Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 14 June 2005
Tuesday, 14 June
Questions for Oral Answer
1. Child Poverty—Reports
2. Prisoners—Employment Programmes
3. Logging of Indigenous Forests—Crown Land
4. Australian Shares—Capital Gains Tax
5. Treaty of Waitangi—Education Programme
6. Land—Public Acess
7. Nuclear-Free Policy—Review
8. Accident and Emergency Centres—Waiting Times
9. Health, Ministry—Policy and Funding
10. Foreshore and Seabed Act—Legal Aid
11. Apples—Australian Market Access
12. Crimes Act—Repeal of Section 59
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
1. GEORGINA BEYER (Labour—Wairarapa) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What reports has he received on child poverty in New Zealand?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): The latest findings on poverty levels in New Zealand show that poverty rates have declined in New Zealand since 2001 as a result of a rise in real incomes for low-income families. After tax and housing costs, low-income families now have more money in their pockets each week than they did back in 2001, and income levels continue to improve across the board. This is evidence of a steady improvement in social well-being under a Labour-Progressive Government.
Georgina Beyer: How does this compare with the trend in previous years?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The proportion of children in families that earn below 60 percent of the median wage has declined significantly, from 27 percent in 2001 to 21 percent in 2004. This compares with a peak of 34 percent in 1994, which shows the impact of benefit cuts, market rent policies, and the Employment Contracts Act at that time. The improvement over the last 3 years has been largely the result of more people in jobs, as a result of the recent economic boom, and income-related rents for State housing. The Working for Families package will have the effect of further dramatically reducing child poverty by up to 70 percent.
Rod Donald: Has the Minister seen any reports of policies that could reduce expenditure on family support, housing, health care, and education, which could make child poverty worse than it already is?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I have seen reports on an approach that would cut taxes so that the funding would not be available to adequately provide for childcare or for key policies like maintaining income-related rents. In particular, I have seen reports that the National Party would cut short the Working for Families package, with massive impacts on child poverty, in order to fund tax cuts that can only make those who are well off even better off.
Hon Peter Dunne: If it is correct that one of the focuses of the Government’s policy has been on the income of a household so as to benefit the children of that household, what is the Minister’s reaction to the OECD’s findings about the difficulties faced by second-income earners in New Zealand households, and is he prepared, therefore, to consider a policy of allowing people to split their incomes for tax purposes; if not, why not?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I am always willing to consider exciting new policies from United Future, but having had a look at these policies, I would say that my opinion at the present time is that the work we are doing on the marginal tax rates and the further work we are to do will be a better way to address that issue.
Georgina Beyer: Can the Minister remind the House which policies are being put in place to put more money into the hands of low to modest income, hard-working New Zealanders?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Almost all families with incomes below $45,000 will benefit from the Working for Families package, along with a substantial number with incomes up to $70,000. Families making $25,000 to $45,000 a year will be, on average, $100 a week better off. To achieve that via a tax cut would cost almost $9 billion.
2. Dr MURIEL NEWMAN (Deputy Leader—ACT), on behalf of STEPHEN FRANKS (ACT) to the Minister of Corrections: Why did the Budget cut provision for inmate employment by nearly $5 million to $30 million, when inmate numbers are growing, and do the published measures properly report the effectiveness of corrections inmate employment programmes?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Corrections): I am advised that—
Hon Dr Nick Smith: They don’t believe in work.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: About time to see the pharmacist again! I am advised that the $5 million—[Interruption] Have I not seen your brother on a Telecom advertisement? I am advised—
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am not commenting on the interjections, which I thought were very reasonable and witty. But it is unacceptable that a Minister should bring your brother being in a Telecom advertisement into his answer, and he should apologise to you and to this House.
Madam SPEAKER: When there are interjections, then, as members know, there is likely to be a response. I am sorry, I have ruled on that, Mr Hide. Is this a new point of order?
Rodney Hide: Yes. I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The accusation was not against a member of the Opposition; it was actually against you.
Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry, I did not take offence at it.
Rodney Hide: I did.
Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry, you may well take offence on my behalf, but I did not. I appreciate your concern for me. I do, however, wish the Minister to proceed with his answer. Thank you.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker.
Madam SPEAKER: Is this a new point of order?
Rodney Hide: When a Minister or an MP stands up and brings the Speaker into the debate by referring to “your brother” being on a Telecom advertisement, that is actually a reflection on the entire House. He should not bring you into the debate, and he should be pulled up accordingly.
Madam SPEAKER: I agree with that point. Now would the Minister please proceed with the answer.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am advised that the $5 million difference the member refers to is not a cut to the inmate employment budget. It represents an internal transfer in 2004-05 to offset, among other things, a commercial loss caused by difficult trading conditions, particularly in the timber processing industries. Overall, there is a planned 14 percent increase in the hours of inmate employment between 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Dr Muriel Newman: How can the public have any confidence in the honesty of the research produced by this Government, when emails between Department of Corrections managers show that the research report “to build the case for further employment training” will “be highly skewed, as we are looking for our top inmate performers, people you thought would be most likely to get a job post-release.”, and is this not another example of the Labour Government cooking the books to make their soft-on-crime policies look good?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Quite a lot, and no.
Tim Barnett: What plans does the Minister have to increase the effectiveness of inmate employment activities, and to meet demand?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The inmate employment and training strategy is currently under review. The department is working on a number of initiatives to increase the effectiveness of inmate employment activity, and to meet demand. They include extending vocational training activities and better aligning these with industry needs, joint initiatives with the Ministry of Social Development to place prisoners in work on release, and further developing the numbers and relevance of New Zealand Qualifications Authority unit standards delivered in prisons. These initiatives will form part of the strategic plan for inmate employment, which is due for release in the first quarter of this year.
Gerry Brownlee: Will the Minister be taking any action over what appears to be a growing culture within his department for departmental officials to fudge the figures showing the numbers of ex-inmates getting a job, and can he also confirm that his department is also fudging the prison numbers?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: There is no such culture as the member says. The Government acknowledges, of course, that the numbers of inmates are rising, because this Government has got tough on crime, unlike the previous Government, which did nothing for 9 long years, as was shown by the referendum in 1999, which was a referendum on the National Government’s inactivity on law and order for 9 years.
Dail Jones: Why should the Opposition have any confidence in the Minister’s answer to that question, bearing in mind the evidence put forward to the Minister that there appears to be an effort within his department to distort those work-related figures to the best types of workers, and bearing in mind that in the past the Minister has not been able to have confidence in his department—for example, as in the “goon squad” inquiry?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The point is that the issue of inmate employment is really critical. People are now indicating to us that there are job shortages in New Zealand. I am very determined to make sure that inmates get proper education and vocational skills training, so they can meet those needs. The department is highly focused on that at the moment.
Dr Muriel Newman: Does the Minister expect civil servants to skew research reports by selecting “the top 10 inmates” and declaring that to be a representative sample; if not, will he tell the House that civil servants cooking the books in that way is unacceptable?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I have not heard of the allegation until now, and that is not what I would describe as cooking the books. I am indicating to the member that the Government and the department is very, very focused on trying to make major improvements on inmate employment and training. This is the time to do it—a time of labour shortages—and it is really critical that we make improvements for the best interests of not only inmates but also communities within which they will work.
Rodney Hide: Will the Minister now just front up to the House and say that it is unacceptable for the data of his departmental officials to be “highly skewed” in order to make the case for another soft-on-crime policy; or is it the case that what officials are doing—skewing the data to make results look good by choosing only the top inmate results—is exactly what this Government expects in every department: police, health, and corrections?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: It is hardly a get-soft-on-crime campaign when we now have the biggest number of inmates New Zealand has ever seen. That is different from the time, actually, when the ACT party supported the previous National Government, which did nothing for the 3 years during which ACT supported it. This Government is determined to make improvements in employment training and education. We are going to make some changes, and those changes will be announced in the first quarter of this year.
Rodney Hide: Does the Minister find it acceptable that his manager, Win McDonald, sent an email on 25 May copied to his boss Royden Motu, saying that they had an opportunity to “demonstrate the corrections inmate employment training results” in order to make the case for more funding, and that “the report output will be highly skewed, as we are looking for our top inmate performers”; is it acceptable that his managers do skew and cook the results—yes or no?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am always highly, highly suspicious of allegations from the ACT party, but I will look into that.
Rodney Hide: Would the Minister, if it turns out that those emails are correct and that his corrections managers are skewing results by choosing a non-representative sample in order to increase their budget, just tell the House whether he finds that acceptable; and what action will he take?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I will make no comment until such time as I have seen the evidence. That is clear, because it is not the first time that the ACT party has got a whole pile of things very, very wrong.
Dr Muriel Newman: I seek leave to table the series of emails that show that those Department of Corrections officials appear to have been cooking the books.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I seek the leave of the House to table the results of a referendum in 1999 about National’s inactivity on law and order for 9 years.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is; it will not be tabled.
Logging of Indigenous Forests—Crown Land
3. JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Conservation: What conservation goals led the Government to end the logging of indigenous forests on Crown-managed land?
Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): The Government protected indigenous forests on Crown-owned and managed land to help meet the goals of the New Zealand biodiversity strategy. These included maintaining and restoring a full range of remaining natural habitats and ecosystems to a healthy, functioning condition.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the biodiversity strategy also apply under the sea; if so, will he agree that the same goals should apply to the equally ancient underwater forests of tall corals and their multitude of associated species, and what discussion has he had with his colleague the Minister of Fisheries about ways of protecting them?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: Indeed it does, and, in fact, in 2004 the Government adopted a strategy to protect deep-water biodiversity.
David Parker: What other actions has the Government taken to meet the conservation goals of the biodiversity strategy?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: We have increased funding for the Department of Conservation by over 40 percent, enabling it to tackle weed and pest problems better than ever before. We have embarked on the most ambitious island pest eradication programme found anywhere in the world. Large new areas of forest, high-country, and coastal land have been protected as public conservation land. Eleven new marine reserves have been created, and 2 percent of our exclusive economic zone is now in some form of marine protection.
Jim Peters: What goal motivated the Government to give the West Coast councils $120 million of taxpayers’ money to cut taxpayer-owned forests, yet that Minister denied many SILNA landowners compensation for the Government’s denial of their right to realise the economic value of the lands awarded to them by this House in 1906?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I know that it was National that exempted the SILNA forests from an amendment to the Forests Act in 1993. By the time National was thrown out of office in 1999, it had not resolved the issues. This Government adopted a comprehensive policy for SILNA forests in 2002.
David Parker: Has the Minister seen any reports that some of the indigenous forests protected since 1999 could be at risk?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: Indeed I have. I have seen a recent report that Don Brash and Nick Smith had called for resumption of logging of the West Coast native forests, which were protected under the Labour Government.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Is it not true that conservation goals would be assisted better if his strategy required all fishing methods to undergo environmental impact assessment, as the Greens have proposed, and what representations is his department making to advance this?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: My department—indeed, the Government—is very committed to the defence of New Zealand’s unique marine biodiversity. Different Government departments continue to collaborate closely on that issue.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Has he seen the recent Greenpeace photos in the New Zealand Herald today, and on television on Sunday, in which New Zealand fishing vessels are shown hauling up, then dumping over the side, giant corals and rare sea creatures, and how long does he think it is acceptable for that practice to continue?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: Indeed I have seen those photographs, but I am pleased to announce that, today, my colleague David Benson-Pope, the Minister of Fisheries, announced that New Zealand, together with Chile and Australia, would lead development of a regional fisheries management agreement that will give greater protection to high-seas biodiversity.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Returning to New Zealand’s economic zone, rather than the high seas, does he agree with marine biologist Dr Steve O’Shea, of Auckland University, as reported in today’s New Zealand Herald, who describes bottom trawling as absolute annihilation, and goes on to say: “There should be some urgency. For God’s sake, let’s do something practical now before it’s too late.”; if so, what will he do in New Zealand waters?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: Indeed I do agree with those comments, but as there is no international proposal at the moment for a complete moratorium on bottom trawling, New Zealand is working closely with Australia to develop a regional agreement.
Australian Shares—Capital Gains Tax
4. JOHN KEY (National—Helensville) to the Minister of Finance: If a New Zealander holds shares in an Australian company, does the investor pay any tax on any capital gains, and could this position change after 1 April 2007?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): Possibly, and therefore possibly.
John Key: Why should New Zealanders who passively own shares in an Australian company be forced to pay a capital gains tax after April 2007, something they are currently exempt from, given that the Australian companies they invest in are in many cases no different from the equivalent New Zealand companies that invest capital, create jobs, and pay tax here in New Zealand?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: As the member knows, I have clearly expressed a view that there is no single solution that will treat—[Interruption] Goodness me! This is from the party that admires the Australian tax system, which has a generalised capital gains tax in place.
John Key: Is this capital gains tax not just another tax grab from a Government that is spending so much that it is always looking at new ways to gain tax, whether it is through sherry, petrol, or carbon emissions?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am fascinated that the member has finally read the Budget speech, where I refer to this as being potentially a capital gains tax. It has taken only 4 weeks for him to wake up to what everybody else recognised in a space of minutes.
John Key: How on earth can the Minister be serious about promoting a single economic market with Australia, when he is now proposing a capital gains tax on Australian investments held by New Zealand residents?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Given that Australia has a general capital gains tax, it is rather strange to suggest that a capital gains tax could not be applied to any form of investment in Australia. The fact is that if we want to simplify a system that at present distinguishes between where people invest, how they invest—whether on a revenue or capital account—and how they calculate the investment according to four different methods, there is only one way of doing it. But of course anything that is simple is beyond the National Party.
John Key: How can the Minister expect a small stock market like New Zealand’s to cope with all the offshore capital that could get repatriated as a result of his proposed capital gains tax; and is it not true that if the bulk of that capital does come home, it will just end up in the property market, something the Minister was moaning about during the earlier part of this year?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Given that member’s plans to give away billions of dollars a year in terms of tax cuts, I am sure he would want a lot of money to be repatriated to pay for that.
John Key: I seek leave to table the tax schedules that show the New Zealander who passively owns shares today in Australia does not currently pay tax but will do so after 1April 2007.
Leave not granted.
Treaty of Waitangi—Education Programme
5. DAIL JONES (NZ First) to the Coordinating Minister, Race Relations: What has been the total cost for each year since 1999 to all Government departments for providing both internal and external treaty-related courses and associated educational material?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Coordinating Minister, Race Relations): I do not hold information on how much each individual department has spent on treaty-related courses and educational material. If the member really wishes to obtain this information I suggest he put down written questions to responsible Ministers.
Dail Jones: Does the Minister believe that the money spent on educational programmes for State servants regarding the Treaty of Waitangi is simply feeding the—and I quote the Minister, who said this last week—“treaty industry”; if not, can he identify any positive quantifiable outcomes that have been made in the public service as a result of this spending, and would he take as an outcome the views of Mr Graham Kelly, who said, on the Mâori population: “There were seven canoes that came in 740 from Hawaiki so there are seven tribes. They all held each others’ hands to stop them from sinking on the voyage. Once they got to New Zealand they started fighting and eating each other, so there have been Mâori wars ever since then.”; and are the views expressed in Ottawa by Mr Graham Kelly, our high commissioner in Ottawa, an example of the positive quantifiable outcome of the Minister’s programmes?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think it would be fair to say that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has some work to do, as far as Mr Kelly is concerned.
Dail Jones: Why does the Minister keep on standing up in front of the House, even after a week or more, declaring that he still cannot supply us with full details of the amount of taxpayers’ money that has been spent on worthless educational courses for bureaucrats and one foreign affairs official, at least, when the public deserves to know the extent of the Government’s wastefulness in this area, and is it simply because, if the true amount were known, no amount of Government spin would be able to justify such a flagrant waste of taxpayers’ money?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I do accept that it would be a challenge as far as one current Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade employee is concerned, having known the individual for some time, but I am willing to encourage my colleagues to get the information together—not that there has been any policy change since Nick Smith was in charge of the area, as far as education is concerned. We could collect the information up, if the member puts down proper questions. If he really wants advice on how to draft an appropriate question—I think he was first in Parliament in 1975, but he does not know how to draft questions yet—I am willing to give him a guide.
Dail Jones: Despite the Minister’s failure to answer any of these questions properly until now, can he still try to tell us in what way the $6 million set aside for this Government’s Treaty of Waitangi education programme and any additional amounts will benefit New Zealanders: for example, will it reduce elective surgery waiting times, will it reduce the exorbitant school fees imposed on parents by this Government, or has it merely created more jobs and higher pay for the Labour Party’s girls and boys?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I think it is fair to say that there would be a debate about whether the majority of the people involved in what the member refers to as the “treaty industry” are Labour Party supporters.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I wonder whether, through you, we may ask Mr Dail Jones to table or explain where our High Commissioner in Canada made those comments, so that we can see that this is what the Labour Party MPs really think and what their appointments actually say?
Madam SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.
6. Hon DAVID CARTER (National) to the Associate Minister for Rural Affairs: When will he introduce legislation to implement the Government’s decisions on the walking access policy?
Hon JIM SUTTON (Associate Minister for Rural Affairs): A bill has yet to be drafted. I intend to introduce it when it is ready.
Hon David Carter: Does the Government’s proposed policy have the support of all departments and ministries; if so, how does he explain the advice from the Ministry for the Environment dated 22 October 2004, stating that it remains “unconvinced about the nature of the problem and the rationale for Government intervention.”?
Hon JIM SUTTON: The policy decisions that have been made to date have the support of all Ministers.
Hon David Carter: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I did not ask whether it had the support of all Ministers. I asked whether it had the support of departments and ministries.
Hon JIM SUTTON: It certainly has the support of the departments and ministries for which I have responsibility. I have no reason to doubt that the ministry quoted by the member is now convinced of the need for the legislation.
Gerrard Eckhoff: What is the Minister’s response to the condemnation of his proposed legislation by recreational groups such as Public Access New Zealand, the Deerstalkers Association, the Federation of Freshwater Anglers, and also what is the significance of the review of the job of the Bryce Johnson—his major advocate—chief executive officer of the Fish and Game Council, by the board of the New Zealand Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations, which according to reliable information has voted 7:5 to sack him due to his anti-rural and rural-bashing campaigns?
Hon JIM SUTTON: My understanding of the coalition of outdoor recreation associations is that its actual position is that it wants the walking policy to go ahead, even though it does not go as far as it would like.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Why did he write to Mr Webber of South Head, Kaipara, who complained that Carter Holt Harvey had planted two rotations of pine forest on a legal paper road, denying the public access to Muriwai beach, stating that he should pursue the matter through the courts, and does the Government’s policy on public access exempt forestry companies from the law?
Hon JIM SUTTON: The forestry companies are not exempt from the law in any way, as far as I know. I have no recollection of the correspondence concerned.
Larry Baldock: Can the Minister give an assurance to the House and to the hundreds of thousands from the recreational sector that this long-awaited access legislation will be introduced before the election this year; if not, why not?
Hon JIM SUTTON: It is certainly my intention to progress the bill to a stage where it can be introduced before the election, but because I do not know the timing of the election, I cannot provide an absolute assurance.
Hon David Carter: Will the Minister confirm today that this Government’s policy is opposed by Land Information New Zealand, which says that the policy has: “serious implication for property rights”, and that it is also opposed by Treasury, which says it: “does not see the benefits of the policy outweighing the detriment”, and what is the opinion of the New Zealand Police?
Hon JIM SUTTON: I can assure the member that under this Government it is the elected members and their Cabinet who set the policy, not bureaucrats.
Larry Baldock: Has the Minister read the United Future and Outdoor Recreation NZ policy called Practical Access to New Zealand’s Great Outdoors, and if so, given its common-sense and balanced approach to the access issue and the fact that the Government will need United Future’s support for the passage of the access legislation, will he assure the farmers that they have nothing to fear from the intended proposals?
Hon JIM SUTTON: As it happens, I have read the policy mentioned by the member, although I did not see anything about walking access in it. However, I acknowledge the strong loyalty of United Future to outdoor recreationists and I can assure them that in my judgment the farmers of New Zealand should, in their own enlightened self-interest, welcome that policy.
Hon David Carter: In light of his earlier answer that this matter will be decided by politicians and not bureaucrats, can he assure the House that he has the full support of the Mâori caucus for his land access policy, particularly in light of Te Puni Kôkiri’s advice that Mâori land should be excluded because it breaches article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi, which provides Mâori with “full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands”?
Hon JIM SUTTON: I am confident I have the support of my colleagues.
Hon David Carter: I seek leave to table the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry papers addressed to the Minister for Rural Affairs and the Associate Minister for Rural Affairs, dated 22 October 2004.
Gerrard Eckhoff: I seek leave of the House to table the article in the New Zealand Herald on Sunday, which clearly stated that the so-called Mâori caucus has huge reservations about the proposed legislation.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
7. LUAMANUVAO WINNIE LABAN (Labour—Mana) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade: What reports, if any, has he received on changes to New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy?
Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade): I have seen two reports on a bill before Parliament designed to end New Zealand’s nuclear-free status. One report shows that a large majority of New Zealanders, contrary to the intention of this bill, want their country to stay nuclear-free. This bill will therefore be an embarrassment to parties that intend to repeal nuclear-free legislation but are desperate not to make their intention clear before the election. The other report is from the Agenda programme on Saturday, which revealed that neither Dr Brash nor most of the National caucus supports a nuclear-free New Zealand but will not vote for the bill. Clearly, the National Party is the party that will suffer the most embarrassment from the bill.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Standing Orders are very clear that the Minister has absolutely no responsibility for the best part of that answer, and I would like to know why you did not intervene at the beginning.
Madam SPEAKER: He was asked about reports. In his answer he stated the reports he had available to him. He was not saying he was responsible for anyone else’s policy, as I heard the answer.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Are you saying that it is acceptable for Ministers to make comment on matters for which they have no responsibility?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The Minister is the foreign affairs Minister, and the legislation being referred to is a key aspect of New Zealand’s foreign policy. Certain foreign Governments would be very interested in the prospect of any change to that policy at some time within the foreseeable future. The Minister is perfectly free to comment on the likelihood, or otherwise, of any change in that policy.
Gerry Brownlee: My point is that we could not set down a question on the Order Paper about an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, which absolutely caned New Zealand for its non-proliferation nuclear, one might say, allies, or allegiances, that it has struck up around the world; something we know is a cause for embarrassment for the Government. Because the Minister has no direct responsibility for that issue, we cannot raise it. So the point is, if the Minister is able to use a patsy question from a member, who hardly ever asks a question in the House, to offer his opinions on some other party’s policy, then perhaps you can free us up so that we can do exactly the same when we ask questions.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. As I said originally, if there had been a hypothetical speculation on what might be the policy, then no, but there was a reference to specific reports. One cannot speculate on what might happen, but if there is a reference to specific reports, then that is in the context of addressing the question.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker.
Madam SPEAKER: I have ruled on the point. Is this a new point of order?
Gerry Brownlee: It is.
Madam SPEAKER: Gerry Brownlee.
Gerry Brownlee: I ask you, in light of that ruling, to have a close look at Hansard, because I believe there was a lot of speculation in his answer.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member for that and I shall do that.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: Are these the only reports the Minister has seen on this subject?
Hon PHIL GOFF: No, I have, of course, seen another rather famous report in which Don Brash promised congressmen that under National, New Zealand’s nuclear-free status would be “gone by lunchtime”. The honourable member apparently could not remember that, but that is a clear case.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. That is a completely unsubstantiated lie from the Minister. If he wants to make that statement, surely he needs to place the evidence on the Table of the House. I have already explained that we are not able to go into the issue of New Zealand aligning itself with Iran over nuclear non-proliferation, and the embarrassment that issue is clearly causing the Government. But if we have this sort of speculation from the Minister, and these mistruths put in front of the House, then we have to have the opportunity to respond appropriately.
Hon PHIL GOFF: Speaking to the point of order, I say that far from it being an unsubstantiated lie, I laid on the Table the transcript that showed that Don Brash, contrary to assertions that the member has just made, said precisely what I quoted him as saying. Don Brash could not remember, of course, whether he had said it, but we all know what he said.
Madam SPEAKER: Quiet, please. Points of order are to be heard in silence.
Gerry Brownlee: Quite apart from the fact that the Minister’s response was not a point of order, I assume now that he is calling the senators who were present at that meeting liars.
Madam SPEAKER: We are now getting into debating the Minister’s answer. The Minister said that he saw a report and that he has tabled that report. That addresses that point.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Minister said that he had tabled the transcript of the exchange. My understanding is that there was no transcript, but that he had a report from an official. If, in fact, he has a transcript, I think it would be helpful if he did table it; otherwise I think he is misleading the House—I am not saying intentionally.
Hon PHIL GOFF: The member is quite right. It was a report from an official, who is a neutral public servant, on what he heard Dr Brash say.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: What is the reason for New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The Government’s policy reflects a longstanding commitment, shared by the overwhelming majority of New Zealanders, that this country should remain nuclear-free and that decisions on this issue should be made by New Zealanders, according to what we think is right. Dr Brash’s behaviour suggests that he believes the opposite, but will not come clean because of political expediency.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I refer you to Speaker’s ruling 145/5, which states: “… The Minister, in answering about the report, cannot be hypothetical about what may or may not be the effects of another political party’s policy.” I simply ask you to enforce it. The last three answers from this Minister have breached that very clear Standing Order and Speaker’s ruling.
Madam SPEAKER: They were not speculation; they were comments on a report that has, in fact, been put before the House. So they were not hypothetical. Whether those reports were accurate is not for the Speaker to determine. But there was a basis for the statement. It was not a hypothetical assumption of what might or might not be someone else’s policy.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Then how would you explain the Minister deviating from an answer to a question about the reason for New Zealand’s non-nuclear status by going immediately into what he thinks Dr Brash has meant? I point out to you and to the House that Dr Brash has said that we will not support ACT’s legislation because we have a position that does exactly as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade has suggested—we would put the issue before New Zealanders before anything was even considered. The issue here is that the Minister was asked a specific question about the policy, but then immediately broke into his opinion on what Dr Brash’s comments might have meant, and, what is worse, his reporting of Dr Brash’s comments was, to say the least, inaccurate.
Madam SPEAKER: When the Minister does, in fact, say—and I think that in this instance the Minister did say—that he believes that Dr Brash said something, then that is not appropriate, because that is speculation. If, in fact, there is some evidence for the statement, then that is within the Standing Orders.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Has the Minister had any evidence of memory lapses from the official concerned, or of any lack of ability to write down what happened at the time; if not, is there anything else in the report that might explain why Dr Brash no longer remembers what he said?
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Where on earth is this Minister’s responsibility for the psychological state of a State official whose recollection of an event has not been substantiated by most of the other parties who took part in that meeting?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: This issue could be so much more easily settled if Dr Brash simply came to the House and gave a personal explanation stating that he never said that and that he does not believe it.
Madam SPEAKER: The question seems to me to go beyond what the Minister’s responsibility is in terms of speculating upon motive. However, the Minister is responsible, of course, for officials who are in the ministries for which he is responsible.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. That is a very interesting ruling, because we have been trying to get the Hon George Hawkins to be responsible for officials in his department for months. We have had repeated advice from the Speaker that the Minister is not responsible for operational matters, not responsible for the direct employment of anybody in his department, and responsible only for vote allocations. How is it different for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade?
Madam SPEAKER: I think we are confusing issues here.
Gerry Brownlee: No, we are not.
Madam SPEAKER: Yes, we are. The matter was about operational, administrative matters. However, I think the Minister will have to be very careful as he addresses this question.
Hon PHIL GOFF: The skill that Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials have is to sit at meetings and accurately record what was said. The official concerned had no political axe to grind. He was quite clear in what was said, unlike Dr Brash, who claimed he could not remember what he said a couple of weeks earlier.
Madam SPEAKER: That last part was unnecessary; that was speculating on Dr Brash’s state of mind.
Hon PHIL GOFF: I would never do that.
Madam SPEAKER: Stop it. That was out of order.
Hon Richard Prebble: Can I, and can the House, interpret the Minister’s answers to be that he has seen reports that have led him to believe that the majority of New Zealanders support the nuclear-free policy, and that is the real reason why the Government supports the policy; if so, does he have any fear of the issue of nuclear-powered shipping being put to a referendum, and if he does, why?
Hon PHIL GOFF: The public opinion on this issue has been quite consistent since 1987. It is not a case of the Labour Government believing in the policy because of the public opinion—other parties in the House might do that. The Labour Government has been steadfastly committed—along with the Greens and, I think, most other parties in the House except for National and ACT—to a policy of keeping New Zealand nuclear-free. Because public opinion has been so consistent for so long, there is absolutely no need for a referendum—that is already clear. The only need for a referendum is so that an expedient political party can try to get itself off the hook, which is precisely what National is trying to do, as Ken Shirley pointed out.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Does the Minister recall that the Hon Richard Prebble introduced the first private member’s bill to ban nuclear ships in New Zealand waters; if so, has he received an explanation for Mr Prebble’s U-turn on this matter?
Hon PHIL GOFF: I very clearly do remember that, and Ken Shirley was an adamant supporter of that policy.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. How could that question possibly be in order?
Madam SPEAKER: Yes, I agree with the member.
Rodney Hide: We are quite happy to have Phil Goff speculate on it—it is no embarrassment to us—but we must have some Standing Orders applying in the House.
Madam SPEAKER: You are ahead, Mr Hide. I agree that that question was inappropriate.
Hon Richard Prebble: I am obliged to my leader, but I am actually very proud of those three bills. They brought down the Muldoon Government.
Madam SPEAKER: Thank you for that bit of history.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table the Wall Street Journal article in which New Zealand is associated with Iran on the complete failure of the negotiations for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which is a tragedy for New Zealand and the world.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is objection.
Accident and Emergency Centres—Waiting Times
8. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Port Waikato) to the Minister of Health: Does she stand by her statement regarding accident and emergency department waiting times: “Any patients who present with those conditions should be seen within that time, and I believe they are.”; if not, why not?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): Yes.
Dr Paul Hutchison: Why did the Minister also claim last Thursday: “If the member were to speak to clinicians, they would tell him that no person who has had a heart attack or who is haemorrhaging waits longer than he or she needs to.”, and does this not typify her failure to appreciate reality, given that the benchmark report shows that 14 out of 21 district health boards fail to meet targets and that clinicians I have spoken to this very afternoon say that her statement is utter, unadulterated nonsense?
Hon ANNETTE KING: No, it means that I believe the clinicians. I direct the member to Dr Peter Freeman, head of the emergency department at Capital and Coast District Health Board, who said that patients in triage category 1 are seen immediately. I believe Dr Freeman.
Steve Chadwick: Can the Minister confirm the concern raised in the House by Dr Hutchison on 8 June that 14 out of 21 district health boards failed to attend to serious conditions such as heart attack and massive bleeding?
Hon ANNETTE KING: No. Dr Hutchison misinformed this House on at least two occasions last week when he claimed that 14 of the 21 district health boards “failed to attend to serious conditions such as heart attacks, massive bleeding, …”. The latest report—the March 2005 report—did not show that at all. It showed that five of the 21 did not meet the benchmark. However, the waiting time starts from a patient’s first contact with a triage nurse and runs until the consultation with a registered medical practitioner. Often the doctor does not log on to the medical records system until after he or she has completed the consultation. In other words, doctors attend to the patient first, then they log on to the system. That is why Dr Peter Freeman, head of the emergency department in Wellington, said that the triage report did not accurately reflect patient care.
Dr Paul Hutchison: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Minister has suggested that I misinformed the House. I believe that she has misinformed the House by not accurately recording my entire question, which showed that 14 out of 21 district health boards in New Zealand failed to achieve the measured times that were recommended.
Hon ANNETTE KING: I will table the report, because the member is portraying it incorrectly—for political purposes, I think. It does not show what that member says it does.
Madam SPEAKER: Would the Minister care to table that report now.
Hon ANNETTE KING: I seek leave to table the latest benchmark report.
Barbara Stewart: What encouragement can the Minister offer to the staff and patients at Wellington Hospital’s emergency department, given that patients who present with anything less serious than a heart attack, massive bleeding, or concussion may find themselves waiting in hallways, storage facilities, or the counselling room for treatment?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I am pleased to tell the member that quite a lot has been done at the Wellington Hospital emergency department. Opened only 4½ years ago, it will have an assessment unit of 14 beds by August, which will allow people to move through the emergency department faster, and an ambulatory care zone for fast track of patients will be developed. It has a four-bed area that will be used for this purpose. So people in the department are doing the best they can. They are under pressure and they acknowledge that. However, the head of their department tells me that they are seeing people appropriately.
Heather Roy: Given that after-hours services have been closed or reduced at Taumarunui, Winton, Wellington, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Upper Hutt, Queenstown, and Dunedin under her watch; that several boards are considering charging at accident and emergency departments; and that the latest New Zealand Doctor polls show that half the country’s general practitioners are struggling with their after-hours situation, does she rule out allowing accident and emergency departments to charge, and how is it possible that she has a such a disaster on her hands, given that she has injected an extra $3.5 billion into health?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The only people who think we have an absolute disaster on our hands are members of the ACT party, who are trying to get some sort of traction when they are 2 percent in the polls and getting absolutely nowhere. No patient is charged for an accident and emergency service that should be handled in a hospital. But for many years hospitals have offered out general practitioner services, and patients are charged the same as they would be when going to any general practitioner.
Dr Paul Hutchison: Why has she not changed the system of recording triage times, given that last Thursday she claimed it was a poor way of measuring data, even though her ministry initiated the system, and is this not just another case of an inept Minister ducking responsibility and trying to bluff and blather her way out of a very serious issue?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I thought the member, who is a doctor, would have known that triage times were not set by my ministry, but by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine. He will also know that the college is reviewing with the ministry the way we recall the triage times, because they do not—as Dr Freeman said—accurately show the care a patient is getting.
Dr Paul Hutchison: Does the Minister agree with comments made by Helen Clark 9 years ago, when she said: “We know that winter brings an increase in health problems. It happens every year, but our hospitals must be ready to cope with the problems. It just isn’t good enough to have basic services break down.”, and does she remain in denial that the reporting of patients being treated in the corridors of Wellington Hospital and of storage rooms being used for treatment is yet another sign that basic services have broken down?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, I agree with the Prime Minister. That is why, under this Government, the specialty of emergency medicine was introduced for the first time. One of the reasons Wellington Hospital is having some problems is that, unfortunately, there are not enough beds in the emergency department that was opened 4½ years ago. I wish the National Government had decided to make it bigger when they decided on its size in 1999.
Health, Ministry—Policy and Funding
9. BARBARA STEWART (NZ First) to the Minister of Health: Is she confident that policy and funding originating from the Ministry of Health are achieving their intended purpose; if so, why?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): In general, yes, as seen by the improvement in New Zealanders’ life expectancy.
Barbara Stewart: Can the Minister assure us that the funds allocated in the latest Budget will be used to improve the lives of those in aged care; if so, why is the chief executive of HealthCare Providers New Zealand, Martin Taylor, saying that most of the increased rest home spending will be used to meet the cost of inflation and cover existing deficits?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, I can confirm that the money will be spent for the benefit of all New Zealanders, particularly older New Zealanders, and that the additional money that is being spent for aged care will go for aged care.
Dianne Yates: Is the Minister also confident that primary-care policy and funding originating from the Ministry of Health are achieving their intended purpose?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes. The Primary Health Care Strategy, I think, is the greatest improvement in primary health care policy for decades. It does mean that many New Zealanders now have access to affordable primary health care. From 1 July this year, the 18 to 24-year-olds will join the over-65s and the under-18s in getting access to more affordable primary health care—something that New Zealanders had until the Budget of 1991, when Ruth Richardson took away the subsidy they had for primary health care.
Dr Paul Hutchison: Why does the Minister not admit failure, when, after a further $3.5 billion has been poured into health and after massive, unnecessary restructuring, patients, including the elderly, spill into hospital corridors, a situation Helen Clark described in 1996 as “disgraceful for a public health system in the middle in winter”?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The reason is that it would be wrong. That is the reason why.
Barbara Stewart: Is the Minister confident that the recent Budget funding will provide adequate funding for the elderly who lack financial resources and require rest home care, and who depend totally on superannuation?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes.
Foreshore and Seabed Act—Legal Aid
10. GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Deputy Prime Minister: Does he remain committed to upholding his statement of 6 May 2004 in relation to the Foreshore and Seabed Bill that it “does not establish a new avenue for legal aid”; if not, why not?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister): Yes.
Gerry Brownlee: Can the Deputy Prime Minister confirm reports from Judge Joe Williams, Chief Judge of the Mâori Land Court, that six new appointments to the bench of that court are imminent; and can he also confirm that Treasury Budget documents state that most of those new appointments will be the result of the Foreshore and Seabed Act?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It is expected that additional appointments to the Mâori Land Court will be required to deal with applications, though I think so far there have been only about two applications to it.
Gerry Brownlee: Then can the Minister tell us why Cabinet has approved six new appointments to that bench?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It is in anticipation of their being required to deal with applications. Of course, should those applications not eventuate, then that may have an impact on requirements in the future.
Dail Jones: Can the Minister confirm that those appointments were indicated by the Court of Appeal in the Ngâti Apa case, when it indicated that the new jurisdiction and the extra work that would arise would require further appointments to the Mâori Land Court; and that the Government is merely following the Court of Appeal’s recommendation?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: That is correct. Those who did not support passing legislation in relation to the Ngâti Apa decision would have been left in that position, in any case.
Gerry Brownlee: Has the Minister participated in discussions that have resulted in a commitment for the Labour Government, should it be returned to the Treasury benches, to support Nanaia Mahuta’s bill that allows foreshore and seabed claimants access to legal aid?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No.
Apples—Australian Market Access
11. RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Labour—Napier) to the Minister for Trade Negotiations: What progress, if any, can he report in the battle to get access to the Australian market for New Zealand apples?
Hon JIM SUTTON (Minister for Trade Negotiations): The Government has decided to inscribe the Australian apples issue on the agenda of this month’s meeting of the World Trade Organization Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. We have been trying hard for many years to get a fair deal for New Zealand apple growers. We consider that the science is clear but, regrettably, the whole Australian process has dragged on too long.
Hon David Carter: Why has it taken the Minister so long to act; and was it just because of the threat of another embarrassing protest on the steps of Parliament next week, like that over the “fart tax”?
Hon JIM SUTTON: Multilateral action is not something any country should take lightly. It has never before had to be resorted to by either Australia or New Zealand against each other. Our objective is to get access for our apples, and we have now decided to take a significant step in the World Trade Organization process. Unfortunately, although we appeared to be on the brink of success in 1990, the then incoming National Government let the matter drop and did not reapply until 1999.
Dail Jones: Bearing in mind that this question follows many questions by New Zealand First in recent times, can the Minister confirm that he is actually taking this dispute not to the World Trade Organization but only to a committee; and when will he do something about it and take it to the World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Body immediately?
Hon JIM SUTTON: To go to the Dispute Settlement Body would be time-consuming and costly. Inscription will be faster. It has worked for us before with other countries. We note that the disputes panel some time ago found in favour of the US in a very similar case it took against Japan, although no apples have yet flowed as a result. A ruling in a subsequent dispute over compliance with that first ruling is expected shortly. This will be an important precedent for litigation between New Zealand and Australia, and the present move will improve our chances of success, should we have to go to that extent ourselves.
Dail Jones: Does the Minister agree that his answer is really no help, at all, to apple growers in New Zealand, because taking this matter just to the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures adds another delay in the whole procedure and, inevitably, the Australians will make sure that the matter ends up at the World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement Body; so why do we not take it there now, as all the apple growers of New Zealand are demanding, instead of caving in to the Australians once again?
Hon JIM SUTTON: The answer to the first question is no, and the answer to the second question is that I have consulted with the leadership of the New Zealand apple industry and it supports the actions being taken.
Crimes Act—Repeal of Section 59
12. JUDY TURNER (Deputy Leader—United Future) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Does he still stand by his statement with regard to parental discipline that “The truth is that the Government is working through the issue and has not yet arrived at a conclusion.”; if not, why not?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): Yes, I do. This Government is concerned to prevent family violence, but Government measures must support parents by giving alternatives to physical discipline, and avoid criminalising ordinary parents who may smack a child. Whether that is best achieved by repealing or amending section 59 is still an open question that can only benefit from debate in the wider public arena.
Judy Turner: How does the Minister reconcile his statement made at the Plunket Society conference over the weekend that the Government does not yet have a policy on repealing section 59 of the Crimes Act, with the Prime Minister’s indication yesterday that she believes it should be repealed; and whom should parents believe on this issue?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Prime Minister has made it clear that that is her personal opinion on the matter. It is clear, as we have been stating for some time, that we chose to invest in parenting programmes, and that we will revisit the issue. As I have mentioned, we are very clear on the notion that Government measures must support parents to provide alternatives to physical discipline, but we want to avoid criminalising ordinary parents who choose to smack a child. And, of course, this issue is best opened to wide public debate.
Helen Duncan: What initiatives has this Government put in place to prevent family violence?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Heaps. Family violence is a critical issue for this Government, and we have established a number of policies: the Te Rito Government strategy oversees the policy; $10.8 million for Strategies with Kids—Information for Parents, which is a positive parenting programme; Family Violence Funding Circuit Breaker teams; the community collaborative initiatives fund for prevention of family violence; the Child, Youth and Family Services Everyday Communities programme; New Zealand Family Violence Clearing House; family safety teams; advocates for children witnessing family violence; and a family violence intervention programme in Work and Income offices from July this year—a great deal.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Minister agree that beating children with riding crops and lumps of wood, as allowed by the courts under section 59 of the Crimes Act, is unacceptable in a civilised society, and does he also agree that describing Sue Bradford’s bill as banning smacking is confusing and trivialising the issue?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: In answer to the first question, yes. In answer to the second question, my understanding of Ms Bradford’s bill is that it seeks to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act, not to ban smacking. I do not know anybody in the House who would want to take that position, but the National Party, for its own purposes, loves being confused and loves confusing the issue.
Madam SPEAKER: That is not necessary.
Murray Smith: Does the Minister accept that simply removing section 59 of the Crimes Act without replacing it with something else, such as my member’s bill provisions, would mean that any parents who physically disciplined their child would be committing a criminal offence; if so, does he consider that people who commit criminal offences are criminals only if they are successfully prosecuted?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No, I do not accept the premise of the member’s question. What I think we are up to in this debate is, as I signalled in my answer to the primary question, that no one in the House condones anybody using violence on a child that leads to harm. Everybody in the House wishes to avoid any notion that an ordinary parent smacking a child would end up being criminalised, and therefore the best step forward at the present time is to allow for an open debate.
Sue Kedgley: Has he seen reports from the Plunket Society, the Commissioner for Children, the Law Society, and many community groups such as the National Council of Women, the Public Health Association of New Zealand, the Paediatric Society, and now the Families Commissioner, all supporting repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, and would he agree that this shows that a wide cross section of middle New Zealand, and groups concerned about the welfare of children and families, support Ms Bradford’s bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I think recent opinion polls, as well as that long list, show that public opinion on this matter has changed quite significantly over recent years, and therefore I repeat that I think the position we are in is that people are opposed to physical discipline of children that leads to harm, and they want to avoid criminalisation of ordinary parents who smack their children, and therefore it is time for a wide, open debate about these issues, which all those people have called for.
Judy Turner: Does the Minister accept that unintended consequences of the member’s bill seeking to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act mean that an amended version would better serve his Government’s position on this matter?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: While members of this Government hold views on this issue, there is no specific policy, because, as we have said, we have chosen to invest in positive parenting programmes and to evaluate those. But we are clear where public opinion lies, and therefore we invite members of the House to allow the wider public to have a view on this matter. It is a matter that requires the input of the public. It is very clear that the parameters of this debate are about avoiding criminalising ordinary parents, and ensuring that children are kept safe. Allow an open debate!
Judy Turner: Can the Minister confirm that the Government will treat the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act as a conscience issue; if not, why not?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The only bill before this House on this matter is a member’s bill, and it is yet to be decided upon. But I think it would be the view of the Labour members of the House that that bill should go to a select committee, where the public can have a say on the issue, rather than our trying to shut it down as some people seem to want to do.
Murray Smith: I seek leave to table a copy of my member’s bill, which clarifies the difference between abuse and appropriate physical discipline.
Sue Kedgley: I seek leave to table a document calling for the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, signed by Presbyterian Support New Zealand, Parents Centres New Zealand, and many other groups.
Sue Kedgley: I seek leave to table a remit passed by the New Zealand Plunket Society supporting the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, which points out that it provides a legal excuse in cases of serious assault against children.
Barbara Stewart: I seek leave to table my member’s bill, which outlaws attacking a child with a secondary implement, and also hitting a child around the head.