: Answer the question please.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I think we can have a great deal of faith in Work and Income ensuring that people get jobs. It has been participating in reducing the unemployment rate to the fifth lowest in the developed world, and it will carry on doing so.

Dr Muriel Newman: If the Government is not prepared to pay the dole to people who want to move to blacklisted communities where there are no jobs, can the Minister explain to the House exactly why it is that the Labour Government is prepared to pay the dole to a fit and healthy 18-year-old who already lives in such a community, and who plans to stay there until he retires?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I should repeat that there are no blacklisted areas of the country. The member raises a hypothetical question about a young, fit, and healthy person. I say that young, fit, and healthy person will probably be visited in the very near future by one of the mobile units from Work and Income, taking the service to his or her doorstep. That person will get a job, as well.

Judy Turner: Does the Minister agree that this policy has been misrepresented to imply that those who already live in limited employment locations will lose their benefit, when, in reality, it will only sanction beneficiaries who move into these areas without a job lined up first; if so, does he not think it better that these areas do not foster a reputation as a haven for hardened lifestyle dole recipients?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I agree that this policy has been misrepresented. I just stress that once again we are trying with this policy to ensure that people get jobs. That is the point of it. We are in a situation in this country where employers are calling out for labour, and in some cases cannot find people to work in their businesses. We are trying to make sure that people are in the right place to get the right job at the right time.

Sue Bradford: Is it true that the Jobs Jolt announcement today makes it clear that tangata whenua returning to papakâinga areas will be treated no differently than anyone else, and why is the Government reverting to the pre-1985 remote areas policy?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: This is not the remote areas policy at all, which, for example, said that the whole of the West Coast was an area that people could not move to. This is a policy based on case-by-case analysis of whether people can meet the job seeker requirements that they should be meeting. That is what the policy is about.

Sue Bradford: If it is a case-by-case situation, why on earth are 259 limited employment locations being created?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I read out the criteria at the beginning—and I will not do it again—which set out the notion that people are moving to an area where there are jobs. I said to the member that our outstanding regional development policies, spearheaded by my colleague Mr Jim Anderton, would undoubtedly see many of these areas grow and move off that list in the near future.

Sue Bradford: Why is Blackball on the list of limited employment locations, when it happens to have a thriving community that has just saved its local school from closure and is within commuting distance of Greymouth?

Mr SPEAKER: I have cautioned members about interjecting during questions. That member is very lucky indeed.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I read out the criteria before, and they will apply to Blackball, but can I also reassure the House that every locality on this list is there as a result of consultation. It has taken place over the last 3 months with people in local areas, and that is why they support this policy.

Sue Bradford: Why is the Minister planning to go ahead with this scheme, despite the concerns of mayors like John Forbes in Opotiki and Graham Ramsay in Kaipara, who are worried that labelling parts of their districts as economically unviable will have a detrimental impact on their great efforts towards local and regional development?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I imagine that those mayors find it extremely unhelpful to have Sue Bradford label them that way. The Government has not. Our regional development policies are ones that are valued by those very mayors, and will carry on making their districts even more vibrant in the future.

Crown Forestry Rental Trust—Costs

6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Finance: What are the total costs including legal, disbursements or consultants’ fees since 1 January 1998 paid by the Crown Forestry Rental Trust in association with the Volcanic Interior Plateau Project Taumata, and to what matters do those costs refer?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): My role in the trust is limited to the appointment of three Crown trustees. I have no power over or direction capacity in relation to the trust, an organisation independent of Government control. As a consequence neither my office nor Treasury holds the information the member seeks. I can refer the member to the trust’s latest report, which shows it disbursed $10.581 million to the Volcanic Interior Plateau Project between 1990 and 31 March 2003, roughly half of which was in the last 2 years of that period. It is not possible to determine from the report how the disbursements have been applied or whether other expenditure by the trust has directly or indirectly benefited the project.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Minister consider that it is in any way remotely reasonable for the beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries of this trust to be given no accounting whatsoever as to the detail of their expenditure, even to the extent that certain claimants as proprietors have never been informed of what portion of their claim in terms of itemised costs is against their account, and how can that be fair in respect of the Mâori people or, for that matter, the taxpayers of this country?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The taxpayers do not provide funding now to the trust and have not done so for a long time. Its income comes off the old Crown forest and the rentals thereon. There have been a number of questions surrounding the operations of the trust, and the select committee did an excellent inquiry into that. There have, as I am sure the member is aware, been some recent significant changes in the operations of the trust. External governance advice has been brought in, and certainly I will be maintaining closer contact with the Crown-appointed trustees over the next year to ensure that those reforms continue.

Employment Relations Law Reform Bill—Reports

7. Hon ROGER SOWRY (National) to the Minister of Labour: Has he received any reports that the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill will create more jobs; if so, who were those reports from?

Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Labour): The purpose of the Employment Relations Act and the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill is to build productive employment relationships in the workplace. I have had a report from the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions stating that good work relationships can have a positive effect on economic and job growth. However, I have also seen a report from the New Zealand Business Roundtable stating that there is likely to be a negative impact on jobs as a result of the reform bill. I have also received reports stating that since the Employment Relations Act was introduced in 2001, New Zealand has had the lowest unemployment figures for almost 16 years.

Hon Roger Sowry: Does the Minister also agree with the Treasury statement on the transfer clauses in the bill, which states: “The imposition of this requirement will not just affect the price paid for businesses or contracts, but will impact on firms’ investment or expansion decisions.”; if not, why not?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes, I have seen the comments of Treasury around that matter, and the member will know that it is a big issue that, I imagine, the select committee will consider. However, I do note that Treasury did state that overall, the impact of the proposed changes to the collective bargaining provisions is assessed as modest. Treasury probably stated similar things in 2001, but the facts did not bear some of the concerns out.

Hon Mark Gosche: Does the Minister recall claims being made that the Employment Relations Act would increase labour costs, industrial action, and unemployment?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes, I do. The fact is that none of those claims have been proved to be correct. As I have said, New Zealand has its lowest unemployment rate for almost 16 years. In addition, work stoppage figures are steadily declining, and it has been confirmed, as the Minister of Finance has said, that New Zealand is one of the easiest places in the world to start up a new business.

Peter Brown: If nothing else changes and the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill passes as it is, does the Minister believe that there will be greater incentive or less incentive for employers to engage people permanently or casually—or does he not know?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: It is too early to say that there will be no changes to the bill. That is what the select committee is doing. I think the member is a member of the committee; he will hear the arguments. Ultimately, the committee’s report will come back to Parliament about the views that have been expressed by the people who came to the committee.

Hon Roger Sowry: Does the Minister agree with the Treasury paper of 21 March 2003 on the transfer clauses, which states: “Increasing the cost of workforce adjustment will lead to a greater reluctance to hire workers.”; if not, why not?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I have seen many of those Treasury reports over the years. I imagine that they stated similar things a couple of years ago, and, of course, the reality of what has happened is that we have high employment growth at the moment in New Zealand.

Hon Roger Sowry: Does the Minister have any evidence that the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill will increase employment, or is he just choosing not to agree with the Treasury paper because it is from Treasury?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Of course, evidence around things that may happen in the future is not possible to get, but the reality is that those claims were made in 2001, as the member has stated, and what has happened is that employment growth is high and unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years.

World Trade Organization—Multilateral Negotiations

8. Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY (Labour) to the Minister for Trade Negotiations: What progress can he report on multilateral negotiations at the World Trade Organization?

Hon JIM SUTTON (Minister for Trade Negotiations): I have recently returned from an excellent Cairns group meeting in Costa Rica. Group members are determined to reinvigorate the World Trade Organization negotiations in order to secure a substantial agricultural reform. Additionally, we are committed to a coordinated work programme with the G20 group, with whom we share many objectives.

Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Why is that important?

Hon JIM SUTTON: The multilateral negotiations offer us the best opportunities as a trading nation. It is the only arena in which we can effectively combat export subsidies, for example—the most pernicious barrier to our trade.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: What progress can the Minister report on reinvigorating New Zealand’s free-trade agreement negotiations with the US, following his recent talks with US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, or did he come home empty-handed?

Hon JIM SUTTON: I suppose that is connected in some way with the World Trade Organization negotiations, which was the subject of the primary question. I can inform the member that I had another successful meeting with Mr Zoellick—at which we spent a lot of time discussing the World Trade Organization round, as a matter of fact—and I certainly did not come home empty-handed. New Zealand made further headway in developing our constituency in Washington, DC—on the hill, and in the US business community—in support of bilateral negotiation with New Zealand.

Dail Jones: What action will the Minister be taking, following the World Trade Organization’s report that New Zealand apples are not a pathway for transmission of fire blight; and when can New Zealand apple growers expect to see the minority Labour Government Minister for Trade Negotiations doing something personally to end the devious Australian trade practice of prohibiting New Zealand apple exports to Australia, or will he just keep on swanning around the world, empty-handed?

Hon JIM SUTTON: There are some members here who recall that I have done a great deal personally, starting in 1990 when I was Minister of Agriculture. I was dismayed to find in 1999, when I came back into office, that a great deal of progress made previously had gone backwards under the National Government. Nevertheless, we are now heading forward again. The Australian Government the other day produced a new import health standard—which is out for a 6-week consultation, as required by Australian law—and I am confident that we will move this matter forward, despite it being election year in Australia.

Disputes Tribunal—Cases

9. SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei) to the Minister for Courts: How many cases have been deferred by the disputes tribunal over the past week because of referee unavailability?

Hon RICK BARKER (Minister for Courts): Figures made available to me by the Ministry of Justice indicate that 92 cases have been deferred.

Simon Power: Can the Minister confirm that, through the general manager of the courts, he has ordered court officials not to tell those applicants to the disputes tribunal the true reason for the deferment of their dispute cases, which is that the referees are on strike because he is refusing, in bad faith, to meet with them to discuss their concerns; and is that not just another case of a Government department “denying in unison”?

Hon RICK BARKER: I absolutely deny that. That is completely and utterly untrue, and that member knows it. No such order has ever been given by me or anybody else.

Mr SPEAKER: The member cannot say that it is untrue and that the member knows it. He will withdraw and apologise for that.

Hon RICK BARKER: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. When the Minister says that something is utterly untrue, I think he is under an obligation to let us know what is untrue. Is he saying that the referees are not on strike, or that he has not told anyone that they are not on strike, or that the court has not told anyone that they are not on strike? Just saying that it is untrue leaves the House completely confused.

Mr SPEAKER: No. The Minister addressed the question. He was asked a question, and his answer was that that was untrue. He is entitled to give that as an answer, but it can lead to further supplementary questions.

Russell Fairbrother: What steps has the Minister taken in relation to the daily rate of disputes tribunal referees?

Hon RICK BARKER: I have taken a number of steps. A paper has been to Cabinet that addresses the two main issues of concern raised by the referees—the first being the level of the daily fee, and the second being the frequency of fee review. The referees’ executive association, which represents a number of the referees, was given the opportunity for a face-to-face meeting with me. Regrettably, it declined that opportunity. I find it somewhat frustrating, in trying to resolve this matter, that one party to the issue declines an opportunity to meet and discuss the issues.

Simon Power: What action is the Minister undertaking to ensure that more applicants to the disputes tribunals will not be turned away for up to 3 months before their cases can be heard; and do any of these actions involve his keeping his word and undertaking to negotiate in good faith with these judicial officers?

Hon RICK BARKER: I always keep my word, and I act in good faith. I resent any implication by any member of this House to the contrary. I undertook to the referees to go to Cabinet with a paper. I have done so. I have a result. I rang and asked the referees for a meeting, in response to their letter, and so far they have declined to meet. I cannot force people into my office. I would dearly like to meet them to resolve this matter.

Murray Smith: Can the Minister confirm that in May 2002 the referees’ association was told by the general manager of special jurisdictions within the Department for Courts that a fee review would commence in late June 2002, and be completed by 30 September 2002, and that that has been a major factor in the huge frustration among referees?

Hon RICK BARKER: In general terms, I think that is correct, although I cannot be absolutely certain about the specifics. I understand, and have heard, the extreme frustration of the disputes tribunals referees, and I am doing my very best to respond to that. I would like to sit down and discuss the matter with them.

Murray Smith: I seek leave to table a letter to the general manager from the chairperson of the disputes tribunals’ referees association, dated 2 April 2003, expressing the referees’ concern and frustration in terms of getting a final recommendation made in terms of fees.

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

Tourism—International Media Profile

10. H V ROSS ROBERTSON (Labour—Manukau East) to the Minister of Tourism: What reports has he received about New Zealand’s international media profile as a premier visitor destination?

Hon MARK BURTON (Minister of Tourism): Tourism New Zealand has already won several prestigious international awards this year for the successful “100 Percent Pure New Zealand” campaign. This Government’s $15 million tactical investment in extending the campaign in North America has been money that was well spent. That is particularly the case given the ongoing leveraging work on the hugely successful The Lord of the Rings project. Tourism New Zealand has continued its leveraging with full-page “100 Percent Pure New Zealand” advertisements—I have a couple of copies of them here—in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. Once again, this Government’s partnership with industry has promoted success.

H V Ross Robertson: What is the current state of the tourism market in New Zealand—in particular, with reference to visitor arrivals and foreign exchange earnings?

Hon MARK BURTON: I have received reports showing that Tourism New Zealand’s highly successful targeting of the interactive traveller has more than proved its worth. Two thousand and three was another record year for tourism, with over 2.1 million international visitor arrivals—3 percent up on 2002’s all-time high of 2 million visitor arrivals. That ended a year marked by Sars, terrorism, and international conflict in positive growth mode, and it is yet another illustration that the Government’s strong partnership with the sector is working. Although the serious weather events of recent weeks are likely to have some negative effect, the trend is obviously increasing in 2004, with an amazing 11 percent increase in visitor arrivals in January 2004 compared with January of last year. That is worth an additional $60 million in foreign exchange earnings to the Minister of Finance, just for that one month. As my colleague the Minister of Finance noted—[Interruption] But there is so much more, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I know there is.

Resource Management Act—Mâori Participation

11. Dr WAYNE MAPP (National—North Shore) to the Associate Minister of Justice: Why is the Government establishing 16 working-groups with local authorities and whânau, hapû and iwi, to “enhance participation opportunities … in decision making processes affecting the coastal marine area”, given her statement on 18 February that Mâori will only have “the methods of communication that are already provided for in the Resource Management Act”?

Hon MARGARET WILSON (Associate Minister of Justice): The Government is currently reviewing a number of options to improve decision making under the Resource Management Act.

Dr Wayne Mapp: How can the Minister state that Mâori will have no more consultation rights than they already have, when paragraph 97 of the December proposals specifically refers to the establishing of the 16 working-groups to “enhance participation opportunities”?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: That statement referred to existing obligations to consult with tangata whenua and to making them more effective, which is what is being required by everyone.

Mita Ririnui: What are the current requirements of the Resource Management Act in relation to consultation with tangata whenua?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: Clause 3(d) of the first schedule states that during the preparation of a proposed policy statement or plan the local authority shall consult, amongst others, the tangata whenua of the area who may be so affected, through iwi authorities and tribal rûnanga. I do note that that legislation was passed in 1991.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: In the interests of consistency, would the Minister tell the House whether there is any difference in principle or substance between the Government’s policy in this area and the Mahi a Iwi policy, which “involves working in partnership with iwi or tribal groups”, as enunciated by the National Party in 1999?

Mr SPEAKER: Could the member just repeat the question so that I can see that it is in order and that the Minister has responsibility.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I am asking the Minister whether there is any difference in principle or substance between the Government’s policy as enunciated here and the Mahi a Iwi policy, involving “working in partnership with iwi or tribal groups”, as established by the National Government in 1999.

Hon MARGARET WILSON: No. In principle, it is the same policy, which is why I am surprised at the Opposition’s questioning. The only explanation I can give is that we do want to improve it and the Opposition wants mediocrity.

Deborah Coddington: Will Pâkehâ marine farmers and private jetty owners—for example, families who own baches in the Marlborough Sounds—be included in these working-groups, now that the Government is telling us that it has abandoned race distinctions and is looking only at need; if not, why not?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: Under the current legislation, upon which the Government’s proposals are based, a local authority can consult anyone, and does, and that is best practice. Precisely how local authorities do that varies from council to council, and that is why central government is endeavouring to assist the councils to improve consultation for everyone.

Dr Wayne Mapp: How can the Government maintain this fiction that all it is doing is improving the Resource Management Act, when in fact it is establishing Mâori customary title over virtually the entire coastline?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: Mâori already have customary title over the whole coastline. The member is again confusing customary title with customary rights.

Stephen Franks: Under what authority or court decision does the Minister decide that Mâori already have customary title over most or all of the coastline, and if that is now going to be written into further legislation, when will the Government move to remove the race discrimination in the Resource Management Act or any other legislation?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: According to Mâori customary rights, they have a connection with particular areas of the coastline. In that sense, it does not need legislation from their perspective. [Interruption] Well, it does not. [Interruption] Good, exactly. However, we have been endeavouring to give an opportunity to clarify that, so that we can improve their participation in decision making relating to the management of it. It is as simple as that.

Dr Wayne Mapp: Could the Minister now explain, then, why the Government is even proposing legislation, as it appears from her previous answer that Mâori say they already have customary title?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: That is because the whole issue is about customary rights, not customary title.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: In the interests of exposing the DNA behind this policy, I seek leave to table National’s 1999 action plan.

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

Gerry Brownlee: On the basis that Margaret Wilson, the Attorney-General, has today told the House that the Government believes that Mâori currently have customary title to the seabed and foreshore—a revelation that I am sure comes as news to most people in this House and, indeed, to most of those who have been commentating on this issue since the outset—I seek leave for there to be an urgent debate on this matter immediately following question time.

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

Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Amendment Bill—Reclassification

12. PETER BROWN (Senior Whip—NZ First) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Is he supportive of proposals to reclassify the use of urine or excrement in association with degrading or dehumanising or sexual conduct as being no longer “objectionable”; if so, why?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House), on behalf of the Minister of Internal Affairs: Unlike all the other matters listed in section 3(2)) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classifications Act, which are automatically deemed to be objectionable, the use of urine or excrement in association with sexual conduct is not itself a serious criminal offence. In the light of the increases in the maximum penalties proposed in the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Amendment Bill for the supply of section 3(2) material to a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment, retaining section 3(2)(d), covering the matters referred to, could be seen as potentially excessive.

Peter Brown: Is he telling the House that it is Government policy that films or videos that depict the use of urine or excrement in association with degrading or dehumanising or sexual conduct are not objectionable in themselves; has Cabinet signed up to this, and have his coalition partners and support parties signed up to it also?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Such material can still be classified as objectionable. Indeed, this particular matter has been transferred to section 3(3)(a) of the principal Act. It is not removed from the principal Act but removed from section 3(2) to section 3(3)(a). No doubt the select—

Peter Brown: No, no—you’ve got it wrong.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, yes—I am sorry, but that is true. The member will have to read the bill more carefully. No doubt the select committee will give careful consideration to this matter.

Peter Brown: Who does the Minister believe will benefit from this type of legislation? Who will be rubbing their hands with glee—the weirdos or wonder boys, or the average New Zealander? Does the Minister agree that the average New Zealander will be appalled by this amendment to the legislation?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I think this is one of those issues where we simply have to talk through carefully what is proposed. To retain this material in section 3(2), as opposed to section 3(3), could involve somebody who is actually transferring such a video to another person—and a maximum penalty of 10 years—when, unlike all the other material in section 3(2), the use of urine and excrement in association with sexual conduct is not itself a serious criminal offence. If the member wants to introduce a member’s bill to do that, then that is a different matter. I have no doubt that the vast majority of people—and, I assume, the vast majority of members of this House—would find such association objectionable.

Questions to Members

Employment Relations Law Reform Bill—Submissions

1. Hon ROGER SOWRY (National) to the Chairperson of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee: How many submissions have been received by the committee on the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill?

Hon MARK GOSCHE (Chairperson of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee): At the end of the closing date for submissions, which was Friday, 27 February, 241 submissions had been received. A number of further submissions are being processed, and it is estimated that the final total will be about 320.

Hon Roger Sowry: Will the chair ensure that submissions are not heard in the same way as those on the original Employment Relations Bill, when business was heard late at night and unions were heard in media-friendly time zones during the day?

Hon MARK GOSCHE: The committee will hear submissions in the way in which the clerks organise them. Just to give the member an assurance, tomorrow Business New Zealand will be at the committee, along with one union, between 11 a.m. and 12 midday. That shows that this committee is switched on and knows how to do it.

Question No. 2 to Minister

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): Earlier this afternoon my colleague Ron Mark was stopped from tabling a document. During that time Mr Prebble raised an objection to comments made in respect of the judiciary. I fear that members are not having regard to Standing Order 113, which states: “A member may not use offensive words against the House or against any member of the judiciary.”, and to Speaker’s ruling 31/6. There is a world of difference between saying something that is derogatory of the judiciary and saying that a judge has got it wrong, has made a mistake, or in fact has misdirected himself on the matters before him. I think my colleague is entitled to say what he said. That being the case, his comments not being in my view—on the Speaker’s ruling and the Standing Order I cited—out of order, we seek leave to table the document, which is the sentencing judgment of Durie J in the Warwick Whare Reuben Kershaw case.

Mr SPEAKER: It does not matter what Mr Prebble’s reasons were, he is entitled to deny leave. Any member in this House can deny leave. The member has now asked for leave to be granted to table a further document. Is there any objection?

Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I object to being put in this position, because, as a general rule, I do not object to members tabling documents. Indeed, if you look through Speakers’ Rulings, you will find that reading from a court judgment is not out of order. Tabling a court judgment, by itself, is not out of order. What is out of order is making a reflection against the judiciary. The point I asked you to look at, which I do not think you did, was to do with what I believed I heard Mr Ron Mark say when he was raising his original question. I thought he was making a reflection against the judiciary. The words I thought he said were “soft sentencing by judges”—or reflections of that sort—which you ruled out of order. Subsequently, he wanted to table a document, which I took to be a direct challenge to you, Mr Speaker, that was, in fact, showing that here was a judge who was behaving in a way that this House should reprimand. You then said that by leave he could do that. I put it to you that that is not so. The House cannot give leave to criticise a judge. It is actually prohibited from doing that in the Standing Orders. We would have to suspend the Standing Orders to be able to do that. But if you are ruling that he is not criticising a judge, then at that point I will have no objection to the member tabling a judgment; but, if he is, then it is your duty not to allow him to do so—and he cannot do it by innuendo, either.

Mr SPEAKER: As usual, the member has raised a very valid point of order, and what he said is perfectly correct. The House is not concerned with a member’s reason for objecting to leave to table a document—members should not give reasons, they should merely object. As far as I am concerned, I do not know what is in the judgment, nor could I be expected to know what is in the judgment. Leave was sought to table a particular judgment. I did not take that as a reflection on my ruling. I took it as a member wanting to table a document. A member is perfectly entitled to seek the leave of the House, not to do virtually anything, but to do things that are within the Standing Orders of this House. I wonder whether the member wanted to make any further comment on that.

Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT): Provided that I get an assurance from the right honourable gentleman that New Zealand First is not making a reflection on the judiciary, then I have no objection.

Mr SPEAKER: If the member wants to give that assurance—

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): Mr Speaker, regardless of what you just heard, the fact is that they are two totally separate and different events. Seeking leave to table a judgment of the court that is perhaps, though public, not known by members is a totally separate matter from one’s view of a decision a judge might have made. It is up to members to distinguish between offensive behaviour in respect of a judge and criticising a judgment. They are two different things. My fear was that Mr Prebble had, unknowingly, misled the House as to the import of what Mr Ron Mark had said when he sought leave at that time, and nothing in seeking leave relates to what he said at a prior time. It is a different exercise in his rights as a member of Parliament.

Mr SPEAKER: I think the best way to solve this is to ask for leave to table the particular judgment that the member wanted to table.

Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT): I am afraid that will not do. If the member is prepared to give an assurance to the House that he is not seeking to make a reflection on the judiciary, then I have no objection, but his failure to do so does, I think, raise a real suspicion in our minds, and we do have a duty in this House to uphold the rule of law.

Mr SPEAKER: Exactly, and I support that rule, but I have no way of knowing myself what is in the judgment. If the member does not give the assurance, then anybody is perfectly at liberty to deny leave to table it. I think that the best thing, as I said before, is to ask whether there is any objection. If Mr Mark does not want to make any further comment—

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): Again I seek leave to table this judgment by Judge Durie in the Kershaw case and, although it is totally unprecedented, in tabling the judgment we in New Zealand First make no comment at this time on it.

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

End of Questions for Oral Answer

(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)

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Gordon Campbell: On The Peters/Ardern Triumph

There are a lot of good reasons to feel joyful about this outcome. It is what so many young voters – the best hope for the country’s future – wanted.

Far more important than the implications for the Economy Gods ( is the dollar up or down? ) last night’s outcome will also mean many, many vulnerable New Zealanders will have a better life over the next three years at least.

Yet the desire for change was in the majority, across the country..>>>More


Labour on its agreement |Peters: Post-Election Announcement Speech | Greenpeace “cautiously hopeful” about new Government | ACT - Madman on the loose | E tū ecstatic | Chamber welcomes the outcome | Greens on their joining Govt | EDS welcomes new govt | Immigrant groups worry | Feds ready to engage new coalition government | Labour Ministers of the Crown announced


Climate: Increasing Greenhouse Emissions Hit NZ

New Zealand is seeing impacts of excess greenhouse gas emissions in our climate and oceans, according to the latest national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ about the state of the atmosphere and climate…More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




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Opening the Election