Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 7 April 2004
Wednesday, 7 April 2004
Questions for Oral Answer
1. Algerian Refugee—Costs
2. Home Detention—Sentencing Act
3. Foreshore and Seabed—Legislation
4. Afghanistan—Provincial Reconstruction Team, Bamian
5. Labour Market Policy Group—Disestablishment
POO: Question No 6 to Minister
7. Hazardous Substances—Public Health
9. Asia-Pacific Region—Security
10. Kaitaia Hospital—Future
11. Cabinet Responsibility—Abstentions
POO: Question No. 10 to Minister
12. Health Services—Rural Community
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: What is the total taxpayer cost to date for all legal costs, prison costs, court costs, and any other costs associated with Ahmed Zaoui since his arrival in December 2002, and has he consulted with all his ministerial colleagues to ensure the figure given does not exclude any associated taxpayer costs?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Immigration): The exact taxpayer cost to date associated with the Ahmed Zaoui case is not available because some costs are yet to be determined. However, an estimate to date is $247,000. This figure comprises the cost of imprisonment, refugee status determination, and legal aid. The exact cost in relation to this case will not be known until a final decision is made.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why did he not answer the question “to date”—not “when it is known” but “to date” in its exactitude—and having said that, why are hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent on Ahmed Zaoui, who was convicted by two separate superior courts in France and Belgium for passport fraud and terrorist activities, when article 1F(b) of the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees stipulates quite clearly that where a refugee claimant has committed a serious crime outside the country of refuge, that claimant is automatically disqualified from being granted refugee status?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Firstly, I thought I gave the member an estimate to date, because I said that many of the costs will not be able to be determined until the end of the case. But I can say that Mr Zaoui has been determined to be a refugee under the convention the member talks about. As a refugee, he can be deported only if he is a danger to national security or to the community. Mr Zaoui is subject to a security risk certificate. This certificate cannot be used to deport Mr Zaoui unless and until the Inspector-General reviews and confirms the security risk certificate, and I as the Minister of Immigration have also decided to finally rely on the certificate.
Dr Wayne Mapp: What discussions has the Minister had with the Prime Minister on a new appointment of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, so that the whole business of Mr Zaoui can be dealt with once and for all?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The appointment of the Inspector-General is a matter for the Prime Minister, and I presume that some decision will be made in due course.
Keith Locke: How much has the Government spent so far on its three unsuccessful High Court cases: the first, to stop the SIS having to provide a summary of its accusations against Mr Zaoui; the second, to keep Mr Greig as Inspector-General; and the third, to stop the Inspector-General having to take into account Mr Zaoui’s human rights in his incarceration; and will the Government save the country money and not prolong Mr Zaoui’s determination by cancelling its appeal to the Court of Appeal on the latter case?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: As I said, there are a number of costs still to be determined. On the second point, the reality is that a process is under way and we should wait to see the outcome of it.
Marc Alexander: Has the Minister considered my suggestion that Mr Zaoui be freed into the 24/7 custody of his supporters, such as Keith Locke and Matt Robson, who could guarantee to be with him at all times and meet his accommodation, food, and legal costs while he is in their care, to free the taxpayer of this unwarranted financial burden?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes, I have seen that suggestion, which I would describe as interesting. I have had a discussion with my colleague the Minister of Corrections and he advises that Mr Zaoui is in the most appropriate place, according to legal requirements.
Keith Locke: I seek leave for the course of action being proposed to be approved by this House.
Mr SPEAKER: The member can seek leave for anything. Is there any objection? There is.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that we are signatories to that UN convention, and given that that UN convention clearly rules out this man—who is a terrorist, and proven to be so in three jurisdictions, and in Africa as well—what on earth is he doing in this country, at the expense now of over a quarter of a million dollars to the New Zealand taxpayer?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes, the member is right—there is an exclusion clause. But the Refugee Status Appeals Authority has determined in its report that the exclusion should not apply in this case and that is why there is a process under way as we speak.
Keith Locke: I seek leave to table the determination of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority, which Mr Peters—
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that determination. Is there any objection? There is.
Hon Trevor Mallard: It has been done before.
Keith Locke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has not been—
Mr SPEAKER: There is still objection.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Minister seeking refuge behind the Refugee Status Appeals Authority when, because of the convention, this man should never even have got there in the first place to begin his long and troubled journey of tackling every official security agency of this country at our and the taxpayers’ expense, when he is a terrorist and a fraudster?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am not hiding behind the Refugee Status Appeals Authority. The reality is that there is a security risk certificate out, and it will be reviewed at some stage. That is the process that is happening at the moment.
Home Detention—Sentencing Act
2. MARC ALEXANDER (United Future) to the Minister of Justice: Is he satisfied that section 97(3) of the Sentencing Act 2002 is sufficient to ensure that leave to apply for home detention is only granted to offenders who do not pose a risk to the community?
Hon MARGARET WILSON (Acting Minister of Justice): I am not satisfied that the discretion not to grant leave to apply for front-end home detention contained in section 97(3) has consistently been interpreted in line with the policy intent behind that section. For that reason, the Parole (Extended Supervision) and Sentencing Amendment Bill currently before the Justice and Electoral Committee contains an amendment to that section to clarify that the court may grant leave to apply for home detention only if it is satisfied that home detention is appropriate given the other sentencing considerations, including the seriousness of the offence and the views of the victim.
Marc Alexander: Why does the Government not cut out any ambiguity whatsoever by simply ruling out leave to apply for home detention for all violent and sexual offenders, or is the Minister satisfied with the fact that of those on home detention last year, 27 percent had been convicted of such crimes?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: It is important that each offence is considered on its merits, and the appropriate place to do that is the court. But the amendment is designed to ensure that the effect the member has raised will be achieved, by maintaining the important principle that each offence is considered on its merits.
Darren Hughes: Is the Government satisfied that the interpretation given by the courts to home detention and deferral questions has been in line with the policy intent of the Sentencing Act 2002?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: No. Although neither home detention nor deferral were new in the Sentencing Act 2002, the Government has not been satisfied that court decisions on those matters have in all cases adequately implemented the policy intent. Deferrals have been granted too often, and the discretion not to grant leave to apply for home detention has not been exercised as was intended. That is why the Government late last year introduced amendments to relevant sections of the Act.
Hon Tony Ryall: Will the Government move amendments to the home detention regime to prevent the ridiculous situation where quite serious offenders sentenced to home detention can, in fact, be authorised to go to the gym or to play golf?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: That appears unlikely, but it is also appropriate to wait until the select committee reports back on May 18 on the submissions on the bill.
Ron Mark: How appropriate is it for a Parole Board subsequently to award home detention to persons like Kevin Moana Jarden, who went on to reoffend, and Maunu Nicholson, who was suspected of drug manufacturing and was subsequently found dead in his home from a P overdose, when a judge has not deemed them fit to apply for home detention; if it is not appropriate, when will this Minister remove back-end home detention from the statutes?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: I am not familiar with the specific details of the two cases raised by the member, but the principle is that all cases are considered by the Parole Board, and the board applies the law as it is there. The decisions of the board have to be respected, because it has the authority to make them. If the law is not adequate or does not give the board guidance, then it is the responsibility of this House, of course, to change it—which is what is happening.
Marc Alexander: Does the fact that 29 percent of those on home detention have been found guilty of drug offences reflect the Government’s position that drug dealers and users do not pose a risk to the community if they are kept at home—or has the Minister not heard of “tinny houses”?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: Yes, I have heard of “tinny houses”. Of course the Government is concerned if there is reoffending during that period.
Marc Alexander: Can the Minister confirm that offenders convicted of knowingly possessing child pornography will continue to be eligible for home detention, because the forthcoming increase in the maximum penalty—to 2 years’ imprisonment—for that crime will remain the cut-off point under section 97 for leave to apply for home detention; if so, will she consider amendments to either the Parole (Extended Supervision) and Sentencing Amendment Bill or the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Amendment Bill, to remove that possibility altogether?
Hon MARGARET WILSON: It is my understanding that there is a Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Amendment Bill currently before Parliament in which the matter of penalties is reviewed. That would be the appropriate place to raise those matters.
Marc Alexander: I seek leave to table a New Zealand Herald article citing that a psychiatric nurse caught with more than 15,000 explicit—
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Foreshore and Seabed—Legislation
3. GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Will the Government be introducing legislation before the Easter adjournment which will affirm Crown ownership of the seabed and foreshore?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes.
Gerry Brownlee: Does the Prime Minister accept that the Government’s bill will result in the vast proportion of New Zealand’s foreshore and seabed having an ancestral connection with Mâori, and therefore being subject to kaitiakitanga or governance by Mâori?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The reality is that there is an ancestral connection between Mâori and many, if not most, parts of the New Zealand coastline. That association is something that needs to be taken into account.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it the Government’s expectation that when this legislation goes before the select committee, some members of this House known to oppose this legislation may put the interests of the nation before their narrow, sectional political interests?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It is true that on this issue there has been a distinct difference between those who have been prepared to work for a solution and those who just want to stir the pot.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: What advice has the Prime Minister received on whether including the words “public domain” alongside Crown title will make any legal or practical difference, and can she further confirm that regardless of those words, the next Government will be able to sell any part of the foreshore or seabed with a simple majority of Parliament?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It is a well-established convention here that no Parliament can bind another. My understanding is that the term “public domain” did not have particular legal effect. It was an attempt to be more inclusive about what was there for the people of New Zealand.
Stephen Franks: Why has the Government announced that Mâori will get an ancestral connection based on historical association, when neither term was mentioned by the Court of Appeal, let alone offered as a justification for the grant to one race of decision making or governance powers over any beaches?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The fact that it was not mentioned by the Court of Appeal is not a reason for not making some provision for recognition in legislation that is establishing a new regime over the foreshore and seabed.
Gerry Brownlee: Does this bill, with its new jurisdiction for the Mâori Land Court and special Resource Management Act provisions for Mâori, deliver co-management of almost the entire coastline to Mâori, as specified and required by the Hon Parekura Horomia?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The reference to Mâori in terms of resource management goes back to the 1991 Resource Management Act, passed by the previous National Government. I think the answer to the second part of the question is no.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know you cannot be responsible for the quality of answers, but you can be responsible for there being an answer. The Prime Minister took a very specific question relating to the information given to us this morning by Dr Cullen on the special new provisions being provided under the Resource Management Act to Mâori in this bill, and to the fact that the Minister of Mâori Affairs had told the House some weeks previously that that was what he wanted. Surely, there can be a much better answer than to say that it goes back to 1991.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, there was. The Prime Minister in her last comment said “no”. I cannot think of any more specific answer.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave to table the Government’s statement that specifically stated: “that will amend the RMA to extend the protection of rights for Mâori.”
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is usually a convention in this House that when a member seeks to table a document, he or she at least has the courtesy to wait until the question is over.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is absolutely correct—that is the convention.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: On the question of Crown ownership, on the question of equality of rights in respect of customary rights, and on the question of access to the same court when there is a dispute, is it not the case that this bill now reflects one law for all?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: One of the additions to the bill, as requested by the leader of New Zealand First and his party, was that the ability to apply for a customary right should be available irrespective of ethnicity.
Heather Roy: What rights will Mâori lose under this proposed seabed and foreshore legislation, and what rights will Mâori gain?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: There was an unintended consequence of the Te Ture Whenua Maori Act that the Court of Appeal opened up, which was the ability to take a claim all the way through from customary land to freehold title and fee simple. It is not this Government’s intention to allow new, exclusive private property rights to be created over these areas. In respect of what rights Mâori will gain, there is more specific reference to ancestral connection, and it is something on which the consultation provisions in the Resource Management Act should be based. As well as that, there is more clarity around the High Court’s role when it comes to issues of aboriginal title being raised.
Gerry Brownlee: Does the Prime Minister agree with the earlier assertion in the House by the Hon Margaret Wilson that a customary right is a property right, and can she tell the House for certain that the customary rights that this bill will give to Mâori, alongside the special Resource Management Act provisions that this bill proposes, do not create two standards of citizenship in this country?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As I said in an earlier answer, there is the ability for anyone who believes he or she can establish continuity of use since before 6 February 1840 to apply for a customary right.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did not ask a question about the application that one may pursue for customary rights. I asked whether the Prime Minister agreed with one of her Ministers, who said that a customary right is a property right. I asked whether the special Resource Management Act provisions in this bill will apply to that property right and, as suggested, whether that means this Government is pursuing the line of two standards of citizenship: one for Mâori, and one for non-Mâori.
Mr SPEAKER: Could the Prime Minister add something to her question?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: A customary right is a property right. A customary right can be applied for by anybody who believes that he or she can demonstrate continuity of use since before 6 February 1840.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is irrelevant who can apply.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Gerry Brownlee: No, no, Mr Speaker. You must insist that this House gets good information. The Prime Minister cannot dodge this question. We have been told today—if we are to believe everything that is in the information given to us by Dr Cullen, are to accept the word of the Hon Margaret Wilson, and are to follow the text inside the Government’s own handout—that we will see the creation of property rights, and will see special provisions under the Resource Management Act applied to those property rights, and that they are exclusively for Mâori. To suggest that anyone other than a Mâori can claim a customary right pre-1840 is a load of rubbish.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is making a political point. The Speaker does not tell Ministers how to answer questions.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Would the Prime Minister confirm, first, that now the bill has the objective, and is in fact capable of realising that objective, that where any right exists, it is nevertheless not an exclusive right, so it has to be shared with the rest of the country, and second—[Interruption] I am trained in law, and the member is not—OK? I—
Mr SPEAKER: I know that. I am just about to rule. I will not have any comment made during the asking of questions, or members will leave the Chamber—and the next member to do so will leave. That is my final warning. Please start the question again.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Will the Prime Minister confirm, first, that where any right does exist, it will not be an exclusive right, and therefore the asset or resource has to be shared with everybody else, and second, that what is new is that in respect of the High Court resolution Mâori and non-Mâori appear there as equals, which was not previously the case under the 1991 Act passed by National—and the 1993 Act?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Yes, people do appear as equals before the High Court. While there may well be specific use rights that are granted or recognised, that does not mean that the average Kiwi, including myself, cannot wander down to the beach and do what he or she has always done. We will be able to do that.
Deborah Coddington: What rights will non-Mâori lose under this proposed seabed and foreshore legislation, and what rights will non-Mâori gain?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am hard-pressed to think of any rights that non-Mâori would lose. In respect of gain, the gain is the certainty that we are all able to access and enjoy those areas freely.
Gerry Brownlee: Why is the Government telling the public they have got, through the Crown, ownership of the foreshore and seabed, but is telling Mâori that they have kaitiakitanga, or control, and is that not another example—[Interruption] Why are Government members laughing at that?
Mr SPEAKER: A comment was also made by the member’s own colleague. Please carry on with the question.
Gerry Brownlee: Why is the Government telling the public that they have ownership of the foreshore and seabed, but telling Mâori they have kaitiakitanga, or control, and is that not another example of the Government saying one thing to Mâori and another thing to non-Mâori?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I do not think one can be clearer than saying that the full legal and beneficial ownership resides with the Crown.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister confirm that what non-Mâori have gained, and uniquely gained, are the rights to appear via their counsel at the Mâori Land Court, and to appeal from it, both of which are new rights, and third, the right to make a customary claim—for example, for the Auckland regatta, which has been going since 1840—which is something that is new in this legislation?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: What is new and what has been presented today is the ability of anyone who can prove that continuity of use to be able to claim a customary right.
Hon Richard Prebble: Will the Prime Minister seek leave to have the debate and the vote on the first reading of the Government’s foreshore legislation tomorrow, rather than wait until after the Easter adjournment, or is it the reality that the Government is not sure it has the votes for this measure?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Government does have the support to introduce this bill and have a first reading on it. I had not planned on seeking leave for that tomorrow. It may be tempting to do so. However, I think that people want time to study the bill.
Gerry Brownlee: Can she confirm to the House that once that bill is passed, New Zealanders who want to build a jetty, put in a slipway, or build a boatshed will no longer need to go to their relevant local authority for permission to do so, but rather they will simply have to contact the relevant iwi, hapû, or whânau, because this bill gives those groups exemption from the Resource Management Act in those matters?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, that is ridiculous, and if the National Party has to resort to that sort of nonsense to find reasons to vote against the bill, there is obviously not very much wrong with it.
Gerry Brownlee: I seek leave of the House to table the Government’s own briefing paper, which makes it very clear that Mâori who have an ancestral connection to the foreshore and seabed around this country do have some exclusions from the Resource Management Act.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the speech made at Orewa this year on 27 January, where one asserted—by way of borrowing it, of course—the case of “one rule for all; one law for everybody”.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Richard Prebble: I seek leave to table the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ reaction to “one law for all”, in which he described it as the view of a colonial tea planter.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave has been sought. Is there any objection? There is.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Everyone knows that I described the appearance at Ratana Pa, wearing a panama hat, as looking like a colonial tea planter. Mr Prebble, again, is wrong.
Afghanistan—Provincial Reconstruction Team, Bamian
4. TIM BARNETT (Labour—Christchurch Central) to the Minister of Defence: What reports has he received on the progress of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamian, Afghanistan?
Hon MARK BURTON (Minister of Defence): On 3 April the Bamian university was reopened after extensive reconstruction work by our provincial reconstruction team. The university was significantly damaged after it was taken over by the Taliban in 1998. Funding for the reconstruction has come in equal shares from New Zealand and the United States. NZAID will provide additional funding for support over the next 3 months. The university is the only tertiary education facility in Bamian and the Central Highlands. Its reopening is therefore a critical step on the path towards reconstruction in the region. New Zealand is making a difference in Bamian.
Tim Barnett: What other reports has he had about the work that our provincial reconstruction team is doing in Bamian?
Hon MARK BURTON: The team is currently implementing 35 projects, worth some $6 million. In addition, it has facilitated the establishment of a provincial governance structure, and has formed a development group that is being used as a model for other provincial reconstruction teams. Our patrols provide liaison security presence and facilitate reconstruction efforts. This is a good example of our peacekeeping work, and I note that New Zealand was recently rated No. 1 on a per capita basis for its contributions to United Nations peacekeeping forces. We should all be proud of the work of all our peacekeeping forces.
Ron Mark: Given the magnificent progress that has been made in restabilising Afghanistan and moving it towards a democracy, what recommendations has he made to his Government about repatriating the 100-odd Afghan refugees whom his Government brought into this country, because supposedly Afghanistan was not the sort of place they should be left to live in?
Hon MARK BURTON: I think the member would know that the repatriation of Afghan refugees is not the province of the Minister of Defence. But I think this is a question that raises the good work of our peacekeeping forces, and I would have thought the member would want to join us in doing that.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask for your assistance. I specifically asked the Minister what recommendations he had made. He skirted all around it, but did not say whether he had made any, not made any, was going to, or had no intention of doing so.
Hon MARK BURTON: Speaking to the point of order, I point out I have no responsibility for that part of Government policy.
Mr SPEAKER: That addresses the question.
Labour Market Policy Group—Disestablishment
5. Hon ROGER SOWRY (National) to the Minister of Labour: What reports has he received regarding the disestablishment of the Labour Market Policy Group?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Labour): I have been advised by the Secretary of Labour that he is restructuring his leadership team to increase coordination across the Department of Labour, to focus its work more strongly on outcomes, and to strengthen the policy leadership capability of the department. As a result, the Labour Market Policy Group will not remain as a stand-alone policy group, but its policy capability will be integrated into Workforce, Workplace and Work Opportunities groups in the department.
Hon Roger Sowry: Why did the advertisements for the new deputy secretary positions invite candidates to demonstrate that they were able to “resolve conflicts between commitments to long-term goals and the need for political expediency.”?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: It was a mistake and it has been corrected.
Hon Mark Gosche: Why is structural change necessary at the Department of Labour?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am informed that the structural change proposed is designed to lift the department’s capability on labour-market issues and strengthen the quality of services it delivers. Overall, this should mean a more coordinated whole-of-department approach in this critical area of economic and social development.
Hon Roger Sowry: What part of the job description was a mistake—the part about being able to resolve conflicts, or the part about having the need for political expediency; and who made the mistake?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The answer to the first part is the latter, and to the second part, I am not sure.
Hon Roger Sowry: Is the Minister telling the House that a requirement for a neutral public servant to have political expediency is a mistake and he has not bothered to find out who made it?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The responsibility for the mistake is the Secretary of Labour’s, but who—
Opposition Members: Oh!
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Shock horror probe! The reality is that it is the responsibility of the Secretary of Labour. How that came about is not clear, but the Secretary of Labour has taken full responsibility for the mistake and has had it corrected.
Question No 6 to Minister
SUE KEDGLEY (Green): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. For the purposes of clarity, could I add the words “on average” to my question, before the words “8.3”? I have just recognised that that would help to clarify it.
Mr SPEAKER: I will not put leave. I will allow the member to do so.
6. SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister of Broadcasting: Does he think it is acceptable for a public broadcaster—TV2—to screen on average 8.3 violent incidents in each hour of its programming; if so, why?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Acting Minister of Broadcasting): The Television New Zealand Act 2003 specifically prevents me from interfering in the day-to-day operations of broadcasting, including programming decisions. I am informed, however, that TVNZ executives met this morning to plan action on reducing television violence—in particular, the concerns raised by the working-group on television violence over the concentrated level of violence in promotions. I need to add that TVNZ is pleased that it has the lowest level of television violence across the networks.
Sue Kedgley: Will he amend TVNZ’s statement of corporate intent to require it to reduce substantially the number of violent episodes in programmes screened on TV2, a channel that, of course, is targeted at children and young persons; if not, why not?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I am confident that Television New Zealand listens well and is responsive to the views of the community. Indeed, I am aware that the TVNZ charter clause in relation to television violence was included at the suggestion of the questioner.
Mark Peck: What role did broadcasters play on the working-group on television violence?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The chief executives of Television New Zealand and TV3 were both members of that group, which prepared the list of proposals on television violence. TVNZ has acted promptly and is drafting a new policy detailing processes for addressing the issue that, I am informed, should be completed within the next 2 to 3 weeks. TVNZ is looking at sharing its action plan with other broadcasters.
Peter Brown: Is the Minister aware that there are videos out there for hire that are equally as violent as anything shown on TV, and what will the Government do about that?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Yes, and they should be dealt with by the same process relating to community concern and a change of attitude.
Marc Alexander: Does the Minister think it is acceptable for a public broadcaster, TV2, to screen adults-only content containing violence and horror programming, which has now been well established to have a deleterious effect on young children, at the early time of 8.30 p.m. when the international benchmark is 9 o’clock; if so, why?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: As I commented in the answer to my first question, the Act prevents me from being involved in programming decisions. However, I do believe that TVNZ should be complimented on the responsible way in which it is responding to the findings of the working-party.
Sue Kedgley: Does he agree with the editorial in the New Zealand Herald yesterday that television bosses are delivering lame excuses in response to the findings of the working-group on violence, and will he be calling on all television networks to act immediately to reduce the number of violent incidents on television, rather than waiting for a revamped Broadcasting Standards Authority to require them to do so?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: No, I do not agree with the editorial. In fact, I find it ironic that the New Zealand Herald, the only newspaper that was not present at the launch of this report last week, was so inaccurate in its reports of the good initiatives stated at the time by Mr Fraser.
Sue Kedgley: Does he agree that a State-owned, public broadcaster has a special responsibility to ensure it is not screening potentially harmful television content, in the form of gratuitous or excessive violence, on a channel that children and young people watch, and will he therefore amend the statement of corporate intent to require that broadcaster to take a lead on television violence—not just in promos but in its programmes—as it is called on to do in its charter?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Yes, I do agree with the questioner’s initial statement, and I believe that TVNZ is delivering on that responsibly.
Hazardous Substances—Public Health
7. Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY (Labour) to the Minister for the Environment: What recent developments have there been to better protect public health and the environment from the risks posed by hazardous substances?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Minister for the Environment): On 1 April this year, single component dangerous goods were transferred to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act of 1996. This brings about 80 percent by volume of New Zealand’s hazardous substances under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, including most major fuels such as petrol, diesel, and natural gas. The transfer enables the Environmental Risk Management Authority to control more effectively the use and storage of these substances, thus protecting public health and the environment.
Dr Ashraf Choudhary: What other initiatives will the Government undertake to reduce the risk posed by hazardous substances?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: Over the next few months the Ministry for the Environment will be working with several regional councils to collect and dispose of unused agrichemicals from rural properties. This will be a free service offered to farmers to help reduce the environmental risk from chemicals and waste in rural areas. Once collected, the agrichemicals will be exported to France for environmentally sound disposal.
8. JUDITH COLLINS (National—Clevedon) to the Associate Minister of Mâori Affairs (Social Development): Does she stand by her statement that “the more control that parents have over their lives and destiny, the better they can care for their children.”; if so, why?
Hon TARIANA TURIA (Associate Minister of Mâori Affairs (Social Development)): Yes, that is a view that I hold. Children who are nurtured, loved, and supported in a secure environment, where there are healthy attitudes and healthy relationships, flourish.
Judith Collins: Does the Minister support the view of the Law Commission report, commissioned by this Government, which states that for Mâori, genetic parents have no exclusive rights to possession of their children; they hold them in trust for the whânau and the wider hapû and iwi?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: Yes, I do.
Jill Pettis: Can the Minister advise how parents may best care for their children?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: Parents best care for their children by loving them, providing them with an environment that is conducive to learning and growing, and giving them an appreciation of who they are and what they could become.
Dr Muriel Newman: In light of the Minister’s answer, does she believe that whânau and iwi have the same rights as genetic parents; if not, how do those rights differ?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: Yes, I do believe that the extended whânau have the same rights as the parents, because children are born into whânau.
Judith Collins: Is the Associate Minister concerned that the implication of those views for parents who happen to be Mâori is that their parental rights and responsibilities are, under this Government, significantly less than those of non-Mâori parents; if not, why not?
Hon TARIANA TURIA: I am not aware that the rights of Mâori whânau are any different from those of the rights of non-Mâori.
9. HELEN DUNCAN (Labour) to the Minister of Customs: What practical steps has the Customs Service taken to enhance security across the Asia-Pacific region?
Hon RICK BARKER (Minister of Customs): Last week, while hosting the World Customs Organization regional heads of administration meeting in Auckland, the New Zealand Customs Service entered into bilateral cooperative agreements with the both the Japanese customs administration and the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority.
Helen Duncan: Can the Minister tell the House what the significance to New Zealand is of the cooperative arrangements with the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority and the customs administration of Japan?
Hon RICK BARKER: Fiji is a significant trans-shipping point for trade in and out of New Zealand, and it makes sense for the security of both countries that we have a shared approach to enhancing security in the Pacific region. This is the first bilateral customs agreement that New Zealand has with any Pacific Island country. For Japan, the agreement will facilitate secure trade between our two countries, and will also provide a framework for cooperation in the investigation of illegal drugs and other criminal activity.
Shane Ardern: As the Minister has acknowledged the importance of customs services for security across the Asia-Pacific region, will he now admit that customs is a common-good service and, therefore, not proceed with the stupid $20-million tax that he intends to impose on industry in New Zealand?
Hon RICK BARKER: The charges associated with security and trade facilitation are anything but “stupid”. Without having secure arrangements, we will not facilitate trade, which I am sure that member agrees is very important. The second thing is that where there is an issue of security, this Government pays for it fully. Where there is an issue of trade facilitation, the private sector makes up the cost of that.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister agree that both the customs cooperative framework with Japan and the US Container Security Initiative enhance national security—a core Crown responsibility—and with that in mind, will he consider amending the Border Security Bill so that all public-good measures contained in that bill are funded through general taxation, or will he at least enable that matter to be tested through the inclusion in the bill of a suitable clause; if not, why not?
Hon RICK BARKER: The first aspect of the public-good issue is that the Crown accepts that there are many public-good aspects of security. The Crown invests heavily in the Customs Service, in order to pay for the public good. Where there are issues around trade facilitation that are in the interests of facilitating trade for business, that is a private good, and private-good interests should pay.
10. SUE BRADFORD (Green) to the Minister of Health: What are the Government’s plans for the future of Kaitaia Hospital?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): The Government intends to fund a new hospital at Kaitaia in line with the recommendations of the review carried out in 2002-03.
Sue Bradford: Can the Minister confirm that the much-vaunted upgrade she has just mentioned will not actually restore after-hours surgery and will not give Kaitaia a proper emergency department, and does she believe that this is the solution the people of Kaitaia had in mind when, 2 weeks before the last election, she promised to find a real long-term solution to the problems there?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Indeed, we found a long-term solution for Kaitaia by the recommendations that came out of the review—the review that was agreed by the community. It was the community that put in place the reviewers who carried it out, and we have implemented the recommendations. Twenty-four hour a day surgery will not be restored. It has not been carried out in Kaitaia since 28 February 2003, and since that time an average of around six people a month have had to be transferred on the advice of their clinician. What they do have is certainty that they will have a hospital today and into the future that also provides emergency care in a new emergency department.
Steve Chadwick: Can the Minister guarantee there will be a new hospital at Kaitaia that includes operating theatres, as promised in the review carried out in consultation with the Kaitaia community?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, I can guarantee that I will very shortly be announcing a new Kaitaia Hospital that will include operating theatres, modernised wards, a new emergency department, etc., providing the sort of facility the people of Kaitaia richly deserve and long asked for.
Sue Bradford: Why are even minor daytime operations such as tonsillectomies being sent to Whangarei, and is Kaitaia Hospital not simply being subjected to death by a thousand cuts?
Hon ANNETTE KING: They certainly are not being subjected to death by a thousand cuts. If the member took time to look to see what is being put in place she would see that it has a future that it has not been assured of in the past, and that something like 121 operations have been carried out in the last year. What are not being carried out are emergency operations in the middle of the night. They are transferred to Whangarei.
Sue Bradford: Can the Minister assure the people of the far north, in promising them a real hospital in Kaitaia, that the proposed upgrade will prevent situations such as the recent case in which a pregnant woman had to be driven to Whangarei Hospital and ended up giving birth on the top of the Mangamukas with nothing more than a towel to wrap her baby in on a cold night?
Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I cannot give a guarantee that a woman will not have a baby in the back of a car, or the front of a car. After all, one birth was reported out on the Hutt motorway recently. Babies come where babies come. One does try to plan births, but anyone who has had a baby knows they cannot always be planned exactly.
11. Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT) to the Prime Minister: How does she justify her reported acceptance of a Minister abstaining from voting for a Government bill in light of paragraph 3.24 of the Cabinet Manual that states “ ‘Agree to disagree’ processes may only be used in relation to different party positions. Any public dissociation from Cabinet decisions by individual Ministers outside the agreed processes is unacceptable.”?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): It is for me as Prime Minister to determine the boundaries for ministerial behaviour.
Hon Richard Prebble: Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister is saying that it is acceptable for her to have one law for Mâori ministers and another law for others?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The ethnicity of Ministers is irrelevant in this matter.
Hon Richard Prebble: Does the Prime Minister not agree that the Cabinet Manual makes no distinction between a Minister abstaining on legislation and a Minister voting against legislation, and that being so, is the real reason for the Prime Minister’s new tough stance on the Associate Minister of Mâori Affairs that she has determined that her Government will be more popular if she gets rid of that Minister?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Cabinet Manual is not a statute and it is not a set of laws. It is a set of expectations and they, of course, change from time to time.
Gerry Brownlee: Is it not the case that the Prime Minister and her executive only abide by the rules and regulations of the Cabinet Manual that suit their purposes and ignore all of those that do not; and what can New Zealanders really expect from a Prime Minister who so flagrantly disregards a document that is well considered to be part of the constitutional arrangements of this country?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: In some aspects the Cabinet Manual does indeed set down hard and fast constitutional rules—this is not one of them. It is, as I said, a set of expectations, and those are revised from time to time.
Gerry Brownlee: Are we now to believe from the Prime Minister that the concept of Cabinet collective responsibility is not core and central to the constitution and democracy of New Zealand?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, not at all. But I have drawn a distinction between active opposition, as evidenced by crossing the floor, and an abstention, which by its nature is more passive.
Question No. 10 to Minister
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): I seek leave to lay on the Table of the House the master plans for the new Kaitaia Hospital.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Health Services—Rural Community
12. DAVID PARKER (Labour—Otago) to the Associate Minister of Health: What is the Government doing to support the health of rural New Zealanders?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Associate Minister of Health): There are many initiatives under way. We recently announced the extension of the primary health-care nurse practitioner rural scholarships. The scholarships help clinical nurse specialists in rural practice take a year off to complete the necessary study to bring their qualifications up to nurse practitioner level with prescribing rights. Nurse practitioners with prescribing competencies make a huge contribution to the rural health workforce, and this scheme recognises that.
David Parker: What other programmes are in place to improve the health of rural New Zealanders?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: The extension of these scholarships complements an already strong raft of rural health initiatives, some of which include reasonable roster funding to relieve rural doctors and nurses, recruitment and retention funding to address rural workforce issues, the rural locum support scheme, and the rural general practice network—that is, finding long-term locums and permanent general practitioners for rural practices.
Judy Turner: Does the Minister agree that the money spent on recruiting rural locum doctors from overseas would be better directed towards investing in New Zealand medical students and providing incentives for their retention so that, rather than losing 30 percent of these new graduates within the first 3 years of work, and losing their skills and specific knowledge of New Zealand conditions, they could be employed in filling the urgent deficit of approximately 80 rural general practitioners; if not, why not?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: That is a very good idea, and the Government is, in fact, undertaking both. We are attracting overseas general practitioners and we are supporting general practitioners who go through the system here. Forty more places were put into the medical schools under this Government to try and address the problem of the shortage that was ignored by the previous National Government.
End of Questions for Oral Answer