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Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 29 July 2004

( Uncorrected transcript - subject to correction and further editing. For corrected transcripts, please visit: http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/hansard )

Thursday, 29 July 2004
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers

1. Local Government - Reform
2. Creative New Zealand - Venice Biennale 2005
3. Police - Resources
4. Wood Processing - Resource Management Act
5. Darfur - Humanitarian Crisis
6. Food Safety - Contaminated Cornflour
Question No. 1 to Minister
7. Transpower New Zealand Ltd - Electricity Supply
8. Māori Language - Promotion in Homes
9. Elderly - Health Needs
10. Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill - Solicitors' Fidelity Guarantee Fund
Question No. 9 to Minister
11. Polytechnics - Funding Breaches
12. Prisons - Consultation

Questions to Members
1. Fisheries and Other Sea - related Legislation Committee—Sittings
Question No. 4 to Minister

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers

Local Government - Reform

1. DAVID PARKER (Labour - Otago) to the Minister of Local Government: Has he received any reports on proposals for future reforms of local government?

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Local Government): In my capacity as Minister of Local Government, yes, I have seen reports that the leadership of the National Party is seriously considering proposals to abolish regional councils. Dr Brash has said that this is an issue that needed looking at. National's environment spokesperson, Dr Nick Smith, has gone further, being reported as implying that regional councils will be abolished.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to make a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to make a personal explanation in relation to?

Hon Dr Nick Smith: The allegations made by Mr Chris Carter.

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

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table - so there will be clarity about National's position on local government - the speech delivered by the leader of the National Party yesterday at the Local Government conference.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave has been sought, perfectly properly. Is there any objection? There is not.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This raises the interesting question of what remedies the Opposition has when a Minister stands and makes such outrageous claims, as those just made by Mr Carter. Although you might like to say they are debatable points and we have to put up with it, the fact is that if we want to ask a question we have to verify the material that is relevant to the question. In this case, I understand that the Minister wanted to give an answer, but he must also look to the Standing Orders, which are effectively when giving an answer, a mirror of those required of the questioner. Surely the Minister should have to verify the comments he is making. They were not of a generally political nature. They were explicit comments relating to what he called "National Party policy".

Mr SPEAKER: I just want to say to the member that if the member wishes to deny the Minister's assertion, his word will be accepted. That can be done on a point - [Interruption] That is the last time. I tell the member not to interject while I am speaking. The member will control himself. It can be done on a point of order. It does not need a personal statement. It can be done on a point of order. That is the Standing Order, and those are the rules of this House.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I make claim that the assertion by the Minister of Local Government is totally untrue, and I challenge him to provide any verification that I have ever said the words he said.

Mr SPEAKER: The member's word about his own statement must be accepted.

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I seek leave to table a report from the New Zealand Herald that explores fully Dr Smith's comments on this area regarding regional councils.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that article. Is there any objection? There is not, but I point out that the member's word will be accepted.

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

Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I draw your attention to Speaker's ruling 131/3, which states: "The Government can answer only for its own intentions and has no responsibility for the Opposition." Can you please guide us on why that was permitted in response to that question, in the context of that Speaker's ruling?

Mr SPEAKER: Because the question asked whether he had he received any reports, and he said he had.

David Parker: What are the essential roles of regional councils?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: Regional councils have key responsibilities for catchment management, civil defence, regional transport planning, and pest control. Only those who care little for the environment would want to see them abolished.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: What reforms will the Minister be making to the Local Government Act 2002 - proudly claimed by him at the Local Government conference yesterday to be the "Carter Act" - in respect of the specific provisions requiring consultation with M¨¡ori, after the speech yesterday by Trevor Mallard, Coordinating Minister, Race Relations, in which he said: "We are all indigenous now."?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: Just as National identified M¨¡ori as having a special role in the Resource Management Act when it passed that legislation in 1991, the Local Government Act requires local authorities to have processes in place to consult M¨¡ori and consider ways to foster M¨¡ori capacity to participate in council decision-making processes. I think that is very appropriate.

Murray Smith: Does the Minister support the proposal contained in my draft member's bill, which would close the loophole in the Local Government Act that enables local authorities to appoint ward committees to take the place of elected community boards?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I believe that the member's proposal does have merit. I am getting my officials to look at it.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Will the Minister take responsibility for the 10.4 percent increase in rates during the first full year of the Local Government Act - the highest in 10 years, and four times the consumer price index increase for the same period - or does he think this huge increase in rates simply has to be accepted by the families and businesses that foot the bill for his politically correct legislation?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: Local councils are responsible for setting the rates, not central government. It is their responsibility. I do not accept responsibility because it is not mine to accept.

Creative New Zealand - Venice Biennale 2005

2. DEBORAH CODDINGTON (ACT) to the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage: Did she receive an assurance, at a meeting in February or the two meetings since February, from Creative New Zealand that the selection criteria for the artist to represent New Zealand at the Venice Biennale 2005 had been followed correctly; if not, why did she not seek that assurance?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD (Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage): The meeting in February was well before the selection was made, and there was no reason to question the process at that time. At the third meeting, on 2 July, I did raise with Creative New Zealand concerns about the ability of the artist selected to be an effective ambassador for New Zealand. I was advised that the three people involved in the et al proposal met Creative New Zealand's criteria. I have subsequently sought and been given assurances that the artist will engage extensively with international arts professionals at the event, conduct selected interviews with international arts media, and provide considered responses in writing to questions.

Deborah Coddington: In light of that answer, has the Minister had a response to her criticism of Creative New Zealand, made on 14 July, that funding this artist who refused to be identified was "arrogant and elitist", in her words; if not, can she tell the House exactly what she does as Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: In relation to the Dominion Post report of that date, the reporter asked me whether I thought funding this artist was elitist and arrogant. I said that was a charge that Creative New Zealand would have to answer, and that I thought - given that the Venice Biennale is considered the arts Olympics - we would be a bit astonished if elite and sometimes arrogant sportspeople were not selected for the Olympics. I do think this is a matter for Creative New Zealand to answer, and I believe that it has answered it very satisfactorily. If the House would give me leave to speak for about an hour and a half, I will tell members what I do as Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave has been already denied.

Dianne Yates: Does the Government support opportunities for New Zealand to be represented at major international events?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: Yes, indeed. The Venice Biennale, which is often described as the Olympic Games of the visual arts, is an example of a major international event at which New Zealand will be represented. Leading arts experts selected et al to represent New Zealand at this international event. The Government does not interfere with selections of this sort, any more than it would interfere with Olympic selections - we do not want to take New Zealand down the path of Soviet Russia. The Government recognises that participation in international events results in better international understanding of what New Zealand has to offer, and may result in increased tourism, exports, and employment in New Zealand.

Hon Georgina te Heuheu: When the Minister was advised at the end of June or early July by Creative New Zealand that "a shifting group of artistic entities" called et al would be the representative artist at the Venice Biennale, did she then ask Creative New Zealand to account for its decision in any detail; if not, why did she wait to do so until there was a public outcry?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: No, I was in ongoing discussions with Creative New Zealand, which is, after all, an independent Crown entity under the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act of 1994. A shifting entity of artists is a bit like the leadership of the National Party - we do not question it.

Peter Brown: Does the Minister share the view that it is only reasonable and proper that anybody who receives a significant amount of Government funding should be at least identified, so that the public know who is receiving their money?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: Everyone is accountable for any Government money. Creative New Zealand is proposing to spend $500,000, a large proportion of which will be for rent of the venue for the 6 months of this show in Venice. It will pay for events that will publicise the show. The artist will get a very small amount. There are three people involved: the curator, Greg Burke, who is from the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery; a senior curator from Te Papa; and the artist. I am very satisfied that Creative New Zealand has in place good accountability processes for this public money.

Heather Roy: Why does the Minister expect that junked computer hardware and scrawled messages will promote New Zealand art at Venice, when she has already said that a port-a-loo that brays like a donkey will not?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: The components of any art exhibition are up to the artist. This Government does not dictate what artists should think, what they should say, or what materials they should use. This artist has been chosen by an eminent group of New Zealand fine arts specialists as the most appropriate artist to represent New Zealand at this important international event. I am very satisfied that, whatever the components, I would rather that the artists chose materials that were appropriate to the installation art piece, rather than my try to dictate to them. I just think the question is silly.

Hon Brian Donnelly: Would it not be better, rather than our spending half a million dollars on an as yet uncreated piece of avant-garde art to be experienced by a small number of overseas aficionados, to spend that money on enabling New Zealanders in rural and provincial areas to have greater access to first-hand experience of New Zealand art collections through enhancement of provincial facilities?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: This Government is spending $7.5 million a year on building and supporting regional art and museum installations. We are the first Government in New Zealand history to have done that, and I am very proud of it. I am very satisfied that we also need to take New Zealand art internationally, just as we take New Zealand film, New Zealand wine, and other New Zealand products.

Deborah Coddington: Does she think, as the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, that spending $500,000 of taxpayers' money on a braying port-a-loo, or junked computer hardware, or whatever it turns out to be, is the best spending of our money on international art; if not, when will she make up her mind and take some responsibility for her portfolio?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: I take very seriously my responsibility for my portfolio, but my responsibility is not to dictate to New Zealanders what they should think, draw, paint, or create.

Deborah Coddington: What is worse: a taxpayer-funded artist who will not front up to the public, assumes a number of names, but did create the work; or a taxpayer-funded artist who does front up to the public, takes the credit, but did not paint the painting itself?

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: I think the worst thing is astonishingly stupid populist-seeking by a member of Parliament in a failing party who appears to be pursuing a vendetta against her ex-husband. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: There was a personal reference made there. I want the member to stand, withdraw, and apologise for it.

Hon JUDITH TIZARD: I withdraw and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: I have to say I found the answer very difficult to hear. I am glad my attention was called to it, because there was far too much noise during it.

Police - Resources

3. RON MARK (NZ First) to the Minister of Police: Is he confident that the police are sufficiently resourced?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): Generally, yes. The Labour-Progressive Government has increased the police budget to $1.06 billion - up a massive $45 million over last year's budget. That compares with the time when the questioner was a whip in the New Zealand First - National Government. In the 1997-98 year the police budget was only $784 million - a smashing of $3 million from the previous year.

Ron Mark: How does the Minister reconcile his answer with the report in the Southland Times expressing Senior Constable Mike Colligan's concerns that morale at the Alexandra station was "at an all-time low" because of staff cuts, and expressing his concerns that front-line officers were having to work solo shifts?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I am happy to tell the member that the staff at Alexandra are not overworked. They make fewer than three arrests a week, and of course if people have to work in rural areas occasionally on single shifts, they are like people in urban areas at times. I think that that staff member should write to the commissioner if he is not happy, or to an employment agency if he is really unhappy.

Martin Gallagher: Can the Minister detail to this House whether the police have received any additional resourcing since the announcement of this year's Budget?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Yes: the equivalent of 18 more sworn positions in the communications centres, 12 new positions for the commencement of professional driving campaigns following the pursuits review, and another nine positions in the prosecution field - and the latter is probably because we are resolving more crime than was ever resolved before.

Brian Connell: What steps has the Minister taken to ensure that the information he has available to him when answering questions is up-to-date and accurate, in light of the internal memo entitled "Southcom's performance for the week ending 13 June 2004 again, overall, is not good.", which contradicts the advice he gave to the House on 23 June that police are being dispatched within 2 minutes to priority 1 events?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I tell the member that when one picks 3 days out of 365, then one may occasionally get that sort of result, but the performance of the Southern Communications Centre has lifted by 18 percent since March. That is a really good performance. I think that member should stop picking on the centre and the staff who work there.

Brian Connell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the Minister a very specific question about what steps he has taken to ensure the information he has is accurate. He did not attempt to answer that question.

Mr SPEAKER: I thought he addressed the question.

Nandor Tanczos: With regard to police resourcing, what lessons does the Minister believe there are for the New Zealand Police in comments by the British Home Office, published in the Guardian, that it has saved 180,000 police hours each year by reclassifying cannabis, allowing the police to "concentrate on class A drugs", which cause the most harm to society?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I have not seen that report, but I tell the member that the police are getting tough on all drugs, whether it is marijuana - which is illegal - or any other drug. Our police do a good job and do not worry too much about what is going on in overseas areas, because they are doing better here in New Zealand than the police do anywhere else.

Marc Alexander: Why has $4.2 million in funding been cut from specific crime prevention activities undertaken by police that target violence, burglary, and vehicle offences, and why has a further $2 million been cut from police prosecutions of criminal cases; is that now what passes for Labour's policy of beefing up police resources?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I do not think that person heard when I said we are spending more than $1 billion. There are fewer burglaries than ever before; they have gone down from 96,000 to 60,000. That is probably one of the reasons why the resource being spent is down in that area.

Ron Mark: Does it not concern the Minister that with violent crime on the rise and an increase in the number of attacks on the police, there should be only two patrol cars on duty on a Saturday night in a city with a population of 65,000 people, and that one of those patrol cars should have only one officer on board; is that the type of industrial relations that a good employer would be engaged in?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I tell that member that crime is down 13.8 percent from when it peaked in 1996. The police are on top of crime, and that member should be honest and say that crime is falling in New Zealand. The crime rate is down. Everyone know that and the police statistics state it, but that member wants to mislead the public of New Zealand. Why he continues to do that, I do not know.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister will now answer the question he was asked.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: The reason for those numbers is that that is the resource the police feel is necessary to police the area.

Nandor Tanczos: I seek leave to table a printout from the Guardian website, showing 180,000 hours of police officer time was saved -

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is.

Ron Mark: I seek leave of the House to table an email that was sent to the Minister by a concerned citizen, outlining the shortage in staffing in a city that has 60,000-plus people

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

Wood Processing - Resource Management Act

4. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National - Nelson) to the Minister for Economic Development: Has he been advised of reports from the New Zealand Forest Industries Council and the Forest Owners Association concerned about the lack of investment in wood processing in New Zealand due to problems with the Resource Management Act 1991, notably that Australia has 21 mills under development while New Zealand has none; if so, what advice has the Ministry of Economic Development provided on reforming the Resource Management Act 1991?

Hon JIM ANDERTON (Minister for Economic Development): I am not yet responsible for Australian economic development. [Interruption] The invitation is in the mail. The private sector in New Zealand is not required by law, in this country, to tell the Government of its investment plans. However, I am aware of not just one wood industry development, but 17, which Investment New Zealand and I know about from public announcements alone. These are planned to come on stream between 2004 and 2009, amounting to a total of $523.5 million of capital investment in the wood processing industry.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question asked: "what advice has the Ministry of Economic Development provided on reforming the Resource Management Act 1991?". I listened very carefully to the Minister's answer and there was no reference to that question at all.

Mr SPEAKER: Well that was the second question the member asked. There were two questions -

Hon Dr Nick Smith: That's quite in order -

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is my final warning. I am very generous today and the member knows it. The Minister might care to comment on the second part of the question, if he wishes to do so.

Hon JIM ANDERTON: I have been advised of the reports and that rather than no wood processing investment development in New Zealand in the next few years, there are at least 17 that are on the public record. The member could have found this out just as I did.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Can the Minister confirm what Mr David Benson-Pope told an open session at the Local Government New Zealand conference on Tuesday, in reference to a session on the Resource Management Act, that that very morning at a Cabinet committee, there had been: "a major fight", but not to worry because he and Marian Hobbs had rolled Mr Anderton?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: If it is a surprise to anyone in the Opposition, this Government has robust debate around the Cabinet table. This leads to very effective and constructive decision-making of a very high quality.

R Doug Woolerton: Would the Minister agree that the lack of - [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry, Mr Woolerton. I have just given the last warning. My patience has gone. Mr Woolerton alone has the floor. I ask him to please start again.

R Doug Woolerton: Would the Minister agree that the lack of start-ups in forestry milling up until now has more to do with the previous National administration than the Resource Management Act?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: The member could well say that. I could not possibly comment.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Can the Minister confirm reports in this morning's Dominion Post that he opposed draft changes to section 6 of the Act, proposed by the environment Ministers, because they were "too loose", to quote from the Dominion Post, but that he lost the debate; if so, what were the specific changes to section 6 that he was seeking?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: No, I cannot confirm the report, because it is absolutely untrue. I do not intend to litigate the debates around the Cabinet table on major issues like the Resource Management Act before they are announced. This Government is going to deal with Resource Management Act reform, which the previous Government never did in 9 years.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: In noting the Minister's statement that it is not proper for Ministers to comment on Cabinet committee deliberations, I ask why it was quite proper for his colleague Mr Benson-Pope to tell an open session of the Local Government New Zealand conference that Mr Anderton had been rolled; and, if that is not correct, would the Minister like to make the record clear?

Mr SPEAKER: In so far as the question relates to the Hon Jim Anderton and his portfolio he can answer it.

Hon JIM ANDERTON: Every Minister in this Government has the right to speak frankly in front of all of his or her colleagues, and we all do. Sometimes we win; sometimes we do not. I have no view whatsoever that anything that happened at that meeting would indicate that views that I have expressed have been rolled in any way, shape, or form.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Is not the key business concern in developments like that the certainty of the rules, and would not a good solution to many Resource Management Act problems be to provide high and certain national environmental standards, rather than dismembering the Act and creating further uncertainty through case law?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: I think that both national policy statements and national environmental standards would be good additions to the procedures of the Resource Management Act, and Cabinet is considering both measures, along with a number of others.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does he recall his speech in 2001, when he said that every raw log shipped overseas was an economic failure; and noting the 21-nil record noted by both the Forest Industries Council and the Forest Owners Association, will he accept that he has failed awfully, and resign?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: Obviously I know the forestry and wood-processing industry a lot better than the member does. The truth is that on the public record, over $500 million of investment will come to fruition over the next 5 years, and that is known to everyone who wants to seek out the public record. This Government has a very proud record of working positively with the forestry industry. No Government in recent history has done more with, and for, the forestry industry in terms of infrastructure, training and skill, and assistance with investment in marketing, than this Government has. Anyone in the forestry industry whom the member would like to talk to in any kind of open way in front of people who know the truth would admit to that.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave of the House to table the statements from the Forest Industries Council and the Forest Owners Association that are damning of the Government -

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

Hon JIM ANDERTON: I seek leave to table the list of publicly announced investment details for the wood processing industry over the next 5 years.

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

Darfur - Humanitarian Crisis

5. TIM BARNETT (Labour - Christchurch Central) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: What steps has New Zealand taken in response to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade): Given the scale of the crisis, in which at least 30,000 people have already died and 1.2 million have been made refugees, the Government has today decided to grant a further $1 million in humanitarian assistance, to bring to a total of $4 million the funds given to international and non-governmental organisations working to prevent further catastrophic loss of human life. In addition, and in respect of Secretary-General Kofi Anna's request, New Zealand has also urged the Sudanese Government directly, and in conjunction with Australia, to comply with the terms of agreement reached between that Government and the United Nations. New Zealand is also pushing for a strong resolution from the Security Council on Sudan, and will consider a request, if made, to make a modest contribution towards peacekeeping forces in that area.

Tim Barnett: How is the Government providing the aid in a way that ensures it actually gets to those in need of it, and is not misappropriated by a corrupt Government or bureaucracy?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The $4 million has been paid directly to international organisations and humanitarian agencies that have a strong track record. For example $2 million was shared between the World Food Programme and the United Nations commission for refugees. A further $1 million has gone to the New Zealand Red Cross and to M¨¦decins Sans Fronti¨¨res. The latest $1 million will be channelled through New Zealand non-governmental organisations that have counterparts providing emergency assistance actually on the ground in Darfur.

Food Safety - Contaminated Cornflour

6. SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister for Food Safety: When, if ever, will the New Zealand Food Safety Authority release both the names of the 30 or so products affected by lead contamination, and the test results which satisfied the Government that products which were not recalled "pose no safety concerns"?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Acting Minister for Food Safety): The member is incorrect in the assumption that 30 products were contaminated with lead from this consignment. Approximately 30 products were assessed. The test results are that four were found to be above acceptable levels, and these products were named and recalled. The rest were below, and pose no safety concerns.

Sue Kedgley: I will repeat my question: will the Minister release the names of all those products that were tested, and also the test results themselves; if not, how can consumers be satisfied that the products that are not being recalled pose no safety concerns?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: We have every confidence in the testing regime applied. The analogy would be us releasing the names of every single person tested at the roadside for possible drink-driving offences. It would be simply unrealistic if those products were at a standard far below that which we consider to be of any significant danger.

Gerrard Eckhoff: What food does the Minister consider safer - food from the USA that may contain some GM particles, but has been proven to be safe, or food like cornflour from China where no amount of guarantees obtained will ensure that the food is free from GM, lead, or anything else?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: We need to have systems in place that test the safety of food from wherever it comes. For the record, I inform the House that the Food Safety Authority has traced the source of the lead contamination. The information points to contamination from the ship used to transport the corn from China as being the most likely cause.

Sue Kedgley: Surely consumers have a right to know what is in their food, and especially what contaminated ingredients are in it, and therefore why does the Minister not instruct the Food Safety Authority to release the names and test results of all the products it has tested?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: The Food Safety Authority will name and release the details of all products that are judged to be unsafe for New Zealand consumption. But the many hundreds and thousands of food products that it tests on a regular basis do not need to be named in the public arena because they are judged to be safe for consumption in New Zealand.

Peter Brown: Noting the Minister's answer to a previous question about the contamination likely to have occurred on a foreign ship, does he share my view that that strengthens the case for the development of a New Zealand shipping industry?

Mr SPEAKER: That is outside the Minister's portfolio. However, the Minister could make a brief comment if he wishes.

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I am sure we could trust New Zealand ships perhaps a little better, but we have to rely on the international transportation of products, both in and out of this country.

Sue Kedgley: Is the Minister aware of media reports that some parents of children who consumed large amounts of the potentially contaminated corn are having their children tested for lead poisoning, and is the Food Safety Authority's constant downplaying of the risks an adequate response to the entirely justifiable concerns of these parents?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: There are many reports on food safety around the world. I am aware of some of those reports, and as I stated yesterday, I hope that parents are offering their children a balanced diet. I am also aware of a UK food standards agency report citing organic baby foods as carrying higher dioxin levels than conventional products. There are many claims around food safety in the world. We have to be very balanced and careful in our assessment of them all.

Sue Kedgley: What is the Minister's response to the pregnant woman who consumed contaminated cornflour and has no idea of how much lead her foetus has been exposed to, and who has emailed me stating: "I am angry, upset, and terrified that this may have harmed my unborn child."?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I encourage that member to be sensible in her comments and not to alarm unnecessarily any New Zealanders, be they pregnant or otherwise. The facts are that it is unlikely that unborn children are at risk because the levels of cornflour used by adults are relatively small. I am sure that that mother, if she is sensible, will have a balanced diet to look after the concerns of her unborn child. It is virtually impossible for that child to be affected.

Question No. 1 to Minister

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Local Government): I seek leave to table a document from the Waikato Times relating to question No. 1 today, and the credibility of my statement regarding the National Party's position on the question of regional councils. This article states: "Asked for his thoughts on the future of regional councils, Dr Brash said that this was an issue which needed looking at." That is the Waikato Times of 23 July.

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

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National - Nelson): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a serious point of order in relation to the tabling of documents and claims that were made by the Minister of Local Government. He said in answer to the very first question of the day that I had said that National would abolish regional councils. When challenged, he said he would table a document from the New Zealand Herald that would show that. I now have the document he tabled. It says no such thing, and I wish to know from you, Mr Speaker, what way it is possible for members to hold Ministers to account for misleading the House in that way.

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Local Government): I would request that Dr Smith read out the very last paragraph of the article.

Mr SPEAKER: The member has asked -

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National - Nelson): I seek leave to read out the paragraph -

Mr SPEAKER: I am going to give the member leave. He does not need to seek leave; I am letting him do it.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The paragraph states: "In answer to a questioner who pointed out that district councils said they were constrained by regional councils' environment plans, Smith said he ¡®will be talking to the caucus about whether we need that many tiers of Government' ", and then the article states: " - implying regional councils might be abolished." That is very different from the claim that was made by Mr Carter.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, let me just say - [Interruption] That, of course, is why I should not be brought into the debate. This is a debatable matter and can be -

Hon Dr Nick Smith: But it was a point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: I have to say to the member that he keeps on talking while I am on my feet. He cannot do that. I should have had him out a long time ago -

Hon Ken Shirley: That's right.

Mr SPEAKER: I do not know - I am just so soft and reasonable today.

Hon Member: You are soft on crime. There is not long to go.

Mr SPEAKER: I am soft on crime, I know.

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader - National): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not want to take this matter too much further, except that when you were questioned about it before, particularly about the matter of Mr Carter saying that Dr Smith had said something, when, clearly, he had not, you said that the best way to deal with it was by point of order, and, indeed, allowed Dr Smith to explore that.

Mr SPEAKER: Yes.

GERRY BROWNLEE: It now goes a little bit further. What we have here is a Minister who has come to question time, made a claim that is completely untrue, and now has had that claim proved untrue in the House, through this long and protracted process. I wonder whether it might be appropriate for you to instruct Government Ministers in future simply to stick to the truth when they are giving answers in this House.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House): I would like to read again what Mr Carter actually said: "¡­ Dr Nick Smith, has gone further, being reported as implying that regional councils might be abolished." XXX Carter actually said "will be abolished" That is exactly what Dr Smith just read, and this is the answer that was actually given.

Mr SPEAKER: I am not going to have anything further on this matter. I myself will have a look at the issue and listen to the tape, and if I find that somebody has misled the House, I will be making the appropriate comments to the House. [Interruption] I do not know whether it is because it is Thursday afternoon, or it is raining, or it is windy, but there are some very, very funny comments being made in the House today that are out of order.

Transpower New Zealand Ltd - Electricity Supply

7. Hon ROGER SOWRY (National) to the Minister of Energy: Is he confident Transpower New Zealand Limited will be able to carry out required future upgrades of the national grid, and ensure continued security of electricity supply; if so, why?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House), on behalf of the Minister of Energy: Yes. The ridiculous situation left by the previous Government, which meant that Transpower could not get paid for new investments, is now being fixed with the establishment of the Electricity Commission.

Hon Roger Sowry: Does he share Transpower's concerns that the protection that the Government's Foreshore and Seabed Bill gives to customary rights orders could prevent it from installing new lines and cables; and what reports has he asked for from officials or from Transpower to ensure that this is not the case?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am pleased to say that today Transpower has clarified its comments yesterday and said that the Foreshore and Seabed Bill does not create a threat to New Zealand's electricity supply. I might go slightly further, as I know just a small amount about this piece of legislation, and point out that it is most unlikely that customary usage rights will exist where there is already a pylon in place.

Hon Ken Shirley: If he is confident that existing legislative frameworks do not impede major developments and investment in the transmission grid, then why has his Government embarked on a major review of the Resource Management Act specific to impediments to infrastructural development and with particular reference to the national grid?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The review being undertaken of the Resource Management Act is not with particular reference to the national grid at all. It is covering a range of issues, the great majority of which would have very little to do with the national grid. But certainly the points made by Transpower no doubt will be listened to carefully by the select committee, and indeed points made by industry in general are being listened to carefully by the Government, as are points being made by environmental groups, as well.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: What steps are the Minister and the Electricity Commission taking to ensure that proposals to expand transmission capacity are properly assessed against the kinds of efficiency gains achieved by Orion networks, such as load shifting, distributor generation built closer to demand, and efficiency gains, which do not require digging up any land?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: All those issues will be taken into account by the Electricity Commission as part of the review of the transmission system, and no doubt will be taken into account by shareholding Ministers should Transpower be consulting with shareholding Ministers in the event of proposing a major upgrade to the system. It is also true, of course, that in the long term an upgrade to the system will actually improve the efficiency of the electricity system and waste less electricity.

Hon Roger Sowry: In the light of his original answer that today Transpower had changed its position from yesterday, is he able to confirm to the House that this was done after Transpower was contacted by either the Minister or someone in the Minister's office; if so, why did the Government deem it necessary to contact Transpower this morning?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I not able to confirm that on the base information. I do understand, however, that the chief executive of Transpower was not aware that that submission was being made.

Hon Roger Sowry: Is it his practice or the practice of his office to ring Transpower or other State-owned enterprises and threaten them if they get a bad story in the newspaper as a result of a submission to the select committee so that they then clarify and change their position?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No. I assume the question is being addressed to the Minister of Energy, but the Minister of Energy is aware that all State-owned enterprises are expected go engage in a no-surprises policy in terms of public statements, and that was indeed the policy engaged in by the previous Government.

M¨¡ori Language - Promotion in Homes

8. NANAIA MAHUTA (Labour - Tainui) to the Minister of M¨¡ori Affairs: Ka pewhea te Kaawanatanga i tautoko i te reo Maaori i roto i ngaa kainga? How has the Government promoted the use of Maaori language in homes?

Hon DOVER SAMUELS (Minister of State), on behalf of the Minister of M¨¡ori Affairs:

[Authorised text to be inserted]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Nanaia Mahuta:

[Authorised text to be inserted]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Hon DOVER SAMUELS:

[Authorised text to be inserted]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Pita Paraone:

[Authorised text to be inserted]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Pita Paraone: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Perhaps it is my pronunciation, but the translation of my question should be: when will the Government give support to the M¨¡ori language not just 1 week each year but 52 weeks per year?

Mr SPEAKER: Thank you for that. The member can, of course, always translate for himself.

Hon DOVER SAMUELS:

[Authorised text to be inserted]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Metiria Turei:

[Authorised text to be inserted]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Hon DOVER SAMUELS:

[Authorised text to be inserted]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister does not have any jurisdiction or responsibility over the Green Party, and I consider that statement to be out of bounds in response to my question.

Mr SPEAKER: That is a matter for debate.

Nanaia Mahuta:

[Authorised text to be inserted]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Hon DOVER SAMUELS:

[Authorised text to be inserted]

[An interpretation was given in English to the House.]

Elderly - Health Needs

9. BARBARA STEWART (NZ First) to the Associate Minister of Health: Does she have any concerns regarding the current health needs of the elderly; if so, what does she intend to do to address those concerns?

Hon RUTH DYSON (Associate Minister of Health): When we took office in 1999 our Government certainly had concerns about the health needs of older people, after a decade of neglect by the previous National Government. Since then we have made progress in many areas, including making all older people over 65 who are enrolled in primary health organisations eligible for lower patient fees and $3 prescription charges, and providing new funding for orthopaedic surgery in order to double the number of major hip and knee replacements funded by the public health system over the next 4 years. We have also increased the funding for the residential care of older people three times since 2001, by a total of $52 million.

Barbara Stewart: Why is the Minister ignoring those at the coalface of elderly health needs who say that the decision to shift aged-care funding responsibility to the district health boards is unwise and negligent, because the district health boards lack understanding and have too many layers of bureaucracy?

Hon RUTH DYSON: I would reply to anyone who made that sort of comment that it is totally out of sync with the majority of submissions on the Health of Older People Strategy, which confirmed that the previous fragmentation of the health and disability services for older people was damaging to their health, and that the best way to ensure the integration of those services was through a coordinated care package that is best lead by one single funder.

Dave Hereora: What else is the Government doing to address the health concerns of older people?

Hon RUTH DYSON: Most older people, given a genuine choice, prefer to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. That is why the Government has set up a number of Ageing in Place projects, including the Community First model being trialled by Presbyterian Support in Dunedin and Waikato. Feedback is very positive about those community-based services, which are especially tailored to the needs of older people and greatly enhance their quality of life.

Dr Paul Hutchison: Will the Minister describe precisely how the deficit-riddled district health boards will cope with funding the care of the elderly now that the Government has foisted the added burden of the Holidays Act upon them, or will she deny responsibility?

Hon RUTH DYSON: In October last year the funding for health of older people services, including that for residential care, was devolved from the Ministry of Health to the district health boards. The residential care contracts are currently under review, including pricing for services. District Health Boards New Zealand has agreed to review those contracts on a national basis, to make things easier for providers and to help ensure greater nationwide consistency. While the contracts are under review it is not appropriate for me to comment further on the amount of funding that will be applied. The Ministry of Health is, however, investigating the impact of the Holidays Act on aged-care facilities. Information has also been received from the district health boards, and the ministry will report back to Ministers with that information soon.

Dr Paul Hutchison: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the Minister how, precisely, district health boards would cope now that the Holidays Act has been foisted on them, in terms of their spending, and the Minister completely ignored replying to that specific question.

Mr SPEAKER: That was one question of the two that were asked. If the Minister wants to, perhaps she could comment on that aspect of the Holidays Act.

Hon RUTH DYSON: I can repeat what I said in answer to the previous supplementary question, which is that the Ministry of Health is investigating the impact of the Holidays Act on aged-care facilities. Information has also been received from district health boards, and the ministry will report back to Ministers with those findings soon.

Judy Turner: Is the Minister aware that the significant underfunding of the aged-care sector is jeopardising the safety and quality of the services provided, to the extent that the chief executive of the Wellington City Mission has commented that he has had to defer essential maintenance and equipment purchases in order to keep nursing staff? If so, will she commit to assisting the district health boards to achieve agreement before the year ends on a pricing model that actually reflects the costs involved, and, more important, will she commit to funding that model; if not, why not?

Mr SPEAKER: There were three questions there. The Minister may comment on any two.

Hon RUTH DYSON: I was not surprised to read the most recent statement from the Wellington City Mission. It is consistent with statements that I have read at this time in the review-of-contract cycle in many previous years. It has not been my understanding from the many residential providers that I deal with that they have decided to reduce the quality of care. In fact, it is my view that the overwhelming majority of providers are interested in enhancing the quality of their care. In terms of the specific funding issues, as I indicated in answer to a previous supplementary question, those are the responsibility of the district health boards. The contracts are currently under review, and it would not be appropriate for me to make a comment at this time.

Barbara Stewart: Is the Minister concerned that more cases like those in the South Canterbury District Health Board will occur, whereby the outsourcing of elderly services will cost extra money, result in lower care standards, and run contrary to Ministry of Health and ministerial guidelines?

Hon RUTH DYSON: I would be concerned if any contracts did not comply with the certification or licensing standards that are required as part of the contracts in all outsourcing work. If the member considers that that is occurring, I would be very pleased to receive information on that.

Judy Turner: Does the Minister admit that the Government's commitment to senior citizens is somewhat hollow, when her response to the Health Committee's recommendation to urgently review contract pricing was to only partially increase it to levels that the ministry itself admitted to be inadequate, and when despite the expectation that there would be another catch-up from June this year, none has been forthcoming; if not, why not?

Hon RUTH DYSON: No, I reject the assertion that the member started her question with. I repeat that the review of contracts is currently being undertaken by District Health Boards New Zealand, and it would not be appropriate for me to comment at this time.

Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill - Solicitors' Fidelity Guarantee Fund

10. MURRAY SMITH (United Future) to the Minister of Justice: Is he satisfied with clause 336 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill that dispenses two-thirds of the remaining assets of the Solicitors' Fidelity Guarantee Fund to the New Zealand Law Society once the fund is wound up; if so, why?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Justice): Yes, because it is the strong wish of the profession to decide itself, at an appropriate time, how any remaining funds sourced from its own members should be applied. It is not for the Government to determine how funds that do not belong to it should be disposed of. The New Zealand Law Society is the profession's elected representative body, and its position on this clause was recently supported unanimously by its 30-member council. There may be some individual practitioners who disagree. I note that the select committee received only four submissions on this point.

Murray Smith: Is the Minister aware that in a recent survey of lawyer principals, 88 percent said that they did not want the fund to be handed to the Law Society; and in the face of that result, will he continue to tell those 88 percent of lawyers that he believes the Law Society's self-serving assertions of overwhelming consent for the move ahead of the written survey responses?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The member can attack the New Zealand Law Society all he likes, but that body is a properly elected democratic body that has decided that the way to dispose of funds provided by its own members is as set out in that clause of the bill. If lawyers as a group were largely, overwhelmingly, or even in significant minority opposed to that, one might have imagined that they would have taken a little bit of time to turn up to the select committee to say that, and one might have imagined that the Law Society would not have got a unanimous decision from its 30-member council that that is the way to properly dispose of those funds.

Richard Worth: Why, when the current range of banking products has meant that lending by lawyers is rare, and when most other occupations that had fidelity funds - like chartered accountants, motor vehicle dealers after 2003, and stockbrokers - have abolished those funds, or had them abolished for them, does the Minister apparently still consider that a fund is necessary, despite the clear wish of the New Zealand Law Society to scrap it?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Because this Government believes strongly that particularly in areas of the law whereby people should have good cause to have confidence in the honesty of those representing them, there should be some collective security for those clients in the event that particular lawyers rip them off - and, regrettably, they do that to the tune, on average, of $1.5 million per year. This Government unashamedly stands for the consumer against that sort of theft by lawyers.

Lianne Dalziel: When will the fund be wound up, and how much is expected to be in the fund at that time?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The New Zealand Law Society expects to retain the fund for some years to cover the expected tail of residual claims against it. Unfortunately it is impossible to predict accurately what those claims may be, but based on the average claim levels over the last 10 years the Law Society does not expect the residual fund to be very significant at all when it is finally wound up.

Murray Smith: If the Minister is not prepared to listen to 88 percent of the lawyer principals who said they did not want the fund handed to the Law Society, what percentage of lawyers opposed to the distribution of the Law Society's $6 million would it take for the Minister to agree to insert in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Bill a requirement for a referendum among lawyers on this issue, or does the Minister have a completely closed mind on the issue?

Hon PHIL GOFF: There are two points. Firstly, when we negotiate with lawyers, we negotiate with their properly and democratically elected representatives. They are elected regularly, and there has never been any suggestion to me from the member or anyone else that that body does not fairly and properly represent its members. Secondly, in relation to the $6 million fund the member is talking about, that is the percentage of the fund that might be used for "representative purposes" if there were no claims on the fund over the next 5, 6, 7 years. Clearly, there will be claims on that fund, and the amount of money being talked about is likely to be quite small.

Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am probably raising it at the wrong time, but the Minister answered a question and said that lawyers rip the public off to the tune of $1.9 million a year, and he seemed to be referring to an official document. Can I ask the Minister to table that document?

Mr SPEAKER: He did not quote from an official document, did he?

Hon PHIL GOFF: No. I did not use the figure "1.9"; I said "1.5", which is the estimate from the president of the Law Society of how much has been claimed from the fidelity fund over the last few years.

Murray Smith: Does the Minister recognise that the New Zealand Law Society as trustee of the fund and as the self-advancing, proposed beneficiary of $6 million from the fund is in a clear conflict of interest in this matter; and at the very least an independent survey of lawyers on the matter should be an absolute prerequisite?

Hon PHIL GOFF: For a start, the survey the member is talking about is about principals of law firms only - if I understood it right. That is not talking about lawyers generally. In terms of conflict of interest, the Ministry of Justice sought a legal opinion on this matter right at the beginning, and the member will know of that legal opinion because it was provided to the select committee. That legal opinion came to the conclusion that the most practical course is to provide that any surplus should become the beneficial property of the New Zealand Law Society - as was the course adopted on the abolition of the New Zealand Society of Accountants fidelity fund, which nobody in this House opposed at the time.

Murray Smith: I seek leave to table a document, "Solicitors' fidelity fund results of opinion survey" dated 27 July 2004.

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

Question No. 9 to Minister

BARBARA STEWART (NZ First): I seek leave to table an article from the Timaru Herald from 29 May 2004, titled "Warning over health services for the elderly".

Mr SPEAKER: The member should have done that when the question was being asked, but I will accept that the House can give her leave if members wish. Does anyone object? Right, there is objection.

Polytechnics - Funding Breaches

11. DONNA AWATERE HUATA (Independent) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education): Can he confirm that any polytechnic found to have breached the intent of classification 5.1 funding, either by way of payments to enrol students or by not ensuring that students engaged in learning, will be required to return the money; if not, why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education): Any breach of funding guidelines, whether by a large polytechnic or a small community provider, is treated seriously and addressed appropriately. I expect any provider to cooperate fully with the Tertiary Education Commission on that.

Donna Awatere Huata: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Was that a "Yes" or "No"?

Mr SPEAKER: The member cannot demand that. The Minister addressed the question. I heard him. The member will please ask her supplementary question.

Donna Awatere Huata: Can the Minister explain how it was that Christchurch Polytechnic was able to receive $15.3 million for distributing CD-ROMs, which may or may not have even seen the inside of an enrolee's computer - if that enrolee even had a computer - or the Eastern Institute of Technology receive $18 million for broadcasting a radio programme, to which enrolees may or may not have even listened, when he knows that if it had been a M¨¡ori whanaunga, it would have been audited, re-audited, and audited again with payments withheld, as happened with Carich New Zealand, which at least delivered what it was supposed to; or is this just another example of "It's so marvellous to be white."?

Mr SPEAKER: There are three questions there. The Minister may comment on two.

Donna Awatere Huata: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have two questions: one begins "Can the Minister explain"; the other begins "or is this". The other parts are adverbial or adjectival clauses.

Mr SPEAKER: All right. I will accept the member's word.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Commenting on the Carich issue, I point out that the Tertiary Education Commission worked cooperatively with Carich over many months to try to resolve the issues. For instance, it agreed with Carich to spread its debt repayments over a longer time than for other providers, and it agreed to Carich's request to submit a most unusual third single data return. The fact of the matter is that at the end of the day, Carich went bust.

Donna Awatere Huata: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I had two questions there. The Minister answered one.

Mr SPEAKER: What was the second one?

Donna Awatere Huata: It asked how it was possible that the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology could get away with the spending of $33 million and no auditing.

Mr SPEAKER: I thought the Minister addressed the question but if he wants to make a further comment, he can. No, he does not wish to.

Lynne Pillay: Why has the Minister decided to cap community education and subject it to more scrutiny?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government is implementing a strategic approach to investment in tertiary education. We have other priorities for enrolment growth, such as ensuring skills are met. Community education continues to have an important role, but on a smaller scale.

Hon Brian Donnelly: Is it true that tertiary institutions whose 5.1 levels have remained the same over the last few years will have to cut back by 15 percent each year for the next few years; if so, how can he possibly say that those institutions that have not caused the 5.1 blowout are not being penalised?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I will try to explain it, which is actually quite difficult. The formula uses a baseline of the average of a tertiary education institution's validly enrolled classification 5.1 equivalent full-time students for 2002-03 and its forecast classification 5.1 equivalent full-time students for 2004. On those allocations the 2004-06 period is then calculated as the 2004 forecast equivalent full-time students plus 119 percent of the baseline.

Tariana Turia: Can the Minister assure wh¨¡nau, hap¨±, and iwi that community education courses run by Te Whare W¨¡nanga o Awanui¨¡rangi that have led to degrees in postgraduate participation will not be affected by the funding cuts caused by the action of irresponsible mainstream polytechs?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The very large growth in 5.1 course numbers is not confined, at all, simply to polytechnics. It has been a very broad experience across the board - clearly well in excess of what the Government anticipated, and there are doubts raised around the quality of courses in a wide range of institutions. The Government does not propose to distinguish on the basis of treating M¨¡ori providers better than general providers in that respect.

Prisons - Consultation

12. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National - Port Waikato) to the Minister of Corrections: Does he believe that public money used for prison consultation should be used prudently and accounted for scrupulously?

Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Corrections): Yes.

Dr Paul Hutchison: If the Minister were to view an invoice for $4,965 for corporate box hire fees, which prison consultation providers used to entertain personnel from his department in April 2003, would he commit to a full investigation of that doubtful arrangement; if not, why not?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am aware that some staff of the department were engaged in a corporate box. Mind you, there are many people who get taxpayers' money and engage in corporate boxes - including, probably, that member as a member of Parliament.

Georgina Beyer: I would be interested to know whether the Minister has received any reports on the results of consultation around the new Spring Hill prison.

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes. I have seen a number of reports around consultation. In those reports, I note that Paul Hutchison, the local member, has opposed the prison, and current and former National members have urged people to cite w¨¡hi tapu issues in order to oppose it. That is interesting, given that Don Brash wants to build up to 10 new prisons under his new parole policy, even though a large number of National MPs have consistently opposed the building of the prison at Spring Hill. There is a word for that. It starts with "h", and I am not allowed to use it.

Mr SPEAKER: Mr Hide advised me earlier that his question is a little longer than usual. I am allowing it.

Rodney Hide: Does it concern the Minister that Dennis Parsons of Indepth Forensic Ltd found that the Department of Corrections contract was "financially generous to the Lands Trust in the value accorded to the services rendered; that Corrections made duplicate payments of over $40,000; and that no time-sheets were kept until the 30th of June 2002, but that the completed time-sheets after that date appear to have been of little real use, other than to record the number of hours worked for payroll purposes", or is he sticking to his answer given to Parliament yesterday that Mr Parsons' report states no such thing?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Firstly, I did not say that it did not state any such thing. I think the member accused the Parsons report of talking about the Department of Corrections being a whitewash, which I am certain it did not say. But I will say that the department, in its own report, stated that some of the payments had been excessive, that the department had been quite explicit about trying to make sure that double-dipping did not occur, that it was quite frank about some of the concerns that had been expressed, and that it has taken steps to ensure that does not happen again. I am certain that they will not happen in the future.

Dr Paul Hutchison: Who was the person responsible in his department who allowed corrections personnel to take part in the corporate box party, paid for by prison consultancy providers, and does he intend taking disciplinary action?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: As the member knows, the nature of disciplinary action has nothing to do with the Minister. Secondly, as I said, there were people involved in that, but, as I have said, a number of people do such things. What is more concerning is a member who claps his leader when he says he will get tough on crime and build more prisons, and opposes a prison when it is to be built in his own electorate.

Dr Paul Hutchison: I seek leave to table an invoice from the Spring Hill prison consultation providers for corporate box entertainment amounting to $4,965.

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

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I seek leave to table a number of media reports that show that National Party members cited w¨¡hi tapu in order to prevent a prison from being built at Spring Hill.

Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection? There is objection.

Questions to Members

Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee - Sittings

1. Hon KEN SHIRLEY (ACT) to the Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee: Did he initially claim that leave was not required for the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee to sit after 6 pm last evening; if so, why?

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee): No.

Hon Ken Shirley: In view of the tight time constraint to hear submissions, is he as chairman advising submitters that it is their prerogative as to how they spend the 10 minutes allocated to them, and can we therefore assume that select committee members' opportunity to question submitters is a secondary consideration?

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: No.

Gerry Brownlee: Can the chairman of the committee assure the House that submitters will get adequate time to get their points across, and that the 10 members of the committee will also have adequate time to tease out the points that they wish, with those submitters?

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: Yes.

Question No. 4 to Minister

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Minister of Fisheries): I seek leave to table my address to Local Government New Zealand earlier in the week, which shows that the statement attributed to me by Dr Smith is a fabrication.

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

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National - Nelson): I seek the leave of the House to table the notes I specifically took on Mr David Benson-Pope's opening comments on the Resource Management Act, when he spoke at the Local Government New Zealand conference.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those notes. Is there any objection? There is objection.

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader - National): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Do we take it that those who have denied Dr Smith leave in this case are saying that the veracity of his notes is not as good as those of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials who sit in -

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member knows that is not a point of order.

End of Questions for Oral Answer

( Uncorrected transcript - subject to correction and further editing. For corrected transcripts, please visit: http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/hansard )

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