Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 13 May 2004
Thursday, 13 May 2004
Questions for Oral
Questions to Ministers
1 Prosecution of
Member of Parliament—Minister's Actions
2 Youth—Education, Training, and Work Initiatives
4 Pay and Employment Equity—Public Sector
5 Painted Apple Moth—Spraying
6 Methamphetamine—Sample Testing
7 Music—Promotion of New Zealand Music
8 Prosecution of Member of Parliament—Police Decisions
Question No 6 to Minister
9 Air New Zealand—Government Support
10 Paraparaumu Airport—Sale Inquiry
11 Drugs—Cholesterol-lowering Statins
12 Glenelg Children's Health Camp—Child Abuse Allegations
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
Prosecution of Member of Parliament—Minister's Actions
1. GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister of Police: Does he stand by his answers to written questions 9,586 (2003) and 13,029 (2003), and his response to an Official Information Act request to the Office of the Leader of the Opposition dated 8 December 2003, all asserting that neither he nor any member of his staff had any communications with any member of the New Zealand Police, regarding police actions against Shane Ardern MP; if not, why not?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): Yes, I have not had any dealings with the prosecution of Shane Ardern.
Gerry Brownlee: Can the Minister confirm that amongst the police files released yesterday there are three instances of communications between his office and the police on this matter, and worse, that those communications make it clear that they are part of a series of communications, which he has previously denied in answers to parliamentary questions, and a response under the Official Information Act; if that is not the case, what is his explanation for the clear trail in the papers tabled yesterday?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: No communication from my office dealt with Shane Ardern’s case. However, staff did let the police know of an attack on the integrity of a police officer by the Hon Murray McCully that had nothing to do with the Shane Ardern prosecution.
Hon Ken Shirley: Can the Minister give an undertaking to the House that the police will release all correspondence on the matter; if he cannot give that undertaking, why not?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Yesterday afternoon I tabled in the House the Official Information Act requests from Shane Ardern and from the National Party.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a specific question: will he give an undertaking to release all correspondence on the matter from the police? He did not answer that question.
Mr SPEAKER: I wonder whether the Minister could expand just a little bit further.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I have released the information that has been given to me.
Gerry Brownlee: Is the Minister certain that all the paper trail, all the telephone logs, and all the emails that passed between his office and the police in relation to Mr Ardern’s file and case have been notified to him, and there is nothing left that he should release?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I have released everything the police gave to me yesterday afternoon, plus there were some newspaper clippings that went to the police—but they were only newspaper clippings.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a very, very specific question that, frankly, was avoided by the Minister. The fact is that, from the papers released, there was clearly other correspondence and other communications. We simply asked him whether he believes that everything that took place has been placed on the table.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I thought the Minister did address the question satisfactorily.
Gerry Brownlee: Will the Minister—in light of yesterday’s revelations, which leave serious doubts as to the “other powers and agendas” that caused Mr Ardern to be singled out for special treatment—now release all the communications between himself, his office, his staff, and the police on this matter?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: All the information that I have, and know of, I tabled yesterday afternoon. The police have prosecution files. I do not get involved in individual cases—never have, never will. This is all about keeping the heat off Simon Power, and Don Brash and his nuclear policies.
Gerry Brownlee: Does the Minister accept that the serious questions raised by papers released yesterday, coupled with widespread knowledge that he, Inspector Marty Grenfell, and his police adviser, former Superintendent Gerry Cunneen, had their own little Bellamy’s breakfast club—[Interruption] Shall I start again?
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, please start again. I am warning members. That is the warning.
Gerry Brownlee: Does the Minister accept that the serious questions raised by papers released yesterday, coupled with the widespread knowledge that he, Inspector Marty Grenfell, and the Minister’s police adviser, former Superintendent Gerry Cunneen, had their own little Bellamy’s breakfast club, leave serious doubts in the minds of the public that can only be resolved by a full and complete disclosure on his part; or is he simply taking the “Dalziel option” at this point?
Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the question can be answered.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Inspector Marty Grenfell worked for me. He stopped working for me on 23 September 2002, and I have not had breakfast or any other meal with him since then. Perhaps if that member chose to _______
he would know that I do not get involved. However, I want to read from an email sent to my office, which says: “The Minister’s press secretary has advised me on Global News, which also feeds Newstalk networks, that Murray McCully, National MP, has said that Marty Grenfell, who is a police officer involved in the Shane Ardern matter, is also the same Inspector Marty Grenfell who has been seen having breakfast with George Hawkins and also worked from the office of George Hawkins during the “paintergate” affair.”
That is a longbow, and it was a long, long time ago.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I refer to some questions that were raised earlier by Mr Shirley and also by myself. Quite clearly, in quoting from that email and choosing to call it to the attention of the House, Mr Hawkins leaves open the question of what the conversation was that caused him and his office to send it to the police, when we know they have a communications unit that monitors all this stuff. Quite clearly there are documents not yet released.
Mr SPEAKER: That is a point of debate; not a point of order.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have not had breakfast with that man, and all this is is a slur on the integrity of a police officer. I have not had breakfast with Inspector Grenfell and I am not involved in any slur on the police. The National Party might be.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is not a point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: That is why I did not regard it as such.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: But we heard the whole thing out, did we not?
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, because I did not know where it was going.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: He could have asked for a personal explanation or made a ministerial statement, instead of wasting the House’s time. I object to the two old, tired parties thinking they dominate this House, and they do not.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not think that anybody listening to members in the House would ever think that was absolutely correct, Mr Peters, particularly as far as you are concerned.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: What confidence does the Minister expect the public to have in police decision-making neutrality, when an absolutely hopeless case was brought against Shane Ardern MP, and no case was brought for a self-confessed forgery on the part of the Prime Minister?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: The police make those decisions, and they make them away from the influence of any political party or politician. I have the utmost confidence in the New Zealand police, although some members opposite seem to want to bag them.
Youth—Education, Training, and Work Initiatives
2. LUAMANUVAO WINNIE LABAN (Labour—Mana) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What initiatives is the Government putting in place so that by 2007 all 15 to 19-year-olds will be engaged in education, training, work, or other options leading to independence?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): This morning I announced a $57 million package of further initiatives to achieve the target that the member is referring to. The six initiatives are a new transition service to support school leavers, trialling career plans for year 10 students in 75 schools, expanding the Gateway programme to all decile 6 schools by 2008, providing 500 more Modern Apprenticeships, increased support for the Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource, and piloting the training incentive allowance being given to 200 teenage parents.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: What response has the Minister had to those new initiatives?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Those policies are all tried and true, so it is no surprise that the Council of Trade Unions has welcomed the whole support package, which it says will make a real difference for young people, while the Industry Training Federation has said that the Government has announced a good package for young people. In the member’s own area, where we launched the package, Susanne Jungersen of Porirua College praised the Gateway programme initiative, while Mayor Jenny Brash welcomed the package and indicated that her city was keen to participate. I would also like to thank Paul Adams of United Future for his positive comments, and I am sure that every other spokesperson has a release coming out sometime during the day.
Bill Gudgeon: What alternatives does the Government have in place to cater for the needs of those in the 15 to 19 age bracket who cannot cope because of the personal challenges they may have?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I thank the member for the question. In Budget 2003 the Government announced a package of $56 million, which has gone to a wide range of initiatives, from Modern Apprenticeships to the Gateway programme, and to advice and support for young people. I think the programme this year is a major step up for that kind of support. For example, the transition service is all about ensuring that no one falls through the cracks, and that we have a coordinated approach to young people to ensure that, whether it is with regard to health, education, or a job, the services are brought together and tailored for their needs.
Sue Bradford: How does this latest package—which is to be commended—match up to the Mayors Task Force for Jobs’ own key goal that by 2005 no young person under the age of 25 will be out of work or training; and is the Government looking to extend further assistance to that older age group?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Mayors Task Force for Jobs has been closely involved with the development of this particular policy. Yes, it is committed to a goal that would take support through to the age of 25. We cannot commit ourselves to that until we have the resources, but the member will know that there are other policies that are making a real difference to that slightly older group. For example, industry training and the commitment to get 150,000 people into training by 2007 will have a major impact on that group.
Bernie Ogilvy: Do these initiatives include any specific plans to encourage more young women to take up Modern Apprenticeships, in light of the fact that only 6 percent of the current uptake is female?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: These initiatives do not, but we recently announced changes to the guidelines for the coordinators who will recruit Modern Apprentices, which means that they have worked with us and with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner to look at ways to ensure that the take-up for young women in the traditional areas of apprenticeship is higher.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: What alternative approaches has he seen to meeting the needs of 15 to 19-year-olds?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I have seen approaches that included the abolition of the Apprenticeship Act, the undermining of careers funding, and leaving students to make their study choices in an environment of rising fees. Those policies were tried in the 1990s. They helped to achieve a record unemployment rate of 23.6 percent for that target group, and, of course, they were run by the then National Government.
3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Does she agree that if a known terrorist came to New Zealand fearing torture in his home country he would have to stay unless another country would take him; and what reports has she obtained from her Ministers and their officials as to what, in terms of costs to the taxpayer, this could mean?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment), on behalf of the Prime Minister: I am advised that is the publicly reported view of the Solicitor-General. The specific costs of any such situation, of course, would depend on the particular circumstances.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: That being the case, can the Prime Minister tell the House what the costs are now, given that her office has had 4 hours to look at the current and up-to-date costs across all the legal and penal areas, and, therefore, she is surely able to give me the answer now that I have been denied on two prior occasions?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Because the case is ongoing, getting a total cost is not possible at this time. However, I can say that answers to written questions from Ministers give us the following summary of costs. Crown Law legal costs are $411,624.96, Department of Labour legal costs are $29,166.50, legal aid costs for Mr Zaoui are $206,189, and imprisonment costs are $59,000. All those costs, of course, are not final, because the case is ongoing.
Hon Matt Robson: Has the Prime Minister read the part of the Refugee Status Appeals Authority decision that, at page 222, found that Mr Zaoui was a refugee under the United Nations convention on refugees and by legal definition, therefore, not a terrorist, a finding that was not challenged by the Crown by way of review; and is she aware that the national security risk certificate was not issued on the grounds that Mr Zaoui was a terrorist, but on the grounds that he was a threat to our international and economic well-being?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I cannot say whether the Prime Minister has actually read that page, but, yes, the Government is aware that he was identified as a refugee and that there was no evidence at the time that he was a terrorist. And, yes, he is held under the terms of the security risk certificate, which identifies him as a potential risk to national security.
Dr Wayne Mapp: What is the likelihood and expectation that the Government will make an arrangement with another country that will enable Mr Zaoui to be deported in the event that the inspector-general upholds the national security certificate?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As has already been said, discussions are prudently going on, but it would be unwise to discuss them at this time.
Keith Locke: Is the Prime Minister not prejudicing the inspector-general’s determination of the Zaoui case by approaching other countries to take him and talking about that, particularly when, as has been pointed out, the Refugee Status Appeals Authority has determined he is a refugee, and when if it did come to a deportation in this, as in any other, case there is no deadline associated with that deportation?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No, I do not think anybody is prejudicing anything. It is simply prudent behaviour to make those kinds of inquiries, subject to what the result may be. There is nothing being done here that would prejudge anything, at all.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that Zaoui has cost the New Zealand taxpayer in excess of $705,000 already, although he is a known terrorist in three international First World jurisdictions—all superior to the inferior court judgment in this country—why does the Minister not send that bill to Mr Robson and Keith Locke, and give the taxpayer a fair go in this matter?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: This case is one that is being followed through in a proper fashion. There will, of course, be costs, but the process has to be seen through. That is the nature of this case.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Prime Minister concerned that New Zealand’s reputation as a soft touch and safe haven for fraudsters is a serious threat to our national security, given that since April 2001 under her administration there have been 886 refugee status claimants arriving without valid transport and travel documentation, and did she or any of her Ministers and their officials check to see whether other countries would take those people, even though the mass majority of those fraudsters were accepted into our country?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No, there are no concerns that we are seen as a soft touch. We are a country that, of course, wants to be seen as one that goes through the proper process, which is what is happening here. The Prime Minister has already made it clear that in the case of Mr Zaoui she is looking for a review of the process, once the case is completed.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Did her confession in the House yesterday that it takes two to tango—whatever that means—and that to deport somebody one has to find somewhere to take that person explain why, in the last year alone, 70 percent of those who arrived in New Zealand without valid travel documentation had their refugee status claims approved; and how can the Government allow that to happen?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: On the first matter, which was in answer to a question about deportation, I think the Prime Minister was simply making it clear that something like that could happen only if there was somewhere to go to. That is what she meant by her reference that two people were involved. That is what she was referring to. In answer to the second part of the question, I can only say no.
Hon Matt Robson: I seek leave to table the Refugee Status Appeals Authority decision of 1 August 2003 on Mr Zaoui.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table far superior judgments from the courts of both Belgium and France, not some quasi-judicial—
Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Pay and Employment Equity—Public Sector
4. LYNNE PILLAY (Labour—Waitakere) to the Associate Minister of Labour: What progress is being made towards the Government’s commitment to develop a programme promoting pay and employment equity in the public sector?
Hon RUTH DYSON (Associate Minister of Labour): I was delighted to announce today that the Government has endorsed the four key recommendations of the Pay and Employment Equity Taskforce. These are: a clear Government commitment to pay and employment equity in the public service, public education, and public health sectors; development of tools to assess pay and employment equity; establishment of a unit to oversee a 5-year action plan to implement that programme; and use of existing processes, such as collective bargaining and accountability mechanisms, as part of the implementation.
Lynne Pillay: Why is it necessary to address pay and employment equity issues now?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Over a decade ago, New Zealand had pay and employment equity legislation. The first act of the incoming National Government in 1990 was to repeal that law. Now we need a new and sustainable plan to address the pay and employment gap between men and women, and to ensure that women’s contribution in the workplace is maximised and valued. The taskforce report provides that way forward.
Sue Kedgley: In light of the Government’s stated commitment to promote pay and employment equity in the public sector, can the Government assure New Zealanders that it will be supporting nurses in their pay equity claim and assisting district health boards to implement it; if so, how?
Hon RUTH DYSON: As the member knows, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation was officially part of the task force that prepared the report to which the Government has positively responded. Could I draw the House’s attention to a statement today by District Health Boards New Zealand chair Syd Bradley, who said the Government needed to be congratulated on providing a way through a complex emotive issue, and for trying to find a process to identify and remedy any pay gaps. District Health Boards New Zealand is the employer organisation with which the nurses will be negotiating.
Painted Apple Moth—Spraying
5. SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister for Biosecurity: Since spraying began in January 2002, what is the total quantity of the formulated product Foray 48B that has been aerially sprayed over residential areas of Auckland in an effort to eradicate the painted apple moth?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Acting Minister for Biosecurity): The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says that 663,000 litres of Foray 48B have been used in the painted apply moth eradication programme in Auckland.
Sue Kedgley: Why is the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry continuing to bombard west Aucklanders, even today, with a commercial insecticide whose ingredients it refuses to identify, when the assessment of the potential health impacts of the painted apple moth spray programme carried out by one of New Zealand’s leading health experts at the Wellington school of medicine calls into question the safety of the insecticide when it is inhaled?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: The report concerned cited a potential long-term health issue for people who were exposed to the spray for many hours a day, over many years. This involves people with occupational exposure, not the people of west Auckland. In fact, only a small group of New Zealanders could be included in such a group, and I do not think the member from the Green Party really wants to ban organic horticulture. More study is being done in this area so that any potential risks to organic market gardeners can be avoided.
Lynne Pillay: Did the Wellington school of medicine report contain any surprises for the Government?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: No, the report showed that a small proportion of the population had a reaction to the spray. This was expected, and it was why a multi-million dollar health service was put in place in west Auckland. In the end, fewer people than expected reported health issues. But given that today is, hopefully, the final area spray for west Auckland, I want to thank, on behalf of the Minister and myself, the people of west Auckland for their perseverance while the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry did battle with the painted apple moth.
Brent Catchpole: What other reports has the Minister had of any monitoring of the health effects of the people of west Auckland during the repeated spraying of Foray48B since it began in January 2002; if none, why not?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: I think a report was done, not so much on the health of the people, but an independent one put up by the Auckland District Health Board in 2002. It concluded that Foray48B had never been implicated in any significant health effects on humans in 35 years of use.
Larry Baldock: Has the Wellington school of medicine health study, which was requested by United Future and David Cunliffe, the New Lynn electorate MP, been helpful in examining the affected west Auckland residents’ health concerns; if so, what has been learnt, and what changes will be made in future eradication campaigns?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: First of all, it is my hope that with biosecurity continuing to do a reasonable job, and with the increased amount of money put by this Government into biosecurity, we will not be doing any further campaigns. But the report from the Wellington school of medicine did not recommend ending the spray programme, and neither did the Occupational Safety and Health Service, which has ruled the spray as safe for general use. As I said before, this spray had a reaction from only a small proportion of the population. We will continue to monitor that, and that was why we put in a multi-million dollar health programme to help that 2 percent.
Sue Kedgley: Given the Minister’s comments on the report, why did he seek to discredit and delay the publication of the report, and now that the Ministry of Health is implementing the report’s recommendations, will he retract his comments that the report and its recommendations were worthless and flawed; if not, why not?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: My memory is that the Minister’s response was actually more to do with the reporting of the report.
Sue Kedgley: Can the Government assure the people of west Auckland that the nightmare is over for them, and that the Government will carry out an independent inquiry into how the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry conducted the spray programme, and into the health effects on residents, before it ever embarks on any further aerial spraying of residential areas in Auckland or anywhere else in New Zealand?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: Just this afternoon, or yesterday, a paper was published about the arrival of the southern saltmarsh mosquito. The southern saltmarsh mosquito has been sprayed aerially by helicopters, and on the ground, in various locations throughout New Zealand. There is no way that the Minister for Biosecurity, or the Associate Minister, can ever guarantee that there will be no aerial spraying.
Ian Ewen-Street: What is the Minister doing to improve the quality of service provided by MAF Biosecurity, given that it did nothing about the painted apple moth for 2½ years, letting it get out of control, then, to make up for its inaction, spraying the citizens of west Auckland with 663,000 litres of a commercial insecticide, using ingredients it refuses to identify?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry worked particularly hard in those early years. It was attempting not to have to go to the expense of aerial spraying by trying to do things on the ground. I think the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry deserves absolute credit for doing something that has not been achieved in any other place in the world.
6. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister for Crown Research Institutes: What is the current backlog of clandestine methamphetamine laboratory samples at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd, and when is it expected this backlog will be cleared?
Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister for Crown Research Institutes): At the end of April the Institute of Environmental Science and Research’s total clandestine methamphetamine laboratory caseload was 165. These cases will be cleared as soon as possible.
Hon Tony Ryall: Why is this Minister ignoring the fact that drug testing is at crisis point when a detective files an affidavit in the High Court swearing that the institute’s testing of essential evidence in a serious methamphetamine-manufacturing trial may be 2 years away because of delays at that institute?
Hon PETE HODGSON: I cannot comment on a specific case when I have no prior notice of it, but I can tell the member that the backlog peaked in December. It has been coming down ever since. It is currently at 165 cases. The member can shake his head as much as he likes, but last month it came down by 10, and maybe this month it will come down by another 10—who knows? It depends on how many new cases are found. What is more, if the member would like to reflect on the fact that the number of cases likely to be reported this year is 300, then to decide how many months it would take to clear 165 cases at the rate of more than 20 a month, he could come up with his own answer.
Russell Fairbrother: How does the Institute of Environmental Science and Research’s capacity to deal with these cases compare with that of other countries?
Hon PETE HODGSON: As a result of recent recruitment, as a result of funding commitments from the police, as a result of a determined approach from this Government, and in the face of a worldwide shortage of forensic investigators, the institute’s clandestine methamphetamine laboratory team is now the largest in Australasia, and it continues to grow.
Marc Alexander: Why has the Minister ignored the call by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research for a one-off injection of $900,000, which would rapidly clear the backlog; or does he take the narrow view that letting methamphetamine cooks and crooks off the hook is simply not his responsibility?
Hon PETE HODGSON: The House should be very clear that money is not the problem here. The House should be very clear that every time the Institute of Environmental Science and Research clears a case, the police pay for it, and they do so on a demand basis. Money is not the problem. Members of the House need to face the fact that the problem is a lack of trained forensic scientists—they take years to train. Members may also be interested to learn that, proportionately, New Zealand’s trained forensic team is three times bigger than that of the United States.
Hon Tony Ryall: What responsibility, if any, will this Minister take when drug dealers walk free from court because of these drug-testing delays, as Justice Potter warned in the High Court in New Plymouth when she described the delays as extremely serious and intolerable?
Hon PETE HODGSON: The member might like to reflect on the fact that in that case the judge put the person back in jail.
Marc Alexander: Is the Minister prepared to take any responsibility for the backlog faced by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research, in light of the fact that at the end of March police reported that they were finding double the number of methamphetamine labs compared with last year, not to mention the institute’s own mission statement to “protect people and their environment through science”; if not, where does the buck stop?
Hon PETE HODGSON: It is absolutely true that the amount of methamphetamine labs being discovered in Auckland has doubled in the first few months of this year compared with the first few months of last year. That is why the number of cases that the institute plans to deal with has also doubled, and that is why it continues to recruit actively internationally to bring Canadians, Americans, etc. into this country to help with the remarkable effort that is needed.
Hon Tony Ryall: Will the Minister take any responsibility if drug dealers and drug manufacturers walk free because of testing delays in the agency for which he is responsible?
Hon PETE HODGSON: The member should reflect on the fact that the alternative is to take shortcuts and have people walk free because the evidence is not good enough, and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research will not let that happen.
Music—Promotion of New Zealand Music
7. DARREN HUGHES (Labour—Otaki) to the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage: What is the Government doing to promote New Zealand music?
Hon JUDITH TIZARD (Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage): This Government believes that a strong music industry is good for New Zealand and the New Zealand economy. In 2000 this Government established the New Zealand Music Industry Commission to facilitate the growth of New Zealand music. Last month this Government passed the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Act, whose purpose is, among other things, to promote and encourage New Zealand music, composition, and composers, and to provide opportunities for performance for New Zealand musicians. This month is New Zealand Music Month, when the Music Industry Commission is working with all music sectors, with organisations, broadcasters, and retailers to showcase a great range of live and recorded New Zealand music.
Darren Hughes: How has New Zealand music airplay changed since the 1990s?
Hon JUDITH TIZARD: Sadly, under the last Government the creative sector was badly neglected and major arts organisations were financially crippled. In the early 1990s commercial radio in New Zealand was playing less than 2 percent of New Zealand music. Under this Government there is now 10 times more New Zealand music on commercial radio—over 20 percent—which means more New Zealand music is being enjoyed, more income for New Zealand musicians and business, and more music exports.
Heather Roy: In respect of promoting New Zealand music, will taxpayers be getting any return on the $450,000 poured into NZ Idol so that more New Zealand music can be promoted; if not, why not?
Hon JUDITH TIZARD: When musicians earn income they pay tax, too. When New Zealanders buy music they pay GST. Of course there is a massive return, but the point about the creative sector is that the return is not financial alone. It is also about New Zealand identity and New Zealanders’ well-being.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is very pleasing to hear that artists pay tax too, but the specific question was in respect of the $450,000 that New Zealand On Air paid for NZ Idol and whether there would be a return on it, given its commercial success. The Minister gave members a lovely rendition of the tax status of artists in New Zealand—
Hon Paul Swain: It’s a great song, that.
Mr SPEAKER: That is the only warning today.
Rodney Hide: She gave members a lovely rendition of the tax status of artists, but never once addressed the specific question.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I thought the Minister did address the question.
Prosecution of Member of Parliament—Police Decisions
8. Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National—East Coast Bays) to the Minister of Police: Can he absolutely assure the House that in relation to police decisions regarding the prosecution of Shane Ardern MP, Mr Ardern was treated in the same way as any other New Zealander would have been treated; if not, why not?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): I am advised that he was treated fairly, like all other New Zealanders.
Hon Murray McCully: Is the Minister aware that the head of the Police Prosecution Service, Superintendent Graham Thomas, confirmed on radio this morning that he had seen no other incidents of a district commander issuing a direct instruction to so-called independent prosecution officers; if so, can he tell the House why Mr Ardern was singled out for special treatment?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I think the high public interest may have been behind Mr Kelly’s inquiry, but it was firmly rebuffed by Mr Thomas, and that shows that the situation is completely fair.
Sue Bradford: Was the police decision not to prosecute Shane Ardern consistent with its decision to continue the prosecution of myself and others in 1999-2000, given that when I was arrested during our unemployment demonstration at Parliament I did not get anywhere near the steps, much less drive a tractor up them?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: While I do not have any knowledge of that, I must say that if the member wants more information she should go to the Commissioner of Police. I have no part in any prosecution.
Gerrard Eckhoff: What is the point of having a supposedly independent police prosecutions centre, if regional commanders like John Kelly send emails to subordinate officers working at the centre, instructing them to prosecute, regardless of the merits of the case, or was Mr Shane Ardern MP a special case?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I think the reason we have the Police Prosecution Service is so that everything is analysed fairly and openly, and it shows that individual police cannot interfere with that process.
Hon Murray McCully: Can the Minister tell the House what Superintendent Kelly meant when he emailed so-called independent prosecution officers that: “In relation to this issue there are to be no moves to withdraw this matter.”, if it was not to be seen as a direct instruction to subordinate officers that very, very senior police officers had their own reasons for requiring that Mr Ardern be prosecuted, regardless of the merits of the case?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I have no input whatsoever and no knowledge of it whatsoever, because I do not get involved in police prosecutions.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It may be the case that the Minister of Police has no knowledge of what is going on in the police—I believe him on that. But the specific question was, as Minister of Police, what was his response to the question. He cannot stand up and say: “Look, I have no knowledge of my portfolio.” He must address the question.
Mr SPEAKER: He did.
Hon Murray McCully: Can the Minister tell the House what steps he took to satisfy himself as to the facts before he signed answers to parliamentary questions assuring the House that there were no discussions, meetings, or other communications between his office and police officers?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I took advice from the police, to see whether any information had come from my office. There were three things: firstly an email from Gerry Cunneen; and, secondly, a copy of Mr Speaker’s rulings on the service of proceedings of members of Parliament sent by Kate Gabriel, who was the press liaison person at the time. It was sent a second time, because it had a couple of typographical oddities the first time.
Hon Murray McCully: Can the Minister tell the House whether he has seen the statement in the prosecution review by Senior Sergeant Erasmusen that “it is inescapable that comparisons will be made with other high-profile cases where a decision not to prosecute followed”; and does the Minister understand that that is a very clear reference to the fact that police prosecutors could have no way of justifying the obvious double standard of exercising a discretion not to charge the Prime Minister over “paintergate” but pressing charges against Mr Ardern?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I have said previously that I take no part whatsoever, and no political influence is asserted, in what police do. If the member thinks there is a problem, and if he thinks a crime has been committed, he should talk to the commissioner.
John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask you to consider the Minister’s answer. He did not address the question.
Mr SPEAKER: I thought the Minister did address the question, but perhaps the member could enlighten me.
Hon Murray McCully: I made it quite clear that I was asking what the Minister thought about a particular passage in the prosecution review. I put it to you that that is the question the Minister needed to address, and he failed to do so.
Mr SPEAKER: When the member asks what the Minister thinks about a particular passage, there has to be a lot of leeway in the answer concerned. If the Minister wanted to add anything, he could.
Question No 6 to Minister
Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty): I seek leave to table the judgment of the Hon Justice Potter in a case where she calls on the Government to take urgent steps to deal with the delays of the Institute of Environmental Science and Research.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Air New Zealand—Government Support
9. GORDON COPELAND (United Future) to the Minister of Finance: Is the Government committed to long-term support for Air New Zealand Ltd; if so, why?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Associate Minister of Finance), on behalf of the Minister of Finance: Yes. It is in New Zealand’s interest to have a national airline, and the Government considers that that airline needs a stable shareholder behind it.
Gordon Copeland: Will the Minister concede that supporting one airline with taxpayers’ money has skewed the aviation market and contributed to Origin Pacific Airways’ plight—a plight that the Minister for Economic Development has reportedly dismissed as “collateral damage”—if not, why not?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: No.
Clayton Cosgrove: What kind of support is the Government committed to?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The Government will remain a majority shareholder but has never ruled out a cornerstone of shareholding being sold. We have also set aside a further $150 million, should the company proceed with its signalled capital raising. Operational decisions are, of course, matters for the board to decide.
John Key: If the Government did not alert Air New Zealand management to the impending crisis at Origin Pacific Airways, why did Jim Anderton tell Origin Pacific Airways director Bruce McCallum to call John Palmer, the chairman of Air New Zealand; and why did Mr Anderton believe that Mr Palmer would progress discussions designed to support its major regional competitor?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: As is appropriate the Minister of Finance, although generally aware of any discussions that the Minister for Industry and Regional Development may have had with the airlines concerned, is not privy to the detail. Why does that member not ask the Minister concerned?
Hon Richard Prebble: Is the Minister of Finance telling the House that he has not seen the story in this week’s Independent, titled “Govt turns screw on Origin Pacific”, which states that a Cabinet Minister—one Mr Anderton—suggested to Origin Pacific that it would be “in their interests” to hold talks with the chairman of Air New Zealand, a rival airline; does he not consider that that is an invitation from the Government for rival airlines to collude, which happens to be contrary to the Commerce Act? Why has he not taken an interest in that matter?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: What part of the words “generally aware of the conversation” does that member not understand—
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister has been asked a question. I do not want him to get into that sort of thing. I want him to give an answer.
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: Detailed questions about the nature of those discussions should be directed to the Minister for Industry and Regional Development.
Gordon Copeland: What assurance can the Minister give us that, as Air New Zealand’s supporter and majority shareholder, the Government will not place undue pressure on the Commerce Commission to approve the proposed Air New Zealand alliance with Qantas, thereby skewing the aviation market even further?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The Minister of Finance is on record as saying that the Government will not disturb the findings on appeal of either the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or the New Zealand Commerce Commission.
John Key: I seek leave to table the Independent of 12 May, so that the Minister can rethink his answer in which he told the House that the Government had no information, despite the paper telling us that that is exactly what it had.
Mr SPEAKER: I let the member go on for some considerable time. Is there any objection to that course? There is.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to point out that although what Mr Key was trying to point out will obviously be uncomfortable for Ministers and members, they should not have been barracking him at the start, and he should at least have been able to say what he was proposing to table, before your intervention to ask him to move on.
Mr SPEAKER: That is why I let him go on and finish what he had to say.
Paraparaumu Airport—Sale Inquiry
10. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Transport: Does he agree that an inquiry should be held into the sale of Paraparaumu Airport in 1995 as recommended by the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee in its report on the petition of Ross Sutherland and 584 others; if not, why not?
Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister of Transport): The report of the select committee raises serious issues, and the Government will respond formally to it within 90 days, as Standing Orders require. However, it is already clear that the privatisation style of the previous National Government was dodgy.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: What regard has the Minister had to these facts—
Mr SPEAKER: Mr Brownlee, you do—
Gerry Brownlee: I was responding.
Mr SPEAKER: —no, you do actually take things a little far. You are lucky I am so reasonable.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: What action will the Minister be taking to hold to account those who lied to the select committee inquiry over this matter, who told the select committee that an offer had been made to the original owners, when, clearly, that was not true—and the select committee discovered that; there was even an embarrassed National Party member of the committee present at the time—and will he tell us what he intends to do about the assurances that Rob Storey gave to the officials in 1991 that treaty claims needed to be considered on this matter?
Hon PETE HODGSON: Those and many other matters form the issues that the Government will need to respond to. They are serious. I acknowledge, while I am on my feet, the consistency of the member and, indeed, of his party; I recall that it was the proposed privatisation of another airport that caused the National - New Zealand First coalition agreement to be shredded, and that phase of Government to end.
Hon Mark Gosche: In what ways, according to the committee’s report, did the Government processes around the sale fall short of acceptable standards?
Hon PETE HODGSON: There are too many to mention in an oral question, but the committee said the worst were a failure to deliver on the stated objectives of the sale, and a decision to sell too cheaply.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister, as he has put the issue of the September 1998 proposed sale of Wellington Airport into contention, whether he has read the Cabinet paper that discloses that the National Party part of the coalition wished to go downtown at the time with a majority foreign sale offer, whilst telling the public in New Zealand that it would not sell the majority ownership off shore; and that that, because it was outlawed by the coalition agreement, brought the coalition agreement down; and what sort of unconscionable behaviour could one call that?
Mr SPEAKER: That is a very interesting question about another matter. The Minister can report in so far as it relates to his ministerial—
Hon PETE HODGSON: No, but thanks for the revelation.
11. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Port Waikato) to the Minister of Health: Does she agree that, on past experience, a significant number of New Zealanders would have a heart attack, suffer a stroke, or die as a result of being forced to change cholesterol-lowering statins, as stated by leading New Zealand cardiologists; if not, why not?
Hon RUTH DYSON (Acting Minister of Health): The Hon Annette King met with Harvey White and Chris Ellis on 31 March of this year—the cardiologists referred to in the primary question. At that meeting they recommended that all high-risk patients on 40 milligrams or more be permitted to access atorvastatin via a specialist. Pharmac will allow even wider access than they recommended. All patients currently on 40 milligrams or more will continue on atorvastatin, and all new patients who cannot tolerate simvastatin can have access to atorvastatin. This wider access is what the Heart Foundation and Cardiac Society recommended.
Dr Paul Hutchison: Does the Minister think it risky, given the strong conflicting evidence on Pharmac’s safety claims, that Pharmac intends not to audit what will happen when the remaining 30,000 patients switch statins; and will she take responsibility for creating another possible Gisborne scenario where inadequate quality controls lead to preventable deaths?
Hon RUTH DYSON: No. In my view it is entirely proper, and certainly not risky, to rely on the expert advice of New Zealand’s leading cardiologists. That is exactly what Pharmac has done.
Steve Chadwick: Has Pharmac considered other leading cardiologists and health professional organisations, regarding access to atorvastatin?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Yes, it certainly has. Pharmac has consulted the following cardiologists: Norman Sharpe, the President of the Heart Foundation; Stuart Mann, a professor of cardiology; and Gerald Wilkins, the President of the New Zealand Cardiac Society. Pharmac also has sought advice from the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee cardiac subcommittee, which includes three other cardiologists: John Elliot, Miles Williams, and Gary Gordon. Pharmac is following their recommendations.
Peter Brown: Is the Minister aware that in many areas of the world chelation therapy is recognised as a safe and practical treatment for potential heart attack and stroke victims; if she is aware of that, would she consider a practical trial in this country consisting of volunteers?
Mr SPEAKER: That is a little wide of the original question. The Minister may comment.
Hon RUTH DYSON: I do not have any information or advice about whether a formal proposal has been received by the Ministry of Health along those lines, but I would be certainly happy to forward it to it for its consideration.
Heather Roy: In light of concerns about heart disease, does the Minister take any responsibility for Pfizer terminating its $40 million research and development contract grant to Auckland University; if not, why not?
Hon RUTH DYSON: I am certainly disappointed that Pfizer has taken that decision. But Pharmac advised Pfizer of its decision in 2002, following which Pfizer renewed its contract with Auckland University.
Bernie Ogilvy: Does the Minister concede that any financial savings made from Pharmac’s decision to switch 23,000 New Zealanders over to Lipex will be totally outweighed by the social, economic, and health costs resulting from any heart attacks, strokes, or deaths as a result of the move; if not, why not?
Hon RUTH DYSON: No, I do not support that assertion. That decision was made on the basis of recommendations from New Zealand’s leading cardiologists.
Dr Paul Hutchison: Does she realise that past experience shows that approximately 10 percent of patients on a drug such as Lipitor, when asked to switch medication, will simply stop taking drugs altogether; and given the clear warnings in the literature, which she has not quoted, is she prepared to take responsibility for the heart attacks, strokes, and deaths likely to result?
Hon RUTH DYSON: As I indicated in my answer to the primary question from that member, on advice from New Zealand’s leading cardiologists Pharmac has agreed to continue with the provision of access to atorvastatin for those high-risk patients.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: What confidence are the New Zealand people expected to have in Pharmac, which saved over $27 million last year by cutting back on drugs, and this year is no longer pursuing a policy to ensure that, in every case, New Zealand consumers have First World, latest-generation drugs available to them?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Pharmac is internationally regarded as a very high-quality and safe way to ensure that the massive pressure from various drug companies, and our need to retain access to high-quality medicines, are balanced.
Dr Paul Hutchison: I seek leave to table two papers. The first is an article from a 2003 British Medical Journal that demonstrates the considerable risks associated with inadequate statin medication.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
The second is an article from The Lancet that shows morbidity—as shown in a New Zealand study—when patients changed statins.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Glenelg Children's Health Camp—Child Abuse Allegations
12. DEBORAH CODDINGTON (ACT) to the Minister of Health: Why did she not order an immediate, independent inquiry into the alleged abuse of children at the Glenelg Children’s Health Camp in the 1980s following the briefing on 28 October 2003 that her officials provided for her as a result of my written questions?
Hon RUTH DYSON (Minister for ACC), Acting Minister of Health: For the same reason that the Minister of Health did not in 1993 and 1995: there was insufficient evidence to warrant an independent ministerial inquiry. The police considered that the matter was a professional one, and not a criminal one. A complaint was received by the Medical Council in 1995 regarding professional practice issues, but it was later withdrawn. The doctor in question is not currently registered to practice in New Zealand.
Deborah Coddington: Has she read British police surgeon Dr Herbert Kean’s report on the treatment of children at Glenelg Health Camp, which concludes: “There is adequate information to confirm sexual molestation with a degree of sadism, and fabricated evidence of sexual abuse against fathers that subsequently the welfare department separated the children from their families.”, and if the answer is yes, why did she not order an immediate inquiry and end the 17-year State cover-up of that affair?
Hon RUTH DYSON: There is no cover-up by this or any former Government in relation to alleged abuse at Glenelg Health Camp. The police investigated at the time, and they determined that there was no reason for a prosecution. Whether it was that there was insufficient evidence for conviction or for whatever reason, the police determined that. A complaint received by the Medical Council was withdrawn. If that member has any new information to offer, I would be very happy to take up the matter.
Katherine Rich: Since the Minister has mentioned 1993, will she confirm that Helen Clark first received complaints regarding the treatment of children at Glenelg Health Camp when she was Minister of Health, and will the Minister correct her misleading answer to parliamentary question for written answer No. 7757, where she indicates that the first complaint was received by her ministry in 1993?
Hon RUTH DYSON: I have looked very carefully at the very issue raised by the member in her question, because I am aware that the alleged abuse occurred in 1987. The first incident that is reported within the Ministry of Health system is 1993. If that member can give me any information to the contrary—and I doubt that she can—I will be very happy to correct that answer. On the best advice, and with prompting, I say 1993 is the first information that is on record.
Deborah Coddington: How does the Minister respond to the obvious conclusion that there is a double standard between men and women accused of the sexual abuse of children?
Hon RUTH DYSON: I absolutely reject any insinuation of double standards between men and women who abuse children. Any abuse of children is absolutely unacceptable to this Government, and in my view to every member of this House.
Deborah Coddington: I seek leave to table official advice given to the Minister of Health on 28 October 2003, following my parliamentary questions.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
( Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing. For corrected transcripts, please visit: http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/hansard )