Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 31 August 2004
Tuesday, 31 August 2004
Questions to Ministers
Zealand On Air—NZ Idol
2. National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Hauraki Plains College
4. Animal Welfare Code—Layer Hens
5. Community Employment Group—Aotearoa Rugby Football League
6. Quota Management System—Kahawai
7. Police—Offence Report, Auckland
8. Primary Health Organisations—Scope
9. Employment Relations Law Reform Bill—Non-union Members
10. Family Violence—Government Agencies
11. Taxation—Increases Since 1999
12. Trade Agreements—Labour Standards and Environmental Concerns
Question No. 11 to Minister
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
New Zealand On Air—NZ Idol
1. DEBORAH CODDINGTON (ACT) to the Minister of Broadcasting: Is he satisfied with New Zealand On Air lending $450,000 to Television New Zealand Limited to produce NZ Idol, when the contract was not finalised until the last week of screening; if so, why?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Broadcasting): I am satisfied that New Zealand On Air behaved entirely appropriately in funding Television New Zealand with $450,000 as a contribution to produce NZ Idol. I am informed that the contract was signed on 29 April this year but that the series, with its add-on programmes following the competition, did not end until 24 June. New Zealand On Air approved the funding before the series went into production, but nothing was paid out until details were settled and the contract was signed. I think the member needs to understand that it has been an amazingly successful programme, and she should simply applaud it.
Deborah Coddington: Under what circumstances will that New Zealand On Air loan to TVNZ become a grant, given TVNZ’s own statement that NZ Idol got record ratings in prime time, and does he think it acceptable for New Zealand On Air to provide unsecured loans to underwrite TV programmes in the future?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: TVNZ has not finalised its report on income generated by the series at this time. I am informed that the contract identifies New Zealand On Air’s funding as an equity investment in the programme, which means, in practice, that if NZ Idol generates more revenue than it has cost to produce, then New Zealand On Air is entitled to repayments on a first-out basis against its investment. Once again, I say that I think this is a good use of New Zealand On Air’s money appropriately applied to New Zealand programmes.
Moana Mackey: What impact has NZ Idol had on the New Zealand music industry?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: NZ Idol made a major contribution to the New Zealand music scene and helped it reach an all-time high in terms of airplay and music sales. The inaugural winner, Ben Lummis’s single “They Can’t Take That Away”, went four times platinum to become the highest-selling New Zealand single of all time. Both he and the NZ Idol runner-up, Michael Murphy, have now signed record contracts with the international music label BMG. In New Zealand, New Zealand artists make up nearly 20 percent of all CD sales of music, passing the 25 percent level of airplay on commercial radio. As a percentage of sales, the amount of New Zealand music bought has now doubled since 1999. I say to the member, “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, just stay “Loyal” to New Zealand music.
Katherine Rich: When New Zealand On Air is supposed to hand out funding for the production of television programmes, why did it give TVNZ any money at all when, according to media reports, TVNZ did not produce NZ Idol—South Pacific Pictures did?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: It may be useful for the member to at some point ask New Zealand On Air to explain how contracting takes place. When a format is an overseas format, New Zealand On Air is prohibited from going straight to a producer, because the producer can be blocked by the overseas format owners from being allowed to do it. So Television New Zealand took on the format and gave it to South Pacific Pictures to produce, which was a very good way of doing it. It was fantastic programme, and “Don’t Dream It’s Over”.
Marc Alexander: Why should taxpayers fund a programme like NZ Idol—a programme that is so palpably commercially motivated that it should be expected at least to cover its own costs—and as New Zealand On Air funding criteria is meant to be targeted at programmes that would otherwise not make it to air, what would be the great tragedy if this programme never tarnished our television screens?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: This programme does fit within the format for NZ On Air funding—that is why it was funded. The member may have something against hundreds of thousands of young New Zealanders being involved in one of the most successful programmes in the history of television, but we do not. We think it is very wonderful that they did get involved in this programme, and, by the way, without a kick-start the programme would never have been made.
Katherine Rich: When New Zealand On Air admits it is not the agency’s policy to fund overseas formats, “due to their proven performance and relative commercial viability”, why did it fund NZ Idol, which used one of the most successful commercial formats in television today?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: If the member wants to read the criteria for New Zealand On Air, she will find that this fits within the brief to promote and foster expressions of New Zealand culture and identity when the cost of production requires public finding to top up that would not be available from other sources. This was a fantastic success for young New Zealanders. I cannot believe that anybody in this House is not proud of what was achieved by those young people. We are.
Deborah Coddington: Does he believe it is wise policy for New Zealand On Air to lend money, unsecured, and convert it to a grant if the broadcaster simply says that it did not make any money on the programme, and just how many loans has New Zealand On Air given?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: This is a very normal contract for New Zealand On Air. It funds programmes in this way frequently. I hope it carries on providing outstanding funding for outstanding programmes like this. I am looking forward to being in front of young New Zealanders during the election campaign saying that the two people who live together, who are obviously cooperating today on this question, would be opposing funding for young New Zealanders while we would not.
Rodney Hide: Does he know the details of the agreement by which New Zealand On Air proposed to get a return on its $450,000 “equity investment” in NZ Idol, and how could it have been a kick-start needed to get this show on the road when it was not signed off until the last week of screening?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The details obviously are part of a commercial agreement, but yes, I understand, as I set out before to the House, that what is going on here is that this is an equity investment. They are the first-out investor. If the programme makes money, they will get a return on their investment. A kick-start for a programme like this, which is enormous in size, was the only way to get it off the ground. I think the $450,000 was spent well on hundreds of thousands of young New Zealanders, and I hope New Zealand On Air continues to make that kind of investment in those young people.
Rodney Hide: Is the House correct to conclude that this Minister will do absolutely nothing about two Crown entities, for which he is responsible, who have jacked up a deal to rip off the taxpayer to the tune of $450,000, and does he even know where the money from the tens of thousands of texts that were sent ended up?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Well, that member would know about ripping off the taxpayer.
Mr SPEAKER: I now want the Minister to answer the question.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We deserve a withdrawal and an apology.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, I think that is right. The member will withdraw and apologise.
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I withdraw and apologise. I have checked, as is appropriate, today, in preparation for this question, yet again with New Zealand On Air, and I am saying to the House that I am entirely comfortable that this is a normal approach to funding undertaken by NZ On Air. The member will no doubt take the opportunity at select committee time to swap committee and have a go at them, and so on. He will find that it is an entirely appropriate way of funding. The texting is part of how they decide on revenue generation, and that will be part of the wash-up to see whether they make enough money to be able to pay some money back to NZ On Air.
Hon Richard Prebble: Is the House to understand from the Minister’s answers that he thinks it is entirely appropriate that New Zealand On Air, which receives taxpayers’ money on the understanding that it will fund local New Zealand programmes and will not fund local copies of overseas successful programmes, can get round that rule by just declaring it a loan and then writing it off when the programme does not make a profit, and if that is the case, is he not aware that The Lord of the Rings, a film that has received the most money of any film ever made, is still claiming that it has not made a profit; and surely this is just device to rip off the taxpayer?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Once again I can only really offer the seminar. If the member reads the New Zealand On Air funding guidelines he will see that if the programme promotes and fosters New Zealand culture, then it fits within the guidelines for funding even though it is in an overseas format. In this case, NZ Idol has allowed hundreds of thousands of young New Zealanders to get into the music industry, with enormous successes at the end of it. We will carry on being proud of young Kiwis and backing them, unlike the ACT party.
National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Hauraki Plains College
2. LYNNE PILLAY (Labour—Waitakere) to the Minister of Education: What steps have been taken to verify the accuracy or otherwise of recent allegations concerning the awarding of unearned National Certificate of Educational Achievement credits at Hauraki Plains College?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): Last week the New Zealand Qualifications Authority received a box of stolen documents that were the basis of allegations of National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)# fraud. Following the investigation of those documents I have been advised that the allegations are untrue. The box contained students’ workbooks, and not the evidence that comprised the final assessments. When concerns were raised at the school, the school took immediate action to address the problem. There is no evidence that credits have been unfairly awarded at Hauraki Plains College. That rural school has had its name dragged through the mud, without any justification, on the word of a liar, around whom there are competency issues, using stolen goods.
Lynne Pillay: What avenues exist to address professional competency issues?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: For teachers it is clear—the board of trustees and the New Zealand Teachers Council are responsible. For others, it is a matter of leadership. I know that if someone on the Government side of the House used stolen goods and the words of a liar to deliberately wreck the reputation of a good school, he or she would be gone by lunchtime. It will be interesting to see whether Bill English is big enough to apologise, or whether Don Brash backs him or sacks him.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is one thing for a Minister in his answer to imply, without detailing who the character is, a certain description such as a liar. But in that last answer the Minister clearly said that Bill English was one; therefore he should be asked to withdraw and apologise. The Hansard will show the connection.
Mr SPEAKER: I ask the member whether he used that expression in relation to the Hon Bill English.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No.
Mr SPEAKER: The answer is quite specific.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He may say that, but if the Hansard clearly shows that connection, first, that there is a liar out there who is dragging the school through the mud, and second, someone should apologise for that. Surely the inference is that the person who needs to apologise is the person who is accused of being a liar.
Mr SPEAKER: I will have a look at the Hansard. If there is any such implication I will certainly come back to the House, because every member’s word is accepted in this place.
Hon Bill English: Given the Minister’s statement that nothing untoward happened at Hauraki Plains College, how does he explain the public statement made by the principal of the college, who said that pupils were given credits they had not earned and they had been stripped of those marks, and has he seen the letter from the person who wrote the unit standards concerned, which states—and I quote—“It is beyond doubt that most of the marked assessments I have reviewed would not meet the national standards, and therefore fail moderation.”, when in each case Hauraki Plains College gave the students those credits?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The only person who recommended that those credits be given was the incompetent liar who fed that member the information.
Jim Peters: Was not the credits issue at Cambridge High School, then at Hauraki Plains College, and now widespread in other secondary schools yet to be revealed one that has resulted because the NCEA, at the Minister’s insistence, incorporated two differing historical and dissimilar strands of educational achievement, especially with regard to unit standards, which involve both credits for portfolios and time; and is that not a matter for urgent review?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It was the decision of the previous Government to include unit standards within the NCEA, and I do not propose to review that decision made, I think, in the time of Wyatt Creech.
Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that the statements made by the principal of Hauraki Plains College refer to a couple of students, that the statements made by the Associate Minister of Education last year refer to the work of four students, and that the box I handed to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority includes the work of at least 25 students; and when is he going to tell the House—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: That is the only warning today. I now want the member to start the question all over again.
Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that public statements made by the principal of Hauraki Plains College refer to—and I quote—“a couple of students”, that the Associate Minister’s statements last week refer to four students where the credits have been taken and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority has apparently reviewed the process, but that the box I presented to the authority on Friday contains the work of at least 25 students; and when is he going to show more interest in protecting the interests of those students than he is in protecting the NCEA and attacking people who occasionally criticise it?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I have done a lot of work on protecting the work of the previous Government on the NCEA. People will remember that I deferred the introduction of the NCEA because of the disorganised mess that I was left by Nick Smith. On the substance of the question, there were a number of books in the box, but not one of those workbooks contained the evidence that was required and that made up the final assessments. That member just made that up.
Hon Bill English: I seek leave to table a letter from Instant Unit Standards, which reviewed the assessments concerned. I also seek leave to table anonymous extracts from five scripts contained in that box that give the appearance that five students copied answers into their assessments.
Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Steve Maharey: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like you to consider this serious issue. Basically, what recourse does a Minister have if a member posing a question comes to the House armed with a cardboard box supposedly full of evidence of fraud, and when that box is finally surrendered some 24 hours later, after repeated requests, it is found that absolutely no evidence at all is in that box? What can we do to protect this House against such blatant misrepresentation?
Mr SPEAKER: No, that is not a point of order. The Minister has many options, including a ministerial statement, or letters to me couched in a particular way.
3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Is she confident that New Zealand’s key infrastructure will be able to serve the needs of New Zealanders in the future?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes. Obviously, both population and economic growth have placed pressure on New Zealand’s infrastructure, which is why this Government has been increasing investment in infrastructure.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: As an answer of 17 August to my colleague Peter Brown’s written question revealed that the Labour Government had increased taxes by almost 40 percent since 1989, why do we as New Zealanders now face road tolls, expansions, and other infrastructural investments and borrowings, when billions of dollars of New Zealand’s Superannuation Fund are parked offshore, propping up somebody else’s economy?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Obviously, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund is invested independently of the Government, and it is invested to give a good return, because future generations of superannuitants rely on those returns. All that I can point to is evidence of increased investment. For example, last week the Minister of Transport referred to an 18 percent increase in transport funding for this year, and also set out that the extra spending planned for land transport by 2013-14 would mean that spending was at exactly twice the level this Government inherited in 1999.
Keith Locke: What priority will the Government be giving to improving Auckland’s rail infrastructure, and, in particular, what financial assistance will the Government be giving to electrifying the western line in Auckland and providing a rail link to Auckland airport?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Government, through the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Finance, has been working with Auckland on the rail issues for some time. I have not come to the House with a detailed brief, but I know that the work is extensive and includes the double tracking of the western line, which commenced some time ago.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why does she boast of an 18 percent increase in transport funding, when she knows full well that of every $2 collected for road construction, maintenance, and repair, less than $1 is now going for that purpose nationwide, and the rest is going into “loony tunes” policies that she ascribes to?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: What I am aware of is that all the extra funding from the fuel tax increase that took effect in 2002, and from the one that is due to take effect next year, will go into transport funding. That would be the first time that has occurred.
Hon Peter Dunne: Will the discussions the Government now has under way with Wellington regional authorities regarding a Wellington regional transport plan be accelerated or altered in any way in the light of the recent deaths of four motorists on State Highway 1 north of the city, and will those plans include ways in which either the existing stretch of road can be made safer, or an alternative can be developed?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I would not want to prejudge what would come out of those discussions, but I am delighted that Wellington local and regional government leaders have come together to work with the Government on the issues, because it was our experience that it was not until Auckland got its act together that we started to get a united voice there on what had to be done. I hope we will see the same from Wellington.
Animal Welfare Code—Layer Hens
4. SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister of Agriculture: When will the code of animal welfare for layer hens be released, and will it require the phasing out of the battery hen cages, particularly in light of a Colmar Brunton poll which found that 78 percent of people found the practice of keeping hens in battery cages unacceptable?
Hon JIM SUTTON (Minister of Agriculture): The code will be released once it has been written, sent to me, and approved by me. I have not yet received it.
Sue Kedgley: Does he agree that raising hens in cages, where they have a living space less than the size of an A4 sheet of paper and cannot turn round or stretch their wings, is cruel and does not permit hens to express normal patterns of behaviour; if not, why not?
Hon JIM SUTTON: I would like to quote the expert opinion of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee as of 19 April, when it sent me an early draft of its proposed recommendation. It said: “NAWAC is unable to recommend replacement of the current cage systems with alternative systems, until it can be shown that alternative systems would consistently provide better welfare outcomes.”
Sue Kedgley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked for his personal opinion of whether he thought the battery hen cage was cruel. I did not ask for an opinion from the advisory committee.
Mr SPEAKER: He does not have to give a personal opinion. He gave an answer. I assume the answer he gave supported what he read out.
Janet Mackey: Does New Zealand have a good animal welfare system? [Interruption]
Hon JIM SUTTON: As listeners will realise, it has the vocal support of the animals.
Sue Kedgley: Now that the draft code has been released publicly by some egg producers, and now that the Egg Producers Federation has confirmed on National Radio today that the code will not recommend any phasing out of the battery hen cage, can he reassure New Zealanders that he will reject the code; if not, why not?
Hon JIM SUTTON: I will not reject or accept the code until I have received it and read it.
Sue Kedgley: Does the Minister agree that an increase in the size of battery hen cages amounting to no more than the size of a credit car per bird, as is proposed in the draft code of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, is a complete nonsense and will do nothing to improve the welfare of the 2.5 million hens that are kept in these atrocious battery hen cages; if not, why not?
Hon JIM SUTTON: I have only the member’s word that the advisory committee is proposing an increase per bird the size of a credit card. I do not choose to base my opinion on that information.
Sue Kedgley: What evidence is there that keeping hens in cages where they have living spaces less than the size of an A4 piece of paper can provide “better welfare outcomes” than letting them roam on free-range farms, as recommended in the draft code; and if the Minister were a hen, what would he prefer?
Mr SPEAKER: I am in a little bit of difficulty here. I suggest the Minister answer the first part of the question.
Hon JIM SUTTON: I would have to seek the advice of the member on what it feels like to be a hen.
Sue Kedgley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a pathetic response, but never mind. I seek leave to table the layer hen code of welfare, which has been released by egg producers and confirmed on National Radio today.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Community Employment Group—Aotearoa Rugby Football League
5. KATHERINE RICH (National) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What specifically was achieved as a result of the $19,000 Community Employment Group grant to Aotearoa Rugby Football League, and what conflicts of interest, if any, did Community Employment Group staff have in the initial approval, monitoring, reporting, and final approval of the grant?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): As the member will know from the KPMG audit report I released to the Opposition under the Official Information Act last week, KPMG confirmed that the Aotearoa Rugby Football League had used the $19,000 grant it received from the Community Employment Group in 2002 to complete a business plan, an employment and career development plan, and a regional development plan for the six Auckland regional affiliates. KPMG also found that the Community Employment Group had identified a conflict of interest existing within the original Community Employment Group worker responsible for the grant, and had identified an appropriate management plan to address that conflict. But as that management plan was not followed throughout the course of the project, the conflict of interest was not appropriately dealt with.
Katherine Rich: When a key objective of the KPMG audit of the grant awarded to the Aotearoa Rugby Football League was to identify that the league “applied the grant funding in accordance with approved purposes, and in accordance with the terms and conditions of the funding” does the Minister think it is weird that the auditors did not meet with any representative of the league; if not, what will he do about that?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The member has the same report that I have. The member will also know that—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Just answer the question.
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Will the member be quiet? He should keep taking his pills, rather than coming here and interrupting all the time.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not want comments like that to be made, at all. I want the member to withdraw and apologise for that comment, and to answer the question succinctly.
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I apologise and withdraw. The KPMG report stands, and that company has to defend its own report. But the member will know that since these events took place back in 2002, all grants have been frozen. She will know that the Community Employment Group is under review. She will know that the kinds of conditions that were outlined in this report have all been changed already in relation to grants. This situation could not happen again.
Katherine Rich: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With all due respect, the Minister did not address my question, which was very clear. I asked him whether he thought it was weird that no one from KPMG met with any representatives of the Aotearoa Rugby Football League, when KPMG’s job was to verify that the funding had been spent on the project and that the project’s objectives had been completed.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes. I think the Minister could address that.
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: My judgment on the report is that there are things that occurred that are odd. In other words, yes, it is odd when people do not do things in the way that the member and I may do them. But I say to the member that this occurred in 2002. Grants have been frozen. Things cannot change. The Community Employment Group is under review. In a way this report, like those on most of these kinds of issues, is well superseded by later action.
Georgina Beyer: What role does the Community Employment Group play in today’s much-improved labour market?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: When the Community Employment Group was established in 1990 unemployment stood at about 7.8 percent and was rising, and there was no employment growth. There were many groups that were disadvantaged in the labour market, and once unemployment hit 11.9 percent in 1992, the Community Employment Group had a great deal of work to do. However, now that we have around 4 percent unemployment, with very strong employment growth, I think the focus and role of that organisation may need to change.
Dail Jones: Why does anyone have to rob a bank these days when all a person has to do is to rob the Community Employment Group, in keeping with this Government’s policy guidelines?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Robbing a bank would mean a person would be caught by the very effective police force under Mr Hawkins. I stress to the member that everybody in this House knows, from personal experience, that the Community Employment Group undertakes a great deal of useful work. However, there are some contracts that are clearly dubious. That is why I froze its funding, why it is under review, and why change is coming.
Dr Muriel Newman: What is the Minister’s response to claims that he has overseen more spending scandals in his portfolios—in the Community Employment Group, the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, broadcasting, and some tertiary institutions—than all his colleagues put together; and what responsibility does he accept for his reckless stewardship of public money?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I, of course, always accept responsibility for all my portfolios. It may interest the member to know that through my office runs about half the Government’s Budget, so of course there will be a large amount of money to be accounted for through my office. The member may want to stop going through and making things up—for example, I cannot think of an example that the member may be talking about around broadcasting. We are talking about a vast amount of money being spent. A very, very small amount of it is now having to be reconsidered because of the actions of what appear to be some departments that have gone off the rails.
Katherine Rich: Does the Community Employment Group have a copy of the business plan supposedly produced as a result of the grant to the Aotearoa Rugby Football League, and what evidence does the Community Employment Group have that any business plan was produced, at all?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I draw the member’s attention to my original answer. In the first part I said that the Aotearoa Rugby Football League organisation had used the $19,000 grant it received from the Community Employment Group in 2002 to complete a business plan. It has the plan, and KPMG have obviously reviewed that plan, which is an employment career development plan and a regional development plan for six Auckland regional affiliates.
Katherine Rich: When a Community Employment Group report on the Aotearoa Rugby Football League’s project broke down expected financial costs by categories such as “Meeting costs”, “Admin”, “Consumables”, and “Computers”, why did the Community Employment Group accept Aotearoa Rugby Football League’s final financial report in which there were no financial details of spending, just three grand for a hui and four neat payments to Te Ao Associates, a company owned by the chairman of Aotearoa Rugby Football League and his wife?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Community Employment Group should not have accepted it. That is why this whole thing is under review.
Quota Management System—Kahawai
6. LARRY BALDOCK (United Future) to the Minister of Fisheries: Does the Government intend to follow through on its decision to introduce kahawai, known as “the people’s fish”, into the quota management system with commercial catch quotas set at a level that enables large-scale purse seine fishers to target entire schools of this species; if so, why?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Minister of Fisheries): If the member means do I intend to go back on the decision gazetted in October 2003 to introduce kahawai into the quota management system, then the answer is no.
Larry Baldock: Is the Government prepared to enter into negotiation with the relevant commercial fishing companies engaged in targeting kahawai with purse seine fishing vessels, in order to ensure there will be sufficient kahawai for both commercial by-catch requirements and non-commercial, recreational interests; if not, why not?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The decision that has been announced has clearly not given purse seine fishers any advantage in terms of the way that catch limits are set. In fact, the total allowable commercial catch has been set at a level that is significantly less than the tonnage that purse seine fishers alone are able to catch under the current permit regime.
Mr SPEAKER: I call Russell Fairbrother. I was advised by the Minister that the answer to this question will be a little longer than usual.
Russell Fairbrother: Why is kahawai being introduced into the quota management system?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How can you possibly know that the answer will take a terribly long time, without knowing what the supplementary question is? I thought the interest of the public lay in our having some sort of debate in this House that actually meant something, and wherein people responded as a result of information they might have previously heard. For you to know that the answer will be long means that—well, I cannot use the word, but there is an inference. If you were to warn us, as you did, that the answer to this question would be somewhat longer, surely that suggests some sort of prior knowledge. I want to say, in the interests of defending you, that that must be a mistake, or that there is some other explanation, or that you are clairvoyant.
Mr SPEAKER: I had no knowledge of the question itself, but the Minister rang me and said he was likely to be asked a question that required a longer answer than usual—and I like to advise the House of that.
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: If kahawai is not introduced into the quota management system on 1 October 2004, it will not be managed in order to ensure sustainability. The fisheries permit moratorium will expire on that date, and if kahawai were not in the quota management system, any commercial fishers would be able to target kahawai by any method. There would be no commercial catch limit, and recreational fishers would not have defined shares in the fishery. It is that lack of limits and control that led to the decision to introduce kahawai into the world-leading quota management system, to ensure that New Zealanders can catch that species in the future.
Phil Heatley: Why is the Minister favouring such commercial fishing companies at the significant expense of recreational fishers, when his own election policy says that Labour recognises the value of recreational fishing to New Zealand’s tourism industry—that a kahawai caught by an overseas visitor, and cooked or smoked by the host, might be worth 10 times more to the economy than one caught commercially?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I am delighted that the questioner has such good knowledge of Labour’s policy. I can confirm that recognition of the importance of kahawai—the so-called “people’s fish”—is what has led to the setting of the combined recreational and customary allowable catch at 1½ times the total allowable commercial catch. Indeed, in kahawai area 1, the area from North Cape to East Cape—with which Mr Heatley, I hope, is very familiar—where there is the greatest concentration of recreational fishing, the combined customary and recreational allowable catch is set at twice the allowable commercial catch.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Minister aware that Mr Heatley told the recreational fishing conference at Onerahi a couple of months ago that National supported kahawai going into the quota management system; and is he aware that United Future made no reference to this matter in its 2002 policy, or—
Mr SPEAKER: So far, the member has not addressed any question for which the Minister—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I am getting to it.
Mr SPEAKER: —please be seated—has responsibility. Would he come to that point now.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is he aware that United Future made no reference to this matter in its 2002 policy, and that this matter is absent from the Government’s coalition arrangement with United Future; what confusion has he been left in with regard to the varying positions of those two parties—or are they just the bunch of “lay-down Sallies” that we know they are?
Mr SPEAKER: No. The only point the Minister can answer is in relation to the coalition agreement.
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I am not aware of the statement that was attributed to Mr Heatley, but I am not surprised by anything he or the National Party say on this matter.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Minister agree that kahawai has greater value to New Zealanders as a recreational species rather than a commercial species, and should therefore be managed as such; if so, what mechanisms are available under the Fisheries Act 1996 to provide quota for unavoidable commercial by-catch, but not for purse seine fishers targeting kahawai?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I am confident that the quota management system appropriately balances conflicting expectations, and I am of the view that voluntary agreements about the inshore kahawai fishery, such as those that exist in the Hawke’s Bay and elsewhere, are highly desirable. Further, I am certainly very willing to investigate other management tools, and the importance I put on kahawai as a recreational resource is clear in the quota settings that I detailed earlier.
Larry Baldock: Does the Minister understand that if he set the recreational limit at 10,000 tonnes, it would make no difference to the recreational fisherman if he is unable to find any kahawai because the purse-seiners have already gone out and scooped up their allocation before the recreational fisher has had a chance to catch his?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: In making decisions on catch limits, I have to take into account the uncertainty and lack of data available on the status of the kahawai stocks. As such, my decisions are cautious and conservative. Should evidence become available suggesting that an even more cautious approach is necessary, I am certainly willing to reduce the catch limits in due course, and to implement other management tools to ensure sustainability.
Larry Baldock: Did the Minister seek advice from officials on how the recreational catch would be restrained by 15 percent—as per their advice—or did he already understand that to actually achieve a 15 percent reduction in the recreational catch would involve reducing bag limits on kahawai from the current 20 to approximately four, given that the majority of recreational fishers have been unable to find more than two or three for some time?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I am not sure there will be any need to constrain bag limits, but let me stress to the member that the extensive and vigorous statutory consultation process leading to the introduction of kahawai into the quota management system began in November 2001. At that time, all submissions supported the introduction of kahawai into the quota management system, and that led to the gazetting in October 2003 of the decision I referred to. Consultation on catch limits was lengthy and participation vigorous. Unfortunately, Mr Baldock’s Supplementary Order Paper on the bill currently before the House overturns the statutory process, and cuts across the principle of natural justice, which is served through such extensive consultation.
Larry Baldock: Can the Minister confirm to this House that he had any negotiations with recreational fishing interests after the submission process had been completed, and he had received advice from ministry officials; or is it true that he had no contact with those interests at all, regardless of the fact that they represent 300,000 to 400,000 New Zealanders?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I think it is important to stress that the statutory consultation process is just that, with initial position papers and final position papers. It would be most inappropriate to have discussions with individual parties outside that process. But I can assure the questioner that, certainly, in the wider public context, such as at the annual general meeting of the recreational fishers, those matters were raised.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the record of the recreational fishing conference at Onerahi a few weeks ago, at which Mr Heatley promised that if he were the Minister he would put—that it was National Party policy to put—kahawai in the quota management system.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Phil Heatley: I seek leave to table the Labour Party recreational fishing policy stating that kahawai is worth 10 times more as a recreational fish than it is worth commercially.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is in relation to the issue that occurred during the previous question. Mr Speaker, you indicated to the House that you had been advised, in advance of a supplementary question being asked, that the answer might be slightly longer than normal. I do not want to contest that decision, but it raises a couple of issues that I want to draw to your attention in respect of Speaker’s rulings 142/1 and 142/2.
The problem is that the question that was asked did not bear much relation to the original question. The original question related to the introduction of kahawai into the quota management system and to purse seining; the supplementary question that Mr Fairbrother asked was a much broader question about kahawai and the quota management system in general. My point is that, bearing in mind those two Speaker’s rulings, it is arguable that the supplementary question should not have been allowed, but, more so, if we are to be in a position whereby a Minister can advise the Speaker in advance that he thinks a supplementary question that he will receive from his colleague might lead him to give a wider answer, the process will become hijacked, because a very astute Minister could use it simply to say to a colleague: “Get up and ask this question, and I will tell the Speaker in advance that the answer will be a little longer than expected, and we can completely distort the entire purpose of the original question.”
I think at that point there are some very serious implications for question time. We do not have questions without notice in this Parliament. I am thinking of a parallel I saw once in the Australian Parliament, when Mr Keating managed, in a response to a question, simply to make a prime ministerial statement that took up the whole of the time allocated. I am concerned that unless we clamp down on this process right now, we could well end up with question time being hijacked by Ministers who, by virtue of answering supplementary questions, make statements that are completely irrelevant to the whole issue at hand.
Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member for raising a serious point of order, which I will certainly have a look at. The last thing I want to do is to copy the Australian question time procedure, which merely gives the Government—and only the Government—the chance to score points. In Australia, all Opposition parties promise to change the question time procedure when they become the Government, but as soon as they become the Government they discover how useful it is and never change it. I certainly would not want to have that in New Zealand. The member has raised a very valid point, and I will have a look at it.
Police—Offence Report, Auckland
7. RON MARK (NZ First) to the Minister of Police: Why were no charges laid as a result of the investigations at 8 Rocky Nook Avenue, Auckland, on 12 September 2002?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): I am advised that the victim, through his lawyer, requested that the complaint be withdrawn.
Ron Mark: Is the Minister telling the House that the police were called to the home of a judge to investigate the invasion of her home and the assault of her husband, that they identified Phillip Layton Edwards as the prime suspect from a DNA sample obtained at the scene, and that they got a confession, yet failed to charge Edwards because a police officer decided, on the basis of that answer, the police would not proceed; if so, will he tell the House why the police officer made that decision?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I am not telling the member that at all.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That did not address the question at all, in any way, shape, or form. I ask you, Mr Speaker, to reflect on the first answer from the Minister. My understanding is that his answer cannot possibly be truthful or accurate on the simple premise that the police do not need, on the weight of the evidence that the Minister has admitted to in previous answers in the House, the complainant to lodge a complaint. The police could have prosecuted. Otherwise, lots of murders throughout this country would never be prosecuted.
Mr SPEAKER: The second part of the point of order was not a point of order; it is a matter for debate. Regarding the first part of the point of order, I will perhaps get the Minister to answer the question in a slightly different way. He did address the question. The member needs to be careful how he asks it. As far as I am concerned, if the Minister wants to add something to his answer, he can; otherwise, he did address the question.
Ron Mark: On the basis of that, can the Minister tell the House why the police did not charge Mr Peter Shaw with making a false complaint and wasting police time?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: As the Minister of Police, I respect the constabulary’s independence. I do not get involved in individual cases. I think that would be a very dangerous route to go down.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My colleague has asked a very simple question of the Minister of Police: he wants to know why someone was not charged. Surely the Minister of Police has already found out for himself the answer to that question, because it is such a serious matter. That man went on to murder someone—that is how serious it is. It is simply not good enough for the Minister to rise in the House after the murder of an innocent person—regardless of how he might see the circumstances—and say that he does not get involved in such decisions. The fact is that he is the Minister of Police, and he should know what the answer is.
Mr SPEAKER: As far as I am concerned, the Minister was entitled to address the question in that way. Whether that is satisfactory to the members of this House is another question that I do not judge. The Minister was certainly entitled to answer the question in that way.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. While not wanting to contest your ruling, I ask you to reflect longer on it. We have a situation whereby the police appear to have behaved in a most inappropriate way. I do not know the details; I am just sitting here listening to what has been said. The result has been that a person has lost his life. It is a very, very serious issue. It would appear on the surface, from the Minister’s own answers, that the police behaved in an odd fashion. I do not think we need a Minister of Police if, when members ask what is going on, he can wander into Parliament and say that something is an operational matter. Actually, it is not. This issue is a policy matter about what is going on in the New Zealand Police. I think this Parliament should be demanding answers of the Minister of Police and not allowing him to dodge them by stating that something is an operational issue.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member has not got a very good memory. It has been commonplace, and I have heard it often, for Ministers to say that prosecution and operational decisions are for police, not Ministers. The Minister is entitled to take that line. He can be criticised for it if the member wishes, but he addressed the question.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Whilst we all understand and accept that it is not the role of the Minister of Police to get involved in making decisions as to whether a charge should be laid, all I have simply asked the Minister—who quite clearly from my previous questions has researched this case, and has spoken with his commissioner—is why the person who laid the complaint was not charged. I did not ask him whether he asked the police to make it, or insisted that they make a charge. I asked him why the police did not charge him with making a false complaint and wasting police time. Surely he can answer the question that I have asked him.
Mr SPEAKER: No. The Minister did address the question. It might not satisfy the member or anybody else, but he is entitled to give that answer.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that the police did not lay charges because, one, there was no home invasion; two, there was no burglary; and, three, Edwards was in that house because he was invited there, and therefore the complaint made by the male of that household was a false complaint, so there should have been a prosecution; when will the Minister do his job; if not, why, given that somebody was murdered as a consequence, does he not do something decent, like resign?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Last week, in answer to a question, I said that there had been a burglary at 8 Rocky Nook Avenue, and that is why the police attended there. Of course, the member knows that if I became involved in each case, and the reasons why, members opposite would be the first ones jumping up. I do not ask what is going on down town. I do not ask why people do not pay their taxi fares.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There you go, Mr Speaker. The Minister just made a judgment that you allowed him to make. The reality is that he told the House last week that there was a burglary—that was false, demonstrably false. He should be on his feet and apologising now. He got that wrong, as well. Even though he has spoken to his senior officer, he will not stand in this House and tell us why someone ended up murdering someone else in this country, when that person should have been arrested a long time before that, and he should tell us the circumstances of that arrest.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister addressed the question. As I said before, he gave the answer he gave. That does not mean it cannot be criticised, but it is a debatable matter.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I refuse to believe that this is the standard of accountability in this country now, and in this Parliament, whereby a Minister can get up and give that answer, and be defended by an interpretation of the Standing Orders. He is required, above all, to be terse and to the point—to stick to the facts. He has been asked why he has not found out and why he has not told Parliament why certain charges were not laid. That is all he has been asked to do. We do not have the head of the police here, or the district commander, or any one else; my colleagues and I are asking the Minister. If this the standard of accountability that is acceptable now, then Parliament has come to a new low, in my opinion.
Mr SPEAKER: This is no different from the questions that I have heard many times during my time here. Members have always been dissatisfied with answers. That is why we have debate.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not dissatisfied with just the answer. We are talking about someone who made a claim, in this House as Minister, about the facts of a certain case. Those statements were demonstrably wrong. We know there was no home invasion. We know there was no burglary. We know the person was invited to that house, from whence the complaint came to the police. Nothing happened as a consequence. We want to know why. We want to know from this Minister why, and I think the public and this House are entitled to know. He has not given an answer that gets remotely near addressing the issue in the House today.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, he did. I adjudged he did. [Interruption] I am warning the member that I am not carrying on this argument again.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not care whether you are warning me now, for I am asking the simple question. Can you, or anyone in this House, tell me why a charge was not laid against that household? That is my point of order. If you know what the answer is, then I do not.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, that is not a point of order and the member knows it full well. He has been here long enough.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not able to make any comment on the veracity of statements that have been made, but I do draw your attention to Standing Order 364, which states that: “Questions must be concise and not contain—(a) statements of facts and names of persons unless they are strictly necessary to render the question intelligible and can be authenticated,”. I put it to you that the statements made by Mr Peters have not been authenticated. We are now talking about a person who is a stranger. [Interruption] No, they have not been authenticated in this House. In fact, his own statements are completely contradictory. If there was not a burglary, then how could the police arrest the offender? He is saying that there is not a burglary, and then he is saying that there is. I just put it to you that Mr Peters is not entitled to get up and make statements in question time that cannot be authenticated.
I do say that while we have free speech, we have many Speakers’ rulings saying that we should not make reflections on people outside this House, unless they are strictly necessary. I say to you that Mr Peters should not be allowed to pursue this line of questioning unless he is able to meet the Standing Orders and authenticate the statements that he is making. If he can, by all means proceed.
Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member. I could not have put it better myself. Mr Peters is using debating material, and I think Mr Prebble is perfectly correct. The question was addressed. People might not be satisfied with the answer, but there the matter rests.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Mr Mark, I am warning now that I have had six or seven points of order. I want a point of order.
Ron Mark: I shall try not to be intimidated, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, you will not be; you will just leave the Chamber. I want a point of order.
Ron Mark: I seek leave, Mr Speaker, and that is a point of order I assume, to table “Criminal Convictions Active History (54)”, which has the details of a report of an aggravated burglary at the address of 8 Rocky Nook Avenue, Morningside, Auckland.
Document laid on the Table of the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that the Minister, in doing his job, must have been apprised of the facts by now, can I ask him, given the severity of the crime committed by Mr Edwards at a later date, or very soon after that date, why does he not resign, who is he trying to cover up here, and what is he trying to cover up here, with regard to this case?
Mr SPEAKER: There are three questions there; the Minister may comment on two of them.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I have nothing to hide. I believe that people should be able to have a trial, then the sentence imposed on them. In this case that will be next month. I do not think—
Ron Mark: A man died.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: A man may have died, and that is a tragedy, but I do not think that Ministers of the Crown should interfere with the courts. I certainly do not talk about assaults in Courtenay Place, and I do not talk about taxi-drivers not getting their fare.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that the Minister said he believes that people should be entitled to a trial, and that no trial happened in this case because the claimed victim withdrew the complaint, as we have been told—despite the fact that an obvious case of false complaint had been made out to the police—who and what is the Minister trying to cover up from this House?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I am not trying to cover up anything. I think the member may have all the information he needs to answer his own question. I do not have it.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Surely it cannot be adequate in a democracy of our type that the Minister who is responsible for the job gets up and says that I may have information to answer the question myself. It is his job—he gets the LTD and all the baubles of office to be responsible for his job. If he cannot do the job, then he should resign.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did not just say that; he said he had nothing to hide. That is a perfectly adequate answer to a question.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Peters has now repeatedly told the House that the complaint of an aggravated assault was demonstrably false—or words to that effect. He then said it is not his job to verify answers.
Ron Mark: That’s true!
Hon Richard Prebble: That is true, but it is his job to verify that statement—that is, a statement that he is asking the Minister to comment on. It needs to be authenticated. The evidence that the House has allowed his colleague to place before it is that an aggravated assault did occur—[Interruption] Well, yes, reported. Mr Peters knows, even if Mr Mark may not, that people might withdraw complaints for all sorts of reasons. It does not follow that because someone withdraws a complaint that the incident did not occur.
Mr SPEAKER: It was a statement of opinion from Mr Peters.
Ron Mark: On the back of the Minister’s obvious concern for the tragedy of the death, I seek the leave of the House to table the sentencing notes involving one Mr Phillip Edwards on the occasion that he beat the hell out of his girlfriend for waking him up.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those sentencing notes. Is there any objection? There is.
Primary Health Organisations—Scope
8. STEVE CHADWICK (Labour—Rotorua) to the Minister of Health: What recent reports has she received illustrating the scope of primary health organisations?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): There are many reports, including the report of the Health West primary health organisation, in west Auckland, which offers a wide range of services to its 147,000 enrolled patients. New programmes started as a result of it being a primary health organisation include improved services to identify and treat those with chronic disease, primary care of long-term mental health patients, subsidised general practitioner and nurse home-visits for the terminally ill, immunisation outreach, subsidised sexual health consultations for under-22-year-olds, low-cost dietary clinics, free general practitioner clinics in west Auckland high schools, and free primary care, including pharmaceuticals, for residents of the Glendene refugee and migrant hostel.
Steve Chadwick: What reported differences are there between the standard medical practice environment and that of primary health organisations?
Hon ANNETTE KING: While it is true there have been many dedicated health professionals who have tried to provide most of the services possible, it is the primary health organisation model that is making that a reality. To quote Health West: “PHOs provide the opportunity and incentive for health professionals to work together. The last couple of years in the primary health organisation environment have been the most exciting to work in.”
Dr Paul Hutchison: Can the Minister confirm that a recent survey showed that the average cost of a visit to one of the Government’s interim funded primary health organisations was more expensive than that of a visit to a doctor who has not joined the Government’s flawed and unfair primary health organisation scheme?
Hon ANNETTE KING: First of all, the health sector does not believe it is flawed—
Dr Paul Hutchison: I raise a point—
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister has not said more than three words. The member should be reasonable. That is a silly interjection.
Hon ANNETTE KING: In the final part of his question the member said the “flawed” system, and I started with that part of his question first. There is no way the health professionals think it is a flawed system. In fact, I happen to have with me a statement from a doctor who is probably well known to that member, who has stated that we have clearly made general practice more viable, and that we are doing something very positive to reverse the dissatisfaction and the low morale in primary health care. The recent survey shows that those who have not had additional money put in as a subsidy have had increases in costs, because general practitioners are private business people. However, for those where we have put money in—for example, the over-65s—the average cost is $22.80. I could give an example from Drury—the Drury clinic that that member raised with me. He will find that the clinic in Drury has reduced its charges for the over-65s from $45 to $21. The average across New Zealand has dropped dramatically.
Mr SPEAKER: That answer was a little long.
Tariana Turia: Has the Minister any evidence that smaller Mâori primary health organisations are seriously at risk, given that the formula does not take into account their size; and what does she intend to do about it, or is this her way of forcing those smaller primary health organisations to be subsumed by the larger cartels?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I have been very supportive of any primary health organisation of any size that is accepted by the community that helped to set it up. Smaller primary health organisations do struggle in terms of the cost to them. They have received assistance in terms of management fees; that happened last year. I think they will always struggle in relation to the larger ones, but that has always been the case, whether it was small practices and large, independent practice associations.
Dr Paul Hutchison: I seek leave to table the February survey that demonstrates that the Government’s interim primary health organisation doctors’ scheme is more expensive for all age groups of patients than visiting an independent doctor.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Employment Relations Law Reform Bill—Non-union Members
9. Dr WAYNE MAPP (National—North Shore) to the Minister of Labour: Does he plan to introduce changes to the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill to allow unions to have fees levied from the wages of non-union members; if so, what are the details of those changes?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Labour): The bill is presently being considered by a select committee. I understand that some submitters have raised the issues described by the member. One option I have considered is an arrangement whereby a non-union employee may pay a fee to receive the benefit of collectively negotiated wages and conditions. However, this would occur only where the employer and union have freely agreed on such an arrangement, where there is a ballot of all employees, and where there is a right for a non-union member who did not want to pay a fee to opt out of the arrangement. The Government has no intention of reintroducing compulsory unionism in any shape or form.
Dr Wayne Mapp: If it is his intent not to have compulsory unionism, why will he not support a bargaining fee being able to be paid to any independent third party, and not just unions with their collective bargaining monopoly?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Because that undermines the principle of the Employment Relations Act, which allows unions the ability to negotiate collective agreements. However, it is important to say that if this measure is to be considered—and I understand that this is one of the options that may be considered by the select committee—the right of an individual to opt out has to be maintained. There is no intention of going back to some form of compulsory unionism.
Helen Duncan: What other employment relations changes is the Government planning?
Mr SPEAKER: Briefly.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Today the Government announced its decisions concerning the unintended consequences of the Holidays Act. Some of those changes also imply no penal rates for public holidays on top of existing penal rates, or no public holiday rates if an employee does not work that day. This is about balance—that is, giving employees a little extra for working on a public holiday and ensuring it is fair to employers.
Keith Locke: Does the Minister agree that the proposal he outlined a couple of questions ago on bargaining fees represent fairness in the workforce and is in line with the proposal previously proposed by the Green Party that those who benefit from the results of a negotiated collective bargaining agreement should pay something towards that and not be freeloaders just because they are not union members?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes, it is about fairness. I know that a number of people consider that if people were to benefit, for example, from the advantage of a collective agreement and not pay anything for that, that would be like not paying tax but expecting to get free medical care. I do understand that there is a lot of concern about that. However, if such an arrangement were introduced, it is important that the individual who does not agree with such an arrangement has the right to opt out. We are not going back to compulsory unionism.
Dr Wayne Mapp: Why does the Minister believe that only unions should be able to negotiate collective contracts, and why will he not restore equality to the workplace and allow anyone who wants to to be able to act as agents in collective contracts?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Primarily because that is against one of the objectives of the Act. As I said before, one of the things that this Labour-led Government reintroduced was the ability for unions to negotiate collective contracts. That is the policy and that is the law.
Dr Wayne Mapp: In light of the fact that the Government’s policy is to allow only unions to have bargaining powers, why cannot the Government see the merits of equality and allow workers to freely choose their bargaining agent as they wish? What is wrong with that?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: It is simply not so to say that only unions have the right to negotiate some sort of agreement between employer and union. Individuals have a right to do that—it is called an individual employment contract.
Family Violence—Government Agencies
10. TIM BARNETT (Labour—Christchurch Central) to the Minister of Justice: What steps are being taken to establish an effective response by Government agencies to family violence?
Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Justice): To be most effective, agency responses to family violence need to be coordinated and comprehensive, and to maximise preventive action. Consequently, I have announced today a $15 million pilot, involving family safety teams to be established initially in the Wairarapa, Hutt Valley, Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, and Counties-Manukau regions. Those teams will ensure a coordinated and comprehensive approach to family violence and its prevention, in particular between the police, the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, and victim advocates. The first two of the pilots—in Auckland and Hamilton, and in the Wairarapa and Hutt Valley areas—will commence in February next year.
Tim Barnett: What results does he expect from the establishment of the family safety teams?
Hon PHIL GOFF: By focusing on high-risk situations and putting in place preventive measures, the initiative is expected to reduce family violence, though with greater awareness of the effective services that will be available, family violence reports are expected, initially, to increase. The overall result will be a system where agencies coordinate, communicate, and collaborate more effectively, provide more comprehensive and integrated interventions, and establish best practice nationally.
Dail Jones: Why is the Minister not ashamed at this Government’s failure in the sphere of family violence—for example, its failure to face up to those issues in the Care of Children Bill, which neglects the very serious issues of child and family violence, when those issues could be resolved by bringing the domestic violence legislation into the Care of Children Bill, and having one compact “Care of Child and Family Bill”?
Hon PHIL GOFF: I am not at all ashamed about the Government’s track record in that area. In fact, if the member looks at family violence in terms of indicators such as assault by a male on a female, which peaked around the mid-1990s when the party that member belongs to was in Government, he will see we are now at less than two-thirds of that level of family violence. What is more, my colleague the Minister for Social Development and Employment has introduced incredibly effective programmes like Te Rito to address that problem in a broad way. My announcement today will help to achieve the lowering of family violence by providing prevention and effective services.
Judy Turner: Can the Minister specify the funding commitment he will make to the Hamilton interagency violence intervention project, which has already successfully piloted that collaborative model for several years, and can he provide an assurance that the funding allocated in the Auckland-Hamilton area will be adequate to properly resource the providers of family violence intervention services in that work?
Hon PHIL GOFF: I am aware of the work done by the violence intervention project in Hamilton, and I applaud that work. I am sure that it will be very pleased that one of the pilot regions will be in the region where it has operated. In terms of funding, the funding processes need to be followed through the family violence funding circuit-breaker project, and another stream of funding will come on next year. In terms of the pilot project, there will be funding for advocacy services. I imagine that the violence intervention project in Hamilton will apply for some of that funding.
Peter Brown: I seek leave to table a list of the Governments in this country, which will show that the Minister is somewhat confused and that New Zealand First was not in Government in the mid-1990s.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Phil Goff: I seek leave to table statistics that show that the figures on family violence around 1997-98 were much, much higher than they are today.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Taxation—Increases Since 1999
11. JOHN KEY (National—Helensville) to the Minister of Finance: What is the cumulative nominal increase in all taxes received since 1999?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Acting Minister of Finance): The nominal increase in all taxes since 1999 is $12.793 billion, an increase of 38.6 percent.
John Key: Does the Minister know that every one of the three million individual taxpayers in New Zealand will, on average, pay an additional $2,800 in tax in 2004, compared to when Labour came into office in 1999; and if he does know, why will he not do something about it, given that he must also be aware of the substantial price increases New Zealanders are facing today?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I do have a breakdown of the PAYE versus company tax with me. I have not gone to the particular figure and done the division sum necessary to confirm the figures, but is it not wonderful that so many New Zealanders who were not working previously are now working, paying tax, getting health care and education, and putting money away in a superannuation fund in the way that that member wants to but that one does not.
John Key: Does the Minister agree with the Prime Minister’s admission this morning that the 1999 Labour pledge that only 5 percent of all taxpayers will pay the top personal rate has been well and truly broken, now that 12 percent of all taxpayers pay the top rate; if so, will he do something about it?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The member might have forgotten, but in 2002 there was an election with a different manifesto.
John Key: Does the Minister agree with the Prime Minister’s statement this morning that: “In the end, you have to weigh up whether you’re going to give tax cuts, or keep pouring the benefit back into services the public like, want, deserve, and should have.”, in which case does his Government’s definition of “services the public like, want, deserve, and should have” include programmes such as hip-hop tours, $21 million worth of advertising propaganda around the Budget, and slush funds for polytechnics; and is he telling the House that he will be funding even more of those programmes going forward?
Mr SPEAKER: There were three questions there. Two may be answered.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think there were five, actually. The answers are yes, no, yes, no, and no.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table question for written answer No. 10790 of 17 August, asked by my colleague Peter Brown, which sets out the facts behind this case, which TVNZ decided to interview the National Party about when the evidence came out.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that. Is there any objection? There is.
John Key: I seek leave to table the same question the Rt Hon Winston Peters sought to table, so that the Minister of Finance can see that the cumulative increase in taxes was not $12 billion—it was $34 billion. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: The member sought leave to table the same question that the House has just denied leave to table. However, I shall put the question again. Does anyone object? There is objection. That leave is denied.
Trade Agreements—Labour Standards and Environmental Concerns
12. ROD DONALD (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for Trade Negotiations: In his negotiations with Thailand and China what progress has he made to achieve the commitment in the Speech from the Throne on 21 December 1999 that “legitimate issues of labour standards and environmental concerns need to be integrated better with trade agreements.”?
Hon JIM SUTTON (Minister for Trade Negotiations): Negotiations are under way with Thailand on bilateral arrangements covering labour and the environment, with a view to their being signed at the same time as the closer economic partnership agreement. We have not started negotiations with China, but will be pursuing Government policy in this area.
Rod Donald: Does the Minister agree that the China trade summit he is opening tomorrow is a gateway to more exploitation of children, political prisoners, and the persecuted people of Tibet, given that China refuses to ratify ILO Convention 105, which would eliminate forced labour and export goods made by bonded and prison labour, and that his Government refuses to make ratification of that convention a condition of trade negotiations?
Hon JIM SUTTON: No.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: What are New Zealand’s goals for the trade agreement negotiations with Thailand?
Hon JIM SUTTON: We expect the closer economic partnership agreement with Thailand to be a mutually beneficial agreement that will promote prosperity and raise the living standards in both countries. For New Zealand it presents an opportunity to link up with the fastest-growing economy in South-east Asia.
Rod Donald: Does the Minister believe that it is purely coincidental that New Zealand’s trade balance with China has rapidly deteriorated from a surplus of $398 million in 1989 to a deficit of $1,448 million in 2004, at the same time as import tariffs were progressively cut, and how many more local jobs and businesses will he sacrifice so that sweatshop goods can have tariff-free access to the New Zealand market?
Hon JIM SUTTON: Firstly, I do not accept that there has been a blowout of the trade deficit with China. After all, China contributes around half of all the students who come to New Zealand, and those services’ figures are not included in the statistics quoted by the member.
In addition, China is a major source of tourists to New Zealand. In respect of workers, we have a limited supply of workers in New Zealand. We want them involved in high-value, high-wage jobs, not competing on price with low-wage, Asian workers, as the member seems to wish.
Rod Donald: I seek leave to table Statistics New Zealand figures showing the deteriorating trade balance with China.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Question No. 11 to Minister
GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek some advise from you. A very specific question was asked of the Minister Mr Mallard. It related to the cumulative amount of extra tax collected by the Government between 1999 and 2004. Mr Mallard replied that the amount was some $12 billion. His own figures indicate that the amount is in fact some $34 billion. I know you are going to tell us that if we think there has been some sort of breach, we should write to you and take it down the privileges line. Could there not be some simpler way whereby the Minister is notified that he has made a terrible mistake and could come down to the House in a timely manner and correct his answer?
Mr SPEAKER: That is up to the Minister.
End of Questions for Oral Answer