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Questions & Answers Thursday, 14 April 2005

THURSDAY, 14 APRIL 2005

QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER

Questions to Ministers
1. Foreign Investment—Approvals
2. Electricity Commission—Alternative Fuels
3. John Tamihere—Public Retraction
4. Education—Funding Review
Question No. 3 to Minister
5. Women’s Affairs—Annual Expenditure
6. Justice System—Relevant Facts Before Courts
7. Education Vote—Increased Spending
8. Education Act—Free Enrolment and Education
9. Bridge Collapse—Butcher Report
10. Bail Act—Offenders on Remand
11. Health and Safety in Employment Act—Stress Provisions
12. Primary Students—Compulsory National Testing


Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers

Foreign Investment—Approvals

1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Why did she say in the House on 30 March 2005 in response to my questions about New Zealand’s growing net debtor position, rising current account deficit, and the continuing sales of New Zealand assets to foreign buyers, “It is the same economy with the same current account deficit as was recorded when that member was the Treasurer in September 1997.”, and “I do note that the highest-ever number of net land sales by hectare occurred when Mr Peters was in charge of the overseas investment legislation.”?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Prime Minister: Because that is what the figures show.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can the figures possibly show that, when the deficit when I was Treasurer was just over $6 billion and there has been a 57 percent increase under the Prime Minister’s administration to $9.4 billion, and when will she and her Minister of Finance stop coming up with random figures that they have decided to pluck from the air?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am sure that the member who was Treasurer would know that he should relate the current account deficit to the GDP. While he was—[Interruption] It is a bit cute to do anything different! The current account deficit peaked at 6.9 percent while that member was the Treasurer.

Gordon Copeland: Does the sale of New Zealand assets to foreign buyers have a positive or a negative effect on New Zealand’s net position and its current account deficit?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: In general terms, it should have a positive effect given that it meets a net national interest test in terms of land, and a business test in terms of physicals. Of course, in some instances one could argue that that has not necessarily always been true in specific cases, but that is often being wise after the event rather than before.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: What was the current account deficit in 1998 during the Asian economy crisis, and is it not a fact that the sale of 199,131 hectares—which allegedly took place, according to the Prime Minister’s words, under my stewardship—was purely a result of a US company by the name of International Paper exercising its pre-approved rights to increase its shareholding in Carter Holt Harvey, a sale that was made possible only by, and occurred during, the ruthless and relentless policies of the 1984-1990 Labour Government?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I note that the member is now shifting his ground. Yesterday he claimed that the bulk was accounted for by the Forestry Corporation sales, which are not the same thing. In fact, the Forestry Corporation assets that were dealt with in September 1996 and that were referred to yesterday—in terms of land as opposed to area of forest—comprised only some 2,674 hectares. The Carter Holt Harvey acquisition he refers to was a deal agreed to in 1991. In terms of extending the shares it required approval for the extension of the time limit, which had long since run out. That member gave approval for the extension of that in December 1997. He did not have to do so.

Rod Donald: Does the Prime Minister agree with the recent comments of the Governor of the Reserve Bank that “We have had higher current account deficits than that before.”—this is referring to the most recent one—“Nevertheless, I think it’s an undesirable feature and it’s probably the one area of our economy that you would say is not in a broad balance at the minute.”, and what steps will the Government take to get the deficit into a better balance, particularly in the light of the Reserve Bank’s view that the risk premium on the high current account deficit is costing borrowers—whether it is homeowners or businesses—a risk premium of 1 to 2 percent?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I think we have to distinguish between two elements. The first is the long run current account deficit, which in New Zealand has been higher than in many other countries. I think that we have never run a surplus on the current account, and certainly not for anything more than a very short period of time. That is clearly a reflection over the long term of the fact that we have been a capital-acquiring country, as an expanding country, but also of a relatively low savings rate—even some years ago when our savings rate was higher than it is now. The second element is the cyclical element. Whenever we have the economy moving strongly, we tend to accumulate a current account deficit because increased incomes lead to higher imports, the dollar tends to rise, which tends to reduce export income in New Zealand terms. That tends to be self-correcting. The concern at the moment is that, because of the weakness of the US dollar, that phase may last longer than is normal.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why will the Prime Minister not answer the question as to what the current account deficit was in 1998 despite the Asian crisis, and does she not understand what a pre-approved right is, which was exercised by International Paper a long time before I ever became Treasurer, as she and her Minister of Finance well know.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: In answer to the last point, the pre-approved right in 1991 had long since expired by 1997. It had to be renewed on a number of occasions. The member did not have to approve that extension. [Interruption] There was a time limit on the exercise of the pre-approved right. It had long since expired by 1997. On the other matter, yes, the current account deficit was beginning to improve. It usually does when the economy slows down, as it did under that member as Treasurer.

Electricity Commission—Alternative Fuels

2. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Energy: Does he expect that the Electricity Commission’s “thorough investigation of alternatives” to Transpower’s proposed 400kV transmission line between Whakamaru and Ôtâhuhu will include the investigation of alternative fuels to reduce the need for electricity at peak hour in Auckland; if not, why not?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Energy): Yes.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Can he confirm that 70 percent of the peak electricity demand in Auckland is from households, and consists largely of power for cooking, space heating, and lighting on cold winter evenings; if so, does he agree that any other fuel that could supply these needs in sufficient quantity would be a valid alternative to the 400kV line?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Off the top of my head, I cannot confirm the figures, but I would tend to say that the experience of Christchurch is such that we would not want to shift to wood burners.

Russell Fairbrother: What is the role of the Electricity Commission with regard to the proposed transmission upgrade?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The commission is expected to assess Transpower’s proposal thoroughly, in comparison with other alternatives. It is important to have security of supply, but the commission will look at non-transmission options, such as additional generation and improved energy efficiency, as well as alternative transmission options.

Hon Roger Sowry: Will the Government ensure that Transpower is able to purchase properties along the preferred route that Transpower intends announcing next month, or will the Government expect property owners along the route to continue to live in uncertainty until the commission reports back—conveniently, after the election?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: We certainly will not stop Transpower from buying properties on a willing seller - willing buyer basis.

Peter Brown: Does the Minister accept that fundamentally we have a simple choice to make, and that is basically that we can transport power to where it is needed, or transport fuel to localised power stations; if he does accept that, will he tell us which his preference is; if it is the latter—transporting fuel—which is his preferred fuel?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No.

Peter Brown: By answering “No” to that question, is the Minister saying he thinks he can solve Auckland’s problems by introducing things like diesel generators to be on standby to run at peak times, by having households switch to gas, and by having energy-efficiency measures like low-energy lighting in every home?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Can the Minister confirm, then, that there will be a proper investigation of the extent to which peak electricity demand could be reduced by using gas as a direct fuel for household cooking, heating, and hot water, rather than burning it inefficiently in power stations and then having to transmit the power north?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Without necessarily having the negative bits at the end of the question, yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister tell us how any of the proposals presently before the Government will be affected by the decision to float New Zealand’s largest energy network company, Vector, on the sharemarket within the next 6 months; and is this just another Labour sell-out?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: From memory, that set-up was done when that member was in Government. But I want to make it clear that I do not think ownership is actually a factor in this.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Can the Minister confirm that the Green Party has been calling for just such an investigation of alternatives, including energy efficiency, direct use of gas, cogeneration of heat and power, and smarter peak-load management, ever since the lines were first proposed?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It has not been quite to the forefront of my mind, but if the member gives me that assurance, I of course accept it.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: What is the Minister doing right now to educate people in Auckland about the opportunities to use energy much more efficiently, to keep their power bills down and avoid the construction of transmission lines?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think at this particular time I am involved in a negative experience so far as climate change and the production of hot air go.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Is it true that none of the parties now expressing in the House support for the transmission lines did so before the Government announced that the Electricity Commission was looking at the issue?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I can confirm that—I think it was quite the opposite. But, then, flip-flop is the way the “Jandal Party” goes.

John Tamihere—Public Retraction

3. GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does her Government believe that John Tamihere should issue a public retraction in the interests of all New Zealanders?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Prime Minister: Mr Tamihere expressed personal opinions that the Government has condemned, and dissociated itself from. He has publicly acknowledged that his comments are unacceptable, and he has offered a full apology. That is in the interests of all New Zealanders.

Gerry Brownlee: Why cannot the Prime Minister understand that whatever took place during the 15 minutes that John Tamihere was in the Labour caucus room does not constitute an apology and retraction to the thousands of New Zealanders who were offended by his comments about women and the Holocaust?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Mr Tamihere has actually stated his apology publicly.

Gerry Brownlee: Does the Prime Minister’s judgment, then, that no public retraction is needed, mean that in her opinion a man who has been struck off for forgery, who publicly lied about a golden handshake, and who has offended women, Jews, gays, the union movement, and his own caucus colleagues, is a good role model for Labour members of Parliament?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Prime Minister made clear that the views expressed by Mr Tamihere do not have any support within the Labour Party or the Labour caucus. But views similar to those on a number of those issues—certainly in relation to gays and members of the union movement—are expressed frequently by members opposite.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Are the statements in relation to accepting pain over pleasure when duty calls—statements included in a Latin media release sent out by Gerry Brownlee—a reference to Mr Tamihere or to a deputy leader under Dr Brash?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Although I have seen that material, the Latin is so good I refuse to believe that it came from Mr Brownlee.

Rodney Hide: Is it not a fact that Clayton Cosgrove was the managing director of the Mike Moore supporters’ club, that the Prime Minister publicly named Clayton Cosgrove as orchestrating phone calls and demonstrations outside the houses of members of Parliament, and complained of “a campaign of fear and intimidation” including “hate calls” to members of Parliament; and is that not the reason that the Prime Minister is not demanding a retraction, because what John Tamihere said was the truth?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Prime Minister made it clear that she does not accept the accusations made about Mr Cosgrove’s action, and she and Mr Cosgrove are of one mind on this matter.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: How does the Prime Minister intend explaining to her hosts at Auschwitz, when she visits later this month, that she did not require John Tamihere to retract his statement on the Holocaust?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Prime Minister has made it clear that the party and the Government dissociate themselves completely from those remarks. This party has a long, proud history of opposing anti-Semitism.

Rodney Hide: Was the Prime Minister then talking fantasy when she named Clayton Cosgrove as orchestrating phone calls, pamphlet drops, and demonstrations outside MPs’ houses, in the National Business Review on 3 December 1993, and of claiming in the New Zealand Herald on 29 November 1993 that there was a “campaign of fear and intimidation” against her, including “hate calls to MPs”?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am happy to answer the question, but what prime ministerial responsibility is there for statements made as Leader of the Opposition in 1993 about internal party matters?

Gerry Brownlee: Madam Speaker, if you were to rule that there is no prime ministerial responsibility for statements that the Prime Minister retracts as Prime Minister, having made them as Leader of the Opposition, then certainly the question asked by Mr Mallard earlier should not have been allowed to proceed, either. I think that what Mr Hide has done is to point out that the Prime Minister said one thing when she was Leader of the Opposition and now, conveniently, faced by a political difficulty around John Tamihere, she is trying to say another thing.

Rodney Hide: The issue is this, and it goes to the heart of the Prime Minister’s credibility. We have heard that the claim by Mr John Tamihere that Clayton Cosgrove organised hate calls was fantasy and that it did not happen, and we have the Prime Minister saying, admittedly before she was Prime Minister, that that is exactly what happened. What I am doing is drawing it up, and the point of it is that what she said as Prime Minister is what we are discussing.

Madam SPEAKER: I shall rule on the point of order. No party leader in the House is answerable for statements made in that capacity. I think that Mr Hide did not tie those statements back together at the time. However, given the content of the debate, I would ask the Hon Dr Michael Cullen to address that question.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I could rephrase it and help the Prime Minister.

Madam SPEAKER: No, that is fine. I think that the Minister can remember what the member said.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Prime Minister stated that the allegation that Mr Cosgrove had called her home on a number of occasions in the middle of the night was completely incorrect. Mr Cosgrove denied that. Those are the facts.

Gerry Brownlee: Does the Prime Minister think that the silence of Joris de Bres, the Race Relations Commissioner, on John Tamihere’s derogatory comments about Jews, and the silence of Ros Noonan, the Chief Human Rights Commissioner, on John Tamihere’s derogatory comments about women, confirm John Tamihere’s allegation that the ninth floor has apparatus, activities, and influence in everything related to the Government, and that those two commissioners are silent because the Prime Minister wants them to be?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that her comments in the National Business Review are totally at variance with her recent comments on mystery phone calls from Mr Clayton Cosgrove, which of these statements is true: the recent one, or the one she gave back in 1993?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: As I said, Mr Tamihere claimed that Mr Cosgrove had phoned the then Leader of the Opposition—in fact, she was not the then Leader of the Opposition; it was before she was even leader of the Labour Party, when she was the deputy leader of the Opposition—and her husband at night. The Prime Minister stated that, in fact, that was not the case, and Mr Cosgrove said that that was not the case.

Education—Funding Review

4. LYNNE PILLAY (Labour—Waitakere) to the Minister of Education: What reports, if any, has he received on possible changes to education funding?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): I have seen a report advocating the reintroduction of bulk funding for schools. Under the proposal, targeted funding for things like teacher professional development, literacy and numeracy programmes, and teaching resources would be eliminated. School boards would have to negotiate their own employment agreements with teachers, and the only extra funding would be available through wage cuts. Schools that got into financial difficulty would be cut adrift and their students abandoned by the Government. Those approaches, which are so last millennium, come from Don Brash.

Lynne Pillay: What feedback has he received on the proposed reintroduction of bulk funding?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I would like to quote someone who is an eminent former secondary principal. He stated: “If bulk funding of teacher salaries is imposed on boards of trustees and the teaching profession, I believe it could be the most divisive and possibly the most destructive change in our education system.” That eminent former principal of Hamilton Boys High School is Tony Steel, the ex-National member for Hamilton East.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister confirm the statements behind the paper from the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) titled “Bulk funding: a retrospective”, which stated: “The Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard insisted that the ‘flexibility’ that bulk-funded schools had come to expect had to be retained ... The solution was to allow schools to continue the practice of employing teachers from the operations grant.”, and can he confirm that New Zealand schools currently employ thousands of individual teachers from their operations grant; what is the difference, and why is he against that?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: What I can confirm is that the PPTA agreement is, in fact, a minimum rate document. Teachers can be paid more than that if schools choose to do it, and many, many schools do. But I can also confirm that there is considerable doubt about this recent proposal. I note, from the speech of Don Brash, that the copy has been issued with all his doubts in it. For instance: “Bill, what value will these have?”, and “Check with Bill. Is this really greatly different from what happens now?”, asked Don Brash. I will just say that until those members can do information and communications technology, they cannot do education.

Bernie Ogilvy: Does the Minister agree that one potential problem with giving outwardly successful schools complete control of funding as trust schools is that they may become personal fiefdoms under a charismatic principal, and that in the case of a school like Cambridge High School the inability of educational authorities to intervene would be disastrous?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The member has a point, although I would have thought that Te Wânanga o Aotearoa, run by Don Brash’s mate, would be a better example of that.

Madam SPEAKER: Would the member please withdraw that last comment about mates.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I withdraw.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Although you have asked Mr Mallard to withdraw for making that scurrilous and totally untrue allegation in the House, I think that it is a light punishment for him to simply stand up and say: “I withdraw.” The reality is that he has just lied to the House. He should be dealt with in a much harsher way than the simple request that he withdraw a comment.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The member did, in fact, withdraw, and the other member, Mr Brownlee, has accused the Minister of lying. That member cannot accuse a Minister of lying in this House. I would suggest to you that he now has to withdraw and apologise.

Madam SPEAKER: I had ruled on the point of order. The member had withdrawn. I now have a separate situation whereby one member has called the other a liar. That is not acceptable. I would ask him to withdraw that comment.

Gerry Brownlee: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It was inappropriate to call the Minister a liar because of the Standing Orders that we operate under. I think it is appropriate, though, to say that he was being extremely reckless with the truth.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting Mr Trevor Mallard’s comments about bulk funding, I seek the leave of the House to table the Hansard of the third reading debate on the Education Act 1989, which made bulk funding compulsory for every school, and for which Michael Cullen and Helen Clark voted.

Madam SPEAKER: Is there any objection to the tabling of that document? Yes, there is. The document will not be tabled.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I note that Mr Mallard seemed to quote from a document, albeit a draft document. As is traditional, he should therefore table that document, because we all need a good laugh.

Madam SPEAKER: I do not think that is a serious point of order.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It is very hard to describe the document as an official one, and therefore I have to seek the leave of the House to table it. I so do.

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

Hon Bill English: I seek leave to table a paper from the Post Primary Teachers Association entitled “Bulk funding: a retrospective”, which cites Trevor Mallard as advising schools to pay teachers out of their operational funds in order to keep the flexibility.

Leave granted.

Question No. 3 to Minister

RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT): I do apologise to the House; I meant to do this after the last question, but I got carried away in the excitement. I seek the leave of the House to table a National Business Review article dated 3 December 1993 by Dr Vernon Small, in which Ms Clark is quoted as criticising Clayton Cosgrove for organising demonstrations—

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

RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT): I seek leave to table a document dated 29 November 1993 in which Helen Clark “hits back” against a campaign of fear, intimidation, and hate calls to MPs.

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

RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT): I seek the leave of the House to table a document dated 30 November 1993 describing how Mike Moore supporters stood outside Ruth Dyson’s house and demonstrated with some foul placards.

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

Women’s Affairs—Annual Expenditure

5. DEBORAH CODDINGTON (ACT) to the Minister of Women’s Affairs: How much is spent annually on women’s affairs and what is achieved by this?

Hon RUTH DYSON (Minister of Women’s Affairs): I presume that the question refers to direct expenditure by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, in which case the answer is $4.665 million for the year ending June 2005. The outputs that are required as a result of that expenditure are outlined in the annual report, and I will seek to table that annual report at the end of this question.

Deborah Coddington: How can the Minister claim that that spending has any effect and that the ministry has achieved anything, when a senior Labour MP can dismiss leading women in his own party as butch lesbians simply because they do not have children—casting a slur on all childless women—and not have to retract his statement?

Hon RUTH DYSON: I very much regret that the Minister and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs do not have responsibility for the comments of that member. Further, though, I note that my colleague has apologised to the Labour caucus, which severely censured him for the comments he made. The caucus said that those comments were grossly offensive. It is time, in my view, to move on from that matter.

Dianne Yates: Has the Government improved choices and opportunities for the women of New Zealand?

Hon RUTH DYSON: As a matter of fact, yes, there is a long list of Labour-Progressive Government - introduced initiatives that create more choices and opportunities for New Zealand women at home and in paid work. They include paid parental leave, which increases to 14 weeks this year; increased childcare subsidies; a significant boost to income support through the Working for Families package; and a programme to introduce pay and employment equity in the public sector.

Judith Collins: How does the Minister explain the stunning silence from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs following the abusive statements made by John Tamihere when describing his female colleagues and New Zealand women, in light of the ministry’s stated goal to “draw attention to and provide advice to advance the status of women in Aotearoa New Zealand ...”?

Hon RUTH DYSON: As the member should know, the people from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs are not inclined to become involved in matters that are party political, because they are public servants. That would be entirely inappropriate. Further, there was no need to receive any sort of advice, given the very clear comments of the Prime Minister that those statements were grossly offensive and unacceptable to the New Zealand Labour Party.

Judy Turner: Can the Minister actually point to a decrease in the number of women who have been battered or even killed as a result of domestic violence every year; and when we have her ministry, the Ministry of Social Development, the Department of Justice, the New Zealand Police, and the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services all working on New Zealand’s violence prevention strategy, what assurances can she give that actual progress is being made on its implementation, rather than it being just a massive talkfest?

Hon RUTH DYSON: I agree with the feeling behind the member’s question that domestic violence, including situations where women are killed, is totally unacceptable. I support the role of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in ensuring that when violent situations are analysed a gender analysis is part of that—because, tragically, it is still true that in the majority of cases of domestic violence it is women who are the victims of that violence.

Judith Collins: What steps has the Minister or her ministry taken to obtain from her Government colleague Mr John Tamihere a full retraction for the women of New Zealand, whom he so firmly and forcefully put in their place?

Hon RUTH DYSON: The member may not be aware of the fact that on Tuesday this week John Tamihere came to the Labour Party caucus and offered an unqualified apology for his comments. The Prime Minister, on behalf of the caucus and the Labour Party, issued a severe censure, which has been made public.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Does the Minister recall that last week in the House the National Party asked a number of questions and made a number of speeches attacking the Prime Minister for being a childless woman, and does the Minister see this as another example of that party’s ability to flip-flop from one week to the next?

Hon RUTH DYSON: Absolutely. Not only on this occasion but over many years the National Party has demonstrated its total lack of support for New Zealand women.

Deborah Coddington: Does the Minister think there are two standards in terms of policies on attitudes to New Zealand women when John Tamihere gets away with his sexist language without issuing a retraction, but she herself had to retract and apologise for calling a National woman MP an “irresponsible tart”?

Hon RUTH DYSON: The comment I made was totally inappropriate, and I am pleased that I apologised for it. John Tamihere came to the caucus and gave an unqualified apology for his grossly offensive comments.

Deborah Coddington: How can the Minister claim that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs has done anything to reduce the stereotyping of women as weak and inferior, when John Tamihere does not have to retract his sexist dismissal of the Prime Minister as “emotional” and someone who “goes to pieces” whenever she has to confront a problem?

Hon RUTH DYSON: I assume that underlying the member’s question is support for the continuation of the role of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. Clearly we have not been 100 percent successful yet.

Rodney Hide: What really has been achieved, when the Labour Party itself has in its midst Mr Clayton Cosgrove, who organised placards outside that MP’s office questioning her sexual orientation simply because she had not had children; and has she ever had an apology from Mr Clayton Cosgrove for his doing that?

Hon RUTH DYSON: The protest that the member refers to, which consisted of three or four people, was actually outside my home. It was before I was a member of Parliament, and I did not see Clayton Cosgrove there.

Rodney Hide: Does she find it acceptable that the chair of the Finance and Expenditure Committee would organise a protest outside her home, accusing her of being a dyke—and I can say that that has been confirmed by Mr Ron Mark, who says that is exactly what happened, and that Clayton Cosgrove organised it—

Madam SPEAKER: The question is getting well away from ministerial responsibility, unless the member can pull it into context really quickly.

Rodney Hide: —and if the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was really doing its job, would not Clayton Cosgrove have had to apologise to her, or are there two standards?

Hon RUTH DYSON: If Mr Hide is relying on Ron Mark for his sources of information, then I am not surprised he is so often way off the mark.

Rodney Hide: I seek the leave of the House to table a series of documents about these placards being outside Ruth Dyson’s home.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those documents. Is there any objection? Yes. They will not be tabled.

Hon RUTH DYSON: I seek leave, as indicated in my answer to the primary question, to table the Ministry of Women’s Affairs annual report for the year ended 30 June 2004.

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

Judith Collins: I seek leave to table the front page of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs website, which shows that not one statement has been issued by the ministry about Mr Tamihere’s comments.

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

Rodney Hide: In response to Ruth Dyson’s claims, I seek the leave of the House to table a report showing that there were actually 40 Mike Moore supporters protesting outside her house.

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

Ron Mark: I wish to make a personal explanation about comments made by Mr Hide and denied by the Minister. I want to confirm to the House that I did confirm with Mr Hide that Clayton Cosgrove was intimately involved in running Mike Moore’s offensive and defensive campaign during the leadership coup, that he did organise the campaign outside the honourable member’s home, and that there were placards, as shown on TV that day, that had on them slogans such as “dyke”, questioning that member’s sexuality. This is a matter of record in the media; it is not something I have made up. I do take offence at the rather humorous slight of me that the member made by suggesting that the things I bring to this House are untrue. It is fact that when I said that a person on home detention was on P and died of it, it was proven eventually to be true, which the Minister admitted. A number of things that this Government has denied have proven to be true. This incident that Mr Hide is referring to is a matter of public record, and TV3 and Television One records will show that.

Madam SPEAKER: Is the member seeking a withdrawal and apology from the Minister for her comment?

Ron Mark: No, not at all.

Justice System—Relevant Facts Before Courts

6. MURRAY SMITH (United Future) to the Minister of Justice: Is he satisfied that the justice system allows for all relevant facts to be considered when a case is brought before the courts?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade): Generally, yes. But, as the member is well aware, there is nevertheless a range of limitations on what evidence may be placed before the court. That includes, for example, information that is subject to lawyer-client privilege and spousal privilege, and the restrictions on the use of hearsay evidence, to name a few. Some changes to the rules governing admissibility of evidence will be proposed by the Evidence Bill when it is brought before the House.

Gordon Copeland: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I would like to point out that during my colleague’s question there was a great deal of background noise, and I would like to enter a plea for his supplementary questions to be heard in silence.

Madam SPEAKER: Yes, I agree. The level of chatter rises from time to time during some questions. I ask members to respect all questioners and give them silence when they are asking their questions.

Murray Smith: Does he think it is acceptable for the New Zealand Army to hide vital evidence from a coroner’s court, then present submissions that it knows to be lies, as it did when it hid a report showing that defendants Keith and Margaret Berryman were not responsible for a bridge collapse on their property; if not, will he give an assurance that he will act to ensure that all the facts of the case are brought to light; if so, how does he plan to do that?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The member is a lawyer and he knows that the decision in regard to the admissibility of that evidence was made by the High Court. The way to change that is not by raising a question in the House or, indeed, by acting in contempt of the court; it is by appealing the court’s decision, if he or any other member thinks that decision is wrong.

Tim Barnett: Will the proposed Evidence Bill codify common as well as statute law, and when does he expect to introduce it to the House?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Yes, the Evidence Bill will do that. It has been 10 years in the making, from the time that the Law Commission began work on it to the time of its report. The bill arising out of the Law Commission’s report has now been substantially drafted, and I would hope to see it introduced before the middle of the year.

Murray Smith: Does the Minister agree that it is only proper that a couple who have endured 10 years of legal battle and have lost everything, including their health, as a result of a decision based on an abusive process by the New Zealand Army are properly compensated and vindicated; if so, will he commit to the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the circumstances of the Berryman case in order to help that to occur?

Hon PHIL GOFF: That matter has been before an inquest and the High Court, and it may well be back before the High Court. That is the appropriate way of dealing with the sorts of issues the member has raised. I would like to point out that although the member claimed that the Army has concealed the report, the report, in fact, was made available to the Berrymans’ lawyers, who at the time were Buddle Findlay. That is hardly concealing the report.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: When will the Prime Minister show some leadership on this issue and direct the Minister of Defence to have that report published, as is fully within her power to do so, instead of ducking and diving around behind legal process, which has cost this family a fortune already; when will she back up what she said back in 1998 in the Taranaki - King Country by-election?

Madam SPEAKER: I would note that that is within the responsibility of the Minister of Defence, but if the Minister of Justice has a comment, he may make it.

Hon PHIL GOFF: It is just the obvious comment: the Prime Minister always shows leadership on every issue. That is why she is so far ahead in the polls above anybody else, including that member.

Murray Smith: Does he support a review of the Defence Force rules of disciplinary procedure, to ensure that reports or other evidence, such as the Butcher report on the Berryman case, are disclosed in other relevant proceedings; if not, what assurances can he give that the Berryman situation will not happen again?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I draw to that member’s attention that the High Court’s decision was based on the principle that the armed forces courts of inquiry are not intended to apportion blame but, rather, to establish the facts and what can be learnt from them for the future. The High Court made its decision on the basis that utilising evidence gathered in this way for proceedings that seek to establish blame would jeopardise the ability of future courts of inquiry to operate effectively. So the answer to the member’s question is no.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is he aware that in 1998, during electioneering in the Taranaki - King Country by-election, Helen Clark, along with MPs Mark Burton and Harry Duynhoven, visited the Berrymans, then went on the record as saying: “It is an issue of National having lost touch with its traditional constituency. These people were persecuted by the Labour Department. They have constantly sought some relief from the Government, and they have never had it.”; and when does she intend to show some leadership and direct that the Minister of Defence have that document published?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I do note that the Government made the Berrymans a settlement offer of $150,000 in June 2001, and that offer is still open for acceptance.

Education Vote—Increased Spending

7. Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister of Education: Can he confirm that between the 1999-2000 Budget and the 2004-05 Budget spending in Vote Education on administration of education regulations has nearly quadrupled, spending on policy advice has increased by 63 percent, and spending on administration of education sector resourcing has doubled?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): There have been across-the-board increases in education expenditure since Labour became the Government, and we are now third in the OECD in school expenditure as a percentage of GDP. Specific departmental, as opposed to school, increases have included some things that are technical issues. For example, there have been major property revaluations, which have resulted in increased capital charges and depreciation. Some of the matters have not been technical, such as the $153 million relating to services to students with special needs, and $10 million relating to early childhood departmental payments. I tell Mr English that that is in the departmental area.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister tell the House what benefit students and parents have received from the following increases in Ministry of Education spending: $18 more per year on policy advice, $10 million more per year on the administration of education regulations, $37 million more per year on the administration of education sector resourcing, and, in particular, $2 million more per year on ministerial servicing?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: One of the things that this Government has done is to be transparent in the area of spending. The fact that we are straightforward and honest about what is spent is why we are doing so well in the polls and the Opposition is in free fall, as will be shown tonight.

Helen Duncan: Has he seen any proposals to do away with any particular elements of education funding?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Yes. I have seen a suggestion that the entire allocation for teacher professional development and curriculum support should be scrapped. That would affect thousands of teachers who are benefiting from professional development aimed at improving how they teach maths, reading, and writing, with the ultimate benefits going to the kids they teach. There would be no laptops for teachers, no programmes aimed at reducing truancy, no high-speed Internet access, no software licences, and no help for gifted children. That is the policy of the National Party.

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. You have drawn to Ministers’ attention before that they do not have ministerial responsibility for National Party policy. In that case this Minister cannot have such responsibility because that is absolutely not National’s policy, no matter how often he repeats it.

Madam SPEAKER: The Minister was asked to comment on any reports. Although he is not responsible for National’s policy he did name the report, so the answer came within the scope of the question. The Minister did not assert a responsibility for that policy.

Bernie Ogilvy: Does the Minister agree that one way of cutting down on education bureaucracy would be to merge the three agencies concerned with educational quality—that is, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, the Education Review Office, and the New Zealand Teachers Council—into a new educational standards authority, which would also help to reduce the compliance costs facing schools; if not, why not?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The member has consulted with the Minister of State Services, who has some experience in this area. Unfortunately, sometimes one and one and one actually cost four, rather than two and a half.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Can the Minister confirm that the funding for the core activities of the Ministry of Education now costs $132 million more per year than when he became the Minister, which means that for every $1 that he has put into school operations grants, he has put $1 into more bureaucracy?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: That is absolutely incorrect.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister answer the question this time that I asked earlier? What value do parents and students get from the following increases in Ministry of Education expenditure: $18 million more per year on policy advice, $10 million more per year on the administration of education regulations, and $37 million more per year on the administration of education sector resourcing; what did any of that do for any of our students?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I know it was the policy of the previous National Government to have under-resourced and unregulated schools, and we saw the results slipping away as a result of its policy.

Madam SPEAKER: Could the Minister address the question that was raised more specifically. It made reference to increases.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: This Government believes, for example, that we should have property resourced properly. We have put a lot of money into that, and spent—

Hon Bill English: I didn’t mention property.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Well, the member did mention resourcing. What the hell does he think property is, if it is not a resource? [Interruption]

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It is one of the conventions of this House that members do not issue threats to other members, in an attempt to influence them. Mr Mallard just pointed at me across the House and said loudly: “You’re gone.” That is out of order.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I was referring to a number of National members at the next election.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: If the member would just withdraw his comment, please, we can then move forward.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I withdraw.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Yesterday you were extremely stern—and, in fact, over the last couple of days—and required a Minister, in the case of Annette King, and a party leader, in the case of the Rt Hon Winston Peters, to leave the House for exactly the sort of exchange that Mr Mallard attempted to engage in.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: That exchange was before, and not during, that point of order. But I do want the Minister, please, to rise and withdraw that comment, and to apologise if the member took offence.

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I withdraw and apologise.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I think you have missed my point. Mr Mallard did exactly what Mrs King did. On the other hand, Mr English showed considerable restraint, given the provocation from Mr Mallard. If there is to be the convention that there is not that byplay across the House before, after, or during questions, Mr Mallard should be asked to remove himself from the House.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I heard and saw exactly what happened. After the answer was finished, in the time in between, when no questions were being asked, Mr English first said “You’re pathetic.”, which was itself out of order, because it was in the second person. Then, for some peculiar reason, after Mr Mallard said “You’re gone.”, Mr English felt that that was being a bully.

Madam SPEAKER: That was my recollection, as well. It was not during the actual giving of the point of order. Could we please move on.

Education Act—Free Enrolment and Education

8. METIRIA TUREI (Green) to the Associate Minister of Education: Is he confident that the Government is fulfilling its obligation under the Education Act 1989 that every child is entitled to free enrolment and free education at any State school; if so, why?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education), on behalf of the Associate Minister of Education: Although there has been some confusion on the part of a principal, I can now answer yes, because we will continue to have a Labour-led Government, and therefore members opposite will not be in a position to privatise schools.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. That answer cannot be acceptable. That Minister talked about a Labour-led Government. Labour will be climbing over cut glass to get to other parties after the election. He should not be giving a hypothetical answer like that. He was asked to respond in terms of this term, and this term alone.

Madam SPEAKER: The Standing Orders do allow for hypothetical questions and hypothetical answers. I listened carefully. The Minister did address the first part of the question, so the question has been addressed. Hypothetical answers are permitted under the Standing Orders, as are hypothetical questions.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Madam Speaker, it might be what you think is a hypothetical answer, but unless you are clairvoyant you cannot come to that decision, although it may be that you know something that we do not know—for example, that there will be an election shortly. The Minister’s answer appeared to go beyond that, and, clearly, that is not what this term of Parliament is about—the term for which he is responsible. He will have to have his ministerial warrant renewed after the next election, if he should be so lucky. Surely, he should be asked to constrain his comments to this term, and this term alone. If you think any old hypothetical answer is satisfactory, well, I do not, and I do not believe that the Standing Orders cover that, at all.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The ban on hypothetical questions was removed from the Standing Orders in, I think, 1996—certainly, it was a considerable number of years ago. If hypothetical questions are allowed, there must be hypothetical answers, although personally the re-election of a Labour-led Government I do not regard as hypothetical. But dealing more substantially with the point raised by the member, I suggest that if a Minister cannot answer for anything that might happen after the election date this year, which may be no later than 24 September, that will be a very huge constraint on the kinds of questions that can be asked for the remainder of this session of Parliament.

Madam SPEAKER: I think the member has made his point. Could we please now move on.

Metiria Turei: Can the Minister guarantee that today’s special-needs funding announcements will provide teacher-aide support to enable every special-needs child to attend school for a full school day, or will parents still have to pay up to $10,000 each year to enable their child to access his or her legal entitlement to a free education in a State school?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: It is not appropriate for a parent to have to pay $10,000 to access a State school.

Dr Ashraf Choudhary: Has the Minister heard of any reports or proposals to privatise any State schools?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Yes. I have seen a proposal effectively to privatise some schools by transferring those schools to trusts, so that they will be able to enrol whomever they want, to exclude the child next door, to charge whatever they want, to be subsidised by the Government, and to be sold.

Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware of increasing anger among parents that they are now paying $200 million per year in fees and donations for his so-called free education, and that one reason parents have to pay $200 million in fees for free State education under Labour is that for every new $1 he has given schools for operations funding he has given another $1 to bureaucrats, with the result that there are 1,200 more of them in the education field?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I am quite willing to offer a briefing to the member so that he can better understand education accounts, and stop making such mistaken comments.

Tariana Turia: What response would the Minister give a teacher who rang my office concerned about the pressure placed on that teacher’s school when an Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme student was mainstreamed for 30 hours a week but funded for only 15 hours?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: A lot of Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme students in schools are funded for much fewer than 15 hours. They are funded for the amount that is appropriate.

Metiria Turei: Is the Minister aware that the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme grant disproportionately affects low-decile schools, because of its very narrow criteria—both the school and the parents of the child must provide extensive written applications, and any educational assessments of the child must be paid for by the parent—and when will this Government change the system, to enable the 2 percent of all children who have very high needs to be properly and fully supported in their legal right to education?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The member is not correct when she says that all assessments of children applying for the Ongoing and Reviewable Resource Scheme grant have to be paid for by the parents. That is just not true.

Tariana Turia: What response would the Minister give to a parent who rang my office who had been told by a teacher at the local school that the child would be considered a drain on that school’s funding, and that it would be better if that child was enrolled elsewhere?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I would invite the member to give that case to me. The person who made that comment, especially if he or she were a principal of a school, or a teacher at a school, acted particularly unprofessionally.

Metiria Turei: What is the Minister’s response to the 97 percent of schools reported in the Quality Public Education Coalition report on special education that stated last year that the bulk-funded special-education grant is inadequate to meet the needs of their children, in light of today’s failed announcement there would be no increase in the said grant?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I would treat the Quality Public Education Coalition report with the respect it deserves and put it in the rubbish bin.

Metiria Turei: How many special-needs children are currently being sent home at lunchtime because their schools simply cannot provide teacher-aide support for their special needs, and how many will continue to be sent home at lunchtime because today’s announcement funding increase will not provide them with the funding and support they need to get the education they deserve and are legally entitled to?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Since I have become Minister of Education funding for special-needs children has increased by over $90 million the year. The latest increase of $30 million, announced by my colleague David Benson-Pope, will make an enormous difference in making sure that some of the most vulnerable children in our system get the support they deserve and need.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the 1997 Budget, which demonstrates that New Zealand First added another $200 million in respect of the funding that Mr Mallard talks about, in half the time he boasts about.

Leave granted.

Bridge Collapse—Butcher Report

9. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Has she received a copy of the report by former army engineer, George Butcher; if so, does she have any concerns with its findings?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Prime Minister: The Prime Minister advises that her office has been sent a copy by a member of the public. She has not personally seen that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why has the Prime Minister allowed a member of her caucus to stop the tabling of this report in Parliament despite the understood constraints that it go to members only, as happened yesterday; does she remember herself saying these words: “It is an issue of National having lost touch with its traditional constituency. These people were persecuted by the Labour Department. They have constantly sought some relief from the Government, and they never had it.”, and when does she intend to show some leadership and direct the Minister of Defence to make this report public?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: There are three questions there. I will deal with the second and third. On the third matter, the Prime Minister has no intention of ordering the Minister of Defence to act in breach of a court order. Secondly, the Berrymans were offered some $150,000 in January 2001, and that offer is still on the table.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does the Prime Minister understand that the court order was made in favour of the Army, which sought suppression; why does she not direct the Minister of Defence to start telling the Army to behave in a responsible way and give these people some justice, which is what she promised on the campaign trail in 1998 but apparently does not wish to go forward with now?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: On the second part of that question, as I said, an offer is still on the table for compensation of $150,000. I have also been advised that, in terms of the legal costs of the occupational safety and health case and the High Court appeal, the Berrymans’ legal costs were settled by agreement, the difference being only some $2,500, approximately.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: What farm can one buy, of the size the Berrymans once had, for $150,000 in this country; when will she start showing some leadership and tell the Minister of Defence to get the Army to stop behaving in this most despotic way when she promised this couple justice; and when will she show some leadership in this country?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The coroner’s inquest decision stands. The appropriate act by the Berrymans is to seek to overturn that. Speaking as Attorney-General, I am advised that there is no new information in the report that would enable the Solicitor-General to exercise his discretion.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the Butcher report with the constraints on its publication as agreed with the Clerk yesterday, so that it will go only to 120 members of Parliament.

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

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table an article dated 28 April 1998 from the Daily News, outlining Helen Clark’s visit to the Berrymans’ farm whilst on the campaign trail, and all the promises she made.

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

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the Dominion Post editorial of 29 March 2005 in which Harry Duynhoven describes the Berrymans as having had “a [expletive deleted] raw deal”.

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

Bail Act—Offenders on Remand

10. MARTIN GALLAGHER (Labour—Hamilton West) to the Minister of Justice: What increase, if any, has there been in the number of alleged offenders remanded in custody since the passage of the Bail Act 2000?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Justice): The most recent forecast of the prison population confirmed that prior to the passage of the Bail Act, there had been a decreasing trend in the proportion of defendants remanded in custody. In the period since the passage of the Act, that trend has reversed. The forecast shows that in the last 2 years, there has been a 31 percent increase in the male remand population. Bail is now being denied to more than 1,000 more offenders every year who are likely to reoffend while on bail, and community safety has been increased as a result.

Martin Gallagher: What changes were made by the Bail Act to help ensure that bail was not granted to those who were likely to reoffend?

Hon PHIL GOFF: This Government substantially rewrote the Bail Bill that was introduced to the House by Tony Ryall in 1999, because that bill, frankly, was weak and ineffectual. The Government toughened the law to ensure that defendants with a history of repeat offending, including burglars and property offenders—whom the previous National Government was apparently not concerned about—now face a reverse onus, meaning that they have to persuade the courts that bail is justified, rather than the onus falling on the police to prove that it should not be.

Health and Safety in Employment Act—Stress Provisions

11. Dr WAYNE MAPP (National—North Shore) to the Associate Minister of Labour: What will the Government do to prevent an influx of court cases as a result of the new stress provisions in the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, as feared by Phil O’Reilly, Chief Executive of Business New Zealand?

Hon RUTH DYSON (Associate Minister of Labour): It is important for the House to note that there has been only one prosecution of this type to date. It is clear that the overwhelming majority of New Zealand employers want safe and healthy workplaces. In this case, there had been numerous complaints, and the matter had, on many occasions, been brought to the employer’s attention. The problem was that the employer had failed to act on those complaints. There is nothing to suggest that there will be a large number of such cases in the future.

Dr Wayne Mapp: How does the Government justify the union representation in the occupational safety and health legislation, and the ability of unions to bring private prosecutions, or is this just another example of amendments to industrial law that, in the words of John Tamihere, the Government “f’ed” up?

Hon RUTH DYSON: It is internationally regarded as best practice to have worker participation in health and safety issues. I would prefer to rely on that sort of evidence, rather than on the information the member seems to be relying on. No wonder he is so hopeless about health and safety issues!

Hon Mark Gosche: What does the Department of Labour do to assist employers in providing safe and healthy workplaces?

Hon RUTH DYSON: In specific relation to the stress issue raised in the primary question, immediately after the clarification was made in the amendment to the Act, comprehensive guidelines were published by the Department of Labour, including helpful information for employers to ensure that they would avoid the very situation that Nalder and Biddle recently became party to. In the meantime, the Occupational Safety and Health Service has received a number of queries from both employers and employees, and the fact that there has been only one prosecution to date indicates that that information has been sought and used.

Stephen Franks: What moral authority has the Government to sick on the lawyers for dud employees claiming stress, when that Government has desperately pressed an honest whistle-blower to resign without due process, and has pressed him to agree that he is affected by stress and to take 2 weeks’ unsought stress break on full leave, when he is tormented by shared responsibility for running the “biggest sweatshops” in the nation, and when he has blown the whistle on a working climate that is “If you’re a free and independent spirit, very dangerous.”; what has the Minister done to protect him from having to toady to union bosses who are “always about threats and intimidation, and ‘we’ve got big balls, what have you got?’ ”

Hon RUTH DYSON: I think it is important, and should be well supported by colleagues within the workplace, that every employer ensure that when any person in any job is showing signs of stress, that person be supported to relieve him or her of that stress.

Dr Wayne Mapp: How does an employee who is ordered by his or her boss to take stress leave nevertheless seem to have enough time to appear on television programmes and to negotiate talkback shows whilst on that leave; or is being told to stay away from work simply a way of keeping the employee out of the Government’s hair?

Hon RUTH DYSON: I guess that various people respond to stress in different ways, and respond to relieving stress in different ways. Time will tell which is the more successful.

Primary Students—Compulsory National Testing

12. LESLEY SOPER (Labour) to the Associate Minister of Education: What reports, if any, has he received on attitudes to national testing of primary school children?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education), on behalf of the Associate Minister of Education: I have seen reports that England will dump compulsory exams for young children because it is too stressful for the children. A survey of parents in England showed that one in ten 7-year-olds was reduced to tears and that many lost sleep over the tests. I agree with Bill English, who said that National would not introduce a pen and paper test. It is a pity that he could not convince Don Brash.

Lesley Soper: What are the alternatives to compulsory national exams for primary school students?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: An alternative would be the asTTle approach to testing young people—a very good system, well supported by Bill English. But as he recently explained to a visiting person, Terry Price, he got rolled.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister confirm that he is making all that up, that National is not proposing national testing, and that, in fact, our policy represents another logical step on top of his policy?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I know that imitation is the best form of flattery, and that the member is pretending to do that, but compulsory tests for 7-year-olds with pencils and paper are exams, and we are not doing it.

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. We are having trouble today with the Minister making up National Party policy and pretending it exists so that he can then attack it, when it does not. What kind of opportunity within the Standing Orders do I have to correct that?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think there is a very easy way of doing it—that the document I have been using as my source document be tabled in the House. I seek leave to do it.

Leave granted.

Bernie Ogilvy: Does the Minister agree that it would be beneficial for schools that already use diagnostic tools such as asTTle to test against national standards, to report the results to parents, as it is currently not a requirement to do so; if not, why not?

Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I expect that because the relevant clauses on planning and reporting in the Education Standards Act are coming into effect, at some stage we will reach the point whereby the profession will take responsibility for reporting to all parents their children’s asTTle tests.


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

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