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Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 7 October 2004

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

Thursday, 7 October 2004
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers

1. Te Arawa—Rotorua Lakebeds
2. Teachers—Professional Development and Curriculum Support
3. Overseas Investment—Quality
Question No. 1 to Minister
4. Land Transport—Tolling
5. Housing New Zealand Corporation—Treaty of Waitangi
6. Teachers—Professional Development and Curriculum Support
7. Remand Prisoners—Police Custody
8. Kyoto Protocol—Reports
9. Reserve Bank—Cash Rate
10. Economy—Fuel Prices
11. Resource Management Act—Candidates for Non-local Decision-making
12. Dioxin—Exposure
Question No. 1 to Minister

Questions to Members

1. Justice and Electoral Committee—Civil Union Bill
2. Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committtee—Member's Submission

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers

Te Arawa—Rotorua Lakebeds

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations: Why has the Government agreed to transfer title to 14 Rotorua lakebeds to Te Arawa, when Te Arawa originally transferred the ownership of those lakes to the Crown in return for an annuity, and their grievance related to the size of the annuity rather than an issue of title? I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. To make the question grammatically correct, the word “is” should be in there—“is their grievance …”.

Mr SPEAKER: There is a slight correction to questions No. 1 and No. 2. I was going to allow the member to do that, and I will allow the member to change one word in question No. 2, as well. So we will take the question as the member said it.

Hon MARGARET WILSON (Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations): In March 1999 the Crown signed a terms of negotiation with Te Arawa that acknowledge the need to resolve a grievance relating to the lakes. The grievances in those terms were wider than the terms of the 1992 agreement and the inadequacy of that annuity. The grievance relates to the impact of the Crown’s acts and omissions on Te Arawa’s relationship with the lakes, including their customary associations, the management of the lakes’ waters and fisheries, the pollution of the lakes, and the loss of value of the annuity. In July 2001 the Crown reaffirmed the terms of negotiation.

Gerry Brownlee: How can anyone be expected to believe the Government’s claims that treaty settlements under its administration will be full and final, when this is the overturning of an honourable agreement reached in 1922, and when in fact the issue has not been about the title to the lakes but, rather, the annuity; and on what basis does she expect New Zealanders to believe that treaty negotiations and treaty claims will ever come to an end?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: As I said, this grievance is not only about the 1992 agreement. Several grievances were filed with the tribunal, but rather than proceed with the tribunal, the previous National Government agreed to enter into negotiations to resolve all the grievances relating to the lakes. So in that sense it is a full and final agreement and it does not directly relate in the sense that the member is referring to, which, I think, is the 1992 agreement. Of course it is related to it but it is wider than that particular matter.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not like to tell this Minister her job, but I am referring to a 1922 settlement with Te Aroha, where the beds of the lakes were transferred to Government ownership and a £6,000 a year annuity was agreed to be paid to Te Aroha. Everyone accepts that that annuity—unlinked to inflation—now looks rather pathetic. I am simply asking why it is that the Government is prepared to undo an agreement that was honourably reached in 1922.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister had not quite finished her answer, but I will invite her to finish it and address that part of the question.

Hon MARGARET WILSON: As I said, the grievance relates not only to matters that arise from that, but subsequent to that. It is all grievances up to 1992. That was agreed by the Government of which the member was a part, and was continued in that obligation to this day.

Darren Hughes: What are the differences with the Te Aroha lake settlements as they compare to past settlements relating to lakes?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: One of the many differences is that this Government has not agreed to give away water columns and airspace in the lakes. We believe these should be retained by the Crown for the benefit of all New Zealanders; unlike National, which gave both away on Lake Taupô.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. One thing that happens in this House is that there is an orchestrated outburst when the Minister is under some pressure from a question. It comes in the form of claps, yahoos, or whatever. It is not spontaneous, and it actually interferes with the next question. If members on this side of the House do it, I notice that you jump on it quite quickly.

Mr SPEAKER: That is not correct. I allow quite a lot of interjection to be made during answers, and the member knows it. That is another point of order he has raised that is not a point of order.

Stephen Franks: Is the Minister aware that Te Aroha appear to have dropped its claim to the only one of the 14 lakes that has a reserve status, which would require public consultation before a change of status, and what consultation can she assure New Zealanders there will be for the people of Rotorua and New Zealand before she gives away what the Crown bought in 1922?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: As part of the negotiations to date—and the deed has yet to be signed—the consultation has taken place at this stage with the local authorities that are affected and with those recreational groups that have an interest. The next stage of the consultation, of course, appears in this House, whereas the members who represent the people of New Zealand will have a full opportunity to be able to debate and to discuss the matter in select committee, as well as in debate in this House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Was there any demur from members of the ACT party, or anybody in the National Party, at that time—that is, in 1992—

Stephen Franks: In 1922?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, in 1992. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is the one warning today about interjecting whilst questions are being asked. Members have a right to ask a question in silence. The Hon Winston Peters will please start again.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Was there any demur from members of the National Party or members of the ACT party when the 1992 terms of agreement were entered into by the National Party, and what does one call that if it is not a boomerang?

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Even in supplementary questions facts are required to be authenticated. The ACT party was not formed in 1992, so I would like to know how the member thinks that a party that was not formed could have made representations.

Mr SPEAKER: I had difficulty with the question, too. I could not see how it dealt with the responsibility of the Minister at that particular time, because even I was not in the House then.

Gerry Brownlee: Can the Minister confirm that she received advice from Treasury, the Department of Internal Affairs, and the Department of Conservation that the settlement proposal from Te Arawa “does not advance special circumstances that are sufficient to justify an exception to principles, or confine the precedent risk.”; and if she did, why has she decided to enter this precedent-setting settlement?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: A variety of advice has been given by various officials since 1999, when this matter first came for negotiation. I cannot recall the specific matters referred to by the member. If he wishes to refer them to me, I will be able to give him a fuller and more informed answer.

Gerry Brownlee: I seek leave to table a press release put out by the Minister in which she states that the Taupo deal she referred to earlier in question time set no precedent.

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

Teachers—Professional Development and Curriculum Support

2. JILL PETTIS (Labour—Whanganui) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education): What initiatives would be under threat if targeted funding for professional development and curriculum support was abolished?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)): If such support was abolished, as some have suggested recently, a number of outstanding programmes such as the Rural Education Activities Programme, the retraining support for those returning to teaching, and school arts coordinators would go. It could also include the Gateway programme, which offers structured and assessed workplace learning for around 4,000 senior secondary school students at 126 schools. That, in turn, would impact on our shared goal with the Mayors Task Force for Jobs that, by 2007, all 15 to 19-year-olds will be in education, training, or employment. Gateway is an important strand of our strategy to achieve that goal, as are Modern Apprenticeships, Designing Careers, and the new Youth Transitions Service. All require proper funding.

Jill Pettis: What is the Government doing to build on the successful Gateway initiative?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Today we are announcing the 55 new schools that will join the Gateway programme in 2006. The Gateway programme currently offers structured and assessed workplace learning for around 4,000 students in 126 schools. Next year that will increase to around 6,000 students at 180 schools, including Pâtea High School, Cullinane College, and Wanganui High School in the member’s own electorate. The last of those is a group of 21 schools that are the first decile 6 schools to enter the programme. Gateway opportunities will be available to all decile 1 to 6 schools in 2008.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister confirm that it is Government policy that much of the new money going into education is spent through the Ministry of Education on his little ideas, while parents and schools are raising around half a billion dollars per year just to keep their own schools running for children who show up to class every day?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I can only say that I think the member does not come here to the House for the questions, because he has been told before that a good deal of that money is raised through international students, and that no matter how much money went to schools, schools would continue as they always have, and that is to fund-raise. That is the way it goes. Of course, free education is the policy of this Government.

Overseas Investment—Quality

3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Finance: What policies will be implemented, if any, to enable the Government to better determine the quality of overseas investment in New Zealand?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Acting Minister of Finance): The Government plans to improve the overseas investment regime to provide greater protection for heritage sites, improve monitoring enforcement, and reduce the barriers to business investments that can make positive contributions to the economy.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that interest and dividends remitted overseas cost New Zealand $8.9 billion in the year to March 2004, of which $4.9 billion resulted from investment under the overseas investment criteria, and what will he do about that mindless rubber stamping of every purchase by foreign interests?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: That may be the member’s view. My understanding is that direct foreign investment in New Zealand is now at about 40 percent of GDP, and last year it was also about 40 percent. When he was Treasurer, it was 60 percent. There has been a significant drop.

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: What other initiatives has the Government introduced to encourage positive foreign investment?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The current taxation bill before the House provides an exemption from income tax for non-residents who are exempt, in their own countries, from taxation on gains made from share sales in unlisted New Zealand companies. That move is designed to make it easier for New Zealand companies to access offshore venture capital, and will align our rules more closely with Australia’s. Given that we want to have high-quality investment, that is a good move.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Minister remember the glorious Labour Government sale of Air New Zealand or the magnificent sale by the previous National Government of New Zealand Rail, and is it not a fact that the amount being made by foreigners out of the New Zealand economy equates to the same amount that New Zealand makes from the export of milk-power, butter, and cheese, and is many times more than any new trade agreement would promise, let alone deliver?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I am not sure of the member’s figures; he does not always have accurate figures. But I do remind him—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister cannot deviate into totally untruthful territory for a start, which is not to the point of the answer. He has just challenged my figures. The figures that I have happen to have been put together by someone—

Mr SPEAKER: The member states there are figures. The Minister, in answering, can dispute the figures. That addresses the question concerned. If the member wants to table any documents at the end of his question to prove his point, he is perfectly entitled to do so.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He is not disputing the figures, at all. He does not have any. He is making an allegation that my figures are not accurate, without any access to the background of that information. That is my point.

Mr SPEAKER: I will let the Minister carry on.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I repeat that I do not always rely on the figures the right honourable gentleman gives me, for good reason. The figures that I do have indicate that in 1998, just after that member had been appointed Treasurer of this country, direct foreign investment totalled 60 percent of GDP. It now totals 40 percent. It has gone—[Interruption] The economy has grown, as Lockwood Smith knows. The proportion has dropped. Mr Peters does not like it, but he was the one who did exactly what he is saying this Government should stop doing.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why on earth is the Minister making out that argument, when he knows full well that New Zealand First had legislation passed on foreign investment that the later National Government refused to have signed off by the Governor-General, but that the Government Mr Mallard belongs to did, and that that has led to any improvement, and not anything that he might have done himself?

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister may comment briefly, in so far as it relates to his responsibilities.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think my responsibility is that I am aware of what happened in the past. But what I am also aware of is that right from the time that the sealers and the whalers came to New Zealand, high-quality foreign investment was important.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table an article on the foreign investment trade, New Zealand Economic Register for the World, by a senior researcher with the Christchurch-based Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa.

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

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Somebody behind me said that that has got to be a joke. He is right. There is a joke, and it is sitting behind me.

Question No. 1 to Minister

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: There has not yet been a valid point of order raised today, but I am hopeful that this is the first.

GERRY BROWNLEE: During the answers to question No. 1 to the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, she indicated to the House that in the transfer of title to the Taupo lake bed to Tûwharetoa, in 1992—an incident that occurred under the National Government—title was also transferred to the air space, and I believe the Minister used the term “water columns”. I must let the House know that I was not prepared to ask a subsequent supplementary question on the basis that I took the Minister at her word. I have now checked and have found out that was not the case, and I would ask that the Minister table the transfer title documentation in the House so that all members of Parliament and the press can see that the argument the Labour Party is currently running is wrong.

Mr SPEAKER: No matter of order is involved.

Land Transport—Tolling

4. LARRY BALDOCK (United Future) to the Minister of Transport: What efforts has he made to ensure that the public understands tolling and its place in the land transport regime, and has he received any recent reports that suggest that those efforts have been less than successful?

Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister of Transport): The Land Transport Management Act allows for the tolling of new roads. I have seen a report from Peter Brown MP stating that Government expenditure on roads has fallen, and that the Penlink road has been declared non-toll. Both claims suggest that the Government has some way to go with public understanding on these issues.

Larry Baldock: Will the Penlink be tolled, or has that been ruled out; and is the Minister aware of any other portion of State highway that is a potential candidate for tolling?

Hon PETE HODGSON: I am advised that the Rodney District Council has told Transfund that it is interested in pursuing Penlink as a toll road in conjunction with Transit, and the House will be aware that a proposal to toll the Albany-Puhoi link is being progressed towards a decision.

Hon Maurice Williamson: Has the Minister done anything to acquaint himself with the plethora of comments from his Labour Party colleagues in the 1990s concerning the evils of tolling our roads; and if so, how does he intend to handle the embarrassment when the first toll road comes on stream in New Zealand under a Labour Government?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The Labour Government that the member just spoke of has passed legislation since the 1990s, called the Land Transport Management Act, in which it states that a toll will proceed if it has a high level of support from the community. That is the difference.

Peter Brown: Will the Minister ensure that no toll gantries or booths are built until after the next election, when the “ever-vigilant after the event, never compromising, never lying down” party will have all but disappeared, and New Zealand First will have a significant presence in Government; otherwise, we will have to spend taxpayers’ money dismantling them?

Mr SPEAKER: In so far as the question relates to the Minister’s direct ministerial responsibility, he may comment.

Hon PETE HODGSON: Regrettably the member’s question has come too late. There are already gantries in place for collecting tolls in Tauranga, where the member lives.

Larry Baldock: Can the Minister comment on the assertion in Peter Brown’s article that road spending has fallen as a percentage of GDP?

Hon PETE HODGSON: By next year, expenditure on roading—

Opposition Members: Ha, ha!

Mr SPEAKER: That is precisely the point that was raised earlier by another member on the other side of the House, and he himself was one of the worst contributors at this point. I heard him from afar. Now I am prepared to allow comments to be made and I have no objection to them, but at least give the Minister a bit of a chance to say a few words.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think the point that Mr Hide made is when Ministers give answers in the way they are doing, generally those answers are well scripted, and indeed the response to them is pretty well rehearsed under the Labour whips. What you just saw from us on this side of the House was a spontaneous reaction to a Minister who clearly is not in control of his portfolio.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, once again that is not a point of order.

Hon PETE HODGSON: By next year expenditure on New Zealand roading will be $400 million per annum greater than it was at the time we came to office. Notwithstanding the stunning economic growth under this Government, one would need to be drawing a very long bow to assert that this was a decrease in GDP. It is not.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: So Peter Brown was right when he wrote that statement in the article; and why should any New Zealand motorist contemplate any tolls when for every 2 dollars that he as Minister collects for the purpose of road construction, maintenance, and repair, less than 1 dollar is going for that purpose? Just because the “poodle party” supports it is no reason that the rest of us should.

Hon PETE HODGSON: The answer to the first question is no, Peter Brown is not correct. In respect of the second, I simply say that every cent of every increase in tax on petrol under this Government has gone to roading. What is more, the proportion of petrol tax being shifted on to roading under this Government is higher than it has ever been.

Mr SPEAKER: I just say to the Minister that I thought the answer he gave was a little long. However, if he wants to extend question time, that is his business.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The claim just made by the Minister is known by every member of Parliament to be absurdly untrue. Every cent collected in respect of that tax is not spent on roading. Every Minister of Finance or Treasurer knows that, and every member of Parliament knows it. Such an answer cannot be to the point or exact in any way.

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

Larry Baldock: Has the Minister received any reports on land transport funding in the Bay of Plenty and, in particular, would the amount of petrol excise duty collected in Tauranga be enough to fund the $600 million of road expenditure needed there in the next 10 years?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Expenditure in the Bay of Plenty this year is about $68 million. On passage of legislation to raise the excise duty by a further 5c, an additional $134 million will go to Tauranga—it was never more—and even with projected increases over the next 10 years, we will not get there by petrol tax alone.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why would it be that the road leading to this country’s biggest port, and the Tauranga Harbour Bridge, have to be financed by tolls when it is an essential national highway for the economy of this country?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Leaving aside the fact that it was under his Government, and leaving aside the fact that it is not a State highway—

Mr SPEAKER: I know what the member is going to say. I do not want “leaving asides”, I just want an answer to the question. Please answer the question.

Hon PETE HODGSON: I cannot remember the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I just want to throw in that it was under a Labour member of Parliament and Minister of Transport that the Tauranga bridge was first built, if the Minister does not recall it. It was the 1984-90 Lange Labour Government. More important, why would a bridge leading to this country’s biggest port not be designated part of a national highway and paid for out of the general taxation collected for that purpose, rather than by tolls?

Hon PETE HODGSON: If it were to be designated a State highway, which it is not, that does not mean it would not be tolled.

Larry Baldock: Are articles, like the one written by Peter Brown in the Tauranga newspaper, that contain errors regarding the Penlink road helpful when it comes to ensuring that the public understand tolling and its place in the land transport regime?

Hon PETE HODGSON: No.

Larry Baldock: I seek leave to table the article written by Peter Brown MP in the local Tauranga newspaper.

Leave granted.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is this country not ensuring that it has the funds to attend to the huge infrastructural deficit this country has in roading and other matters now, when the amount to pay any borrowings on it can be assured for the next 10 to 20 years because it amounts to far more than is required, rather than being taken off to the consolidated account—which it is—and being spent on any other “loony tune” project?

Hon PETE HODGSON: If the member cares so much about funding for roading, he has an opportunity later this afternoon to send legislation to a select committee; we will see what he does. However, if the member is of the view that we should borrow and have no way of servicing that borrowing, which is what Peter Brown’s article suggests, then I suggest that we have a re-emergence in this country of Social Credit.

Hon Maurice Williamson: I seek leave to table a graph from the Allen Consulting Group report made public 2 months ago, which shows that spending on roading as percentage of GDP has dropped every year under the Labour Government.

Leave granted.

Hon PETE HODGSON: I seek leave to table a graph that seeks to dispute very much the graph that has just been tabled by the Hon Maurice Williamson.

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

Hon Members: Where’s it from?

Mr SPEAKER: I ask the member where it is from.

Hon PETE HODGSON: It was drawn from Government sources, of course.

Hon Maurice Williamson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: There is no point of order. If there is any objection, that is the end of the matter.

Hon Maurice Williamson: I am seeking clarification before I object, because he has not told us what the graph is. If it is a graph of expenditure as a percentage of GDP, I would be happy for him to tell members that it is different.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: It’s upside down.

Hon Maurice Williamson: Oh, that is OK—it is upside down.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the Minister has indicated that he has answered “Yes” to the member’s questions. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is.

Housing New Zealand Corporation—Treaty of Waitangi

5. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Minister of Housing: Does Housing New Zealand Corporation have a “two-world view” of the Treaty of Waitangi; if so, what two views of the world does Housing New Zealand Corporation have?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Housing): No, the corporation does not have a two-world view of the Treaty of Waitangi. The corporation simply acknowledges that different people have different ways of looking at the world, often based on their distinct culture, traditions, and beliefs. As a public service, the corporation must be responsive to all New Zealanders.

Rodney Hide: Did the Housing New Zealand Corporation chief executive officer, Helen Fulcher, test with him the statements: “The two treaty partners have different ways of looking at the world, including beliefs, values, and experience.” and: “By looking from both of these perspectives, we can develop a two-world view for the corporation.”, as she said she would in her email dated 11 August 2003; and does he support the Housing New Zealand Corporation’s “two-world view”?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No, those particular statements have not been tested with me. The chief executive, of course, has the right to organise her department as she would like in terms of everyday operations. Do I support the department’s “two-world view” of the Treaty of Waitangi? As I said in my principal answer, there is no “two-world view” of the Treaty of Waitangi. Do I support the department understanding that different cultures, traditions, and beliefs may lead to different ways of looking at the world? Yes. Indeed, in this Parliament, for example, we have the ACT party: it has a shrinking world view but it has a world view.

Georgina Beyer: Given the Minister’s answer to the primary question, what impact does this issue have on how the Housing New Zealand Corporation responds to tenants?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: All New Zealanders are treated the same in terms of the housing allocation and the rights and responsibilities that go with being a tenant. The social allocation system, which is used to determine eligibility, is blind to ethnicity. It is all about housing need. It simply means that the corporation acknowledges that different people may have different needs, values, and so on. As a public service, it needs to be responsive to those matters, and that benefits everyone.

Katherine Rich: If the Housing New Zealand Corporation is not flirting with the idea of having a “two-world view”, then why do official documents from the corporation point out that the risks of adopting a “two-world view” include “espousing a two-world view approach, and practising Crown dominance approach when the pressure is on” and “failing to handle positively unhelpful media interest and attack when it comes”; and will the corporation’s “two-world view” go the way of the Community Employment Group, the Social Entrepreneur Fund, and closing the gaps, if the issue becomes too hot for the Minister?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: That is one world view, but, as I said in my principal answer, there is no “two-world view” of the Treaty of Waitangi. However, the department does intend to ensure that it responds to the needs of all New Zealanders. Quite often, those needs are based upon different traditions, values, and beliefs.

Rodney Hide: Does the Housing New Zealand Corporation have a “two-world view” culture, as detailed in a paper to the board, dated 28 May 2003, by the chief executive, Helen Fulcher; the general manager of strategic services, Jordan Alexander; and Tony Spelman, the project manager of a Mâori capability plan?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I was not at the board meeting for the discussion, but the member might like to know that, of course, the department has a policy of looking at the world from different cultural perspectives, so that it can provide different ways of approaching housing. But that makes no difference to the allocation of housing, which is blind to ethnicity. People get it on the basis of need.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: Just a minute: is this a supplementary question?

Rodney Hide: It is a point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: What about?

Rodney Hide: The answer.

Mr SPEAKER: The answer perfectly addressed the question. What is the point of order?

Rodney Hide: Oh well, I will ask another question, but it is hopeless here.

Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Rodney Hide.

Rodney Hide: Is the Minister saying that the board of the Housing New Zealand Corporation has rejected the proposal for a “two-world view” within the corporation, or is he saying that he does not know about it?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I am saying that, no, the board has not rejected that point of view. What I am pointing out is that the board and the Housing New Zealand Corporation accept that there are different ways of looking at the world. The ACT view, for example, is shrinking but valid, and respected in this House. The board and the corporation respect that there are different points of view, and they accept that as part of the way they operate the business.

Dr Muriel Newman: Can the Minister explain to the House why, under the Housing New Zealand Corporation’s “two-world view” policy, the allocation of priority housing status is provided to Mâori applicants “with affiliation to a marae”?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I need to be very clear that the housing allocation system within the Housing New Zealand Corporation is based upon need and is blind to ethnicity. However, the department does respond to quite different needs in the way it approaches housing needs around the country. It may be that, on occasion, it works with a local marae in relation to its housing.

Rodney Hide: I am sorry; I might have jumped in a bit early. I will do this now because it will help the Minister. I seek the leave of the House to table an email from the chief executive officer, Helen Fulcher, dated 11 August 2003, where she sets out the “two-world view” and how she is—

Leave granted.

Rodney Hide: I seek leave to table two documents, dated 28 May 2003 and 30 January 2003, that update the board of the Housing New Zealand Corporation on the development of the “two-world view”.

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

Rodney Hide: I seek leave to table the induction programme for professional development within the Housing New Zealand Corporation, for new staff, which includes the lesson plan for the “two-world view” that the Minister has just denied.

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

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: Is this another supplementary question? We would like to have the supplementary questions before we have the tabling. The member made a mistake. Dr Muriel Newman wants a supplementary question, and she can have it.

Dr Muriel Newman: What is the Minister’s response to the Housing New Zealand Corporation’s plan, under its “two-world view” strategy, to provide “interest free loans to hapu/iwi to establish their own rental portfolios,”?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The member will be aware that over a long period of time there has been such a thing as multiple ownership of Mâori land. When we are dealing with that land, we quite often work with them so that they can build new houses.

Katherine Rich: I seek leave to table a Housing New Zealand Corporation internal capability plan that sets out the risks and benefits of implementing a “two-world view”.

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

Teachers—Professional Development and Curriculum Support

6. LYNNE PILLAY (Labour—Waitakere) to the Minister of Education: What reports has he received on proposed changes to the provision of teacher professional development and support?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): I have seen a suggestion that the entire allocation for teacher professional development and curriculum support should be scrapped. This proposal would affect thousands of teachers who are benefiting from professional development aimed at improving how they teach maths, reading, and writing, with the ultimate benefits going to the children they teach. There would, for example, be no laptops for teachers, no programmes aimed at reducing truancy, no high-speed Internet access, and no help for gifted children. It is very clear from Bill English’s proposal that he is out of touch with what is important in schools.

Lynne Pillay: Does the Minister intend to adopt the suggestion that targeted funding for teacher professional development and curriculum support be abolished; if not, why not?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No. Our Government is committed to raising education standards, and that means investing money where it can make the biggest difference, as opposed to the approach proposed by Mr English, who said he would cut the $200 million that the ministry spends on professional development.

Hon Bill English: Has the Minister seen a report from his own public agency, the Education Review Office, which states that half of new secondary teachers are ineffective and a third of new primary teachers are ineffective; and why does he not get on and fix the teachers who are in classrooms today, in front of 20,000 children, instead of engaging in stupid political point-scoring?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: This Government is working very hard with younger teachers and older teachers by supplying high-quality professional development to help literacy and numeracy, in a way that the previous Government did not do. That is why our records are not as good as they should be. And National says it would scrap professional development! This is a Government for standards; that is an Opposition with no standards at all.

Deborah Coddington: Can the Minister confirm that he has spent $32.3 million on providing facilitators to help teachers in just 100 schools with professional development in literacy; that it is a complete failure; and that that is why he is refusing to release to me, under the Official Information Act, reports that confirm as much?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No, I cannot confirm that. I have abstained to date from giving incomplete reports to the member.

Bernie Ogilvy: Will the Minister consider a shift in focus for the Teachers Council, from processing teacher registrations to proactive evaluation of teacher quality, including coordinating professional development and support; if not, why not?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I might, at the point that I am convinced it is capable of doing it.

Bernie Ogilvy: What confidence does the Minister have in the Teachers Council, the body supposedly entrusted with responsibility for teacher quality, when the council has taken nearly 3 long years, and has spent $95,000, yet still has not completed its very first task, which was to produce a code of ethics?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think it is fair to say that the Teachers Council has not performed up to my expectations.

Remand Prisoners—Police Custody

7. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay Of Plenty) to the Minister of Police: What responsibility does he take for the supervision and safety of remand inmates in police cells?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): Supervision and safety of prisoners in police cells are the responsibility of the district commander, as set out in general police instruction P104.

Hon Tony Ryall: Are security guards in police cells operating in accord with departmental instructions, and under sworn officer supervision; if not, why not?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: We do have people contracted to guard prisoners. I would remind the member that the police deal with some 120,000 prisoners per annum on average, and basically they do it pretty well.

Hon Tony Ryall: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was very clear. It requires a “Yes” or a “No” answer. It is pivotal to the issue. Are security guards in police cells operating in accord with departmental instructions, and under sworn officer supervision?

Mr SPEAKER: A brief answer can be given to that part of the question.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: If they are not, they are sent packing.

Martin Gallagher: What has brought about the current prisoner situation in police cells?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: In a referendum in 1999, the people of New Zealand called for tougher sentences, following 9 years of inaction by the previous National Government. We delivered on that. There are increased prisoner numbers because the Government has introduced tougher bail, sentencing, and parole legislation, which is combined with strong improvement in police resolution rates.

Hon Tony Ryall: Has the Minister seen reports of senior police confirming that the police are too stretched to provide suitable supervision in accord with departmental instructions; and which Minister is responsible for the rapidly deteriorating situation in the country’s police cells, with police reportedly now investigating an alleged rape, an alleged sexual assault, a security guard turning up drunk, and another found smoking with inmates in the cells?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I tell that member that, of course, there are always—[Interruption] I tell that member that from time to time there are instances of police assaulting people in police cells. I have one here dated 20 March 1996, a ________

inquiry going back to 3 April 1995. There are always problems in police cells, because of the nature of the people who go into police cells.

Nandor Tanczos: If the woman allegedly raped while on remand in police custody was to receive reparation for her alleged rape, under the Government’s newly announced policy would she have to give that money to her victims if she was convicted, even if she was convicted of a much lesser offence?

Mr SPEAKER: That is not an area for which the Minister has responsibility.

Hon Tony Ryall: I seek leave to table a report in the New Zealand Herald by Louisa Cleave

about senior police talking about the fact that departmental instructions are not being followed.

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

Nandor Tanczos: I seek leave of the House, given that the Hon Phil Goff seemed keen to answer my question, that he be allowed to give an answer.

Mr SPEAKER: No. The member must read the Standing Orders. No one can seek leave on behalf of anyone else.

Kyoto Protocol—Reports

8. DAVID PARKER (Labour—Otago) to the Convenor, Ministerial Group on Climate Change: What reports has he received on the Kyoto Protocol?

Hon PETE HODGSON (Convenor, Ministerial Group on Climate Change): I have received two reports over the weekend containing the welcome news that Russia intends to ratify, bringing the protocol into force. Then yesterday the Leader of the Opposition in New Zealand said he wishes to renounce the protocol and that he is uncomfortable even with the underlying science, and his language is starting to approach that of a bewildered conspiracy theorist.

David Parker: Has the Minister seen reports regarding what overseas conservative Opposition leaders say on climate change?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Yes, I have. The Conservative leader in Britain, for example, said last month, with his simple clarity, that: “Like the war on terror or the drive for responsible free trade, no one can opt out of the fight against global warming.”

Gordon Copeland: How does the Minister reconcile the Government’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and the tax on carbon with the necessity to generate much-needed electricity through projects such as that of Mighty River Power to retrofit the Marsden Point power station using coal; and does the Government have plans to overcome that conflict so that the project can proceed?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The idea of a carbon charge is so that anyone who emits carbon dioxide pays for it. The end result of any carbon charge would be that renewable energies would be preferred over thermal energies, all other things being equal. It will not stop thermal generation. It will just mean that the people who undertake it will pay for their pollution.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: What risks does he see to business and consumer certainty and long term to the economy from threats to cancel a carbon charge and welsh on international responsibilities, and given the grave threat of climate change to our economy, is it not time for a bipartisan, or even multipartisan, approach in the interests of New Zealand?

Hon PETE HODGSON: One would hope so. Given that the person who signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was one Rob Storey from the National Party and that the person who signed the Kyoto Protocol was one Simon Upton, one would have hoped for some consistency from the Opposition.

Reserve Bank—Cash Rate

9. JOHN KEY (National—Helensville) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his recent statement regarding the official cash rate: “The bank has indicated the near certainty of one more move, and then one or two more after that, if one reads their published statements,”; if so, why?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Acting Minister of Finance: Yes, I have read their statements.

John Key: Is the Minister telling the mortgage payers of New Zealand that floating rates are going up three more times this year, to 9 percent; if so, why?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I am telling this House that I have read the latest Monetary Policy Statement, appendix 1, page 25.

H V Ross Robertson: What are the Reserve Bank’s published statements that Dr Cullen based his comment upon?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The latest Monetary Policy Statement, appendix 1, page 25, shows the 90-day bill rate rising by a further 50 basis points to 6.75 percent by the first half of next year. The 90-day bill track is generally interpreted by economists as indicative of the official cash rate track. I would also note that the futures market is pricing an official cash rate of 6.75 percent by the end of this year. I say—not on behalf of the Minister this time—that the Minister can read.

John Key: Does the Minister know then that he has told the House that the official cash rate is going to 6.75 percent—it happens to be 6.25 percent today, so three more moves will take us to 7 percent; does the Minister understand simple official cash rate documents?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I suggest that the member read the comments made by the Minister of Finance, where he said “two or three.” The member should know the difference between 2.5 percent and 3 percent. If he does not, he is stupid.

Mr SPEAKER: The last comment from the Minister was out of order. He will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I withdraw and apologise.

John Key: Is the Minister going to continue this habit of blurting out interest rate hikes before the Governor of the Reserve Bank has had the chance to announce them himself; if so, why, when, and how often?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The Minister of Finance did not blurt out the official cash rate track. What the Minister of Finance did was comment on page 25 of the latest Monetary Policy Statement. I would have thought the member, as Opposition spokesperson on finance and someone who has made a lot of money out of junk bonds, would know how to read it.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister knows that he made a statement in the middle of all that which was out of order. I will not have it repeated. The Minister knows that that is not correct, and he will withdraw and apologise immediately.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I do not know that I made such a statement.

Mr SPEAKER: Well I do—in relation to the income of Mr John Key. I want the member to withdraw that comment and apologise for it, and I do not want it repeated.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If it was the comment relating to the income source of the member, that is something that is on record, and it is something that the member himself did not object to.

Mr SPEAKER: No, it is not. It is a personal reflection on the member. I do not appreciate it, at all. The Minister is now severely cautioned. I do not want to have to send him out, because he has another question, but if he does make any other comment in that regard, that is the end of the matter.

Economy—Fuel Prices

10. PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Finance: Has he received any advice on the long-term effect of increased fuel prices on the economic well-being of this country; if so, what was that advice?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Acting Minister of Finance): Treasury advice is that a sustained increase in world oil prices could subtract 0.5 percent from world growth, with obvious flow-on effects for New Zealand. The impact in the short term, however, has been masked by the high exchange rate and high commodity prices.

Peter Brown: Will the Minister even consider postponing the proposed price hike, as is stipulated in the Customs and Excise (Motor Spirits) Amendment Bill, which increases petrol prices 5.6c per litre from next April, because he must be aware that for some people out there petrol prices are financially crippling; and does he remember that he is a representative of a party that advocates for the working people?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Working people in New Zealand like having roads to drive on. Every cent raised by this increase will go to easing congestion—that is, $94 million for roading, particularly for severely congested roads; $30 million for roads in regions—the first time that there has been dedicated area; $30 million for rail and other alternatives to roading; and $36 million for public transport. The people of New Zealand want to get around, and I do not understand why New Zealand First opposes that.

Moana Mackey: Does the Government have a long-term energy strategy to help to address uncertainties over oil supply and price?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Yes, the Government has a comprehensive strategy to address these issues. On the supply side we have introduced incentives for oil and gas exploration, and on the demand side we are moving to encourage energy efficiency and alternative energy sources.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Minister agree that it will assist our long-term economic well-being, including that of working people, to invest revenue from increased fuel prices in building sustainable transport infrastructure such as public transport, rail, and coasting shipping, before oil prices rise so far that it becomes too expensive to do this?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Yes, and that is why the Government is heading in that direction with the support of the Greens on that particular package.

Peter Brown: Has the Minister had any concerns whatsoever expressed to him by the Minister for Economic Development, the Hon Jim Anderton, in regard to fuel costs and proposed increases, noting that that Minister once described himself as the “Minister for Low Petrol Prices”, or some such term?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: In speaking on behalf of the Minister of Finance, I regret that the Acting Minister of Finance has not been briefed on that particular issue.

Resource Management Act—Candidates for Non-local Decision-making

11. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Associate Minister for the Environment: Was a list titled “Possible candidates for non local decision-making under the RMA” attached to a draft Cabinet paper in June; if so, why did he reportedly deny the existence of this list when it was requested under the Official Information Act 1982 in August this year?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Associate Minister for the Environment): No such list was attached to any draft Cabinet paper. I am advised that a list entitled “Possible candidates for non local decision-making under the RMA” has never been attached to a Cabinet paper, draft or otherwise. However, I am further advised that a list with that title, which had been compiled by the Ministry for Economic Development for other purposes, was erroneously included in a Ministry for the Environment draft Resource Management Act discussion paper while that paper was in the process of being written. I am informed that it remained in that draft document between 21 and 24 June 2004 before it was removed from the draft document because, in the view of the ministry, it was misleading as to the Government’s view about any of these projects. Finally, I am advised that the discussion document was finalised on 24 June and did not contain any such list.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why did the Minister sign a letter on 20 September stating: “No specific list of major projects has been prepared under the RMA review”, and, furthermore, an email from his office stated: “Neither the Minister nor the ministry holds a list of projects suitable for non local government decision-making”, when I have here a paper dated 24 June, with no draft or anything else attached to it, on ministry letterhead listing 59 projects and titled quite specifically “Possible candidates for non local decision-making under the RMA”?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The official information request from the Forest and Bird Protection Society asked for—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: If members would keep quiet they would hear the answer. People have asked the Minister to speak up, and I now ask Opposition members to keep quiet while the answer is being given.

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The Official Information Act request from the Forest and Bird Protection Society asked for—and I quote from its letter—“A list held by the Government of major or infrastructure projects that could be suitable for the non local decision-making process outlined in the officials paper on the RMA review.” I have just said very clearly that the list that was referred to was neither titled in those terms nor—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Yes, it was.

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I say to the member that semantics and the exact meaning of words are important. If that member paid some attention to the actual meaning of words he would not be wasting so much money settling defamation cases out of court.

Mr SPEAKER: The last comments made by the Minister were out of order and he will withdraw them.

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I withdraw.

Tim Barnett: What solutions has the Government come up with to assist local communities when they are considering large or complex consent applications that might potentially—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: I say to Mr English that this is the one warning today. I will not have interjections while questions are being asked. I am being quite generous because I think it might have been the second, but I will reconsider that next time. The member can now ask the question. He can start the question again.

Tim Barnett: What solutions has the Government come up with to assist local communities when they are considering large or complex consent applications that might potentially be overwhelming?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The Government is proposing a menu of solutions to support local decision-making. They include central government providing information about any national interest through a submission on a proposal, a funding and independent coordinator to ensure processes are run effectively, directing that an application be heard jointly by councils if more than one council must give consent, and also the use of the existing call-in mechanisms in the current law.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why did his office yesterday state to the New Zealand Press Association that the list of major projects had nothing to do with the Resource Management Act review—and I also refer to his answer to my earlier question that there was nothing in the paper about the Resource Management Act review—when the list of projects is titled “Possible candidates for non-local decision-making under the RMA”?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Because it does not. I repeat that the list was complied some time ago by the Ministry for Economic Development. The list was both speculative and outdated. If Dr Smith looked at the list he would notice that at least three of the projects on that list have already received their resource consents under existing legislation.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Is this in order to table something?

Hon Dr Nick Smith: No. Because of the answer from the Minister I seek leave of the House to read exactly what the Ministry for the Environment paper states.

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

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the existence of the list, which includes some prisons, and the Minister’s announced policies on call-in suggest that the Minister has now adopted the National Party’s policy, as outlined by Don Brash a couple of months ago, of removing appeal rights against prisons; if so, how will he explain to the public that he proposes to take away their appeal rights against this long list of major projects that could be bulldozed through their communities?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The answer to the first question is no. I will add only that there is considerable capacity for ongoing public input and contribution on that matter, indeed, including as part of the select committee process, which that member will chair.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is the Minister expecting this House and the people of New Zealand to believe that his denial of the existence of that document—not once, not twice, but again in the House today—was anything other than a deliberate attempt to hide the most embarrassing of the document prepared in the course of the Resource Management Act review?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I have never denied the existence of a list of major infrastructure projects. It is part of the job of Government to monitor such economic activity.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: How can he say that he has never denied the existence of such a document when his letter of 20 September states: “I am advised that no specific list of major projects suitable for non-local decision-making process has been prepared as part of the RMA review process. My office therefore holds no such list.” Furthermore, an email that was sent from his office stated that neither the Minister nor the Ministry for the Environment held a list of projects suitable for non-local decision-making?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: At the end of the question I will seek leave to table both the Official Information Act request from the Forest and Bird Protection Society and my reply. It will be a matter of public record. There is no contradiction in the statements that have been made in those two letters.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Will the Minister, having been caught not once, not twice, but three times, being less than truthful about the information—

Mr SPEAKER: The member cannot use that phrase. He will withdraw and apologise, and he will then ask the question without that.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I withdraw and apologise. Will the Minister, having been caught not once, not twice, but three times denying the existence of the list as part of a Ministry for the Environment paper, follow the example of Lianne Dalziel and resign, as he should?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: As I have just said, there is no inconsistency in either the written or oral statements that have been made.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave of the House to table a paper from the Ministry for the Environment dated 24 June 2004, titled “Package of improvements to the RMA”, and, notably, attachment 2, which includes a list of 59 projects—

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

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table the Official Information Act request of 12 August, the letter from Mr David Benson-Pope, and the email from his staff member denying the existence of the document.

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

Hon David Benson-Pope: I seek leave to table two documents. The first is the Official Information Act request from the Forest and Bird Protection Society to my office on this matter, and the second is my reply.

Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection? There is.

Dioxin—Exposure

12. SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Associate Minister of Health: Does he have confidence in the advice provided by health officials about the health effects of dioxin; if so, why?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Associate Minister of Health): Yes, because they have provided sound advice on this issue.

Sue Kedgley: Does he agree with the statement by the chair of the Ministry of Health expert advisory group on dioxins, reported in the Daily News in New Plymouth, that “Children excrete dioxin very quickly.”, implying that even if children are exposed to dioxin there would be no risks to their health?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: While as a mere politician I am reluctant to get into the technical details and debate with an expert—and those people are experts; that is why they were appointed—I know that dioxin is excreted from the bodies of children and adults.

Sue Kedgley: Given that he has already said, in an answer to a question from me, that it takes up to 8 years or more for a child’s dioxin levels to return to normal after the child has been breastfed by a mother with elevated dioxin levels, why has the ministry made no effort to correct that false information provided to the people of New Plymouth, when it has spent 2 weeks and thousands of dollars on preparing a media strategy on the release of the dioxin tests; in other words, why is there a double standard between on the one hand the enormous effort to manage the release of a report that shows cause for concern, and on the other hand the lack of any attempt to correct misinformation that falsely downplays the risk to children?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I do not think we have ever, at any stage, downplayed the risk to children, but it is important that we do not overplay the risk to children. It has been identified in a group of 24 people tested in a study so far that they do have higher levels of dioxin. I am not aware of how many of those are breastfeeding their children, but if that is the case I am sure they have had adequate medical advice on that situation. We have moved very, very quickly, as soon as we have had sound knowledge in this area. But it is important that we have good, accurate information, and that we do not falsely alarm people when it is not necessary.

Sue Kedgley: Given that it takes 15 years for a child’s dioxin levels to return to normal after it has been breastfed, does the Minister not think it is misleading to say that children excrete dioxin very quickly, and why is the ministry’s 0800 number telling people that dioxin is not transferred in breast milk, when even its own website admits that it is, and why is the Government’s expensive communications campaign—

Mr SPEAKER: The member has already had two parts to that supplementary questions that started with “given that”, which is out of order. That is enough.

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I believe that the member has referred to two different time frames for the excretion of dioxin from children. I am not sure which one is correct, but any level of dioxin in children would depend upon the amount of breastfeeding they have had in their upbringing, and the level of dioxin in a parent. It is hard to say what a normal level of dioxin is. The objective of this Government and of the Ministry of Health, of course, is to have the very lowest level and, in fact, to eliminate dioxin from the body. That is not possible, because it is in most normal diets.

Mr SPEAKER: Final supplementary question, Sue Kedgley.

Sue Kedgley: Why is the Government’s expensive communications campaign spreading that sort of misleading information about the health risks of dioxin, and does he agree that those sorts of misleading comments give the impression that the ministry is continuing its 30-year campaign to downplay and deny the risks of dioxin, instead of being upfront and honest about them?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: We do not have misleading campaigns.

Question No. 1 to Minister

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): During this question the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations stated that the 1992 transfer between the Minister of Conservation and the Tuwharetoa Mâori Trust Board of the Lake Taupô lake bed also included the airspace above the lake. I did not pursue that matter, because I thought it was worth looking at the deed before doing that. We have now been able to locate a copy of the deed, and the question I would have asked the Minister was where in this deed such a transfer of airspace was made. I seek the leave of the House to ask that question of the Minister now.

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

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): I seek the leave of the House to table the agreement transferring the lake bed of Lake Taupô to Tuwharetoa in 1992, which does not show any transfer of airspace.

Leave granted.

Questions to Members

Justice and Electoral Committee—Civil Union Bill

1. MURRAY SMITH (United Future) to the Chairperson of the Justice and Electoral Committee: Were any submitters to the Civil Union Bill who asked to give an oral submission incorrectly coded as having not requested to appear before the committee; if so, how many?

TIM BARNETT (Chairperson of the Justice and Electoral Committee): So far as the committee and its staff are aware, one submission out of the 6,236 received by the committee was incorrectly coded, leading to the submitter not being offered an opportunity to be heard by the committee.

Murray Smith: Can he confirm that apart from any submitters denied a hearing due to administrative error, the committee has heard all submitters who requested to be heard; if so, is he prepared to recommend to the committee that submitters who asked to be heard should not be denied the right given to everyone else, simply because they were the subject of an error entirely outside their control; if not, why not?

Mr SPEAKER: The question can be asked of the member, but he answers as chairperson of the committee, and, of course, he cannot answer on behalf of the committee.

TIM BARNETT: I can confirm that during the process of hearing evidence, the committee heard 352 submissions. As the member well knows, the committee has no obligation to hear every submitter who requests to make an oral presentation, although we aspire to do so. At any stage, the member could have provided committee staff, or myself as chair of the committee, with details of submitters who had approached him concerned that their desire to be heard had not been acted on. He has not done that. The committee has now completed its hearing of submissions.

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

2. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee: Did he consult with the committee’s independent specialist adviser outside of the committee meeting over which submitters would appear; if not, was the decision on whether Nanaia Mahuta would appear left to the specialist adviser?

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Chairperson of the Fisheries and Other Sea-related Legislation Committee): Yes.

Rodney Hide: Did the chairperson of the committee advise the committee that he was consulting the specialist independent adviser over whether Nanaia Mahuta would appear?

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: No.

Dr Wayne Mapp: Was it the chairperson who decided whether Nanaia Mahuta would appear, or was it the specialist adviser? Which?

RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER: The specialist adviser made the decision. The committee, first of all, selected on a set of criteria agreed upon, then committee members were asked from time to time to forward any additional members. That was done, including some from Dr Wayne Mapp.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If the specialist adviser is making decisions of this magnitude, why does the member not just resign from the chairmanship and, indeed, from Parliament, as the people of Napier would have him do?

Mr SPEAKER: No, that is not relevant to the question.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I raise a difficulty that we have from yesterday concerning today’s answers. Mr Fairbrother was asked by Dr Wayne Mapp whether he had consulted with a specialist adviser. The answer from Mr Russell Fairbrother was: “As much as he consulted with Dr Wayne Mapp.” We have just had an answer that is inconsistent with the answer given yesterday, and I suggest, through you, that the appropriate thing for Mr Fairbrother to do is to immediately take a point of order to explain his answer and to correct it.

Mr SPEAKER: This is a debating matter and not a point for me.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With all due respect to your call that Mr Peters’ question was inappropriate, the second part of it may well have been inappropriate but the first part was very relevant. The question asked why this man is staying in the chair of the select committee, when clearly he is not the person making decisions about procedures that the select committee follows. It seems that for the chairman of a select committee to say that the decision to hear a particular submitter was made by the adviser, and presumably after some plea being made by the adviser to the chair, suggests that he is not in control of that committee, and it is a fair question to ask why he is still in the chair.

Mr SPEAKER: If the member had stopped halfway through the question it would have been in order. He rendered it out of order by what he said after that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: That being the case, I seek leave to re-put the question.

Mr SPEAKER: All right. The member seeks leave to re-put his question. Is there any objection? There is.

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

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