Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 17 Nov. 2005
Thursday, 17 November
Questions for Oral Answer
2. Treasury Briefing—Economic Growth
3. Mâoridom—Speech from the Throne
4. Treasury Briefing—Taxation Rates
5. Pathology Services—Coroners and Police
7. Taxation—Income Splitting
8. Electricity Transmission—Capacity
9. Orchards—Immigration Policy
10. Television New Zealand—Charter and Commercial Success
11. Friends of Private Education Exports—Overseas-owned Tertiary Providers
12. Avian Flu—Tamiflu
Question No. 1 to Minister
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
1. MOANA MACKEY (Labour) to the Minister of Education: What reports has he received on the performance of New Zealand schools?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister for Economic Development), on behalf of the Minister of Education: The Schools Report 2004 shows that the proportion of students leaving school with a level 3 qualification or scholarship has increased by nearly 20 percent, to nearly one-third of all school-leavers. The proportion of school-leavers with little or no attainment has dropped by 30 percent, to one-eighth of all school-leavers, over a 3-year period.
Moana Mackey: What does the report state about the financial position of schools?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: The report states that most schools are in a good financial position, with 92 percent of schools having a healthy working capita ratio. Government funding of schools was increased by 7.4 percent per student in 2004, making us the third-highest spender on schools in the OECD. Locally raised funds increased by 2.6 percent per student, which is more or less the rate of inflation.
Hon Bill English: Can the Minister tell the House what proportion of students leaving year 8—that is, primary and intermediate schools—has sufficient literacy and numeracy to allow them to make progress at secondary school?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: In a good secondary school, they all do.
Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that if he approaches the Parliamentary Library or the Ministry of Education, he will find that there is no information at all on what proportion of students leaving primary and intermediate schools are sufficiently literate and numerate to progress at secondary school?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I have not asked those organisations.
Te Ururoa Flavell: E ai ki tâ te Ripoata â-Tau o Te Tari Arotake Mâtauranga, e rua tekau pai hçneti o ngâ tauira kei te ngoikore i ngâ kaupapa mâtauranga. He ake ngâ kaupapa ka whâia e te Kâwanatanga hei whakatikatika i tçnei tû âhua. Kei te whakaaro rânei te Kâwanatanga he pai kç ake te hanga whare herehere mô çnei tauira?
[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]
[According to the Annual Report of the Education Review Office, 20 percent of students are “currently not succeeding in our education system”. What is the Government proposing to put into place to address this situation? Or does the Government think that much more will be gained by building prisons for students like these?]
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I am very surprised that that member asked that question, given the enormous amount of work he did before he came to Parliament towards making progress for Mâori students, who are a big part of that group. He knows that Mâori literacy rates are much better now, as a result of the work that he and others have done in the last 5 years.
Treasury Briefing—Economic Growth
2. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with the Treasury’s assessment that economic growth in New Zealand is probably “not sufficient to shift the country into the top half of the OECD within the next decade.”; if so, when would he expect that goal to be reached?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): Yes. When we achieve it will depend in large part upon the differential rates of growth achieved by other OECD countries.
Dr Don Brash: Can the Minister be a bit more specific about when the Labour - New Zealand First Government does plan to get New Zealand’s per capita incomes into the top half of the OECD, given that the Prime Minister indicated back in 2001 that it was her Government’s intention to achieve this objective within 10 years and that now, more than 4 years later, Treasury is saying it is not achievable within a further 10 years?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am grateful for the member’s confidence that this Government will survive to the point at which the country is in the top half of the OECD. [Interruption] That was the literal meaning of the question, if he cares to revisit it. On the second point, I think the member has heard the explanation many times before: a graph or a diagram appeared in a document that was not authorised by the Prime Minister or myself.
Dr Don Brash: Does the Minister accept that with productivity growth rates in New Zealand still well below the OECD average, per capita incomes will continue to fall relative to those in OECD countries, and, if he does not accept this, what basis does he have for his optimism, given that his own professional advisers do not share his view?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No. Over recent years we have exceeded the OECD per capita income growth levels, because, of course, productivity is only one of the elements in the equation. However, it is fair to say that lifting the rate of productivity growth is amongst the top priorities for the Government’s economic policy.
Dr Don Brash: Given the clear warning from the Minister’s own professional advisers that on present policies there is no chance of narrowing the gap between living standards here and living standards in other developed countries, why does he insist on dismissing this advice?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The member should not put words into the mouths of Treasury officials. They are quite capable of uttering their own comments by themselves, unaided. [Interruption]
Madam SPEAKER: The Minister did address the question. [Interruption] Yes—the Minister did address it. Another question may be asked for clarification.
Dr Don Brash: Has the Minister received any advice from professional economists that would lead him to have confidence that on present policies the gap between our living standards and those of other developed countries will narrow.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Even the most right-wing economist has to admit that over the last few years, under a Labour-led Government, we have closed that gap.
Dr Don Brash: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Minister totally failed to answer the question. I did not ask a historical question; I asked whether he had received any advice from a professional economist suggesting we can, in the future, narrow that gap on present policies. He has not answered that question, at all.
Madam SPEAKER: The Minister addressed the question, but if he wishes to add a further comment—
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I suggest the member just watches a replay of business television this morning—it might have been a bit early for him—where he will see a professional economist talking about the Government’s policies.
Dr Don Brash: On what basis does he, a former history lecturer, disagree with Treasury and the raft of recent international studies, which suggest that reform of the tax regime could better support economic growth?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I also happen to be a mathematician. If I pick out, for example, the study referred to in Australia, which figured in the National Party’s presentation of its policies, that study first of all makes a fundamental error in terms of confusing correlation with causation. Secondly, the actual data fit is extremely poor, despite the large amount of mathematical apparatus used to explain the matter.
Mâoridom—Speech from the Throne
3. Dr PITA SHARPLES (Co-Leader—Mâori Party) to the Minister of Mâori Affairs: Does he agree with the Speech from the Throne that “It is time to recognise the emergence of a new, dynamic, confident Maoridom.”?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Minister of Mâori Affairs): Yes. This Government has continued to recognise the emergence of a new, dynamic vitality amongst Mâoridom. We do recognise the importance of lifting aspirations, celebrating and encouraging success, and not dwelling on past failures.
Dr Pita Sharples: What did the Minister mean when he said on Te Karere: “The Government is focused on Mâori development if you do not include the foreshore and seabed.”?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I am not too sure which session it was—I am on it generally most days; more so than most people—but at the end of the day I am very clear on the use and worth of the foreshore and seabed. It is an integral and important part of Mâori’s progress forward, adding to the development of this nation as a whole.
Dave Hereora: What successes have resulted from this Government working with Mâori?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Several—too many to name. But there have been a number of important achievements for Mâori over the last 6 years. There is the highest employment level for Mâori on record. Key commercial assets in the primary production sector are now being managed by Mâori, with the fisheries allocation process under way. Mâori enterprise and economic development are growing, and last year’s Hui Taumata highlighted the progress that has been made. The Mâori Language Strategy, together with great support for iwi radio and a great television station, put culture on the national and international stage.
Gerry Brownlee: When the Minister said on Te Karere that the New Zealand Government is actively supporting Mâori development “provided you do not include the foreshore bill”, was he really saying that the foreshore and seabed legislation is bad for Mâori development, or does he now retract his statement?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: No and no.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Will you accept that as addressing the question? What the Minister just said—[Interruption]
Madam SPEAKER: There is a point of order here.
Gerry Brownlee: With all due respect, Madam Speaker, I think it is important that we sort this out. We had before from Dr Cullen an answer that bore absolutely no resemblance to the question asked, and therefore could not be considered as addressing it. We have a situation now whereby the Minister said “No” to the first part of the question, which meant that he did not mean what he had said on television, but then said “No”, to the second part, which meant that even though he had just said that he did not mean what he had said, he did, in fact, mean what he had said. That is a very difficult interpretation. Some of us are quite good at “Parekura Mâori”, but we do need to have this sorted out.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. I understand his point. It is not a point of order. I remind the member of the numerous Speakers’ rulings that state that Speakers are not responsible for the quality, or even the sense, of the answers that are given. The important thing is that the question was, in fact, addressed—very succinctly.
Dr Pita Sharples: Who are the members on the Government caucus that the Minister referred to on Te Karere when he said: “The strength of Mâori here is in trying to rectify or fix up what tauiwi have done.”; who are those tauiwi?
Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: They are generally sitting over there.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I know that we make special allowances for the Minister of Mâori Affairs, but the question asked where those strong Mâori are. It may well be that the Minister, Parekura Horomia, is so ashamed of his own team that he can see strong Mâori MPs only in the National Party now—[Interruption]
Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry but the tolerance is about to end. Members know that when there is a point of order it is to be heard in silence. The person who makes the next infraction will be asked to leave the Chamber.
Rodney Hide: The Minister, in addressing the question, has said that the strong Mâori members in this House are actually all sitting on the National Party benches, which is probably true, but I do not think that was what he was trying to say. I suggest, Madam Speaker, that you help the Minister and tell him that he has to address the question properly, because otherwise we are just left with meaningless babble such as we have had in every answer to the questions that have been put to the Minister this afternoon. I am sure his answer was not what he intended.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: We are, of course, once again getting into debate, but, at least, it might be helpful if the original question was correctly repeated by Mr Hide. What was actually asked was who the tauiwi are within the caucus, and it was the Labour caucus that was being referred to, not the Mâori caucus. I have to inform Mr Hide that tauiwi are quite different from Mâori; indeed, they are actual opposites. I think that, for once, the original point of order, if there had been one, might have been correctly raised. Obviously, none of the members opposite sit within the Labour caucus—much as they would like to be on this side. But a number of us here, obviously, have to put up our hands and admit to being tauiwi.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker—
Madam SPEAKER: No, I am ruling on the point of order. I am sorry, Mr Hide, but I have heard sufficient. That was not a point of order. The Minister is entitled to answer the question in the way he wished to. He did so by giving an example. As I heard the question, it had two parts to it, and he was answering one part of that question.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker—
Madam SPEAKER: Is it a new point of order? It had better be a new point of order.
Rodney Hide: It is. The point is—and you were correct, Madam Speaker—that the question had two parts to it. The Minister addressed the second part—it has now been clarified—but how was one to know? The question asked which members of the Government caucus the Minister had referred to when talking about the strength of Mâori, then the second part of the question asked who those tauiwi were. The Minister pointed over to this side of the Chamber. It is because he inadequately answered the question that we did not know which part of the question he was answering.
The Minister was being rather economical in his point of order, in suggesting that there was only one part to that question.
Madam SPEAKER: I will rule on the point of order. As the member is well aware from Standing Orders, supplementary questions are required to consist of only one question, though frequently members ask more than one question in their supplementary questions. The risk that members take in doing that is that any part of those questions can be addressed by the Minister. That is what happened in this instance.
Treasury Briefing—Taxation Rates
4. JOHN KEY (National—Helensville) to the Minister of Finance: Will he be acting on the recommendation in the briefing to the incoming Minister of Finance from Treasury that the Government “Reduce the higher marginal rates on personal income (33% and 39%), the marginal rate on company income (33%), and the high effective marginal tax rates at low to medium incomes (in particular for secondary earners).”; if not, why not?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): In the case of the 33c and 39c rates, no, presumably for the same reasons that that was not National Party policy either—that is, equity reasons. In terms of the company tax rate, of course, work is proceeding on the structure of company taxation and on other matters.
John Key: Can the Minister confirm that there are literally thousands of low-income New Zealanders enrolled in the Government’s Working for Families package who earn under the average wage, yet face a tax rate of well over 50 percent; if so, why is Treasury’s suggestion to reduce this crippling tax rate mere “ideological burp”?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: A bill referred to a select committee yesterday reduced that tax rate by 10 percent for 100,000 New Zealand families.
Hon Mark Gosche: Will the Minister be acting on the recommendation in the briefing to the incoming Minister of Finance from Treasury that the Government maintain the current debt to GDP ratio?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes. Indeed, of course, that was one of the key issues during the election campaign, with the Government pledging to do so and the Opposition pledging to lift the debt to GDP ratio—which is specifically rejected by Treasury in the briefing to the incoming Minister. So Mr Key would have faced an equal level of difficulty with the incoming briefing had he been Minister.
John Key: When the Minister said today that he might dump the proposed personal tax threshold changes, and if he were to do so, does he agree with United Future MP Gordon Copeland when he said he was “dumbfounded by the suggestion” and said that it would represent a breach of the parties’ no-surprises agreement with Labour; if not, why not?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Part of our agreement with United Future is to review the carbon tax. That review is under way, as recommended by Treasury. Unlike the situation of the National Party, when over $300 million of revenue is given away, something else has to give.
Peter Brown: Is it true that the supply and confidence agreement between Labour and New Zealand First provides for a review of current business taxation regimes, which is expected to result in lower taxation for business, and is that not something National promised would occur some 3 years hence; so by achieving it now, is that not a pretty darn good bauble?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes. The Government is committed to a review of the corporate taxation regime, and that review, led by Mr Dunne and myself, is already under way. National promised that it might happen in 2008, if by any strange chance it had any money left after all the other bribes had run out.
Heather Roy: Can the Minister confirm that it was only the ACT party that campaigned at the election to lower the 39c and 33c rates of personal taxation, to reform the Resource Management Act, and to privatise State assets, and that got only 1.5 percent of party votes, and why will he not second Treasury to the ACT research unit where it would be truly appreciated?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I can confirm that of the 2.2 out of 14 recommendations of the incoming briefing I disagree with, all of them represented policies close to those of the ACT party, which just shows that the 1980s do live on, on the Terrace.
John Key: Has he decided 2 weeks into the Parliament to start publicly fighting with the Government’s support partner, United Future, because he has noticed what a wonderful job Phil Goff is doing of fighting with its other support partner, New Zealand First?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, we consult carefully, unlike the first day of this Parliament when National ended up voting by itself, with all other parties voting against it.
John Key: When he said yesterday that he rejected Treasury’s advice because “I’m elected, they are not.”, has it dawned on him that well over 50 percent of the votes cast in the last general election were for parties that advocated personal tax cuts, including National, United Future, New Zealand First, ACT, and the Mâori Party, along with the Government’s own Minister of Revenue; if so, what is he going to do about it?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: What Treasury’s briefing paper states is not at all what the National Party said in the election. Firstly, Treasury said to maintain current projected surpluses and savings. Mr Key promised to lower the surpluses and borrow more. Secondly, Treasury said: “Do not cut the bottom rate, cut only the top rates.” That was not National Party policy; it did not promise to cut the top rate at all, only the ACT party promised that. Thirdly, Treasury did not say to lift thresholds, it said that that was not a good policy. It said cut the rates. That was only the ACT party’s policy. ACT got 1.5 percent in the election, which, to be fair, is 1.5 percent more than Treasury got.
John Key: What was he thinking when he wrote in Treasury’s annual report: “As Minister of Finance I know I can look to the Treasury for high-quality analysis and policy advice in progressing Government goals and raising living standards.”?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Even the most able have occasional bouts of indigestion!
John Key: I seek leave to table the annual report 2005 so that Michael Cullen can read all the great things he wrote about Treasury.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection?
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I take objection to that. When a member seeks to table a document he or she should seek to table it and not add little smart-arse comments like that.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave has been sought to table that document—a comment has been made on the way. I ask whether there is any objection to the tabling. There is objection; it will not be tabled.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It would seem to me, sitting here independently, that Michael Cullen has fallen into exactly the same trap that John Key did by way of point of order by making a—well, I will not repeat what he said. I would suggest to you, Madam Speaker, that he should be asked to withdraw and apologise for his comment said by way of point of order.
Madam SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. I ask the member to be seated.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Clearly Mr Hide has been very offended at the comment made by Michael Cullen.
Madam SPEAKER: He did not say that.
Gerry Brownlee: Well why else would he raise it? We have only to look at Mr Hide to know what a sensitive man he is.
Madam SPEAKER: He had an opportunity to ask for it. It was not his comment. This is not a point of order, Mr Brownlee.
Gerry Brownlee: Nonetheless, to dismiss it like that is unfair. He has obviously taken offence, and, if a member takes offence, the member giving offence should withdraw.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: This is a very important point. Only the member who might feel offended can raise that point of order, not another member. I notice that Mr Key has not raised a point of order.
Madam SPEAKER: I also make the point that there was no personal reflection on Mr Hide at all.
Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. When you were elected not much more than a week ago, speeches were made about the standards that MPs expected you would apply in Parliament. As one of the longer-standing members of this Parliament I suggest to you that any other Speaker I can recall would have ruled that term to be unparliamentary. If you do not rule it to be unparliamentary it will then become part of the normal flow of conversation in the House, and I think that would demean us in the eyes of the public.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member—
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Madam Speaker, I am happy to withdraw but in my memory that particular member has used that word on a number of occasions in this House.
Madam SPEAKER: It is not necessarily an unparliamentary term, it depends on the context. The context here was an exchange between two members across the House. If we ruled those out of order every time, very little said in this House would be in order. I therefore ask that we have question No. 5.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. That is a very interesting ruling and it perhaps needs some guidance put around it. You may not want to give us that guidance today, you might want to consider it and come back to us next Tuesday, but what are the other contexts in which one might use that term when it would be as acceptable? Is it just acceptable to describe a statement as being “smart-arse”, or are there other contexts in which that term could also be used?
Madam SPEAKER: The context that I relied upon was exactly what happened. Two members were exchanging what could be considered unparliamentary comments to each other in a somewhat inappropriate way, but in themselves they were not unparliamentary. I have ruled on that. The context was the manner in which the exchange took place.
John Key: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It is really just a matter of clarification. I certainly did not say that Michael Cullen lied.
Madam SPEAKER: No, I did not say that you did, either.
John Key: I simply asked to table the document. If Michael Cullen wishes to make those statements in the House, he must choose whether they are parliamentary.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I think that if the member had done as he has just said and just sought to table the document, then we would have got right through it. It would have been declined. Unfortunately he, in a disorderly way, added a comment to his request. The member has been here for only 3 years. He will eventually learn that if one really wants something tabled, one does it in an orderly manner.
Madam SPEAKER: The tabling of documents requires a point of order. The point of order should relate to what the member is seeking. The member was seeking leave. He asked for more than leave in the comments he made. That is the context I am talking about.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I ask you again to think about this matter for a period of time and come back to the House. It seems to me that you are telling us that if both parties were involved in a way that put the context of Michael Cullen’s statement in a place that was OK, then you have made a judgment about what Mr Key said. If that is the case, he should have been pulled up on the spot, not subsequently used as the justification for Michael Cullen introducing those words into the usual language of the House.
Madam SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr Brownlee. Once the Speaker has given a ruling, as you know, it is not open to discussion. Also, Speakers do not respond to hypothetical questions. I determined on this occasion, in this context, which is consistent with previous Speakers’ rulings, that one always takes into account the context before one rules whether something is unparliamentary, except in circumstances where terms such as “the member is a liar” are used.
Pathology Services—Coroners and Police
5. MARTIN GALLAGHER (Labour—Hamilton West) to the Minister for Courts: What initiatives has he put in place to improve the level of pathology services to coroners and police?
Hon RICK BARKER (Minister for Courts): Retirements and resignations in recent years created a critical shortage of forensic pathologists, who are essential to the police for forensic support. To ensure a quality service a specialist unit of forensic pathologists has been created. That is supported by the Auckland District Health Board to provide services across New Zealand. The new structure will ensure good governance and good advice, and provide training to ensure a quality service over time.
Martin Gallagher: How effective have those initiatives been?
Hon RICK BARKER: Very effective. Police and coroners are now assured of a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week, nationwide, full-time specialist forensic pathology service for homicides and suspicious death cases, to perform post-mortems, attend crime scenes, and appear as expert witnesses in criminal prosecutions. We will now provide training, professional development, and a career structure for forensic pathology and collegial support for the wider coronial pathology service—something we could not previously guarantee.
6. Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National—East Coast Bays) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: What are the concerns regarding the “$2 billion” trade gap between New Zealand and China, which he told reporters he intended to raise with the Chinese Foreign Minister, and what response did he receive when he raised those concerns?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs): My understanding is that the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs raised the matter of trade at the bilateral meeting and it was explained to him that that was the responsibility of the Minister of Trade, the Hon Phil Goff.
Hon Murray McCully: Has the Minister seen the advice of his ministerial colleague Mr Goff that: “We want to do as well as we can in terms of our exports into China and that is why we are negotiating a free-trade agreement.”, and does he support Mr Goff in achieving that objective in this way?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Speaking as the Acting Minister, yes I do. Of course, it is well known that this is a matter of difference between New Zealand First and the Labour-led Government—which is why Mr Goff is the Minister of Trade, not Mr Peters.
Hon Murray McCully: Has the Minister seen the statements made by Mr Goff at APEC that having Mr Peters in Cabinet would be the difference between having one’s mother-in-law living in one’s house or next door, because “It’s much easier sometimes when she’s next door as you’ve each got your own space”, and can he tell the House what he takes from Mr Goff’s statement as to the manner in which New Zealand’s ministerial representatives are working together at the APEC meeting?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have an excellent relationship with my mother-in-law, so I can understand the reference.
Hon Murray McCully: Has the Minister seen the statement made by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Goff, at APEC that he would be keeping “a close eye on my former portfolio”, and can he tell the House what Mr Peters might have said, or done, in the past few days that would have led Mr Goff to volunteer such generous supervision?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes and no, but I am sure that Mr Goff will continue to take a close interest in foreign affairs matters, as he does in all matters that come before Cabinet.
Hon Murray McCully: Has the Minister seen the statement made by Mr Goff that he had reassured the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer, that: “policy from Winston will not be policy spun off the top of anybody’s head”, and can he tell the House what Mr Peters might have said over the past few days at APEC that would have led Mr Downer to seek that assurance from Mr Goff?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, I have not seen it, but equally, one can assure the House that matters that come up in terms of trade policy will not be spun off Mr Goff’s head either in the same way that matters of finance policy do not spin off the head of the Minister of Finance.
Hon Murray McCully: Has the Minister seen the assessment of the New Zealand Herald writer Fran O’Sullivan that: “His first big outing as foreign minister had earlier come a public cropper when he was made to look a fool after his predecessor Phil Goff revealed the Australian Government had issued a ‘please explain’ over his role.”, and can he tell the House just what he might have done that would have caused both the New Zealand Herald and Mr Goff to assess his performance so negatively?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have no knowledge of Ms O’Sullivan’s comments in that respect. I do not always read her columns. But in that respect I can say that all the bilateral meetings have gone extremely well, and that it is quite natural for Australians used to their system of Government to ask us how our system is now working. We were able to assure them that, thankfully, there is no major change in the direction of foreign policy, because the National Party did not get into office.
Hon Murray McCully: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The point I want to raise with you relates to Standing Order 376(2). The Minister prefaced his answer to my second supplementary question by ensuring that the House understood he was making the response as the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs. I want to be clear as to the extent to which we can hold the Minister Mr Peters responsible for the precise response that Dr Cullen has just given the House when invited to endorse Mr Goff’s work to achieve a free-trade deal with China. Dr Cullen, as the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, was quite happy to assure the House of his commitment to that work and his support for it. I want to be reassured that the House is entitled to have Mr Peters bound equally, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to supporting the work of Mr Goff towards a free-trade agreement with China, as Dr Cullen has done today.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: That last point is not a matter of point of order, at all. That now gets to the heart of the difference between Mr Peters’ position and the Government’s position on free-trade deals. Mr Peters, as has been made clear to the House already, is bound by collective responsibility on foreign affairs matters, not on trade matters. I gave the answer quite carefully and deliberately so as to avoid a point of order about which hat I was wearing when I gave the answer.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member for his comment, and I remind the member who raised the point of order that each Minister is responsible for his or her own response, in that context. So the Minister responding at the time is responsible for his or her own response.
Hon Murray McCully: To pursue that point with you further, it puts members in a difficult position. I am sure that when Standing Order 376(2) was drafted, no one had confronted the notion that we might have Ministers who regarded themselves as not being part of the Government. Maybe the solution is to have another Minister from Mr Peters’ party who can cover his back while he is away by answering on his behalf. Perhaps Mr Mark would like to be a Minister so that he can do that. I saw that somewhere in recent days
The point I want to raise is that Mr Peters is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Members of this House are entitled to question him on his position on those matters. Dr Cullen is responding as the Acting Minister, and I want to be reassured that we can hold Mr Peters to account for the assurance, undertaking, and response that Dr Cullen has just given on his behalf.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. I am not sure that that is a point of order, but I am sure the member will have an opportunity to do precisely what he seeks to do.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. You seemed to have missed the point that Mr McCully was making, which is that if the House cannot accept the words of Dr Cullen as Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs having relevance to the Minister, then perhaps it would be better, given the arrangements the Government has cobbled together, for someone else who can speak for Mr Peters to give the answer.
The House, of course, is the master of its own destiny. It is our choice as to how things will proceed in here. Dr Cullen shakes his head, but we can, by leave, do all sorts of things. I would like you to consider—and perhaps tell us later in the sitting—whether it is possible to seek leave for a New Zealand First member to answer questions about foreign affairs on behalf of Mr Peters when he is absent, because we know that we will not see much of him this year. Part of the cunning plan, clearly, is to keep Mr Peters as far away from this place as possible. Please consider that; you may want to answer immediately. There must be some sort of motion possible for the House to consider, as well.
Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. As the member knows, it is not possible to seek leave on behalf of somebody else—which, I think, addresses that point. It is not a point of order, but as the member is aware, it is up to members of Parliament as to whether they accept the word of the Acting Minister. The role of Acting Minister is not unusual. We have had that role fulfilled by many over a period of time. Also, as the member is aware, it is up to the Government to decide who answers the question. In this instance, an Acting Minister has been appointed. The Acting Minister answered the question.
7. GORDON COPELAND (United Future) to the Minister of Revenue: Does he agree with Inland Revenue Department advice that, particularly in relation to the 33 percent and 39 percent personal tax rates, there is growing evidence of income splitting within families who are self-employed and that this leads to perceptions of unfairness in the tax system?
Hon PETER DUNNE (Minister of Revenue): Yes, I do agree with that advice. The briefing paper notes that slower or negative growth rates for higher-income individuals in the $60,000-$100,000 income bracket are probably likely evidence that significant numbers of those with substantial amounts to gain through income splitting are doing so. That inevitably will lead to perceptions of unfairness, because not all taxpayers will be able to take advantage of such opportunities.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister have any plans to deal with the issue?
Hon PETER DUNNE: Under the confidence and supply agreement between United Future and the Labour-led Government, and consistent also with the generic tax policy process, there will be a consultative paper on income splitting prepared that will address those and related issues.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Does the Minister support Dr Cullen’s proposal to scrap the income tax threshold adjustments in 2008 if Labour’s carbon tax does not proceed; if so, why?
Hon PETER DUNNE: That is hardly related to this question. As far as I am aware from questions asked earlier in the House this afternoon, it does not have the status of a proposal.
Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: If—and Dr Cullen indicated to the House this afternoon this is highly likely—the carbon tax does not proceed and the Government does go ahead with that proposal to scrap the threshold adjustments in 2008, can the Minister confirm comments that that will represent a breach of the support and supply agreement?
Hon PETER DUNNE: The provisions of our agreement relate to there being an independent analysis of the carbon tax proposal before any decision is made about whether it proceeds. That work is commencing, and any decisions that flow from that will be made at the appropriate time.
Gordon Copeland: How many couples with dependent children would benefit in tax savings if income splitting were introduced?
Hon PETER DUNNE: The best estimate we have, based on couples with dependent children 18 years and under, is that some 325,000 couples would benefit from such a policy.
8. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister of Energy: Does he agree with the statement by Keith Turner, Chief Executive of Meridian Energy, on Campbell Live, Monday 14 November, that “we have not kept up with the investment programme that transmission requires.” and “we are running just too close to the wind in this country, particularly on the transmission front.”; if so, who is responsible?
Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister of Energy): This Government believes that New Zealand needs significant investment in transmission capacity. In conjunction with Transpower and the Electricity Commission, we are addressing the issue. Transpower is currently spending over $100 million to upgrade parts of the grid, and also has advanced plans to spend more than $1 billion on major upgrades of lines into Auckland and elsewhere.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Can the Minister simply answer the question of whether he agrees with the statement made by Dr Turner, who said further: “The New Zealand electricity grid is so overworked that lines cannot be taken out of action for servicing. That is unheard of in the Western developed world.”? Does he agree with that statement made by Dr Turner and with his earlier statements; if so, who is responsible for our transmission system—
Hon Trevor Mallard: You would have sold it off.
Madam SPEAKER: Ministers are, the same as members, on their last warning for interjecting during a question. Please continue.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: There was a further member who interjected. He should own up.
Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry but I did not hear that interjection, at all. People do talk. The other was a clear interjection, however.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: So was the one from Damien O’Connor.
Madam SPEAKER: I did not hear that one.
Hon Damien O'Connor: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I did interject, but it was after the member had finished his question.
Madam SPEAKER: Was it after he had sat down—after he had finished his question?
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I was in the middle of a sentence.
Madam SPEAKER: Well, maybe you took a long pause. I apologise to the member; I had thought he had finished. I certainly heard the first interjection, but I did not hear the second. If the member said that he did not make an interjection when you were asking the question, I will take his word for it. But I did hear the other interjection, which did occur then.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I will ask the question again.
Madam SPEAKER: Please do.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. If we are going to have points of order, then let us also note that Mr Brownlee was interjecting while you were making a ruling, which is also out of order.
Madam SPEAKER: Yes, I did note that. Mr Brownlee, may I say that you are on your last warning for interjecting when the Speaker is speaking. Thank you.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does the Minister also agree with this statement made by Dr Turner: “The New Zealand electricity grid is so overworked that some lines cannot be taken out of action for servicing. That is unheard of in the Western developed world.”, and does that statement not confirm gross neglect by the Labour Government of our electricity network?
Hon DAVID PARKER: I am not aware whether some of the words attributed to Dr Turner are embellishments made by the member, or were said, but I do repeat that the Government does accept there is a significant need for investment in transmission capacity.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave to table the direct quote from Dr Turner that was reported in the New Zealand Herald, which contained the exact words I used in my supplementary question.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am left in an impossible position. The Minister refuses to answer my question by saying he is not sure of the source of the comment from the chief executive of New Zealand’s largest electricity company. I then seek leave to table the document that verifies it, but I am denied leave. We are in an impossible position whereby, effectively, the Minister is simply trying to avoid responsibility for his portfolio.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: By way of a solution, the member can now ask another supplementary question, if he wishes.
Madam SPEAKER: That is true. But, ruling on the point, as I heard the Minister’s answer, he said he was unsure about the attribution, but he then went on to address the question. So I would ask the member to ask another question if he is not satisfied.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why will the Minister not just level with Parliament and the public of New Zealand and admit that he has inherited a mess from Ministers Mallard and Hodgson, when Treasury says there is a problem, in its briefing for the incoming Government, when his own ministry says there is a problem, and when Dr Turner says that there is a problem—or does he intend just to stick his head in the sand until the lights go out?
Hon DAVID PARKER: 14 56 29 Because the problem is not as bad as the member would have others believe.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Can the Minister assure the House that the process set in place by the previous Minister and already under way will continue—namely, that the Electricity Complaints Commissioner will fully investigate whether investments in direct use of gas, local biomass fuels, and energy efficiency would be a more cost-effective way of ensuring that energy services are secure in Auckland than big, new transmission investments?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Yes, and I agree that that inquiry is appropriate.
Maryan Street: In the light of his previous answers, why is electricity use growing, and what is he doing to ensure that investment in transmission capacity, which he referred to earlier, will meet future demand?
Hon DAVID PARKER: We have had 6 years of very strong economic growth—amongst the highest in the OECD—and this has led to increased electricity use. So it is a consequence of success. But in terms of investment in transmission capacity, this Government has established the Electricity Commission to ensure that the level of investment in transmission is timely, adequate, and necessary.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why should the House believe that the investment in transmission infrastructure will be timely, as he has just said, when after the 2001 power crisis the Government said it was all fixed, when after the 2003 electricity crisis the Government said it was all fixed, and when now, in 2005, Treasury, his own ministry, and the chief executive of New Zealand’s largest State electricity company are saying that our electricity infrastructure is “unheard of in the Western developed world” in terms of its state of maintenance?
Hon DAVID PARKER: The member shows his lack of understanding of these issues. The problems in the years that the member mentioned related to the amount of water and electricity able to be generated, not to transmission constraints.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why does the Minister say I am overstating the problem, when Dr Keith Turner, who has a PhD specifically in high-voltage transmission systems, is employed by his Government to be in charge of the largest generator, and has 30 years of experience in the electricity industry, says that the grid is overworked, and that the situation in New Zealand is unheard of in the Western developed world?
Hon DAVID PARKER: I do not disagree with Dr Turner when he says we need to upgrade our transmission system.
9. RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Labour) to the Minister of Immigration: What steps, if any, is the Government taking through immigration policy to assist orchardists in the Hawke’s Bay?
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE (Associate Minister of Immigration) on behalf of the Minister of Immigration: The Government and the horticulture and viticulture industries have in partnership developed, for the first time, a seasonal strategy, which will be formally launched by the Government next month. Given that New Zealand has the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD, and having satisfied ourselves that there is a genuine labour shortage, the Government has approved in principle the recruitment of 450 overseas workers for the horticulture industry in the Hawke’s Bay region.
Russell Fairbrother: What is the aim of the seasonal labour strategy?
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: The aim of the strategy is to ensure that there is an emphasis on employing New Zealanders first and using immigration as a secondary option where there is a genuine shortage. That approach has been welcomed enthusiastically by the industry and is another example of this Government working in partnership with industry for the benefit of New Zealand.
Craig Foss: Is the Minister aware of the approximately 18 approved immigration permits submitted by Hawke’s Bay growers in the past 12 months, the majority of which have been given up on by the applicants due to inaction by the Minister, and the remainder of which appear simply to have vanished, and can he explain how that type of ineptitude assists the orchardists of Hawke’s Bay?
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: This strategy has taken some 18 months to put together, and the reason for that is that we have developed it in partnership, which has involved dialogue between Government agencies and industry members. I would have thought the member would welcome the fact that we have answered the industry’s need, identified a genuine labour shortage, and put together a strategy that will ensure the sustainability of that industry.
R Doug Woolerton: Has the impact on the projected number of overstayers as a result of this policy shift been analysed by the New Zealand Immigration Service; if so, what is the projected impact, and if not, why not, especially in the light of a recent daytime brawl in the Hawke’s Bay involving 10 overstayers armed with meat cleavers and iron bars, combined with the fact that the Immigration Service managed to lose an entire Tongan rugby team in 2004?
Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: All countries have overstayers, and it is a problem in New Zealand as well—we acknowledge that. In terms of ensuring repatriation, I can say to the member that in the interests of the employers themselves, if they are to revisit an approval in principle next year, firstly, they have to guarantee that the workers will be repatriated, and secondly, that the employers have guaranteed that by meeting the costs associated with repatriation, up to $3,000 per worker.
Television New Zealand—Charter and Commercial Success
10. Hon GEORGINA TE HEUHEU (National) to the Minister of Broadcasting: Is he satisfied that Television New Zealand is able to strike a successful balance between its charter responsibilities and commercial success; if so, why?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Leader of the House), on behalf of the Minister of Broadcasting: Yes, the report tabled yesterday showed solid achievement against both the charter and commercial objectives.
Hon Georgina te Heuheu: Does he consider it acceptable that Television New Zealand has reduced its dividend to the taxpayer by $27 million—a third of its previous dividend—prompting chairman Craig Boyce’s warning that TVNZ will be forced into a period of “cost control”, including cutting the number of locally made programmes; if so, is that the best the New Zealand taxpayer can expect—reduced dividends and reduced local programming, not to mention excessive salaries?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: My understanding in terms of the financial outcome, and that affects the dividend of course, is that a substantial write-down was taken on the value of the existing broadcast programming stock. On the other matters, I am sure my colleague the Minister of Finance will be quite pleased to hear that cost-control mechanisms are being put in place. I note that yet again the National Party is calling for increased Government spending, while at the same time calling for tax cuts.
Lynne Pillay: What does the Minister see as being TVNZ’s key achievements?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: TVNZ has survived in an extraordinarily competitive environment. It has continued to produce a profit. As I said, this year it has taken a substantial one-off write-down on its profits. It continues to produce a large number of New Zealand programmes. It maintains by far the largest share of audience, with over 80 percent of all New Zealanders watching TVNZ in any one week.
Pita Paraone: Given the Minister’s negative response to New Zealand First’s call for a full inquiry, during oral questions last Tuesday, and the subsequent decision by the Finance and Expenditure Committee to conduct such a review, will he now ensure that the terms of reference will not include consideration for the sale of TVNZ to private interests, plus ensuring the New Zealand public will not be subjected to more reality TV-type programmes; if not, why not?
Madam SPEAKER: The Minister has no responsibility for that particular matter. I will enable the member, if he wishes, until I get objection, to consider rephrasing his question to bring it within the scope.
Pita Paraone: Given the Minister’s negative response to New Zealand First’s call for an inquiry, during oral questions last Tuesday, would the Minister give consideration to supporting the notion of not including in the terms of reference the possible sale of TVNZ to private enterprise?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The terms of reference are a matter for the select committee. Whatever the committee recommends, the Government will not be selling TVNZ.
Hon Georgina te Heuheu: If the charter has been so successful, why did the number of hours of New Zealand – made drama screened by TVNZ almost halve in the last financial year, and does that not demonstrate that for TVNZ to be commercially successful it will inevitably have to cut corners on charter programming?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No. Drama is, of course, by far the most expensive form of television to produce. Therefore, TVNZ to a substantial extent is dependent upon external funding for the production of more drama programmes. The member is therefore, of course, calling for more Government funding for Television New Zealand.
Hon Georgina te Heuheu: How does the Minister explain why, in the last year, TVNZ has increased the number of people earning more than $100,000, from 124 to 132, and the number of staff earning over $500,000, from two to three, yet in the very same year has delivered a reduced dividend to the taxpayer?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It would not be unknown, certainly in the private sector, for there to be some salary increases without necessarily profits rising. But as I said to the member before, the dividend part is a result of the fact that the company took a large write-down of its existing broadcast stock.
Hon Georgina te Heuheu: What evidence is there to demonstrate that paying people like Ian Fraser more than $600,000 a year and Susan Wood $450,000 a year has done anything to improve either the commercial or charter outcomes of TVNZ; if there is no evidence, what does the Minister intend to do about the “culture of extravagance” that our public broadcaster appears to love to wallow in?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Those kinds of salaries are not, unfortunately, out of line with large media organisations in many countries. But those are employment matters for the board to deal with. I am sure that if the Government were to intervene directly and say that certain salaries should or should not be paid, then the Opposition members would be the first to cry foul.
Friends of Private Education Exports—Overseas-owned Tertiary Providers
11. METIRIA TUREI (Green) to the Minister for Trade Negotiations: What steps has he taken to ensure that the Friends of Private Education Exports, to be established by New Zealand, will not result in public funding of overseas-owned tertiary providers and undermine the Government’s ability to ensure high quality?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Minister for Trade Negotiations: The group was set up to protect and advance the interests of New Zealand’s private education exporters in the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services negotiations. The group was explicitly set up to pursue improved export opportunities in private, not public, education. Of course, those providers that already meet New Zealand regulatory standards in the private sector can be overseas owned. That is the current situation.
Metiria Turei: Can the Minister guarantee that New Zealand public universities and polytechs will not be forced to compete for public funding with overseas-owned tertiary providers, given the New Zealand Educational Institute’s concern that virtually all education has some element of private funding in it, and given Association of University Staff president Nigel Haworth’s concerns that officials have not yet set a definition of private education within the WTO rules?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Taking the first part of the question, no, the Minister cannot, because he is the Minister for Trade Negotiations. But the Minister for Tertiary Education can.
Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that, in respect of our own export education industry, the Hon Winston Peters has stated this week that the Government has not done enough to help foreign students in New Zealand, but that the Hon Phil Goff has contradicted those statements; can he tell us which of those Ministers represents Government policy on this matter?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Clearly, Mr Peters does not have portfolio responsibility for New Zealand’s export education industry. Mr Goff is the Minister of Trade and reflects the Government’s position.
Hon Brian Donnelly: Can the Minister explain why this Government is starting such a group, as mentioned in the primary question, to promote private sector education, when back at home its own agency, the Tertiary Education Commission, is killing off our private training establishment sector through a “death by a thousand bureaucratic cuts” process?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, I cannot, because that question is not properly addressed to the Minister for Trade Negotiations.
Metiria Turei: Why is this Government pushing for further free-trade agreements in education when there is a real risk that New Zealand will lose the right to limit the number of universities, the number of overseas students, and the number of English language schools, or lose the right to require that educational facilities be not for profit or have staff and student representation on their boards?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government has, as I said, guiding principles for preparing our initial service offer. The sixth of those states: “The Government will make no initial offer that would limit the Government’s right to provide, fund, or regulate public services such as health and education.” One can jump at shadows on the wall in that respect, but they are puppet shadows, not real ones.
Metiria Turei: Has it not occurred to the Government that its single-minded pursuit of private education exports risks a repeat of the recent fiascos in tertiary education, like the twilight golf courses and the wasteful proliferation of low-quality sub-degree courses; and did that crisis not clearly demonstrate the need to protect to the utmost domestic control and regulation of the tertiary sector?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: As I just said, these negotiations will not affect our ability to regulate the educational area, and I am sure that the Minister for Tertiary Education takes a very dim view of some of those sorts of courses.
12. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Health: In the event of a pandemic, who are the priority groups that will qualify for Tamiflu?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Acting Minister of Health): There are no predetermined priority groups. In fact, until a pandemic actually transpires it is impossible to determine who will be most affected. Decisions on the use of antivirals will be made by the Pandemic Influenza Technical Advisory Group, with expert advice, as any pandemic unfolds.
Hon Tony Ryall: What action will the Minister take to manage the increasing public perception that Tamiflu is the major answer to bird flu?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: With the release of a plan, as was done yesterday, and by keeping the public fully informed about the realities of this possible pandemic, we believe that we are doing everything possible to keep the public fully informed. Tamiflu is not the answer to a pandemic. It is one of a number of things that will no doubt evolve if—and, hopefully, not when—we have to respond to this.
Hon Tony Ryall: As a draft list of priority groups has been drawn up by the Ministry of Health, will the Minister release that list publicly so that people in business and the emergency services can include that information in their planning for a pandemic?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I am not aware of that draft list, but until a pandemic is emerging—until we have an actual outbreak—it is impossible for us to predetermine what groups, be they ethnic, geographical, or otherwise, may be affected by it. It will be up to the expert advisory group to make recommendations to the Government at that time.
Darien Fenton: What information has the Government made publicly available about the response to a possible influenza pandemic?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Yesterday the Government released a New Zealand Influenza Pandemic Action Plan. The plan is a working document to assist Government agencies, district health boards, and communities across New Zealand with their planning. New Zealand is at the forefront of international planning to combat a possible influenza pandemic. Our plan is based on the most up-to-date knowledge we have about the possible ways that an influenza pandemic will affect people and how it could affect New Zealand society and our economy.
Hon Tony Ryall: Should individuals stockpile a supply of Tamiflu; if not, what advice does the Government have for the substantial part of the population who will not get access to this antiviral treatment?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: As soon as this Government was aware of a possible pandemic, we took immediate action. In fact, in December 2000 we identified the need for Tamiflu and ordered stocks. We currently have stockpiles that cover 21 percent of the population. That is at the highest levels internationally, and it compares well with the United States, which has enough to cover just 7 percent of the population. Japan has 20 percent coverage, and Australia has 20 percent. We believe we are doing everything possible and everything sensible to plan for this possible pandemic. There is no need for panic, and there is no need to advise every single New Zealander that he or she needs to stock Tamiflu.
Hon Tony Ryall: Should individuals stockpile a supply of Tamiflu?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: There is no advice internationally that every individual in the world should stockpile Tamiflu. Neither have we issued any such advice. However, what we would offer to every New Zealander is the age-old advice about personal hygiene. Regular washing of hands, covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and keeping fingernails clean and short are also—[Interruption] and Panadol—very sensible ways of countering any possible pandemic.
Question No. 1 to Minister
TE URUROA FLAVELL (Mâori Party—Waiariki): In light of my earlier question, I seek leave to table the annual report of the Education Review Office 2005, if that is appropriate.
Madam SPEAKER: Normally, leave is sought at the end of the question, but I will put it. Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is.