Questions And Answers - Tuesday, 4 April 2006
Tuesday, 4 April
Questions for Oral Answer
1. Prime Minister—Political Integrity of
Parliament and Electoral Process
2. Student Loans—Interest-free Policy
3. Ministerial Services—Green Party
4. Air New Zealand / Qantas—Code-share Criteria
5. Crime, Violent—Incidence
6. Marine Farming—Aquaculture Legislation
7. Finance, Minister—Revenue, Minister
8. Research and Development—Government Investment
9. Hospital Price Index—Reports
10. Working for Families Package—Targeting
11. Honey and Bee Products—Biosecurity Risk
12. Information Technology—Government Promotion
Question No. 11 to Minister
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
Prime Minister—Political Integrity of Parliament and Electoral Process
1. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she still stand by her stated objective “to restore public confidence in the political integrity of Parliament and the electoral process.”; if not, why not?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes.
Dr Don Brash: Has she seen yesterday’s announcement that the Auditor-General is investigating the Labour Party’s breach of Vote Parliamentary Service appropriations by its use of taxpayers’ money to fund its campaign pledge card, and can she tell the House what steps she is prepared to take as Prime Minister to rebuild public confidence in Parliament and the electoral system, in light of this investigation?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Madam Speaker, as you have just ruled, there is no ministerial responsibility for the first part of that question. On the second part, I have for over 6¼ years worked very hard to restore the integrity of political processes by ensuring that Labour keeps its word—and we have implemented every promise, including interest-free student loans, which the National Party cannot make up its mind on.
Dr Don Brash: Does the Prime Minister accept that an Audit Office investigation that concludes that taxpayers’ funds were unlawfully used on the Labour Party pledge card can only further damage public confidence in Parliament and the electoral process; if so, what steps is she prepared to take to resolve this matter now and live up to her earlier lofty statements?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Again, I have no ministerial responsibility for the matter the member has raised. I expect, though, that he will be rushing to take responsibility for this leaflet paid for from parliamentary funding.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Prime Minister believe that the public can have confidence in the integrity of Parliament, when so much parliamentary time and resources are being used in dirt digging, personal attacks, noisy barracking, and character smearing of other members?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Absolutely not, but I note with some satisfaction that it is getting the main proponents of the smear campaigns no traction whatsoever.
Dr Don Brash: Does the Prime Minister understand that the Auditor-General’s investigation, which may well result in the finding that her office has acted unlawfully, and a demand that the money be repaid, can only be seriously damaging to public confidence in Parliament and the political process; if so, will she, as Prime Minister, show some leadership on this issue now, and require that her party pay the money back and apologise?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Again, I have no responsibility whatsoever for the first part of that question. [Interruption]
Madam SPEAKER: Order, please! It is very difficult to hear the reply with that level of barracking.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I repeat there is no ministerial responsibility for the first part of that question. Obviously, as a Government we always cooperate with the Auditor-General. I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Dr Nick Smith has interjected constantly on me despite your previous injunction, and I ask you to take appropriate action.
Madam SPEAKER: I want members to please keep their barracking at a level that enables other members to hear the responses.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Should GST, if it is applicable to any transaction—politically related or otherwise—be paid, or is there one law for most political parties and another law for a different one? [Interruption]
Madam SPEAKER: An opinion has been sought. The Prime Minister is not responsible for anyone else’s policies or parties, but opinions are, in fact, permitted within the Standing Orders.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The problem the police ran into in respect of that matter was that no one in the National Party understood GST or was prepared to take any responsibility for it.
Dr Don Brash: Can the Prime Minister inform the House what obligations she has to support the Auditor-General as an important Officer of Parliament; and how can putting the Auditor-General in a position where he will be forced to find that her party leader’s budget has been spent unlawfully possibly contribute to rebuilding public confidence in Parliament and the electoral process?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As the member knows, the Auditor-General is not forced to find anything.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Is the Prime Minister concerned that the collaboration of one party with outside agitators, such as the Exclusive Brethren, to produce leaflets that contain malicious lies about other parties brings Parliament and the electoral process into disrepute?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Indeed, I do believe that smear campaigns by outside organisations, conniving with the National Party, bring the electoral process into disrepute. Further, I see that the Exclusive Brethren are up to exactly the same tricks in Tasmania, to the detriment of the Greens. If there is one thing this Government wants to clean up, it is the smutty sort of behaviour that the National Party engaged in with the Exclusive Brethren.
Gerry Brownlee: I seek the leave of the House to table a document that indicates that the Ministry of Health has accepted sponsorship from the Brethren church to circulate material about one of its health programmes.
Student Loans—Interest-free Policy
2. DARREN HUGHES (Labour—Otaki) to the Minister for Tertiary Education: Has he received any reports on reactions to the interest-free student loan scheme, which came into effect on 1 April 2006?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister for Tertiary Education): I have received many reports of positive reactions, such as the one from the New Zealand Educational Institute, which notes that the changes will help to keep new teachers in New Zealand, and describes how one typical new teacher will save over $40,000 over the life of his or her loan.
Darren Hughes: Has the Minister seen any reports of reactions to the scheme that have led to changes in any policy settings?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have seen a report describing the changes as “the most irresponsible election bribe I can ever remember seeing”, and another describing the scheme as “rushed and reckless”. But I have also seen a report stating: “Maybe we can leave the scheme as it is.” The first comment came from the leader of the National Party, the second from its finance spokesperson, and the third from its education spokesperson.
Hon Bill English: Does the Minister agree with estimates by his own officials that the number of borrowers is forecast to rise by 27 percent over the next 3 years, and with their estimates that the total amount of debt under his scheme will be greater than under the old scheme; if so, why has he pursued a policy that deliberately increases student debt?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I released those numbers in December. They came from Treasury. Of course, whether they are correct we will soon find out. It does not explain why, when faced with people who support the policy, that member said: “We may well keep it.”
Judy Turner: Does the Minister agree that preventing student debt has greater merit than merely making payments of debt more affordable; if so, is the Government considering any initiatives to reduce the accumulation of student debt?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: There are two main moves. One is better education of students about what they may or may not need. The second is improving the access to student allowances and continuing to work with parties such as United Future and New Zealand First in respect of that.
Hon Bill English: Can the Minister explain how under his stewardship the student loan scheme managed to lose over 20,000 borrowers who were overseas, making no payments and running up huge penalties, and why did the Inland Revenue Department lose track of over 20,000 New Zealanders living overseas who have student loans?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Addressing the last part of the question, it is because in the past there has been no proper information-matching to ensure that when people move offshore, that information is made available to the Inland Revenue Department. We will be moving to introduce that information matching, to make that tracking possible.
Ministerial Services—Green Party
3. GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister responsible for Ministerial Services: Does she share the concerns of the Auditor-General, who, in his inquiry into funding arrangements for Green Party liaison roles, stated that “there is a risk arising out of the three individuals being based in the Green Party’s parliamentary office ... the 3 individuals may be drawn into activities outside the scope of the Vote: Ministerial Services appropriations”; if not, why not?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Minister responsible for Ministerial Services): No, because I have been advised by Ministerial Services that the measures the Auditor-General recommended to avoid that risk have already been put in place, and the Auditor-General states in his report: “No further steps are necessary beyond those the Department of Internal Affairs has agreed to take.”
Gerry Brownlee: What assurances can the Minister give the House that Ministerial Services funding for the Green Party liaison roles, and any other activities carried out by those people, will not be spent on Green Party parliamentary or political activities, and will she publicly release the protocols required by the Auditor-General?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Very clear guidelines are in place. The Department of Internal Affairs has worked with the Auditor-General on those, and I am satisfied they are appropriate. As to specific protocols, I am not sure what the member is referring to.
Sue Bradford: Is the Minister confident that good progress is being made by this Government in its Buy Kiwi Made and energy-efficiency programmes, and that the relationship between Government spokespeople and Ministers is proceeding well within the guidelines set down by the Auditor-General?
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. That question asks about the arrangements around coalition dealings. To then ask the Prime Minister to report on the satisfaction of the Greens’ work in this area, steps well outside the province of that question.
Madam SPEAKER: I listened to the question quite closely, and it did actually relate to the guidelines that were, in fact, the subject of the Auditor-General’s report, so I ask the Rt Hon Prime Minister to address that question.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am satisfied the arrangements that have been made are absolutely in the interests of stable Government—which, of course, National members are not terribly interested in. I further wish to say that the work being done by Jeanette Fitzsimons on energy efficiency, and Sue Bradford on the Buy Kiwi Made campaign, are very important to the Government’s work programme.
Gerry Brownlee: Does the Prime Minister share the Auditor-General’s concerns that the person working 70 percent of the time for the Prime Minister in the liaison position is the same person working 30 percent of the time as a political adviser to the Green Party—and, therefore, will have conflicts of interest—and how does that benefit the country?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, because there are very clear guidelines. That benefits the country because it is in the interests of stable Government—something the National Party does not want.
Gerry Brownlee: Can the Prime Minister assure the House that, under the protocols, she has had the new furnishings for the Beehive ticked off as being bought in New Zealand or New Zealand - made?
Madam SPEAKER: That may be considered wide of the question, but the Rt Hon Prime Minister may answer.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I really have no information about the furnishings in the Beehive.
Gerry Brownlee: Does the Prime Minister agree that the report effectively makes it clear that the Green Party, which has no responsibility for Government, is being granted additional funding to compensate its election losses, by a Prime Minister who will not hesitate to use taxpayer funds to ensure her own survival?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I think it is time the member read the Auditor-General’s report very carefully. [Interruption] The Auditor-General has agreed that appropriate steps are in place to ensure stable Government, and that they are in line with appropriate expenditure. I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I heard Nick Smith once again interjecting on a response to a question. That has been constant.
Madam SPEAKER: Unless the response to the answer was unparliamentary, it is permitted. It is the barracking, in fact, that is not permitted.
Gerry Brownlee: I seek leave of the House to table the report of the inquiry into funding arrangements for the Green Party liaison roles, released by the Auditor-General.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection. There is objection.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: On the issue of buying New Zealand - made, and in the interests of satisfying the full ambit of Mr Brownlee’s question, is the food that is to be served in the Beehive New Zealand – made, and what quality is it?
Madam SPEAKER: I did allow the other question, so if the Rt Hon Prime Minister wants to give a very brief response? [Interruption] I permitted Mr Brownlee’s question, which was very wide of the mark. Having done that, with no objection from his colleagues, I have permitted another.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I would be extraordinarily surprised if the meat supplied for tomorrow, whether it is fish, chicken, beef, or lamb, is not Kiwi-made.
Air New Zealand / Qantas—Code-share Criteria
4. PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Transport: What criteria would his Ministry follow were it to study a potential code-share agreement on trans-Tasman routes between Qantas and Air New Zealand?
Hon PETE HODGSON (Acting Minister of Transport): The criteria are specified in section 9 of the Civil Aviation Act.
Peter Brown: Does the Minister accept the concerns of the Consumers Institute, which believes that such an agreement would result in higher fares and fewer flights across the Tasman, and will he assure the House that these concerns will be taken into account before the ministry considers the approval?
Hon PETE HODGSON: The concerns that the member raises are generically part of the list of criteria in section 9, but I would make the point that code sharing—nearly always—does not include price sharing.
Darien Fenton: How prevalent are code-sharing agreements among international airlines?
Hon PETE HODGSON: They are very common indeed. Successive New Zealand Governments have mandated the negotiation of provisions for code sharing, and such provisions are included in most of New Zealand’s bilateral air services arrangements.
Peter Brown: Is the Minister aware that when there was a code-sharing arrangement between Air New Zealand and Qantas in the early 1990s, there was much frustration and, dare I say, anger from passengers who would book on one airline and be flown on another and they found that to be out of order with their booking arrangements; and will he assure the House that this will be taken into consideration?
Hon PETE HODGSON: I am sure the ministry will take that into consideration. Let us not forget also that code-sharing arrangements are designed primarily to improve benefits to the consumers. For example, it does mean that one can travel on one ticket on more flights across a greater spread during the day.
5. SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei) to the Minister of Police: Has she seen any recent reports about levels of violent crime?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Police): The most recent report I have seen is the release of the police crime statistics yesterday that report on recorded offences. In the report, violence has eight categories ranging from minor assault to homicide. Nationwide, there has been an increase of 6.9 percent in violence over the last year. Violence has shown an increase this year, but that comes off the back of 2 years when it reduced. The level of public place violence has remained relatively static over the past 10 years. The increase in recorded violence has mostly been family violence.
Simon Power: How does she explain the statistics released yesterday, which show not only that violent crimes have increased by 16 percent since 2000, with serious assaults up by 17 percent and grievous assaults up by an astonishing 41 percent since 2000, but also that the increase in all of those crimes, in the last year alone, is the biggest jump in a single year since 2000; and why is violent crime getting worse under this Government rather than better?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I realise the member had a written supplementary question and therefore probably did not listen to my answer. I said to him that violence in public places has remained static for almost 10 years. The big increase in violence has been in domestic violence. The member is correct in saying that we have more reported domestic violence in New Zealand. That is good and it is bad. It is good that domestic violence is reported, and people are encouraged to report it. It is bad that we do have a problem of domestic violence in this country. That requires a response from more than just the police: from us as a community, also.
Martin Gallagher: Further to the Minister’s previous answer, why precisely is more family violence now being reported?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I think family violence is being reported more often because people feel more confident to come forward and report it. I think it is important to look at what the police, as one of the agencies involved, are doing in terms of domestic violence. The press release from Counties-Manukau, which has seen one of the biggest rises in domestic violence, states that the things being done there include putting in place five family violence coordinators and a domestic violence response service. The police there are concentrating on repeat domestic violent offenders, because those are the people who are likely to go on and commit further offences, leading, in some cases, to the murder of their victims.
Simon Power: Can she confirm that, in addition to an increase in violent crime, the 11.8 percent increase in crime in Counties-Manukau and 8.1 percent increase in Waikato can be attributed largely to an increase in burglaries and theft committed by young offenders, according to acting Police Commissioner Stephen Long; if so, does that not make a mockery of the Government’s pledge card promise made in 1999 to “crack down on burglary and youth crime”?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The member might like to quote figures selectively from two areas, but I say to him that recorded crime is still 21 percent lower than it was at its peak in 1996. I will stand on the record of this Government, compared with that of the previous National Government, any day of the week. That Government was busy removing over 500 police staff at the time it left office.
Simon Power: Does she agree with the new Commissioner of Police, Howard Broad, who acknowledged on National Radio this morning that not enough police resources have been put into combating gangs and that filling the 1,000 new police places over 3 years that the Government has promised New Zealand First will “test us”; if not, why not?
Hon ANNETTE KING: First of all, I would like to congratulate the new Commissioner of Police, Howard Broad. That is a very good appointment. He is a person who knows the Auckland crime scene extremely well. I agree with Police Commissioner Broad that recruiting 1,000 additional police will test us, but we are putting in the effort and, in fact, we will train an additional 400 this year. Would the member not prefer to be in a Government that is putting an extra 1,000 sworn police in rather than in a Government that was busy taking 500 police officers out, in order to meet Bill Birch’s requirement to bring the cost down because of the INCIS blowout?
Ron Mark: Does the Minister believe that the supply and confidence agreement between New Zealand First and the Government, which provides for an increase of 1,000 front-line police officers plus an increase of up to around 250 non-sworn staff—a record increase in the front-line establishment of some 12.5 percent over 3 years—may go some way towards settling some of these problems?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, I do, and I think it is important to share with the House the fact that the deployment of that additional resource will go first of all to the places that need it the most, so we can tackle those issues. I thank the New Zealand First members for the very constructive way they have worked with us. They are not into carping, whingeing, and grizzling, which is all we get from the National Party members, who did not put a statement out last year congratulating the Government when the crime statistics went down. It is all one way with them—they will moan, grizzle, and whinge.
Chester Borrows: Is the Minister at all concerned about the fact that murders have increased by 30 percent and sex crimes have increased by 6 percent in the last year, and has she confronted the Minister of Corrections as to why his rehabilitation programmes are not helping to reduce violent crime and may, in some cases, be making prisoners more likely to reoffend if they do them?
Hon ANNETTE KING: As a former police officer, Mr Borrows will know that the level of murders in New Zealand has remained pretty static over a long period of time. Sometimes it goes up, and sometimes it goes down. [Interruption]
Madam SPEAKER: Would the Minister please start again. I could not hear the response.
Hon ANNETTE KING: I am very happy to start again. As a former police officer, the member will know that the level of murders in New Zealand has remained fairly static for quite a long period of time, and to the member’s credit—unlike the members on National’s front bench—he is nodding and agreeing with me. The figures go up, and the figures go down. Unfortunately, in the member’s own area there have been a number of murders this year, which has put a lot of stress on the Central Police District. But I am sure he was delighted to read that in the Wanganui area there has been a reduction in total crime of 4.5 percent.
Simon Power: What does she say to people who live in Perth Street in Ôtara, where a lack of police resources has meant that in the last few weeks one resident has died from a fight that police were called to twice, before arriving after an ambulance had already left with the victim, and where another resident took a baseball bat to a drug buyer’s car in frustration after weeks of calls to the police about a tinny house had not been acted upon?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I can say to people in Ôtara and in other parts of New Zealand that we can always do better. The police can always do better, and they are committed to doing that. If the member had listened to all commissioner Broad’s comments today, he would know that the commissioner is committed to doing better—and so is this Government, with the extra resources that are going into policing in New Zealand.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the published record of murders in New Zealand in 1996, and then the comparative figures for 1997 and 1998, which show a dramatic drop during the brief time when New Zealand First was in Government and then the resumption of an increase in 1999, when National was back in power by itself.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Marine Farming—Aquaculture Legislation
6. TARIANA TURIA (Co-Leader—Mâori Party) to the Minister of Fisheries: Does he agree with Northland oyster farmer and Ngâti Kurî and Ngâi Takoto chief executive, Ben Waitai, that in respect of the allocation of marine-farming space, this Government “worries about tax evasion—this is Treaty evasion”, and what will he be doing to respond to the claims that the Government's aquaculture legislation is unworkable?
Hon JIM ANDERTON (Minister of Fisheries): No, I do not agree in total with that statement. Of course, the Government worries about tax evasion, because it is theft. The Government also would see it as a worry if there were evasion of legitimate treaty agreements. The Government does not agree that the aquaculture legislation is unworkable. There are, of course, some implementation issues that central government councils and industry are working through, and that will take time, but I am confident that we can achieve good objectives.
Tariana Turia: Does the Minister agree that the Government is evading its responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi; if not, why not?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: No, I do not. Those agreements and policy objectives have to be realised by 2014. If members just have some patience and do not panic, they will see that this Government will achieve its objectives.
Russell Fairbrother: Is the Minister concerned that no aquaculture management areas have yet been promulgated since the aquaculture reforms were legislated?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: A central objective of the aquaculture reforms was to devolve planning for aquaculture to local communities to manage themselves through local authorities under the Resource Management Act. It is interesting to note for the House that that process was supported by both the aquaculture industry and local government. Personally, I tend to favour more support through central government. So the moral is: “Don’t ask for what you want; you might get it.”
Phil Heatley: Will the Government come clean and admit that—just as Dover Samuels said—the aquaculture legislation is seriously flawed, that Mâori have been duped into thinking they would get 20 percent of space as a quid pro quo for the seabed, that local iwi are now fighting Sealord’s, owned by Mâori, in Golden Bay and Tasman Bay, and that affected quota holders will now not get a say on aquaculture in Golden Bay or Tasman Bay, or can the Minister explain away Judge Kenderdine’s ruling last month?
Madam SPEAKER: I just caution. I have a feeling this matter is one that is still before the court.
Phil Heatley: No.
Madam SPEAKER: It is not an interim decision—it is not still there?
Phil Heatley: No.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I am aware of the recent interim decision by the Environment Court in Tasman that has led to the comments from Mr Waitai. Officials from the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Fisheries are analysing the interim decision and will be reporting to the Minister for the Environment and myself shortly on the nature of that decision, the implications for the Mâori aquaculture settlement and the wider aquacultural reforms, and the steps necessary to address any difficulties that arise. I can assure the House that this Government will be working to ensure that the integrity of the aquacultural settlement with Mâori is maintained.
Te Ururoa Flavell: Ka whakaae te Minita inâianei me aro ia ki ngâ tohutohu a te tangata whenua kei roto i tôna uepû, arâ, ko ngâ kôrero a Dover Samuels nâna i kî nei, kei te “kaha hôhâ” te iwi Mâori kei te takutai moana e noho ana nâ te mea, kâore he painga i roto i ngâ ture mahi kai moana?
[An interpretation in English was given to the House.]
[Will the Minister now acknowledge that he should take heed of indigenous advice from within his own caucus, particularly that of the Hon. Dover Samuels, who reported “huge frustration” among coastal Mâori over the unworkability of the aquaculture legislation?]
Hon JIM ANDERTON: The indigenous advice within my caucus would be me talking to myself. [Interruption] I doubt whether the National Party would know what “indigenous advice” is. But in terms of the Government’s position, the Government will ensure that the integrity of agreements entered into with the tangata whenua of New Zealand, in terms of aquacultural resource, is honoured.
Phil Heatley: How will the Government meet the 20 percent obligation, of its own making, if firstly, no marine farmers are selling established space to it to use for the settlement; or secondly, no new space is being created that the Government can skim off 20 percent for the settlement; or thirdly, has the Minister accepted that a big $250 million cheque will have to be written to Mâori in 2014 in lieu of the 20 percent?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I do not accept that a cheque for $250 million will have to be written out. I assure the House again that there are 8 years to go before this matter reaches a conclusion. It will be 8 years of a Labour-led Government in this House, and the National Party will not have to worry about the solutions. We will fix it ourselves.
Tariana Turia: How will he respond to the interim Environment Court decision, which suggested that iwi may be at the back of the queue in the allocation of aquaculture space in the coastal marine area, and is this another example of what the United Nations special rapporteur’s report found, that the inherent rights of Mâori were not constitutionally recognised?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I do not want to make a direct comment on decisions of the Environment Court at this point; suffice it to say that, as I said earlier, the Minister for the Environment and myself will receive advice from Crown Law and from our own ministries and we will consider what actions need to be taken to honour the agreements we have made with Mâori.
Phil Heatley: I seek leave to table the interim decision showing that the law does pit Mâori against Mâori when it comes to the 20 percent settlement.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Phil Heatley: I seek leave to table section 22, the Crown’s obligations under the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Finance, Minister—Revenue, Minister
7. JOHN KEY (National—Helensville) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement to the Finance and Expenditure Committee, in relation to comments previously made by the Minister of Revenue, that “… I’m the person responsible for either having or filling fiscal holes. In the end, that buck stops literally right here.”; if so, why?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): Yes; because I try to be helpful to select committees.
John Key: Why is the Minister hiding from the country the most simple of facts—whether the business tax review is revenue neutral—when, after all, he is happy to tell us that the fiscal buck stops with him and only with him, and when he must surely know that a tax review that is revenue neutral has vastly different implications from one that is not?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Minister of Revenue and I are working on a range of options, some of which may and some of which may not be revenue neutral.
John Key: Does the Minister agree with the comments of the Minister of Revenue with regard to the business tax review that he is not interested in a smoke and mirrors game, that it is not a matter of rearranging the deckchairs, that he is not only interested in a regime that lowers costs for business, and that it is very difficult to make a real difference without having some fairly sizable numbers attached; and does he think these comments imply significant fiscal costs arising from the review?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: As I said, the Minister of Revenue and I are working on a range of options, some of which may and some of which may not be revenue neutral.
Chris Tremain: What is so secret about the business tax review that, despite its being the biggest review of taxation since 2001, the terms of reference have never been released, the only paper on the scope of the review has been withheld under the Official Information Act—it began in secret—and only very sketchy details about what the review is actually doing have been announced?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Nothing. It is the nature of the review that when we release a discussion document, the discussion document will contain the material the member seeks.
John Key: Should any of us be surprised by the fact that the Government has not worked out even simple details like the fiscal implications of the business tax review, when the Prime Minister does not even know whether the Minister will be reading the Budget in 2007?
Madam SPEAKER: Order! We all want to hear the answer, please, so keep the level of barracking down.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Prime Minister is very clear that I will be reading the Budget in 2007; the question is whether by then the member will have achieved his ambition and be sitting in Dr Brash’s seat as opposed to his present one.
Shane Jones: Has the Minister seen any international reports comparing the way revenue is collected to meet fiscal needs in New Zealand and in other OECD countries?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes. Last week the OECD released a report showing that New Zealand has the third-lowest tax wedge in the OECD for the average worker, and that income taxes are significantly higher, on average, in the OECD than in New Zealand.
John Key: Has the Minister seen today’s report that one of New Zealand’s premier companies, Fletcher Building, is considering joining a long list of New Zealand companies that have relocated their head offices to Australia, and does this concern him; if so, why does he not think it important enough to rush along his business tax review, to do something about just that situation?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am advised that Fletcher Building has denied that report. Indeed, the chief executive of Fletcher Building has been prominent in the debate in the last year or two, rejecting the bumper sticker slogans coming from the National Party.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: On the question of the collection of revenue, for which the Minister is responsible in terms of the policy—[Interruption]—you wouldn’t know, Gerry, would you?
Madam SPEAKER: Just ask the question. [Interruption] I know there was an interjection.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I want to apologise to the member. I was not laughing at him, but I am not surprised he is sensitive.
Madam SPEAKER: That is not an apology.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The member has compounded his error now with his smart-aleck so-called apology. I ask you to ask the member to get up and apologise without any constraint as to what the apology means.
Madam SPEAKER: There was an interjection. Would the member please withdraw and apologise without any other comment, so that we can proceed.
Gerry Brownlee: I most certainly will not.
Madam SPEAKER: Everyone is on a last warning. When an interjection is made while a question is being asked, that member is normally removed from the House. I now put everyone on a last warning.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Am I going to get an apology for Mr Brownlee’s remarks in respect of that so-called apology? He offended against the rule about not making any comment during the asking of a question. He has been on notice about that before. Then he compounded it with a so-called apology, which was not an apology at all. I am asking to be treated in the same way as the rest of us, and for him, regardless of his supposedly temporary position, to be told to apologise and withdraw.
Madam SPEAKER: I would ask the member to withdraw and apologise, please, without comment. [Interruption] You are not doing so? Right.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I think we are in grave difficulty, because Mr Brownlee has told the House that all he did was smile. [Interruption] Laugh. Mr Peters can hardly take objection to that; we would have to withdraw and apology every time someone laughs in the House. That would become ridiculous, because the entire Opposition would be apologising right through question time.
Madam SPEAKER: Mr Brownlee said he laughed. I thought I heard an interjection; the laughter was extraordinarily loud if it actually got to that level. I want you all please to just settle. You are all on your last warning. You can be capable of being misinterpreted, if there are any loud interjections when members are asking questions. So, please, can we proceed, with Mr Peters just asking his question at this point.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. When you ask a member to apologise, he does; he does not refuse, in the way that Mr Brownlee just did. You asked him whether he was going to apologise, and he said “No”. If the answer is no, then he is out of the House.
Madam SPEAKER: Yes, there was an interjection. I have tried, in fact, to be reasonable on this. Mr Brownlee, will you please apologise so that we can proceed.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. You actually have not established that it was Mr Brownlee who interjected. In fact, what you are insisting on is that Mr Brownlee apologise for laughing, and I say it is a pretty dark day in the House if that is cause for an apology. I think you might have the wrong person.
Madam SPEAKER: Would the member please be seated. He is only repeating himself, and there is also a ruling about not making persistent points of order. Whether or not it was laughter, I heard it as an interjection. In order to try to progress the business of the House, it seemed easier just to ask the member to apologise, rather than remove him, because I had not given the final warning for the day. He is refusing to apologise. I will ask him one more time. Would the member please apologise.
Gerry Brownlee: I apologise. I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. What have I just apologised for?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Madam Speaker, with respect, that also is a challenge to you. He was told—and he admitted it initially—that he was being asked to apologise for laughing in such a raucous manner that question time could not happen. That is clearly in the Hansard. He compounded that by making some smart-alec comment for which he was asked to apologise again. Then he refused twice to do so, and now, when he has finally apologised, he has challenged your authority by saying, in short, that you have made a ruling that is meaningless. He has interrupted question time. That is what he has been ordered to apologise for, and it is as clear as daylight.
Madam SPEAKER: I have ruled on this matter, and I rule that we now move on, please.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: On the question of filling fiscal holes, what reports has the Minister seen that would make that extraordinarily difficult, should there be a borrowing programme of the type envisaged in the last election campaign, where tax cuts were a central issue?
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. How can the Minister of Finance be required to answer that, and stay within the bounds of the ruling that you gave to the House just last week? What you made clear is that a Minister can answer questions if they relate to the Minister’s portfolio. National’s election pledges—advertised by us at our own expense, I might add—have nothing to do with Michael Cullen.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: The facts are these. This question has been asked in various forms for many, many months. It was the subject of questions before the election campaign and substantially after it. To try to say this is a question without precedence is a nonsense. The National Party should get somebody who knows the Standing Orders to run its procedure in relation to order in the House.
Gerry Brownlee: We are not at all arguing that there is a problem with questions asked in the past; I asked how this fits in with your new rulings, which, presumably, applied from the day you gave them last week.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Speaking to the point of order, as Minister of Finance I am responsible for consideration of all suggestions about changes to fiscal settings, whether in terms of revenue expenditure, borrowing, or whatever else, and what the implications of those may be for New Zealand.
Madam SPEAKER: Would the Minister please address the question.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have seen suggestions that the Government should borrow money in order to pay for tax cuts. That will lead to rising debt, and is quite different from any suggestions around borrowing to pay for capital expenditure. Indeed, the National Party itself costed the increased borrowing at $3.5 billion.
Research and Development—Government Investment
8. Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY (Labour) to the Minister of Research, Science and Technology: What reports, if any, has he received about Government investment in research and development?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Research, Science and Technology): I have received reports showing that the Government’s investment in research and development has increased by 56 percent since 1999 to $600 million a year in Vote Research, Science and Technology alone. The Government is also encouraging further public-private collaboration on research and development to assist the growth of New Zealand’s top exporting firms. An example of this is the programme I launched today called Express. This programme, which has received over $2 million through the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, will involve a number of leading information and communications technology industry partners including Telecom and a variety of universities in partnerships around information and communications technology, and looks forward to the next generation in information and communications technology networks.
Dr Ashraf Choudhary: What other investments is the Government making to accelerate New Zealand’s economic transformation through science?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Last week I announced a $10.6 million grant to Tait Electronics. This was the first grant under the Technology for Business Growth strategic initiative, which aims to support the growth of top export companies with a proven track record. This grant will help the company make the transition from analogue to digital radio technology and become a leader in this overseas market, which is estimated to be worth $2 billion and is supported by such outstanding Canterbury MPs as Ruth Dyson.
Hospital Price Index—Reports
9. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Health: How is the rate of inflation in hospital costs measured, and what reports has he received on the hospital price index over the past 12 months?
Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister of Health): It is calculated by studying the changing costs of a basket of health services across seven public hospitals, and the index has increased by 5.1 percent in the 12 months to December 2005.
Hon Tony Ryall: What funding increase will district health boards receive this financial year to meet these increased costs and the expected salary demands of other health professionals seeking relativity with the nurses’ pay jolt; or will we continue to have district health board after district health board come to Parliament and admit that under this Government patients have to be sicker and sicker to get an operation?
Hon PETE HODGSON: District health boards receive money from the Government through a variety of channels. A thing called a forward funding track comes in at a little under 3 percent. There is a demographic adjustment and an adjustment for specific services, such as health of older people. In recent times district health boards have been directly compensated for most of the increase in nurses’ pay. The member will be aware that this Government decided nurses should be paid what they deserve, and all but 2 percent, I think, of that was met by a special injection from the Government.
Ann Hartley: What reports has he received on the cost of delivering health services in New Zealand compared with other OECD nations?
Hon PETE HODGSON: I have received a report showing that New Zealand spends around a third of the amount of money per person on health that is spent in the United States. Interestingly, the same report shows that, on average, New Zealanders live longer than Americans. I am sure National will want to consider this information as it continues to advocate the Americanisation of our public health system.
Hon Tony Ryall: How will district health boards meet salary demands and hospital inflation of 5 percent, and maintain services, when the Government is proposing a forecast funding track increase in this year’s Budget of only 2.93 percent?
Hon PETE HODGSON: I tried to answer that member’s question in an earlier answer. I will try again. District health boards receive funding from Government through a variety of channels. One is through the future funding track, which comes in at a little under 3 percent. Another one is through demographics. Another one—
Hon Tony Ryall: How much?
Hon PETE HODGSON: It depends on the district health board, I say to the member. An amount of money is paid out for the health of older people services. Direct money is paid to compensate all but 2 percent of the increase that is payable to nurses, and on it goes. I am not saying for the moment that district health boards are overpaid. District health boards will have to move into a more and more cost-effective space. But I must say that the district health boards of this country are a whole lot better than Crown health enterprises, or whatever those things were called, under that member’s Government.
Dr Jackie Blue: What assurances has the Minister sought, when noting that laboratory services are included in the hospital price index, about the process being undertaken by the Wellington district health boards, which are currently considering tenders for laboratory services there, and its potential effect on the index?
Hon PETE HODGSON: I have received a number of reports around a number of laboratory tendering processes that have been undertaken by a number of district health boards. All of those seek to improve, or to further improve, the cost-effectiveness of our health system. I look forward to that member’s warm endorsement of that move.
Hon Tony Ryall: Can the Minister confirm that the Government has told district health boards that it will increase demographic funding in this year’s Budget by 1.48 percent, and will he also confirm that the Government has formally told district health boards that this money will be used to eliminate deficits rather than increase services?
Hon PETE HODGSON: The Government certainly does not tolerate the idea of deficits, and it is pleased to report that district health boards are moving progressively to eliminate deficits, and that a number of district health boards are now posting services—they are to be congratulated. The demographic money that the member refers to is actually used to transit towards a population-based funding formula over the next several years.
Working for Families Package—Targeting
10. HEATHER ROY (Deputy Leader—ACT) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Does he stand by his statement that “Labour is targeting tax credits where they are needed”, and does he believe a back-bench MP with five children and no earning spouse should be eligible to apply for extra welfare assistance because they need it?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Minister for Social Development and Employment): A hard-working Kiwi family with five children that earns $118,000, whether they be builders, tradespeople, nurses, teachers, or whatever, is entitled to at least $20 per week in tax credits under Working for Families. That should be compared with the much higher tax credit that is available to families with children on more modest incomes. Of course, it needs to be noted that that member’s tax policies would impoverish working families through cuts to basic social services like health and education, while giving her a personal tax break of over $220 per week.
Heather Roy: How can he possibly claim that the Working for Families package is the best way to help hard-working Kiwis, when they are taxed hard, have their money washed through the Inland Revenue Department and Work and Income, and then have to apply to get some back, when he should just let people keep more of what they earn in the first place?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I can do that easily. I am pleased to inform that member that even before the current roll-out, $196,500 families received assistance of, on average, $108 as the previous part of this package. The announcements on Saturday, we believe, will support a further 85,000 New Zealand families.
Georgina Beyer: What recent reports has he seen regarding the impact of the 1 April changes to Working for Families?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I have seen a report in the Dominion Post of 23 March, which was written by Charles Waldegrave, the joint leader of the New Zealand Poverty Measurement Project. He described Working for Families in the following way: “These are not welfare benefits. They represent a recognition by the Government that families with children have higher costs.” He goes on: “Tax cuts across the board would not invest in children in the same way. Furthermore, to the extent that they could help families, they would invest more in the children of the wealthy rather than those on low and middle incomes.”
John Key: Is it a good use of his parliamentary budget and time to spend his energy writing to a member of Parliament who is married to a partner in a law firm and who has only one child to encourage that member to seek assistance under Working for Families, when, by my calculations, that member is about 25 to 30 kids short of being eligible?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: One of the key differences between the Government and the Opposition is that this Government is keen to ensure that people get their entitlements. It is hard to get past the fact that the average Kiwi family would have been $70 a week worse off under a National Government.
Sue Bradford: Why is the Government so determined to continue with its discrimination against the children of beneficiaries by denying them, and only them, some of the benefits of the Working for Families package, while the package at the same time increases taxpayer assistance to middle and high-income families?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: As I have answered the question on at least previous two occasions, one of the first steps in the Working for Families package was an increase of an estimated $32 a week to the families of beneficiaries.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister believe that there is an inherent contradiction in the position espoused by the ACT party when on the one hand it denigrates as welfare tax reductions extended, with United Future support, to 196,500 working families but on the other hand it attempts to label the much smaller tax reductions it proposed for those families as some kind of low-tax heaven?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: I do feel rather constrained by the restrictions of acceptable parliamentary language in answering that question. But I do not think the irony escapes many people that someone complaining about a possible $20 entitlement would be prepared to take $92 or $220 under ACT policies.
Heather Roy: Were the Minister and his Government inspired by Robin Hood when they invented this scheme, and when did it become the policy of this socialist Labour Government to rob from the poor to give to the rich?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: For my answer I turn to the words of the Fe’ao family, with six children aged between 2 and 17, who were reported in the New Zealand Herald a couple of days ago. Their mother Sepi said she would use the extra money—around $400 a week—as follows: “They are going to have some fruit to take to school for their lunch. We can’t afford much fruit at the moment … They will be able to get good clothes and shoes. I have to look for second-hand shoes for them to wear to school, and the cheaper ones get broken more easily.”
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Has the Minister ever drawn to the ACT party’s attention the fact that the targeted support for families delivered through the family support mechanism was in fact introduced by Roger Douglas, the founder of the ACT party?
Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: No, but I am happy that the Minister has given me the opportunity do so. I would like to reinforce the fact that this sort of targeting is common practice and is the best way of delivering this sort of support right across the OECD.
John Key: I seek leave to table a letter addressed to Mr and Mrs Blumsky encouraging them to seek assistance from Working for Families, even though they are 30 kids short of the threshold.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Seeing as the Minister of Finance has put Roger Douglas’ name into the ring, I see leave to table the comments by the Hon Roger Douglas about his successor at the present time, Mr Hide, as an edification of the political process gone wrong.
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those comments. Is there any objection? There is.
Honey and Bee Products—Biosecurity Risk
11. SHANE ARDERN (National—Taranaki-King Country) to the Minister for Biosecurity: Can he assure New Zealand there will be no biosecurity risk as a result of a Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry proposal to allow honey and bee products into New Zealand?
Hon JIM ANDERTON (Minister for Biosecurity): The proposal, as the member suggests, does not become a decision until around the middle of the year, after the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has considered the proposed import health standards for honey from Australia and the Pacific Islands. Those standards are based on sound science, in accordance with our domestic legislation and international obligations. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry expects to make final decisions in June, as I said, following analysis of the submissions.
Shane Ardern: If the Minister cannot assure New Zealand there will be no risk—and it appears he cannot—then will Biosecurity New Zealand tell the honey producers, and also the rest of the farming and pastoral sector, why they should take that risk?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: Perhaps some of Mr Ardern’s senior and more knowledgable colleagues should advise him that the Act under which I am now acting and cannot intervene politically was passed in 1993 by the then National Government. If Mr Ardern is suggesting that National would politicise our biosecurity system and start to make decisions on biosecurity from a political standpoint, his knowledgable colleagues will tell him that National, if it ever does get into Government, would be before the World Trade Organization faster than it ever imagined would be possible.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Has the Minister received any indications of support from the Opposition spokesperson on trade, Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith, for the use of sanitary or phytosanitary barriers as trade barriers; if so, how has that member squared that with his opposition to the Australian use of such barriers in the case of apples?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: It is very instructive for this House to consider the case of Australia versus New Zealand regarding the import of apples. We in New Zealand believe that for an overwhelming amount of time—close to 100 years, now—the Australians have not been taking notice of evidence-based information in terms of apple imports. If we now start to do exactly the same thing as that, we will be as bad as the Australians—and that is something I do not want to have any part in, as far as this Government is concerned.
R Doug Woolerton: What will the importation of honey and bee products do for New Zealand’s balance of payments deficit?
Shane Ardern: Make it a lot sweeter.
Hon JIM ANDERTON: Ha, ha! At the present time, New Zealand exports about $30 million worth of honey. If we were to take the actions that Mr Ardern is suggesting and intervene politically in these matters, it would not be very long before New Zealand, which is the most export-dependent developed country in the world, faced barriers all over the world—and we depend on 95 percent of our agricultural produce for 65 percent of our entire foreign exchange earnings. That is about the most self-defeating piece of advice I have ever heard from any member of any Opposition.
Sue Kedgley: Is there any essential agricultural industry in New Zealand that the Government is not prepared to put at risk from imported diseases, in its craven attempt to satisfy the free-market ideology of the World Trade Organization; if so, which ones are they?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: When I said that New Zealand has an evidence and science-based biosecurity system, that is exactly what I meant. If there was evidence of a risk put before the Director-General of Agriculture and Forestry, or before responsible Ministers, then of course New Zealand would stop any imports. But if the evidence suggests there is no feasible or viable risk whatever, then we would be acting against all of the international agreements we have as a trading nation in protecting ourselves from any such imports.
Shane Ardern: When the Minister met with the industry group and the pan-industry group concerned with all agricultural sector industries, including viticulture and horticulture as well as the bee industry, what basis or science did he use to allay their fears that by allowing the import of honey, we would not at the same time import European foul brood—on what science basis did he make that decision?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: Yes, on a scientist’s basis. The independent group of scientists, from both New Zealand and overseas, who peer-reviewed this decision are all reputable scientists. They have all vouched for the fact that we have the most minimal amount of risk involved in it. And if Mr Ardern is suggesting, on behalf of National members, that National will change the Biosecurity Act of 1993 and make biosecurity decisions on a political basis, let him get up and say that now, and let the National Party acknowledge that. Then we will go into the next election with the agricultural community knowing full well what a danger to New Zealand’s trade the National Party really is.
Shane Ardern: Has the Minister assessed the likely cost of the importation of European foul brood to our bee industry, our viticultural industry, our horticultural industry, and our agricultural industry, or is this just another one of those examples of where, once it is in, Government members will say “That’s too bad; treat it with antibiotics.”, without worrying about the science that says it will come in?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: The scientific advice that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has in front of it, which I have seen as the responsible Minister, is that the heat-treating systems the honey is required to go through—that is, honey from Australia and the Pacific Islands only; those are the only sources being considered here, and not honey from elsewhere—reduces to millionths of a percentage point the chance of any kind of infestation of European foul brood. Let me remind the member for one second: the varroa bee mite did not come here by any decision of the Director-General of Agriculture and Forestry; it was brought in by somebody. We have an absolute prohibition on live bee imports, yet we ended up with the varroa bee mite. The member should contemplate that before he continues digging in the big hole he has now got himself into.
Information Technology—Government Promotion
12. MARYAN STREET (Labour) to the Minister for Information Technology: What feedback has he received on the Government’s promotion of information technology?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Minister for Information Technology): Last week New Zealand hosted the successful Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) conference, which was attended by over 750 international experts. New Zealand also chaired a parallel meeting of Pacific communications Ministers that decided to support a regional digital strategy, based on a Wellington declaration, which included investigation of joint purchasing of satellite bandwidth and a regional approach to anti-spam.
Maryan Street: What feedback has the Minister received on broadband uptake in New Zealand?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: During the Icann conference, I met with Dr Vint Cerf, the Chairman of Icann and well known as the father of the Internet. He told me that New Zealand’s broadband performance was far too low, and urged the Government to accelerate development in that area. The Government is currently undertaking a stocktake of the telecommunications regulatory environment. Announcements on the outcome of that process will be made by mid-year.
Hon Maurice Williamson: How confident is the Minister of reaching the targets set down in the Digital Strategy, which he released, of New Zealand being in the top half of the OECD for broadband uptake by next year, and in the top quartile for broadband uptake by the year 2010?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I have a high degree of confidence that measures being developed within the regulatory stocktake will improve New Zealand’s performance towards those goals.
Hon Maurice Williamson: My question was not about how much progress had been made towards those goals; I guess that if we made one position move, the Minister would claim progress. My question was simply this: how confident is he that we will meet those targets laid out in the Digital Strategy of our being in the top half of the OECD by next year— given that we are 22nd at present—and in the top quartile by 2010?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: It is very pleasing to have the Opposition’s support for the contention that we are 22nd out of 30, and that that is not good enough. This Government is determined to improve New Zealand’s broadband performance, and is moving expeditiously to that end.
Hon Maurice Williamson: How can the Minister claim that the Government is “moving expeditiously”, when the issue of broadband penetration has been an issue for debate ever since this Government came to power, it is now heading towards its 7th year in office, and the Prime Minister in the Prime Minister’s statement this year said that the Government is “looking into it”?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I would have thought it was in that member’s interest not to have that question answered, as he was the Minister who presided over 10 years of inaction, when his Government did nothing to improve the telecommunications environment—and he was famous for it.
Question No. 11 to Minister
SHANE ARDERN (National—Taranaki-King Country): Madam Speaker, I am sorry I did not do this at the end of question No. 11; you moved to question No. 12 very quickly. I seek leave of the House to table a petition from the bee industry to Parliament expressing the concerns that I mentioned earlier.
SHANE ARDERN (National—Taranaki-King Country): I seek leave of the House to table some documents from a pan-industry group, based on good science, showing why it would not be a good idea to allow honey imports into New Zealand.
SHANE ARDERN (National—Taranaki-King Country): I seek leave of the House to table a media report by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry officials stating that they are very concerned about the heat treatment process, and that they could not guarantee that it will have the success—
Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Any objection? Yes, there is objection.