Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Questions & Answerrs for Oral Answer 16 Nov. 2005

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

Wednesday, 16 November 2005
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers

1. National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Monitoring and Guidelines
2. Milk in Refillable Glass Bottles—Packaging Accord and Waste Strategy
3. Television New Zealand—Resignation of Chief Executive
4. Tertiary Education—Mâori and Pasifika Participation
5. Foreign Policy—Confidence
6. Meningococcal B Disease—Youth
7. Crime—Priorities
8. Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour—Additional Teachers
9. State Sector—Chief Executives
10. Immigration—Return of Skilled New Zealanders
11. Immigration—Representations from Members
12. Passports—Changes for e-passports

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers

National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Monitoring and Guidelines

1. Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister of Education: Was he briefed before the Acting Chief Executive of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, Karen Sewell, stated that: “We will be monitoring results so that very early on in the process we can identify any that differ from what we expect. ... In some cases the guidelines we give to markers may need to be adjusted.”, and does this process differ from that used to mark National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) exams last year?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Education): Yes. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority has announced steps to ensure the upcoming NCEA and scholarship exam round runs successfully and is fair to all students. The process is similar to that used last year, but has more early and intensive monitoring and checking of results, and a greater number of scripts will be used for test marking. More time will be available to remark if necessary.

Hon Bill English: Does the Minister deny that we can translate these statements as meaning that the authority has already decided what the pass rates are, and is he aware that last year’s pass rates varied from under 30 percent to over 90 percent; if so, what sort of pass rate is different enough—or politically embarrassing enough—that it will have to be changed by the markers halfway through the exam marking?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The answer to the first part of the question is yes, I deny that. Mr English needs to understand that this is not a process of scaling; the process is one of marking to a standard, but ensuring that the way the assessment tool is used is fair. [Interruption] Mr English is trying to listen, and I ask why Dr Smith does not let him do that. So the process is that the assessment tool is fair and consistent to all students. That is what this is about.

Moana Mackey: What reports has he seen on the merits of the NCEA system?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I have heard reports that state: “NCEA will force New Zealanders to become more sophisticated in their understanding of assessment and what standards-based assessment actually means.”, and: “NCEA must not be a football that political parties kick around for short-term advantage. Our school qualifications system is far too important for us to make it the subject of ongoing acrimony.” These comments were made by none other than Mr English’s associate spokesperson, Allan Peachey, who has been given the job of looking after the party’s policies on the compulsory secondary school sector, and I welcome his appointment, because he knows what he is talking about.

Judy Turner: How reassured does he expect parents to be that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority is making progress to achieve not only a credible set of NCEA exams but also a credible moderation process, and why should parents believe him or the authority?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: It is worth pointing out that over the last year the New Zealand Qualifications Authority has been going through a large number of changes in preparation for the exam season this year. That has included reviewing everything that was suggested to the authority by the review of the organisation. It has done that; it is now wanting to get on with the exam season. What I urge people to do, of course, is to give it the chance the do that. Today we have 156,000 young New Zealanders sitting exams across the country and, as Mr Peachey quite rightly pointed out, this is an exam going in the right direction. The authority has done everything it possibly can to make it work. Let us hope it does this year.

Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware the Martin report on NCEA released in June this year stated that there was no time for significant changes to NCEA for 2005 because the exam-setting process was so far advanced; so why should we see any statements made by the authority that it has improved the system as anything other than a political paint job on the results to make sure that he is not embarrassed in January next year?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I think because it has made changes, and as the member himself said on National Radio, the best thing to do now that we are into the exam season, with 156,000 young New Zealanders sitting their exams, is to let them get on with it, and then review the process once we have set those exams. Right now, they are sitting exams, the process has been reviewed, and they are sure they have got a good exam season, which should allow students to sit their exams in confidence.

Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that it could have a large impact on individual students if pass rates are going to be significantly altered, because today students are going into exams where, for instance, there may be five standards in the paper and they choose to be examined in only one or two, and being sensible people, they pick those with higher pass rates? So why does he not tell students what the predetermined pass rates are if they are significantly different from last year, because that would be fair to them?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I want to say this to members again, because it is important for the House. This is a matter of setting standards clearly. What the New Zealand Qualifications Authority has done this year is ensured that it has consistency across markers, and where it is necessary, it will in fact re-mark a whole exam to make it consistent. But the standard is the standard.

Hon Bill English: Does the Minister not understand that the publicly announced process where the New Zealand Qualifications Authority will change the marking scheme halfway through the marking is totally inconsistent with standards-based assessment and is a U-turn on everything the Government has said about NCEA during all the controversy this year?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As someone who has marked examinations for 15 years, let me say that one of the common things that markers do is to look at standards and look at their assessment tool and to ensure that assessment processes are consistent and fair across markers. I want to say to the National Party once again, that there are 156,000 young New Zealanders sitting these exams. They can have faith in the exam as having clear-cut standards, and that the NZQA is doing everything it can to ensure consistency of marking.

Hon Bill English: If the Minister is so concerned about fairness and consistency and transparency, why did the New Zealand Qualifications Authority leave this very significant announcement until just 10 days before the start of exams, when he knows that it would have been very controversial and at the very least deserved debate among teachers and students, when they found out that the authority is now going to change the marking schemes halfway through the marking, simply to avoid embarrassment for the Labour Government?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: It did not announce that it would be changing the marking scheme. Let me say to the member that the changes in New Zealand Scholarship were communicated to school boards and principals back in June. As far back as May, changes that were going to be made to NCEA were communicated. Two-hundred and seventy-two workshops were held; 4,000 lead teachers went through those workshops; $3.5 million was spent on those workshops. This has been well communicated. The member should stop upsetting 156,000 students for his points.

Hon Bill English: Did the Minister discuss with the authority its public announcements that it intended to change the guidelines it gives to markers halfway though the marking process, and did those discussions include any reference to the potential for political controversy if the results contain too much variability? Did those discussions refer to any potential for political problems if the results were too variable?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The New Zealand Qualifications Authority is interested only in ensuring—[Interruption] I will ignore that, because it is beneath the member. The authority is concerned with one thing, and one thing only: consistency and fairness across the markers. That is what it has made clear to people—it has made it clear that that is what the changes it is announcing are about, and I understand that to be a fair and consistent process.

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I asked the Minister quite a precise question, which was whether he had discussed this statement with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and whether those discussions included any reference to political problems that would arise from controversial results. That was quite a precise question, and the Minister in no way addressed it.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes and no.

Milk in Refillable Glass Bottles—Packaging Accord and Waste Strategy

2. NANDOR TANCZOS (Green), on behalf of JEANETTE FITZSIMONS (Co-Leader—Green), to the Minister for the Environment: Will the goals of the New Zealand Packaging Accord 2004 and the New Zealand waste strategy be compromised by any moves to stop supplying milk in refillable glass bottles, as proposed by Meadow Fresh in the South Island?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Minister for the Environment): I do not believe that that move, were it to happen, would compromise the goals of the waste strategy or the Packaging Accord. Those initiatives will continue to drive waste reduction and recycling, and take account of full life-cycle environmental impacts. A report on year 1 of the Packaging Accord has recently been completed, and shows that significant progress was made towards encouraging voluntary compliance and industry self-regulation. I am personally disappointed at the proposal being considered by Meadow Fresh, and I hope it will reconsider. We already have a significant glass mountain to deal with in trying to recycle glass, and, clearly, the reuse of glass containers is preferable to recycling.

Nandor Tanczos: Does he not agree that the proposal to scrap glass milk bottles, such as the one I have here, in the South Island is yet another example of how voluntary measures are totally inadequate to decrease the amount of waste going to landfills?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: No. The Government’s desire is first of all to test the voluntary approach before considering legislation. The Packaging Accord was signed with the inclusion of the following clause 12: “If a voluntary approach does not provide sufficient improvements in reducing packaging waste per New Zealander, we will encourage product stewardship.” The Government is prepared to consider doing so by regulation.

Nandor Tanczos: Does the Minister agree that the best way to reduce packaging waste is through reuse; if so, will he be directing his officials to look at how we can encourage investment in the packaging reuse market?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Reuse is certainly to be encouraged, but unfortunately the reuse of containers does not apply right across the waste-product stream. I will certainly consider positively any submissions from the member on that matter.

Nandor Tanczos: When will his Government introduce measures that require each business to take responsibility for the waste it generates, rather than allowing businesses to pass the cost of disposal on to the New Zealand ratepayer?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The Government will consider such measures at such time as voluntary measures are shown to be ineffective.

Nandor Tanczos: Given the support the Minister gave to my late colleague Rod Donald on this issue, would he be happy to be the first person to sign this petition to Mr Graeme Hart calling for reconsideration of the proposal to axe glass milk bottles?

Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, I can assure the member that I do have a copy of the petition, and I will consider signing it.

Television New Zealand—Resignation of Chief Executive

3. Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU (National) to the Minister of Broadcasting: What “other assignments” will Ian Fraser be required to perform in return for remaining on the Television New Zealand payroll for six months, receiving $300,000 and another $120,000 in superannuation subsidy, despite his resignation from the role of chief executive?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Broadcasting): I am advised by the board of TVNZ that Mr Fraser will be available to provide advice and assistance to management through the transition period until a new chief executive officer is formally appointed. Any other detail, of course, is an operational matter.

Hon Georgina te Heuheu: Can the Minister specifically deny that he has given any directions to the TVNZ board or chairman about the manner in which TVNZ deals with the contracts or exit payments of Ian Fraser, Susan Wood, or any other news and current affairs staff at TVNZ in breach of the Minister’s duties under the Television New Zealand Act 2003; if not, what directions has he given?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes.

Dave Hereora: What reports has the Minister seen on the performance of TVNZ?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The TVNZ annual report, tabled this afternoon, shows an annual operating surplus before non-recurring items, interest, and tax of $57.3 million. That is up $4 million on the previous year. In addition, TVNZ commissioned 208 New Zealand programmes from 86 separate production companies, with local content reaching a peak of 70 percent in May this year. As I have said before, TVNZ is going through a transition towards becoming a company that will be commercially strong. In respect of its charter it is doing well on that score, as well.

Hon Georgina te Heuheu: Has the Minister also seen the TVNZ annual report showing a sharply reduced dividend paid to the Government of $10.5 million, down from $37.3 million last year, together with gloomy financial forecasts; if so, has he considered requesting that Mr Fraser earn his golden handshake by taking on the special assignment of attempting to transform TVNZ’s financial fortunes?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The explanation for that change in dividend is, of course, that TVNZ is spending the money on New Zealand programming. I will repeat that to the member: it is spending the money on New Zealand programming. The member needs to remind herself that the company is a public-chartered organisation as well as a commercial organisation. It is required to do things like make New Zealand programmes, so it spends its money on that.

Rodney Hide: Why does the Minister not get Ian Fraser to do something useful by readying TVNZ for sale and privatising it, so that it too can become, in the Minister’s words, a class act like TV3 has?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Because that would not be useful.

Hone Harawira: Â, kia ora Madam Speaker. Hoi anô i te tuatahi e Rangi kia môhio ai koe me mihi au ki taku hoa ki a Nandor kua hoki mai ki roto i te Whare. Tçnâ koe Nandor. Hari ana au kua hoki mai nei i roto i a tâtau i tçnei Whare i tçnei râ. Hâkoa te taumahatanga o te kaupapa o tô hokinga mai, hoi anô kua hoki mai tçnâ koe. Me te mihi atu ki a koe e tautoko kaha ana i tô tâtau Tiriti o Waitangi. Kia ora râ! Kia ora anô ki a koutou e te whânau kua tae mai hei tautoko i te kaupapa o tô tâtau nei rangatira a Pita.

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

[Thank you indeed, Madam Speaker. Firstly Rangi, I would like you to know that first and foremost I must acknowledge my friend Nandor, who has returned to the House. Greetings to you Nandor. I am thrilled that you have come back in our midst today in this House. Although the circumstances of your return were trying ones indeed, the main thing is that you have come back. I acknowledge your strong support for the Treaty of Waitangi. Well done! My thanks to you, the whânau who have arrived here to support our chief Pita’s kaupapa.]

Madam SPEAKER: I must say that the member is out of order with that greeting. This is question time. One is expected and required to ask the questions on the Order Paper. I understand that the member is a new member, and this, I am sure, will be the only time that he indulges in that behaviour. Would the member now please ask the question. The member is also required to sit when the Speaker is speaking, but I understand that he is a new member. Would the member please now proceed to ask the question.

Hone Harawira: Kia ora, Madam Speaker. Ki a koe e te Minita. Me pçhea râ koe e whakatau tika ai i te rerekçtanga o te kaupapa whai moni ki te kaupapa tiaki tangata? How does the Minister achieve the balance between the demands of a commercial, profit-driven ethos and that of providing a public service, as required in the charter?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: There are about 46 organisations within the fold of the State that have the same kind of mandate—that is, that are required to make a commercial return while delivering on something like science, education, or, in the case of TVNZ, public service television. The way we do that is through the letter of expectations to the organisation. We require the organisation to be measured against its public responsibilities and commercial responsibilities.

Hon Georgina te Heuheu: Does the Minister think that it is fair to describe Ian Fraser’s entitlement to almost half a million dollars in additional remuneration, despite his shock resignation, as a “golden handshake”; if not, is that simply because such a payment can never be called a golden handshake if the Labour administration is responsible for it?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The board advises me that Mr Fraser resigned in the correct manner. He and the board are fully entitled to discuss the manner in which that period of notice will be worked out. Therefore, it is not a golden handshake. The board is obliged to honour the contracts under which it employs people, and that is what it is doing.

Gerry Brownlee: Can the Minister list the $20 million worth of local programming produced in the last year that would account for the profit downturn, as expressed in his earlier answer this afternoon?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I do not have a list with me, but TVNZ reports against all of those programmes.

Hon Georgina te Heuheu: Is the Minister prepared to deny the accusation that TVNZ board member, former Labour Cabinet Minister, and Labour Party fund-raiser Dame Ann Hercus has, on occasion, gone behind the backs of the board and chairman to discuss with the Minister and Prime Minister statements and messages that they would like her to carry from the ninth floor back to TVNZ?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes.

Hon Georgina te Heuheu: What explanation can the Minister offer for why Ian Fraser was moved to blame political interference for his resignation from Television New Zealand; and has he discussed with Ian Fraser or others exactly why the outgoing chief executive had lost confidence in the board of Television New Zealand?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: You would have to ask Mr Fraser why he resigned. I am not actually inside his head.

Tertiary Education—Mâori and Pasifika Participation

4. SUE MORONEY (Labour) to the Minister for Tertiary Education: Has he received any reports on increased participation by Mâori and Pasifika in tertiary education?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister for Tertiary Education): Figures provided to me show that Mâori participation in degree-level and higher courses has increased by 25 percent since 1999. For Pasifika, it is 56 percent. The number of Pasifika graduating from doctorate-level courses has doubled. The number of Mâori obtaining doctorates has increased by over 30 percent.

Sue Moroney: What reports has he seen on other initiatives to promote Mâori and Pasifika participation in tertiary education and training?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have seen a report explaining that “The liberating experience of education led me to develop equity admission programmes at the University of Auckland for Maori and Polynesian students undertaking commerce degrees.” I have also seen a report advising universities that “If you want funding you can’t have racially based systems …”. The second was from Dr Brash; the first was from Dr Mapp.

Hon Tau Henare: In light of his primary answer, why will he force a quota on Te Wânanga o Aotearoa when many other New Zealanders would love to take the opportunity to attend that institution?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The wânanga is dropping that role for, I would have thought, some fairly obvious reasons. It did, of course, take a claim under the Treaty of Waitangi for payment in relation to it being a Mâori institution; it then seems rather strange for it to turn round to being an institution with a majority of non-Mâori.

Te Ururoa Flavell: T‘nâ koe, Madam Speaker. T‘nâ tâtou katoa. Ko taku pâtai ki te Minita, i runga i te âhua kei te nui ake ngâ Mâori e whai ana i te mâtauranga i ngâ whare wânanga, ka taea e te Minita te whakamârô mai i ngâ painga ka ngahoro mai, ahakoa kua iti iho te pûtea A1J1, ka tukuna ki ngâ wânanga Mâori ko râtou ngâ kaihâpai i ngâ taura Mâori, Pâkehâ hoki?

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

[Greetings to you, Madam Speaker, and to us all. My question is to the Minister. Given the fact that a greater proportion of Mâori are undertaking tertiary education than ever before, will the Minister be able to explain the benefits that will accrue to the wânanga despite the reduction of the A1J1 funding from which Mâori and Pâkehâ students have tasted success?]

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: First, I think it is really important that we stop talking about the wânanga as if there were only one. There are two others, which are highly successful and non-controversial. There is one with serious governance and management problems, and also with serious financial control problems. The Government’s intention and determination are to ensure that those issues are settled and that that wânanga is able to set itself on a stable path, delivering courses of quality, in terms of both foundation courses and other courses.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Â, taku môhio, kâore i te tika te whakautu mai ki taku pâtai, kai te înôi atu kia pâtai anô i te pâtai, kia taea e ia te kôkiri he whakautu ki taku pâtai.

[Indeed, my understanding is that the response to my question was not right, and I seek that the question be put again so that he can put together a more suitable answer.]

[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]

Madam SPEAKER: Under the Standing Orders, the Minister is required to address the question. The Minister in this instance addressed the question.

Foreign Policy—Confidence

5. Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National—East Coast Bays) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Does he have full confidence in the foreign policies of this Government?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs): Madam Speaker—[Interruption]

Madam SPEAKER: I ask members please to keep their level of interjection down, because all members in the House are entitled to hear the answer.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I wonder whether the member answering on behalf of the Rt Hon Winston Peters, given the Cabinet Office dictum, could indicate which hat he wears as he answers this question.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am not speaking on behalf of anybody else; I am the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs by Cabinet decision.

Madam SPEAKER: Thank you for that point of clarification.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Perhaps the Deputy Prime Minister could tell us on which day the Cabinet reaffirmed the Cabinet Manual in 2005, which would allow him to make that claim.

Madam SPEAKER: The member knows that that is not a point of order.

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Madam Chair—

Madam SPEAKER: I am the Speaker.

Hon Bill English: Madam Speaker, I think there is an issue here that we ought to clarify. When Dr Cullen is the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs is he subject to the same set of rules as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, which is the unusual arrangement that is not yet laid out in the Cabinet Manual, or when Dr Cullen answers those questions is he required to exercise collective responsibility as a full Cabinet Minister? That will determine what kind of questions we can ask Dr Cullen when Winston Peters is away.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Mr Peters is bound by collective Cabinet responsibility on matters of foreign affairs. If the member wishes to ask a question of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, he can ask it only about matters of foreign affairs. On those matters, Mr Peters is bound by Cabinet collective responsibility. I am, as Acting Minister, bound by collective Cabinet responsibility on this, but of course with various other hats on I am bound by Cabinet collective responsibility on all matters.

Madam SPEAKER: I draw members’ attention to Speaker’s ruling 152/6: “Where an Acting Minister has been appointed, the Acting Minister is for all purposes the Minister and does not answer a question on behalf of anyone. If an Acting Minister is present when a question is reached it is the Acting Minister’s responsibility to reply.”

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Are we to assume that there will be a different level of responsibility according to the particular Minister who acts for another Minister who, like Winston Peters, claims he is not part of the Government—and Peter Dunne is in the same position—when, a Minister acting for either of them is able to say: “I am bound by full collective responsibility.”? One of the things that has been interesting in this House is that where Acting Ministers have spoken, a Minister has to wear the answer, as if he or she had given it himself or herself. Now, we all know that Mr Peters has views on foreign policy that are quite different from the Labour Party’s, and even in recent days, in radio interviews, he has freely expressed those views. So we do need to get it fairly clear as to just where the bounds of Dr Cullen’s answer will take us.

Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. I think it is quite clear in the ruling I have given, and in the ruling that applies here, that the Acting Minister, when appointed the Acting Minister, is for all purposes the Minister, and answers that question. It is a matter for the Government to decide how that reply is given, and obviously the Speaker does not judge the quality of the reply. I think we shall now proceed to hear the reply.

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I ask you to imagine a situation where, for instance, we put down a question about free trade and Dr Cullen is the Acting Minister, and he gets up and gives an answer that directly contradicts the comments that Winston Peters is giving outside the House, because, even though as foreign Minister he is apparently bound by collective Cabinet responsibility, he actually has already expressed views that are at odds with those of the Government. It will put Parliament in a difficult situation whereby the Minister says one thing through the Acting Minister here in the House, but outside says something completely different, because he does not feel bound by collective responsibility. How are we then to judge the veracity of what the Minister says in the House?

Madam SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. It is, in fact, debating material. If Ministers answer inconsistently that may be of significance politically, but is it not a matter of procedure and not a point of order in this House. I ask the member to answer the question.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes.

Hon Murray McCully: Can the Minister tell the House, with regard to our relationship with the United States, precisely which foreign policy he is expressing confidence in: the policy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who stated that rebuilding New Zealand’s relationship with the US is his top priority, for which purpose he will enlist the assistance of the Australian Foreign Minister; or the Prime Minister’s policy that we do not need to rebuild the relationship with the US and do not need any help from Mr Downer; which of those two very different policies is the policy of the Government?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Minister of Foreign Affairs represents the Government on foreign policy issues. I do note that Mr Peters has denied on a number of occasions saying that he has asked for Australian assistance. It would of course be a help at this stage if Australia would help us more with the Rugby World Cup than with any other matter.

Hon Murray McCully: Can the Minister tell the House why, when the Prime Minister had already stated publicly that she did not want any help from Mr Downer because we can “paddle our own canoe”, the Minister has confirmed that he has asked for help from Mr Downer and that Mr Downer has agreed to give that help?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The transcript that I have does not suggest that Mr Peters asked for assistance. But, certainly, Mr Downer said that he was happy to help us. We, of course, are happy to help Australia with its relationships with other countries.

Hon Murray McCully: Does the Minister of Foreign Affairs agree that, in relation to China, securing a free-trade deal is one of the Government’s highest foreign policy goals; if so, can he tell the House how he managed to spend a whole meeting with the Chinese Minister of foreign affairs without once mentioning New Zealand’s strong interest in such a deal?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, the Minister of Foreign Affairs accepts that seeking a free-trade deal with China is one of our highest foreign policy goals. But, of course, the Minister responsible for trade matters is in fact Mr Goff, not Mr Peters.

Hon Murray McCully: Can the Minister tell the House whether the fact that New Zealand’s Prime Minister and foreign Minister have been spelling out different policies on our relationship with the United States, with Australia, and now with China is the reason that the Australian Government has now issued Mr Goff with a “please explain” about the role of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the new Government; if not, why has the Australian Government asked for such an explanation about Mr Peters’ role?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am not responsible for the Australian Government, but I can say that the only area where I am aware of immense contradiction in terms of our relationship with the United States is in the Opposition, where the National Party cannot make up its mind whether it wants to have nuclear ships here to pay for a free-trade deal or to continue to keep them out. Dr Lockwood Smith is not the spokesperson on foreign affairs, because he does want nuclear ships in New Zealand.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER: The Minister has no responsibility for that. If that is the member’s point of order, the member is correct. What is the member’s point of order?

Gerry Brownlee: My point of order is this. How can that Minister, as Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, give this House an answer and deny things that the Minister of Foreign Affairs himself has said? That is exactly the problem Mr English pointed out a few minutes ago, and I do not think that it is fair to the House for you, Madam Speaker, to say that it is simply a debating matter. As far as the Opposition is concerned, this House has the opportunity, and a responsibility, to hold the Government to account. If we are to have an Acting Minister deny in this House what the Minister has actually said, then where do we go from here, and what will be the value of that sort of scrutiny?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Media reports are not regarded as gospel by most members of this House. For example, when one reads that senior managers in the National Party want to get rid of Gerry Brownlee I do not necessarily believe that that is true.

Madam SPEAKER: I do not think that we need any more assistance on this. The same matter is, in effect, being relitigated, upon which I have already ruled. So that was not a point of order. However, the member is perfectly at liberty to ask the Minister a question along those lines.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Dr Cullen referred to a transcript. A number of us actually heard the voice of Mr Winston Peters explaining his dinner with the Chinese Foreign Minister, and that is at variance with what has been said in the House. What are we supposed to do? Every time we have this situation, are we to push the House into some sort of privilege charge? It would be rather ridiculous if that were to happen day after day.

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have said nothing in relation to the Chinese ambassador’s dinner that is contrary to any media report. I was referring to the matter of a request made of Mr Downer.

Madam SPEAKER: I just repeat to members that we are discussing debating material. It is not for the Speaker to judge the quality or anything else of the answers that are given. It is, however, for the Opposition—quite rightly—to question the Government. So perhaps we can proceed.

Hon Murray McCully: I seek the leave of the House to table a New Zealand Press Association piece that was filed at 1 o’clock today, directly quoting Minister Goff and headed “Canberra confused about Peters’ role”.

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

Meningococcal B Disease—Youth

6. MARYAN STREET (Labour) to the Minister of Health: What progress has been made on protecting young New Zealanders from the meningococcal B disease?

Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister of Health): Very good progress. One million young New Zealanders have now received their first dose of the meningococcal B vaccine. Over 77 percent of all school students have now received all three doses.

Maryan Street: What effect has the vaccination programme had on the meningococcal B epidemic, especially in those parts of the country where the roll-out occurred first?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The first part of the country to receive the full course of vaccinations was Counties Manukau. In the first 9 months of last year there were 17 cases amongst preschoolers in Counties Manukau. In the first 9 months of this year there were two. That is a very clear sign that the campaign will succeed. Many thanks go to many people such as health workers, schoolteachers, staff, parents, and many others who have made this campaign the huge success it has been so far.

Maryan Street: In the light of the Minister’s last answer, what has been, in fact, the involvement of schools in ensuring the success of this campaign?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Vaccinating our young people in schools across the country has been a major effort. The campaign has involved 2,600 schools, 750,000 students, and the cooperation of tens of thousands of staff members to whom I again pay my respects and give my thanks.

Hon Tony Ryall: Does the Minister realise that a year since the programme began nationally, in November 2004, 40 percent of under-5-year-olds have still not yet been fully vaccinated, including 60 percent of Mâori kids under 5; are not those children the most at-risk young New Zealanders, and what is he going to do about that?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Yes, they are amongst the most at risk. To answer the third part of the member’s question, that is why we have mop-up vaccinations, which will proceed until 30 June 2006. If the view is that we need to continue vaccinations even then, Cabinet will take a decision to do so, well before then.

Crime—Priorities

7. SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei) to the Minister of Police: Does she stand by her statement that “You and I expect police to come straight away to us but there are some things with lower priority.”; if so, which crimes does she consider to be of lower priority for police investigation?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Police): Yes, because the police have always prioritised incidents. New Zealanders expect the police to respond as quickly as possible to all incidents, but inevitably they have to give priority to the most urgent cases.

Simon Power: Why has crime been prioritised in the way set out in the Auckland district Investigations: Management Plan, whereby responding to ministerial correspondence is a mandatory priority but homicide and child abuse are lower priorities?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The police will always make homicide and child abuse a high priority indeed. However, they are required to respond to inane questions that come from the Opposition week after week, and if any blame needs to be sheeted home, I suggest it go to the Opposition, and maybe its members would like to stop asking such stupid questions.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Minister is required to address the question. We heard a fair bit of bluff and bluster about the fact that the police respond to homicide etc., but the Minister of Police never addressed the question, which was why—not once. For question time to work, I suggest that Ministers must actually address the question that is asked.

Madam SPEAKER: Ruling on the point of order, I listened very carefully to the answer. The Minister did address the question.

Martin Gallagher: Can the Minister provide information on any specific recent cases where the police had to prioritise their resources?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, I can. The recent double murder investigation in Tauranga meant that the police had to allocate up to 39 staff from four different districts. Those staff were involved in investigations over a number of different days, and they worked long hours. It is by no means unusual for the police to be faced with such demands on their resources. I congratulate those officers on the speedy apprehension of the alleged offenders.

Simon Power: [Interruption] So now when we are asking questions—

Madam SPEAKER: You had not started asking the question.

Simon Power: But I had been called at that point.

Madam SPEAKER: Would the member please proceed with the question. We are in the first week.

Simon Power: Well, that will make all the difference.

Madam SPEAKER: Yes, it will. I made that comment because we are in the first substantive week of the session. If I picked up on every infraction, we would probably get little done. So some tolerance is being given in the first week. I ask the member to please ask his question.

Simon Power: Does the Minister support the non-assignment of files, as part of her prioritisation programme; if so, what does she have to say to the victims of the 600 unassigned cases—20 percent of the total case number—being held by the Auckland City Police District?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I would say to the victims of those 600 cases that the police will endeavour to get to their files as soon as possible. However, they will prioritise the most important cases first.

Simon Power: Why are police in the Auckland City Police District currently 50 investigators short in dealing with work in progress, and what does that shortage do for the prioritisation of crime-solving?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The police always face difficulties in recruiting police for Auckland. That has been a problem over many years. What they are doing about it, in fact, is what this Government, in conjunction with the agreement we have with New Zealand First, is doing about it. We are recruiting more. In fact, in the time we have been in Government we have recruited almost 1,400 more police. Thank goodness this Government did; that was not the track record of the National Government.

Ron Mark: Which of the following two does the Minister think will do more to resolve the problems in terms of the police being able to handle their workload and the resultant prioritisation task: New Zealand First successfully negotiating with the Labour-led Government for the introduction of an extra 1,000 frontline police, and New Zealand First having a re-evaluation of the possibility of de-merging traffic enforcement from the police; or our having to sit here and listen to Simon Power whingeing for another 3 years in Opposition?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I would say to the member—

Madam SPEAKER: I am having a great deal of difficulty hearing the reply. Would members please lower the tone. Everyone is entitled to hear the reply, as they are entitled to hear the question.

Hon ANNETTE KING: I would suggest to the member, who asked a very good question, that he actually direct it to the National Party, because those members would face a dilemma in answering it. But I suspect they will spend the next 3 years making 9 long years in Opposition, whingeing and moaning and coming up with nothing positive.

Simon Power: Is she aware of the number of victims who have practically handed the police their offenders on a plate—not the least of which are the number of stories that have come out via the New Zealand Herald over the last 2 weeks—yet the police have taken no action as they are too busy writing her correspondence and licking stamps for her envelopes, and what is she going to do about it?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I do not know what happened when the National Party was in Government, but the officers in Auckland are not writing my correspondence, licking my stamps, or anything else.

Simon Power: I seek leave of the House to table the Auckland City district Investigations Management Plan that outlines giving priority to dealing with the Minister’s correspondence ahead of crime solving.

Leave granted.

Hon Tony Ryall: I seek leave to table the assembled answers to parliamentary questions of the Hon George Hawkins, in order to give the Minister a better guide.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those documents. Is there any objection? There is.

Madam SPEAKER: I just remind members that when points of order are taken, they are normally heard in silence, please.

Peter Brown: I seek leave to table the details on the INCIS computer that National was going to use to solve the lack of policing in this country.

Leave granted.

Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour—Additional Teachers

8. Hon BRIAN DONNELLY (NZ First) to the Minister of Education: How many additional resource teachers: learning and behaviour, if any, have been allocated across the country, and at what cost?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Education): I thank the member for the question. Eleven additional resource teachers: learning and behaviour will be allocated across the country for 2006, at a cost of approximately $750,000. Overall, the number of students in schools is declining. However, the reallocation of resource teachers: learning and behaviour has been accompanied by an increase in overall numbers to further strengthen the service.

Hon Brian Donnelly: Can the Minister explain why in the reallocation process 12 resource teacher: learning and behaviour positions have been cut from Northland’s allocation, given the social deprivation, poor education statistics, and high suspension rates of that region?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Resource teacher: learning and behaviour positions are clustered according to a formula based upon student roll numbers and school deciles. All areas have had access to the number of resource teachers: learning and behaviour required to meet the needs of their students. In the Northland area, in fact, the reduction has been less than what should have been done according to the formula.

Hon Bill English: Does this Minister intend to continue the practice of the last Minister of Education, whereby parents were required to bake cakes and sell raffle tickets so they could pay teacher aides to look after children who needed their nappies changed and had severe educational needs?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Our aim as a Government, of course, is to fully fund public education. But there will always be fund-raising in our schools, because that is what parents have always done.

Dr Ashraf Choudhary: What is being done to further improve the effectiveness of resource teachers: learning and behaviour?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Ministry of Education has set up a number of key projects. They focus on improving governance and management through those clusters of teachers. The ministry is looking at the challenges facing resource teachers: learning and behaviour who are working in secondary schools and trying to ensure they meet the needs of Mâori and Pasifika students, and it is trying to lift the level of professional practice. A sector reference group has been set up to work with the ministry, and that has been budgeted to the tune of $400,000 this year.

Hon Brian Donnelly: Does this reallocation suggest that Northland had too many resource teacher: learning and behaviour positions, and if that is not the case would the Minister be prepared to reconsider the current resource teacher: learning and behaviour allocation proposal?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: We are always open to representations made by such an excellent member, but, no, it does not mean Northland had too many. As I said before, there is a formula based upon the number of students and the decile rating, and that applies to Northland as well as to everywhere else. But if the member has submissions to make that change that, we are willing to listen.

State Sector—Chief Executives

9. GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister of State Services: What specific concerns, if any, does she have regarding terms and conditions of employment for chief executives in the State sector?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of State Services): In general, I have few concerns. However, I am concerned at the early resignation of Paula Tyler, the Chief Executive of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services. It has highlighted the lack of any clause in respect of her relocation expenses, in the event of her earlier than expected resignation. This is not satisfactory. Future agreements with chief executives appointed from overseas will have a clause to recover appropriate expenses in the event of a chief executive finishing his or her term early. I have given instructions to the State Services Commissioner to implement this clause before any new appointments are made.

Gerry Brownlee: What is her response to media reports in which Ms Tyler blames the State Services Commission for her early departure, as it did not uphold a commitment, or understanding, to find her partner a senior State service position, and can she advise the House whether promising to find partners a job is typical of the recruitment mechanism used by the State Services Commissioner?

Hon ANNETTE KING: There was no promise to find Ms Paula Tyler’s husband a job.

Russell Fairbrother: Has there been a huge increase in the number of new public service chief executives recruited from overseas?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No. Our records show that since 1 July 1991 only eight out of 81—10 percent—new chief executive appointments have been made from overseas. Two of these were New Zealanders returning home, four were Australians, and two were Canadians. Three of these were appointed for a further term.

Gerry Brownlee: Has she enquired as to what specific household furnishings were purchased by Ms Tyler as part of her $40,000 relocation package, and why does her contract enable furnishings purchased by the taxpayer to be retained by her when she returns to Canada less than halfway through her contract?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No. I do not as yet have a list of personal household effects to share with the member.

Judith Collins: Does she think the attempt by the Families Commission to keep secret the details of a $50,000 golden handshake paid to former chief executive Claire Austin was in keeping with the Government’s promise that it would set new standards and be open and accountable; if not, why did her Government keep the golden handshake details secret for more than 6 months, until, conveniently, after the election?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Whilst I do not have information with me on that particular issue, I think I recall that the payment was noted in the annual report.

Judith Collins: If the details of the $50,000 golden handshake paid to Claire Austin were always going to be revealed in the annual report of the Families Commission, why would these have been kept secret for 6 months, if not to ensure that they remained hidden from voters until after this last election?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I doubt whether, when the annual report was being prepared, there was any idea as to when the election would be held.

Immigration—Return of Skilled New Zealanders

10. DARIEN FENTON (Labour) to the Minister of Immigration: What steps is the Government taking to encourage skilled expatriate New Zealanders back to New Zealand?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Minister of Immigration): The recently launched New Zealand Now programme aims to better connect New Zealanders living offshore with opportunities here, to make it easier for them to come home, and to ensure that those people who intend to return have the information they need to help them.

Darien Fenton: Why is the Government keen to attract expatriates back to New Zealand?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The Government’s top priority is to see our immigration system serve New Zealand’s interests. As part of this we need to attract back highly skilled New Zealanders, and to attract in highly talented individuals from other countries.

Immigration—Representations from Members

11. Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Immigration: How many representations from members of Parliament has the Minister, or his associates, received in the past 12 months, and of these how many have been successful?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Minister of Immigration): I have information on representations for the current calendar year ended September 2005. I am advised that during those 9 months 972 representations were made by members of Parliament. I am further advised that the further information the member requested cannot be produced in the time available.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Has he clarified the rules to Labour members of Parliament making immigration representations, in light of the inquiry into allegations that Taito Phillip Field was receiving tiling and painting services in exchange for immigration assistance; if not, why not?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I am not prepared to comment on a case that is currently the subject of an inquiry, but I will say that experienced members of Parliament well understand the rules, particularly members like the person who asked the question, who has submitted a high number of cases—and good on him for working hard for his constituents.

Jill Pettis: What provisions are there in the Immigration Act 1987 for people to make representations to the Minister on individual cases?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The Act enables members of Parliament to make representations on behalf of their constituents. This is a commendable part of an MP’s job. I note that a number of members sitting opposite have made a high number of representations, apparently primarily representing the demographics of their electorates.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Has the Minister investigated the immigration files of Sunan Siriwan and Phongphat Chaikhunpol, or any other of the 262 successful representations made by Taito Phillip Field in the last 3 years, and can he give an absolute assurance that there are no other cases of applicants providing Labour MPs with services in exchange for immigration assistance?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: As I advised the member previously, I am not prepared to comment on matters that are currently the subject of an enquiry.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Is it correct that the Hon Phil Goff visited Taito Phillip Field’s house in Samoa at the time that Siriwan, a Thai overstayer whom Taito Phillip Field was assisting, commenced work on the Field house; and did the Hon Phil Goff raise with the Minister of Immigration any concerns about the appropriateness of Phillip Fields “services for immigration assistance” arrangement?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: For the benefit of the member I repeat that I am not prepared to comment on any matter that is or may be the subject of an inquiry.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I ask you to reflect on how that answer can be consistent with the public good. Surely the ultimate inquiry comes from this House, and if a Minister can skirt scrutiny simply by jacking up some sort of low-level enquiry, as we have in this case, then I think the importance of Parliament as a place to scrutinise activities of Ministers is diminished. I ask you to reflect again on whether that would be consistent with the public good, because although the Minister does not have to answer, for him to give the answer he gave is an insult to the House.

Madam SPEAKER: Ruling on the point of order, it is the Minister who judges the public good in answering as he does. He, of course, can be criticised if the answer he gives is not satisfactory to members.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: This Minister should have his warrant taken away if he is not prepared to accept accountability. I want to know—

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I do not see what the purpose of that kind of remark is. Perhaps in future when we have these little prefaces bursting forth members might at that point be invited not to ask their question, as some form of punishment.

Madam SPEAKER: Would the member just withdraw and start again.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: I withdraw, but let us hope we get an answer this time. What action has the Minister taken to reassure those who are following correct procedures that they are not having to wait longer because the New Zealand Immigration Service is giving priority attention to hundreds of appeals from Labour MPs using their relationship with the Minister to advance questionable cases?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: All members of this House follow their duty in representing the interests of their constituents. The member who asked the question has put a higher number of cases before the Minister than most members of this House have done.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Tell us how many.

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: In the realm of 80 in the last 3 years. It is just a shame that that member’s hard work has not been appreciated by his own colleagues.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It is totally unacceptable for a Minister to answer a question in that way. To suggest, as the Minister is trying to do, that Dr Smith has a particular interest in this case is quite wrong. The case here is cut and dried. In 1 year there have been 900-odd ministerial interventions required by members of this House, and the vast majority of them have come from one member, and so far, we hope, because of the Minister’s answer today, no other Ministers or members are receiving any particular benefit from any client—or, should I say, constituent—on whose behalf they have been working. For the Minister to answer by trying to imply that there is something murky in the arrangements that members have and do honour honourably is quite wrong, and you should not allow that.

Madam SPEAKER: Addressing the member’s point of order, I point out that, as the member knows, it is not for the Speaker to rule on the quality of the answers that Ministers give. The Minister is, however, required to address the question. The Minister did address the question.

Gerry Brownlee: Point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER: No, I do not want to take any more on this particular point, unless there is a totally different point of order. There is a longstanding series of Speakers’ rulings on this matter.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. One of your jobs is to protect the privileges of this House, and it is a privilege of this House to be able to make representations to the Minister without the fear that the Minister will turn round and try to suggest that those representations are improper. That is the implication that Mr Cunliffe was trying to put on members on this side of the House when he gave his answer. I think that allowing him to do that is wrong. If he wants to say he does not want to answer, then let him say that, but do not let him get away with a smart alec answer such as he gave that will lead, ultimately, to people questioning how well their privilege in this House is being protected.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I listened to the answers very carefully and the Minister said very carefully that members have a right to make representations. We are in the second day of question time and the National Party is back to its old habit: when it cannot win question time it raises a point of order, when it cannot win the point of order it raises another point of order, and when it cannot win that point of order it raises yet another point of order. I suppose we will have another 3 years of this, but it does not make any difference to the public.

Madam SPEAKER: The ruling on the point of order is that it is up to Ministers as to how they reply to questions. If there was an imputation of impropriety, it would be out of order. But Dr Smith did not complain in this instance, and, having listened carefully, I certainly did not take that imputation.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I would appreciate it if, over time, you would look at the answers the Minister has given us today, because the question put down on the Order Paper asked the Minister how many representations he had received in 12 months. He failed to provide that information for the House, claiming he could do so only for so many months of this calendar year, then further told the House that he could not even tell us—despite his having some hours to prepare the answer—how many representations had been successful, and the question specifically asked for that information. Yet the Minister got to his feet and seemed able to claim that he knew exactly how many representations I had made over 3 years. I invite you to have a look at that series of answers. It would appear that in respect of the original question the Minister may not have been as forthcoming with the House as is required by the Standing Orders.

Madam SPEAKER: As the member is aware, the Minister must address the question. The Speaker is not responsible for the quality of the answer to that question, or for the satisfaction with which it may be received by members.

Passports—Changes for e-passports

12. SANDRA GOUDIE (National—Coromandel) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: If the electronic chip in a new e-passport costs only $22, what exactly will the extra $57 of the increase in cost of a new e-passport be spent on?

Hon RICK BARKER (Minister of Internal Affairs): The cost of the new e-passport represents the cost of producing and supporting e-passport, such as by way of new computer and new encoding systems to make it one of the world’s most secure and internationally acceptable passports.

Sandra Goudie: Is the increased cost of e-passports—and given what he has just said it is hardly likely they will cost around $20 million - odd extra—merely a novel way of enforcing the “no smile on your passport” rule; or is it instead another case of the Government increasing costs, giving New Zealanders yet another reason not to come back?

Hon RICK BARKER: No, the cost of the passport reflects the actual cost of producing and supporting it. It is an excellent passport. New Zealanders want to travel the world on an internationally acceptable passport, and we have an obligation to protect that passport.

Marian Hobbs: Can any of the $150 fee for a passport be transferred to another area of Crown expenditure?

Hon RICK BARKER: No. All revenue from fees on the new passport is deposited in what is called a memorandum account. That means that the money collected in application fees cannot be used for any purpose other than what it was regulated for. That account is open to parliamentary scrutiny.

Peter Brown: Is it true that the cost of a passport has more than doubled, whilst the life of it has halved from 10 to 5 years, which, in effect, has quadrupled the cost to the public; if it is true, how does the Minister justify that?

Hon RICK BARKER: It is true that the cost has gone up and the life of the passport has gone down. That has been done to ensure that the integrity of the New Zealand passport is guaranteed to the New Zealand travelling public. The New Zealand passport is widely regarded throughout the world, and every action must be taken to defend that, because if we do not, there will be consequences for every New Zealand traveller.

Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I deliberately asked the Minister to explain the effect on the cost of halving the life of a passport. A reasonable person would expect that to reflect a downward charge. The Minister failed to address that component of my question.

Madam SPEAKER: Would the Minister like to clarify for the member?

Hon RICK BARKER: I addressed the question by saying that Mr Brown was correct that the life of a passport has gone down and the cost of a passport has gone up. The cost has gone up because that reflects the actual cost of production, and the life has come down to ensure that the integrity of the passport will be maintained over time.

Sandra Goudie: How can this outrageous price hike in the cost of passports be viewed as anything other than the Government looking to fill its coffers, when passports are now twice as expensive and last half as long? [Interruption]

Madam SPEAKER: I ask members to settle, please. I know that it is the last question. I ask the Minister to answer the question.

Hon RICK BARKER: The price is entirely justifiable. If the member who asked the question would like to look at the cost of a passport in Australia, she will see that it is AU$172, which is NZ$185. The costs are comparable.

Sandra Goudie: I seek leave to table a New Zealand Herald report by Helen Tunner that outlines the details with regard to e-passports.

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

Sandra Goudie: I seek leave to table an article in the Independent entitled “Government gauges travellers”, about e-passports.

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

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

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>

ALSO:

Corrections Corrected: Supreme Court Rules On Release Dates

Corrections has always followed the lawful rulings of the Court in its calculation of sentence release dates. On four previous occasions, the Court of Appeal had upheld Corrections’ practices in calculating pre-sentence detention. More>>

ALSO:

Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

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

ALSO:

General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

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

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

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

ALSO:

Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

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

ALSO:

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

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

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news