Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 12 May 2004
Wednesday, 12 May 2004
Questions to Ministers
2 Algerian Refugee—Resettlement
3 Mâori Issues—Advocacy
4 Foreshore and Seabed Bill—Compliance Costs
5 Primary Health Care Strategy—Reports
6 Fisheries, Minister—Achievements
7 Genetically Modified Sweetcorn—Contamination
8 Police Prosecution Service—Prosecution of Member of Parliament
9 Tourism—Quality Visitor Destination
10 Mental Health Services—Mental Health Commission
11 Compliance Costs—Reduction
12 Cancer Patients—Radiation Therapy in Australia
Questions for Oral
Questions to Ministers
1. RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Labour—Napier) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education): What progress is the Government making towards its target of 6,500 Modern Apprenticeships by June 2004?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)): I am pleased to say that we have met—and, in fact, exceeded—this target, reaching 6,580 Modern Apprenticeships by 31 March 2004. This is, as members can see, pleasing, as Modern Apprenticeships are a vital part of achieving our goal that by 2007 all 15 to 19-year-olds will be engaged in appropriate education, training, or work, so that they can make a contribution to resolving the skills shortage caused by the National Government’s repeal of the Apprenticeship Act in 1992. Tomorrow I will announce further funding for this fantastic policy.
Mr SPEAKER: We have had a little bit too much noise on both sides.
Russell Fairbrother: What has been the public response to the Modern Apprenticeships scheme?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: That is a very good question. Modern Apprenticeships has been warmly greeted by almost all quarters: industry, training organisations, business leaders, schools, mayors, parents, and the learners themselves. I say almost all quarters, however, because one organisation said: “The sooner we get rid of it, the better.” It called it a hoax and a sham, and predicted that it would get no one into work. That was the National Party who, if it were in power, would repeal the Modern Apprenticeship Training Act of 2000 by lunchtime.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not know what has come over members on a Wednesday, but they seem a bit noisier.
2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Has she or any of her Ministers and their officials had any discussions or correspondence with officials from other countries exploring whether they would be prepared to accept Ahmed Zaoui; if so, how much has this added to the total cost to the taxpayer associated with Zaoui?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): There have been such discussions at the level of officials. These have been undertaken through existing diplomatic channels, and therefore have not added to the total costs of this case. This approach is prudent because, if the *security risk certificate were upheld and if the Minister then decided within the 3 days to rely upon it, consideration would need to be given to deportation.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How many Muslim countries have been approached in this respect, and how many of those countries have shown any positive inclination to take this terrorist from our shores? [Interruption] Yes, he is. What do you know about it?
Mr SPEAKER: I do know a little bit about it, and the member used the second person when he should not have. But there should not have been an interjection in the first place.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The answer is none.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Why can the Prime Minister not give an absolute assurance to New Zealanders that in the event of the national security certificate being upheld by the *Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Mr *Zaoui will be deported?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Because it takes two to tango. To deport, one has to find somebody to take the person.
Keith Locke: How much has it cost the taxpayer for the Government to take its case to the Court of Appeal, to stop the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security from taking into account Mr Zaoui’s human rights in the inspector-general’s determination of the security risk certificate; and secondly, how much has it cost—
Mr SPEAKER: This is referring to a court case that is going on at the present time. That part of the question was not in order, and the member may like to rephrase it. He must not refer to the current court case.
Keith Locke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: It had better be a good one.
Keith Locke: My question relates only to the cost to the taxpayer in respect of this case. It does not deal with the case itself, in any way.
Mr SPEAKER: It still refers to the case, and that is forbidden by the Standing Orders. I do not write the Standing Orders; the House does. If the member wants to rephrase the question in some way, he can, but it cannot relate to the current court case.
Keith Locke: How much has it cost the taxpayer to keep Mr Zaoui in jail for several more weeks while he awaits the determination of the Government’s appeal to the Court of Appeal?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I do not have the weekly costs of keeping Mr Zaoui in jail. My understanding is that the cost to the *Department of Corrections to date of detaining him has been around $59,000.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest of respect to the Prime Minister, she cannot be allowed to get away with that answer. I am holding answers from July of last year and April this year that show she is demonstrably incorrect about the jail cost. We all know what maximum-security jail costs are per annum, and they are way above the $59,000 figure she gave.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, but the Prime Minister addressed that part of the question. If the member wants to ask another question, he can.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The member may be right that the Department of Corrections’ costs exceed that. It may be that that was the cost to *Crown Law for the work it has done for the Department of Corrections. I will check that and come back to him.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a correct interpretation that three leading *First World jurisdictions—namely Belgium, France, and Switzerland—have refused to have this man in their country, and that there is no *Muslim country prepared to accept him, yet nevertheless we have members of Parliament who want to defend this paragon of innocent virtue and have him stay at our cost?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It is correct that Mr Zaoui ran into trouble with the legal systems of the three countries—Switzerland, Belgium, and France. Obviously, he is undergoing what can only be described as a protracted process in this country. However, we do have a law, and the law must be followed. I regret that it is taking so long, and the review that I want to occur at the end of this case—whatever the outcome—will look at whether we can get a more timely procedure, which I am sure is possible.
Keith Locke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask your indulgence because I think the Prime Minister may be misleading the House by saying that Mr Zaoui got into trouble with the legal system in Switzerland. I think that he got into trouble with administrative systems, but—
Mr SPEAKER: That is actually a debating point.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is it that New Zealand, being a signatory to the 1951 Geneva convention in respect of refugees, nevertheless overlooks the fact that that convention does not require us to defend the rights of someone accused of terrorism, which was the case with Zaoui from *day one?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Those matters were determined firstly by the **Refugee Status Board in the Department of Labour, which did not think that Mr Zaoui should have refugee status. It was then appealed to the *Refugee Status Appeals Authority, and, as the member knows, the Refugee Status Appeals Authority chose to not put any reliance on the decisions of either the Belgian or the French legal systems.
3. MURRAY SMITH (United Future) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs: Does he continue to stand by his statements last week that “We are a party that does not turn our backs on the issues facing Mâori and walk away from the difficult problems.”, and that he has “spent a lifetime advocating for Mâori to Governments.”; if so, why?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Mâori Affairs): Yes. This Government will continue to face up to the challenging issues facing Mâoridom*. This contrasts starkly with the politics of divisiveness promoted by other parties. I will always be an advocate for Mâori.
Marc Alexander: Has the Minister advocated for Mâori to the Minister of Corrections on behalf of the seven Northland Mâori iwi that are pleading with the Government to maintain private management of the Auckland Central Remand Prisonbecause of its enviable record in working with Mâori, or has he actually turned his back on Mâori and walked away from the problem by slavishly voting for the Corrections Billon ideologically “pink think” lines?
Mr SPEAKER: Let me just say to the member that that question is very wide of the original question. That question really is about a completely separate matter and I do not think it is fair to allow it.
Hon Peter Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I draw your attention to the original question, which is about the Minister’s statement about turning “our backs on issues facing Mâori”, and walking away from “difficult problems”, etc. In that context I refer you to this morning's New Zealand Herald and the article on this particular issue, which shows that Mâori interests in Auckland are taking a very strong stand on this particular matter. I would therefore submit that given the Minister’s statement, the question from my colleague asking about his role—in furtherance of his statement—with regard to this measure, which is attracting interest from Mâori groups, is entirely in order.
Mr SPEAKER: There is a Minister of Corrections. However, I do not want to be unfair to the member. If the Minister wanted to make a brief comment on it he could, but it is the Minister of Corrections who is the Minister responsible for this issue.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Justice is a core—
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am rising only because, quite clearly, your ruling could have an effect on subsequent supplementary questions that may relate to this issue. The point here is that the Minister is being asked if he has taken an advocacy role, as he has claimed in the House—and he has reaffirmed in his answer today that he always does—on behalf of Mâori with regard to the private prison. Surely there should be able to be some questions to him with regard to that advocacy, even though he is not the Minister of Corrections.
Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary questions can elucidate primary questions. This could turn into questions without notice, which I do not encourage. I will hear each question and gauge it on its merits.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: In the view of this Government the administration of prisons is a core State function and the Mâori programmes will continue.
Mahara Okeroa: Can the Minister, amongst many instances, recall when he advocated for Mâori?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Yes. I most certainly can recall many such instances.
Judith Collins: Name one.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: In particular, 20 years ago right here in Parliament I was actively advocating that young Mâori not go to prison—in 1984 at the Hui Taumata**—and I am still advocating that now, to make sure that they do not go to prison, that we get them out, and that it is not so much about the management.
Hon Peter Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I draw your attention to your ruling that asking a question of Ministers regarding their advocacy of particular causes is tantamount to asking a question without notice, and contrast that with the previous question, which was very much, in effect, a question without notice to the Minister, and was clearly answered as such. I ask you for some consistency in the interpretation.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I certainly intend to apply consistency.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that the October 1984 Hui Taumataquickly became a “Hui No-matter”, and nothing happened as a consequence, is it a fair judgment of the Minister’s effectiveness that the so-called closing the gaps policy—much-vaunted by his leader—has been utterly forgotten?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The titles might have changed, but I tell my elder over there that this Government has been doing the hard yards and dealing to the difficult issues. We now have more Mâori in work. Mâori unemployment for the March quarter was at 9.4 percent—the lowest since December 1985. We have more Mâori succeeding in business—700 Mâori businesses over the last 3 years. Recent research shows that Mâori women continue to be more entrepreneurial than their counterparts internationally. We have more Mâori learning. Nine hundred Mâori are involved in the Modern Apprenticeships programme. That is good government and good for Mâori.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I could not hear what the Minister was saying, and I would be delighted if you gave the Minister a chance to repeat his answer so that we could all hear it over here—
Mr SPEAKER: No. I heard what the Minister said.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: —otherwise, those 20,000 Mâori protesting last week must have been a figment of my imagination.
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order, and the member knows it.
Hon Tony Ryall: How is the Minister’s advocacy helping Mâori, when this Government, which is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build new prisons, has today announced an apparent massive investment in rehabilitation programmes of $1.2 million?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The member cannot have it both ways.
Mr SPEAKER: I have been reasonably generous in allowing a little bit of toing and froing*, because there have been causes for it, but now I want to return to question time.
Sue Bradford: What is the Minister’s response, as an advocate for Mâori, to the Attorney-General’s recent finding that the Foreshore and Seabed Bill prima facie breaches the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I will continue to support the Government’s foreshore and seabed legislation, and it is consistent with what we are doing now.
Stephen Franks: In the Minister’s advocacy for Mâori, and given anxiety about the extent of Mâori claims, just how far off shore should a customary use or ancestral connection extend; for example, will it stop at the edge of the territorial sea, or could it go beyond the exclusive economic zone, perhaps as far as ancestral Hawaiikior maybe even Taiwan?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: That is certainly something for the Mâori Land Court.
Mr SPEAKER: No. I would like the Minister to give a little bit more of an answer—to talk about the sea rather than about the Mâori Land Court. I wonder whether the Minister might be prepared to add something to that answer.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The bill makes it clear what the limits are.
Marc Alexander: How will the Minister, as a supposed advocate in Government for Mâori, support the view of the seven northern Mâori iwi that the Auckland Central Remand Prison is the shining light in prison management for its relationship with tangata whenua, and the view of Tariana Turia that the Government should support my Supplementary Order Paper that calls for a review of Auckland Central Remand Prison performance before final decisions are made on private or public management of prisons; if not, why not?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: My friend is entitled to her views, and certainly there are different views in *Ngâpuhi, up in North Auckland. That is something that has to be worked through.
Marc Alexander: In light of that answer, does the Minister agree, as an advocate in Government for Mâori, that simply turning the Auckland Central Remand Prison into a State-run *Gulag will not ensure that positive outcomes for Mâori inmates will continue, in light of the claim by those Mâori who have worked successfully with the Auckland Central Remand Prison that, in the management of Mâori in other prisons, the Department of Corrections as a “We know best.” attitude, which explains why the flexible approach of the privately run remand centre was able to achieve what it has?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Let me be quite clear: I want to make sure that Mâori stop going to prison. That is what this Government is about. The good Mâori programmes within prison will continue.
Foreshore and Seabed Bill—Compliance Costs
4. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Deputy Prime Minister: What are the compliance costs for councils and resource consent applicants arising from the amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991 identified in the explanatory note to the Foreshore and Seabed Bill?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister): There are potentially some small additional costs to resource consent applicants where a customary right has been awarded. Should the *rights-holder withhold approval, these costs may be offset by savings elsewhere in the consents system. These savings will accrue to councils because the recognition of Mâori ancestral connection will make it clear which Mâori the council should be consulting under existing Resource Management Act provisions and those in the bill.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: How long will it be before the rules for the use of the foreshore and seabed will be clear, noting that, firstly, the bill will need to be passed—and that is unlikely to occur before Christmas—and, secondly, the Mâori Land Court will have to process hundreds of claims for customary rights and ancestral connection orders, and that this is likely to take at least 2 years, and that councils will then have to amend their coastal plans to take into account the recognition of those ancestral connections and customary rights orders, and that that will also be subject to appeal to the *Environment Court? So how many years will it be before people know what the rules are for consents on the foreshore and seabed?
Mr SPEAKER: The question was very long, but I will allow the Minister to answer.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It is certainly not true that there would be an appeal to the Environment Court on the matter of the registration of those customary rights. The member should once again read the bill.
Dail Jones: What comparison is there—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question asked how long it would take for those processes set out in the bill. I do not think it is acceptable in the House for the Minister to simply say that I should read the bill. I have read it.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: If that had been the question, the member would have got an answer, but he decided to add a whole lot of other stuff. If members ask many questions as part of a question, they are open to being given one answer to one part of the question.
Mr SPEAKER: That is perfectly correct and in order.
Dail Jones: What comparison is there between the simple procedure set out in the Foreshore and Seabed Bill for those who claim the use rights and register them for the benefit of those who apply for resource consents, and the expensive application procedures in terms of the Resource Management Act requiring consideration of “the relationship of Mâori and their culture and traditions with their ancestral lands, water, sites, *wâhi tapu, and other taonga”, as stipulated in the National Party’s legislation?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The bill will provide a much clearer set of rules around what actually occurs, and over time it will be much easier for local authorities to work with, which is why, except for the Mayor of Nelson, *Local Government New Zealand has actually been in favour of the legislation.
Hon Richard Prebble: Has the Minister considered and called for reports from officials on the impact of the foreshore and seabed legislation on other regulatory processes such as marine farming rights, biotechnology rights, the property rights of farmers, and the impact on fishery allocations and quotas; if so, what is the economic cost of compliance for each one of those groups?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Not specifically, but if I can pick up on one example, I am not aware of any farming occurring over the foreshore and seabed. I am sure, therefore, there will be minimal costs to farmers involved in the new procedures.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is he aware that the aquaculture industry grew from $50 million in exports in 1990 to $150 million in exports in 1999, but that has stalled since Labour came to office and imposed the moratorium, and that the convoluted processes under the Foreshore and Seabed Bill will further stall the growth of this industry for years; and might the Minister explain how depriving this country of the huge economic opportunities for years under this bill somehow helps New Zealand? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I am not going to warn any members more than once; there will be no interjections while questions are being asked. I will listen to the question and determine when it is to be answered.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I was aware of a great mess that we inherited in terms of a rush of applications, in regard to aquaculture. I am also aware the Government is on the point of making decisions very soon, in order to allow us to proceed to lift the moratorium at the end of this year. I am further aware that if we adopted the position as outlined by the Court of Appeal decision, there would be much greater uncertainty for an extraordinary long period of time as the process of customary land status applications, which are highly uncertain in their outcome and meaning, proceeded through the current system.
Dail Jones: Does the Foreshore and Seabed Bill referred to in the question guarantee the public the right to be on the public foreshore and seabed, and to enjoy the public foreshore and seabed, do clauses 51 and 69 ensure these rights cannot be affected by ancestral connection orders or customary rights orders, and were the New Zealand First Party and the Labour Party the only parties to vote for the right of the public to enjoy these rights?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I think the answer to all those questions is yes. Perhaps the University of Canterburymight care to employ the member on this matter, rather than Mr David Round.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Can the Minister now answer my earlier supplementary question as to how long it will take for the processes in his bill to be concluded—that is, the passage of the bill, the processing by the Mâori Land Court on the ancestral connection claims, and the claims for customary rights, and then the changes in the regional plans that flow on from those changes, so that citizens out there might know what the rules are in respect of the foreshore and seabed?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The last element the member refers to is not a complex procedure at all. Once a specific customary usage right is recognised, it is simply registered on the local plan. Compared with the alternative policy—the only one I have heard explained in detail, which is to legislate for Crown ownership, but in fact therefore to leave open the prospect of going to the High Court for an exploration of the full nature and extent of customary rights—this is a far simpler and more precise process.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Deputy Prime Minister considered putting some funds and resources aside so that certain members of Parliament, who are running around the country misleading—
Gerry Brownlee: Here we go. The white knight.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Did the member say the “wide” one?
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. I have warned members. Mr Brownlee does happen to be in a certain privileged position in this place, and he knows he should not have interjected at that point. On this occasion I will ask him to stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Gerry Brownlee: I withdraw and apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: Please start again.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he has given consideration to setting aside resources and finances to enable certain members of Parliament, who are running around this country, misinforming the public, to be properly educated on the provisions of this bill, which is clearly not the case now?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, but in just over 2 weeks I will be presenting a Budget that is both prudent and is spending significant sums on assistance for low to middle incomefamilies. Unfortunately I do not have any money left over for the impossible task of trying to educate members of the National Party.
Primary Health Care Strategy—Reports
5. STEVE CHADWICK (Labour—Rotorua) to the Minister of Health: Has she received any reports on the roll-out of the primary health-care strategy?
Hon RUTH DYSON (Acting Minister of Health): Yes, I have. The most recent *New Zealand Doctor magazine shows that the majority of doctors want the primary health organisations to continue as they are. I have received another report stating that the primary health organisations should be scrapped. Those comments were made by Dr Don Brash and Dr Lynda Scott. It is clear that the continued provision of accessible and affordable primary health-care depends on the continuation of a Labour-led Government.
Steve Chadwick: What role do midwives and nurse practitioners play in primary health organisations?
Hon RUTH DYSON: The role of midwives in primary health organisations as the lead maternity carer is a critical one. More than 70 percent of women having babies have a lead maternity carer, and that has greatly relieved the *workload of general practitioners. Nurse practitioners are playing an increasingly important role in primary health organisations, and this Government has supported the professional development of nurses through funding for post-graduate training programmes and rural practitioner nursing scholarships.
Dr Lynda Scott: Has the Minister come to the realisation that her race-based funding and insistence on high Mâori involvement at the primary health organisation governance level has created major problems in primary care, such as rural fragmentation, with Opotiki having two primary health organisations—one Mâori and one other, which do not communicate—and no after-hours cover, such as a governance break-down in Hawke’s Bay, where a primary health organisation for Mâori has withdrawn, citing irreconcilable differences, and such as *pepper-potting in Auckland, where high Mâori populations get cheap care and their neighbours do not, despite need; and what will she do to address those serious implementation issues, which are affecting all New Zealand?
Hon RUTH DYSON: In answer to the question, no, because it has not. I suggest that that member take her own advice, listen to the doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners around the country, and support accessible and affordable access to primary health-care through the primary health organisations.
Sue Kedgley: Is she concerned at the inequity of the $3 pharmaceutical scheme, which applies to people who are enrolled in an access primary health organisation but not to those in an interim primary health organisation, and how can it be fair that under the scheme a poor person enrolled in an interim primary health organisation will not get cheap pharmaceutical drugs, but a rich person enrolled in an access primary health organisation will get cheap pharmaceuticals?
Hon RUTH DYSON: I certainly support the progressive roll-out of primary health organisations so that more and more New Zealanders are able to access the $3 capped prescription charges. Currently we have 3 million New Zealanders enrolled in 68 primary health organisations, and that is a huge step forward.
Steve Chadwick: How is the primary health-care strategy being received in rural areas?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Extremely well. My colleague Damien O’Connor last month attended the combined rural general practitioners and nurses conference, and the feeling at that conference was overwhelmingly positive. The rural health initiatives, such as reasonable roster funding, *workforce retention, the recruitment service, and the mobile surgical bus, are just some of the examples of our Government’s commitment to improving the health of rural New Zealanders.
6. GERRARD ECKHOFF (ACT) to the Minister of Fisheries: What has he achieved since becoming Minister of Fisheries?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Minister of Fisheries): Since becoming Minister of Fisheries on 26 February 2004, I have continued where my colleague the Hon Pete Hodgson left off to make progress on the Government’s objectives for the sustainable utilisation of New Zealand’s fisheries.
Gerrard Eckhoff: Why is he sponsoring a bill that gives Mâori 20 percent of migratory species, such as tuna caught in the South China Sea, up to 6,000 kilometres away from New Zealand, and what ancestral connection and customary use justifies a Mâori entitlement to fish caught in Kiribati, north of the equator?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The fisheries deed of settlement negotiated by the parties currently in Opposition.
Janet Mackey: What does the Minister consider are the key achievements of the Ministry of Fisheries since his appointment in February?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Since that time the ministry has, amongst other things, initiated a review of Regulation 27 of the Fisheries (Amateur Fishing) Regulations that control customary take, announced a new Budget initiative for recreational fishing—a 4-year, $4 million research plan—approved a national plan of action for seabirds, introduced two bills into Parliament to improve the legal framework for the sustainable utilisation of fisheries, and made sustainable utilisation decisions in respect of the squid and southern blue whiting fisheries.
Phil Heatley: Will he extend his aquaculture moratorium again, since the foreshore and seabed legislation is yet to run its long course and his aquaculture reform legislation has yet to be introduced; if not, how will he avoid extending it?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I hope not, and I can confirm for the member’s benefit that on Monday Cabinet issued drafting instructions to the Parliamentary Counsel Office with regard to the aquaculture bill in areas where decisions have been made.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Despite what he said to Mr Eckhoff in his second answer—that it was a National Party that botched this issue up with regard to the wider dispersement, or the 20 percent rule—
Hon David Carter: You voted for it.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, I did not vote for it, and the member knows I did not. So don’t go and tell the public what is not true!
Mr SPEAKER: The member does get himself into real trouble. Would Mr Peters please begin the question again.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Despite what the Minister said in his second answer to Mr Eckhoff—that the National Party was responsible for this botch-up, which finds a dispersement way beyond our territorial sea to other parts of the world where other fishers may have discovered the resource and acquired the resource—how can that be justified and fair with regard to the whole industry?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I apologise to the member for tarring him with the same brush. The consequences of the settlement are nonetheless quite clear.
Ian Ewen-Street: Does the Minister support the introduction of scampi into the quota management scheme, despite the fact that the High Court and the Court of Appeal found that the allocation model is “unfair, unreasonable, and unlawful”, and the fact that the State Services Commission inquiry has not yet reported back; if so, why?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Yes.
Ian Ewen-Street: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I specifically asked the Minister that if his response was “Yes” to explain why.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, I think the member has made a fair point. Perhaps the Minister can add to that question.
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: That is the substance of the bill currently before the select committee, and given that circumstance, I would consider it most inappropriate to make further comment on the matter.
Larry Baldock: Does the Minister stand by his statements on The Radio Network show on Saturday, 1 May, hosted by Tim Dower, that he had been listening hard to the concerns of recreational fishermen with regard to their concerns about the apparent depletion of kahawai fish stocks; if so, what plans does he have to address those concerns when kahawai is introduced to the quota management system?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Yes. Submissions have recently closed—in fact, on 16 April—and officials are currently are preparing final advice for me. I expect to have that in June. I can confirm the statement I made on that radio programme that a robust decision on this matter can be expected.
Gerrard Eckhoff: As the deed of settlement for Mâori covers the quota management area in New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone only, what principle of any kind gives Mâori a right to a fishing resource north of the equator they have never even claimed for, or fished for, yet have their right to New Zealand courts denied to justify their claim to New Zealand’s foreshore and seabed?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I will be happy to provide a copy of the 1992 deed of settlement for the member’s edification.
Genetically Modified Sweetcorn—Contamination
7. IAN EWEN-STREET (Green) to the Minister for Biosecurity: If corn seed contaminated with LibertyLink T25 is found to still be growing at present, will it be removed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; if so, under what authority?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Minister for the Environment), Acting Minister for Biosecurity: Under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has powers to ensure the disposal of unapproved genetically modified organisms when they are found.
Ian Ewen-Street: If that answer means yes, how do the farmers who planted the corn claim compensation for costs and loss of income, but if that answer means no, how can the Government claim to have a policy of zero tolerance if it knowingly leaves contaminated crops in the ground?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: If the member is saying that there is a difference between detecting a new organism and removing it from the ground, the zero tolerance of non-approved new organisms remains whenever they are discovered—whether they are discovered at the time they are tested, which is in bulk and it is easier to remove the seeds, or when they are discovered in the ground.
Clayton Cosgrove: Does the Minister have confidence in the system that monitors the importation of seed for planting?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: Yes. As this incident shows, the system is working. A routine test ordered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry showed that the testing laboratory was not carrying out its contract properly. The retesting was commissioned by the ministry and showed that the seed imported contained some genetically modified material. The ministry is now tracing the seed.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is the Minister aware that the laboratory deregistered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in March—Biogenetic Services—was the very laboratory that she and the Prime Minister relied upon in the statement that the Novartis corn imported in November 2002 was not contaminated, and now that that laboratory has been found to be unreliable, will we get an apology from her and the Prime Minister, who put hand on heart and told New Zealand that that corn was never contaminated?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: No, there will be no apology. As I have said many times in this House, in the year 2000 those seeds were extensively tested, and, to the highest level of confidence, were shown not to contain genetically modified seed. Since then, we have vastly improved our biosecurity system and our testing. We can test now to 0.05.
Larry Baldock: Does the Minister agree that the concerns of opponents of GE about public health or agriculture need to be kept in perspective, especially if the GM seed discovered is present in such small quantities and is barely enough to make up 44 corn cobs, or if planted, cover half a rugby field, whereas the remaining non-GM seed in the shipments concerned would make up 88,000 corn cobs, or if planted, cover 12,000 rugby fields, and that the Green Party’s paranoia is really unacceptable and is scaremongering?
Mr SPEAKER: Everything but the last part of the question can be answered.
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: I am very much aware that there can be hysteria when people cannot visualise what 22, 000, or even 14,000, seeds look like, and the member is correct when he talks about half a football field. But I also want to reassure the House and the people of New Zealand that there is no risk to human health and no risk to the environment.
Ian Ewen-Street: How do the farmers who have planted this imported, contaminated corn seed claim compensation for their costs and loss of income? Do they do so from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry—that is, the Government; in other words, the taxpayer subsidises them—or do they claim from Biogenetic Services, the lab that got it wrong, or from Bayer, the company that owns the intellectual property rights?
Mr SPEAKER: There are three questions there. The Minister can have a go at two of them.
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: I want to reassure the member again that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is working with the growers. At the moment it is at the stage of working with the different distributors of the seed to determine the whereabouts and the state of the seed. I do not want to speculate in hypothetical terms about people’s liability or costs, but I should imagine that if we find farmers with that seed planted in the ground and not in bags, they will cooperate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry—if it should come to that.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Could the Minister please be clear about what that means—if farmers cooperate with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and pull out and destroy crops that are contaminated with GE seed, will they be compensated; if so by whom?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: Since we have not arrived at the stage where we have found the seed planted in any field, I am not prepared to make any hypothetical statement about compensation or not.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Has any effort been made by the Government to work with other countries to identify seed-growing locations with the least risk of contamination and with safeguards against seed mixing, and to source our future seed imports from those areas?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: It is not the Government that actually imports the seed. Farmers import the seed, and they choose at the moment to import their seed from the United States and from Canada, which is the biggest source of the greatest varieties of seeds. If one decides to remain with seed grown only in New Zealand—as one member of the Green Party suggested to me today—then one is at risk of inbreeding.
Police Prosecution Service—Prosecution of Member of Parliament
8. Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National—East Coast Bays) to the Minister of Police: Why was the Police Prosecution Service established and what role did it have in independently appraising decisions in relation to the prosecution of Shane Ardern MP?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): The Police Prosecution Service was established to separate police investigative and prosecution arms. I am advised the decisions around the Shane Ardern case were consistent with the role for which the prosecution service was established.
Hon Murray McCully: Is the Minister aware the assessment by the police prosecution coordinator, Senior Sergeant Brendon Erasmuson, was that the case against Mr Ardern was “fraught with difficulties” and that the chances of a conviction were “nearly zero” and that even if one was achieved, “a section 106 discharge would almost be a certainty”, and can the Minister indicate why the prosecution service was overruled by what the judge later called “other powers and agendas”?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I will take a little time answering this. First of all, regarding the criminal investigation, the decision to charge and the charge selection were prepared by the Wellington District police operational staff. On 25 September, the first appearance in court, the Police Prosecution Service undertook an independent review of the prosecution files. The files were forwarded to the national manager of the Police Prosecution Service for a final decision. The national manager makes that decision that the prosecution should continue. However, on 25 November at a status hearing, Judge Mills made some comments. The file was then reconsidered by the national manager in the light of the judge’s comments.
Rodney Hide: Does he have any idea who the “other powers and agendas” were that the judge was referring to, or will he just leave it to the public to infer that his Government was involved in and behind this prosecution of Mr Shane Ardern MP?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I know that the judge made some comments, but what is in the judge’s mind at any one time, I would not know.
Hon Murray McCully: Could the Minister explain to the House why, when told the **Police Prosecution Service was conducting an independent review of the charges against Mr Ardern, *Superintendent John Kelly sent an email to the service, instructing: “There are to be no moves to withdraw this matter.”, and can the Minister explain the reasons for this quite improper head office interference with the prosecution service?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I can say that there is no interference, because the head of the prosecution service made his mind up independently. [Interruption] That may not please the other side of the House, but that is the fact.
Hon Murray McCully: I seek leave to table a number of documents: firstly, some email correspondence to and from Superintendent John Kelly; secondly, the review by the Police Prosecution Service; and, finally, two memoranda from the head of the prosecution service.
Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I seek leave to table the *Official Information Act requests by the National Party, with two of them over 300 pages each.
Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Tourism—Quality Visitor Destination
9. H V ROSS ROBERTSON (Labour—Manukau East) to the Minister of Tourism: Has he received any recent reports on New Zealand’s reputation as a quality visitor destination?
Hon MARK BURTON (Minister of Tourism): Yesterday, New Zealand won its fourth *Guardian and Observer newspapers People’s Choice award for best long-haul travel destination. No other country has won this award as many times, and the fact that the public decides makes it all the more valuable for our tourism sector. This is yet another clear illustration of the benefit for New Zealand of this Government’s strong working partnership with the industry.
H V Ross Robertson: Can the Minister tell the House whether New Zealand has received any other recent recognition from the international tourism sector?
Hon MARK BURTON: Yes. Without reservation, I congratulate the sector whenever and wheresoever I have the opportunity, particularly when so much of that recognition comes from our good friends Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. For example, New Zealand has been named in the US travel connoisseur **Andrew Harper’s list of top 10 international destinations, *Tourism New Zealand has recently won several international marketing public relations awards for the *“100 Percent Pure New Zealand” campaign, New Zealand features twice in the first-ever global assessment of sustainable tourism practice conducted by National Geographic, and staff at world-leading Australia-based travel guide Lonely Planet named New Zealand the world’s hottest destination for the second year running.
Mental Health Services—Mental Health Commission
10. HEATHER ROY (ACT) to the Minister of Health: Is the *Mental Health Commission correct when it states that “In 2002/2003, for the period January to June, 758 fewer people were reported as being seen by mental health services than during the same period in the previous year”, and what has been the increase in annual funding for mental health services since she became Minister?
Hon RUTH DYSON (Acting Minister of Health): Yes. The Mental Health Commission is correct in stating that a slightly lower number—1.2 percent—of people were reported as being seen by mental health services in January to June 2002-03 than in the same period the previous year. This does not mean that fewer people were actually seen, as the data does not include numbers of people being seen by non-governmental organisation providers, and the reduction in numbers may reflect more accurate reporting in some services. The commission itself states in the overview to the same report: “Our ability to interpret progress towards access targets is hindered by continued … problems with data accuracy ...”. The annual, GST-inclusive funding for mental health in the current financial year is $321 million higher than the annual funding 5 years ago.
Heather Roy: Is the Minister telling this House that the Government is spending an extra $200 million more on mental health services than it did when it came to power in 1999, but is treating no more patients; and just where has this money gone?
Hon RUTH DYSON: No, I am not saying that, at all. I am reporting very accurate examples of how the lack of data available is causing us difficulty in ensuring that we are progressing towards the access targets as required in the **Blueprint for Mental Health Services in New Zealand: How Things Need To Be, but clearly, from the increased funding, our commitment is to move towards those targets.
Steve Chadwick: Does the Minister know how Mâori access to mental health services compares?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Funding for Mâori mental health services increased to 9.6 percent in 2002-03, and over the 6 months ended June 2003 an estimated 10,600 Mâori were reported as being seen by mental health services. That is 2 percent of Mâori, compared with 1.6 percent of the total population being seen by such services. There has been good progress towards the goal of Mâori workforce development, with programmes to support Mâori students to gain mental health qualifications. That programme has supported 463 students over 5 years, with bursars achieving an 80 to 95 percent pass rate.
Dr Paul Hutchison: How can the Minister defend one of the key findings of the report, which is that inpatient beds for children and young people are at only 60 percent of recommended levels; and after 4 long years, why has she let that happen?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Yes, I absolutely do share the concern of the commission, and of the member who raised that supplementary question. It is a significant issue in New Zealand and other countries. Child and youth mental health services are a comparatively new area, and at the same time we also have significantly increasing prevalence rates of mental disorders in this population. As a country, we are working hard to address this, as are other countries.
Ron Mark: Is the Minister aware that as of 29 April, 42.1 percent of the 113,342 New Zealanders receiving the *invalids and sickness benefits are people with psychological, psychiatric, and substance abuse problems; if she is, could she explain how it is possible that what is clearly an increase in those numbers has been met by a reduction in the delivery of mental health services?
Hon RUTH DYSON: If the member quotes those figures, then I am sure they are correct. They are consistent with a reflection I made in answer to a previous question in the House in relation to the increase in numbers of people on the invalids benefit. A lot of that is comparable with the situation in European countries, where the increasing levels of mental illness and diagnosis of mental illness contribute to both those problems.
Judy Turner: Is the Minister aware that the commission’s findings that only 1.1 percent of people under 20 years of age were seen by mental health services in the 6 months ended June 2003 mean that approximately 21,147 children and young people are missing out on he services they need to assist their social and educational development; and will she take responsibility for ensuring that the child and adolescent mental health workforce is not only better trained but also expanded, so that the needs of those children can be met; if not, why not?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Yes, I do agree with the comments that the member made. I am very pleased to tell the House that since the period of the report that is under discussion in this question, the Werry Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Healthhas been opened in Auckland. The work of the centre will directly impact on improving the workforce and quality, innovative approaches to child and youth mental health services.
Heather Roy: Has the Minister been informed that, because of this Government’s systemic failure, a patient at Wellington Hospital’s ward 27 had to sleep in the ward’s telephone booth because there were no beds available; and what responsibility does she accept for this appalling treatment of a patient?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Yes, I have read media reports on that area, and I do understand the difficulty that the *Capital and Coast District Health Board has faced in the provision of mental health services. As the member will know, there is strong and direct engagement between the chief executive of that district health board and the Ministry of Health to ensure that those situations do not occur in the future.
11. DAVID PARKER (Labour—Otago) to the Minister for Small Business: What reports has he received on compliance cost reductions achieved by Government departments in recent years?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Small Business): I am advised that since June 2001, Government departments have achieved 104 compliance cost reductions. Seventy-five of those have created time savings of some significance for small businesses, and 29 have cut the financial costs of compliance absolutely. Those are the kinds of sensible, pragmatic changes that small business people, like the ones the honourable member and I met in Queenstown on Monday, are looking for from this Government. While the other side of the House contents itself with moaning and whingeing, we are looking forward to very good results for business.
David Parker: What work is the Government undertaking to continue to reduce the compliance cost impact of Government decisions?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: While other parties, when in Government, have assumed they know how decisions impact on the 96.8 percent of Kiwi businesses that have 20 or fewer staff just because they have talked to their mates in big business, we have actually gone out and engaged directly with small businesses—kanohi ki te kanohi, as we say. This Government is taking active steps to ensure the needs of small businesses are considered when decisions are made, and that is why we have recently made a number of major decisions in that area. That is why we have appointed a Small Business Advisory Group,and that is why we have a Minister for Small Business.
Hon David Carter: Is the Minister aware of the IMDinternational competitiveness report dated 2004, which shows New Zealand declining to No. 55 out of 60 countries, whereas in 1998 New Zealand ranked at No. 10; if not, when will the Minister take his portfolio seriously?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: The Minister is aware of a huge array and range of surveys. Most of them are supportive of this Government’s position.
Paul Adams: Does the Minister recognise that the Government’s attempt to foist masses of information on the small-business sector about what it thinks is best for small business is neither wise, wanted, nor well received, as evidenced by the fact that out of 19,000 enterprises in North Shore City, only 200 turned up to the *Government-sponsored small-business day talkfest*, and is that not further proof that this Government is *tone-deaf to the realities and concerns of the small-business market; if not, why not?
Mr SPEAKER: There are three questions, at least, there. The Minister may comment on two of them.
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I regret that that member’s information is absolutely wrong, with regard to attendance numbers and the like. There are actually hundreds and hundreds of small businesses that go through those days. Two hundred attended the ministerial speech. I regret that that member looks on the poor side of life too often. If he would like to come to my office I will give him a briefing, and he will walk out with a large smile on his face.
Cancer Patients—Radiation Therapy in Australia
12. Dr LYNDA SCOTT (National—Kaikoura) to the Minister of Health: What was the total cost in the first four months of this year of sending New Zealand cancer patients to Australia for radiation therapy?
Hon RUTH DYSON (Associate Minister of Health), on behalf of the Minister of Health: The Ministry of Health paid $616,000 in additional funding from January to March 2004 for New Zealand cancer patients to go to Australia for radiation therapy. The figures for April 2004 are not yet available.
Dr Lynda Scott: As it costs two to three times as much to send a patient and a support person to Australia to use its private health service as it would to treat that patient in New Zealand if we had a private radiation service, why will this Government not get over its philosophical objection to private health-care*, develop a *public-private partnership, and allow twice as many patients to be treated for the same money?
Hon RUTH DYSON: The member is well aware of the fact that we are committed to working in as many circumstances as possible with public-private partnerships. She has had many examples of that partnership demonstrated in this House. We cannot increase the capacity overnight; it is dependent on our ability to recruit staff. We have increased the annual number of radiation therapist graduates significantly, and I am hoping that we will eventuate with a long-term solution—unlike the long-term problem that was left by that member’s Government for us to fix. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I just say to the member who asked the question that she interjected right throughout the answer, and continued to do so after I had called the next member. I ask her to please show a bit of restraint.
Steve Chadwick: Why is the Government having to send people to Australia for treatment?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Because we are still experiencing the cancer treatment capacity legacy inherited from the previous health system. A key capacity issue is having a sufficient pool of radiation therapists in this country, when there is a worldwide shortage of them. When we came to office in 1999 only 16 therapists were being trained each year. Under our Government, 38 therapists started training last year.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is it that after 5 long years she is blaming somebody else; does she not regard it as a commentary on her ineffectiveness that, whilst we are spending millions on sending our own people abroad for medical operations, the Minister of Finance boasts a $7.4 billion surplus—how heartless and unconscionable is that?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Even if the trainee radiation therapists were prepared to spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week studying, rather than having any balance in their lives, they still would not increase the complement needed to deliver the services that we want, in order to ensure that patients have access to treatment in an appropriate time frame.
Dr Lynda Scott: Can the Minister explain why, despite all her rhetoric over the last 5 years about fixing this problem, 77 patients have had to travel to Australia in the first 3 months of this year to access private health sector radiation therapy, compared with 67 patients for all of 2003, which demonstrates that the problem is getting significantly worse, not better, under this Government?
Hon RUTH DYSON: No, it does not. What it demonstrates is that until the capacity comes on stream, we are making use of all available facilities in New Zealand and Australia, because we are concerned about making sure that patients are treated as quickly as possible.
End of Questions for Oral Answer