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Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 12 October

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

Tuesday, 12 October 2004
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers

1. Working for Families Package—Child Poverty
2. Inquiries—Resources
3. Te Arawa—Rotorua Lake Beds
Question No. 2 to Minister
4. International Monetary Fund—Washington Meeting
5. Te Arawa—Rotorua Lake Beds
6. Working Holiday Schemes—Scope
7. Te Arawa—Rotorua Lake Beds
8. Small Business—Confidence, Wellington
Question No. 4 to Minister
9. Resource Management Act—Candidates for Non-local Decision-making
10. Railways—East Coast Main Trunk Line
11. India—Prime Minister's Comments
12. Exotic Pests—Large Game Animals’ Classification

Urgent Questions

Urgent Question No. 1 to Minister
Local Government—Counting of STV Ballots

Questions to Members

Charities Bill—Submissions

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers

Working for Families Package—Child Poverty

1. SUE BRADFORD (Green) to the Minister of Finance: Does he have any plans to bring forward or increase his Working for Families package in light of the Public Health Advisory Committee’s findings on child poverty; if not, why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): No, the package is already expected to achieve the goal set by the Public Health Advisory Committee.

Sue Bradford: Does the Minister agree that reducing child poverty by 30 percent makes long-term economic sense as well as being an important social policy goal; if so, when will he bring forward the Budget provision for the full Working for Families package so that our poorest children get the benefit of a record Government surplus a lot sooner than 4 years?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The goal was to reduce child poverty by 30 percent by 2007. The committee reports that, even on the stricter measure, that is what the package will achieve. On the looser measure the reduction will be 70 percent.

Hon Mark Gosche: On what assumptions is the estimate of a 30 percent reduction in child poverty based?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: There are two measures of family poverty widely accepted internationally: one sets the threshold at less than 60 percent of the medium wage after housing costs and the other puts it at 50 percent. The 30 percent reduction estimate is based on the tougher 60 percent measure. Using the lower 50 percent measure the Working for Families package is expected to achieve a 70 percent reduction in child poverty.

John Key: If one of the goals of the Working for Families package was to make work pay, why are working families having to wait until 2006 before they get their in-work payment?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Apart from anything else, there was certainly clear advice from officials that there was a serious risk of system failure if it was attempted to be introduced from 1 April 2005. This side of the House does not stand for system failure.

Paul Adams: Has the Minister given serious consideration to other plans to tackle child poverty, such as United Future’s proposal released in April this year to establish one-stop shop family support centres, which would coordinate referrals for families to local health, budget, income support, early childhood and parenting services, given that the Government has adopted other aspects of United Future’s proposal, and that similar centres operate successfully overseas; if not, why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Obviously, that is outside my area of responsibility; it is more in the area of responsibility of Mr Maharey as Minister for Social Development and Employment. We will always consider carefully good suggestions from United Future and good suggestions from the Greens, and even good suggestions from New Zealand First. Sadly, we never get any from either ACT or National.

Sue Bradford: When will the Government give priority to lifting the minimum wage to at least $12 an hour so that the burden of supporting families does not lie so much with the taxpayer?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government has already substantially lifted the minimum wage in New Zealand. It will continue to move it up on an annual basis, but excessively large increases in one jump would threaten the potential for an increase in unemployment.

Hon Mark Gosche: When will the Working for Families package be fully in place?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Because of its comprehensiveness, the package is being phased in over 3 years. The first elements came into force a few days ago on 1 October. Full completion will occur on 1 April 2007, with ongoing adjustments thereafter.

Paul Adams: Has the Minister given serious consideration to other plans to tackle child poverty, such as allowing families to capitalise the assistance they receive from the Working for Families package, to help them buy a house or repay their mortgage; if not, why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: A range of options are being looked at for future further assistance to families.

Sue Bradford: When will the Government stop giving priority to its capital works programme over children’s health, and instead, allocate revenue to bring the Working for Families package forward by 2 years, and borrow for capital works, as every previous Government has done?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government is spending far more on health than it is spending on roads at the present time, and has been subject to some considerable criticism from some people in the past on that. The Government running strong surpluses is why the economy is running very strongly as well. A recent election suggests that parties that want to borrow their way into high interest rates will be punished by the electorate for that.

Sue Bradford: When will the Minister amend his Budget to provide for inflation adjustment for family support payments back to at least 1998 levels as an obvious and immediate measure the Government could take to assist children in poorer families?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I would be very surprised if the increases that will come into force progressively on 1 April 2005, 1 April 2006, and 1 April 2007 do not do more than inflation adjust back to 1998. They will do considerably more than that, and inflation adjustment will occur thereafter, from 1 April 2008 onwards.

Inquiries—Resources

2. RON MARK (NZ First) to the Prime Minister: What is her Government’s policy on initiating, conducting, and funding inquiries?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): The Government considers any possible inquiry on the basis of the circumstance and merits of each case.

Ron Mark: When she said on Breakfast yesterday in relation to the abuse claims at the Regular Force Cadet School: “You have very serious allegations ranging from murder to gang rape, to violent assault.”, was she aware that both I and MP Shane Ardern had brought the case of the Bain family and the shooting of its son, cadet Grant Bain, to the attention of her Minister of Defence in May 2002, who dismissed it by saying: “I am now satisfied that the matter has been dealt with as best it can be, given that it is some 21 years since the tragic accident occurred.”?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Over the last couple of weeks, with the publicity from the gentleman in Western Australia, some 85 people have come forward to the office of the Minister of Defence to express an opinion about what happened at the cadet school, and I understand that the gentleman who initiated the publicity has probably received rather more contacts than that. That is cause, given the range of allegations, for the Government to take the step it took yesterday to move to set up an independent assessor.

John Carter: Why did it take massive media coverage before the Government was prepared to take action on this issue, when her Government was approached on this issue more than 2 years ago?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I seem to recall some comment, I think from Marilyn Waring, who said that she took it up in her time as a Government member of Parliament under a National Government. If members want to direct questions to the Minister of Defence, they should do that, but, clearly, the range of allegations in public at the present time requires the matter to be taken further.

Ron Mark: Is it not a fact that allegations of abuse and ill-treatment of Regular Force cadets were made public on 7 October 1975, and that the Labour Government of that time saw no need for further investigations because the military had clearly stated that such things were not condoned, and that “the senior cadets responsible had been charged and punished”?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I have not the slightest idea whether the matter was raised with the Government in 1975. It may well be that the Defence Force said, as the member alleged, that those things were not condoned. The point is that to some degree those things appear to have happened, and now a great many people have come forward to express concern about the matter. That is why an independent assessor should be appointed to look at it.

Ron Mark: Can the Prime Minister not understand the scepticism of people like the Bain family when it comes to her Government’s reluctance to move on some inquiries but seeming haste to move on others, so aptly summed up by Tony Ellis, who said: “You complain to the ombudsman, he complains to Parliament that he cannot get a prompt and impartial investigation, you go to the chief district court judge, he says he is not resourced, you then go to the High Court that takes months. If it’s soldiers at Waiouru you instantly get an inquiry, but if it’s prisoners you can’t get anyone to do anything.”; does that not sum up this Government’s approach to independent inquiries?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The member will be well aware in respect of prisons that the Government, at some expense, is inquiring into the alleged behaviour of the “goon squad” at the prison in Christchurch. The Government will respond when it sees it as being appropriate and in the public interest.

Peter Brown: Noting the Prime Minister’s answer to the principal question, how does she suggest an inquiry is obtained into the Sydney Express - Maria Luisa mishap—the shipping collision inside Wellington Harbour limits where five men died, their families were denied an inquest or any formal public hearing, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission and the Marine Safety Authority colluded inasmuch as evidence was passed secretly from one to the other, and thus far it has not been made available to anyone else; how does the Prime Minister suggest we get a formal inquiry into that mishap, and will she support such an inquiry?

Mr SPEAKER: There were three questions there. Two can be commented on.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I will add that to the list I already have of the six formal inquiries New Zealand First has called for in the past year.

Ron Mark: Can the Prime Minister enlighten the House as to why her Government, if it is so concerned about charges and allegations of sexual abuse, has not agreed to the ACT MP Deborah Coddington’s call for an inquiry into abuses at health camps, which she has all the details for, quite clearly.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I cannot say that I am aware myself of such a request. If the member would like to forward the information she has to the Government, it can be considered.

Te Arawa—Rotorua Lake Beds

3. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her reported statement that the Te Arawa offer sets a precedent for a new style of settlement; if not, why not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Most certainly. It excludes rights to water columns and airspace, as the National Government failed to do with the Ngâti Tûwharetoa settlement.

Dr Don Brash: Can the Prime Minister confirm that an agreement was signed between Te Arawa and the Crown in 1922, as a consequence of which Parliament legislated for a settlement that was intended to be full and final; and if so, can she tell the House why the Government now wishes to transfer title to the lake beds to Te Arawa at the very same time that it is promoting legislation to put the seabed and foreshore into Crown ownership?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Leader of the Opposition has tripped himself up in saying that one part of the full and final settlement should be able to opened up—that is, the money—but not the other bit, which is the title to the lake. Te Arawa have asserted that they never ceded ownership of the lakes. The Crown has always asserted that they were always Crown owned. In the end there has been a negotiation that is entirely consistent with the policy of a previous National Government.

Metiria Turei: Does the Prime Minister agree that title to the lakes is symbolic only as Te Arawa will be only part of a local management committee, unlike other property owners with title, and has she received any reports from the leader of the National Party to support all private landholders being subject to joint management regimes; or is this one law for Mâori property owners, and another for general landowners?

Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the question is in order.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, I would not accept that this is an entirely symbolic settlement, but what I would strongly reject is the assertion from the Leader of the Opposition that significant statutory powers have been transferred. The statutory power is to recommend to the Minister of Fisheries that commercial species be added to the list.

Hon Ken Shirley: Could the Prime Minister please explain clearly to the House, and to the country, why her Government believes that it is important for the coastal foreshore and seabed to be held in public ownership, and yet the foreshore and lake bed of the iconic Rotorua lakes should be removed from public ownership by her Government?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It is one thing to let a Court of Appeal decision stand that would see freehold title extended by the Mâori Land Court into private property; it is another to freely negotiate full public access and rights in a negotiated treaty settlement.

Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think it is obvious to everyone on both sides of the House that that did not even attempt to answer the question and explain the difference between the two policies—why the coastal foreshore and seabed must be in public ownership, and yet the iconic Rotorua lakes must be taken out of public ownership.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I thought the Prime Minister addressed the question.

Hon Peter Dunne: If the 1922 settlement was a full and final one, why is another settlement being embarked upon now, and what safeguards will be included in that to prevent another settlement being sought in another 82 years’ time?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: One cannot say what future generations of New Zealand Governments may negotiate—that is obvious—but I do not think there will be anybody who would think, after looking at the 1922 settlement, that the outcome is fair to Te Arawa today.

Dr Don Brash: Why has the Government responded to Te Arawa’s concern about the lack of an escalator clause in the annuity agreed to in 1922 by offering both a monetary settlement of $10 million, and the transfer of title to the lake beds, in sharp contrast with the legislation before the House to ensure the seabed and foreshore remain in Crown ownership?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Leader of the Opposition has claimed that Arawa never asked for the title to the lakes. That is completely untrue. Its statement of claim actually included that and, consistent with the previous National Government’s policy of transferring title, the Government has proceeded to negotiate a settlement. What we can say—[Interruption] Well, he could not cope with the paperwork. What we can say is that this settlement is tied down in a way that the National Government utterly failed to do.

Metiria Turei: Has the Prime Minister received any reports or requests from the Leader of the Opposition regarding Crown ownership of all private title to the foreshore, given his reported statement in Rotorua that “Today we are sending a clear message that the lakes and the foreshore should belong to everyone.”; or is this again a position of one law for Mâori and another for private title holders?

Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the question may be answered.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No. The Leader of the Opposition seems very determined to protect Pâkehâ property rights.

Dr Don Brash: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That question clearly misrepresented what I said yesterday in Rotorua. I said that the lakes, seabed, and foreshore should be in Crown ownership except where prior freehold title exists, whether that be Mâori or non-Mâori.

Mr SPEAKER: The member has made his point of view, and his word will be accepted.

Dr Don Brash: Can the Prime Minister confirm a report that the Government’s offer to transfer title to the Rotorua lake beds to Te Arawa was made with no prior negotiation, and that the Te Arawa Mâori Trust Board chairman had “very real concerns” about the sudden offer; if so, why was that part of the settlement pursued, when it was not even originally part of what was being negotiated between the Crown and Te Arawa?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Te Arawa’s statement of claim on 19 March 2001 set out as a key principle for settlement getting title to the lake beds. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: There are people on both sides of the House who run the risk of an early question-time departure.

Question No. 2 to Minister

RON MARK (NZ First): I should have done this earlier. I seek the leave of the House to table a letter from myself to the Minister of Defence, Mark Burton, dated 22 March 2002, relating to the Bain shooting.

Leave granted.

RON MARK: I seek leave to table a letter dated 20 May, which is a response from the Minister of Defence, Mr Burton, to myself, relating to the same matter.

Leave granted.

International Monetary Fund—Washington Meeting

4. CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Finance: What were the main items for discussion at the International Monetary Fund meeting he attended in Washington last week?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): Discussion focused on the world economic outlook, aid issues, and the policies required to encourage development in poorer countries.

Clayton Cosgrove: What other information did New Zealand have to offer to those discussions?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: A great deal. Much discussion centred on the reforms required to meet the criteria dealt with in the World Bank report Doing Business in 2005, which was referred to by many delegates. New Zealand ranked first overall in that report in terms of ease of doing business, which put us in a very good position at the IMF - World Bank meeting, particularly at the development committee meeting.

John Key: What does the Minister consider to be the bigger blunder he made when he gave his Dow Jones interview last week at the IMF: blurting out the fact that he thinks interest rates will go to 9 percent, or bagging off shore the Reserve Bank governor for his interest rate management policy here in New Zealand?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: There were no mistakes at all. I simply pointed out something that apparently is news to the Opposition, because this Opposition spokesperson on finance is not yet old enough to read the Reserve Bank report. If he had read it, it would have told him that the Reserve Bank is projecting two further interest rate rises this year.

Mr SPEAKER: I must say the interjections get banal occasionally.

Gordon Copeland: Did the IMF discuss the impact of crude oil prices of over US$50 per barrel on the world economy, and how does the Minister see those developments impacting on the New Zealand economy?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes; obviously the oil situation was very much to the fore. The IMF, I think, has already basically wound back its world economic growth forecast by about 0.5 percent as a consequence of the oil price increases. The effects on New Zealand are likely to be largely second-round effects because of the impact on other major economies. In part, while the present high exchange rate is not good for some parts of the economy, it is muting the effect of the oil price increases on New Zealand.

John Key: I seek leave to table the Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Statement, which clearly shows that interest rates will not be going up three times.

Leave granted.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I seek leave to table the statement in which I said that interest rates would certainly rise once more this year, and possibly once or twice more after that. I think that makes two or three times, does it not?

Leave granted.

Te Arawa—Rotorua Lake Beds

5. GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations: Why did the Government make the offer to transfer title of Rotorua lake beds to Te Arawa in 2001, when the matter of lake bed ownership was dealt with in 1922 and the chairman of Te Arawa Mâori Trust Board reportedly said the iwi had not even begun negotiations about the lakes’ ownership when the offer suddenly arrived on his desk?

Hon MARGARET WILSON (Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations): The Government decided to continue the negotiations begun by National. Those grievances included not only the 1922 agreement; it was not confined to that agreement. It was larger than just the issue relating to that agreement. From the outset of the negotiations Te Arawa negotiators have sought the return of the lake beds. They cited as precedents for that return of the lake beds the Ngâi Tahu settlement and also the Tuwharetoa Lake Taupô settlements. It is apparent from National members and Ministers’ correspondence in the early 1990s that the return of the lake beds was an option. Unfortunately, I have been unable to verify the statement by the former chair of the Te Arawa Mâori Trust Board.

Gerry Brownlee: When the Minister decided to offer the lake beds of the 13 Rotorua lakes back to Te Arawa, could she cite any occasion where a lake given back to Mâori had previously been sold in an honourable agreement?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: I think there is a misapprehension about the 1922 agreement. There was no exchange between the Crown and Te Arawa for the lake beds going into Crown ownership. The Crown had always asserted that it owned those lakes. That had been contested by Te Arawa, and continued to be contested, but because Te Arawa did not have any ability to influence the Crown’s legislation, it came to a negotiated settlement at that time. That is why there has always been a sense of genuine grievance that it was not an agreement done with the utmost good faith that one would require from a treaty partner.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister appears not to have heard my question.

Mr SPEAKER: That is the one and only warning. I want the point of order raised, because it had better be a point of order.

Gerry Brownlee: It is. I asked whether, at the time of offering the lakes back to Te Arawa, the Minister was able to cite any other example where a lake was handed back to Mâori where there had been a sale. The Minister dodged that question.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The Minister gave a full and comprehensive answer, which pointed out that the assumption of the question was wrong. There was no sale.

Mr SPEAKER: Did the Minister want to comment?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: No. That was the point I was to make.

Steve Chadwick: Which party established the precedent for returning lake beds to Mâori?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: National did. It established the precedent in 1992 with Lake Taupô, and consolidated that precedent with Ngâi Tahu in 1998. That is why in the following year, 1999, Te Arawa knew that the National Government of the day was happy to return the lakes to them. National has now obviously changed its policy—another example of the flip-flop by Dr Brash.

Mr SPEAKER: I just want to say to one member of the House that the interjection he made, which referred to his own colleagues, was grossly offensive. I will not repeat it.

Gerry Brownlee: When the Minister was giving the House her little lesson before, on her opinion about the proposed sale, was she aware that the sale actually took place after some 8 years of negotiation, and that none other than Sir Apirana Ngata was one of the Government negotiators; and how is it then that she is able to say that even though a sale was historically concluded, there was no sale?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: Because there was no sale. If one reads the record at the time, one can see that it was a classic case whereby one party to the negotiation had considerable power, to the detriment of the other party. All the record shows that, and that is why there has been a sense of grievance in Te Arawa ever since. Members should not forget that, as I am sure the honourable member knows, Te Arawa was a tribe loyal to the Crown.

Stephen Franks: What kinds of airspace rights were on offer to Te Arawa as recently, it appears, as last Christmas; and exactly how soon after Dr Brash’s Ôrewa speech did the Minister whisk airspace rights off the negotiating table?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: Airspace rights have never been on the negotiating table, and that is why one of the initial offers that was made was rejected by Te Arawa, who wanted that to be in the agreement.

Gerry Brownlee: If, after 8 years of negotiations, there was no sale in 1922, what on earth has the Government been paying an annuity for, for the past 82 years?

Hon MARGARET WILSON: The annuity, in effect, was paid not to pursue a legal action.

Gerry Brownlee: I seek leave for the House to grant the Minister—and I think we can do it that way—the opportunity to explain that. As far as we understand, at the time $2,000 was paid to sort out those legal matters, not the annuity.

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, the member knows he cannot seek leave on behalf of another person.

Stephen Franks: I seek leave to table a communication from Te Arawa leadership to members, recording the offer of airspace rights shortly before Christmas last year.

Leave granted.

Working Holiday Schemes—Scope

6. MARTIN GALLAGHER (Labour—Hamilton West) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: What steps has New Zealand taken to extend the scope of working holiday schemes for New Zealanders travelling overseas and for young overseas visitors coming to New Zealand?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade): Today the Czech Republic becomes the 23rd country with which New Zealand has signed a working holiday agreement. That brings to 27,800 the number of places available to young New Zealanders to work and holiday overseas, and there are a similar number of places here for young overseas visitors. Because of the success of the schemes and the demand for places, New Zealand has also recently increased the quota for Germany by 700, for France by 400, and for Sweden and the Netherlands by 200 each.

Martin Gallagher: What are the advantages to New Zealand of negotiating such agreements?

Hon PHIL GOFF: There are two direct benefits. Research that has been done by the Department of Labour shows that working holiday schemes actually create additional jobs, rather than displacing local workers, and also meet the demand for seasonable labour, which employers have been having trouble finding. They also, of course, provide opportunities for young New Zealanders to live and work overseas. The indirect benefit is perhaps the best benefit—that is, to strengthen our people-to-people linkages internationally, and to build awareness and a positive image of New Zealand overseas.

Te Arawa—Rotorua Lake Beds

7. SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei) to the Minister of Conservation: Does he agree with the view of his department that aspects of the settlement offer to Te Arawa do not “advance special circumstances that are sufficient to justify an exception to principles or confine the precedent risk”; if not, why not?

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): Last year a number of agencies expressed concern about the effect this handover would have on the autonomy of local government. That concern has been addressed in the current deed and agreement with the relevant local government agencies.

Simon Power: Has the Minister received any advice from his department that would confirm that the Te Arawa settlement is full and final; if so, why is this any different from the full and final settlement of 1922?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: The advice that I receive from my department pertains to biodiversity protection, access, and recreational opportunities, and my department has been fulsome in its advice on those issues.

Hon Ken Shirley: Is the Minister alarmed that the condition of unrestricted access for all recreational activities and scientific research, at no fee, in Lake Taupô has been seriously breached with Tûwharetoa denying access for the Crown research Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences to conduct volcanological surveys in Lake Taupô using a mini-submarine, and how can we be assured that Te Arawa will not similarly obstruct access or demand payment for critical limnological studies in the Rotorua lakes?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I am confident that the agreement on the Te Arawa lakes will ensure public access and the welfare of that unique and iconic site.

David Parker: Has the Minister seen any reports on the parallels between the Te Arawa settlement and the previous treaty settlement with Ngâi Tahu?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: Yes. I have seen a report that the Leader of the Opposition says that he cannot be held responsible for the treaty settlements negotiated by previous National Governments. I must say that it is a sad day when National turns its back on the significant contribution made by Sir Doug Graham in negotiating the settlement of one of the country’s largest treaty claims.

Mr SPEAKER: The member has no responsibility in that area.

Tariana Turia: Will the Crown, through the Department of Conservation, honour the undertaking given in 1880 to maintain the lakes in their pristine state for the use of the nation and tourists alike, given the conditions of those lakes today; or is Te Arawa expected to use its $10 million to return the lakes to that state?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: The Government will continue to work with Te Arawa to restore the health of those waterways.

Simon Power: Can the Minister confirm that he has received advice from his department stating that “a decision on this proposal should follow the more detailed policy consideration that is taking place with respect to foreshore and seabed decisions”; if so, will he follow his department’s advice?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I can confirm that I received that advice, but at a much earlier date. Since then we have moved on in addressing those issues.

Simon Power: Can the Minister confirm, in relation to Tûwharetoa, that it was accepted that the lake was confiscated rather than acquired through legal means, unlike the Te Arawa deed in 1922 where a contract was entered into; if so, is this Minister now telling the House that the Government would embark on treaty settlements regardless of whether a treaty grievance existed?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I can neither confim nor deny, as I am not the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations. But I can confirm that I will be working hard to protect the biodiversity and recreational opportunities of those lakes.

Simon Power: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In a newspaper article dated 7 October a spokesperson for the Minister of Conservation, Chris Carter, described the Minister as being “the Minister in charge of the negotiations relating to Tûwharetoa.”

Mr SPEAKER: That may well be the case, and I accept that what the member said is correct, but that in no way goes past the point that the Minister addressed the question.

Small Business—Confidence, Wellington

8. LUAMANUVAO WINNIE LABAN (Labour—Mana) to the Minister for Small Business: What recent reports has he received on small-business confidence in the Wellington region?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Small Business): In a recent survey of Wellington businesses, the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce found that 73 percent of small businesses—those with fewer than 5 employees—had a very positive outlook. Similarly, a recent BRC Marketing and Research business confidence survey found strong and growing confidence in the regional economy, and a clear and growing majority of respondents were satisfied with the Government’s handling of the economy.

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: Did the BRC report see a decline in satisfaction among Wellington businesses on any of the variables surveyed?

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Yes, one of the few variables that saw a decline was satisfaction with Don Brash as Opposition finance spokesman. This is consistent with another poll I saw on Friday showing further disenchantment with the Leader of the Opposition. Clearly, Wellington business people are happy with the strong business performance of the economy under this Government, particularly under its excellent local MP, the Hon Marian Hobbs. The business people of Wellington are not looking for any mischief from any cast-offs from United Future.

Peter Brown: Is the Minister aware that many small-business people in Wellington and elsewhere are very nervous—very nervous indeed—about the Employment Relations Law Reform Bill, which has come before this House, and is he aware that some Government members have said that it will have no effect on those businesses; if he is aware of both those issues, will he support a Supplementary Order Paper exempting small businesses from the bill?

Mr SPEAKER: As far as the last part of the question is concerned, it is not really in order.

Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: No, I am not aware of that.

Question No. 4 to Minister

JOHN KEY (National—Helensville): I apologise for the delay in raising this matter. There seems to be a bit of confusion by the Minister of Finance about his own statement. I seek leave to table the Minister’s own statement to Dow Jones, where he quite clearly says that the Reserve Bank has indicated the near-certainty of one more move in interest rates, then one or two after that. I assume he agrees with me that one plus two equals three.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that statement.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The statement has already been tabled.

Mr SPEAKER: The statement has already been tabled, but the member has asked for leave, and I have put it. Is there any objection? There is.

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

9. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Associate Minister for the Environment: How does he reconcile his statement in the House last Thursday “I have never denied the existence of a list of major infrastructure projects” with his 20 September response to an Official Information Act request “I am advised that no specific list of major projects suitable for non-local decision making process has been part of the RMA review process. My office therefore holds no such list.”; an email from his office on 28 September “neither the Minister, nor the Ministry for the Environment holds a list of projects suitable for non-local decision making.”, and the 24 June 2004 Ministry for the Environment paper entitled “Package of Improvements to the Resource Management Act” of which page 11 entitled “Possible candidates for non-local decision making with the RMA” lists 38 projects?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Associate Minister for the Environment): Easily. The existence of potential projects does not mean that the Government has a particular view of them.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question asked how the Minister reconciles his various statements. It was not a question about how the projects might have been put together; it was about an Official Information Act request and a list.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister answered that with the first word: “Easily.” He then went on to add a little extra. He did not have to add anything, if he did not want to.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Can the Minister explain—noting that the only difference between the wording of the Official Information Act request and the actual document was that one referred to “possible projects” and the other to “suitable projects”—the difference between the words “possible” and “suitable” and how that justified his saying the document never existed?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I would like to help the member if I could, but it is not possible to characterise the request of the Royal Forest and Bird Society in the way he would like. The society did not ask for a general list of projects or for a list of possible projects. Instead it asked for a list of projects that the Government regarded as suitable for a particular Resource Management Act consent process, which I might add—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: That is twice the member has interjected: firstly, in the second person, and, secondly, with a comment that was out of order. He will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Gerry Brownlee: I withdraw and apologise.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: We are entitled to interject.

Mr SPEAKER: I am asking the Minister to continue.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: I am entitled to interject.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, you are entitled to interject, but you were wrong.

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Such a list did not exist and does not exist.

Dave Hereora: What reports has the Minister seen about other proposals for large or complex projects under the Resource Management Act?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I have seen the following comment made by Mr Guy Salmon, a high-ranking National Party list candidate in 2002:

“But efforts to curb people’s right to object, as floated by Nick Smith, National’s new environment spokesman, would cut across the grain of being a New Zealander and in practice would not make much difference to the cost and delays which business applicants face.” This is in response to National’s policy to fast track large projects—

Mr SPEAKER: At that point the Minister has gone far outside the question.

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am concerned that you allowed that question and answer to proceed. This is a very serious matter over a Minister having broken the law—that is, the Official Information Act—by retaining papers he knew to exist and then denying their existence; and he has been caught out. That is a very serious matter for this Parliament. It is not a matter to be trifled with, particularly from the Chair, by your allowing highly partisan supplementary questions that are out of order or bear no relationship to the primary question. I ask that you regard this matter as seriously as Parliament does.

Mr SPEAKER: I certainly regard every question asked in this Parliament as serious.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why did the Minister, in answer to my last supplementary question, say the Royal Forest and Bird Society request for the information used the words “regarded by the Government”, when those words do not exist in the Official Information Act request? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: The member will stand, withdraw, and apologise for that comment.

Hon Bill English: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have a case here where the Minister appears to have broken the law, and continues to offer statements that directly contradict the facts. You cannot expect members to sit here listening to a discussion about legislation that the House passed—the Official Information Act, which is a vital tool for the Opposition, where Parliament is the only place where we can exercise real accountability for how that Act has been used—when a Minister of the Crown makes statements that directly contradict the facts that have been presented about a dozen times in this House in the last two question times. In that context, I think you could show some forbearance for members feeling motivated about it and interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER: I do not mind members interjecting, but they will not make the comments that the member made. As a senior member he knows that he cannot make those comments. The member did not even wait for the Minister to reply.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I will re-ask the question, because the Minister did not have the answer.

Mr SPEAKER: The question has been answered.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: It is an important question.

Mr SPEAKER: I think that is fair enough. The member may re-ask the question.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: In his last response why did the Minister say that the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society request included the words “Government regarded”, when no such words exist in that request?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: My office complied accurately with the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society request under the Official Information Act. Its request was for a list of projects that the Government deemed suitable for non local decision-making. The ministry has never assessed any list of infrastructure projects for their suitability or non-suitability for any particular Resource Management Act process, existing or imagined. For this reason I correctly advised the society that my office had no such list.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was very specific. When the Minister said the reason for him not accepting the request under the Official Information Act was that it included the words “Government regarded”. My question was very simple: why did the Minister say that was the reason when the written request under the Official Information Act never used those words? I simply ask the Minister to answer my question.

Mr SPEAKER: I thought the Minister was endeavouring to do that and the member interrupted him with a point of order. I will hear the Minister’s final part of his answer.

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I had finished my answer.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was very specific. I asked why he told the House that the words “regarded by the Government” were in the request under the Official Information Act when they were not. I do not think the House has received any explanation as to why he said that when it does not exist.

Mr SPEAKER: An interjection was made over the top of the Minister’s final answer. Perhaps the Minister might like to give that final sentence of his answer where I thought he had addressed the question.

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The ministry has never assessed any list of infrastructure projects for their suitability or non-suitability for any particular processes under the Resource Management Act. For this reason the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society was correctly advised that my office held no such list, because, I tell Dr Smith, no such list exists.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why does the Minister again say in this House that no such list existed, and say in an email that no such list existed within the Ministry for the Environment, when I have in my hand a letter with the Ministry for the Environment letterhead, dated 24 June, that contains, very specifically, a list of those projects under the title “Possible candidates for non local decision-making under the RMA”?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The member will recall that I answered that question quite specifically last Thursday, and I will repeat that answer for him. “I am advised that a list entitled ‘Possible candidates for non local decision-making under the RMA’ ” has never been discussed by Cabinet. I was further advised that “a list with that title, which had been compiled by the Ministry of Economic Development for other purposes, was erroneously included” in a draft Resource Management Act discussion paper while that paper was being written. I was also advised that “it was removed from the draft document because, in the view of the ministry, it was misleading as to the Government’s view”—which it does not hold—“about any of these projects.”

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does the Minister recall the statement made by former Minister Lianne Dalziel when she resigned and he replaced her, in which she said: “The standard for a Minister is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”; if so, does he believe his initial denying that the document existed, and then last week denying that he ever had denied the document existed, fits with the standard set by Lianne Dalziel?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: There is no inconsistency in the statements that I have made.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table the original Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society request under the Official Information Act for the documents, and particularly the list that was part of the officials’ paper on the Resource Management Act review.

Leave granted.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table the written response from the Minister saying that the document did not exist.

Leave granted.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table the email from the Minister’s office stating that the document did not exist and that the ministry did not have it, either.

Leave granted.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I also seek leave of the House to table the actual paper—the Ministry for the Environment paper of 24 June 2004—that includes the list of 38 projects.

Leave granted.

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I seek leave of the House to table a National Party news release from Guy Salmon criticising Dr Smith.

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

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the process of that exchange I think it appeared to everyone who was listening that the Minister misled the House—and it is open to debate whether that was deliberate or accidental. In answer to one question he said that the request under the Official Information Act included specific words. Another member of the House quoted the request under the Official Information Act, which did not include those words. That is a pretty obvious case of the House being misled or the Minister being mistaken. He has the capacity under the Standing Orders to correct that now or as soon as he is aware that he has misled the House, and I invite him to do so.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Firstly, a member cannot raise by way of a point of order a charge of misleading the House. If the member wants to bring a breach of privilege claim, then he can. Secondly, I suggest that the Opposition is getting its knickers in a total twist over something quite simple as a synonym—deemed suitable and regarded suitable. If that is to be standard that is all very well, but we will apply that with great pleasure to the National Party and its policy utterances.

Mr SPEAKER: In the first sentence of the member’s point of order he said that it may open something to debate. It may well do so. There are ways in which I can be advised of particular discrepancies, and those can be followed.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Deputy Prime Minister has again asserted that the request under the Official Information Act included the word “regarding”. I seek the leave of the House to read the request so the House can be clear.

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

Railways—East Coast Main Trunk Line

10. PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Minister for Transport Safety: Is he satisfied that the East Coast main trunk line carrying tonnage to and from the Port of Tauranga is safe; if so, why?

Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN (Minister for Transport Safety): Based on advice from the Land Transport Safety Authority, I am satisfied that the East Coast main trunk line carrying tonnage to and from the Port of Tauranga is safe.

Peter Brown: Is he concerned that for at least a segment of that track, which runs alongside and between rows of housing, the bolts holding the lines in place can literally be plucked out with no resistance whatsoever, and if he is concerned, will he inform the House when such matters will be rectified?

Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN: When the member raised this issue with me last Friday night I was immediately in contact with officials, who were in contact with New Zealand Railways Corporation. I believe they went out the very next morning to inspect the track in the area concerned, and could not find evidence of the fault outlined by Mr Brown. I regret that there was no evidence of that fault. They did find loose bolts from previous track work that had been replaced.

Peter Brown: I know that this is a bit unusual, but I would like to table photographs—

Mr SPEAKER: Table them at the end of the question.

Peter Brown: I think they will alert the Minister to what this is all about. The photographs are of a rather distinguished-looking gentleman and some gentlemen holding a bolt plucked from the track.

Leave granted.

Moana Mackey: How often is the safety of the line assessed?

Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN: The Land Transport Safety Authority advises me that track maintenance gangs patrol the section of track regularly, as they do with other parts of the network. As I outlined last week, the Land Transport Safety Authority became aware of the safety concerns, and after discussion with the New Zealand Railways Corporation, it is satisfied that the East Coast main trunk railway line is being managed satisfactorily by the corporation. The authority has raised safety concerns regarding loose bolts on the East Coast main trunk line with the New Zealand Railways Corporation, which immediately arranged for its track maintenance contractors, Transfield, to undertake a special track inspection. I repeat that they found no evidence of safety problems.

Peter Brown: In light of the fact that I contacted the Minister and advised him of this and I got a telephone call back from his office, why did not somebody contact me again and I would have taken him or her out there to see a whole segment of a railway track with loose bolts?

Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN: I regret that that did not occur. It is precisely what I asked to happen.

Peter Brown: If my assertions are correct, will the Minister check again whether I am correct, and if so, will he consider giving instructions to reduce traffic, or reduce speed, or both, in order that that line does not result in some sort of calamity?

Hon HARRY DUYNHOVEN: I thank the member for that suggestion. I do not have the power to do that, but the director of the Land Transport Safety Authority does. Should it be that following the inspection something of consequence has been missed, then obviously the director will take the appropriate action. I tell the member that I regret that my suggestion that officials be in contact with him and he show them the exact point was not followed up. I am not sure whether they attempted to do that. I did give the officials the telephone numbers, etc., for contact.

India—Prime Minister's Comments

11. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her reported statements in the Hindustan Times that “There has been many a time during my tenure that there has been a danger of nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan but the resolution of the nuclear issue lies in the resolution of the Kashmir issue, I think Kashmir is the flashpoint,” and that Kashmir is “a conflict driving point, and that has really put pressures on India and Pakistan to go nuclear,”; if not, what parts are not correct?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Those statements are distortions of my comments. Virtually every quote attributed to me in that article is a misquote, and the journalist made another four inaccurate statements in his radio interview this morning. I have released the transcript of my actual comments.

Rodney Hide: Why did she think it appropriate to comment on India’s internal politics ahead of her bridge-mending visit, and, in light of the reaction, is she sorry that she ever said: “Kashmir is the flashpoint” in respect of India and Pakistan’s proliferation of nuclear weapons?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It is perfectly obvious to the whole world that Kashmir is a flashpoint for tensions between the two countries. Most countries do not regard it as simply an internal affair.

Keith Locke: Would the Prime Minister agree that Kashmir is a potential nuclear flashpoint, given that during the 2001-02 crisis in Kashmir several Pakistani officials threatened the use of nuclear weapons to deter a conventional invasion from India, and given that on 18 June 2002 the Pakistan President himself said that Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons did deter an invasion, and that nuclear deterrence had worked?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The kinds of statements that the member is quoting only go to prove that there has been considerable tension around these issues between the two countries. New Zealand has not taken one side or another, and has constantly urged them to negotiate.

Dail Jones: Will the Prime Minister ensure during this bridge-building visit to South Asia that she has regard to the direction of the joint statement issued in New York after Dr Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India, and General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistan President, had met, which stated that the two leaders had addressed the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and had agreed that possible options for a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the issue should be explored in a sincere spirit and purposeful manner, and also other expressions in Pakistan and India that this type of issue should really be kept out of the media?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Yes, I agree with the member that there have been very encouraging developments between the Governments of the two countries, and I am sure that all countries would want to support those developments.

Hon Peter Dunne: Has the Prime Minister received any advice from the New Zealand High Commission in India about the impact of her statements, in the light of the suggestion made by the journalist this morning that her statements would have some negative impact on her visit; if so, can she reassure the House that, in fact, her visit is likely to proceed in an air of calm and reason?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Yes. The High Commissioner for New Zealand in India has been in touch with the Indian Foreign Ministry. It is understanding of the situation. It has the transcript and it has my statement, and I think it can see where the problem arose.

Rodney Hide: Does she understand the potential for concern about her statement, in light of her declaring in a press release on 12 May 1998 that India’s objections to the non-proliferation treaty were “at the least, insincere, and, at the most, extremely devious and misleading”; and does she stand by that statement she made back then?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Not only I myself but New Zealand Governments down through the ages have urged all countries to sign up to nuclear disarmament treaties, and there is nothing I will resile from about that.

Rodney Hide: In light of her trip to India to build bridges, would she think it wise for a Prime Minister who was coming to New Zealand to observe, say, that the Foreshore and Seabed Bill was a flashpoint for race relations in New Zealand; and does she not think it wise not to comment on sensitive internal matters, no matter how certain she is about her particular views?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The member may believe that Kashmir is an internal issue; most countries see it as a matter that has to be resolved between two countries.

Rodney Hide: I seek leave to table a press statement given by the Rt Hon Helen Clark declaring India to be insincere and potentially devious and misleading, dated 12 May 1998.

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

Exotic Pests—Large Game Animals’ Classification

12. LARRY BALDOCK (United Future) to the Minister of Conservation: Does he agree that large game animals such as thar have been in New Zealand long enough to be considered indigenous and should therefore be treated as an indigenous resource by the Department of Conservation and not as an exotic pest for eradication; if not, why not?

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): Thar are not being eradicated but are subject to a 1991 policy and control plan agreed by the then Minister of Conservation, the Hon Denis Marshall. Thar are no more an indigenous species than possums or pigs, both of which have been in New Zealand for a far longer period of time.

Larry Baldock: Does the Minister agree with his colleague from Wainuiômata, who declared himself indigenous because he has lived here many years; if so, why cannot the same standard be applied to thar, which have been here 100 years, and deer, which have been here for 150 years, and to trout and introduced game birds, or does ideology get in the way of common sense?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I am pleased to say that I am not responsible for all the statements made by my colleague the member from Wainuiômata.

Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Does the current plan make provision for recreational hunting?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: Yes. Hunters are given every opportunity to hunt thar on conservation land. I recently read an article by a thar hunter, who described his trip into the central Southern Alps as being the best he had ever experienced. He said that the trip was “real trophy hunting”.

Simon Power: Why is it that the Department of Conservation, in output class “Management of Natural Heritage”, which includes pest control, failed to meet 21 out of 35 performance targets in the year ended 30 June 2004, and what will this Minister do about it?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: The Department of Conservation faces a Herculean task in defending our native biodiversity. I am absolutely proud of the work that the Department of Conservation does. Yes, we could do more, and with more resources we would manage to.

Rod Donald: Has the Minister received any proposals that possums, stoats, and any other invasive species be protected by the Department of Conservation for the benefit of game hunters?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: No.

Gerrard Eckhoff: What is the Minister’s view of the presence of salmon and trout in New Zealand rivers and their impact on indigenous fauna?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: Those exotic species do not have quite the impact that, say, possums have. In allocating resources to deal with pests, I would certainly concentrate on those that are doing the most damage—that is, possums and stoats.

Larry Baldock: Would the Minister agree that although the indigenous member from Wainuiômata can be a pest sometimes, the Prime Minister prefers the policy of management—

Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that he should refer to the member either as the member for Wainuiômata or as the Minister if there is any ministerial responsibility.

Larry Baldock: Does the Minister therefore support the use of deer repellent with 1080 for use in pest eradication so that valuable game animals can be spared wasteful destruction; if so, when can we expect an announcement from the Department of Conservation confirming this?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: My department is still exploring what the implications of such a policy would be.

Hon Peter Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think you may have been a little unduly harsh on my colleague. I think that if you were to check the transcript, you would find that he did not refer to the member “for” Wainuiômata, because there is no such member, but that he referred to him as the member “from” Wainuiômata. Mr Mallard on many occasions has quite properly said that that is where he comes from. So, on reflection, Mr Speaker, I think you may have been a little harsh in bringing the member to order on that point.

Mr SPEAKER: Occasionally I can be a little harsh. I apologise.

Urgent Questions

Urgent Question No. 1 to Minister

Mr SPEAKER: This question was not strictly urgent, but I thought in view of the fact of the local elections that I would make an exception in this particular case.

Local Government—Counting of STV Ballots

1. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister of Local Government: What difficulties have arisen with the counting of STV ballots from the weekend’s local government elections and how long will this delay final results being announced?

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): There are issues of real concern. Just this morning I learned that elections.com and Datamail, companies contracted by councils to process single transferable votes in a number of local elections, have found an inconsistency in the number of votes entered into the calculator that counts the single transferable votes. This will delay the final election results even further for seven councils and 18 district health boards. I believe there needs to be a full inquiry by the Justice and Electoral Committee into these problems to ensure that they do not happen again. They are simply unacceptable.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is not this local election debacle—the sort we expect in a Third World country and not New Zealand—the responsibility of this Government, which rewrote the Local Electoral Act, providing for a complex and confusing mix of first past the post, MMP, and single transferable vote, and then compelled district health boards to conduct their elections under the single transferable vote system; so is not the responsibility for this mess firmly and squarely with this Government?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: The 10 councils that have chosen to adopt the single transferable vote system did so through their own choice. The responsibility of funding and organising the local government election is in the hands of local government. I compliment the member for raising this issue, though, because it is a very serious issue. It is unacceptable that we have waited this long for a result, and it must not happen again.

Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry to indicate that I had misunderstood. There is just the one supplementary question allowed on an urgent question.

Rod Donald: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think it is only fair that if one party gets a supplementary question on an urgent question, other parties should have the opportunity to ask a supplementary.

Mr SPEAKER: The member should read Standing Order 372(3): “The Speaker may permit the member asking an urgent question to ask one supplementary question.” I am bound by the Standing Orders.

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I seek leave of the House to table a statement that I put out very early this afternoon regarding this problem.

Leave granted.

Rod Donald: I seek leave to ask a further supplementary question on the urgent question.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to ask a further supplementary question. Is there any objection? There is.

Questions to Members

Charities Bill—Submissions

1. DEBORAH CODDINGTON (ACT), on behalf of Dr MURIEL NEWMAN (Deputy Leader—ACT) to the Chairperson of the Social Services Committee: Does she intend to call for further evidence or submissions on the Charities Bill?

GEORGINA BEYER (Chairperson of the Social Services Committee): Calling for further evidence or submissions on the Charities Bill is a matter for the Social Services Committee to decide.

Deborah Coddington: Is the chairperson prepared to give an assurance on behalf of the committee that every organisation that provided a submission on the Charities Bill will be consulted on proposed changes to the bill; if not, why not?

GEORGINA BEYER: No, I am not prepared to give that assurance. That is a matter for the committee to discuss.


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

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