Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 16 Nov. 2004
Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Questions for Oral
Questions to Ministers
2. Health, Minister—Confidence
3. Foreshore and Seabed Bill—Policy Development
4. Early Childhood Education—Free Education Policy
5. Communications Centres, Police—Pîhâ Incident
6. Prime Minister—Travel and Police Escorts
7. Crime—Police Investigations
8. Tertiary Education—Voluntary Long-term Savings
9. Health, Ministry—Service Providers
10. Schools—Compulsory Fees
11. Special Education—Teacher and Learning Support
12. Foreshore and Seabed Bill—Public Access and Ownership
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
1. GEORGINA BEYER (Labour—Wairarapa) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What recent reports has he received on the state of the labour market?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): The September household labour force survey, released last Thursday, reported an increase in employment of 19,000 in the quarter, and 56,000 in the past year, taking total employment to 2,022,000, which is 230,000 more people in work than when this Government took office.
xxxfo The proportion of the working-age population in work is 64 percent, the highest in 18 years. Females accounted for 16,000 of the 19,000 increase in employment during the quarter, which means they are now getting the jobs they are after. Unemployment fell to 3.8 percent, the lowest in the 18-year history of the household labour force survey, and the second lowest in the OECD. Members will be pleased to know that job advertisements tell us that these levels of employment and unemployment should continue.
Georgina Beyer: What are the appropriate responses to the current state of the labour market?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I have to agree with the wisdom shown by my colleague the Minister of Immigration, when he said we need to attract more skilled immigrants but do not want a flood of cheap labour through large-scale immigration, as some have advocated. He said we need to solve the current skill shortage through a combination of lifting skills, removing barriers to participation by under-represented groups, improving workplace practises to retain staff, investing in new technology, and having employer flexibility, as also advocated by Mr Swain’s colleague Michael Barnett, Chief Executive of the Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Katherine Rich: When last October there were 80,000 people on all forms of unemployment benefit, why are growers, such as Peter Falloon of Canterbury, mowing their asparagus crops and losing thousands of dollars because they cannot fill vacancies for unskilled work; and what does the Minister say to growers such as Peter Wing in the Waikato, who, despite offering $20 an hour and transport, can still not fill vacancies, and last month mowed 12 tonnes of asparagus because he could not fill the vacancies on his farm?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I do acknowledge that the enormous drop in unemployment around the country has seen the number of people on a register available for work in many areas where seasonal work is available so low that people are experiencing this. Therefore, I have to go back to the wisdom of my colleague the Minister of Immigration, when he talked about the need to lift skills, to bring new groups such as women into the workforce—making sure they have access to good-quality childcare—to lift wages, and to introduce good employment practises. That is the kind of advice I would give that employer.
Peter Brown: Will the Minister provide us with a breakdown of the figures, please: the percentage of the workforce permanently employed, the percentage of the workforce casually employed, and the number of people who are employed for 1 hour or thereabouts a week; and will he assure this House that no 1-hour workers are counted twice in those statistics?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I assure the member of the last point straightaway and tell him that last Thursday Statistics New Zealand released the household labour force survey. Every single one of those questions is answered in absolute detail in that report. I am happy to send him 10 copies, if he would like me to.
Judy Turner: What specific steps is the Minister taking to ensure that older unemployed people are able to find work, given his response to my question in the House last week that this is “an issue we are dealing with as a country”, and in which I pointed out that the number of those on the dole for more than 3 years has actually increased by 24 percent since 1999, with the number of those unemployed for over 5 years doubling over the same period?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The member will remember that this Government—this very good Government—introduced work testing for people between the ages of 55 and 60 so they could gain access to all the support training that goes with a return to the workplace. We have not introduced work testing for people between 60 and 64. We believe that at the present time those people are best left to re-enter the labour market voluntarily. If the member is recommending that they should be work tested—a 64-year-old, for example—I am happy to receive those representations.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My colleague Peter Brown asked the Minister a very significant question, one that has been on the question paper now for 4 hours. He wanted to know the percentage of the workforce permanently employed, the percentage casually employed, and the number of people working for 1 hour a week—questions that were all asked at the Financial and Expenditure Committee and of which the Minister and his staff must surely have been appraised. His saying in the House that he had seen a document some weeks ago that had all the answers, does not address the issue for the public who take time to watch and listen to question time, or, for that matter, the people in the gallery who came to hear the question answered. That is a dodge from the Minister and, given that he has been here a while, he should not be allowed to get away with it.
Mr SPEAKER: If that had been the original question, and that had been the Minister’s answer, the member would have been absolutely correct. We are talking about a supplementary question, not the original question. The Minister might want to comment.
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Essentially, the original question asked what the source of that information was, and I therefore referred him to the household labour force survey. However, I can tell the member that, broadly speaking, 2,022,000 New Zealanders are employed. Approximately 450,000 have part-time jobs and about 18,000 have small numbers of hours of work—between about 1 and 15 hours a week. The number of people who are under-employed is reported to have dropped by 18 percent in the last quarter. All those figures are available to the member in that household labour force survey.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is precisely my point of order. The Minister could have given the answer and not wasted Parliament’s time. Instead, he decided to duck and evade. When put to it, he knew some of the facts, which he has now shared them with us. That should have happened the first time around.
Mr SPEAKER: I am glad it has happened now. The member made a point that was useful.
Hon Paul Swain: Can the Minister confirm that the Government is working very constructively with the horticulture sector on a short, medium, and long-term strategy, and can he also confirm that this is the first time such constructive engagement has occurred between the Government and that industry?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I can confirm that there is engagement with the horticulture industry, that it is the first time it has happened, and that it is due to the leadership of Mr Paul Swain and Mr Rick Barker.
2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Has she still got confidence in the Minister of Health; if so, why?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes, because she is a hard-working and conscientious Minister.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can the Prime Minister possibly make that statement, when almost 4,000 people died whilst waiting for surgery, and on surgery waiting lists, in the last 3 years alone, and when last year alone well over 1,100 died when on hospital or surgery waiting lists; given that at the last Labour Party conference she and her colleagues got up and boasted of the great health services they were providing in this country, are not those services at the cost of people in New Zealand dying unnecessarily?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Most certainly not, because the numbers of people coming through day-case surgery and inpatient surgery have risen quite substantially under this Government.
Judith Collins: Does she believe that being hard-working and conscientious involves disrespecting a World War II veteran who has waited 4 years for his operation, as Ms King did to Mr John Power last week, then having the bare-faced cheek to write a letter wrongly blaming others for her shameful display in the House?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No disrespect will be shown to World War II veterans on my watch, nor was any shown by the Minister. I myself was in the House.
Sue Kedgley: Can she assure frail elderly New Zealanders who are living at home and totally dependent on home care that her Government will ensure that there are sufficient home-care workers to look after them properly over the Christmas period; if not, why not?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I would certainly hope that those who are responsible, with the devolution to district health boards, for those contracts make sure of that. Of course, as the Minister for Social Development and Employment has already said, we have record low unemployment, so in a number of areas where pay rates are low—and home-care workers is one—there are some issues. Over time, the Government will need to grapple with the provision of further support for the skills development and wages of those workers.
Deborah Coddington: How can she express confidence in a Minister of Health who, in 1988, said that there being 96,000 people on waiting lists was criminal, and now there are 110,000 people on waiting lists, the number of people on waiting lists who have died has doubled under this Government, and the number forced to give up waiting and go private has tripled; how many more people have to die or pay for their own operations, for her to lose confidence in this Minister?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I can say that there are more day-case and inpatient surgery procedures being performed now than there were when the member made that statement—considerably more.
Judy Turner: Does the Prime Minister have confidence that the Minister of Health has given sufficient consideration to the idea of establishing a contestable fund in order that both public and private health providers could tender to provide elective surgery so as to reduce waiting times, given that last Wednesday her response to United Future’s question that she consider the proposal was a flat-out no; if not, why not?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, the Government would not support a contestable fund. Our view is that the public health system can work, and does work well. Where a district health board has more money for surgery than it can use to provide surgery from its own resources, it may contract out some operations to the private sector, but that should be the exception not the rule.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Will she take any responsibility whatsoever for a Minister of Health who has seen our cancer mortality rates become amongst the world’s worst, with Ministry of Health figures indicating that 60 cancer patients waited more than the prescribed maximum of 4 weeks for radiation therapy in August alone, putting their lives at risk; and when will she take responsibility for the fact that almost 4,000 people have died early or unnecessarily, while waiting for treatment, when she has been the Prime Minister with that Minister of Health?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: What the Minister of Health will take a great deal of pride in is having been the first Minister of Health to ensure that a national Cancer Control Strategy has been developed for this country. Secondly, she has taken responsibility for ensuring that the training of the numbers of people needed to provide radiography and radiology has actually increased quite dramatically. Thirdly, it is fair to point out that one may be waiting for a cataract operation and be run over on the road; there are all sorts of reasons why people might not be alive when their number comes around for an operation.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does her indication of confidence in the Minister demonstrate her belief that waiting times for radiation therapy of up to 11 weeks in the Waikato and 10 weeks in Wellington are acceptable, or that the situation in Auckland, where patients face up to 9 weeks’ wait, which may or may not culminate in a trip to Australia for treatment, is acceptable, yes or no; and if she does not believe those waiting times to be acceptable, why does she not hold somebody accountable, including herself?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am advised by the Minister that the waiting times have improved dramatically because she has been putting the resources in place. I also take some pride—given that we did not inherit sufficient provision—that this Government has fully paid all the expenses that people have incurred when in Australia, where that was required.
Judith Collins: I seek leave of the House to table a letter from Annette King to Mr John Power, in which she blamed noise in question time for her rude display; and that is despite our not being allowed to say anything during questions—a point that I got pulled up for before.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I consider that the comment made was a direct reflection on you as Speaker, and should be withdrawn and apologised for.
Mr SPEAKER: Let me say that there are people who were listening at the time who do not understand my rulings. While questions are being asked there will be silence, because we are in a democracy and every member is entitled to ask a question in silence. I do not require silence during answers; if I did, it would make my job very simple! As far as I am concerned, I did not take that comment as a reflection on me, but I will be listening very, very carefully in the future.
Deborah Coddington: I seek leave to table figures released by the Health Information Service that show that the number of people who became deceased while on waiting lists has doubled.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is.
Hon Annette King: I seek leave to table information from the Health Information Service that shows that the number of people treated electively has gone up from 68,000 in 2001 to 114,000 in 2004. The same information was given to ACT, but it did not bother to use those figures.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection?
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If it is the same information, I am quite happy to agree, provided that the Government is prepared to allow the rest of the information to be tabled so that we can have a complete picture.
Mr SPEAKER: I want to know whether there is any objection to the tabling—
Hon Richard Prebble: I do object, and now I am going to seek leave for the document that the Minister wanted to present to be tabled, together with the document from the ACT party—
Mr SPEAKER: No, the member cannot do that. He can ask for permission to table—
Hon Richard Prebble: Yes, I can.
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated—
Hon Richard Prebble: No, I can ask for leave to table those documents—most certainly.
Mr SPEAKER: The member can ask for leave to table the document from the ACT party—
Hon Richard Prebble: That is what I am doing.
Foreshore and Seabed Bill—Policy Development
3. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statement of 7 April 2004 regarding the foreshore and seabed legislation that “the government has undertaken an exhaustive process of policy development.”; if so, why?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes, because we have.
Dr Don Brash: Why is a Supplementary Order Paper, rumoured to be 120 pages in length, being introduced into the House today to change the foreshore and seabed legislation, if the Government had prepared it so exhaustively; and how can she expect Parliament to consider legislation on such a matter of such major constitutional importance, without having seen its substance, until the very day it is asked to vote on it?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The reason for the Supplementary Order Paper is obvious: a select committee heard a great deal of evidence. Although the committee itself was not able to report back, New Zealand First and the Government parties did listen and have brought back a Supplementary Order Paper.
Metiria Turei: Does the Prime Minister consider it good government that most Mâori will not even see the final shape of the legislation, which removes their common law rights and their treaty rights, before it is passed into law?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The bill does not remove common law rights.
Rodney Hide: Can the Prime Minister name one controversial bill, outside of Budget legislation, that has been brought to this Parliament to be passed under urgency, without the Opposition parties even having seen it; and what would be wrong with having the second reading this week and polishing the bill off next sitting week?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question has to be accurate: we are an Opposition party, and we have seen it. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am on my feet, and the member will sit down, or he will leave. That was not a point of order, and the member knows it. It was a political comment. Whether the answer was to the member’s satisfaction is a matter for the House.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The problem with that interjection, of course, is that Mr Peters is trying to get around the fact that he has now become this Government’s doormat, and he certainly should not be raising a point of order and trying to get out of that point.
Mr SPEAKER: That member, also, has not raised a point of order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The last member who raised the point of order knows he cannot get away with that. It was simply a case of: “Could we fix it? Yes we could.”
Mr SPEAKER: I am warning the member. That is the last warning—if he wants to stay in the House for question time. I now want the Prime Minister to answer the question.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Mr Peters has quite rightly said that an Opposition party has seen the Supplementary Order Paper, and that indicates that the Government is always happy to work with Opposition parties where common cause can be found, and in that respect I welcome ACT’s decision to participate in another important select committee on constitutional reform—unlike the National Party, which is abrogating its responsibility.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is quite possible that the Prime Minister forgot my original question, which was about her naming one other piece of legislation, and my question talked about Opposition parties. I do not regard Winston Peters as anything in Opposition, and the points—
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated. I am not having those parenthetical comments made during a point of order. I am hearing the member’s point of order, which was, according to what I have heard—and I have heard sufficient—that the Prime Minister did not address the question. I thought she did.
Dr Don Brash: What does it say of her attitude to major constitutional legislation like the foreshore and seabed legislation, that she intends to table some 120 pages of last-minute amendments, which most parties in the House will not even see before they have to vote on them?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It is really up to the National Party if it does not want to read the Supplementary Order Paper before it votes.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is bad enough that you have allowed Mr Peters to bail the Prime Minister out by spurious points of order, but the question here quite simply was: why will the Prime Minister not make the range of amendments that will be included in this Supplementary Order Paper available to the House in good time before a debate takes place?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: As I indicated before, the Supplementary Order Paper will be tabled as soon as possible. It includes the protection of customary rights, as supported by the National Party. It supports Crown ownership. It removes ancestral connection orders. What is it they oppose in this bill?
Mr SPEAKER: No. I have asked the Prime Minister to comment on the original question that was asked by the member.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am advised that the Supplementary Order Paper will be tabled later today, and there will be plenty of time for the National Party members, if they can give up their dinner hour, to read the amendments.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that every parliamentary party could, if they had decided to continue the select committee process, have had access to all the Supplementary Order Papers, and moreover, is the length of the Supplementary Order Paper because of the fact that there are certain members of this Parliament who simply cannot get their heads around this issue and are more interested in shibboleths and myth making?
Mr SPEAKER: The first part of the question is in order.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How can it be in order for the Prime Minister to comment on the select committee process before the bill is reported back?
Mr SPEAKER: Firstly, the bill has been reported back. Secondly—[Interruption] I am getting a little tired of these interjections while I am on my feet. That is a direct comment to the Government. The bill has been reported back, and secondly, I consider that the Prime Minister did address that particular question.
Stephen Franks: Can the Prime Minister name one piece of controversial legislation, outside of Budget legislation, that has been brought to Parliament to be passed under urgency without opposing parties even having seen it; and what would be wrong with having a second reading this week and the Committee stage next week so that it could be an informed debate?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Under MMP, where Government and support parties may not have a majority on a select committee, it is quite possible that there will be cases—there have been in the past and there will be in the future—where it was not possible to deal with amendments to a bill in a select committee. In that case, the amendments will come back to this House to be dealt with.
Metiria Turei: Is the Government’s definition of an exhaustive process one where Mâori are left completely exhausted and completely ignored?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: My definition of an exhaustive process is a debate that has now gone on for 18 months and that has included a discussion paper, a full round of hui, a further set of proposals, and a very full select committee process before being debated in this House.
Dr Don Brash: Is the Government rushing through the Foreshore and Seabed Bill in order to disguise the fact that the label “Crown ownership” is a farce, since in practice it is qualified by extensive Mâori rights and governance powers; if not, why is it suddenly necessary to put the bill through in a matter of hours when the Government has previously indicated it would go through normal processes?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I would have thought there was nothing about “full and beneficial ownership resting with the Crown” being a sham. I am also aware that others have said that “public ownership does leave room for recognising customary rights”. That was said by the Leader of the Opposition.
Early Childhood Education—Free Education Policy
4. LYNNE PILLAY (Labour—Waitakere) to the Minister of Education: Has he received any proposals to scrap the Government’s policy of 20 hours per week of free early childhood education from mid-2007 for 3 and 4-year-olds in community-based centres?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): Yes. I have seen a proposal to scrap the free 20 hours per week in favour of 10 hours of free education for both community and private centres. That will come as a major shock to the families of around 28,000 children who would have their existing entitlements to morning kindergarten slashed and charges imposed for the 5 hours a week that are currently free. In the case of free kindergarten, it would be gone well before lunchtime if Don Brash had his way.
Lynne Pillay: Why is the Government committed to extending 20 hours per week of free early childhood education for 3 and 4-year-olds to all community-based centres?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Research has shown that children who participate in quality early childhood education are more likely to succeed at school and later in life. Private centres are not missing out. They will receive around half of the $307 million being invested in this year’s Budget package, which will allow them to improve quality and decrease charges. That is why major Australian companies and New Zealand private sector chains are investing millions in buying private sector centres in New Zealand. The private sector likes it, even though the Tories whinge about it.
Dr Don Brash: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I believe the Minister quoted me in a grossly misleading fashion. I am not sure whether he intended to quote me or not—he seemed to imply that he was quoting me. I have at no stage said that that was what our policy position would be. I was asked last week by the media whether I endorsed 20 hours of free early childhood education for all children. I said I was not endorsing any specific thing. I objected to discrimination between children going to community-based centres and those going to privately based centres. The reporter, I think, made the point of whether there could be some other option, and I said that it could be 10 hours and 10 hours. But I am not endorsing any particular—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: The member is raising a point of order. He could have sought leave to make a personal explanation. I will not be too restrictive on that. The member was rightly raising a point of order. I would like him to finish it, and then I will rule on it.
Dr Don Brash: My impression is that the Minister quoted me in a quite misleading way. I would be interested to see the transcript on the basis of which he made his comment.
Mr SPEAKER: The member’s word is to be accepted. Of course, it becomes a matter for debate, and that is what this place is all about.
Hon Bill English: Can the Minister give the House one good reason why he is so determined to discriminate against 40,000 New Zealand children by giving them a fundamentally lesser entitlement to early childhood care than that of other New Zealand children?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Because I am not prepared to promote the sorts of cuts that Don Brash suggested on the radio last week.
Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the Minister to give a reason for his policy—one good reason why one group of children would get a lesser early childhood entitlement than another group has—and he did not even attempt to answer that question.
Mr SPEAKER: I am ruling in favour of the member.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Because if I went to even a 10-hours-a-week basis, as promoted by the Leader of the Opposition on the radio last week, it would result in children being charged for 5 hours a week to go to what is currently free morning kindergarten—and I will not do that.
Bernie Ogilvy: Can the Minister confirm that the estimated cost of extending 20 hours per week of free early childhood education for 3 and 4-year-olds to children in all early childhood education centres would be only $62 million more; and is his unwillingness to agree to that extension fiscal or ideological?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think that the member was referring to the annual cost, rather than the 3-year cost we had been referring to before.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Ah! That’s pathetic.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Well, poor old Mr Smith may think that $62 million is pathetic—
Mr SPEAKER: The member will please just answer the question, and not make parenthetical comments.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: This Government does not think that $62 million a year is chicken feed.
Communications Centres, Police—Pîhâ Incident
5. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay Of Plenty) to the Minister of Police: Has he listened to a recording of, or read the transcript of, Iraena Asher’s conversations with the 111 police communications centre; if so, how many times did she ask for help?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Acting Minister of Police): On behalf of the Minister of Police, I reply “No”. However, he has been advised that Iraena Asher made three specific requests for help, as well as indicating other concerns about her safety.
Hon Tony Ryall: What responsibility will the Minister of Police take so that 111 callers who do not scream can get police help?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The police have already indicated that this response was not satisfactory. They have also apologised to the family. In addition, disciplinary procedures are under way and, on top of that, the police have announced an inquiry into the way in which the communications centres work.
Hon Tony Ryall: Does the Government intend to take any action or express a view on the New Zealand Commissioner of Police’s advice that it helps if 111 callers scream?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The commissioner’s response at the select committee was taken out of context.
Ron Mark: How much longer is the Minister of Police going to let the men and women of the New Zealand Police take the rap for his failure to address the staffing shortages, the training deficiencies, and the consequential increase in workloads and stress within police communications centres, brought on by his inability to respond to letters that were written personally to him as far back as 2002; and is it not simply that the biggest problem the police face is that they have an inept and incompetent Minister of Police, who cannot secure resources?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The answer to the last question is clearly “No”. Having said that, I add that the member will know that 18 additional staff have been placed in the communications centres. As well, of course, the Minister of Police has been able to secure over $1 billion in police resources. The staff levels in New Zealand Police are the highest they have ever been, and the resolution rates are the best they have ever been. The inquiry may show up a number of issues to be addressed. At that point, the Minister of Police will raise those with his colleagues.
Hon Tony Ryall: Exactly how were the words of the Commissioner of Police taken out of context?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am advised that the question was around whether a psychologist should be used as part of the communications centre operations and that the commissioner was addressing that particular issue.
Hon Tony Ryall: I seek leave to table a transcript of the commissioner’s appearance before the select committee, which makes it absolutely clear he was referring to the question in the House about people having to scream to get police help.
Prime Minister—Travel and Police Escorts
6. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Prime Minister: What responsibility does she take for her travel arrangements and her police escorts in New Zealand?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Such operational matters are handled by the police, Government drivers, and any other relevant staff.
Rodney Hide: Has the Prime Minister heard of her Government’s taxpayer-funded road safety campaign, which encourages passengers travelling in a speeding car to “speak up to slow him down”, “speak up and live; shut up and die”, and “stop him speeding; put your foot down”, or did that campaign, directed to the rest of us, not apply to her?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am still very much alive, and I will not comment on any matters that are sub judice.
Hon Tony Ryall: Has the Prime Minister ever congratulated her drivers or police escorts on meeting her tight deadlines?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am not commenting on any matter currently before the courts.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Surely it stretches credibility to say that a question about some past congratulations to a driver concerns a matter that is sub judice, or, for that matter, to say that a comment on the Government’s own road safety programme concerns a matter that is sub judice, as was the answer given to Mr Hide. If Ministers are to use that as a defence against answering legitimate questions, it needs to be absolutely certain that those matters are covered in the court case. It is hard to imagine how the prosecution of five policemen and a civilian driver will be affected by the Prime Minister answering a question about the Government’s road safety programme or, for that matter, a question about congratulations she might have offered in the past.
Mr SPEAKER: The member took too long to make that point of order. The Prime Minister is entitled to answer in that way.
Rodney Hide: How does the Prime Minister feel about leaving the police officers and a VIP Transport driver, who tried to do their best for her, to face serious charges for their loyal work; and why does the buck not stop at the top, where the benefit of their speeding lies?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I will make no comment on matters that are sub judice.
Hon Tony Ryall: How many times has the Prime Minister found herself using the Nuremburg defence, whereby the leaders said they knew nothing and the lower ranks said they were simply obeying orders?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I will not make any comment on matters before the court, but I do want to say that I take offence to any comparison made between me and Nazis at a trial. I have taken offence to that, and I ask for that comment to be withdrawn.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that you might have missed the end of the Prime Minister’s answer.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I took offence and asked for it to be withdrawn.
Mr SPEAKER: I think that the comment making that comparison was not perhaps the wisest sort of comment to be made. As offence has been taken, I would like the member to withdraw and apologise.
Hon Tony Ryall: I am happy to take—
Stephen Franks: The Nuremburg defence—
Mr SPEAKER: The member cannot get up like that. [Interruption] The member will now leave the Chamber. He is not to interject while I am talking. He knows that.
Stephen Franks withdrew from the Chamber.
Mr SPEAKER: I have asked the member to stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Hon Tony Ryall: I am happy to take responsibility—
Mr SPEAKER: I said that the member will withdraw and apologise.
Hon Tony Ryall: I withdraw and apologise.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want you to reflect on your rulings. The fact that there is such a thing as a Nuremburg defence is in common parlance. If a member of this House, when accused of adopting a Nuremburg defence, can then say that it is being called a Nazi, it would be a most extraordinary and unfortunate confinement of the ability of members to question the Government. I say that it is now established as part of international law that one cannot just say: “I was doing my duty.” I believe that when you look at the transcript, you will find that Mr Ryall’s question—especially given the nature of this question—was perfectly in order.
Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member for his point of order, which was one. If a member, however, takes offence on personal grounds, it is invariable—and has been since I have been here—that the comment must be withdrawn.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That may be so, but the Prime Minister did not take offence.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, she did.
Hon Richard Prebble: Or was it another MP who decided to take offence and raise it as a point of order?
Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry, but the Prime Minister did take offence in her last three or four words.
Hon Richard Prebble: No, she said in her answer that she did not like it, but she did not raise it as a point of order or a parliamentary matter. No doubt now she is doing so, but I say that the person who raised it as a point of order was her Minister. Following your logic, a member could get up and take objection to anything, even if it is not unparliamentary.
Mr SPEAKER: I listened to the Prime Minister’s reply, and in her last words she took offence to the actual comment that was made. When she takes offence she is entitled to say that, and then the comment must be withdrawn.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that it is worth noting that the Prime Minister did not take a point of order to register the offence that she felt was directed at her by the use of that particular term. Mr Mallard took offence, and the Prime Minister then confirmed that she was somehow offended. I would also ask this question.
Mr SPEAKER: Please be brief.
Gerry Brownlee: If a member is simply able to say: “I don’t like what you said. Withdraw and apologise, because it is offensive to me.”, surely that will severely limit debate in this House.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Firstly, Mr Mallard drew attention to what the Prime Minister had said, because it appeared that you had missed the last part in terms of requesting a withdrawal. Secondly, I have been required to withdraw on a number of occasions what I regard as utterly accurate remarks about the Opposition that Opposition members have found offensive. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: The member will be leaving very quickly if there is any comment while I am on my feet. No point of order was taken, at all. I will listen to the tapes, but I am advised that no point of order was taken, at all. The Prime Minister did confirm that she took offence. There the matter rests.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not contesting your ruling, but I ask you to consider the situation that we find ourselves in, which is this. The Prime Minister refused to answer the question, and said the matter is sub judice. Well, that is OK. But then she ended her answer to a question by saying she had taken offence and wanted the remark to be withdrawn. You did not then hear that, so it was Trevor Mallard, I think, who stood up and said that she had taken offence.
Mr SPEAKER: I listened to what the Clerk said, not to anyone else.
Rodney Hide: OK, well the Clerk said that she had taken offence. But will it now be the standard situation that a member can ask for a withdrawal and apology that is just tacked on to the end of an answer to a question, or is the member required to take a point of order? I would have thought that it is unacceptable that a Minister answering a question can say, at the end of it, that: “Oh, and I take offence and want that withdrawn.”, and can then force the questioner to have to withdraw and apologise for what was a legitimate question.
Mr SPEAKER: No, of course I do not take that as a general rule. I listen to each case and judge it on its merits. That is why I am in this job. Occasionally it is and occasionally it is not, and that has to be my judgment call. As I said, I am a referee.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Prime Minister about the distance and the time it took to cover that distance with her entourage, which means that if the average speed was 120 kilometres per hour there were times when that entourage must have been at 150 kilometres per hour; is she pleading the fifth amendment on the basis that it may incriminate her?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am not commenting on matters before the court, and of course I will be taking legal advice throughout the matter.
7. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay Of Plenty) to the Minister of Police: What assurances has he received that the New Zealand Police is actively investigating all aspects of crime?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Acting Minister of Police): I have been assured that the New Zealand Police is producing very positive results from the current crime and crash reduction strategies that, by their very nature, range widely across all major crime types.
Hon Tony Ryall: Why have some police been ordered not to hunt for clandestine laboratories making the drug P?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Firstly, that is completely and utterly not true. Secondly, in the calendar year 2003, 202 laboratories were put out of action, and in the calendar year 2004—in just a few months of this year—153 laboratories have been busted. That is hardly the sort of thing that happens if someone had been ordered not to do it.
Moana Mackey: What results are the police achieving as a result of the emphasis on crime and crash reduction?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The Government has raised the police budget to over one billion dollars, and there are now more staff than ever before. As a result, there has been a drop in recorded crime of 6.5 percent per 10,000 head of population, we have seen the highest resolution rates—of 45 percent—in 20 years, and we have the lowest October road toll figure since monthly recording began in 1965. That is due to the good work of this very good Government and of our great police force.
Dr Muriel Newman: How can the public have confidence that the New Zealand Police is adequately investigating all areas of crime when its administration ignored the warnings about serious problems with the emergency services until a tragedy occurred, when senior detectives are being forced to issue traffic tickets instead of investigating methamphetamine crime, and when five police officers have now been hung out to dry by a Prime Minister who was happy to speed to a rugby game?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: There are three questions there, and I will answer two of them. The first point is that we did not ignore the warnings; in fact the number in the communication centres went up by 18. The fact of the matter is that the police see a range of policing as important to reduce crime, including the issuing of tickets for traffic offences.
Marc Alexander: Is the Minister satisfied that the police are at least investigating all violent crime, in light of the fact that they have identified 87 links to past crimes, including murder and sexual assault, through taking retrospective DNA samples from prison inmates; or does he think that is all terribly unfair on those inmates—a position argued by the Greens, who continue to place the interests of criminals over victims, and who vote accordingly?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The police are doing a fabulous job as far as investigating and completing the work on violent crime is concerned, but of course like everyone else they can do better.
Hon Tony Ryall: If no such instructions have been given, then who is the public to believe: a police spokesperson in Wellington, or the front-line officers battling the evil of the drug-dealing gangs; and why would so many officers be saying that is happening, if it is not?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Peter Marshall, the assistant commissioner of police, has said that he would caution the public to be wary of unsourced commentaries supposedly downplaying methamphetamine. He said that quite frankly it is a nonsense to allude to unwritten orders. I think that member would be very concerned about rumours that there were unwritten orders that the Leader of the Opposition should stay away from Parliament because he is not up to the job.
Mr SPEAKER: No, that last comment was unnecessary. The member will withdraw and apologise.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I withdraw and apologise.
Hon Tony Ryall: I seek leave to table two media reports identifying people who confirm the nature of that police advice.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I seek leave to table a media release from the office of the Commissioner of Police about that subject.
Tertiary Education—Voluntary Long-term Savings
8. BERNIE OGILVY (United Future) to the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education): Can he confirm that the Government intends to introduce a voluntary long-term savings scheme for tertiary education; if so, why?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)): What I can do is quote the Prime Minister’s comments about saving for tertiary education made at the Labour Party conference on Saturday, where she said: “… we will look at ways of supporting families to plan ahead for the inevitable costs, not to replace what the government funds, but to be better prepared to meet the costs which fall on students and families now.”
Bernie Ogilvy: Can the Minister therefore confirm that he received support from United Future for establishing such a scheme, as part of last year’s Budget round; and that the Ministry of Education’s analysis of submissions in response to last year’s student support discussion document found that over one-half of submitters supported it—by far the single most popular proposal to emerge from the consultation?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I can confirm that United Future often provides support for very good ideas that are put about, and in this case it has supported this idea. And, yes, I can confirm that the student discussion document responses did indicate that a large number of people supported such an idea.
Dr Ashraf Choudhary: What initiatives has the Government previously undertaken to reduce the costs of tertiary education that fall on students and families, and what have been the results of those changes?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Too many to list. I will just mention a few of the most significant: no interest while studying; fee stabilisation and fee maxima; increased allowance thresholds; and annual indexing of those thresholds. I could go on, but it would take far too long.
Nandor Tanczos: Is not this individualised savings scheme just another step towards the privatisation of education; and whatever happened to the expectation that society provides low-cost tertiary education in return for an obligation on graduates to give back to the community?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: In answer to the first part of the question, no; in answer to the second part, this Government stands for low-cost tertiary education, and for students being able to contribute to their society.
Bernie Ogilvy: Can the Minister confirm that any proposals to introduce a long-term savings scheme for tertiary study would be voluntary, and would not legitimise wholesale increases in course fees; and is he confident that the rest of his party would be comfortable with it on that basis?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: There is a very long way to go with such a policy at this time, but, yes, I would expect that any such policy would need to be voluntary in nature.
Bernie Ogilvy: Has the Minister given any consideration to allowing the savings scheme to continue to be used beyond tertiary study, to perpetuate the savings ethic and to allow the account holders to save for houses or for their retirement; if not, why not?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No.
Health, Ministry—Service Providers
9. BARBARA STEWART (NZ First) to the Minister of Health: Is it her policy to ensure that those contracted by the Ministry of Health to provide services are audited to guarantee health funding is used appropriately?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): Yes. A number of processes are in place to ensure that funding for services contracted by the Ministry of Health is used in an appropriate manner. Those processes endeavour to minimise the risk of funds being used inappropriately. It is important to balance the need for accountability with the desire not to tie up providers with bureaucracy.
Barbara Stewart: Was the Minister advised about the alleged corruption occurring within the non-profit organisation, Supported Individualised Lifestyle Choices, by her colleagues Mark Burton, MP for Taupo, and Ruth Dyson, who is the Associate Minister of Health and the Minister for Disability Issues, and from within her own ministry; if not, how can she be sure that auditing is appropriate, and, if so, why has she done nothing about it?
Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I do not believe I am aware of that. However, I am aware that the Ministry of Health has many processes in place in terms of audit. Many non-governmental organisations, I believe, are audited far more than other sectors. However, that is not to say there will not be a bad apple in the barrel. We try to find them and stop any bad behaviour.
Barbara Stewart: Why is the Minister not taking seriously the ability for some unscrupulous individuals easily to exploit her auditing enforcement on contracted services, and is it not a fact that the moratorium on not allowing families to control their own care packages in New Zealand contravenes the rights of handicapped people and their families; if not, why not?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The two questions are totally unrelated. In relation to the second one, if we are talking about the ability to pervert contracts and so on, I am sure there are individuals who would pervert contracts just as easily as non-governmental organisations would. We try to ensure there are as few as possible. However, they are not related just to the non-governmental sector. For example, at the moment there are two private businesses that have attempted to rip off the taxpayers of New Zealand by falsely claiming pharmaceuticals.
Barbara Stewart: Is the Minister confident that the appropriate auditing measures have been applied to Supported Individualised Lifestyle Choices, set up in Taupo to provide care for the intellectually handicapped; why are there people who are still convinced that it was set up as a money-laundering scheme, and why has her ministry done nothing about this?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I cannot answer that question in the House today. I am not aware of it, but I will undertake to find out the information for the member and provide it to her.
10. Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister of Education: Does he agree with the comment of Linwood College Principal, Rob Burrough, who said: “We rely on a significant amount of locally raised funds in order to balance the books.”, and has he taken any action to prevent schools collecting compulsory school fees?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): I have a lot of respect for the gentleman concerned. There is a point of difference here. Linwood College raised $60,042 through donations last year. Total Government grants were $5.8 million, up $1.2 million since 1999. I have not taken any action with regard to that school, other than with all other schools when I reissued Wyatt Creech’s circular Payments by Parents of Students in State and State Integrated Schools originally issued in 1998.
Hon Bill English: Can he confirm that since he became the Minister parental contributions and donations have risen 34 percent to around $200 million per annum, and that his school-funding policy now relies on mid and higher decile school parents paying fees to keep the school viable?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No, I do not, and $60,000 is certainly not in that category.
Hon Brian Donnelly: Does the Minister stand by his statement in the House last week that the New Zealand Council for Educational Research’s research conclusion that affected schools rely significantly on locally raised funds is incorrect, and if he does, what does that tell us about his opinion of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research’s quality of research?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think the member is aware that I have to tread relatively carefully in that area, because of my close relationship with the New Zealand Council for Educational Research. However, leaving that to one side, it is fair to say that that particular piece of research ignored the fact that many of the extra teachers have been funded out of the extra operational grants. That is something the council should have referred to, and did not, and in my opinion that was more than a bit shoddy.
Hon Bill English: Does the Minister agree, or disagree, with the following statement: “Many of the schools I visit rely on local funds, school fees, and fund raising to pay for basic educational needs. That is wrong. The Education Act guarantees New Zealand children a free State education. The Government is breaching its responsibilities under that Act, when schools are forced to fund-raise to provide that education.”?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: When I became Minister in 1999 I sat down with schools in order to track a path to get out of that position. As a result of that, there were 2,550 extra teachers paid for by the Government, a 10 percent, and then inflation-adjusted, increase per student, and $120 million a year in professional development. That is why that situation does not exist now.
Hon Bill English: Can the Minister confirm that the reason he will not comment on that statement is that it was made by him as Opposition spokesperson on education, and will he confirm now what school principals all over the country are telling pupils at prize givings—that is, Labour’s policy on school funding relies on parents of pupils in middle and high decile schools topping up State funding with fees and donations, and when will he get real and just admit that that is just the way the world is?
Mr SPEAKER: There are three questions there. The Minister may answer two.
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Of course I recognise my own very brilliant statement. It no longer applies.
Special Education—Teacher and Learning Support
11. H V ROSS ROBERTSON (Labour—Manukau East) to the Associate Minister of Education: What moves has the Government made to increase the number of students with special education needs receiving additional teacher and learning support?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Associate Minister of Education (Adult and Community Education)) on behalf of the Associate Minister of Education: Today I announced that the number of special education students receiving additional specialist teacher support and time will increase from 550 students to 1,000 a year from next February. The Government is committing $18.3 million over the next 4 years, to address the needs of students who are not adequately supported through existing initiatives such as the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme, known as “ORRS”.
H V Ross Robertson: How does this announcement of extra provision supplement the existing education support?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: Around 7,500 students with very high needs receive support through that scheme—about 800 more than in 1999. This Government also established the School High Health Needs Fund, which supports another 250 children. In total, the special education budget has risen from $279 million to $436 million, a rise of 56 percent since 1999. This Government takes people’s special needs seriously.
Foreshore and Seabed Bill—Public Access and Ownership
12. METIRIA TUREI (Green) to the Deputy Prime Minister: Is the Government satisfied that the Foreshore and Seabed Bill will provide for public access to, and public ownership of, the foreshore?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister): I am satisfied that the Foreshore and Seabed Bill will provide for public access to, and public ownership of, the public foreshore and seabed.
Metiria Turei: Why, then, does the Foreshore and Seabed Bill contain a provision hidden away in schedule 3 that removes the requirement to provide public access over reclaimed land, and therefore allows wealthy yachties such as those at Bayswater Marina to privatise the foreshore and exclude the public?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I suggest the member waits to see how the Supplementary Order Paper emerges on a number of these matters.
Metiria Turei: Is it not the case that even with legal requirements to provide public access, local councils like the North Shore City Council find it almost impossible to get marinas like the Bayswater one to provide those mandatory marginal strips, and is not this bill simply making it easier for the wealthy to privatise the foreshore?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, absolutely not. There are, of course, always limits on the level of public access, even in public areas. I am sure the Green Party would be opposed to people being able to drive their private bulldozers down on to the beach and digging it up.
Hon Ken Shirley: Does the clause 21 that we have not seen yet provide the same as what the clause 21 in the bill as introduced did, which is what went to the select committee—namely, that restriction and prohibition of access to the public foreshore and seabed can be provided, with the proviso that Mâori can be exempted from that restriction, on the basis of customary right? Is that still in the bill as it stands now?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The member will find that the access provisions have been clarified in the bill that will be dealt with in the Committee stage. I can assure the member that, from my estimate of the timetable that we are on, he will have the Supplementary Order Paper long before we get to the Committee stage.
Metiria Turei: Is the Minister aware that wealthy landowners, such as those on Waiheke Island and elsewhere, have already used reclamations to exclude people from access to the beach; why is he supporting the rights of wealthy people to privatise the foreshore, over the rights of tangata whenua?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am not, but what the member’s case does highlight is the danger of allowing more private ownership of the foreshore and seabed, as she is proposing, when her party started off proposing that it should be held in the commons.
Metiria Turei: Has the Minister received any reports that make him confident that he can get support from the New Zealand First Party to pass schedule 3, which allows wealthy yachties to privatise the foreshore by reclaiming land?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That member has put up the same proposition three times. She has been wrong three times.
Opposition Member: That’s not a point of order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: That was OK. It will be a point of order when I have finished, if the member will keep quiet.
Mr SPEAKER: There will be no interjection while there is a point of order.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: My point of order is that, having put up three fallacious propositions, she now seeks to link New Zealand First with it. She cannot do that in any shape or form.
Mr SPEAKER: The member can ask the same question, and the Minister can give the same answer.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. She cannot, when it comes to New Zealand First, and he cannot either, when it comes to New Zealand First. That is my point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: That particular part of the member’s question was correct. The first part was in order. She referred to the Hon. Dr Michael Cullen, and did not specifically refer—
Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sorry but I am unclear as to what parts of my question you might be ruling out of order.
Mr SPEAKER: Those in relation to the matters that are quoting New Zealand First. The member may ask questions of the Minister about the bill but not about New Zealand First. New Zealand First members are responsible for their policy, and the Minister is responsible for his. The member can restate the question. [Interruption] I am allowing the member to restate the question.
Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like you to take into consideration, with all due respect, that the question concerned whether the Minister had received any reports about this issue, and was not asking him to make any comment on New Zealand First policy. Rather, it was about whether he had received reports that made him confident that he could get support from that party for that clause. It was not about New Zealand First policy at all.
Mr SPEAKER: That point now having been made, and I have taken advice on this, the member is correct. The Minister may answer.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I can confirm that I have support to pass the Government’s Supplementary Order Paper, which of course is the result of negotiation between the Government and New Zealand First. I am very grateful for the assistance of Mr Dail Jones, particularly on some of the technical aspects around land law on those matters.
Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table two documents. The first is an article from a Nelson Mail of March reporting on Kerry Bateman’s legal action.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that article. Is there any objection? There is.
Metiria Turei: The second document is a letter to the Minister of Conservation in which the Mayor of North Shore begs him to withdraw the repeal of that section of the Conservation Act that gets rid of marginal strips.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that letter. Is there any objection? There is.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. A matter arose in that last interchange that I think needs some clarification. You made the point that the Government is responsible for its legislation, and that Mr Winston Peters is responsible for his policy. That would be the normal situation where a Government bill has come to the House, but we know that what we are going to see later this afternoon is now an amalgam of the Government’s bill and Mr Peter’s input. In the light of that, I think your comment was rather harsh; members should be able to ask, where there is an amalgam of those two positions.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister can be asked whether he has support for his bill; to that extent I agree with the member.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have had an interesting time in question time. We have been assured by Mr Peters that he has seen the bill and the Supplementary Order Paper, and we have been told by the Minister that we can have the Supplementary Order Paper as soon as it is available. I guess the Minister is waiting for a full printed version. We all know Mr Peters; I cannot believe that he would have agreed to something that he had not seen in print. Can we at least have what Mr Peters had seen, as that would give us some time to be able to read it before we are supposed to debate it tonight? I would like to make that request, through you, Mr Speaker, to the Leader of the House. If it is good enough for Mr Peters, is it good enough for the rest of us?
Mr SPEAKER: That is a reasonable point of order. I ask the Minister to respond.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Mr Peters has had all those documents, along with Mr Jones and their colleagues, no doubt, because they have been involved in discussions about the detail. Some of them, obviously, consisted of handwritten amendments to the point of consideration, by Mr Peters. I am not making those available. We will table, at the proper time, the fully printed Supplementary Order Paper, and I will be seeking—
Hon Ken Shirley: Proper time?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I said before that I have made special efforts, even though the select committee failed to produce a proper report, to have printed a redline version of the bill, which will considerably aid members’ understanding of what they are actually looking at in the Committee stage, as opposed to our trying to put together the Supplementary Order Paper and the original bill.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Notwithstanding the general attitude that is being conveyed by the Leader of the House, which we find unacceptable, he did indicate before that, according to a timeline he had been provided with, the Supplementary Order Paper would be available to the House in good time, prior to it going into Committee. I wonder whether he might indicate when that time will be, as he seems to know it.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I do not know the time, but I am an experienced member of Parliament, and we have a Committee stage coming up with three questions—
Gerry Brownlee: Three now!
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Transport Legislation Bill has three questions in the Committee stage—Part 1, Part 2, and the preliminary clauses. That, obviously, will take us some little time—I do not expect the Opposition to be rushing it. We are already at 20 past 3. Therefore it seems likely that we will enter upon the urgency some time in the evening. We will have a full second reading debate; I understand there will be some moves to try to extend the length of that debate. The House will lift at 10 o’clock. It therefore seems likely that we will get to tomorrow morning before we actually start the Committee stage of the Foreshore and Seabed Bill. New Zealand First and the Labour Party have been staying up late at night working on the bill, and I now recommend that to other parties as well.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Quite simply, does that mean that we will see the Supplementary Order Paper today?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes. I am expecting, from my latest information, that the member will see the Supplementary Order Paper before teatime.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That, of course, requires further clarification, because if we go into urgency later this afternoon, it will still be “today” on Thursday. So I would like to know whether we are going to get it on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I said “before teatime”, and, as the member can see from my slightly expanding girth, I am not likely to wait till Thursday for my next teatime.
Mr SPEAKER: To me, that meant “today”.