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Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 6 October 2004

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

Wednesday, 6 October 2004
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers

1. Cannabis—Legal Status
2. Aoraki Polytechnic—Funding
3. Benefit Reforms—Domestic Purposes and Widows Benefits
4. Question No. 2 to Minister
5. Surgery—Transfers to General Practitioners
6. Primary Health Organisations—Enrolments of Over 65s
7. Health—Funding
8. Social Entrepreneur Fund—Non-Mâori Organisations and Individuals
9. Finance, Minister—Confidence
10. Prime Minister—Motorcade
11. Physical Activity—Primary School Children
12. Social Entrepreneur Fund—Termination

Questions to Members

1. Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee—Member's Submission

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers

Cannabis—Legal Status

1. MARC ALEXANDER (United Future) to the Minister of Justice: Can he confirm that it is the Government’s policy not to change the legal status of cannabis; if so, is he confident that other policies implemented by his ministerial colleagues are consistent with this commitment?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Justice): The Government has no plans to change the current legal status of cannabis. Ministers act in accordance with this commitment.

Marc Alexander: Does the Minister agree that teaching children how to use drugs safely is in direct conflict with the law for which the Minister has responsibility; if so, why has he condoned the distribution of a Ministry of Youth Development drug education handbook to schools this month, given that it takes this kind of harm minimisation approach?

Hon PHIL GOFF: That booklet is not at all about teaching children how to use drugs safely. The thrust of the drug education programme is to stop children and young people from using drugs. But it is a bit like alcohol. We say that young people should not use alcohol, but we say particularly strongly that they should not use alcohol and drive a car. The same approach should be taken with cannabis—that is, one should not use cannabis, but, most particularly, one should not use cannabis and drive a car. That is a sensible approach to take in this education programme.

Russell Fairbrother: How does the National Drug Policy seek to deal with the problem of drug abuse?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The National Drug Policy adopts a three-pronged approach. The first is to try to control the supply of drugs by law enforcement; the second is to reduce the demand for drugs, which is done through drug education; and the third is to apply treatment for those suffering harm from drug and alcohol abuse.

Richard Worth: In the light of the spiralling use of methamphetamine and other drugs, why is the Government chopping the number of residential or inpatient treatment beds for drug addition so that there are now about 110 fewer; and would it not be responsible to increase the number of beds rather than axe them?

Hon PHIL GOFF: My colleague the Associate Minister of Health did just that, as Mr Worth might be aware. He has opened a new residential drug treatment facility for the central region.

Craig McNair: Can the Minister indicate what steps, if any, he is taking to persuade other parties, with whom his Government has a cooperation arrangement, that legalising cannabis, freeing up access to drugs for young people, and generally softening up current drug laws is undesirable?

Hon PHIL GOFF: It is not my role to write drug or any other policy for any other party in this House, but my advice to anyone is that we want to see less use of illicit drugs and less abuse of alcohol, and all parties should take that approach.

Nandor Tanczos: Does the Minister support the development of a consistent and integrated framework for regulating all drugs; one that is based on expert evidence of the best way to reduce harm to society and individuals from drug use, and does he think we might be able to see such a common-sense approach implemented after the next election?

Hon PHIL GOFF: If the member is asking me to endorse his recently announced drug policy, I will decline to do that. I believe that all drug and alcohol policy should be evidence based.

Marc Alexander: Is the Minister satisfied with the situation whereby one arm of the Government is attempting to uphold the prohibition on drug use but another promotes educational programmes that do not have drug avoidance as their primary goal, and in fact, seek to avoid promoting abstinence in case it—and I quote from page 7 of the drug education handbook—“stigmatises experimentation with drugs as deviant behaviour”?

Hon PHIL GOFF: There is in fact consistency in the approach of all Government departments and all Ministers in this matter, and the advice we take on drug education is to follow international best-practice. That drug handbook does just that for schools. It tells schools the most effective way of communicating to students in a way that will get an improvement by way of drug reduction, and, hopefully, drug elimination.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Has the Government received any other letters or reports on the question of abstinence; if so, from whom?

Hon PHIL GOFF: That is an invitation on a different matter, and I decline to answer.

Marc Alexander: Has the Minister finally read the Ministry of Youth Development drug education handbook, given that he stated in the House on 19 May that he had not at that point, and has he expressed any concerns to the Minister of Youth Affairs or the Associate Minister of Health that their Green Party approach to drug education is inconsistent with the law?

Hon PHIL GOFF: To the best of my knowledge the drug education handbook for schools on the best practice for eliminating and reducing drug use is not the policy that has been announced by the Greens, though there may be some parallels. If the member looks at the work that has been done, for example, by Roger Sowry as an Associate Minister of Health under National, he will see that Mr Sowry talked a lot about harm minimisation. World Heath Organization guidelines have been followed by successive Governments in this country. We look at following best practice—

Hon Roger Sowry: Oh, spare us!

Hon PHIL GOFF: I can table it if the member likes. Would he like me to?

MARC ALEXANDER (United Future): Is the Minister aware of research undertaken by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research and the National Drug Research Institute in Australia showing that the prohibition of cannabis does work in limiting the amount consumed by heavy users, and does he agree that this evidence justifies retaining the current legal status of cannabis in New Zealand?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I have not looked at the particular document the member has mentioned. He might like to pass it to me. But I am aware that a number of states in Australia are trying different methods of dealing with the drug problem. I think we should take an evidence-based approach and see which is the most effective.

Marc Alexander: Has the Minister seen new research released this week that shows that one in ten 18 to 29-year-olds used P in the last year, that the drug is now very easy to obtain, has an established link with violent offending, and leads to serious psychological harm; if so, does he agree that the only message our young people should hear on this drug is: “Do not use it”—a message in line with the law, but seemingly not with the Government’s drug education policy?

Hon PHIL GOFF: That claim most certainly is not correct. This Government put, I think, $53.6 million into the Budget this year, predominantly aimed at reducing the supply of P. We have before this House at the moment the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill (No 3), which again cracks down and takes a tough approach. We have consistently increased police resources and Institute of Environmental Science and Research resources to try to stop the scourge that methamphetamine represents for this country. I do not think the Government can be faulted on that issue.

Nandor Tanczos: Does the Minister think that an approach of demonising cannabis, and opposing even moderate law reform, combined with unquestioning support for the alcohol industry, even to the extent of implacably opposing any restrictions on alcohol advertising—a position followed by at least one party in this House—is a common-sense approach to the problem of drug abuse?

Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Phil Goff can comment in relation to his portfolio, but not other people’s policies.

Hon PHIL GOFF: It is very important that drug education is factually correct and that it does not exaggerate, otherwise it is counterproductive. The efforts that we are making are to ensure that young people get evidence both about alcohol abuse—that is, the most abused drug in New Zealand—and marijuana use, because from respective studies we know that marijuana has very harmful effects on those who are mentally ill, those who are quite young, and those who use it frequently.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister received reports on which parties in this Parliament support the view generally enunciated by Mr Alexander, and which parties support the rope-head view expressed by a certain member of this Parliament?

Mr SPEAKER: Unfortunately, the Minister cannot answer that question unless it is linked with his portfolio. Perhaps the member could rephrase the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I could say it this way; and I thought I did. Has the Minister received any reports of which parties support the view generally enunciated by Mr Alexander, and which parties are out there supporting the rope heads?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I do not think it is appropriate to use derogatory terms about any member in this House. I do not intend to comment on that. Although I cannot speak for other parties, and the House is aware of that, I can say that the Labour Party takes a very strong approach to the elimination and reduction of drug abuse, and alcohol abuse. We are consistent across the board on that. As that member knows, alcohol abuse can be very harmful as well.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Are you going to let the Minister get away with that?

Mr SPEAKER: No, I am not. I ask the Minister to withdraw that last comment.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: He should wash his mouth out.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am ruling now, no one else. The last comment the Minister made I thought could be taken in two ways, and I want him to withdraw any suggestion there was a personal reflection on any member of the House.

Hon PHIL GOFF: If requested, I withdraw, but I can assure you there was no personal reflection in that answer. Every member in this House knows that alcohol abuse can be harmful.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister will now stand and withdraw, and say nothing else.

Hon PHIL GOFF: I withdraw. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In your initial comment you asked me whether I intended any derogatory comment in my answer, and as you asked me that question, I answered it.

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, and I was probably wrong in asking it.

Rod Donald: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think in the spirit of the occasion you should ask Mr Winston Peters to withdraw, if his comment was intended to be derogatory. His question was clearly framed in such a manner.

Mr SPEAKER: If the member was referring to any member of this House in a derogatory manner, I ask him to withdraw that comment.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I asked the Minister as to which parties are out there supporting rope heads, which clearly suggests that they are not in this Parliament.

Mr SPEAKER: That is perfectly OK. If it is not in this Parliament, then that it is.

Hon Richard Prebble: Is the Minister willing to confirm that the real reason why the Labour Government is not proposing a decriminalisation of marijuana is that under his Government the police have stopped arresting people for mere possession, and if he is not willing to make such a statement to the House, is it a fact that if he did confirm there has been a de facto decriminalisation of marijuana, which is something we all know, then that would expose United Future’s claim—that it is supporting the Labour Government to stop the decriminalisation of marijuana—as a complete sham?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The reason why this party in Government is opposing the decriminalisation of marijuana is severalfold. Firstly, we have had health reports that show that marijuana can be dangerous in particular circumstances. That is well documented. Secondly, we have entered into an electoral commitment not to decriminalise marijuana. Thirdly, in relation to whether the police make arrests for possession, that is an operational matter. As that member told the House just a couple of weeks ago, Ministers cannot have anything to do with operational matters relating to the police.

Nandor Tanczos: I seek leave to table an example of a consistent, integrated, and evidence-based framework for the regulation of all drugs.

Leave granted.

Aoraki Polytechnic—Funding

2. Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education): Was he advised earlier this year that “An issue arose this year at Aoraki Polytechnic in relation to the validation of student enrolments, the majority of which pertained to 5.1.”, and was this issue related to Government funding for Aoraki Polytechnic’s “joint education programmes”, where it offers courses through existing community groups?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)): The answer to the first question is yes. The answer to the second question is that the issue was a general one about the collection of administrative information.

Hon Bill English: Does the Minister endorse Aoraki Polytechnic’s practice of boosting enrolments by using community groups like the South Canterbury ADHD Support Group, the Alzheimer’s Society Ashburton District, and the Timaru Breastfeeding Interest Group as a way to boost enrolments, and will he investigate whether mothers and carers who attend those groups are being enrolled in Aoraki Polytechnic as students?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I would be concerned about any misuse of funds, as I always am. However, I would only investigate any particular complaint if it was made by somebody else other than the member, because I can never trust anything he says.

Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Have other issues been raised about courses at Aoraki Polytechnic?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes. I saw a claim yesterday that “People who attended a business lunch in Timaru earlier this year were told that they could stay and hear Mr Mark Tamaki speak if they filled out a form enrolling them at this course at Aoraki Polytechnic.” However, it turns out that the lunch was organised by the Aoraki Development Trust, and that both the polytechnic and the trust agree that the polytechnic had nothing to do with the event. The polytechnic’s chief executive is now seeking a retraction from Mr English. I have to agree with the Aoraki Development Trust general manager, who said: “I would suggest Mr English should do his research, because at the end of the day it is his credibility that is now in question.” Mr English should apologise.

Hon Brian Donnelly: Does the Associate Minister stand by his associate ministerial colleague’s comment at a recent New Zealand Association of Private Education Providers function to the effect that if we want to find real rorts in the tertiary system, we need to look no further than the polytechnic sector, or does he believe that John Tamihere does not know what he is talking about?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Obviously, I was not at the speech, but I have found John Tamihere to be an insightful person. I would need to check that out with him though, to know exactly what he said.

Hon Bill English: Has the Minister seen the programme for the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths conference to be held in New Plymouth this year, which lists Aoraki Polytechnic as the platinum sponsor, has he seen the list of community groups that provide their courses as including the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths’ national conference, and will he investigate whether people who enrol to attend that conference are in fact enrolling at Aoraki Polytechnic, as occurred last year?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As I said before, I will investigate any concern that is raised about the irregular use of public funding. However, I will always have to separately verify any claims from that member, because he systematically gets it wrong.

Hon Jim Sutton: Can the Minister confirm that Aoraki Polytechnic is proactive in its liaison and working with community and commercial groups in the South Canterbury area that it serves, and that it has the full confidence of that community?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The member, of course, is a representative of that community, and is expressing his confidence by asking that question. But I can confirm that Aoraki Polytechnic does have clear evidence that its community supports it fully.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Are his comments that Mr Tamihere was both insightful and expert in these matters—

Hon Steve Maharey: I just said “insightful”.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: —well, insightful in these matters—because when John Tamihere was running the Waipareira Trust the application in respect of trainees did not match the application for grants; hence the huge discrepancy at the end of the year?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Unfortunately, of course, I am not responsible for what happened with regard to members before they entered Parliament. I am not responsible for what the member himself did before he entered Parliament.

Hon Bill English: If the Minister is on top of this issue, why has he been unable to answer 20 parliamentary questions that I have submitted since March, asking for a list of Aoraki Polytechnic’s community education courses, enrolments, and public funding payments for the 2003 year, which finished 9 months ago, and why cannot a $45 million Tertiary Education Commission produce that information for one polytech?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The member’s questions will always be answered, but as he knows, because he asked this particular question, the issue of validation of course enrolments across the entire polytechnic was at question. It has taken an effort to go back over those enrolments, which have now been validated.

Benefit Reforms—Domestic Purposes and Widows Benefits

3. GEORGINA BEYER (Labour—Wairarapa) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What reports has he received on outcomes from the 2002 domestic purposes and widows benefit reforms?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): Since enhanced case management and the annual development of employment plans were introduced in 2002, we have seen the following: more domestic purposes beneficiaries and widows beneficiaries are exiting the benefit each month; domestic purposes beneficiaries and widows beneficiaries who do exit are less likely to return; more domestic purposes women-alone and widows beneficiaries are engaged in part-time work; the proportion of domestic purposes benefit recipients receiving the benefit because they have secured work has increased; and the number of people on the domestic purposes benefit and widows benefit has declined, despite New Zealand having higher numbers of women in childbearing age. All of these findings say that these reforms have been valuable.

Georgina Beyer: What other reports has he received on the 2002 domestic purposes, widows, and benefit reforms?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I have heard claims that the changes would increase the number of people on the domestic purposes benefit to 120,000. I heard claims that thousands more would go on to the benefit each year. I heard claims that fewer would leave the benefit. I heard claims that fewer would get a job. Every one of those claims came from National and ACT members of Parliament, and they have been proven utterly wrong.

Sue Bradford: Has the Minister read the recent reports on the outcomes of the Wisconsin welfare reforms, which show that only 25 percent of participants are in a genuine job and that there is not the slightest improvement in poverty rates over the last 10 years; if so, can he give that information to the National and ACT parties, who continue to promote aspects of the Wisconsin programme, despite it being outdated and ineffective?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, I have read that research, and, yes, I can make it available to members of the ACT and National parties. However, they might like simply to purchase a copy of this week’s Listener where they will see that these programmes are working, whereas the Wisconsin ones do not.

Question No. 2 to Minister

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland): I seek leave to table the programme for the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths’ national conference 2004, which shows Aoraki Polytechnic as a platinum sponsor.

Leave granted.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland): I seek leave to table the list of joint education programmes provided by Aoraki Polytechnic, including the breastfeeding interest group and Alzheimer’s New Zealand.

Leave granted.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland): I seek leave to table a submission from the Tertiary Education Commission to the Minister pointing out enrolment irregularities at Aoraki Polytechnic, which are still unresolved.

Leave granted.

Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland): I seek leave to table 20 written parliamentary questions asking for information from 2003 about these courses, which have not yet been provided.

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

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)): I seek leave to table a report from Fast News: “Tech boss fuming over allegations by Mr English”, and demanding an apology.

Leave granted.

Surgery—Transfers to General Practitioners

4. HEATHER ROY (ACT) to the Minister of Health: Following her answer to written question No. 12986 (2004) in relation to elective surgery, how many people in the booking system were transferred to the category of GP Care in the year ended June 2004?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): As I advised the member in my written answer to question No. 12986 (2004), the information can be obtained publicly through the national booking reporting system administered by the New Zealand Health Information Service. According to the New Zealand Health Information Service, 5,103 patients were referred to their general practitioners in the year ended June 2004.

Heather Roy: Given that there were 62,581 persons on all residual lists in June 1999, given that the Minister has already admitted that there were well over 56,000 patients in the Booked / Given Certainty, and Active Review categories alone in June 2004, and given that she has now admitted that another 5,800 exited to the final category, GP Care, when will she admit that the equivalent waiting lists have gone up under her stewardship—yes or no, Minister?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No. The member cannot add up. Even if one were to add all those figures together, the total comes to something like 61,000. She has the latest figure—June 1999—for how many were on the waiting list, but she chose to use something else. I gave her December figures; she chose to use June figures, which show something like 72,000. When one adds them up one finds there are still fewer. However, in the past we did not count those patients who went back to their general practitioners.

Steve Chadwick: Did the waiting lists of the 1990s—which sat at 72,318 in December 1999, when we became the Government—include people who were returned to their general practitioners; if so, was this information publicly available?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No, it did not include those people, and the public had no idea whatsoever as to how many people were sent back to their general practitioners. This information has been collected since 2001 only, under this Government, and we are determined to make the true figures available.

Judith Collins: Does she stand by her statement: “The buck stops with me.”; if so, what responsibility does she take for the 346 patients under the Counties Manukau District Health Board who were removed from the waiting list for orthopaedic surgery and returned to their general practitioners in the 2003-04 financial year?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The buck certainly stops with me; $10 billion worth of bucks have stopped with this Minister. Since I have been Minister, $10 billion has gone into the health sector, up from $6 billion under a National Government. I tell that member that it is this Government that has undertaken to double the number of hip and knee replacement operations in New Zealand. Under a National Government, we were doing 1.2 operations per 1,000 head of population. We will soon be doing 2.4—$70 million worth of expenditure. That is what we have done about it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If the 1999-2000 publicly funded operations figure is 160,000 and the 2002-03 figure is 157,000, which is down 1.2 percent, why should we believe any of the flimflam we have just heard from the Minister?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I am happy to table in the House the latest figures for operations in New Zealand, which show an increase over 2002-03. I will table those when the question finishes.

Heather Roy: How does the Minister reconcile her answers to my written questions, the first of which told me that the information is publicly available, when it clearly is not, and the second of which, in response to a question about what statistics are kept, stated that there is no national data collection; when will she stop evading my questions and tell New Zealanders the real story about waiting lists?

Hon ANNETTE KING: This Government tells the real story about waiting lists every day of the week. I cannot be held responsible for a member who not only cannot read figures but also constantly makes mistakes. The information is publicly available, but I cannot—

Mr SPEAKER: When the member asks a question, she cannot shout out the whole time the answer is being given. The member should at least allow the Minister to answer; the member can then come in at that point. I do not want to stop interjections altogether, but the member was not being reasonable.

Hon ANNETTE KING: The next point I would like to make is that this Minister and the Ministry of Health are not responsible for being the ACT research unit, when the information is publicly available. ACT members want the Ministry of Health—they want to use the bureaucracy—to hunt out information they can get publicly. I say to them that they should use Peter McCardle, because he is there to do that. He picks up two salaries—one from the district health board, and one from ACT.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Government was hoping that there would be an intelligent supplementary question on this issue. I indicate to the House that if Dr Hutchison wanted leave to ask a supplementary question, we would not oppose it.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister is being too cute for his own comfort.

Judith Collins: I seek leave of the House to table a letter from the Counties Manukau District Health Board stating the numbers of people removed from the surgery waiting list.

Leave granted.

Heather Roy: I seek leave of the House to table a copy of web pages from the New Zealand Health Information Service website, which the Minister referred me to and which, eventually, took me back to the elective services part of the Ministry of Health website.

Leave granted.

Primary Health Organisations—Enrolments of Over 65s

5. NANAIA MAHUTA (Labour—Tainui) to the Minister of Health: Has she received any recent reports regarding enrolments in primary health organisations for the over-65-year-old age group?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): Yes. The latest report on enrolment shows that over 90 percent of all New Zealanders who are over 65 years of age are enrolled in primary health organisations. In other words, 441,408 people over 65 are receiving additional subsidies to reduce the cost of primary health care. This is an amazing achievement in such a short time, and it demonstrates that older New Zealanders have grabbed this opportunity to safeguard their health.

Nanaia Mahuta: Can the Minister clarify in what areas some of the highest enrolments of over-65-year-olds are?

Hon ANNETTE KING: As this Government said when it introduced the policy, primary health organisation funding would initially target those areas with the greatest need, before rolling the programme out to all New Zealanders. I am happy to report that in areas such as Counties Manukau, Tairâwhiti, Northland, and South Canterbury, over 96 percent of the over-65-year-olds are enrolled in primary health organisations.

Judith Collins: How many over-65-year-olds could have had cataract surgery with the $2 million being spent by her Government on advertising and singing the praises of primary health organisations?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No doubt, one could spend some of that money on cataracts. However, I think it is just as important, if not more important, that people can afford to go to the doctor—something that has happened under this Government—and I wonder why so many older New Zealanders want to be enrolled in primary health organisations. The answer is that it is cheaper to go, and they want to go to their doctors.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister was asked how many cataract operations could have been financed with that $2 million propaganda exercise she engaged in. She made no attempt to answer that question. She surmised that some of it could have been spent that way. If she does not know the answer, she should say so.

Mr SPEAKER: I heard the Minister say that it is true that there could be some cataract operations. I heard the Minister say that. That was addressing that part of the question. She did not give a specific figure; that is true. But she did say that at the very start of the answer she gave.

Nanaia Mahuta: Can the Minister give details of how primary health organisations are contributing toward better health for all New Zealanders?

Hon ANNETTE KING: There are hundreds of examples, but perhaps I could use—[Interruption] Oh, Mr Peters said he would be happy to have one. Well, let us go to the primary health organisation in west Auckland, where there are 110 doctors for a population of 150,000, and it is now carrying out all sorts of procedures. But one procedure the member might be interested in is that it is increasing its immunisation rate to a level of 97 percent—a level it has not seen before. It happened under a primary health organisation, according to the primary health organisation itself.

Health—Funding

6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Health: Is she satisfied that health funding is being spent effectively; if so, why?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): For the most part, yes, because health outcomes are improving. At least half of New Zealanders are now paying less for their doctors’ visits, and most now pick up their prescriptions.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister explain why the 21 district health boards now have incorporated into each of their statements of intent a commitment to acknowledging the treaty principles—all different, and costing millions to the taxpayer—and what are those principles?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The principles of the treaty, as required to be implemented within the health sector, are outlined in the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act, and they relate to the relationships the district health boards are required to form with the Mâori community. They are based on relationships that were formed under the previous Government, when it set up things called Mâori provider organisations.

Opposition Members: Ah!

Hon ANNETTE KING: Those members do not like this one. They were built on the relationships that were formed under the previous Government called Mâori provider organisations, and those relationships are about what principles they are required to implement under the Act for health.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave for the Minister to be given an extension of time, so that she can outline what those principles that I asked her about are.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is not. If the Minister wants to add to—[Interruption] There is objection. [Interruption] This the members’ own private day, so they are in their own time.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I sought leave for the Minister to be given an extension of time so that she could enunciate with clarity for the whole country and for this House what the Treaty of Waitangi principles that the 21 district health boards are following are, and leave was granted.

Mr SPEAKER: I made a mistake. Leave can be sought by a person only on his or her own behalf. One cannot seek it on behalf of anybody else.

Darren Hughes: In terms of effective health funding and use of the health dollar, has the Minister received the final number for operations in the last financial year, and how does that compare with the year preceding that?

Hon ANNETTE KING: That is a very good question. I happen to have the figures here, which I am happy to share with Judith Collins, because she obviously does not know them. The actual figures for 2002-03 show that 267,374 operations were undertaken. In 2003-04 there were 272,881 operations, an increase of 5,501 over the previous year.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister explain how inserting the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi into legislation—something she cannot explain—and policy has created better health outcomes for Mâori, when health spending has increased under her by 29 percent in the last 4 years, yet the number of operations has fallen by 1.2 percent in the same period; and is it not a fact that much of that extra funding is being wasted on meaningless activities, the identification of which she cannot give us?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The member did not listen to my original answer. I said the treaty section within the Act—and I direct him to the treaty section within the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act—relates to the relationships that district health boards are to form with Mâori. It is around partnership and participation, in particular. The member is also wrong in that the number of operations has not fallen. I have just given the latest figures.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why, if there is clarity in what the Minister says the district health boards should be following, does each different health board have a different explanation for the treaty principles; and second, given that the Mâori purchasing organisations do not cover anywhere south of the Waikato, does the Treaty of Waitangi now not apply to the rest of the country?

Hon ANNETTE KING: That is a very good question. The formation of relationships with Mâori differ around New Zealand. For example, the member is correct that in the north, around the Auckland area, and down into Waikato, the formation of Mâori purchasing organisations under the previous Government was the way to form a relationship. In other parts of New Zealand the development of Mâori development organisations became the forum and the way to form relationships. So they are different in different parts of New Zealand, based on the way the iwi and local people want to have relationships with those organisations. I think they existed when the member was in Government.

Judith Collins: Is the Minister satisfied that health dollars are not being compromised by a lack of security in hospital pharmacies, particularly in relation to ephedrine; if so, what does she know of reports that there has been at least one recent incident of large-scale theft from such a hospital pharmacy?

Hon ANNETTE KING: What I know is that within hospitals, staff take great care to ensure that the drugs under their control are safe. I have heard of few, if any, problems in terms of hospital drugs within a hospital setting. That is not to say that, at some point, some person who can get access would not take advantage of that. One cannot protect totally, but I have confidence in the health professionals who are responsible for ensuring there is restricted access to such drugs.

Judith Collins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Could the Minister just clarify that she has not heard any reports of large-scale thefts?

Mr SPEAKER: I thought the Minister addressed the question perfectly satisfactorily. [Interruption] She did. Please do not interrupt me.

Judy Turner: Will the Minister commit to urgent action to address the funding crisis faced by after-hours clinics around the country, or is she content to send those patients to already overloaded emergency departments that struggle to meet their triage times?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, I can give that assurance to the member. A lot of work is being done by the Ministry of Health, the Independent Practitioners Association Council, and the primary health organisations to ensure after-hours coverage. I suppose that one of the successes of the primary health organisations is that patients are now going to their general practitioners during working hours because it is now affordable, and fewer are going for after-hours service when it is much more expensive. So that means the funding that clinics used to get by charging more to patients seen after hours is not there, but urgent work is being done on that matter.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Has the Minister had any representations from the ACT party as to the adjustment of the health spend; if so, would she like to elaborate on those?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Like the Minister of Justice, I think I will decline to elaborate.

Social Entrepreneur Fund—Non-Mâori Organisations and Individuals

7. TARIANA TURIA (Leader—Mâori Party) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: How many non-Mâori organisations and individuals have come under review in connection with activities funded from the Social Entrepreneur Fund?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): Data on the ethnicity of the Social Entrepreneur Fund recipients was never recorded as the programme was not targeted to focus on particular ethnic groups.

Tariana Turia: Were the problems with accountability and reconciliation created by a policy that allowed senior managers and the Minister to be one side of the responsibility to ensure that it worked; and why, then, did the social entrepreneur scheme fail, given the highly successful Community Employment Group programme?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: My answer to the first question is no. As I said yesterday, the changes in the Community Employment Group have come about because of change in the employment-unemployment environment, which did lead to some struggling around programmes within that particular organisation. But it is now off, I think, in a very good direction—partly going to the Ministry of Social Development, partly staying in the Department of Labour, and partly moving to Te Puni Kôkiri. I imagine that the member will find, as she moves around the country, that there has been a lot of support for these changes.

Moana Mackey: Will the reallocated Social Entrepreneur Fund still be available to communities?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The answer is yes. The funding has been transferred to the Ministry of Social Development and will be made available to both Mâori and non-Mâori communities. More details will be announced later this month.

Katherine Rich: When the Minister described the social entrepreneur scheme as a “ground-breaking initiative to support community champions, movers and shakers, and stunning examples of human innovation”, did he agree with the Prime Minister’s comments that some aspects of his scheme were “loopy” and “sillisness”?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As I noted yesterday, the idea of a social entrepreneur is widely used in jurisdictions all around the world. The US President, for example, recently pointed to his social entrepreneur scheme. I think the first round of grants contained a lot of quite stunning examples. I have listed one, which was the grant to Mr Geoff Chapple, who has been creating the walking path from one end of the country to the other.

Katherine Rich: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question asked whether the Minister agreed with the Prime Minister’s statement. That was not addressed in that answer.

Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the question was addressed. If the member’s question has two parts, the Minister can choose which part to answer. But if the Minister wants to add more, he can.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I am sorry; I thought that all members in the House took it for granted that we always agree with the Prime Minister.

Katherine Rich: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have re-read my question and there were not two parts to it.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister took the opportunity to answer the question. If I was in error, I apologise.

Deborah Coddington: Precisely how does the Minister define a non-Mâori organisation or community, and can he confirm that the reason that so many Mâori organisations have come under review is that under his Government’s race-based funding policy more Mâori organisations receive funding in the first place?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The question is completely irrelevant. As I pointed out in the beginning, the Social Entrepreneur Fund recipients have not had their ethnicity recorded, because ethnicity was not part of the funding model.

Katherine Rich: Does the Minister stand by the statements he made at the 2001 social entrepreneur conference that the success of the social entrepreneur scheme was about promoting the concept, particularly by wearing a kea lapel pin—the kea being the symbol of the social entrepreneur scheme—and does he recall saying: “I am going to wear this lapel pin as often as I can in the hope that people will say ‘What’s the story with the bird, Steve.’, and I am going to tell them.”; if so, what does he say now that the social entrepreneur scheme is as dead as a dodo?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I thank the member for repeating my speech. Could she repeat more of them? I quite like to hear the early ones come back again. I can tell the member that the kea badge is proudly displayed on my fridge.

Tariana Turia: Why did the Social Entrepreneur Fund become driven by this Minister, rather than responding to the needs in the community?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: This policy was driven, of course, and implemented by the members of the Community Employment Group—that is how policies get implemented.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The primary question that Tariana Turia asked would have had to go to the Clerk to be approved. The question, interestingly, asked: “How many non-Mâori organisations”. The Minister said that was irrelevant, because ethnicity is not an issue for those organisations. When I think about it, I do not know whether—aside from the National Front—there are any non-Mâori organisations in New Zealand. I do not think there are. The Clerk, clearly, must be thinking that there are non-Mâori organisations, to have approved such a question. I do not think the Minister agrees—[Interruption] If people want to interrupt—

Mr SPEAKER: Would the member come to his point of order. I have not heard what it is yet.

Rodney Hide: Does the Clerk in this Parliament believe that, aside from the National Front, there is such a thing as non-Mâori organisations in New Zealand—yes or no?

Mr SPEAKER: This is a question that can be asked. The facts can be enunciated. There was nothing wrong with the question as lodged.

Finance, Minister—Confidence

8. JOHN KEY (National—Helensville) to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in the Minister of Finance; if so, why?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes, because he is a hard-working and conscientious Minister.

John Key: Does she think it is appropriate for the Minister of Finance once again to pre-empt the Governor of the Reserve Bank by stating to Dow Jones analysts in New York this week: “The bank has indicated with near certainty one more move, and then one or two more after that.”, when neither the Reserve Bank nor the markets, in fact, stated that; and does she agree with the Minister of Finance that interest rates may go up three more times this year, taking floating mortgage rates to over 9 percent?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I have not seen anything in the Minister’s comments that suggest he was pre-empting anyone. I myself do not intend to voice a view about the future of the official cash rate.

Peter Brown: Noting her glowing comments that she has such confidence in her Minister of Finance, can she advise the House whether he has reconsidered his support for imposing further increases in fuel prices, as proposed in the Customs and Excise (Motor Spirits) Amendment Bill, in the light that fuel prices have risen dramatically since the bill’s inception, and are now having an adverse effect on New Zealand’s economic and social well-being; if he has not reconsidered that support, does she believe that is the action of a competent Minister who is on top of his job?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, I am not aware that he has reconsidered his support, and I can only say that the impacts cannot be too adverse when we have the lowest unemployment rate in more than 17 years, and had 4.4 percent growth in the year ended June.

Gordon Copeland: Does she regard it as fair that, even after her Minister of Finance has publicly acknowledged that he has $520 million in cash “left”, he still refuses to adjust the tax brackets to take into account the effects of inflation; and when will hard-working New Zealanders receive some long-overdue tax relief?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As the member knows, starting on 1 April next year there will be extensive, targeted tax cuts for hard-working Kiwi families with children.

Rodney Hide: In light of the Prime Minister’s confidence in her Minister of Finance, so much so that she is happy to swan off from Parliament to the Progressive Governance Summit—

Mr SPEAKER: That is out of order. Would the member come to the question, and not add that irrelevant extra to it.

Rodney Hide: It is not out of order.

Mr SPEAKER: It is out of order. I know what can be asked and what cannot be asked. A supplementary question has to relate to the primary question, and it does not need to contain any extraneous matter such as that. Please ask the supplementary question.

Rodney Hide: In light of her confidence in the Minister extending to her going overseas when Parliament is sitting and leaving Parliament in the control of—

Mr SPEAKER: I just want the member to ask the Prime Minister a question. He can ask a supplementary question, but he has not yet asked one to my satisfaction. He gets one more chance.

Rodney Hide: In light of her confidence in her deputy, the Minister of Finance, would she consider staying over in Hungary and making the de facto Prime Minister of New Zealand the actual Prime Minister of New Zealand?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, no more so than I would consider a holiday with Alan Gibbs in Spain such as that member just had.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not think she was invited.

Mr SPEAKER: That is about the seventh time today that the member has raised a point of order that is not one. Could I recommend a course in reading Standing Orders.

John Key: Does she think it is appropriate for the Minister of Finance to go off shore and state that one of the major risks to the New Zealand economy is the interest rate management techniques of the independent Governor of the Reserve Bank; and can she confirm that she has confidence in the Governor of the Reserve Bank even if her Minister of Finance does not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: My reading of the interview given with Dow Jones was that the Minister of Finance did not state that was a major risk. He said there is a danger that we will get someone who overshoots with monetary policy correction.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can she have confidence in the Minister of Finance when we have a worsening balance of payments crisis, when we have one-seventh of the per capita exports of, say, Singapore or Ireland, when our per capita income now has us ranked 37th in the world and falling, when we have the highest interest rates in the Western World, and when we now have a huge leap in the number of sickness beneficiaries; how can she have confidence in the Minister of Finance when we have those sorts of comparative figures?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Firstly, I understand that the numbers of working-age beneficiaries are down 16 percent under this Government. Secondly, I understand that our growth rates continue to be at the top of the OECD. Thirdly, I understand that our unemployment rate is not only the lowest in more than 17 years but the second-lowest in the OECD. Fourthly, I understand that our AA+ credit rating was very recently confirmed, and, further, I understand that the Standard and Poor’s agency said it was unlikely to change downwards any time soon, because of, in particular, the very prudent way in which the Government’s finances are managed.

John Key: Is she as perplexed as the people of New Zealand are by the regular comments from the Minister of Finance that the $7 billion operating surplus is only an accounting illusion, when, miraculously, this week in New York he claimed to actually have, to quote him, a spending war chest of banked surpluses to be wheeled out in election year; if not, why not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: That would be a distortion of what the Minister said, too. He referred to automatic fiscal stabilisers.

Gordon Copeland: I seek leave to table an article from the New Zealand Herald in which Dr Cullen says he has $520 million of cash stashed.

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

John Key: I seek leave to table two documents. The first is a Dow Jones publication in which the Minister of Finance outlines the risks to the New Zealand economy.

Leave granted.

John Key: The second is the daily commentary by Deutsche Bank, which clearly points out that the Minister of Finance is nothing but confused.

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

Dioxin—Exposure

9. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green) to the Associate Minister of Health: Is he aware of any other groups of New Zealanders suffering health effects from dioxin exposure similar to the exposure that the Health Committee recognises was experienced by Vietnam veterans; if so, what action is he taking?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Associate Minister of Health): I am not aware of any groups of New Zealanders suffering health effects from dioxin exposure similar to the exposure that the Health Committee recognises was experienced by Vietnam veterans. New Zealand research is presently under way to investigate any health effects from different types of exposure in industrial workers.

Sue Kedgley: Does he agree that people who lived near to the Dow factory in New Plymouth in the late 1960s and early 1970s were exposed to a similarly toxic environment to that which the Vietnam veterans were exposed to, and therefore deserve the same free medical treatment and services for dioxin-related illnesses as Vietnam veterans receive; if not, why not?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Indications from an interim result from a study currently being conducted around Paritutu are that people may have been exposed to higher levels of dioxin emissions from the plant and that half those people have higher than usual levels of dioxin in their blood, but until we have the conclusion of that study we cannot reach any definite and definitive results.

Dianne Yates: What is the Government doing generally about dioxins and other organochlorines?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: This Government recently ratified the Stockholm convention, which commits us to reducing and eliminating organochlorines. We have agreed to fund new research into the heath of former timber workers who were exposed to pentachlorophenol, and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research is completing its study into dioxin exposure at Paritutu. Those are just some examples of this Government’s comprehensive and active approach to reducing both the exposure to and the potential health effects from dioxins and other organochlorines.

Pita Paraone: Is the Minister aware of the ill health and the trauma that many of our soldiers and their families go through as a result of their service in Vietnam and having been subjected to Agent Orange, and if he is aware of that will he start with an apology, resume a special committee set up to address their plight, and end with meaningful compensation; if not, why not?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I and this Government are very aware of the claims made over 30 years around that issue. The report released today clearly identifies and accepts that New Zealand veterans were exposed in Vietnam to pentachlorophenol and to Agent Orange. The health effects from that have yet to be fully clarified. This Government will be making every effort to respond comprehensively and in a caring way to this report as tabled.

Sue Kedgley: Does he agree with Professor Al Rowland, who is carrying out a genetic study of nuclear test veterans, that there is a wealth of evidence that proves genetic damage from dioxins, and will he therefore support a genetic study of Vietnam veterans and residents who lived near Paritutu at the peak of exposure, to see whether they or their offspring have suffered any long-term damage as a result of their exposure to dioxin?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: While not necessarily accepting the claims of that person, this Government will look very carefully at all the issues raised in this report. The issue of Paritutu is separate from that of the Vietnam veterans. This Government has shown consistently since coming into power in 1999 that there are issues around organochlorines in this country, and we have made every effort to work through those very carefully.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does he acknowledge that sawmill workers at Whakatâne who worked daily with pentachlorophenol containing dioxin suffer high rates of cancer, skin diseases, blood disorders, depression, and early deaths, and that their wives have had twice the national rate of miscarriages, and that their children have higher than usual rates of hearing, sight, and birth defects and learning problems, and does he accept that that is an occupational illness?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I do not accept the assertions made by the member. However, the Government is aware of the concerns raised over many years by those workers at Whakatâne. That is why I, as Minister, went to Whakatâne and met with them, and that is why we have funded research paid for by the Occupational Safety and Health Service to examine the potential health effects of exposure to pentachlorophenol. We have directed the Bay of Plenty District Health Board to work with the former workers, and, like every New Zealander, anyone who has health problems has access to the public health system and to the health care that he or she needs.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: What is the Minister doing to follow up his promise to the Whakatâne sawmill workers reported in April to support a free mobile clinic to help sawmill workers and their families with illnesses that could be related to dioxin exposure, and can he guarantee that they will not have to wait as long as the Vietnam veterans for recognition and help, given that their exposure predates even Vietnam?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: We are working actively on that issue. There was some debate with those people about the effectiveness of a mobile clinic. The Ministry of Health is working as we speak to implement a mobile health clinic for those people, so that they have access to health care and checks.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Government acknowledge any responsibility for the fact that those workers were required to immerse their hands frequently in pentachlorophenol, to breathe the fumes, and to wear contaminated clothing that was taken home and washed with the family laundry, were not advised to wear protective clothing, and were repeatedly told that pentachlorophenol was safe by the Government’s Forest Service, which promoted the use of pentachlorophenol by the industry?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Those are the very claims in terms of situations and occupational hazards that will be investigated by the research currently being undertaken.

Prime Minister—Motorcade

10. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her reported statement in respect of her speeding motorcade that she “was not aware of what speed they were doing” and does that mean she was not aware that her motorcade was breaking the speed limit?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): As I have advised the member before, Ministers are not commenting on matters currently before a police investigation.

Rodney Hide: In light of the Prime Minister refusing to be interviewed by the police when she forged a painting, can she confirm to this House that she is prepared to be interviewed by the police on this matter?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As I have advised the member, Ministers will not be commenting on any matters currently before a police investigation.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is one of the interesting things that we have in the House where the Prime Minister is quite happy to tell the press that she was not aware of the speed that the motorcade was travelling. She is quite happy to do that—

Mr SPEAKER: What is the point of order?

Rodney Hide: The point of order is that the Prime Minister was quite happy to tell the press outside this House, but is not happy to confirm the statement in the House. The implication is that the statement outside the House was not correct.

Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

Physical Activity—Primary School Children

11. HELEN DUNCAN (Labour) to the Minister of Education: What steps is he taking to encourage primary school children to be more active?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): Education regulations will be changed to make physical activity a priority for schools. As a result of this change, each child will be required to participate in at least 1 hour of meaningful and high-quality physical activity a week, facilitated by a physical activity education specialist or a teacher with extra training. That will be in addition to the regular health and physical education curriculum requirements.

Helen Duncan: What research has the Minister seen on the importance of physical activity?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: This is one area where it is not appropriate to promote abstinence. Research also indicates that physical activity enhances brain function, the learning process, and kids’ academic performance across all curriculum areas.

Social Entrepreneur Fund—Termination

12. KATHERINE RICH (National) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Can he confirm his statement yesterday that the Social Entrepreneur Fund was his initiative; if so, why did he decide to terminate the fund?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): Yes, I did put it into the Labour manifesto. It is an idea, of course, that is commonly applied in many jurisdictions around the world. A decision was made to terminate the Social Entrepreneur Fund for two broad reasons. Firstly, it was not consistent with the Department of Labour's new strategic direction that is focused on labour market information and regulation, and, secondly, the Community Employment Group was clearly struggling with some aspects of the programme in the current low unemployment environment.

Katherine Rich: Does the Minister stand by his 2001 speech about his now defunct social entrepreneur scheme where he boasted: “Social entrepreneurship does suggest a healthy disregard for rules for the sake of rules and a disregard for illegitimate authority”, and that social entrepreneurs sometimes had a “breathtaking disregard for authority”, and, finally, does he still stand by his statement that Losa Tâmati was a “truly exciting social entrepreneur”?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I certainly stand by the need for some new ideas, and I would love to hear one from that member. I certainly stand by the notion that we will move away from a traditional welfare State to something new, and I would love to see that member come up with a single idea. Yes, I do stand by many of the people who were in this programme. This programme has changed because circumstances have changed, and because the organisation administering the programme was clearly struggling trying to apply that money when we had been so successful in lowering the level of unemployment.

Dr Muriel Newman: In light of the Minister’s answers that social entrepreneur schemes are common and successful throughout the world, including in countries with low unemployment rates, exactly why is it that his scheme under his stewardship has failed?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I think the concept of being a social entrepreneur will stay on in this country. Many people do it under many different guises. This particular scheme, administered in this particular way, was no longer relevant to the Department of Labour, but is relevant as a general concept.

Katherine Rich: Does he stand by his statement that Losa Tâmati was a truly exciting social entrepreneur?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: In the light of recent developments, no.

Katherine Rich: Did he agree with the Prime Minister when she said that some aspects of the scheme were “loopy and silliness”?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As I said before, the House can take it for granted that we always agree with the Prime Minister.

Questions to Members

Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee—Member's Submission

1. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee: Who decided that Nanaia Mahuta’s submission “received outside the parameters set by the committee” would be heard and what process was followed in making that decision?

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee): The committee’s independent specialist adviser made that decision. The process he followed was to select submitters who could bring additional, new, or fresh, perspective to the committee’s deliberation and issues.

Rodney Hide: Was it an independent adviser who made the decision to hear Nanaia Mahuta, not the committee itself?

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: The committee resolved—an ACT member being present—to ask the independent adviser to assemble a list of suggested extra submitters.

Dr Wayne Mapp: Did the specialist adviser consult with the chair of the committee when selecting the extra submitters, including Nanaia Mahuta; if not, why not?

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: As much as he consulted with Dr Wayne Mapp.

Mr SPEAKER: I will have a direct answer, thank you.

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Was it not a fact that he and his colleagues in the Labour Party were running scared at the time of a hîkoi being organised by Nanaia Mahuta, and therefore decided to lean over backwards and accommodate her, even though her submission was right outside the parameters, as he himself said?

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: No.

End of Questions for Oral Answer

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

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