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Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 29 March 2005

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

Tuesday, 29 March 2005
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers

1. Foreshore and Seabed—Public Access
2. Mâui’s Dolphin—Protection
3. Immigration—Good Character Requirement
4. Working for Families Package—Benefits
Question No. 3 to Minister
5. Police, Minister—Confidence
6. Working New Zealanders—Government Assistance
Question No. 5 to Minister
7. Police Priorities—South Auckland Dairy Owner
8. Conservation, Department—Focus
9. Weathertight Homes Resolution Service—Claims Resolution
10. Benefits—Consistency
11. Police Priorities—Public Reaction
12. Oil—Prices
13.


Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers

Foreshore and Seabed—Public Access

1. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statement of 7 April 2004 that the Government’s foreshore and seabed policy “guarantees access to the foreshore and seabed for all New Zealanders.”, in light of reports that the Mâori Land Court has decided to hear a claim for control of 50 kilometres of Eastern Bay of Plenty coastline; if so, why?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes. The Foreshore and Seabed Act provides that the Mâori Land Court can only address claims for customary rights orders. Under section 55, such orders cannot restrict access or navigation rights. It is indeed highly questionable that the claim the member refers to is one for control of the coastline referred to.

Dr Don Brash: Can the Prime Minister confirm that the Mâori Land Court has found that it has jurisdiction to consider a customary rights application for rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga over 50 kilometres of Bay of Plenty foreshore, and does she accept that a customary rights order over such a vast piece of coastline is totally at odds with assurances given by her Government about the impact of the Foreshore and Seabed Act?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The matter at this stage is one for the Mâori Land Court to deal with. The Crown, of course, will make its representations within the court, and, if need be—depending on the nature of the conclusion of the Mâori Land Court—may take that a further stage in the legal process.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Prime Minister aware of how the judge’s minute in this case was released into the public arena, and does she have any concerns about how that confidential minute was leaked into the public arena and who did so?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: My understanding is that the minute was released by the Chief Judge of the Mâori Land Court himself to Mr Jonathan Milne, which, I am advised, is not the normal practice.

Metiria Turei: Will the Government stand by a decision made by the Mâori Land Court operating under the Foreshore and Seabed Act or, given Dr Cullen’s reported fury at the Chief Judge’s stance on the application, will the Government persist in its Muldoonist habit of changing the law whenever it does not like the Mâori land decisions returned by the courts?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Both the Act and the legal system provide avenues for the Government to appeal any decision by the Mâori Land Court, should it wish to do so. It would be most unwise of the Government to forgo any right of appeal at this stage.

Hon Ken Shirley: Does the Prime Minister have any reason to doubt the impartiality of the Mâori Land Court on this issue; if so, what are those reasons?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: This is the first application dealt with under the Foreshore and Seabed Act. Therefore, I think it is wise for all people to breathe deeply and wait for the outcome of the hearing before rushing to judgment.

Dr Don Brash: What assurances will the Prime Minister give New Zealanders that, should a loophole in the legislation be exploited to give customary rights orders over vast swathes of New Zealand’s coastline, she will work with the Opposition to ensure that amending legislation is passed to rectify this serious mistake?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The application, as I said before, is probably not one that can be considered as being one for control of the coastline but an application for a customary rights order of some description. The application does not make it entirely clear what is being sought. The evidence filed in support so far is largely about collection of shells, washing in sea-water for ceremonial or traditional purposes, and the fishing and collection of shellfish. Even over 50 kilometres of areas or parts within, with rights of navigation access being guaranteed, this does not present a great threat to that member’s rights.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Prime Minister confirm that there is a significant divergence between the applicant’s application and the view of the Mâori Land Court judge—in this case, Mr Williams—which is not part of the application; and how can this man go on being a Mâori Land Court judge if he is prepared to release and leak a confidential minute from the hearing of the court to the media of this country?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: My understanding, as I said before, is that this was not a usual practice of a judge in these kinds of circumstances. But, as I also said, let us wait for the hearing to proceed. The Crown will be taking a vigorous position within this hearing.

Dr Don Brash: Is the Prime Minister happy with the way her Government’s Foreshore and Seabed Act is written, in light of Chief Judge Williams’ statement on an application for control over 50 kilometres of coastline: “The legislation appears to contemplate just this approach.”; if so, how does this guarantee access to the foreshore and seabed for all New Zealanders?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Dealing with the second part of the question first, any customary rights order under section 55 of the Act cannot infringe upon access or navigation rights. As to the other matters, I think the member should read the judge’s minute a bit further. The judge, in fact, also states that there is a great way to go before Whakatôhea can demonstrate what it is applying for. This is an application at this point.

Dail Jones: Will the Prime Minister confirm that any application that is lodged for a customary order must relate to an activity or a use that has been continuing since 1840—was going on in 1900, 2000, and 2005—and has never bothered any New Zealander in being carried out, because the use of the foreshore and seabed has continued by all New Zealanders since that time, so there should really be no concern on the part of anyone who actually understands the Foreshore and Seabed Act with regard to an application for a customary rights order?

Madam SPEAKER: That is quite a long question.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, I think that that is so. As I said before, the evidence filed in support is largely about the collection of shells—something that, I suspect, some of us in this House who are non-Mâori have engaged in in the past—the washing in sea-water for ceremonial traditional purposes, which some might care to use, and the fishing and collection of shellfish.

Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table a copy of an article printed on 27 March that clearly illustrates Dr Cullen’s reported fury at the Chief Judge’s stance.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is. The document will not be tabled.

Mâui’s Dolphin—Protection

2. TARIANA TURIA (Leader—Maori Party) to the Minister of Conservation: What initiatives have been put in place along the west coast of the North Island to protect the Mâui’s dolphin, the world’s smallest and rarest marine dolphin, given it has been classified as “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ red list?

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): In October 2003, the Minister of Fisheries closed areas to set-netting on the west coast of the North Island within the range of Mâui’s dolphin, as this fishing method had been identified as a major threat. Further work is being undertaken by my department and the Ministry of Fisheries to gain more information about other possible threats to Mâui’s dolphin.

Tariana Turia: What effect will the possible excavation and dredging of ironsands on the coastline between Taranaki and Kaipara Harbour have on the ongoing survival of Mâui’s dolphin?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: As yet, we do not know what the answer to that question will be, but I can assure the member that the Department of Conservation will be watching those activities—should they take place, because at the moment there is only an application to explore—very carefully to see that there is no negative impact on this critically endangered species.

Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Have the existing measures to protect Mâui’s dolphin been successful?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: Yes. The outlook for Mâui’s dolphin has improved as there have been no recorded deaths from set-net entanglement since the closures were put in place. In the 3 years before that, there were seven deaths from human-related causes.

Tariana Turia: What assurance will the Minister give this House that he will advise the Associate Minister of Energy that any consultation on the Black Sand Exploration permit application must include an opportunity for environmental objections relative to Mâui’s dolphin, to be heard from mana whenua who are kaitiaki of these dolphins?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: My department is developing a code of conduct to minimise the impact of mining exploration on marine mammals. This code is still in draft form, but most exploration companies over the past few months have been keen to work to it, regardless. We are dialoguing closely with the Ministry of Economic Development.

Tariana Turia: Is the Minister prepared to call in a mining licence in this area, given that the World Wide Fund For Nature has indicated that Mâui’s dolphin may become extinct in 25 years?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I can assure the member and the rest of the House that the Department of Conservation will be taking every measure possible to ensure the survival of this critically endangered species.

Nanaia Mahuta: Could the Minister clarify whether any mana whenua group along the west coast has made an application to protect Mâui’s dolphin?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: To my knowledge, no.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Can the Minister confirm that if this application were for the total habitat of a similarly critically endangered species on conservation land, the Minister would have the power to refuse consent to mine on the conservation estate, but that with no similarly protected areas in the sea, he does not have this power; and what opportunities, if any, does the Minister have to protect this unique animal from almost certain extinction if mining proceeds on that scale?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I will repeat the comment I made earlier in answer to a previous question: the department is developing a code of conduct to minimise the impact of mining activities. We will be working very closely with other Government departments to ensure that that takes place. It is also my understanding that the size of the activity determines whether in my role of Minister of Conservation I have an opportunity to be a decision maker. If it is a significant activity, it then falls under a restricted coastal activity and I become decision maker.

Immigration—Good Character Requirement

3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: Why does the New Zealand Immigration Service require, before a New Zealand visa or permit can be granted, an assurance that the applicant and any family included in an application are of good character?

Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Immigration): Character checks are in place to determine whether people wanting to enter or remain in New Zealand meet the requirements of section 7 of the Immigration Act, and associated policy. The Act sets out the types of convictions that would preclude someone from entering New Zealand.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Minister believe that a person with proven links to an organisation that promotes paedophilia and that publishes literature promoting sex between boys and men is a person of good character, being the publisher and editor of the publication Unbound that contains articles about men and boys having sex, as well as pictures of naked boys, and why was this not picked up by the New Zealand Immigration Service?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: As I said, section 7 talks about the kinds of convictions, and as I have said to this House before, this person had police clearances in both South Africa and America. However, the application form asks whether a person has been the subject of any investigation, and also asks about the nature of the person’s previous immigration status. It is important that people fill out the form right. Investigations are under way to see whether, in fact, that form was filled out correctly. If it was not, then a visa or a permit can be revoked.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Minister aware that the former owner of Free Forum Books before Jim Peron, Mr Eric Garris, has made the following statement with regard to Jim Peron’s involvement with North American Man/Boy Love Association: “I did not sell the NAMBLA bulletin. I did not sell the NAMBLA bulletin or allow NAMBLA meetings in the bookstore when I owned it. Jim was an ardent supporter of NAMBLA and gave it a home at the bookstore after I sold it to him. On several occasions I expressed my negative feelings toward associating the libertarian bookstore with NAMBLA. When I sold the bookstore to Jim, the only condition of the sale was that he would allow the Libertarian Party to meet and distribute literature in the store. I would never have asked him to allow NAMBLA to meet there, and would not have sold him the bookstore if I had known he would use it to promote NAMBLA.”, and what comment does the Minister have today regarding Mr Peron’s character now, who previously stated that to continue to hold North American Man/Boy Love Association meetings at the bookstore was a condition of the sale to him?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am aware of the comments that were made originally by this person, saying that the condition of the sale was that that magazine or that information was to be held at the bookstore. My office has been contacted by someone who has told me that in fact he or she believes that not to be the case. I have asked for that information to come to me in written form and I would be very keen for the member to give me a copy of it so I can investigate it further.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the following: a note from Eric Garris, the previous bookstore owner; a note from Dr Frits Bernard as to who was the editor of Unbound; and also a volume of Unbound, which sets out page after page of evidence in respect of this man’s beliefs and proclivities.

Leave granted.

Hon Richard Prebble: Has the Minister received any evidence from Mr Peters that Mr Jim Peron has committed any crime in this country or any other country?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am aware of a number of allegations that have been made in the House, but I have not had any evidence yet along the lines of what the member’s question was about.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister received any information or reports that in this House there is a political party that seems to be a defender of paedophilia behaviour and paedophiles in New Zealand?

Madam SPEAKER: The Minister has no responsibility for another party.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. My question asked whether the Minister has received any reports.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The Minister of Immigration has no responsibility for that particular matter. If anybody has I suppose it might be the Leader of the House, but even then, I doubt that I have.

Hon Richard Prebble: The matter does not settle there. Mr Peters is making a serious slur on parliamentarians. That is most certainly out of order, and if he was suggesting that I am defending paedophilia he is most certainly mistaken. I require him to withdraw and apologise for that very serious slur. It is all right for Mr Peters, and we cannot stop him from slandering anyone outside this House, but under our rules he cannot slander a member of this House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: First of all, the caucus of the ACT party is not a party—or anything like it, apparently. Secondly, I was prepared to allow that Rodney Hide had made a serious mistake in helping someone who walked into his office, or had others walk into his office seeking an MP’s assistance, and I am still prepared to. But when some member of Parliament rises, knowing that the evidence that is out now clearly points to such a person, then I resent in any way, shape, or form that it is me who is guilty of a breach of privilege, or has in any way offended the rules of Parliament.

Hon Richard Prebble: It is all very well for Mr Peters now to refer to some other MP. The person who asked the question was myself, and I take very deep offence at Mr Peters’ statement. I was seeking clarification as to whether any crime had been committed, and as far as I can tell no crime has been committed and no evidence has been given of it. So I am now being slurred as being a defender of paedophilia, and I take very great exception to that. Mr Peters may make it his practice to slander people outside this House and may get popular support for doing so, but he may not do it to MPs. I am asking you, Madam Speaker, now that I have been so slurred by Mr Peters, to require him to withdraw and apologise, even though he has great difficulty in admitting that he has made mistakes.

Madam SPEAKER: I think I have heard sufficient argument on this. Obviously the question when it was first asked was out of order. Members know that they should not imply infamous or damaging conduct on other members. If the member did imply such conduct then he should either deny he was making that allegation or he should withdraw and apologise.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I wish to raise a point of clarification for you to make on this judgment, and it concerns an event. I referred to a political party that stood, to a man and a woman, and cheered Mr Jim Peron just 2 weeks ago at its annual conference. I referred to a political party. I did not refer to anybody in this House, and Hansard will disclose that.

Madam SPEAKER: However, a member felt that the inference was to that particular member, so is the member denying that there was any such inference to an individual member?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I am saying that my reference was to a political party. The specific details are of a political party, after the matter had been raised in this House, cheering, to a man and a woman, at its last annual general meeting, one Jim Peron.

Madam SPEAKER: Is the member saying, and I ask this for the last time—[Interruption] The member has taken exception to what was a serious allegation, from which a reasonable inference could have been taken, even though reference was made generally. I am asking the member, for the last time, either to withdraw and apologise or to state that no such inference was applied to an individual member.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I wish to make it very clear to you that a political party—and a parliamentary party—[Interruption] No, I am not going to apologise.

Hon Richard Prebble: Of course you are.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, I am not. I am not going to apologise for accusing a political party—and I have given the House evidence for it—of being a defender of a paedophile.

Madam SPEAKER: The member is not going to withdraw and apologise. Are you denying then that the implication was that individual members of that party were supporters of paedophiles?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, obviously. I referred to a political party. But no one in this House can demand that because I referred to his or her party I therefore referred to that member.

Stephen Franks: Mr Peters said that the ACT party, to a man and a woman, stood and applauded Mr Peron. That is untrue for a start; I was there. He has included me in his inference, and I demand that he withdraw and apologise to me, for a start.

Madam SPEAKER: I refer members to Speaker’s ruling 47/4, for those who are interested in these matters, and I know that those who are participating in this matter are interested: “It has traditionally been ruled that it is perfectly in order for members to say that the Government or a member has been influenced by somebody outside Parliament or has had advice from somebody outside Parliament. It is not in order to say that the Government or a member has been dominated by, has received instructions from, has received directions from, or has been dictated to by somebody outside Parliament.” That was the implication. Would the member then please withdraw and apologise.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will not, because I have made it very clear where my allegation lay, and with respect that Speaker’s ruling covers no such thing; there is no reference to this matter at all.

Madam SPEAKER: I refer the member, then, to Speaker’s ruling 47/1.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. We have here deliberate defiance of the Speakership. Just asking Mr Peters to withdraw so that he can make some TV stunt is not sufficient. I believe he should be named. I take very great exception to what Mr Peters is saying. I say to you that, in my case—because I can speak only for myself—what he is saying is totally untrue.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If Mr Prebble and Mr Franks are offended by what I have said, then I apologise personally to those two members.

Madam SPEAKER: The member has apologised. We will now move on to the next question.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I, too, am offended by the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ implication in what he said. I think you were right the first time you ruled—that he should withdraw and apologise totally.

Madam SPEAKER: Would the member withdraw and apologise to all members of the ACT party in the House whom he was referring to in that statement.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I withdraw and apologise to all those members, whether or not they stood in support of Jim Peron.

Madam SPEAKER: No; does the member withdraw and apologise?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I withdraw and apologise.

Madam SPEAKER: The member withdraws and apologises. Would he please—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. You happily allowed Mr Prebble to go on talking about me slandering people outside this House. Well, the test of that is that I am prepared, as I promised Rodney Hide, to say what I have said in a public press conference in an hour’s time. I hope he turns up.

Madam SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

Working for Families Package—Benefits

4. GEORGINA BEYER (Labour—Wairarapa) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: How have New Zealand families already benefited from the Working for Families package?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): More than 88,000 New Zealand households already have increased entitlements as a result of the Working for Families changes that came into effect on 1 October 2004. Over 30,000 families have had increased entitlements to childcare assistance and out-of-school care and recreation, due to increased subsidy rates and widened eligibility. Around 60,000 have had increased entitlements to accommodation supplements as a result of a more generous abatement provision brought in on 1 October.

Georgina Beyer: How much do individual families benefit from those changes?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Let me give two examples. A two-income couple with two children that earns a little over $37,000 gross a year before tax, and pays $120 a week in rent and $69 in childcare costs, will be $42 a week better off. A sole parent with a young child who works 30 hours a week, earning $11 an hour in the hand, while on the domestic purposes benefit, and pays $225 in rent and $115 or so in childcare costs, will be $56 better off. By April 2007, they will be $163 a week and $147 a week better off respectively.

John Key: Is it not a fact that the Inland Revenue Department is woefully underprepared for what could be a huge number of recipients of Working for Families who will end up underestimating their income and becoming debtors of the Inland Revenue Department, just like the 34,747 who found themselves in that position in 2004, when a fraction of the number of New Zealanders was exposed to that package; and was he shocked to learn, as I was, that 747 of those New Zealanders ended up owing $5,000 or more, and 22 owed $10,000 or more last year alone?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No.

Rod Donald: Is the Minister concerned at the front page report in today’s Christchurch Press that desperate workers are visiting food banks for the first time, and what is his response to a call from social service agencies, the Council of Trade Unions, and the Green Party to bring forward those parts of the Working for Families package that the Government has delayed until 2007?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I am always concerned when I read headlines of that nature. That is what the Working for Families package, of course, is for. This year, around $600 million will be part of that package. Were we to move forward more parts of that package, the pressure on things such as inflation would be obvious. The $600 million this year is about what I think we can give.

Bill Gudgeon: Will the Minister confirm, aside from rent relief, how much senior citizens would benefit from the Working for Families package?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As the member knows, this package is targeted at households with families in them. If superannuitants have families in their households, they will benefit directly from the package.

Judy Turner: Why are families who provide foster care for extended family members, such as grandparents caring for their grandchildren, paid $30 less a week under the Working for Families package than Child, Youth and Family Services foster carers who do an equivalent job, and how does he reconcile that with the Government’s stated intention in the care and protection blueprint that “Wherever possible, relationships between children, young people, and their family and whânau should be preserved and strengthened.”?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The member will know, I am sure, that the reason behind this is that when people have children placed into their care by Child, Youth and Family Services they are, in fact, acting on the instructions of the State in looking after those children, whereas most of the children who are being raised by grandparents, or by any other relative in the same situation, are not in that position. A major debate is going on right now on whether those two payments ought to be equalised. The member knows that. It is under active consideration.

John Key: If the Minister stands by the answer he gave me before, when he said that he was not concerned about the Inland Revenue Department, and he did not think it was woefully unprepared, will he stand up in the House now and tell New Zealanders who underestimate their income that they will not have to pay the debts they owe; and will he also tell the people of New Zealand why New Zealanders will be so much better at estimating their income than Australians under the same scheme, 96 percent of whom could not get it right?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Mr Key is asking me to make comparisons between New Zealanders and Australians, which I shall resist doing on this occasion. All I can say to Mr Key is that he knows—we have said it before—that both myself and the Minister responsible for the Inland Revenue Department think the department has been well prepared for this, and is in good shape to handle the job that it has had put in front of it.

John Key: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I asked the Minister to stand up and give to the House and to the people of New Zealand the assurance that if he is wrong, and if thousands and thousands of New Zealanders end up owing a lot of money to the Inland Revenue Department, his Government will write it off. It is all very well for the Minister to stand up and smile about it and not care about it, but the facts of life are that the answers given to me by the Minister of Finance were that the Inland Revenue Department is woefully underprepared.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Apart from the last bit being absolutely untrue and completely incorrect, the Minister for Social Development and Employment has no responsibility for making promises about refunds from an Inland Revenue Department scheme.

John Key: Can the Minister confirm that the Inland Revenue Department will use a system for contacting New Zealanders who underestimate their income that will involve the department sending two computer-generated letters, and that the computer-generated letters will be months and months apart, so there will be plenty of time to run up those debts; and can he tell the House why the Inland Revenue Department in New Zealand did not contact the inland revenue department in Australia to work out why it had so many problems with its system, when it is using exactly the same system?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I am flattered that Mr Key thinks I am responsible for the Inland Revenue Department when the other Minister is actually in the House. But I can say to the member—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: This Minister is responsible for nothing—always ducking for cover.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Mr Smith is inviting something that he never wants to hear, so if I were him I would be quiet—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: What sort of threat is that?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I said that I would be quiet if I were him; he is always inviting things across the House that he does not want to hear, so he should be quiet. What I can say to Mr Key on behalf of the Minister, whom I have worked with closely on the implementation of this programme, is that the Inland Revenue Department has a good tracking method in relation to ensuring that people understand what is happening, so it is confident it can handle this issue.

Question No. 3 to Minister

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am concerned that you look at Speaker’s ruling 47/1, which you used in an attempt to demand that I apologise. That, of course, is a Speaker’s ruling from 1914, and members of this House will remember the Speaker’s ruling made by the previous Speaker when the Alliance was collapsing, where he ruled that the party led by Laila Harré and the party led by Jim Anderton were two different things, and one could not, by way of aspersion, be sheeted against the other. That was a very clear recent ruling, the most recent one I know of, and, in my view, it overrides this view that you have expressed on this Speaker’s ruling—and surely it was one that was drafted by the present Clerk, if you want continuity and consistency of rulings. But to go back and look at that, it is as clear as daylight that you cannot imply that someone outside this House is inside this House, or someone inside this House is necessarily outside this House, and thereby say there is a blanket insinuation.

Madam SPEAKER: The member is in fact relitigating the point of order.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I know that, and for good purpose. I do not want an answer today, but I would like to know how your ruling today—

Madam SPEAKER: I will look at it for the member.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Thank you very much. I am just pointing to the authority in the precincts.

Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (ACT): I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. You are absolutely right. The member is actually having later thoughts, and under the Standing Orders that is totally out of order; members must raise the matter at the time. If you want to go into the merits of the points that the member has made, you will find that in fact he is wrong there, too. But the quick answer is that he is out of time, so he is out of order.

Police, Minister—Confidence

5. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay Of Plenty) to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in the Minister of Police; if so, why?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes, because he is a hard-working and conscientious Minister.

Hon Tony Ryall: Why is the Prime Minister happy with Mr Hawkins’ leadership of New Zealand Police when, in the Minister’s own Counties-Manukau police district, there are reports that rape complaints lie amongst hundreds and hundreds of uninvestigated police files?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am advised, first of all, obviously, that the leadership of the police for operational purposes rests with the Commissioner of Police, and I am interested, always, that the National Party wants to adopt a policy whereby a politician can direct the Commissioner of Police on operational matters. There is a two-word term for that—one of which is “police”, and the other “State”, but I will not put them together for the purposes of this particular argument.

Rodney Hide: How can the Prime Minister have confidence in George Hawkins as the Minister of Police, when in his own backyard of south Auckland nine complaints of rape—one dating back to Christmas—are yet to be allocated to a police officer to investigate because of a lack of resources, which that Minister of Police stands up in this House and denies?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government’s position is that the Commissioner of Police has the resources sufficient for such purposes, and, obviously, the Minister will take up with the commissioner issues around rape complaints lying unanswered and uninvestigated for any considerable length of time.

Marc Alexander: Why does the Prime Minister continue to have confidence in the Minister of Police when the high Easter weekend road toll strongly suggests that his emphasis on issuing speeding tickets is clearly misplaced, in contrast to, and at the expense of, core crime concerns that, by default, are being relegated to being seen as a second-tier police function?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The high Easter road toll was, in large part, due to excessive speeding. The first multi-fatality accident was due to speeding. If the member is now saying the police should not have been trying to reduce the level of speeding on the open roads, then I fail to follow the logic of the case that he is making.

Ron Mark: Did the Prime Minister not hear the President of the Police Association, Mr Greg O’Connor, say on radio today that, currently, around 1,000 cases in Auckland alone are not being investigated by the police, because the police are grossly understaffed; and is that not proof of what New Zealand First said on 30 May 2003 when announcing its policy to double the size of the police force in order to bring New Zealand into line with other First World countries such as the United States, England, Wales, and Australia with their police-citizen policing ratios?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: What I can report is that we have the lowest crime rate for over 20 years, and we have one of the highest crime clearance rates in our recorded history—[Interruption]—and no amount of barracking from the Opposition will change the facts.

Hon Tony Ryall: How long can the Prime Minister keep telling the public that the police are adequately staffed, when an ordinary citizen, tailing a drunk driver, can ring 111 five times, pass a police car issuing traffic tickets, and get no action whatsoever to take this dangerous menace off the roads?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am pleased that, at last, the member considers that policing of road offences is an important part of police activity. It is the first time in some weeks that he has come to recognise that fact. An inquiry is under way into the 111 system. We shall see what the results of that inquiry are.

Ron Mark: What are the public to think about this Government when, on the one hand, a dairy owner reports thefts and the names of the perpetrators but get no action, but, on the other hand, the Hon David Benson-Pope cries to the police and gets a patrol car sent immediately, with an officer, without having laid one formal charge, in order to get $35 picked up, yet, at the same time, interestingly enough, the police, against all advice, seek to prosecute an Opposition MP for driving a tractor in Parliament grounds, whilst ignoring the fact—

Madam SPEAKER: Does the member have a question?

Ron Mark: —that the Prime Minister was involved in art fraud, for which a charge was never laid—

Madam SPEAKER: Does the member have a question? I am not sure what the question was. There was a series of statements. The member should succinctly ask the question.

Ron Mark: On the back of that evidence, what are the public to think of this Government and its policing priorities?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: What they are think is, firstly, that we have the lowest crime rate in over 20 years, and, secondly, that we have the highest crime clearance statistics for many, many years. The member may not like that, but it is in fact the situation in New Zealand. On his reference to facts, perhaps he would like to get his facts right. In the one case where the person in south Auckland reported the names, the offender was trespassed off the particular property. Efforts were made to locate the offender. He will be interviewed, should he come to police attention again. That particular offender is not the one referred to in terms of the video evidence, which Mr Hide gently tried to confuse—one with the other.

Hon Tony Ryall: Why does the Prime Minister have confidence in Mr Hawkins, when the Labour Party list ranking committee does not; and maybe it is more in touch with the country than this Prime Minister?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Prime Minister has no ministerial responsibility for the Labour list. I think that members on the other side of the House would die to be No. 25 on our list, rather than beNos 6 or 7 on most of theirs.

Ron Mark: I seek leave to table a statement made by Madeleine Flannagan of south Dunedin outlining the incident involving the dispatching of a police car to collect $35.

Madam SPEAKER: Is there any objection to the tabling of that document? There is objection.

Ron Mark: I seek leave to table some documents, including a letter from the police where they admit they failed to investigate a report of fraud signed by Mr A F Shearer.

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

Ron Mark: I seek leave to table a letter from the police to a Miss Ria Whittam apologising for police failure to investigate properly a theft.

Leave granted.

Ron Mark: I seek leave to table an email from a Mr Brendan Murphy about his reporting to the police on the Auckland Motorway of a stolen car—a report that the police failed to respond to.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection. The document will not be tabled.

Ron Mark: Then there is hardly any point in seeking leave to table the other 10 or 15, is there?

Madam SPEAKER: I would think not.

Working New Zealanders—Government Assistance

6. Hon MARK GOSCHE (Labour—Maungakiekie) to the Minister of Labour: What is the Government doing to assist working New Zealanders?

Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Labour): The Government has done a great deal. It repealed the Employment Contracts Act and introduced the Employment Relations Act. It introduced paid parental leave, and also 4 weeks’ annual leave, and time and a half for those who work on public holidays. The Government has introduced more effective health and safety laws, and has increased the minimum wage every year for the past 6 years.

Hon Mark Gosche: What improvements has the Government made to the minimum wage since 1999, and how does this compare with the previous decade?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: The Labour Government has increased the minimum wage from $7 to $9.50 in just 6 years—an increase of over 35 percent. By comparison, between 1990 and 1994 under the previous National Government the minimum wage was not increased at all.

Government Members: What!

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Not at all! Between 1995 and 1999 the minimum wage was increased by less than one miserable dollar. Labour is very proud of its record on this issue.

John Key: If this Government really cares about working families and working New Zealanders, why are working New Zealanders facing higher taxes than before, why does the in-work payment that is part of the Working for Families package not occur until 2006, and why are two-thirds of the people who will be beneficiaries of the Working for Families package on welfare?

Madam SPEAKER: There are several questions there. The Minister must answer only one, but if he wishes to answer two, he may.

Hon PAUL SWAIN: The Working for Families package will see a great boost for a large number of working families in New Zealand, and this Government is very, very proud of that.

Judy Turner: What is the Government going to do to help disabled people like Christchurch man Peter Bradley stay in the workforce, when he has been told that the 4 hours a week of home help he needs will be axed unless he quits his job as a call-centre operator—which he enjoys—and that he will be required to go back on to a full invalids benefit?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I presume that the member is speaking about the repeal of sections of the Employment Relations Act?

Judy Turner: Yes.

Hon PAUL SWAIN: It is important to note that around 3,000 clients are involved in 47 workshops, and the repeal of this legislation applies to about 1,000 of those clients. Under the repeal, individuals themselves will be assessed as to whether they are exempt from minimum-wage provisions, rather than what is currently the case, which is that all those in sheltered workshops are exempt. That is a fair way to proceed.

Judy Turner: I seek leave to table an article from the media: “Got a job, lost home helper”.

Leave granted.

Question No. 5 to Minister

RON MARK (NZ First): I am going to try one more time. I seek the leave of the House to table a letter from a constituent, who visited the police on three occasions to lay charges against Mr Tame Iti long before the police actually decided to do so.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is. The document will not be tabled.

Police Priorities—South Auckland Dairy Owner

7. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Minister of Police: What is his response to the south Auckland dairy owner who has been tormented by thieves for over a year, who has handed police the names and addresses of the thieves, together with video evidence, and who has been told by police that it is low priority and no action will be taken?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): The situation as reported in the media would be totally unsatisfactory, and I have told the Commissioner of Police that I expect him to address those issues.

Rodney Hide: On what date did the Minister learn that there were 9 complaints of rape—one dating back to Christmas—in his patch of south Auckland yet to be assigned an investigating officer, and up to 1,500 criminal cases yet to be assigned an investigating officer; does he find that unsatisfactory, too?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I find that unassigned cases are something that the commissioner must address, and I will talk to him about that.

Rodney Hide: Does the Minister agree with Prime Minister Helen Clark that Sergeant Fogarty was “ill-advised” to write to the south Auckland dairy owner and say that because of “the sheer volume of complaints and limited resources”, the police could not investigate the case; if he does agree with her, is the problem that the police officer just told the truth?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I agree with the Prime Minister. I must say that the reports in the media are not accurate. A year ago an offender was apprehended for stealing cigarettes. The case was taken to court and the person was prosecuted. The second case of shoplifting involved a pie, a sausage, and a drink. That person has been trespassed, and the person’s name flagged. He will be picked up when he comes to the notice of the police. A third complaint referred to shoplifting, and the registration number that was given for the vehicle does not exist. The most recent complaint in February of this year involved the theft of a single bottle of Coke, and the police have been given video footage of that theft.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I question that. The Minister of Police just gave the answer to my first question. My question concerned the letter that Sergeant Fogarty wrote, and whether it was “ill-advised”. I do ask that the Minister of Police—who I know is reading from a prepared script—actually addresses my question and tells me whether he agrees with the Prime Minister that that letter was “ill-advised”.

Madam SPEAKER: The question asked whether the Minister agreed with the Prime Minister. He said he did, and then he went on to make other statements. So the question was addressed.

Rodney Hide: My point is therefore to ask whether the Minister of Police is saying that what—

Madam SPEAKER: Would the member like to ask another supplementary question, which may be a way to get his question addressed?

Rodney Hide: No. We have a limited number of supplementary questions, which is always my complaint. When a Minister does not address a question properly, it means that we have to burn up Opposition questions.

Madam SPEAKER: The Minister addressed the member’s question. The answer may not have been satisfactory, but the question was addressed.

Rodney Hide: What the Minister of Police has left unclear is this: when he said the letter was ill-advised and then went on to say that the facts were not correct, is that the reason the letter was “ill-advised”?

Madam SPEAKER: As I said, that is not a point of order. The point of order was whether the Minister addressed the question. The Minister addressed the question, though the member may not agree with the answer.

Conservation, Department—Focus

8. DAVE HEREORA (Labour) to the Minister of Conservation: Has he received any reports that indicate that the focus of the Department of Conservation should be to protect New Zealand’s unique flora and endangered species; if so, what do they say?

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): Yes, I have seen a report promoting a major review of the Department of Conservation, which states that the department should concentrate on the protection of endangered species. There was no mention of the department’s critical role in providing recreational opportunities, including camping, as one of the objectives of the proposed review. That appears to be in direct conflict with the policy released over the weekend that the Department of Conservation should create 25 new camping grounds. That flip-flop of ideas came from Dr Brash and the National Party.

Dave Hereora: What steps have been taken to enable the Department of Conservation to carry out its key functions better?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: There was a major funding increase for the Department of Conservation in the 2000 Budget for biodiversity conservation. Again, in 2002 a budget of $349 million was provided to maintain and upgrade recreational facilities on public conservation land. Those included huts, tracks, and the 235 camping grounds located on public conservation land.

Simon Power: Does the Minister stand by his statement that Dr Brash’s plan for opening new camp grounds is “not a bad idea”; if so, what does that say about this Minister’s priorities when he has allowed the Department of Conservation to close four camp sites while at the same time allowing it to acquire almost 350,000 hectares of land through the tenure review process, despite the fact that last year the department failed to meet 21 out of 35 of its self-imposed natural heritage targets and failed to protect over two-thirds of New Zealand’s chronically threatened species?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: I would like to remind that member that the Department of Conservation manages almost 250 camping grounds. It did close four small camping grounds: one at Lake Waikaremoana, which was flood prone; one in North Canterbury, which had no people using it; one at Haast Pass, where there was another one right next door; and one at Boyd Creek near Te Ânau, where there was also another one right next door. [Interruption]

Madam SPEAKER: The member’s question will be heard in silence.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Has the Minister received any reports of proposals to legislate away his department’s power to advocate for conservation, including in resource management plan and resource consent hearings, and does he think that the Department of Conservation’s ability to protect New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna would be enhanced by that United Future policy?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: Yes, I have heard of proposals along those lines, including National’s policies of doing much the same thing as that. There appear to be many contradictions in those policies, which would go a long way towards undermining the fine work that the Department of Conservation does in managing not just biodiversity values but also recreational opportunities for all New Zealanders.

Larry Baldock: Would the Department of Conservation’s statutory obligations to protect endangered species not be enhanced considerably if the department were to develop greater cooperative pest control strategies with members of the new possum recovery industry like Mr Bassett-Smith in Whakatâne, who cannot fill the orders for tonnes and tonnes of possum pet food from the US and Japan because the increasing use of 1080 poison is limiting the areas that he can recover possums from—or is this Minister opposed to valuable export dollars being earned instead of taxpayer-funded dollars being poured into a black hole to pay for poison in this country?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: As Minister of Conservation, I am committed to the protection of our native biodiversity. As a consequence, I do not encourage possum farming.

Larry Baldock: How does the Department of Conservation reconcile its focus on protecting New Zealand’s endangered native species with the fact that the increasing widespread aerial application of 1080 poison kills a multitude of native wildlife each year, including endangered native birds, and how can it be that one individual citizen in New Zealand would be prosecuted by the department for killing one native bird, yet the Minister can openly admit that his department kills many native birds with 1080 poison every year; does that sound like one law for all in this country?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: The member’s allegations about the impact of 1080 poison on native species are incorrect. What is quite clear from the scientific evidence is that there is a very rapid recovery in indigenous species when possums and other pest species are reduced.

Weathertight Homes Resolution Service—Claims Resolution

9. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Is the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service providing speedy and fair procedures for assessment and resolution of claims for leaky home owners?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Internal Affairs): The rate at which assessments and resolutions are being achieved is improving. The service has been most flexible, and its cost to homeowners is very low.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is the Minister aware that after 2½ years only 10 percent of the 2,714 claims to the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service have been resolved; that claims are being lodged at 10 times the rate that they are being received; and that even if a single further claim is not lodged, it will take 20 years to deal with the backlog; if so, does he believe that this lives up to Labour’s promise of a speedy and quick resolution process?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I most certainly believe that the decision of the Government is helping homeowners who would normally have to fight these matters through the courts, which would take even more time.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: What use is the resolution service to Tony and Lara Cox of Whangarei, whose leaky home was built after he was advised of the problem but when he did nothing; whose heavily mortgaged home is recommended for demolition, meaning that they are bankrupt; and who cannot seek remedy from the resolution service, because both the builder and the certifier are liquidated; and what exactly does the Minister think that this family should do?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: This matter is still before the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: No, it’s not. They can’t do anything.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: It is still there, and the assessed estimate of the cost of repairs is $34,000 plus GST. Mr and Mrs Cox say that it is $160,000 and they have raised the issue of demolition themselves. There is still the opportunity for them to take this further.

Brent Catchpole: Are the proceedings of the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service being deliberately frustrated by the Building Industry Authority’s failure to participate in mediation because, firstly, it is responsible for auditing the territorial and regional authorities’ inspection process, and, secondly, it holds bond money on behalf of private certifiers for a run on insurance; if so, what will the Minister and this Government do to make the Building Industry Authority accept its responsibility and provide a speedy process to help people who are in dire need due to rotting homes?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Matters concerning the Building Industry Authority should be addressed to the Minister for Building Issues, not me.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why is the Government refusing to participate in any mediation with owners of leaky homes and is instead spending $6 million on lawyers fighting such claims of liability, while at the same time it is encouraging builders, certifiers, and councils to participate in the resolution service process, and is this not a case of the Government saying one thing but doing the exact opposite?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: No, that member is confused. Building issues concerning the Building Industry Authority should be addressed to the Minister for Building Issues. That is absolutely correct, and if the member does not understand it, he should get up to date.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Surely you cannot accept that argument from the Minister. He is the Minister of Internal Affairs. This matter does come under his purview. He is also, as far as we know, still a Cabinet Minister, and he should be able to answer on behalf of the Government in these matters. After all, the Government regularly flicks questions about the police to other Ministers because they seem to know more about it than he does. He must know something to justify his place in Cabinet.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The question was originally addressed to the Minister for Building Issues. It was transferred to this Minister because he is the Minister with responsibility for the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service. That service will pass to the Minister for Building Issues in August, but the Building Industry Authority is already the responsibility of the Minister for Building Issues. I think that the House has to accept that situation.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: This highlights the exact problem. I submitted my question to the Minister for Building Issues. The Government chose to refer it to the Minister of Internal Affairs. I then asked the question of the Minister of Internal Affairs, and I was told that I had directed it to the wrong Minister. The Government needs to have some accountability. It is saying one thing to councils, builders, and certifiers, yet it is spending $6 million fighting legally. I think that the people of New Zealand and I are entitled to an answer.

Madam SPEAKER: Ruling on the point of order, I say that the original question was correctly addressed. It was the supplementary questions that then changed the focus, and the ministerial responsibility changed accordingly. Therein lay the issue.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: My question referred to the process of the resolution service, which is the responsibility, until August, of the Minister of Internal Affairs. My question asked why the Government—and I did not say the Building Industry Authority or the Department of Building and Housing—is refusing to participate in the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service. For that to be ruled out of order and not within the purview of responsibility of the Minister, I think is incorrect.

Madam SPEAKER: I have ruled on the point of order.

Brent Catchpole: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. This Minister also dodged my question by referring to the Building Industry Authority as being none of his business—whereas the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service was his business, and, certainly, at the time, the Building Industry Authority was his business. He was the Minister at the time, and therefore he should answer the question.

Madam SPEAKER: I listened to the member’s question carefully. The member did refer to the Building Industry Authority, which is not the responsibility of this Minister. He addressed the question.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Having ruled my question out of order, can you give me a reassurance that if I lodge that exact supplementary question to the Minister for Building Issues, I will get an answer and not this stupid game of passing the buck between Ministers?

Madam SPEAKER: I suggest that the member set down another question.

Brent Catchpole: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I want to clarify that I was referring to the process of the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service, which was part of the original question.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The member should perhaps refer to his notes. The great bulk of his question was about the actions of the Building Industry Authority, which is not the responsibility of this Minister.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I understand the problem you are in. The Minister can answer in the way he did, but you have left the impression that the question itself was out of order—

Madam SPEAKER: Yes, that was incorrect.

Hon Richard Prebble: —and with the greatest respect, it is not.

Madam SPEAKER: No—I agree with that.

Hon Richard Prebble: This Minister is actually in charge of the process. It was perfectly open to the Minister to say that he regrets that the Government is not participating, or that he supports the fact that the Government is not. But, in fact, he has invited the Opposition to use up more questions by putting in a question to another Minister. All I am saying is that it is open to Dr Nick Smith to put that question in exactly the same way, for the Government to then refer it to Mr Hawkins, for Mr Hawkins to, again, in effect say: “Well, we’ve got a Minister for Building Issues—put it to him.”, and we might never find out why the Government is recommending that everybody else participate in this process but will not itself participate. I myself am now curious to know what that reason is.

Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. He is correct that the question was not out of order.

Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I do not want to drag on this issue any longer than need be, but I point out that this is a very important issue in the minds of many New Zealanders. So I seek leave for my colleagues Brent Catchpole and the Hon Nick Smith to have their questions addressed by the Minister for Building Issues this very afternoon.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought for those questions to be addressed by the Minister for Building Issues. Is there any objection? There is.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table the report from the building assessor stating that Mr and Mrs Cox’s home is so unfit that it should be demolished.

Leave granted.

Benefits—Consistency

10. GORDON COPELAND (United Future) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Are married people bringing up children on the unemployment benefit treated equally to those bringing up children on the domestic purposes benefit?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): The rate for a couple on the unemployment benefit is higher to reflect that the overall costs of a two-adult household are greater than for a single-adult household. The single-parent rate reflects fixed household costs. That has been the case since the introduction of the domestic purposes benefit. Family support payments are additional to core benefit payments, and are based upon the number of dependent children in the household, not the make-up of the household.

Gordon Copeland: Why, then, do married people on the unemployment benefit not receive any increase in their unemployment benefit if they have a second child, when sole parents on the domestic purposes benefit get an extra $1,113 in their benefit following the birth of a second child; and does that not constitute discrimination against married beneficiaries?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: That is a very good question, and one that I know that both United Future and the Labour-Progressive coalition Government have been concerned about with the Working for Families package. There is a differential because of the way the benefit system is structured, which means that between the first and second child a greater amount of money comes to those people, as the member described. There is no need for that to be the case, which is why the Working for Families changes on 1 April will, without making anybody worse off, abolish that differential. From 1 April, the increase that a sole parent gets in relation to having a second or subsequent child is the same amount that a couple gets in the same circumstances.

Nanaia Mahuta: What is the Government doing to help get all people receiving a benefit back into work?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Although the priority in relation to clients on the unemployment benefit is to get them into work, clients receiving the domestic purposes benefit are also required to take steps that will make them ready to return to work as soon as their personal circumstances allow. At the end of November 2004, 93 percent of all domestic purposes benefit clients had a personal development and employment plan. Those plans include steps focused on education, training, or employment. Other significant milestones that the Government has taken to help more New Zealanders into work include intensive case management, very successful partnerships with industry, and new services for sickness and invalid beneficiaries, with a resulting reduction in the number of people who are on those benefits.

Judith Collins: What is the total number of add-ons that the Minister plans to implement along with the single benefit, and what are their titles?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The most likely list will be for accommodation, disability, and children, and there will need to be some emergency assistance.

Police Priorities—Public Reaction

11. STEPHEN FRANKS (ACT) to the Minister of Police: Does he understand property owners’ frustration and desire to arm themselves to protect them and their property when the South Auckland dairy owner’s experience suggests the police clearly will not take action, and what is his response?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Police): The public cannot arm themselves for that purpose. Law enforcement is the responsibility of the police, and I expect the police to respond appropriately.

Stephen Franks: Will the Minister, then, help all dairy owners, lonely farm families, and women alone by explaining who, other than them, have the right and the responsibility to protect them, when the police have said that they do not even have enough officers to assign to rape cases and have admitted that they do not have the resources to deal with the sheer volume of complaints?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: The police have more resources than ever. On 25 February 2005, there were 9,847 police staff, compared with 8,767 when Labour came into Government. Of course the police have the resources to deal with complaints. I will speak to the commissioner about those other cases that were raised in the question.

Dr Muriel Newman: Why are New Zealand women not allowed to carry pepper spray or Mace to protect themselves when it is quite clear that women cannot rely on the police to guarantee their safety, especially in light of the evidence we have heard today that rapists are roaming free in South Auckland as a result of nine cases of rape since Christmas that have not even been investigated?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Because it is against the law.

Stephen Franks: Why not change the law?

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: It is far better to make sure that people do not use arms of any kind to resolve differences and conflicts.

Rodney Hide: I seek leave to table a letter from Sergeant Fogarty to the south Auckland dairy owner on 24 February 2005 saying that, due to the sheer volume of complaints, and limited resources, the police cannot act.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection. The document will not be tabled.

Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I seek leave to table a media release from the office of the commissioner about the dairy owner in south Auckland.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is. The document will not be tabled.

Oil—Prices

12. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Energy: On what advice did he base his statement on Campbell Live last week that the end of cheap oil will be “somewhere in the 2030s”?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Energy): I think the first thing I would do would be to caution the member about taking out of context statements as necessarily for real. I have looked at the transcript, and I think the question as put is not exactly the one that was put to me. We were talking about peak oil rather than cheap oil, in my understanding. As the member is aware, there are a lot of different opinions on this matter. The International Energy Agency foresees oil comfortably meeting demand to 2030. Analysis by the US Department of Energy has peak oil as early as 2021 or as late as 2067. So there is a median estimate of around 2037, but I must say that it is actually very hard to tell at this point.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: When the Minister made that statement, had he seen the report the previous week that the US Department of Energy estimates that Saudi Arabia is pumping at 90 percent of full capacity now, that the other OPEC countries say they are currently pumping at full capacity, and that non-OPEC countries’ oil production has already peaked; if so, how does he think that rapidly increasing demand for oil can be accommodated for another 30 years?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No, because of the timing of the interview and the report.

H V Ross Robertson: Can the Minister inform the House and the country as to what steps the Government is taking to make New Zealand less reliant on oil as a source of energy?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The promotion and development of renewable energy sources and the uptake of energy efficiency measures are key priorities for the Government. This is reflected in the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, which sets out targets for energy efficiency and the uptake of renewables. The New Zealand Transport Strategy also promotes a focus on improved energy efficiency in transport, including increased funding for passenger transport and the promotion of alternatives to vehicles, such as cycling and walking.

Opposition Member: What about cycling?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I do quite a lot of cycling, and looking at the way the member is going, he should too.

Gordon Copeland: Is the Minister aware that when it comes to New Zealand the oil explorers are not satisfied with the existing royalties regime and, in fact, see it as a disincentive to drill new wells at a time when the nation desperately needs more oil?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I would be very happy for either me or the Minister of Finance to give the member a briefing on that. I think the complaints are around existing wells, and people who want the royalties on those wells reduced, rather than the arrangements for new wells, which I think oil companies are well satisfied with.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: I thank the Minister for listing all the Green Party initiatives on energy efficiency and renewables that the Government has agreed to, and nevertheless ask why, given this commitment to energy efficiency and renewables, New Zealand is still importing a lot of motor vehicles that take between 12 and 15 litres to travel 100 kilometres, when many cars now available on the market will do that distance on 5 to 6 litres, and those cars will be available for another 10 years and will be sitting in garages when families cannot afford to fuel them?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think we are not yet at the point of dictating to people the sorts of cars that they can import. But we are giving due notice to people that the running costs of gas guzzlers will, over a period of time, almost certainly continue to rise.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Can the Minister explain how he is giving that advice to the purchasers of vehicles, given that not only do we have no fuel efficiency standards for vehicles at all, the way we do for many household appliances, but also we still do not even have fuel efficiency labelling for vehicles; so how are people supposed to know what their vehicle will do when they buy it?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: For the vast majority of cars that are imported their efficiency standards are widely publicly available.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Minister agree with Treasury that the futures market is a good predictor of the future of oil prices; if so, is he concerned that a New York futures trader this week purchased options for $100-a-barrel oil by June this year?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I sometimes agree with Treasury, I sometimes do not agree with it, and I have not had advice on the question of the futures price for oil this week.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Is the Minister aware of any other Green Party in the world—other than the New Zealand Green Party—that thinks that oil prices should be cheap?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I have had no such reports.

Madam SPEAKER: I thank the Minister for the succinctness of that answer.

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

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“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>

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General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>

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Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

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