Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 2 Sept. 2004
Thursday, 2 September
Questions for Oral Answer
1. Working for Families Package—Work
2. National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Hauraki Plains College
3. Walking Access in the New Zealand Outdoors—Waterways
4. Police—Violent Offenders
5. Genetically Modified Food—Safety
6. Seasonal Industries—Labour Shortages
7. Reparation—Unclaimed Money
8. Health Services—Access
9. Foreshore and Seabed Bill—Mâori Affairs, Minister
Question No. 7 to Minister
10. Fisheries Amendment Bill (No 3)—Quota Management System
11. Air Force—Iroquois Replacements
12. Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee—Police Presence, Auckland
Questions to Members
Question No. 1 to Member
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
Working for Families Package—Work Rewards
1. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Does he stand by the Budget statement that a key aim of the Working for Families package is: “to make work pay by ensuring that people are better off by being in work and are rewarded for their work effort”; if not, why not?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): That was a statement made by the Minister of Finance and he was absolutely right, so, yes.
Dr Don Brash: Was the decision to put solo parents working between 10 and 20 hours a week in a situation whereby their effective tax rate on an extra hour’s work is 92.2 percent a simple mistake on the Government’s part, or was it, in fact, a deliberate decision?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: That package delivers benefits to 300,000 families in the form of extra income. Those people whom the member is speaking about will have an increased income. Everyone will benefit from this package. Those people are part of the package and they will benefit.
Georgina Beyer: What reports has the Minister seen that advocate the use of “making work pay” initiatives such as those contained in the Working for Families package?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I am aware of the following statement: “What you have to do, I think, is get people jobs, and if they can’t live on those wages, then find some way of supplementing their income so that they can live comfortably.” Ironically, those comments backing the Working for Families package were made by Don Brash on Television One’s Good Morning show last Thursday. They came just 2 days after his colleagues voted against the package. Don Brash supports every aspect of the Working for Families package.
Sue Bradford: Why did the Minister include in the Working for Families package the abolition of the special benefit, and how will that make it easier for those beneficiaries who will be affected by that in the future to move into paid employment?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As the member knows, one of the complexities of the benefit system is that a lot of it gets paid toward what is called the “third tier”—for example, the special benefit. This package brings forward money that beneficiaries often had to go through the system to seek. They get paid it on the first and second tier. That will benefit them. They will have less connection with Work and Income people. They also have in the package things that will make work pay, like childcare and transport support. The package simply makes work pay by them going out to work. They will be better off.
Dr Muriel Newman: How can the Minister claim that Labour is making work pay, when a one-income family with three children, renting in Auckland, find themselves in the ludicrous situation that under his Government’s policy the stay-at-home partner would have to earn more than $108,318 a year to match his partner’s present $38,000 a year take-home pay?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I have no idea where the member gets those figures from. This package will ensure, through a mixture of accommodation supplement, family income support, and assistance across a wide range of things to help people to go back to work, all people who are affected by this package will benefit.
Dr Don Brash: In what circumstances, other than sheer desperation, does the Minister imagine welfare mothers might work extra hours to improve the lot of their families, when their extra earnings are taxed at 92.2 percent?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: This package will ensure that people whom the member describes as “welfare mothers”—those on the domestic purposes benefit—will have access to a wide range of supports to go back to work. When they make the crossover they will benefit. They will have childcare costs paid for; they will have accommodation costs paid for; and they will have the “make work pay package”, which makes that transference possible. They will get more money by going to work.
Hon Richard Prebble: Would the Minister please answer the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: The problem is that a member is interjecting. The member knows that he cannot do that, and he is nearly out of the House. Please start the question again.
Hon Richard Prebble: Would the Minister please answer the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition, which appeared to me to be that under the package introduced by the Government to help people get into work, a solo mother who works for 20 hours a week will pay 92.2 percent tax, or, in other words, on $100 that solo mother will keep $7.80; could the Minister please explain why any solo mother would think that was fair?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Some people will move towards marginal tax rates, which means they will retain less, but the vast majority of people under this package will benefit from an accommodation supplement, childcare costs, and family income assistance. They will retain more money when they go to work and they will have a “making work pay” package. We are talking about a very small number of people who still benefit, but the vast majority will benefit a great deal.
Dr Don Brash: Does the Minister take pride in putting an iron ceiling above welfare beneficiaries; if not, what is he going to do about it?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: There is no iron ceiling above beneficiaries. This Government has made work pay. The National Government put an iron ceiling above people by never introducing the very policies that that member now says are exactly what needs to happen.
Dr Muriel Newman: I seek leave to table the calculations that show that somebody would have to earn $108,370 a year to be better off.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those calculations. Is there any objection? There is.
National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Hauraki Plains College
2. STEVE CHADWICK (Labour—Rotorua) to the Minister of Education: Further to oral question No. 7 on 1 September, has he received any further evidence of alleged National Certificate of Educational Achievement credit fraud at Hauraki Plains College; if not, what action is he taking to resolve the matter?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): No. New Zealand Qualifications Authority relationship managers have visited the school and found that while there was a problem with the work of one short-term reliever, those problems had been identified and resolved long before the stolen box of so-called evidence was presented in this House. The school has acted entirely appropriately, and I have no hesitation in commending it for its efforts. From a telephone call made by Bill English last Friday, the school is under the impression that it his intention to issue a public apology. I call on him to do that forthwith.
Steve Chadwick: Has the Minister received any evidence to substantiate claims of widespread National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA)# credit fraud; if so, what steps has he taken to resolve that matter?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I have seen allegations from the Hon Bill English and Don Brash in that area. I prefer the opinions of Mrs M Bendall, the principal of Epsom Girls Grammar School, Mr B Haque, the principal of Pakuranga College, Mr G Laurenson, the principal of Ôtâhuhu College, Mrs Ann Mildenhall, the principal of Diocesan School for Girls in Auckland, Mr W Peat, the headmaster of St Kentigern College, and Mrs Linda Reid, the principal of St Cuthbert’s College, who have called on people to stop making cheap shots and to support a vastly superior system.
Simon Power: Will the Minister just confirm that there was evidence of bad assessment practices, that his Associate Minister the Hon Steve Maharey admitted to this House on 26 August that there had been “potentially inadequate assessment activities” at the school, that it had “identified problems with its policy”, and that a qualified New Zealand Qualifications Authority moderator and assessor described marked assessments as not meeting the national standard; will he just admit those three facts?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think the important point is that the material in the box was not used for final assessments. I agree with the assessor. If they had been used they would not have been good enough, but they were not used. That school had a leader who sorted out a problem. It is a pity the Tories do not have one.
Hon Brian Donnelly: Is it true that the report that the Minister talked about in the New Zealand Herald this morning by principals from schools as socially and economically diverse as Ôtâhuhu College on the one hand, and St Kentigern College and Epsom Girls Grammar School on the other, sang the praises of the NCEA, and can he understand why Bill English continues to bag an assessment system devised by the former National Government?
Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the question is in order, but not the second part. The Minister can comment on the first part.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: During the time that I have been Minister there has been widespread and growing support for the NCEA—a system that I inherited. I deferred its introduction for a year because it had not been properly prepared by my predecessor. The person whom I would like to thank for doing a lot of the work some time ago that went towards the system—and it is a very good system—is Dr Lockwood Smith. I thank him for that work and for his ongoing support for this very good system.
Walking Access in the New Zealand Outdoors—Waterways
3. GERRARD ECKHOFF (ACT): to the Minister for Rural Affairs: In considering policy on walking access in the New Zealand outdoors, will he rule out a law change that might force landowners to provide public access through private property to access waterways; if not, has he any estimate of the number of properties that would be affected by such a law change?
Hon JIM SUTTON (Minister for Rural Affairs): This policy is yet to be determined by Cabinet.
Gerrard Eckhoff: Which of his colleagues is correct on this issue of public access to private land: the Minister for Land Information, John Tamihere, who was quoted on 16 August as ruling out any moves to force landowners to allow public access; or the Prime Minister, who was quoted in the New Zealand Herald the very next day suggesting that the jury is still out on this issue?
Hon JIM SUTTON: My colleague the Minister for Land Information has told me that he was misquoted on this matter. I have no trouble in attesting that the Prime Minister was quite correct in her remarks.
Janet Mackey: When will Ministers determine what response to make to last year’s Acland report on walking access to land?
Hon JIM SUTTON: Ministers have considered the report and provisionally narrowed down the range of options. It will be some months yet before officials complete the work on options, and Ministers determine what response to make.
Hon David Carter: Why was Gottlieb Braun-Elwart, Helen Clark’s personal mountain guide, appointed as a member of the land access task force, and why was his name deliberately omitted from the Minister’s press release dated 23 January 2003 in which he announced all other members of that group?
Hon JIM SUTTON: Mr Braun-Elwart was chosen by Cabinet for the same reason that every other member of the group was chosen—because he had experience and talents that would make a contribution to the work of the panel. His omission from a draft of a press statement was simply a typo, in effect—it was simply a mistake.
Keith Locke: Could the Minister give us some idea of the options that he has just referred to in terms of letting members of the public have access to lakes, rivers, and wilderness areas that are in the public domain when the owners of adjoining private properties refuse to allow that access?
Hon JIM SUTTON: The options are basically spelt out in the report, which has been made public, and which the member can read if he has not already done so. It might be helpful to the member if I were to say that the principal option that has been ruled out provisionally by Cabinet is the option of “wander at will”, which would allow the public to wander wherever they liked over private property.
Hon Trevor Mallard: In light of the comments opposite that this group was a group of patsies, can the Minister tell us who chaired it, and who some of the members were?
Hon JIM SUTTON: The chair of the working-party was John Acland, a former chairman of the New Zealand Meat Producers Board, and the owner at the time of Mount Peel Station. One of the members, who was, I guess, appointed for his broad experience of rural affairs and access for recreational fishing, was Mr Eric Roy, a former member of Parliament. I will not list out all the other members. I refer members to the published report and the many commentaries of that report.
Gordon Copeland: Should the Government finally decide to bring about a law change to provide public access through private property to access waterways, can he assure the House today and the affected landowners that they will receive full, just, and fair compensation?
Hon JIM SUTTON: I can only reiterate that Cabinet has yet to determine its position on that issue.
Gerrard Eckhoff: If the Government does move to allow public access through private land to water bodies, can he assure the House that the same rules will apply to public access to waterways through Mâori land; if not, why not?
Hon JIM SUTTON: The question is purely hypothetical.
Hon David Carter: I seek leave to table Mr Sutton’s press release that lists all members of the task force, with the exception of Mr—
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Surely the last answer from the Minister cannot stand. He was asked what was contemplated in respect of the way that the potential law change would affect Mâori land. The Minister said that was purely hypothetical, then sat down. That is not an answer at all. I think it is fair for a member of Parliament to ask whether the law change would affect all land, in whatever manner of ownership it is.
Mr SPEAKER: I ask the Minister to comment further.
Hon JIM SUTTON: The question started with the proposal: “Should the Government decide to do such-and-such, will it do such-and-such?”. In a previous answer I had already said that the Government had not decided the such-and-such that the member mentioned.
Gerrard Eckhoff: What is the Minister’s response to the concerns expressed by the President of Federated Farmers, Tom Lambie, who said: “Personal safety and security for family and staff is at risk with rising rural crime and violence. Families should not be forced to be exposed to strangers and inappropriate behaviour, especially with law enforcement sorely lacking in many isolated areas.”?
Hon JIM SUTTON: All that I can say in response is that while I share the concern of rural New Zealanders that they may be exposed to criminal behaviour by some of their fellow citizens, I regret to say I cannot see that putting up notices saying “Access Prohibited” will stop dope growers, murderers, stock thieves, or the like. What is more likely to stop them is the knowledge that they may come across law-abiding citizens exercising their right to walk along the Queen’s Chain.
4. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Police: What is police policy for dealing with the prosecution of violent offenders?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): I am advised that each case is looked at closely on its merits. All relevant factors need to be considered, including the availability of evidence, witnesses, and the attitude of the victim to a prosecution.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Minister not referring to the case in respect of Edwards and Shaw as being a violent attack, which are the very words of John Haigh QC, for Mr Shaw, in September 2002; and will the Minister tell the House now whether it was a burglary or a violent attack, and which happened first?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I take no part in court or police decisions on matters. The police reported that they had received a call about a burglary.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think it is entirely inappropriate that this Minister, who has now had weeks to prepare to answer parliamentary questions on this issue, should commence his answer by saying he takes no responsibility for it. Frankly, if he is allowed to get away with that, then question time in this House will be unique in any Western democracy. I know of no Minister who is allowed to get away with that in any other Parliament in the Western World. He is responsible; he holds the warrant. He has got a portfolio; let him fulfil it properly.
Mr SPEAKER: The member may make that statement; I do not agree with him. I know that this Parliament has one of the most vigorous question times of any democracy—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Not now, we haven’t.
Mr SPEAKER: One more comment while I am on my feet and the member goes out—and I mean that. I listened to the Minister’s reply. He was entitled to give the first sentence. The last sentence he gave actually did address the question, and answered it.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the Minister why he is not calling the case what the Queen’s Counsel called it—a violent attack. Secondly, what happened first: the burglary or the violent attack? I have had no information on either of those things at this point in time, and my view and, I believe, the view of everybody else in this House has to be that he did not answer the question. That is my point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: The point of order is not valid.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that when Phillip Edwards violently attacked Mr Shaw at 8 Rocky Nook Avenue on 12 September 2002, he was already under investigation for other threatening and violent behaviour—one against a female, in front of her three children—and why did the police not prosecute that dangerous man, then and there, when it is their duty to do so?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I take no part in any decision to prosecute, or not. I am not allowed to. This is not Zimbabwe, although that member might like it to be.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did not ask him whether he was responsible for making any decision at all. I am asking him, as he has been forewarned of this for weeks, to apprise himself of the facts and come here and answer legitimate questions. Will you make him do so.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister should respond to the first part of the question—about investigations—asked by the member.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: It would be a sad day in New Zealand if Ministers got police files, went through them, and made decisions. I do not get police files—
Ron Mark: Get out of the House. You are damned useless.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I tell Mr Mark to calm down. I have absolutely no input into these cases. Of course, that member, who is behind Mr Peters, should really listen. We do not interfere. That is the way it is in this country, and as long as I am Minister of Police I will not interfere.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister is at it again. He is being asked for the details of this case. They are fundamentally simple. They will all be on the charge sheet. They will all be in his possession, if he requests them. He has had 4 hours today to apprise himself of the answers to these questions, and he gets up and says he will not answer. Frankly, that is a disgrace, and I cannot conceive of any valid question time in the future if that is allowed to be his answer. I am not asking whether he is responsible, whether he made the decision himself. I am asking him what the details are—for example, which came first: the burglary or the violent attack?
Hon Richard Prebble: I am also a former Minister of Police. I never requested a police file the whole time I was Minister. I never saw a police file, because there is a principle of constabulary independence, which I think Mr Peters does know about it. What it says is that a policeman must form the decision as to whether to charge. He cannot even be instructed by another policeman to charge someone with an offence. He certainly cannot be instructed by a Minister to do so. I think Mr Peters is inviting the Minister to challenge constabulary independence. The Minister is quite within his rights to come to this House and say that he is not going to challenge that principle, that he is not going to call up police files whenever the Opposition does not happen to agree with a decision made by a policeman. That seems to me to be a perfectly valid answer, even if Mr Peters does not like it.
Mr SPEAKER: I need no further assistance. Mr Prebble is completely correct. The Minister is entitled to take that line and answer any political criticism that he gets for it, but that is his decision. He is perfectly entitled to take that line, and he has done that.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Did the police officer who led the investigation into the violent attack on Mr Peter Shaw at 8 Rocky Nook Avenue on 12 September 2002 recommend that Edwards be prosecuted; if so, who overruled him?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Once again, I have not seen the files. I do not read the files. It would be a sad day if I ever did, and it would be an even sadder day if Ron Mark ever became Minister of Police. [Interruption]
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Before I hear the point of order, I will ask Mr Mark to stand, withdraw, and apologise for bringing me into debate and using a very unparliamentary expression.
Ron Mark: I withdraw and apologise. Point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: No. The member is very lucky he has not been asked to leave as well. I would leave it at that. The member knows he cannot bring me into the debate.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: The Minister is telling the House that, regardless of the requirements of his job and the requirement of the House that he answer and provide the House with information, he refuses even to look at the file or tell us anything at all. That cannot be, surely, a matter of political accountability any longer, because he refuses to take any part whatsoever in the process. I ask you, Mr Speaker, to make him answer the question. For him to get up and say that he is not going to look at the file, that he does not do that, and that it would be a sad day if someone did is nonsense, in the same way that the argument Mr Prebble outlined is nonsense. He was the man, of course, who read out a whole drug file sheet in this Parliament in 1980, and every lawyer in this country was appalled by it. That is how good he is on the matter of behaviour in this House.
Mr SPEAKER: As the member is being brought into debate, I will allow him to comment briefly.
Hon Richard Prebble: I say to Mr Peters that if he were to do what the Standing Orders require and authenticate his questions—and supplementary questions are required to be authenticated—if he were to produce some authentication that something was wrong and that somebody interfered in constabulary independence, I would be the first to support him. But, in fact, if he looks back through his Hansard, he will see that he has used parliamentary privilege to attack someone who is not even in public life, and that is a disgrace.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I do not need any assistance. The Speaker rules on only the acceptability of questions and replies. Both the questions and the replies are in order. The Speaker does not tell Ministers how they must answer, as long as what they say is relevant. On this occasion, the Minister did address the question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You have said that the Minister addressed the question. I asked him who recommended prosecution—was it the police officer in charge of the investigation, and, if so, who overruled him? I had no answer, at all on that matter.
Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry but the member has had an answer. The Minister gave it, and he is entitled to use that line.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have been quietly watching the exchange going on here. I appreciate the points that Mr Prebble has made to the House, but we have a Government over there whose members stood on platforms throughout the country telling people that they would get tough on crime and would wipe out violent crime. Here we have an incident in which a violent crime was committed, there was no prosecution, and the person who committed that crime went on to murder someone a short time later. Surely, the House is entitled to know how well the Minister’s policy is being applied by the police—or are we to believe that politicians cannot do anything about law and order, and that it is all up to the police, who will just decide for this House what level of prosecution we will have?
Mr SPEAKER: The member has made absolutely no point of order whatsoever. It is just political point-scoring. [Interruption] My patience has now gone.
Hon Trevor Mallard: In light of the calls for the matters related to this file to be made public in the House, will the Minister invite Mr Peters and Mr Mark to table—as Mr Peters did with the wine box—all the material that they have on this?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I think the member should produce the evidence and go outside and make the same accusations, if he really wants to drive the point home, and stop hiding behind parliamentary privilege.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is that a fair answer that in any way conforms to Standing Orders? No, it is not, and we are not going to put up with this humbug any longer. This Minister is required to be accountable. A serious murder happened, and you are allowing the Minister to get away with absolute nonsense. He stands there knowing the facts, as his Cabinet colleagues know the facts. I now know that some of his Cabinet colleagues know the facts and the true story behind this issue. A person went on to die, and you allow the Minister to get up and make an attack on a member who is asking questions. That cannot be allowed.
Mr SPEAKER: The member does not know the Standing Orders, and I invite him to recall what Mr Prebble said. I know the Standing Orders. The question was in order and the answer was in order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I have had enough on this issue. It had better be a new one.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can it be in order for a Minister to demand that the questioner provide the information, when the Minister is in charge of the portfolio?
Mr SPEAKER: A member asked the Minister whether he would invite another member to submit something. I thought the Minister said that he would. I cannot see what the problem is with that.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why did a member of the police, namely Lance Burdett, threaten the 20/20 investigators in respect of Mr Shaw with this note: “If you print or film anything relating to Mr X”—being Mr Shaw—“in any way, I may well be in a position to prosecute TV3 given the warnings I have communicated to you. I will also be seeking out your other source of information and will instigate disciplinary proceedings if appropriate.”; how could this be going on in the Minister’s portfolio, and why does he not just resign?
Mr SPEAKER: The first two questions can be answered.
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: All of those accusations are being made on the basis that I have that information. I do not have that information. I do not want that information, because I believe in constabulary independence. This morning on Morning Report the assistant commissioner said that he wanted to make the point that “There was no political interference … we wouldn’t tolerate that”—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Mr Mark will leave the Chamber. He has twice interjected. I have a real job, it is being Speaker, and I do it to the best of my ability. Please leave the Chamber or I will name the member.
Ron Mark: I never said “you”.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will now return or I will name him. Return to your seat. I heard the member yell out twice “Get a job.” That is a reference to me and he is not at all entitled to make that comment. I say further that I have asked the member to leave, and he will leave without any further comment. He will leave now.
Ron Mark withdrew from the Chamber.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The reality is that Mr Mark said to George Hawkins “Get a real job.” He did not say it to you. I think your ruling—although I can understand how you might have felt the remark was aimed at yourself—in this case is unfair because he did not mean the Speaker; he meant George Hawkins, who is not doing any work at all at the moment.
Mr SPEAKER: Let me put it this way. I let it go the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth times. I then warned him. He then went on to say it a sixth and a seventh time and I have had enough.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that when a female victim of serious domestic violence subsequently asks police to drop charges, it is standard practice for the police to say to that woman “Tell it to the judge.” and to continue with the prosecution; is that not the norm, and why did it not happen in this instance?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: The police take a very dim view of all violence. But when they consider a case for prosecution they take into account all the factors before making the decision to prosecute. They make it without any political interference.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Minister seeking to cover up this very serious issue; and why does he have the mistaken belief that, in a very serious case, a charge was not warranted, even though that same offender already had 54 criminal convictions, many for violence, and later went on to murder someone?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Because there is constabulary independence, we do not interfere with the police making decisions to prosecute. That member may want to, but I do not and I will not.
Hon Richard Prebble: Is the House correctly to understand that the man who went on to do the murder actually had 54 previous convictions; if so, was there anything particular about the 53rd; and is it correct that if we had a decent zero tolerance crime policy, he would probably have been put away after No. 9?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Obviously this Government has been getting tougher on criminals, as there are now more people in prison. However, I cannot give any advice on this particular case, because I do not ask for the files of anyone who commits a crime—and I do not ask police about people getting into taxis in Courtenay Place.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think an important issue emerged this afternoon in your recent ruling. Had the member said in this Parliament “The member should get a job.”, that would be perfectly in order. Had the member said: “You should get a job.”, that would be totally out of order. The member had short-circuited “The member should get a job.” by saying “Get a job.”, and you assumed that he had meant that you should get a job. I am unaware, in my long time in this Parliament, of a Speaker having made that extension of the quite unparliamentary and unacceptable inclusion of the Speaker by referring to you, when there was no reference to you at all in the interjection. I believe that it is an extension of what I have heard Speakers rule in the past, and I would appreciate your thinking further about it.
Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member for raising that point. Had the member made that comment once or twice, I would not have worried. But he had made that comment, and quite often with the word “you”, at least six or seven times previously in that question, and I had warned him. I must say that anyone who studies English grammar will know that that remark was in the second person.
Brian Connell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Now that the heat of the moment has passed, I would like you to reflect on your decision to ask Mr Mark to leave Parliament. I was sitting next to him, and at no stage through the course of that discussion did I hear him use the word “you”. I know he was directing his remarks to the Minister, and I think that, on reflection, you might consider calling him back to the Chamber.
Mr SPEAKER: I will discuss the matter with the whips.
Genetically Modified Food—Safety
5. SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister for Food Safety: Is she satisfied that all food sold in New Zealand containing genetically engineered ingredients is safe?
Hon JIM SUTTON (Minister of Agriculture), on behalf of the Minister for Food Safety: Yes.
Sue Kedgley: Why does the Minister think it is acceptable for New Zealand consumers to eat a genetically engineered corn known as MON 863 corn, which caused abnormalities in rats such as inflammation of the kidneys and reduced numbers of white blood cells, and about which the French commission on genetic engineering has expressed serious concerns?
Hon JIM SUTTON: The corn MON 863 has been approved as safe for human consumption by the European Food Safety Authority and Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Since the report referred to by the member was published, the European Food Safety Authority has reviewed its determination of MON 863 and confirmed that, in its view, it is safe.
Jill Pettis: What is the process by which Food Standards Australia New Zealand assesses applications?
Hon JIM SUTTON: Before it will recommend approval of a genetically modified food, Food Standards Australia New Zealand must be satisfied that the food does not have any new toxins or allergens, and is not likely to pose any new health risks when compared with its conventional counterpart. As well as all the information that has to be supplied by the producer of the food, Food Standards Australia New Zealand gathers extra information from many sources, including peer-reviewed scientific literature, general technical information, independent scientists, regulatory agencies, international bodies, and the community.
Judy Turner: Is the Minister aware of any food containing genetically engineered ingredients and sold anywhere at all that has been proven not safe?
Hon JIM SUTTON: No, I am not aware of any such food.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Is the Minister aware, with reference to the study that fed that corn to rats, that the spokesman for the French genetic engineering commission—who also happens to be the director of research at the National Institute for Agricultural Research—said: “What struck me in this file is the number of abnormalities. I have never seen that in another file.”; and why does he think that a statement like that from a person like that should be ignored by our regulatory authorities?
Hon JIM SUTTON: I do not believe that such a statement by such a person is ignored, either by the New Zealand and Australian regulatory authority or by the European Food Safety Authority. The latter authority, in fact, reviewed the literature and data following the report that led to the member’s accusation, determined that the differences in the studies fell within normal variations, and gave a positive opinion on the food safety of Monsanto maize MON 863 in April this year.
Sue Kedgley: Does the Minister agree that if this had been a trial of a genetically engineered pharmaceutical, those sorts of abnormal effects would have triggered an intensive and rigorous assessment to explain the causes of the abnormalities; and can the Minister explain why that did not happen in the case of a GE food that was destined for widespread human consumption?
Hon JIM SUTTON: In fact, in my understanding, the safety of this food has been subjected to a rigorous review. The member is unhappy because the review did not find that the food was unsafe.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Minister agree, now that the study showing abnormalities in rats has come to light, and the Food Standards Australia New Zealand report does not refer to it in any way at all, that Food Standards Australia New Zealand should publicly release the study for independent scrutiny, commission an independent expert group to review the significance of the study, and review its approval for the entire application; and will the Minister advocate that with Food Standards Australia New Zealand?
Hon JIM SUTTON: The European Food Safety Authority is not only an independent expert group but it is the authoritative group in Europe, and would be considered such, I am sure, by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Should that agency have any further information come to hand suggesting that any of the foods it has approved as safe are not safe, it would, of course, review its findings, taking all available data into consideration.
Sue Kedgley: Does the Minister believe that thalidomide, asbestos, and DDT are safe because they were approved by a number of countries, and can we repeat the previous question: will the Minister call for Food Standards Australia New Zealand to release the controversial study publicly for independent scrutiny; if not, why not?
Mr SPEAKER: Two of those questions can be answered.
Hon JIM SUTTON: Thalidomide was never approved as a safe food by the Australian and New Zealand food safety authorities. I think the member is really scratching the bottom of the barrel.
Seasonal Industries—Labour Shortages
6. DAVID PARKER (Labour—Otago) to the Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment: What steps has the Government taken to address labour shortages in seasonal industries?
Hon RICK BARKER (Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment): Last week the Minister of Labour, Paul Swain, the Associate Minister of Immigration, Damien O’Connor, and myself met with representatives of the horticulture industry and Government officials to establish a joint strategy for meeting short, medium, and long-term seasonal labour shortages in the sector.
David Parker: How will the seasonal labour strategy be progressed?
Hon RICK BARKER: The industry and the Government are agreed that any strategy must be based on jobs for New Zealanders first. Overseas labour will be used only when it is clear that there are no suitable Kiwis to fill the vacancies. Illegal immigrants will not be used; that is unacceptable. It was also agreed that the industry has a responsibility for its own labour needs, including the training and upskilling of New Zealanders. A joint industry-Government working party is being established to progress that strategy.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: How can the Minister claim to the House that the Government’s policy is about putting New Zealanders’ jobs first, when in my electorate this very week the owners of two fishing vessels—the Pûriri and the Ôrere—had work permits issued for 20 Filipino workers, and three constituents have contacted my electorate office after being told they will be laid off as a consequence of that?
Hon RICK BARKER: The issuing of work permits to visitors is a matter for the Minister of Immigration. But I say to the member that in his area, the seasonal work strategy worked exceedingly well last year. In the area next to his, around Motueka, there were no registered unemployed people on the benefit—none. It is the same in Hastings West. There are many places where the Government’s seasonal work strategy has worked outstandingly well.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table newspaper reports—
Mr SPEAKER: We usually do that at the end of the question. There is too much noise, particularly from the Government benches.
Peter Brown: Is the Minister aware that there are labour shortages in such areas as truck driving and road construction and maintenance, which are areas affected by the seasonal flow of cargo; and will he solve that problem by employing overseas people?
Hon RICK BARKER: I am well aware that there are shortages in those areas. I am very pleased to advise the member that Work and Income has been running a number of training programmes for truck drivers in both the South Island and the North Island. It has been running work programmes for people driving buses, and all sorts of work programmes. The whole thrust of this Government’s strategy is to upskill New Zealanders in order to fill those jobs. We are doing that in conjunction with industry, using industry-based strategies. We are well aware of the shortages, and we are moving very well toward very successful outcomes.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table the reports in the Nelson Mail of the Associate Minister of Immigration issuing work permits for Filipino workers on the Pûriri and Ôrere fishing trawlers.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is.
7. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay Of Plenty) to the Minister for Courts: What is the amount of unclaimed reparation held by his department on behalf of the victims of crime, and what happens to that money if it is not claimed?
Hon RICK BARKER (Minister for Courts): The amount of reparation held by the ministry in its fines trust account is currently $4.75 million. That is 25 percent less than in October last year. The money not disbursed is held in trust on behalf of those to whom it is owed, and remains available at all times. It is never forfeited at any stage. The Ministry of Justice is actively tracing those individuals who are owed money, and will continue to do so.
Hon Tony Ryall: Considering the amount of effort the Government expends in pursuing the people who owe it money, why will the Government not advertise to ask the victims of crime to check if they are entitled to some of the unclaimed reparations; and does the Minister not think that any money unclaimed after some years might be better invested in helping other victims of crime—for example, through Victim Support?
Hon RICK BARKER: Last year $385,000 was used in general advertising to promote the 0800 number for people to ring. The number is 0800 909 909. In the last year we have paid out an extra 25 percent of the amount owed in reparations. The money should be held for the person to whom it is owed. In terms of Victim Support, I am very pleased to be able to tell the member that the Minister in charge of it, the Hon Phil Goff, has increased its budget every year.
Tim Barnett: What is being done on an ongoing basis to improve collection and disbursement of reparation?
Hon RICK BARKER: New contact collection centres were established last year, and the top priority of these centres is the collection and disbursement of reparation. In the year 2004, $14.05 million was collected in reparation—an increase of $1.77 million on the amount collected the year before. Of that, 89 percent has already been distributed to people who were owed reparation.
Larry Baldock: Does the Minister agree that consistent failure to meet reparation orders should be treated like any other breach of sentence and result in jail time, particularly when it indicates that any remorse the offender may have demonstrated on trial was hollow, yet it may have allowed that offender to avoid a custodial sentence?
Hon RICK BARKER: It is not for me to say what the consequences of failure to pay reparation should be; that is a matter for the judge. This Government is intending to improve the rate at which we collect reparation, and has made a huge commitment to it. In the last Budget, we put an extra $7 million into the operational area of collection, and an extra $2 million into capital. We are changing the law, for example in the Courts and Criminal Matters Bill, so if anybody owes reparation and is going to leave this country, that person will be stopped at the border. I could go on with many other reforms. This Government is absolutely determined—
Mr SPEAKER: No, the Minister has said enough.
Hon Tony Ryall: Why, when Parliament set up a special assistance fund to help the victims of crime with travel costs and counselling, is this Government siphoning off almost $600,000 from this fund to pay for bureaucracy?
Hon RICK BARKER: That is not a question that I am particularly able to answer because that is the responsibility of another portfolio. I say to the member that if his interest is in getting reparation for people who are owed it, and making sure they are paid the money, then this Government is doing a better job than has ever been done before. Every year the amount of reparation collected has gone up, and every year the amount of reparation paid out has gone up.
Hon Tony Ryall: Was the Minister asleep when Cabinet decided to plunder almost $600,000 from funds that Parliament meant for the victims of crime, to spend it on bureaucratic restructuring?
Hon RICK BARKER: I assure the member of two things. Firstly, I never go to sleep in Cabinet, I am always awake and alert; and, secondly, the money went to Victim Support.
Hon Tony Ryall: I seek leave to table Budget documents that show that the Government siphoned off almost $600,000.
Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
8. JUDY TURNER (United Future) to the Minister of Health: Does she stand by her commitment to providing fair access to strong public health services?
Hon RUTH DYSON (Associate Minister of Health), on behalf of the Minister of Health: Yes.
Judy Turner: Does the Minister agree that shunting 2,000 patients awaiting eye surgery in Auckland back to their general practitioners for “active review” is only an administrative facade that avoids the issue of significant funding shortages for those services, and can she see the ridiculous irony that those patients, now faced with burgeoning paperwork, are totally unable to read it?
Hon RUTH DYSON: No, I do not agree with the assertion made by the member. I have been advised that the Auckland District Health Board has sent letters out to approximately 2,000 people who are graded as routine—category D—notifying them that they will be returned to their general practitioner or optometrist for review and ongoing care. That category reflects non-urgent cases, many of whom would not be likely to receive treatment for several years. It is preferable for those people to have ongoing monitoring from their general practitioner or optometrist during that time.
Nanaia Mahuta: Can the Minister outline some of the measures the Government has taken to improve access to health services?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Yes, I can. One of the initiatives launched by the Government this year to improve access to public health services is the orthopaedics initiative. That initiative is aimed at doubling the number of publicly funded hip and knee replacement operations performed in hospitals over the next four years. It will bring huge relief to thousands of New Zealanders who suffer high levels of immobility and crippling pain.
Dr Paul Hutchison: How can the public have faith in the Minister’s commitment to providing fair access, when I have a letter here from the professor of ophthalmology at the Auckland District Health Board who wrote back to the referring general practitioner over 400 days after the initial referral to say that 2,500 patients were waiting for a first specialist appointment, so he was sorry but he had to return the referral back to the general practitioner?
Hon RUTH DYSON: The public can have faith very easily. As I noted in the answer to the primary question, the district health board advises me that it has tidied up its waiting list of people waiting for ophthalmology at outpatients’ clinics. It had not been examined for some time. It is likely that a number of those people will no longer require care. Some of them may have already received it privately, or may have moved out of the area.
Heather Roy: Can the Minister deny that Treasury papers obtained under the Official Information Act reveal that “due to large one-off carry-forwards of unspent or delayed funds, the increase between 2003-04 and 2004-05 is only $300 million”, not the $550 million the Minister misleads the country with; if she does deny that, what is the real increase after taking into account unspent and carried forward funding?
Hon RUTH DYSON: No, I regret I am not able to confirm that, but I am certainly able to confirm that the Minister of Health does not mislead this House.
Judy Turner: Does the Minister agree that when 45 percent of Auckland and nearly 60 percent of West Coast eye patients wait more than 6 months for specialist assessment, and some Christchurch patients are even waiting more than 15 months, there is clearly increased pressure for ophthalmology services nationally; if so, what funding will she commit to addressing those debilitating conditions?
Hon RUTH DYSON: Yes, I can confirm that ophthalmology is one of the New Zealand’s largest and busiest patient services. The Auckland District Health Board sees around 46,000 patients a year. I support its move to be more open with the community about the available resources. The reality that the increasing volume of referrals means that the routine cases are unlikely to received attention in the near future. It is better, as I stated in answer to a previous supplementary question, for those people to have regular monitoring from a general practitioner or ophthalmologist while waiting for a specialist appointment.
Gordon Copeland: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not believe the Minister addressed the part of the question that asked whether the Minister would put more resources into it.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister may just have a comment to make on that part of the question.
Hon RUTH DYSON: I would not like to pre-empt the Budget announcements of the Minister of Finance for next year.
Judy Turner: If there is no plan to allocate funding to increase capacity for cataract operations, will the Minister be prepared to approach the Fred Hollows Foundation, in order to add New Zealand to the list of countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal that receive charitable support for the treatment of that condition; if not, why not?
Hon RUTH DYSON: The member’s supplementary question was based on a misinterpretation of my answer to the previous supplementary question. I did not say there would be no increased funding; I said I would not pre-empt the announcement of the Minister of Finance on that issue.
Dr Paul Hutchison: I seek leave to table a letter from the Auckland District Health Board professor who, after 400 days, sent back the referral letter.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that letter. Is there any objection. There is.
Dr Paul Hutchison: I seek leave to table the Auckland District Health Board performance indicators, which show not one service out of 28 replies to referrals.
Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that document being tabled? There is.
Foreshore and Seabed Bill—Mâori Affairs, Minister
9. GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs: Does he stand by his reported statement of 3 May 2004 that he would “leave Parliament if the foreshore and seabed legislation does not work out the way he wants for Mâori”; if not, why not?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Mâori Affairs): Yes.
Gerry Brownlee: Will the Minister now leave Parliament since his own Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti tribal whânau and hapû have pointed out that the Foreshore and Seabed Bill will significantly advantage larger iwi at their expense and lead to serious conflict within Mâoridom, or is that how he wanted it to work out?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: No.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are left with a bit of a dilemma with an answer like that. Do we take it that this is not how he wanted it to work out and therefore he will not vote for the bill, or do we take it that he is perfectly happy with it and will not leave Parliament?
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member said “No”, and I do not know how the member could have a more direct answer than that.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I refer you to Standing Order 370, which states: “(1) An answer that seeks to address the question must be given if it can be given consistently with the public interest. (2) The reply to any question must be concise and confined to the subject-matter of the question asked, …”. That is not happening in this House, and it did not happen in respect of that answer. The Minister was asked an ancillary question, and “No” cannot be the answer to both of them, and you are about to let him get away with it. There is the Standing Order, and I want to know how it is being complied with in this House. We are not getting it in this Parliament.
Mr SPEAKER: I think, on reflection, the member was asked two questions. He is perfectly entitled to answer “No. No.”, but I would like him to answer the second part of the question again.
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I am half Ngâi Tahu, I am one-third Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, and that is a small group, and I also come from Ngâti Porou. I will make up my own mind in relation to where my whakapapa sits in those decisions, as my people come here from all over the motu.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You asked the Minister to address the question, and we got a bit of genealogy given back to us. The question was very, very simple, and the second part was very simple: that his people had said this was going to lead to significant expense, advantaging larger iwi; and the end part of the question was “lead to serious conflict within Mâoridom, or is that how he wanted it to work out?”. Now, he may well have the genealogy that leaves him conflicted, but he should give some answer that relates to the question.
Mr SPEAKER: I thought the Minister did address the question with the two answers he gave.
Jill Pettis: Why did the Minister support the introduction of the Foreshore and Seabed Bill?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I work exhaustively over a long period of time with my colleagues to get the best outcome for Mâori and all New Zealanders, like my Pâkehâ ancestors, the Rutherfords down south. We will wait with anticipation for the select committee report.
Murray Smith: Is the Minister aware that Mâori submitters have told the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee that if the Government entered into a proper dialogue with them, they would be quite open to the concept of the foreshore and seabed being made public domain for the benefit of Mâori and non-Mâori alike, as proposed by United Future; and given the huge public unease over this issue will he recommend to the Government that it enters into such a dialogue with Mâori, with a view to reaching an agreement on the basis United Future has proposed; if not, why not?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I always encourage people to participate in the select committee process. I am not a member of that select committee, but I understand it has been run in a very proper and efficient way in order to hear the cases. I await the report back from the committee with interest.
Gerry Brownlee: Does he stand by his assertion that it is “not true that a deal has been reached with Ngâti Porou on the foreshore issue.”; if so, can he explain why the Foreshore and Seabed Bill favours large iwi over hapû and small iwi by making it much easier for them to gain ancestral connection orders, which are the gateway to territorial customary rights and compensation?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: At the time, on the right date when that was made, that was the statement. There have been negotiations with a whole lot of people, as we are about to do shortly on the Aquaculture Reform Bill.
Gerry Brownlee: Can he then confirm for the House that the Government has done a deal with Ngâti Porou over the seabed and foreshore in their rohe?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I can confirm that we met with Te Whânau-a-Apanui, which is up in the Ôpôtiki area, and we have met with Ngâti Porou and other tribes, and there are ongoing discussions.
Question No. 7 to Minister
Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade): I seek leave to table a document that must be different from the one of the same name that Mr Ryall tabled. This document shows that money from underspent victim assistance schemes did not go to some bureaucracy as alleged, but went to Victim Support to help victims.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Fisheries Amendment Bill (No 3)—Quota Management System
10. Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY (Labour) to the Minister of Fisheries: What response has he received to the provisions contained in the Fisheries Amendment Bill (No 3) to manage species in the Quota Management System?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Minister of Fisheries): I received yesterday a response to comments made during the second reading of the Fisheries Amendment Bill (No 3) about the introduction of mussel spat into the quota management system. In that response a mussel spat farmer, directly affected by the bill, wrote to National spokesperson, Phil Heatley: “I find your arrogance and ignorance related to mussel spat absolutely astounding. Had I known just how narrow your blinkers were set, I would not have wasted my time talking to you today. I have been an admirer of Mr Brash’s style, but the trash you’ve been”—
Mr SPEAKER: That was drawing a very long bow in answer to the original question. The first part was all right, but then it went too far.
Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Is New Zealand’s world-known quota management system widely accepted?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Yes, it is admired throughout the world. It has wide industry support, and until yesterday it had broad cross-party support, including the support of the National Party. But yesterday the National Party voted for the effective removal of kahawai from the—
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Why is the Minister, who is being asked questions relating to his portfolio, continually putting bogus policy positions up in the name of the National Party? He is not a competent Minister, he is a relatively new Minister, and he needs to understand that there is a way in which questions are answered. He has transgressed once today, and you pointed that out to him. What he was just about to do is equally out of order, and he should be called to account much more quickly.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not need any assistance. I thought the Minister answered the question, and addressed the second question. He pointed out that a party had supported the issue and then opposed it. He is perfectly entitled to do that.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister is quoting National Party policy and at no time has National ever said that it is opposed to the quota management system. The difficulty is this. When Ministers, who have absolutely no responsibility for National Party policy, make assertions that are blatantly incorrect, what recourse is available to the Opposition?
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can I ask you to rule that a bill being passed through the House is absolutely the core constitutional responsibility of a Minister and making sure that he has the votes on that is absolutely part of his job, and the Minister was reporting on that.
Mr SPEAKER: Let me put it this way. What the member has just said is correct. What the Minister said in the first part of his answer was perfectly acceptable. I listened very carefully to the second question and the second answer and so far he has not transgressed. But that is it.
Phil Heatley: Can the Minister confirm that the author of that letter is one Christopher Allen Hensley,
who, according to the schedule in the Minister’s Supplementary Order Paper, is now the largest beneficiary of mussel spat quota, thanks to the Minister, with an allocation of 27 million quota shares, and can he confirm that that man now considers the Minister his best friend?
Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the question is in order. The Minister has no responsibility for the second part.
Phil Heatley: Don’t you read the schedules?
Mr SPEAKER: I do read things. The member is walking a very thin line. He knows that is out of order. He should be quiet while the Minister answers.
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Unlike the questioner, I do not know the gentleman, but I was delighted to receive the letter from him yesterday. I can confirm that he is a quota holder, quite clearly. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. That amount of noise is just ridiculous and members are being silly. I would ask the Opposition whip to have a word to his colleagues about that. I do not mind a bit of interjection, but not that amount.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. When members on this side are subject to direction from you to be silent for a particular time, you enforce it strictly. In this case Mr Heatley yelled out several times during that answer, after you directly told him to be silent when the answer was being given. Is there one rule for us and one for them?
Mr SPEAKER: No, there is not. That is an objectionable comment, and I would ask the member to stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I withdraw and apologise.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister was asked whether the man who wrote the letter was a man called Hensley.
Mr SPEAKER: He said yes.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, he did not. He said he could confirm that he was a quota holder, but he did not say that the name was Hensley.
We are entitled to know who that man is. That is what the Minister was asked.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister can answer that particular question.
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I am able to confirm that Mr Hensley also said to Mr Heatley—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Now the member will leave the Chamber. I have had enough.
Phil Heatley: With pleasure.
Mr SPEAKER: He will be named if he says another word.
Phil Heatley withdrew from the Chamber.
Mr SPEAKER: Now, the question was whether the person concerned was Mr Hensley. The answer is yes or no?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The answer is yes.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Can the Minister confirm that the commitment he has given the Green Party to review thoroughly kahawai catch limits next year in the light of the much better scientific data he will collect over the year, and his commitment to consider exclusion zones for purse-seine vessels offers a better outcome for recreational fishers than the Supplementary Order Paper to the bill that simply cancelled all catch limits?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I am hopeful the current decisions, which I believe appropriately, address and recognise the importance of kahawai to recreational fishers, will achieve the desired outcomes. But I am equally committed, as a result of the consultation with the Green Party, to the review in 12 months’ time. As the questioner knows, I have asked the ministry to direct an appropriate amount of budgeted funds for continued research into that recreational fishery. As she intimated, I am prepared to consider exclusion zones, should that prove to be necessary.
Larry Baldock: Can the Minister confirm that those exact same terms and conditions that have been offered to the Green Party were offered to United Future prior to our requiring his support for the Supplementary Order Paper?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I am rather surprised that the questioner does not yet realise that the amendments he moved, which, fortunately, were rejected by the Committee of the whole House, would have had the opposite effect to his stated intention. They would have led to chaos in the fishery and there would have been no constraints on the amount commercial fishers could take.
Larry Baldock: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not know what question he thought I asked, but it certainly was not the one he gave an answer to.
Mr SPEAKER: I heard the member’s question and I heard the Minister’s answer. He directly addressed it.
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I seek leave to table the letter from Kaitaia Spat that I referred to earlier.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Air Force—Iroquois Replacements
11. JOHN CARTER (National—Northland) to the Minister of Defence: Has he received any reports or advice on replacements for the Royal New Zealand Air Force Iroquois; if so, what was the nature of those reports or advice?
Hon MARK BURTON (Minister of Defence): Yes, the general thrust of advice in the reports is that the Iroquois, and indeed, the Sioux training helicopters, need to be replaced. Projects to advance both acquisitions are under way.
John Carter: In light of the unsatisfactory performances of the Iroquois—and I quote: “in bad weather, at night, and in hot and high conditions”—as mentioned in the annual report, what processes are being discussed for the disposal of the Iroquois, and has the Minister a timetable for their disposal?
Hon MARK BURTON: As I said, projects are under way. The registrations of interest for medium-utility helicopters, which are principally the replacements for the Iroquois, have been advertised. Responses are being evaluated, and due diligence is being done on potential offers on the light utility that will replace the Sioux, and the lower-end operational requirements are following.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: How are projects such as the Iroquois and Sioux replacements managed?
Hon MARK BURTON: The Government has put in place a cogent, planned, policy-driven acquisition process. This is based on the defence policy framework, which the member might like to read, and implemented through the tri-service multi-agency defence long-term development plan. We have this process, and it is well under way.
John Carter: Is the Minister satisfied that the process for the sale of other Royal New Zealand Air Force equipment, that is Skyhawks and Aermacchis, is satisfactory, in light of new figures that show that Ernst and Young has been paid $677,145 in disbursements alone, on top of the initial $400,000 payment; and on top of that, it is to receive a bonus payment, with yet no result of sales?
Hon MARK BURTON: I am satisfied that Ernst and Young is working solidly on this process. The test will be the outcome. I invite the member to await that, and form a judgment at that time.
Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee—Police Presence, Auckland
12. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Police: Did the police receive a call to the Alexandra Park Raceway on Wednesday, 25 August to attend an incident at the select committee hearing on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill; if so, what was the nature of the call?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): Yes, I am advised that a call was made to the police by the clerk of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee that there were people causing difficulties in the committee room.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that he has now decided to answer questions when they are off the question of the murder, why did it take 35 minutes for the police to respond to three calls from worried and concerned select committee members and staff deliberating on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill, who reported violent and abusive protesters, when the police were made aware well in advance of the security risk? Why did it take 35 minutes?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I think 35 minutes was too long, and I am asking the police to tell me why.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We had a fiasco yesterday and today concerning what this Minister of Police would not do. Now we find that he will do things, but not when it comes to a certain line of questions in the House. What will be the rule here? Can he get away with that answer now, and get away with a different answer earlier in the day when he was asked a serious question about a dramatically serious matter and he said it was not his responsibility and he would not access any file? What is to be the answer now?
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister was asked a question, and he gave an answer. He has to stand by it. He addressed the question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister said earlier today that he does not interfere in operational matters. He has now told us that he does. What is to be your standard of ruling when it comes to this Minister, given Standing Order 370, which requires him, in the public interest, to answer the question properly and stick to the facts? That is what Standing Order 370(1) and (2) says. He is getting away with murder, and you are allowing him to get away with it.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I am not.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Yes, you are.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will not argue with me while I am on my feet.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will tell it later.
Mr SPEAKER: I beg your pardon.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will have it out later.
Mr SPEAKER: It is unnecessary to make that comment. I say to the member that I have to judge as Speaker whether the question is in order. I have to judge whether the answer is in order. I do not rule on the substance of the answer or the question, as long as they are in accord with the parliamentary Standing Orders, and they were.
John Carter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The matter that has been raised by Mr Peters is quite a serious one. I ask whether you might give us some consideration in a ruling a little later.
Mr SPEAKER: I will do that.
John Carter: The issue is this. We in this House accept that the Minister, while a case is current, would not want to interfere in it, but we have a right to expect reports once the case is finished. The particular case that Mr Peters has been discussing is finished, and the Minister has every right, from a policy perspective, to be informed. He has not, and he has told the House he has not, yet he has now just contradicted himself by saying that he is getting a report on a policy issue. We do need to have some consistency in the answers. This Minister has just given an example of our not getting consistency.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I think it would be valuable for you to provide such a ruling. Perhaps as part of the ruling you could outline the traditions in the House as to Ministers’ responses on policy issues, on resourcing issues, and on response times, which Ministers traditionally have reported on to the House, as opposed to individual prosecution decisions.
Mr SPEAKER: I will certainly do that.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: In respect of the Minister’s comment earlier today that he does not get involved in operational matters, and his comment in respect of question No. 12 today, which suggests he does, why has he sat in this House for 2 days, telling barefaced lies?
Mr SPEAKER: Now the member will stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I warn the member. He is asking about this particular question; he is not referring to previous questions.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: My point of order is this. I ask the Minister why he is giving an answer that clearly indicates he does get involved in operational matters. He stated he was going to get a report from the police, when earlier today he said the very reverse, not once but over and over again. It is a disgrace in political terms, because it calls into contempt the very idea of political and executive accountability. There is none, where this Minister is concerned, and you are allowing him to get away with it. [Interruption] I say to Mr Prebble to keep quiet. We all know about his performance.
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I am entitled to have my point of order heard without interruption.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, but I would like the member to be terse. He has made the point already, twice.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Yes, I have made the point and I will go on making it because, frankly, there is no accountability when a Minister can make a statement like that, which suggests that it is not true, and get away with it.
Hon Richard Prebble: The member has involved me in it. I would have thought that something stage I law students would understand is that there is such a thing as constabulary independence. Only a constable can make a decision on whether to arrest someone. We have heard clearly from the Minister that he is not prepared to question that. How the police are resourced and how long it takes the police to respond to matters are completely different questions. Neither of those questions involve constabulary independence. It is quite proper for Mr Peters to ask questions about those matters and it is quite proper for the Minister to reply. It is really quite bizarre that now Mr Peters is getting answers to quite proper questions, he is objecting.
Mr SPEAKER: Mr Prebble put the matter exactly correctly.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest respect, we are not asking anyone to arrest someone; the arrest has already taken place. We are asking why he was not charged. Mr Speaker, you can clearly see the distinction in the argument we are making here. To say that Mr Prebble got it right is nonsense. We are not asking for someone to be arrested. We are asking for the reason why someone was not charged, and that is an operational matter that he does involve himself in. He just confirmed it.
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member is wrong.
I refer the member, when we come to questions to members, to the fact that the Chairperson of the Commerce Committee is absent. A question to a member must be held over to the next sitting day, pursuant to—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Where is the answer to my second supplementary question.
Mr SPEAKER: He answered the supplementary question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, he did not.
Mr SPEAKER: Perhaps the member could put—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: It is so patently obvious what is going on here.
Mr SPEAKER: Could the member put the supplementary question again?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why does the Minister say now that he will get involved in operational matters—and he does that by seeking the report—when earlier today, over and over again, he said he does not?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: It is policy, not individual cases. I would have thought that member has been in Parliament long enough to know the difference. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: No, no.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How can that be an adequate answer in this House? He was asked a very simple question, and up he got, attacked the questioner, and refused to answer the question he was asked in the first place. Can we get an answer to that question?
Mr SPEAKER: No, the Minister addressed the question.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: This is a disgrace.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is going very close to the line. I have given him very generous treatment because he is leader of a major party, but he has just about reached the bottom.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: If you think that sort of behaviour is OK, it’s a disgrace.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will now leave the Chamber for the rest of the afternoon.
Rt Hon Winston Peters withdrew from the Chamber.
Questions to Members
Question No. 1 to Member