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Questions And Answers - 23 February 2006

Questions And Answers - Thursday, 23 February 2006

Questions to Ministers

Australia and New Zealand—Single Economic Market

1. MARYAN STREET (Labour) to the Minister of Commerce: What progress has been made recently to advance the single economic market agenda between New Zealand and Australia?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Minister of Commerce): Yesterday I signed the agreement between New Zealand and Australia on the mutual recognition of securities offerings, and I also signed an updated memorandum of understanding on the coordination of business law. Both of those represent major advancements in the single economic market agenda.

Maryan Street: What benefits arise from the mutual recognition of securities offerings?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: That will allow an issuer offering securities to extend an offer that is being made in one country to investors in the other country, using the same offer documents and offer structure. That will remove unnecessary regulatory barriers to trans-Tasman securities offerings. It will promote investment between New Zealand and Australia, enhance competition in capital markets, reduce costs to business, and increase choice for investors. That is a win-win-win-win.

John Key: To the Minister—what encouraged him to abandon his crazy policy of wanting to tax Australia on foreign-held shares, and to adopt National’s policy—

Madam SPEAKER: Point of order, Trevor Mallard—yes, the term “crazy”; is that what the point of order is?

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Actually, we were going to point out the gender of the Minister, in case that member had not noticed that the Minister of Commerce is a woman. I know that it is pretty hard for members opposite to accept that people in important roles can be women, but that member should recognise it just by looking across the House.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I think the more interesting issue here is that the other day when the Prime Minister was on her feet, you asked the Leader of the Opposition to remove himself from the House for inappropriately making a comment. But we have just heard Mr Burton, Ms Dalziel, and Mr Mallard all speaking out loud, with a considerable amount of noise—so much so that the “shadow” Leader of the House and Deputy Prime Minister had to turn around and wave his arm at them in order to contain them. And that was all done while John Key was asking a question. I suggest that for consistency a similar action needs to be taken.

Madam SPEAKER: No. I thank the member for that. I heard the noise when the point of order was being called for and taken, so I think at this stage that everyone is on their final warning—and I mean that. But that is when I heard noise being made. My concern with the question was that I was not sure whether it was within the portfolio responsibility. But I think we should allow Mr Key to complete his question, without interruption please.

John Key: Is the reason the Government has decided to abandon its crazy policy of trying to tax New Zealanders on their investments offshore in Australia, that she has much more sense in those matters than the Minister of Finance, who is clearly so “out to lunch” that he thought it was a great idea to tax the millions of dollars’ worth of investments that New Zealanders have in Australia?

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I invite you to rule that question out, for its use of ironic expressions.

Madam SPEAKER: Yes, there were two ironic expressions. I would ask members to observe that in future, and I ask the Minister now to respond to the question.

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I do not accept the assumption in the question, and the member should put his question down to the relevant Minister who has portfolio responsibilities.

Maryan Street: What has been agreed to as part of the ongoing work programme for implementing the Memorandum of Understanding on Coordination of Business Law?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Several areas of work have been agreed to—for example, the cross-recognition of companies between Australia and New Zealand, cross-border insolvency, and information sharing. Another area identified for further work is the adoption of a mechanism that would allow for the disqualification of persons from managing corporations in one jurisdiction to apply in the other jurisdiction. I am sure all parties would welcome further advancements in those areas.

Justice, Corrections and Police, Ministers—Confidence

2. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in her Ministers of justice, corrections and police; if so, why?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes, because they are hard-working and conscientious Ministers.

Dr Don Brash: How can the Prime Minister possibly be satisfied with Ministers presiding over a criminal justice system that releases on bail individuals who have imported raw materials for the manufacture of $15 million worth of P, so that those criminals can flee the country; and what changes does the Prime Minister propose to make sure that does not happen again?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Ministers are not responsible for individual bail decisions by the courts. Those decisions are made by the courts, and, as the member ought to know by now, Ministers do not criticise court decisions.

Dr Don Brash: Has the Prime Minister heard the comments by a police officer on Radio Live that: “So many criminals now know they are not going to be held in custody while they are on bail, and it is so frustrating for us as cops to fight bail, oppose bail, and then see the courts let them go and reoffend.”; if so has she spoken to her justice Ministers about the genuine concerns raised by that police officer?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I doubt very much whether the Prime Minister heard the Radio Live broadcast; she is normally busy with other matters. I am aware of the claims by an anonymous police officer. I am also aware there has been a substantial increase in the denial of bail; it is one of the reasons for the growth in prison numbers in the corrections system.

Dr Don Brash: Is it not true that the case reported in this morning’s New Zealand Herald is the second case in a matter of weeks where two foreign nationals implicated in a very serious methamphetamine charge have fled the country while on bail, and why should all foreigners charged with imprisonable offences not be automatically denied bail?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I think the last move would be an extraordinary and extreme one, but I have no doubt that the courts will take into account the frequency in recent times in which that has happened—if it is two cases in recent weeks. Those are matters that the courts do take into account. But it is a bit rich, when the Opposition members keep calling for cuts in Government spending in the core public sector, to call day after day for increases in both the core public sector and State spending.

Dr Don Brash: Does the Prime Minister expect people to believe the statement by her colleague Jim Anderton that the emphasis for tougher sentencing has been “on the suppliers, manufacturers, and importers” of methamphetamine, when her justice system is actually letting those people out, and can she tell the House today what steps she proposes to take in order to make sure this does not happen again?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am advised that in the case the member refers to, the police did not seek to oppose bail.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Well, it is a matter for the police to make that decision, and I have said that before in this House. I have listened to Dr Smith say that we are the Government and we are supposed to tell the police what to do in individual cases. That is called a police State. On this side of the House we do not support that.

Ron Mark: Would the Prime Minister not concur that one of the reasons that New Zealand First has negotiated a provision into its governance agreement with the Labour Government to have a complete review of the immigration system of this country is that New Zealand First has long been concerned about the number of foreigners who get into this country, only to treat this nation with disrespect by breaking its laws and then fleeing the country, untouched?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I think that is a perfectly fair comment, but I would add, of course, that the vast majority of crime in this country is committed by New Zealanders born in New Zealand.

Methamphetamine—Policy

3. Dr PITA SHARPLES (Co-Leader—Maori Party) to the Minister of Justice: He aha te mahere rautaki a nga Tari Ture hai whakaheke haere i te waihangatanga, te tohatoha, me te ngote, mo te ngarara nei te methamphetamine, ara P; ka mutu ka whaaro ake te Kawanatanga ki te whakarite i tetahi roopu whanui a-Paremata ki te whakakore i te P?

[What is the justice sector strategy to reduce methamphetamine manufacture, distribution and use, and would the Government support a cross-parliamentary party approach to stamp out P?]

Hon MARK BURTON (Minister of Justice): The justice sector approach to methamphetamine is part of the broader Government response, led by the Hon Jim Anderton under the National Drug Policy, to combat drugs involving law enforcement, customs, health, and education agencies. Within the justice sector, through the Methamphetamine Action Plan, the Government has undertaken a range of actions to combat P. Those include changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act, including reclassifying P as a class A drug, which of course means that the penalty for trafficking in P now carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and improved resourcing of police and Customs Service drug enforcement services to respond to the current and future methamphetamine situation. Of course, the Government welcomes the further support of any party that is willing to engage constructively on this issue.

Dr Pita Sharples: Kua whakaaro anô te Minita mô ngâ mahi i te taha hauâuru o Ahitereiria, arâ, ngâ mahi muru taonga, arâ, te whare, te pûtea pçke, te motokâ hoki, mô çrâ ka mauherehia mô ô râtou mahi waihanga, tohatoha hoki i te P?

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

[Has the Minister considered the Western Australian experience in which those convicted of manufacturing and distributing P forfeit all assets, including house, bank accounts, and car—a strategy that has proven successful in restricting the incidence of production?]

Hon MARK BURTON: There has indeed already been significant movement in legislation, which certainly allows the confiscation of the property of those who are involved in the trafficking of the drug. But I know that the Government would welcome further engagement with the member, who clearly has a serious interest in this important issue.

Simon Power: Does the Minister believe that the victims of the crimes of Trevor Eagle, Steven Williams, and William Duane Bell, and the victims’ families, agree that the Government is dealing with the methamphetamine epidemic; and is releasing individuals who are charged with the importation of raw materials to manufacture $15 million worth of P the Government’s idea of dealing with the problem?

Hon MARK BURTON: I clearly cannot speak for those families. Although the Government has taken a range of actions—and quite decisive actions—there is much more to do. But it is not something that any Government alone can deal with; it is a wide community issue. I want to applaud the people who came to Parliament today—I think every member would—because those people have taken some personal responsibility to try and highlight this blight on our society. I applaud them for their action and will engage with any members in the House who want to look at further effective actions that we can take together.

Russell Fairbrother: Can the Minister give some examples of initiatives under way or completed under the Methamphetamine Action Plan?

Hon MARK BURTON: There are many examples. For the Customs Service new offences and powers have strengthened its ability to investigate the importation of chemicals used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. The Ministry of Health has established, and is maintaining, community action programmes and has increased funding for treatment. The police have established a comprehensive illicit drug monitoring system and are piloting a programme of drug-testing people detained in police cells. There is a range of others. Obviously, I cannot go on, because of the Standing Orders, but there are many such programmes. But, as I said before, there is much more to do.

Judy Turner: Does the Minister consider that one of the unhelpful trends of managing drug abuse is that there is poor cooperation between the many Government departments and agencies—health, justice, police, and education—and can he assure us that the funding of community projects is not being undermined by the fragmentation and turf wars of those agencies?

Hon MARK BURTON: I think the member raises an important question as to the importance of inter-agency cooperation, and that, indeed, is certainly one of the principle reasons why the Hon Jim Anderton is leading a cross-Government approach under the National Drug Policy. One of its objectives is to ensure that we get the maximum cooperation and effectiveness from agencies.

Judy Turner: Will the Minister consider a change in law to introduce a specialist drug court to allow treatment options to be incorporated into sentencing, combined with the use of further sanctions for continued abuse of drugs or other reoffending, as proposed by United Future’s policy on drugs and the law?

Hon MARK BURTON: It is a matter that, along with many of the suggestions that have been usefully made, I think is worthy of consideration. I am happy to discuss the matter further with the member.

Dr Pita Sharples: Kei te môhio kei te mârama rânei te Minita ki ngâ mahi kua kôkirihia i roto i te iwi Mâori arâ, te râhui P ki Ôrâkei i Tâmaki-makau-rau, me te râhui P i Maunganui i Tauranga, me te kaupapa “P kore” kua whakatûria i te hapori o Murupara, â, ka tautokongia e te Tari Ture i ngâ ûmanga pai kua tîmatahia e te iwi Mâori, arâ, te pakanga i te P, kâhore rânei?

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

[Is the Minister aware of the initiatives amongst the Mâori people such as the râhui to ban P at Ôrâkei in Auckland; the râhui to ban P in Maunganui in Tauranga; and the “P kore” strategy in Murupara; and how will the justice sector support the ongoing leadership of Mâori communities to stamp out P?]

Hon MARK BURTON: I certainly have some awareness of some of the initiatives the member has referred to, and I applaud them. Again I welcome any approach from him to look at how we can give further support to those sorts of positive community initiatives.

Ron Mark: Would the Minister agree with New Zealand First that three areas need to be targeted more stridently: firstly, intervention at the borders to prevent foreigners importing methamphetamine precursors into this country; secondly, the crushing of gangs who manufacture and supply P, many of them Mâori; and, thirdly, stricter sentencing laws to stop judges from giving 22-month jail sentences with leave to apply for home detention for supplying the drug.

Hon MARK BURTON: I agree with the member that all three of those areas are important. All three of them are areas where action has already been taken in terms of tougher sentencing, stronger border controls, and resources for agencies—

Simon Power: They’re running free!

Hon MARK BURTON: I am sorry but the facts do not support the member’s prejudice.

Roading—State Highway Forecast

4. GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister of Transport: Does he stand by his statement to the House yesterday that the dates contained in “the projected State highway forecast plan, which is the lengthy document” are the correct start dates for Transit New Zealand’s draft 2006-07 to 2015-16 10-year State highway forecast; if not, why not?

Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister of Transport): Yes.

Gerry Brownlee: Does he think it is an appropriate way to run his portfolio, when the Chief Executive of Transit said on the radio this morning that the first time he heard that the Government was coming up with the extra $685 million shortfall required to meet the Minister’s statements today was in fact on the radio this morning; and, therefore, does he think it was fortuitous that Mr van Barneveld had his radio on, or is it quite usual for him to communicate with his department via the newswires?

Hon DAVID PARKER: I have always made it clear to Mr van Barneveld and the Transit board that they are to allocate only the funding that has been provided to them.

Hon Mark Gosche: In addition to the extra money for State highway funding, how much has the funding for public transport increased since 1999?

Hon DAVID PARKER: We have increased public transport funding from the derisory $40 million it was in 1999 to $250 million this year. Without that increased funding, New Zealanders would be poorer and traffic congestion in our cities would be significantly worse.

Peter Brown: Is the Minister aware that in the document referred to in the primary question, 55 of the top 64 projects are listed as being of high priority when it comes to urgency and seriousness, and that that reflects a huge lack of funding for many, many years, which was verified by Transit this morning at the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee hearing; if so, will he ensure that the group that is looking into bridging the funding gap is aware of that factor?

Hon DAVID PARKER: Yes, and yes.

Gerry Brownlee: How can the New Zealand public have any confidence in the Minister, when he knew last November that there was a shortfall in funding, but appeared to have been unable to secure that extra financial commitment until we saw yesterday the release of the report, with the Associate Minister of Finance putting it in the bin less than an hour later and saying he would find the money; why should he be believed?

Hon DAVID PARKER: As I said in answer to one of the earlier questions, I have always been very clear that Transit ought to allocate only the funding that is guaranteed to it.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: How does the Minister reconcile the commitment given on 1 April last year, that all of the extra petrol tax would go to the regions, with the plan that was announced yesterday that Nelson, having paid $32 million a year in petrol taxes and road-user charges, would not get a single roading project in the next 7 years—or does last year’s commitment have the same amount of credibility as the Prime Minister’s pledge card?

Hon DAVID PARKER: The commitment that was made last year was that the additional petrol tax that was collected would be spent regionally. That promise is being kept.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: No, it’s not; tell that to my mayors!

Hon DAVID PARKER: Yes, it is, and if people do not think the promise is being kept, then they have the transparent process that is provided for them to submit on the draft plan.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister commissioned any reports as to what the funding situation would be if he had not done anything about the regime the National Party left in place; and has he had a chance to reflect on the level of confidence he would have then?

Hon DAVID PARKER: There is absolutely no doubt that if that set of policies had been kept, and if we had not more than doubled the amount of money going into State highways already, Auckland’s traffic congestion, Christchurch’s traffic congestion, and Wellington’s traffic congestion—every city’s traffic congestion—would be far, far worse than it is now.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Does Transit’s 10-year plan make any provision at all for extending the motorway north from Pûhoi, or is the Government happy to see State Highway 1 traffic at a standstill as it tries to get though Warkworth and Wellsford; what will he do about it?

Hon DAVID PARKER: One of the most expensive highway projects in New Zealand is currently under construction north of Auckland, leading towards Pûhoi. It is the Albany to Pûhoi realignment B2 extension.

Madam SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Phil Heatley. [Interruption] Order, please. The member will be heard in silence.

Phil Heatley: Will the Minister send two critical Northland projects, the Snake Hill realignment and stage 2 of the Kamo bypass, into the never-never—never expect them, because they will never happen—or will the Government commit funding so that construction can start as early as 2007-08, as promised by him?

Hon DAVID PARKER: The member will know the answer to that question once the State highway forecast is finalised in June.

David Bennett: How does the Minister explain that on the one hand, in the upcoming joint officials group process for the Waikato, certain projects will be advanced, when on the other hand, in the middle of negotiations, Transit has reduced the priority for all major Waikato roading projects in that 10-year plan, such as the Te Rapa bypass, which has been delayed another 4 years?

Hon DAVID PARKER: The people of the Waikato are in the privileged position that they will see progress through both the final State highway forecast plan and more than $100 million from a joint officials group increase.

Martin Gallagher: Has the Minister had any representations whatsoever from Waikato National MPs with regard to the special Waikato roading package, or do they continue to be in a state of amnesia and unconsciousness? [Interruption]

Madam SPEAKER: Order, please. That last comment was unnecessary. It will be withdrawn. [Interruption]

Hon DAVID PARKER: No, I have not. I suspect they are as confused as both Mr Williamson and Mr Brownlee have shown themselves to be in questions yesterday and today, when they still fail to understand that the regional break-out documents are but a subset of the longer document. Transit tries to make those documents foolproof, but sometimes it cannot.

Gerry Brownlee: I seek leave for the Hon David Parker to be able to take some time to explain why a very lengthy document, which he himself has described as most authoritative, has one—

Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry, but would the member please be seated. That is not a point of order. The member knows that he cannot seek leave on behalf of somebody else.

Gerry Brownlee: I seek leave to table a document that Mr Parker himself describes as a “lengthy document”, which has one set of figures and one set of projections for estimated start times on roads, and then a bundle of regional pamphlets, which have a completely different set of figures and start times for roads—the gap between the two is millions of dollars.

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

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

Peter Brown: They explained it at select committee, if that member had been there.

Madam SPEAKER: Please, Mr Brown, if you wish to remain with us, we will hear the point of order in silence.

Gerry Brownlee: I wonder whether you could put that leave again, because I believe the Labour members may well have just refused to allow those documents to be tabled in Parliament, even though the Minister stood up in question time today to say that he welcomes people’s comments on them.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The reason why New Zealand First declined leave was obvious. The matter was clearly explained at the select committee to all those with the sense to understand it.

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

Madam SPEAKER: No, I thank the member. The House expressed its view when the leave was put, so that is the end of that matter. If there is a new matter, by all means raise it.

Gerry Brownlee: I seek leave to ask one further question of the Minister, the Hon David Parker.

Madam SPEAKER: You can ask a supplementary question. There is no problem with that.

Gerry Brownlee: Madam Speaker, as you know, we are on allocations, and we would like an extra one.

Madam SPEAKER: I understand now. Yes, the member is perfectly entitled to seek leave. Is there any objection? I am sorry; it has been declined.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Are you telling the House that that is the end of question time in respect of supplementary questions for the National Party?

Madam SPEAKER: No.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Excuse me, but Mr Brownlee said that he would seek leave because he had a quota. I understand that he is No. 2 in the National Party. If he cannot get past his quota, heaven knows who can!

Madam SPEAKER: Would the member please be seated. That is not a valid point of order.

Gerry Brownlee: Which of the two documents produced yesterday should the public believe?

Hon DAVID PARKER: As I have said on three occasions, the regional break-out is not inconsistent with the longer document but it is a subset of it. I seek leave to table both the draft State highway forecast and the regional break-outs, to show that there is no inconsistency.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will be aware that a member cannot seek leave to table the same document twice on the same day. That is what I asked for leave to table.

Madam SPEAKER: Yes, I think a member can. You could not ask for leave twice, but someone else can ask for leave. A member cannot have two goes at it.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Standing Order 265(a) refers to the same question being put to the House. Previous Speakers have said that the same question cannot be put to the House if it has already been put on the day, as was correctly pointed out by the shadow Leader of the House.

Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member, but he will have noted that it is not a question that is being put. It is leave that is being sought. I will put the leave. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

Leave granted.

Dr Paul Hutchison: I seek leave to table a raft of letters and a petition to the Minister of Transport, requesting this Government to commit to building a four-lane expressway on State Highway 2 in the northern Waikato—something it has repeatedly failed to make even the tiniest commitment to.

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

National Parks—Establishment

5. LYNNE PILLAY (Labour—Waitakere) to the Minister of Conservation: Has he been advised of any proposals for a new national park?

Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): Yes. I am advised that the New Zealand Conservation Authority is not considering any proposals for new national parks. However, I understand that Paula Bennett MP proposed in the House last night that the Waitakere Ranges should be designated as a national park. Curiously, this is in contrast to suggestions that the Department of Conservation continues to grab more and more land and that it needs to keep its hands off additional land—the first from David Carter and the second from Don Brash.

Lynne Pillay: What additional conservation gains would a national park in the Waitakeres achieve over those conferred by the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Bill?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: None. A national park proposal covering existing conservation land would not address any of the development issues eroding the margins of this iconic west Auckland landscape. The excellent bill, introduced by the member Lynne Pillay, will address those issues, requiring councils to consider the long-term and cumulative effects of proposals they consider under the Resource Management Act.

Paula Bennett: Does the Minister know of any other mechanism that offers greater protection than a national park; if not, why is he not offering this level of protection to the 17,000-hectare regional park in the Waitakere Ranges?

Hon CHRIS CARTER: The member was clearly not listening to my previous answer. Although the conservation land that would be in a national park would have the highest protection, it would do nothing for the 10,000 hectares of the Waitakere Ranges that are held in private hands.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister received any reports to the effect that Paula Bennett cleared that with her leader, deputy leader, or spokesperson before she made that statement, or is it the continuation of a party making policy on the hoof because they are a leaderless rabble?

Madam SPEAKER: The first part of the question—asking for reports, if any have been seen—is fine; the second part is not.

Hon CHRIS CARTER: No, nor of course did we hear from Mr John Key, the only National Party electorate member from west Auckland.

Roading—Funding Shortfall

6. JOHN KEY (National—Helensville) to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with his Associate Finance Minister Hon Trevor Mallard’s assurances that the Government will make up the funding shortfall revealed in Transit New Zealand’s 10-year forecast; if not, why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): It would be more accurate to say that Mr Mallard agreed with the statements that I made, in essence, to the Finance and Expenditure Committee last Wednesday.

John Key: Is the Government’s commitment one of funding the $685 million shortfall identified yesterday or is it to fund an open cheque to ensure that Transit’s 10-year plan is completed on time irrelevant of the cost?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Government is committed to the proposals around the 10-year plan. We are looking, of course, at ways in which we can get greater efficiency and value for money in that. I am fascinated that the National Party is now saying it is not committed to those proposals for Auckland’s roading network.

Hon Marian Hobbs: Does the Minister agree with the Auckland Regional Council’s statement yesterday indicating that one of the challenges in funding Transit New Zealand’s 10-year forecast is the decades of under-investment in the Auckland region’s transport system?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: In 2005 the value of transport projects under way or just completed in the Auckland region was some $1.35 billion. That contrasts with $130 million in the last year of the previous National Government. They are all wind and no puff.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER: Please sit down. I will inform the Leader of the House that in his absence the decision was made to take a stricter approach to ironical statements. So, in future, there are to be no ironical statements in questions or in answers.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. With respect, I do not think you should destroy, unconsciously, the character of this place because some lily-livered lounge lizards just do not like people talking about them. For goodness’ sake, if one goes around the Western World, there is some give and take. What is going on here is that members simply cannot take it, but they can dish it out.

Madam SPEAKER: No, that is not a point of order, as the member knows. I will endeavour to interpret the Standing Orders to enable a free debate in this House, but it has been apparent that the members do wish a stricter approach to be taken.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: With respect, I do not believe that the majority of members of Parliament in this House would want you to take that course. Some do, but I think if you were to poll the members, you would find that the majority want a bit of give and take in this House.

Madam SPEAKER: I do appreciate the member’s comment on that and I will certainly bear it in mind in my future rulings.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Will the Minister also make up the shortfall in funding for the Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee’s public transport plan, which, if fully implemented, would reduce or delay the need for some of Transit’s roading ambitions, and does he agree that the financial assistance rate, which funds 100 percent of State highways but only around half of public transport capital expenditure, creates serious distortions?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, I do not agree on the last point. We are certainly not prepared to write an open cheque for whatever plans the Auckland Regional Council comes up in respect of subsidisation of local Auckland matters. That includes, for example, matters such as electrification of the railway system, which I do not believe at this stage has been demonstrated to have sufficient benefits in relation to the cost.

John Key: If we are to accept the commitment he just gave to the House, which was one of completing Transit’s 10-year plan, albeit he gave a caveat by saying he would look to minimise the cost; can he tell us now what ways would he be looking to minimise the cost if that does not include either building less roads or building those roads over a longer period of time?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: As I also indicated to the select committee last week, one of the things we are looking at is the ways in which Transit constructs its tender programme to ensure that there is the maximum level of competition and the maximum capacity for the private sector to take a more creative—at times—approach to the building of roads, as opposed to very small contracts that are predetermined in terms of the way in which they are constructed.

John Key: Does he harbour a suspicion that road contractors are engaging in unwarranted price escalation, as he seemed to imply at the Finance and Expenditure Committee last week; if not, does he think that all of the anticipated price inflation now built into Transit’s new proposals are warranted?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: On the last point, at this stage I do not have sufficient technical advice to comment. I have been away on somewhat more important business in the last couple of days. On the former point, I made no such assertion to the Finance and Expenditure Committee. In a tight labour market, given costs driven by things like oil prices, it is not unnatural that there has been some cost escalation in the construction sector.

John Key: When he said at the Finance and Expenditure Committee last week that borrowing is possible for transport decongestion, but “I would prefer to see that against an assured income stream”, does this indicate that any borrowing required to make up the shortfall will result in tolls; if not, why not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, because, as I said, “I would prefer”.

Air Force—Combat Air Wing

7. HEATHER ROY (Deputy Leader—ACT) to the Minister of Defence: What is the monthly cost of keeping the Skyhawk and Aermacchi fleet airworthy and ready for sale, since Numbers 2, 14, and 75 squadron were disbanded on 13 December 2001, and how much has been saved as a result of the scrapping of the combat air wing?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Defence): Pending finalisation of the sales process, the current monthly cost is approximately $130,000. By contrast, the cost of operating the air combat wing, including capital charge and overheads, is over $16 million a month, or $207 million a year. Retaining an air combat wing would have required over $1 billion in capital expenditure and increases in the Defence Force operating baseline of over $1.2 billion over the next 10 years. As the member can see, the savings on selling obsolete aircraft that have never been used in a combat situation are considerable, and will continue to be.

Heather Roy: Has the Government received any money for the sale of the Skyhawks and Aermacchis, which was triumphantly announced on 12 September 2005; if not, why not?

Hon PHIL GOFF: As I recall, it was leaked rather than announced. The short answer is, no, the money has not yet been received. But the member, and other members of the House, will be delighted to know that considerable progress is being made in the sales negotiations. The process through the State Department, required to get approval of the State Department, has commenced, and we have every confidence that that will occur when Congress resumes sometime in March.

Dianne Yates: Given the savings on the air combat force, what alternative investment of that money has been made in other areas of the air and defence forces?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The savings I referred to, plus, of course, the unprecedented investment of $3.3 billion in the long-term development plan, have enabled the Air Force to purchase two 757s, have enabled the progressive upgrading of the C130s and the P3 Orions, have enabled the planned purchase of replacement helicopters for the 40-year-old helicopters we inherited from the National Government, and have enabled us to purchase seven new ships over the next 2 years for the Navy, 321 Pinzgauer vehicles, 105 light-armoured vehicles, new tactical mobile radio equipment, and much else besides.

Heather Roy: How many Skyhawks and how many Aermacchis have already been shipped to the United States following Minister Burton’s announcement on 12 September 2005 that: “Both fleets will be progressively shipped to the US over the next few months.”; if none, why not?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Because it would be naive to expect to ship those planes until they are paid for.

Dianne Yates: What reports were received by the Government on the utility of the A4s, which led to the decision to scrap the force?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The former National Government was advised as far back as 1998 in an air combat review that was chaired by Sir Wilson Whineray that the A4 Skyhawks were a marginal asset to any multinational coalition, and that their operational ability would continue to decline. Advice since then has confirmed that finding.

Heather Roy: Did the Minister ask the Prime Minister to seek assistance from the head of the US Central Command, General John Abizaid, when she meets with him today, with the disposal of the Skyhawks and Aermacchis, or is his Government not the very, very good friends with the United States that the Prime Minister claims?

Hon PHIL GOFF: It would be very naive to expect a general—even a four-star general in the American armed forces—to try to instruct Congress how it should proceed with its approval process. I am amazed at that question.

Heather Roy: Will the Minister confirm that the Air Force Beechcraft King Airs have been grounded for a month, and could he please tell the House what aircraft the Air Force, under Labour, has left to fly?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I flew in one last Saturday.

Universal College of Learning—Chief Executives

8. Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister for Tertiary Education: Did the ministerial appointees to the council of the Universal College of Learning approve the appointment of two full-time chief executives in December 2005; if so, what were their reasons for this unprecedented decision?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister for Tertiary Education): I am advised that the answer is no.

Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that the reasons the Universal College of Learning in Palmerston North has given for having two chief executives is that it needs one of them to be in Wellington every week “negotiating our future”, and that the chairman says his management now has to weave their way through a set of unpredictable and ridiculous regulations churned out by ideologues in Wellington?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, I am not, in part because the college does not have two chief executives. It has a chief executive. When he is absent on other duties, which include, of course, looking after the situation in Wanganui, which is quite a pressing one for the college, the college has decided to make it clear that Clare Crawley is the acting chief executive in that situation—a situation that, I might say, I am not entirely unused to myself.

Hon Bill English: Does the Government intend to extend this policy of one chief executive for the price of two to all Crown entities where chief executives are struggling to implement bad Government policies?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I think it is important that any organisation that is going to be credible in the public eye has one effective, outstanding chief executive or leader, and I recommend it to the members opposite.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister confirm that the Universal College Of Learning believes that it has two chief executives, even if he does not believe it; and what proportion of the $3 million bail-out to the college 2 weeks ago, or of the 5 percent fee increase for all students, is going towards paying the salaries of two chief executives when there used to be one?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: If I may I quote the council resolution of the Universal College of Learning, to assist the member—the second part of the resolution: “Where the chief executive is absent from duty, from whatever cause arising, from time to time all or any of the functions, powers and duties of the chief executive, or pertaining to the position of the chief executive may be exercised and performed by Clare Crawley for the time being as acting chief executive.”

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister confirm that Paul McElroy, the chief executive, has described the two positions as “joint chief executives”, and that Mr McElroy has opened an office in Wellington, full time, when his polytechnic is in Palmerston North; and can he confirm that this is a sweetheart deal for the chief executive of the Universal College of Learning—who is a very close friend of senior Ministers in his Government—whereby Mr McElroy is now paid to sit in Wellington doing nothing, while another chief executive is paid to sit in Palmerston North running a polytech?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I can certainly confirm that he is not a very close friend of mine. I actually had to find out what his name was when I was told about the question today. I repeat that there is one chief executive—

Hon Bill English: That’s rubbish!

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Pardon?

Hon Bill English: That’s rubbish!

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: What is?

Hon Bill English: You just signed off a bail-out deal with him. How come you didn’t know his name? [Interruption]

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, and he has not been in my office for weeks. I am afraid not, Madam Speaker. The member is getting totally confused on that matter. I invite him to present any evidence in that particular regard. It is true to say that the previous Government’s policy of a total “bums on seats; don’t mind about the quality approach to polytechnics” got a number of polytechnics into financial difficulties. The guilty man is sitting right over there.

Madam SPEAKER: Supplementary question, the Hon Bill English.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: How can that be in order?

Madam SPEAKER: I have called the question but someone else, who obviously does not want to stay in the Chamber too long, called out after I called. So would the Hon Bill English please address his supplementary question.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The reason why I said “How come that—

Madam SPEAKER: I did not know it was you, I am sorry. I just heard someone call.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Regardless, the comment that was made at the end of Dr Cullen’s answer was completely out of order with your previous rulings about Standing Order 377, with regard to ministerial answers. I was asking whether you were ever going to bother enforcing the Standing Orders.

Hon Trevor Mallard: As a former Minister with some experience in this area, I can make it clear to the House that Dr McElroy has done an enormous amount of work in Wanganui and in Wairarapa, in order to clean up the mess that was left by the previous Government’s policy.

Madam SPEAKER: No. Thank you, but that was not relevant to the point of order that has been raised. I listened to the debate that was going on, and there were lots of ironical comments being tossed across the Chamber in that particular debate. I therefore rule that we should proceed with the supplementary question of the Hon Bill English.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister confirm what he has just said—

Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry. I just heard a comment from Mr Brownlee that the Speaker was one-sided. If that was correct, Mr Brownlee, I want you to withdraw and apologise for that comment.

Gerry Brownlee: It is most certainly not correct, Madam Speaker. I was speaking to my colleague here on another matter. It was a rare occasion that the House was so quiet, and I do not appreciate being named like that.

Madam SPEAKER: I asked you to withdraw and apologise if in fact you had said it. There was no need, after you had given your explanation, to add that other comment—

Gerry Brownlee: I apologise.

Madam SPEAKER:—so I thank you for your explanation. Would the Hon Bill English please ask his supplementary question.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister confirm a couple of things he has just said to the House: first, that he has written out a cheque for $3 million of public money to a man he has never met and whose name he does not know, and, second, despite the fact that the Universal College of Learning is paying Paul McElroy full time as a chief executive to be in Wellington, Mr McElroy has never met the Minister for Tertiary Education?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: There are many people in the tertiary education sector I have yet to meet. There are a rather large number of them—probably too many, as a result of previous policies. Firstly, I do not write out cheques. Secondly, the payment is to the Universal College of Learning, not to an individual within it. It is possible that National Governments used to write personal cheques to chief executives—to their mates. Maybe that is how Dr Wçtere did rather well at Te Wânanga o Aotearoa, but it is not my practice as Minister for Tertiary Education.

United Nations Commission on Human Rights—Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre

9. KEITH LOCKE (Green) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Will he be calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre following the recent United Nations Commission on Human Rights’ report, issued 15 February 2006, which highlights the systematic practice of torture and the indefinite detention without trial of detainees; if not, why not?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Minister of Foreign Affairs): For many years now New Zealand has condemned human rights abuses where they have been proven to have occurred. The issue, therefore, is not the existence of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, but rather the treatment of detainees there or elsewhere. The Government’s position is that all persons detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere should be treated in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law.

Keith Locke: Why is the Government such a wimp as to not call for the Guantanamo Bay facility to be closed, when the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan—

Madam SPEAKER: The member knows better, in the light of the discussions that have been going on in this House, than to use the work “wimp”. Would the member please just ask the question straight; otherwise we will have continual points of order.

Keith Locke: Why is the Government lacking such fortitude as to not call for the Guantanamo—

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. That term has been ruled out on many occasions. That member has been here for some time, and I think it is about time that he caught up with the Standing Orders.

Madam SPEAKER: I do not, in this context, rule that out of order. “Fortitude” is perfectly all right. Has the member finished his question?

Keith Locke: Why is the Government lacking such fortitude as to not call for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay facility, when the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, did so last week, and when the European Parliament voted 80 to 1 last week for closure, insisting to the US administration that: “Every prisoner should be treated in accordance with international humanitarian law, and tried without delay in a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent tribunal.”?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I think I answered that question substantially in the primary answer, but I will say that we have taken several opportunities to publicly underline the fundamental importance of respecting all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including in the context of countering terrorism. I note also that the United States Government has provided an interim response to the Special Rapporteur on Mercenaries group on Guantanamo Bay, and we would encourage it to carry on the dialogue. It is a fact that for years we have railed against human rights abuses, particularly against events during the regime of Pol Pot.

Keith Locke: How can the Minister say that the question of closing Guantanamo Bay is separate from what goes on within it, when the Dominion Post stated on Monday: “It has been clear to most since the camp was set up that it was nothing more than an attempt to get around applying to others the protections against the power of the state that American citizens demand for themselves.”; and, when the Government does, as the Minister says, speak out human rights abuses, torture, and detention in Zimbabwe, Burma, and elsewhere, why will he not stand up to the United States as the world’s superpower when it sets such a bad example?

Madam SPEAKER: I will just remind the member that this is question time. It is not the time for debate. So would the member confine his questions and ask them tersely, without long speeches being attached to them.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: There is an interim report to the Special Rapporteur on Mercenaries group from the United States. There is a dialogue going on, which we encourage. But I want to say this very clearly. The day I set my guidelines based on the views of the Dominion Post, I will be giving up politics.

Keith Locke: Will the Government ask the US Government and visiting General John Abizaid to show the same moral leadership in the world that the Minister has said this week that New Zealand shows in the Pacific, and tell the US that it cannot continue with the torture, which, as stated in the UN report, includes beating, drugging, force feeding, the use of dogs, exposure to extreme temperatures, sleep deprivation, inducing stress, and prolonged isolation?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Let me say that I do share Mr Locke’s view that in the Pacific New Zealand is a shining light. I just want to say it is not appropriate for me, or I believe for any other member of Parliament, to lecture to a highly placed military person on a matter in which he has no authority or control, and when the responsibility lies with someone else.

Keith Locke: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Minister said, in his answer, that the visiting general does not have any power or control. In fact, General John Abizaid is in charge of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Madam SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. That is a point of debate and information.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek to table a map of the world, showing where Iraq and Guantanamo Bay are.

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

Keith Locke: I seek leave to table documentation showing that General John Abizaid is in charge of troops in Afghanistan, which does produce prisoners for Guantanamo Bay.

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

Keith Locke: I seek leave to table the UN Commission on Human Rights’ report on Guantanamo Bay.

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

Keith Locke: I seek leave to table the motion passed in the European Parliament last Thursday, calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay facility.

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

Keith Locke: I seek leave to table the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which New Zealand is a signatory to and should be advocating.

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

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table two documents. One is a document in support of Pol Pot, and the other is in support of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Both are by one Keith Locke, now Keith Locke MP.

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

Prisons—Regional Prison Costs

10. SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei) to the Minister of Corrections: What were the original costs approved by Cabinet for each of the four new regional prisons, and does he agree with then Department of Corrections Chief Executive, Mark Byers, who said in October 2002 that the four new prisons would reportedly “cost about $400 million to house 1,400 inmates”?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Minister of Corrections): Cabinet approved the Regional Prisons Development Project in a series of decisions over a number of years. A full and final cost was confirmed last year for the first time.

Simon Power: Has the Minister sought an explanation from his officials regarding the $57 million omission from earlier estimates for prisons in Springhill and Otago; and what specific maintenance will be deferred in existing prisons?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: The $50 million that the member is referring to was there because designs could not be finalised until consultation with the community had been completed. Omissions in design relating to about $50 million were identified for the finalisation of designs following that process.

Simon Power: Does the Minister agree that going from $285,714 per prison bed to $549,043 per prison bed is a shameful illustration of the Government’s incompetence; if not, why not?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: The building of prisons is unlike the building of houses. The facilities are not the average home; they require the highest level of security in order to keep the public safe. The reality is that the economy has been growing strongly, and the costs of steel and concrete have increased considerably.

Simon Power: Can the Minister now guarantee that his department will not spend $1 extra over the $890 million total on the four new regional prisons; if not, why not?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: The costs have been reviewed both internally and by independent quantity surveyors. Based on that work, the department believes that it can complete construction on time and within budget.

Simon Power: Will the Government or the Minister be considering greater use of public-private partnerships in an attempt to use taxpayers’ funds more efficiently and more effectively; if not, why on earth not?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Private prisons have proven not to be less costly. The previous National Government considered whether the Northland prison project should be constructed and managed by the private sector. It rejected that proposal, which was the last sensible decision that the National Government ever made.

Ron Mark: Could the cost of constructing prisons not be made immediately cheaper if, instead of funding the purchase of new real estate—as the Government has done at Kaharoa, where it has spent approximately $2 million buying 19 hectares for a youth prison—it simply used land that is currently in its ownership with the Department of Corrections or the Ministry of Defence, end of story?

Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: The Department of Corrections, like any other Government department or private organisation, has to go through an extensive resource consent process. It endeavours to find the best place to construct the right facilities. We do that at the least cost available.

Year of the Veteran—Funding

11. H V ROSS ROBERTSON (Assistant Speaker—Labour) to the Minister of Veterans' Affairs: What funding has he made available to local community groups to enable them to undertake projects and activities to celebrate the Year of the Veteran?

Hon RUTH DYSON (Minister of Labour) on behalf of the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs: I have established a $1 million contestable fund called the Year of the Veteran Community Grants Fund to assist community groups and local authorities to undertake locally focused activities. Submissions to the fund will be assessed by a ministerial working party that consists of membership from Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand, the New Zealand Defence Force, and the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association.

H V Ross Robertson: What is the purpose of the Year of the Veteran Community Grants Fund?

Hon RUTH DYSON: The purpose of the Year of the Veteran Community Grants Fund will be to assist community groups and local authorities to refurbish and redecorate local war memorials and honours rolls, to hold local veterans’ appreciation days, to collect veterans’ stories, to hold local concerts and exhibitions, and the like. In addition, I am making $200,000 available to assist with national-level events for the Year of the Veteran.

Judith Collins: In the light of the fact that 2006 is the Year of the Veteran, will the Minister support the call of the National Party and the Mâori Party, and the petition of Harvey Dalton and 540 others, for New Zealand - born war hero Nancy Wake finally to be honoured by her country, or does she agree with her colleague Jim Anderton that: “being famous and born in New Zealand are not of themselves sufficient reasons for her to be considered for that honour, however heroic her history.”?

Hon RUTH DYSON: I understand that a submission for such recognition has been made to the relevant Cabinet committee and I know that that will be given fair consideration at the appropriate time.

Tariana Turia: At what point will the Government fund the health needs of veterans who fought in Viet Nam and of their families, and compensate them so that they will have something to celebrate too in the Year of the Veteran?

Hon RUTH DYSON: I have been advised that a report is due to be completed by the chair of the joint working-group on Agent Orange soon, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment prior to the release of that report. After its completion it would be appropriate to direct any such questions to the Minister of Defence.

Judith Collins: I seek the leave of the House to table a press release from my colleague Sandra Goudie, MP for Coromandel, asking for Nancy Wake to be honoured.

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

Judith Collins: I seek the leave of the House to table a copy of my letter to the Prime Minister requesting that Nancy Wake be honoured, and the reply from her office.

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

Judith Collins: I seek the leave of the House to table a copy of an article published in Justices Quarterly in December 2005 entitled “Why no gong for Nancy?”.

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

Judith Collins: I seek the leave of the House to table a copy of an Internet article from the “Heroes” page of the New Zealand Edge website entitled “Warriors: Nancy Wake”.

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

Judith Collins: I seek the leave of the House to table a copy of a letter from the Hon Jim Anderton to Rev. Harvey Dalton dated 20 February 2006 in which he—

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

Judith Collins: I seek the leave of the House to list for the House the honours awarded to Nancy Wake by the people and Governments of the following countries: Great Britain, France, the United States of America, and Australia.

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

Kyoto Protocol—Deforestation

12. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues: Will the Government drop the policy of a 10 percent cap on deforestation; if not, why not?

Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues): No decision has been made. We have 15 comprehensive work programmes to be reported back to Cabinet within a month. As I have said previously, I am not prepared to pre-empt decisions on those.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is it any wonder that New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, the forestry industry, is in crisis and that Weyerhaeuser, which is one of the world’s largest forestry companies, announced last week that it will abandon New Zealand and sell all its forests when this Government’s Kyoto policies involve taking billions of dollars of carbon credits off those forest owners but, through the 10 percent cap on deforestation, making them responsible for the debits; why does he not just biff this stupid policy in the same bin that the carbon tax and the “fart tax” went into?

Hon DAVID PARKER: As I said last week, there is no doubt that the overall state of the forestry industry is more attributable to the state of international commodity prices and the level of our dollar than it is to Kyoto policies. But, having said that, I point out that the Government has clearly signalled that addressing both deforestation and new forest planting is amongst its priorities for future climate change policy.

R Doug Woolerton: What guarantees can the Minister give that the Government’s intended policy settings will lead to afforestation and investment, not deforestation?

Hon DAVID PARKER: As I have already indicated, we have signalled that we are concerned to address both deforestation and new plantings as part of our future climate change policy. I would say that these issues are both complex and interlinked with other, broader climate change policy, and I do not think we should make decisions on individual parts of that policy without considering the full suite of policies.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Which report is correct from Tuesday’s crisis meeting of the forest sector with the Government: the report by Jim Anderton that the meeting was positive and that talks between the forest industry and the Government would be resumed, or the report by the forest industry that Mr Anderton had not accurately reflected what occurred at the meeting and that there would be no resumption of talks with officials; who is telling the truth?

Hon DAVID PARKER: There would be no stronger supporter of the forestry industry, including the forest-processing industry, in New Zealand than the Hon Jim Anderton. He has shown that over many years. He knows, as I do, that the forestry sector has raised concerns about the deforestation cap issues, but he agrees with me that we cannot resolve these issues without resolving the wider climate change issues at the same time.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does the Minister stand by his answer yesterday: “Climate change policy is in a state of flux”, noting that the Oxford English Dictionary defines “flux” as “constant change and instability”; if so, how can those in the forest sector, the energy sector, and the agricultural sector make any sorts of investment decisions when, in his own words, the policy is in constant change and instability?

Hon DAVID PARKER: What I said yesterday was that climate change policy worldwide is in a state of flux, in no small part because there is not unanimity worldwide as to what is the appropriate policy way to address it. That statement is true.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave the leave of the House to table the Hansard of yesterday, in which Mr Parker said that it was the New Zealand policy that was in a state of flux.

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

Hon Dr Nick Smith: How is the 10 percent cap on deforestation fair, when the Government’s own State-owned enterprise, Landcorp, is proposing to clear 25,000 hectares of forest in the Waikato and replace it with dairy farms; and how can he expect anybody else to take a lead from the Government when it is in fact leading the deforestation?

Hon DAVID PARKER: Policy settings, as they are currently, allow State-owned enterprises and departments like the one the member mentioned to take their own decisions, without interference from me.

ENDS

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