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Questions And Answers - Tuesday, 1 August 2006

Questions And Answers - Tuesday, 1 August 2006

Questions to Ministers

School Curriculum—Government Policy

1. MOANA MACKEY (Labour) to the Minister of Education: What is the Government doing to ensure all schools are providing students with the knowledge, values, and competencies they need to succeed in a 21st century economy?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Education): Yesterday the Labour-led Government launched a draft curriculum for New Zealand’s schools, which is in my hand. The document, which was warmly welcomed by the education sector, provides a clear and simple statement of what is required of students in the 21st century. The new curriculum will ensure that the diverse range of students in New Zealand classrooms have the opportunities they need to achieve their full potential. Over the next few months there will be an opportunity for all New Zealanders to debate and discuss this important document. I hope they will take the chance to do exactly that.

Moana Mackey: What is the Government doing to ensure that students are able to speak a wider variety of languages that better reflect the growing diversity of New Zealand’s communities?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: There are a number of new features to the curriculum, but one of the things that has attracted the attention of many people is the focus on languages. The new draft curriculum will ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn a second language from year 7. To support schools in delivering this, the Government has provided funding of more than $20.4 million since 2000. As a result, 42 percent of primary schools, 64 percent of intermediates, and 96 percent of secondary schools now offer teaching of other languages. The Government intends to lift this further so that every New Zealand child has a chance to learn another language.

Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that one of the values Labour wants taught in schools is integrity, and does he believe that his Prime Minister’s handling of Phillip Field’s actions amounts to an example of integrity to New Zealand children?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, I am aware that integrity is one of the values in the system, and yes to the second question.

Metiria Turei: What importance does the new curriculum place on teaching children to look after our country’s unique environment and native ecosystems, and what is the Government doing to promote environmental education in schools?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: “Sustainability” is identified as a significant theme in the draft curriculum. It focuses on the long-term impact of social, scientific, and technological practices. Schools are encouraged to develop learning opportunities for their students around this theme. In addition, in this year’s Budget I was pleased to announce $13 million over 4 years for environmental education support for schools. The increase in support for this initiative is the result of the Green Party and Labour agreement that was negotiated after the 2005 election. I thank the Greens for their insight in this area.

Hon Brian Donnelly: Does the Minister really believe that half an hour a week of second or third language learning for years 7 to 10 is really going to make New Zealand a multilingual nation, or does he believe more time will need to be given; if so, what learning goes?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I think the member is right that if we are going to achieve the kind of outcomes we want for a multilingual society, it may be necessary to have longer periods of time. One of the real strengths of this curriculum, of course, is that, unlike the previous seven-volume curriculum, which had a whole range of things the teacher had to do in the classroom, there are opportunities for teachers to move across subject areas as they teach a student what that student wants to know. That will allow them to include such things as language in the science curriculum, in technology, and in other subjects as well, which will increase the facility that students have in that area.

Hon Brian Donnelly: Does the Minister not believe that a student’s competence in English should be the main priority in a school languages curriculum, and why has he signalled that ensuring migrants can maintain their languages is a priority, when New Zealand Qualifications Authority figures show nearly 30 percent of enrolled level 1 National Certificate of Educational Achievement pupils did not achieve the minimum literacy standard last year?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The member will know that there are official languages in this country—English being one of them. That is why all New Zealanders have to learn it, that is why it is one of the key subject areas here, and that is why it is given prominence, but, as the member himself has raised, there are now large communities of people in New Zealand who will want to maintain their language. Of course, that will serve this country extremely well in the 21st century as we relate to countries like China, India, and others.

Moana Mackey: What responses has he seen from the education sector on the draft curriculum?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I have seen, for example, a response from Irene Cooper of the New Zealand Educational Institute who said: “This is a very straightforward document.” In addition to the New Zealand Educational Institute’s thumbs up, as it has called it, Pat Newman from the New Zealand Principals Federation gave it a 9½ out of 10. Reducing the seven curriculum documents down to one has led Debbie Te Whaiti from the Post Primary Teachers Association to say: “It will make classrooms a more enjoyable learning place for students and their families and teachers.” I hope that, therefore, all people make a submission, and that people such as National Party members can stop whining about the education system for a while. They could, perhaps, make a submission.

Ingram Report—Further Investigations

2. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she have any plans to further investigate the matters that Dr Noel Ingram QC was unable to resolve in his report; if not, why not?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): No. More than enough money has been spent—a view Dr Brash would normally endorse.

Dr Don Brash: Does she agree with the statement made yesterday by her former adviser and biographer, Dr Brian Edwards: “The Taito Phillip Field thing stinks. It really stinks. I hope I don’t lose any clients over making that comment.”; if so, will she support a select committee inquiry in order to restore some semblance of faith in the institution of Parliament?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Dr Brash, of course, blocked Mr Field giving a statement to the House in which he expressed his regret for what had happened. I am sure that no matter how hard up Dr Edwards is, he will not be taking on Dr Brash, because he cannot be helped.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Is the Prime Minister aware that that member and his colleagues have just refused to give leave for the House to express its concern at the findings of the Ingram report, and to reaffirm its commitment to the principle of not accepting any consideration from constituents on whose behalf members advocate; and given the refusal of the National Party to allow the House to express its view on these matters, or, in fact, to allow Mr Field to make a statement and perhaps accept some responsibility for what he has done, what further purpose does she think would be achieved by a further inquiry?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Yes, I do—

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I would ask you to think carefully about that question. This is an issue that, clearly, has people well exercised on their various party lines. Quite clearly, the dead hand of Michael Cullen was all over the motion that the Greens sought leave to move in the House today. The other question, of course, is why a member would want to make a personal explanation when, apparently, he has done nothing wrong—because there has been no investigation. I ask you, Madam Speaker, what possible authority or responsibility the Prime Minister can have for the National Party’s decision to avoid being complicit in these cover-ups.

Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member for his comments. Looking at the question, I see that it is a broad one. The Prime Minister does have responsibility for matters that are raised, so I ask the Prime Minister to address the question.

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Indeed, I understand that the National Party did block that motion. I further understand that Dr Brash told the leader of the Green Party he would support it, and was overruled by Mr Brownlee. Who is the leader of the National Party?

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I never knew I was that good! Now that the Labour members have released all the pent-up tension they must be feeling from the pressure they are getting for the corrupt behaviour of Mr Field, I ask whether there has ever been a clearer demonstration that the Greens are in the pocket of the Labour Party than that particular little revelation from the Prime Minister.

Madam SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. I ask the right honourable Prime Minister to address the question, please.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I take offence at the view of Gerry Brownlee that anybody else would have written my motion. I wrote every word of it myself last night and this morning.

Madam SPEAKER: No. Has the right honourable Prime Minister finished addressing the question? She has.

Dr Don Brash: Why is the Prime Minister so opposed to any further inquiry; is it because any further inquiry will make Mr Field’s continued presence in this Parliament untenable, or is it because she is protecting three other Labour members of this House whose actions in the Field affair are yet to be accounted for?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, it is for neither of the above. It is because—[Interruption] I would like to address the member’s question. The reason for not wanting a further inquiry is that the member has had his punishment and is no longer a Minister. The member has suffered humiliation as a result of the report. The member has accepted that he needs to change the way he works as a member of Parliament. Further, the member wished to apologise to Parliament today, and that was blocked by the National Party.

Darien Fenton: Can the Prime Minister confirm that the Minimum Wage and Remuneration Amendment Bill, currently in my name on the Order Paper, would address some of the issues raised in the Ingram report; and has she seen any reports on reactions of others to the bill?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I can indeed confirm that the member’s bill would address the issue of minimum rates of pay for contracts of service. I understand that the National Party is not prepared to support it, which raises the question of whether its members are genuine at all in their pursuit of this issue—I suspect not.

Madam SPEAKER: Can I just note that those members at the back who are winding up the barracking by waving their arms may not be with us for too much longer in question time. So I give you a warning.

Heather Roy: In light of the Prime Minister’s answer to the primary question, is she aware of any further allegations swirling around Taito Phillip Field’s receiving financial considerations in return for political favours that were not covered in the Ingram report; and are those swirling allegations not the real reason that Mr Field has not been returned to his ministerial portfolio?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No and no.

Dr Don Brash: Why, when Dr Ingram has stated: “If the allegations in relation to further Thai labour on Mr Field’s house in Samoa are to be resolved, it would be necessary for an authority with appropriate powers of investigation to inquire further.”, does she continue to refuse to allow any investigation that would resolve these issues and clear the name of this Parliament?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The member is well aware of Dr Ingram’s view expressed in the report that having further powers of inquiry would not necessarily get to the truth of the matter. I further note that it is a bit rich for Dr Brash to be worrying about what the workers were paid, when he does not support having a minimum wage, minimum statutory holidays, paid parental leave, or any protection for workers. There is one word for that and it starts with “h”.

Dr Don Brash: Does the Prime Minister accept that the public are entitled to know the truth about the very serious allegations levelled against Taito Phillip Field; if so, why is she determined to deny the public the chance to get to the bottom of the matter?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: If the member had taken the time to read the report as thoroughly as I have, he would have found out everything he wanted and needed to know about the matter.

Dr Don Brash: Can the Prime Minister confirm her earlier statement that the Ingram report demonstrated a need to change the practice of lafo involving members of Parliament, and can she tell the House what instructions she has issued to date as a consequence?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The Ingram report suggested that the Prime Minister might like to get further guidance from the Cabinet Office on the practice of lafo. I have asked for precisely such guidance.

School Curriculum—Te Ao Māori

3. TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) to the Associate Minister of Education: Will students who do not identify as Māori, have an opportunity to experience a curriculum that reflects and values Te Ao Māori; if so, how will this be done?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA (Associate Minister of Education): The draft New Zealand curriculum proposes that all students experience a curriculum that reflects New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and its multicultural society. Each school will do this when that school uses the curriculum to design and implement programmes that meet the needs and interests of its particular students and community.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Does the publication of the new draft curriculum pre-empt discussions at the select committee about the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi Deletion Bill, given that any reference to Te Tiriti o Waitangi has already been removed from the draft?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: What it does do is enhance the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and it ensures, through the actions in the schools and through the support of this Government for Māori language, that they will be there for a long, long time.

Hon Marian Hobbs: What is the Government currently doing to support te reo Māori in New Zealand schools?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: The Labour-led Government is committed to supporting a range of te reo Māori learning. This includes the provision of funding to support teaching in Māori immersion for Māori medium resources, to support teaching of Māori in mainstream settings, and to develop a Māori language education outcomes framework.

Gerry Brownlee: What are the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi enhanced in this curriculum programme?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: Participation.

Dr Pita Sharples: Tēnā koe, Madam Speaker. Tēnā tātou katoa i te Whare. Why is it no longer an essential principle of the New Zealand curriculum that the New Zealand curriculum recognises the significance of Te Tiriti o Waitangi?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: It certainly does so in its actions.

Te Ururoa Flavell: What is the reason for removing the values of tolerance, caring, compassion, non-sexism, and non-racism; or has Labour done a deal with National to uphold and implement its PC eradication policy?

Hon PAREKURA HOROMIA: I would have thought very seriously that that party would be right behind this Labour-led Government in supporting our involvement in education. There are now eight learning areas. There were seven. The new learning area is learning languages.

Dr Pita Sharples: I seek leave to table the principles of the New Zealand Curriculum Framework of 1993, which state that the New Zealand curriculum recognises the significance of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Leave granted.

Te Ururoa Flavell: I seek leave to table the section on attitudes and values in the New Zealand Curriculum Framework, 1993.

Leave granted.

Ingram Report—Ministerial Discretion

4. Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Immigration: Does he have confidence that ministerial discretion was exercised properly in the cases of Ms Ngaosri, Mr Nakhen and Mr Kaewbabpha?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Minister of Immigration): Yes. The Ingram inquiry found no evidence to suggest that ministerial discretion was not exercised properly or lawfully.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Was Ms Ngaosri an illegal overstayer who had been declined a permit to be in New Zealand in August 2001, who was twice declined refugee status in 2002 and 2003, and to whom Taito Phillip Field successfully convinced the Associate Minister to grant a 12-month work permit in May 2005, and is she the same person the Ingram report reveals the police allege went to Samoa early the next month, in June 2005, to work on Mr Field’s house yet refused to cooperate with the Ingram inquiry; if so, was the ministerial discretion appropriate in that case?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: As the member himself has pointed out, the apparent trip of Ms Ngaosri to Samoa succeeded, not preceded, the ministerial decision.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Was Mr Nakhen an illegal overstayer who was four times declined refugee status and for whom Taito Phillip Field, in October 2004, reached an understanding with the Associate Minister of Immigration for the granting of a work visa in February 2005, and is he the same Mr Nakhen who the police allege, according to the Ingram report, travelled to Samoa in May 2005 to do gib-stopping work on Mr Field’s house in Samoa and also refused to cooperate with the Ingram inquiry; if so, was the ministerial discretion appropriate in that person’s case?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: As I recall, the Ingram inquiry could make no finding as to the nature of that gentleman’s activities in Samoa. However, it is clear that his travel to Samoa was almost a year after Mr O’Connor’s consideration of his case.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Was Mr Kaewbabpha an illegal overstayer who was granted a special ministerial direction for a 6-month work permit by the Associate Minister in September 2003 following representations by Taito Phillip Field, was again granted a 3-month work permit in June 2004 on Mr Field’s representations, and was later granted a 1-year work permit under special direction by the Associate Minister in August 2004, and did Taito Phillip Field inform the Minister, when supporting Mr Kaewbabpha’s application for a long-term business permit in September 2005, that Mr Kaewbabpha had worked on Mr Field’s house in Samoa during May 2005?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I am not aware of any confirmed advice that indicates Mr Kaewbabpha was known to have worked on Mr Field’s house when Mr O’Connor made his decisions.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: When did Taito Phillip Field reveal to the Minister that Mr Kaewbabpha, an illegal overstayer for whom Mr Field made representations to the Associate Minister on 10 September 2003, 14 October 2003, 12 May 2004, 3 August 2004, and 1 September 2005, had travelled to Samoa and worked on a house belonging to Taito Phillip Field in May 2005, and was ministerial discretion exercised appropriately in that case?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: What is not in question is that Mr Field’s representations on behalf of his client were persistent and extended. Further, the Prime Minister has already said that she considers an error of judgment to have occurred on the part of Mr Field. That is not at issue. What is at issue is whether discretion was properly exercised. There is no evidence that it was not.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Does the Minister have any concerns that the repeated issuing of ministerial special directions for visas or permits for illegal overstayers may encourage those wanting to live and work in New Zealand to stay here illegally, and how many of the 262 special directions made by the Associate Minister in response to the 438 representations by Taito Phillip Field between January 2003 and September 2005 involved illegal overstayers?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The Department of Labour remains vigilant as to the activities and presence of illegal overstayers, and that practice will continue.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: I seek leave to table for the House the text of the motion that leave was refused for me to move earlier in the sitting day.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Defence Force—Helicopters

5. DIANNE YATES (Labour) to the Minister of Defence: What new capabilities will the NH90 helicopters, which the Government signed a contract to purchase yesterday, bring to the New Zealand Defence Force?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Defence): The NH90 medium-utility helicopter is state-of-the-art technology. Compared with the current Iroquois, the new NH90 carries more than twice the number of troops, is a third faster, has a range four times as great, and can lift nearly five times the weight. It will be an integral part of a new modernised and highly mobile defence force, which this Labour-led Government has rebuilt after the 9 years of neglect and the more than one-third cut in real expenditure by National, which only pretends to believe in defence.

Dianne Yates: What advantages does the NH90 have with respect to the work it will undertake in New Zealand and the Pacific?

Hon PHIL GOFF: At home, as well as the much greater versatility it brings for military deployment, police deployment, and counter-terrorism operations the NH90 offers huge advantages in civil defence, search and rescue, and border-control work. The NH90 has far greater reach; for example, it can travel out 800 kilometres, compared with the Iroquoi’s 180 kilometres. It can operate for extended periods—

Hon David Carter: How about Samoa?

Hon PHIL GOFF: David Carter obviously does not like this. His Government did absolutely nothing for defence. The NH90 can work equally well in the day or at night, and it can work in all weathers. It can carry much greater loads; for example, in the event of a cyclone in the Pacific, where there are no port facilities and where there is a coral reef, the NH90 can lift the Pinzgauer vehicle off the deck of the multi-role vessel and on to the island. The other advantage is that this aircraft can self-deploy to the Pacific. It does not need a C130 to carry it, or, for that matter, a multi-role vessel.

Hon Marian Hobbs: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. In that last answer, my colleague Tau Henare did a non-stop commentary right the way through. This happens time and again, and I cannot hear what is being said.

Madam SPEAKER: I agree with the member. In fact, I am tempted to ask the Minister to repeat his answer but it was excessively long. The Hon Tau Henare is known for his contributions during the debates so I ask him to lower his tone—that would be appreciated—so the rest of us could hear the debates.

Dianne Yates: Was there a delay in contracting to buy the NH90s; and if so, why?

Hon PHIL GOFF: No, contrary to the assertions of the National spokesman, this purchase actually completes the last of eight core capabilities deemed necessary to avoid policy failure after National cut defence spending by more than a third. Those eight core purchases have been completed in 5 years, less than half the term of the 10-year long-term development plan. If the National Party has so much to say, perhaps its members would have the courage to ask a question.

Madam SPEAKER: That is out of order. Would the member please withdraw the last statement.

Hon PHIL GOFF: I withdraw, Madam Speaker.

Ron Mark: Has the Minister received any criticisms on the NH90 purchase about cost blowouts and inappropriate spending; and what comments would he have in reply to those criticisms from Mr McCully of the National Party?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I would say that anyone, and I am talking about Murray McCully, who was responsible for purchasing such an appalling choice of sealift ship as the HMNZS Charles Upham—a ship that National spent $38 million on and sold for $8 million, and was never used because the planning that went into that was so incompetent—has no right to criticise anybody else at all about incompetence.

Hon Tau Henare: I seek leave of the House to table the report whereby the defence spokesperson for New Zealand First, Ron Mark, supported the purchase of HMNZS Charles Upham.

Leave granted.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. [Interruption]

Madam SPEAKER: I just remind members that the ruling on questions does not apply to interruptions during points of order.

Ron Mark: I seek a bit of guidance. If Mr Henare is unable to table a document that proves what he has just told the House, what recourse is there for a member of the House?

Madam SPEAKER: No member has actually to table the document, as members know.

Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Can I ask whether Mr Henare has tabled that document?

Madam SPEAKER: No, you cannot ask that question.

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

Madam SPEAKER: I remind members that points of order are heard in silence.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I think it is inevitable as a consequence of your ruling that standards in the House will deteriorate, but the hand-sign I just saw from Ron Mark was grossly offensive, and I think it is something that you, as Speaker, should not allow within the House. Otherwise we truly are going to turn this into a crude Chamber.

Madam SPEAKER: I saw no hand movement or anything, except from other benches in this House, which I also took offence at.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. When I pass friendly waves to an old friend and colleague Tau Henare, the problem is that I was not even a member of the House at the time the Upham was purchased. Mr Henare knows that full well.

Madam SPEAKER: Order!

Ron Mark: He is misleading the House. He is purporting something that is not fact—

Madam SPEAKER: Would the member please be seated. [Interruption] Ron Mark would you please be seated, or you will leave the Chamber. [Interruption] Brian Connell, you were talking. Will you please leave the Chamber.

Hon Tau Henare: He was not speaking. He is sitting next to me, and was not even saying anything.

Madam SPEAKER: He was. Would that member please join him.

Brian Connell withdrew from the Chamber.Hon Tau Henare withdrew from the Chamber.Dr Wayne Mapp: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I, along with most members on this side of the House, saw Ron Mark give what was frankly an obscene one-finger gesture. Mr Ron Mark knows perfectly well he did that, because he was making light of it. That is intolerable behaviour in this House, and you should bring the House into order on that issue.

Madam SPEAKER: As I said, I did not—[Interruption] I am sorry, does the member wish to remain with us? Please give me the courtesy to be able to make my ruling. As I said, I did not see anything but if the member did make such a gesture, then he should apologise to the House.

Ron Mark: If my gesture has been interpreted—

Madam SPEAKER: Did the member make that gesture, yes or no?

Ron Mark: I made a gesture to Mr Henare—

Madam SPEAKER: Then would you please apologise.

Ron Mark: I apologise—

Madam SPEAKER: Thank you. That is all you need do.

Work Permits—Ministerial Special Directions

6. Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Immigration: What procedures, if any, are in place to check, following the issuing of ministerial special directions for work permits, that recipients of those permits are not exploited by employers?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Minister of Immigration): New Zealand employment law provides protection for all people in employment relationships working in New Zealand, including those on work permits.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Is the Minister concerned that the MP making representations for a special direction on a work permit for long-time illegal overstayer Mr Chaikhunpol, paid Mr Chaikunpol $1,500 for painting the entire interior of the house the MP owned at 51 Church Street, Ōtāhuhu—less than one-third the market rate for such labour, according to the Ingram report—if so, what action has he taken to ensure that the other 261 special directions made by the Associate Minister, in response to the 438 representations by Taito Phillip Field between January 2003 and October 2005, do not involve other cases of immigrant exploitation?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: Employment law relates to those in employment relationships, not in contracting relationships. I note that the member’s colleague Mr Mapp, on Radio New Zealand, opposed a member’s bill that seeks to extend the law in that direction.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Is the Minister concerned that the MP who made representations for a ministerial special direction for a work permit for Mr Chaikhunpol, paid Mr Chaikhunpol $350 for painting work at his house at 2A Prangley Avenue, Māngere—only a quarter the market rate for such labour as revealed by the Ingram report—if so, what action has he taken to ensure that the 261 other special directions made by the Minister in response to representations on immigration matters by Taito Phillip Field do not involve other cases of immigrant exploitation?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: In 2005-06 there were approximately 100,000 work permits issued. I hope that that member is not suggesting we exercise differential standards of responsibility in favour of members of Parliaments’ clients.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: When the Minister wrote to me yesterday advising that his department had taken no specific steps to check on the special directions issued by the Associate Minister in response to representations by Taito Phillip Field, why did the Minister state: “I would note that the figure of 261 relates to all cases where Mr Field made a representation, and that not all such cases were successful.”, when in answer to a parliamentary question on 25 November 2005 the Minister advised the House that Taito Phillip Field had, in fact, made 438 representations over the 3 years to October 2005, not 261; or does the Minister’s letter confirm that his officers have failed to come to terms with the enormity of the issues raised by the Ingram report?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I can tell the member that that letter to him was provided on the basis of advice that will be checked—along with, I might say, checks on this Government’s ongoing efforts around strengthening the Employment Relations Act, raising the minimum wage, and introducing paid-parental leave, 4 weeks’ annual holiday, and work-life balance.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: If the Minister is so concerned about legislation to do those things he just described, why is his Government so unconcerned that a former ministerial colleague of his should not only pay workers at a quarter the market rate for work but actually pay them cash to avoid tax being paid and to exploit the cash economy—something that would be outrageous for any member of Parliament to do?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: It is by now very old news that the member concerned did not exercise good judgment. The member concerned has sought to apologise to this Chamber, and the Green Party has sought a motion of censure. Both actions have been blocked by that member’s party, just as Mr Mapp has blocked attempts to extend the law to contractors, which would solve the problem to which the member refers.

Homeownership—Reduction

7. JUDY TURNER (Deputy Leader—United Future) to the Minister of Housing: Is he concerned about the significant reduction in New Zealand’s homeownership rates, reported in a recent survey?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Education) on behalf of the Minister of Housing: The Government believes that encouraging homeownership is an important way of building strong and stable families and communities. In relation to the recent survey, I note that reputable commentators and banks do not accept the findings, which are characterised as extreme, of the recent Wizard Home Loans survey—in fact, one commentator called the assumptions underlying it ludicrous. But the Government does agree that homeownership rates are trending downwards, and that is why the Government has been very active in this area.

Judy Turner: Has the Minister considered United Future’s proposal to allow families to capitalise their Working for Families entitlements to purchase a home or increase equity on a home in an effort to encourage an ownership society?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Government is aware of that proposal, but we have chosen, instead, to introduce the KiwiSaver scheme next year, which will help families get together a deposit for their first home.

Phil Heatley: Does he think that taxpayers got value for money from the $1.8 million Welcome Home Loans marketing budget, pouring in over $1,000 of promo money per applicant, yet attracting a measly 3 percent of those eligible, or would he do better to address crippling land and section prices through Resource Management Act reform?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I am informed that it costs less than 1c per dollar borrowed to promote this scheme. Every one of the 1,774 families who have used the Welcome Home Loans would prove that it is not a failure. The scheme has helped families who would otherwise be in rental accommodation to buy their own home, and if the member has any advice on how to control the housing market through controlling the price of land, perhaps he could join the Russian Federation.

Jill Pettis: What steps has the Government taken to help Kiwi families buy their first homes?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Government is working hard to make homeownership attainable for more Kiwi families through the Welcome Home Loans scheme, a nationwide homeownership education programme, talking and working with councils on how to increase the supply of affordable housing, introducing the KiwiSaver scheme, and currently developing a new shared equity scheme. I should point out that not one of those policies was followed by the National Government in the 1990s. National did nothing about homeownership.

Pita Paraone: Tēnā koe. Is he prepared to investigate the feasibility of establishing dedicated homeownership accounts with the provision of tax concessions for those saving for a deposit as a means of bridging the deposit gap, which is becoming the biggest barrier to homeownership; if not, why not?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Two measures that may help with that are coming up. Obviously KiwiSaver is designed to produce a deposit to close that gap. Secondly, the shared equity scheme is a way of ensuring that the price a person has to pay for a house initially will basically be halved, thereby enabling him or her to get into that house and, as the equity grows, to get a larger share.

Judy Turner: Will the Minister consider a modified rent-to-buy programme for State house tenants that uses a share of capital gains over a rental period as a deposit on the property to assist in first-time home ownership, with the overall housing stock to be replenished as proposed by United Future; if not, why not?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: That is an excellent idea that is being implemented in a roughly similar way by the British Government. Such a shared equity scheme is being considered here. Officials are currently developing proposals for a new shared equity scheme that would include State house market rent tenants amongst the prospective homeowners. That is being looked at at the moment. In the United Kingdom, shared equity schemes have enabled social housing tenants to buy a share of their house. We in New Zealand have less room for that, of course, because the National Party sold off 13,000 houses. Until we get that kind of stock back it will be difficult to do that here.

Schools—Top Performers, Auckland Region

8. Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister of Education: What is his response to the recent report identifying “the 25 top-performing high schools” in the Auckland region, and has he received any communications from parents about the usefulness of the report?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Education): I have not read it, and no.

Hon Bill English: Does the Minister agree with this statement in the article: “With no reliable official data publicly available to rank schools, choosing the best one for your child is a hit-and-miss affair.”; if he does agree, why does he not open up the SchoolSmart website so that parents can get reliable official data?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I remind the member, in case he was not listening, that I said initially that I have not read the article, so I cannot comment on that particular matter.

Hon Bill English: Well, you should have.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Actually, I do not spend all my time reading magazines, as the member obviously does. To the second question, the answer is no. To the third—although I am only required to answer two—the answer is that the SchoolSmart site is available to parents who approach their schools, and I know of no parent who has been turned down.

Madam SPEAKER: Actually it is only one supplementary question that Ministers are obliged to answer.

Dr Ashraf Choudhary: What is the Government doing to assist parents to make informed choices about their child’s schooling?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The Government provides a wealth of information and advice to parents through local schools, the Education Review Office, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority website, Team-Up, and the Ministry of Education. We will shortly publish a helpful guide for parents outlining questions they should ask schools when making decisions about their child’s schooling. The Team-Up website is being further developed to provide useful and usable data for parents. I also intend to do substantial new work in this area on behalf of parents and will make announcements in the relatively near future, which may settle Mr Angry on the other side of the House.

Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It is a breach of Standing Orders to refer to a member in anything other than respectful terms.

Madam SPEAKER: The member took offence. Would the Minister please withdraw and apologise.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I withdraw and apologise, Madam Speaker.

Hon Brian Donnelly: Is it not correct, from what the Minister has heard about it, that the Metro article reflects the conclusions of the academic study by Professors Harker and Nash of Massey University in 1998 that showed that when we rank schools on value-adding we arrive at league tables totally different from those based simply on the results of one-off national assessments, as espoused by the National Party?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Both Mr Harker and Mr Nash are former colleagues of mine, and their work is recognised all around the world. Both of them would agree that league tables assume that students are randomly assigned to schools and can therefore be directly compared. Both would say that that is utter nonsense and that is why league tables are a waste of time.

Allan Peachey: What reassurances will the Minister give to the parents of those students attending secondary school in Auckland who are studying for the Cambridge International Examinations that their young people are in fact attending some of the very best schools in New Zealand?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: If I understand the member’s question correctly, the answer is that students are free to study for the Cambridge exam if they would like to but parents will find that in order to succeed in this system it is necessary for their child to succeed in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), an assessment process that is now, I think, winning the support of the entire education sector. I note, for example, that St Cuthbert’s, one of the private schools that is often used to reference other schools, applauds NCEA.

Allan Peachey: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I refer you to a discussion you had earlier with the House and ask that the Minister actually reassure parents.

Madam SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

Hon Bill English: Why did a Ministry of Education official by the name of Bruce Adin release some of the data from the SchoolSmart website to Metro magazine in order to help it identify the top-ranking schools; and if the ministry can release data to Metro, why can it not release it to parents?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I have no idea why Mr Adin—whoever he is—acts in the way he does, but parents can get access to the SchoolSmart site simply by talking to the school and then receiving that information in the context of the school, which is the best way to get it.

Hon Bill English: Why did the Minister tell the House some months ago that the School Trustees Association was one of a number of education groups that agreed that the SchoolSmart information should be kept secret, when in fact the School Trustees Association has asked him and the ministry for access to that information and has been turned down?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I did not say that anybody was asking that it be kept secret. What I said was that education groups agreed that this information should be accessed through the school, as the best way of doing it.

Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that my request under the Official Information Act to open up the SchoolSmart website sat in the Ministry of Education for some weeks, which then returned it to me and asked me to ask him, and that it is now sitting on his desk overdue; when is he going to answer it?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: As soon as I can.

Question No. 5 to Minister

RON MARK (NZ First): I seek leave to table an Evening Post article that clearly shows that the HMNZS Charles Upham was purchased by the then National Government in 1994, which is 2 years before I even came to Parliament.

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

Citizenship—Criteria

9. RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Labour) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: What reports, if any, has he received on possible changes to qualification criteria for New Zealand citizenship?

Hon RICK BARKER (Minister of Internal Affairs): I have received a report that describes New Zealand’s current citizenship oaths as “timeless oaths” and notes that with “a country like ours with a short history, we should not move to change them without good reason.” I have seen a second report stating: “we cannot support the bill going forward in respect of the Citizenship and Parliamentary Oaths.” The first report was from Dr Richard Worth MP and the second was from the National Party minority report on the Oaths Modernisations Bill.

Russell Fairbrother: What other reports has the Minister seen on possible changes to qualification criteria for New Zealand citizenship?

Hon RICK BARKER: I have also seen a report that potential citizens of New Zealand should “share bedrock values”, including “an acceptance of democracy and the rule of law, religious and personal freedom, and legal equality of the sexes” and that on that basis “we may need to look at the oath of allegiance, for example to work out what it is that people are signing up for when they become New Zealand citizens.” Either Dr Brash was not aware of National Party policy or this is just another National Party flip-flop.

Russell Fairbrother: Has the Minister seen any alternative policy on possible changes to qualification criteria for New Zealand citizenship?

Hon RICK BARKER: Yes, I have. I have seen a report that states: “Fathers are the breadwinners; mothers stay at home.” I have seen another report that states: “I cannot speak for the Exclusive Brethren” but goes on to state: “If you don’t believe in these values”—those values being the rule of law, religious and personal freedom, and legal equality of the sexes—“then perhaps New Zealand isn’t the place you should move to.” The first was the view of the multimillion-dollar funder of the National Party, the Exclusive Brethren; the second was the view of its good friend Dr Don Brash, the leader of the National Party. Perhaps Don Brash was right when he said that too much bad red wine is bad for you, after all.

Pansy Wong: I seek leave to table an email from the Department of Labour to other officials, which states that the Minister of Finance and the then Minister of Immigration the Hon Lianne Dalziel said that we should forget about immigration criteria, and simply sell New Zealand citizenship at the price of between $5 million and $10 million per person.

Leave granted.

Waiting Lists—Removal of Patients

10. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Health: What reports, if any, has he received on the impact on patients of being removed from waiting lists for elective surgery or specialist appointments without having been treated or seen by a specialist?

Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister of Health): About 97 percent of patients are seen by specialists, but the 3 percent who are not are absolutely entitled to feel let down. This practice has been going on for years, and the Ministry of Health and the Government want it to stop. That said, I say that if a district health board cannot see someone in a timely way, then it is better that they be seen by a general practitioner than by no one at all.

Hon Tony Ryall: Has the Minister seen the comments of the clinical director of one of the largest general practices in the North Island that doctors fear that cancers will be missed and go untreated as thousands of patients are refused specialist appointments at hospitals around the country, many with symptoms and family histories that suggest they could have cancer; how is that consistent with the Government’s Cancer Control Strategy?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Yes, I have seen those reports, and indeed I have seen correspondence between the doctor involved and the district health board. I think it is important to advise the House that Dr Saxe himself—the person in question—has said that any patient who presents with symptoms of cancer would be seen in our public hospitals right away. That is not something that is true everywhere in the world, but that is why the New Zealand health system is a system we can be proud of.

Maryan Street: What are our district health boards doing to get on top of the issue of returning people to their general practitioner unseen by specialists, and when can we expect to see some improvement?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The House will be aware that district health boards have been under instruction to make progress on that for over a year. My hope is that most district health boards will have a fair and an effective system in place by 30 September.

Hon Tony Ryall: How can it be consistent with the Government’s own Cancer Control Strategy and its focus on early detection that a clinical director is reporting that patients over 40 with a strong family history of bowel cancer cannot get screened, cancer patients referred by a surgeon for specialist follow-up have been returned to general practitioner care without further tests, and a man in his fifties with blood in his urine cannot get referred for diagnostic tests; how will sending those patients back to the very people who sent them to the hospital in the first place deal with their issues?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The member raises a variety of questions, some of which are covered in correspondence between the doctor and the district health board. The member may not have seen that correspondence. The long and short of it is that some of those things can be managed in the primary sector, some should be seen in the secondary sector, and we need to prioritise accordingly.

Hon Tony Ryall: What would he say to the woman who needs a telescopic test to see whether she has stomach cancer, and who has been culled off a hospital waiting list even though there is a history of stomach cancer in her family?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Leaving aside the nature of the test, I will say that anyone in this country who is suspected of having cancer will get treatment in a New Zealand hospital. I say again that that is not always the case around the world. This is a system that we can be proud of.

Dr Jonathan Coleman: Has the Minister even read his own Cancer Control Strategy; if so, would he tell us what it says about the early detection of cancer?

Hon PETE HODGSON: The Cancer Control Strategy is very heavy on the prevention of cancer—

Hon Tony Ryall: Have you read it?

Hon PETE HODGSON: Indeed, I have read it. The Cancer Control Strategy will ensure that the continued improvements made in this country in relation to various cancers will include early detection. That is why, for example, the breast-screening programme roll-out has increased the number of women who have been screened for that particular cancer by 40 percent, in 2 years. Let us have some credit for that.

Dr Jonathan Coleman: What is the point of a primary health care strategy that aims to increase people’s access to general practitioners if the Minister will not then give general practitioners the tools to diagnose cancer at an early and curable stage?

Hon PETE HODGSON: I say to the member again that our secondary services are seeing more people—a lot more people—in both medical and surgical specialities than ever before. What is happening, however, is that district health boards have got into the habit of over-promising, and that has meant that about 3 percent of New Zealanders have been returned to their general practitioner unseen, which I am not happy about. If the member would like to hang on to his comments for just a small period of time and stop the continuing running battle that does not make a lot of sense, he may like to reflect on the fact that a former Minister of Health in the National Government has just asked across the House how we can prevent cancer—he wants to know whether it is preventable. That gives us some idea of the capability that exists on the Opposition side of the House! I say to the member that this country has a good Cancer Control Strategy. Not only is that the case but this is the first one it has ever had, and it came under this Labour Government.

Question No.9 to Minister

Hon RICK BARKER (Minister of Internal Affairs): I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I seek leave to table a number of documents pertaining to question No. 9. I seek leave to table the report of the Government Administration Committee that shows the National Party does not support the Oaths Modernisation Bill going forward. [Interruption]

Madam SPEAKER: Would you please be seated. The member asked whether this is out of order. There have been several members out of order when seeking to table documents today. No one interrupted those members on that side of the House when they made out of order points of order; they continued. I ask the same courtesy to be given to members on the other side of the House. Would the member please start again.

Hon RICK BARKER: I seek leave to table the report of the Government Administration Committee that shows that the National Party opposed the Oaths Modernisation Bill.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Hon RICK BARKER: I seek leave to table the transcript from Checkpoint on 28 July 2006 in which Dr Brash outlines his party’s new bedrock values policy, backtracking on its opposition to the Oaths Modernisation Bill.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Hon RICK BARKER: I seek leave to table a page “An Open Documentary on Their Faith and Their Life”, describing the views of the Exclusive Brethren on the place of women in society.

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

Hon RICK BARKER: I seek leave to table the speech from Dr Don Brash on his party’s new bedrock values policy, given at the annual conference of the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment, dated 28 July 2006.

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

Hon RICK BARKER: I seek leave to table a New Zealand Herald article dated 29 July 2006, outlining Dr Brash’s proposed bedrock values blocking access to anyone who does not accept those tolerant values.

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

Question No. 10 to Minister

Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty): I seek leave to table a couple of documents. The first is a list of the goals of the Government’s Cancer Control Strategy that quite clearly says “early detection”.

Leave granted.

Hon TONY RYALL: Second is a transcript of an interview where the chairman of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners says that diagnosis is being delayed for people with potential cancers.

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

Fishing—United Nations Report

11. METIRIA TUREI (Green) to the Minister of Fisheries: Has he been advised of the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan’s 2006 report The Impacts of Fishing on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems; if so, what action is he taking, if any, in response to the call that States urgently consider the interim prohibition of destructive fishing practices, including bottom trawling, in international waters?

Hon JIM ANDERTON (Minister of Fisheries): Yes, I have seen the report. It was received by officials in New Zealand on 16 July. They are currently assessing it. They consider the report to be a comprehensive and balanced summary of the issues relating to the impacts of fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems. In September 2004 the New Zealand Government approved a strategy to secure improved protection of high-seas biodiversity from the impacts of bottom trawling. The strategy was developed to reflect concern at the environmental impacts of bottom trawling on vulnerable marine ecosystems. New Zealand is currently reviewing this strategy in the light of recent international developments.

Metiria Turei: Does the Minister agree with the United Kingdom’s fisheries Minister, Ben Bradshaw, who called for prohibitions on destructive deep-sea bottom trawling; if so, will he proactively work with international leaders like Minister Bradshaw and the UN Secretary-General to adopt a resolution for a moratorium on high-seas bottom trawling, at the next United Nations General Assembly meeting in October of this year and, if not, why not?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: Mr Bradshaw and other fisheries Ministers from various countries may well say that; of course, they do not do any bottom trawling. The problem in United Nations forums is to get universal agreement from countries—countries that do not do it together with those that do. New Zealand is working with the New Zealand fishing industry on proposals to close up to one-third of the New Zealand exclusive economic zone to bottom trawling, as well as an area in international waters of the Tasman Sea. As far as I am aware, that is the largest area of the seafloor being set aside on a voluntary basis by the fishing industry anywhere on the planet.

Metiria Turei: Has the Minister seen photos like these, of various dead deep-sea creatures, black coral, and discarded rattail fish—all protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora—with all damage caused by the Cheung Shing trawling vessel that docked in Nelson harbour last weekend; and why will he not pursue New Zealand’s very good record as leaders in the ban on driftnetting, and as leaders in the protection of whales, and actively work with other international leaders and countries to protect these marine species from the most vulnerable deep-sea marine ecosystems?

Hon JIM ANDERTON: I am aware of the destruction that can be caused by some forms of bottom trawling. If the member reads the United Nations Secretary-General’s report, she will see there is reference to the role of fisheries management organisations on a regional basis. In the South Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is working with other States to establish a new regional fisheries management organisation. Once established, it is envisaged that the regional fisheries management organisation will have the competence to regulate bottom fisheries and the impacts of fishing on marine ecosystems in the area covered by the new organisation. At its next meeting in November 2006, participants will consider interim measures that include addressing the adverse impacts of destructive fishing practices on vulnerable ecosystems.

Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table a number of documents. The first is the United Nations General Assembly report The Impacts of Fishing on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems.

Leave granted.

Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table the draft of the speech given by Minister Ben Bradshaw at the Third Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands in Paris.

Leave granted.

Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table a photograph of the trawler Chang Xing, from which the by-catch referred to in my question was taken.

Leave granted.

Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table this photo of by-catch of deep-sea fish, from the Chang Xing.

Leave granted.

Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table this photograph of rare black coral, protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora agreement, and found in the discard from the Chang Xing.

Leave granted.

Metiria Turei: I seek leave to table this photograph of a rare rat-tail fish being discarded from the Chang Xing.

Leave granted.

Corrections, Department—Ministerial Confidence

12. SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei) to the Minister of Corrections: Does he have confidence in his department; if so, why?

Hon MITA RIRINUI (Associate Minister of Corrections) on behalf of the Minister of Corrections: Yes, but there is always room for improvement.

Simon Power: Why has the Minister failed to comment on the fact that a prisoner is writing about life behind bars on a weblog, when, on the one hand, his chief executive’s response has been “so what”, yet, on the other hand, the Prime Minister has felt the need to wade into the issue by stating her concern that: “It raises a whole new set of issues.”; who does the Minister agree with—the chief executive officer of his department or the Prime Minister?

Hon MITA RIRINUI: As the member knows, this is an operational matter. But I will say that prisoners are encouraged to write to friends, families, and associates, and they do not have direct access to the Internet, as the member knows. The Department of Corrections has the ability, under the Corrections Act, to vet letters, and it does. The prisoner’s observations of prison life as recorded on the website do not breach the Act.

Martin Gallagher: Has the Minister seen any reports about the effectiveness of corrections officers?

Hon MITA RIRINUI: Yes, I have. As reported in the New Zealand Herald on Saturday, corrections officers at Auckland prison did an excellent job of preventing an attempted escape by a group of prisoners. Also, a search of other prisons revealed a number of contraband items. This is an example of the success of Department of Corrections staff and their effectiveness in keeping society safe.

Simon Power: Does the Minister agree with the Prime Minister’s statement: “It used to be that when you were put away, you were put away from society.”, or that of the chief executive officer of the Department of Corrections: “Unless he actually does anything illegal by way of content, or sends the letters to someone he shouldn’t, then we don’t have a problem.”; who does the Minister agree with—the chief executive officer of the Department of Corrections or the Prime Minister?

Hon MITA RIRINUI: As the member should know, people who are in prison are out of society. Has he not noticed that? The statement made by the chief executive officer of the Department of Corrections was quite simple—prisoners do have the ability to write to people outside prison. What does the member not understand about that?

Keith Locke: Would it improve prisoner rehabilitation if more inmates followed Tim Selwyn’s example by practising and improving their creative literary skills; and is it not the case that no good Government should in any way be scared of inmates bringing to public attention prison problems that need to be fixed?

Hon MITA RIRINUI: My understanding is that Mr Selwyn is very creative.

Simon Power: Can the Minister confirm that a blog has been used to criticise a sentencing judge, claiming an inmate was the victim of “bad luck”; and how does he think victims would feel if a convicted murderer was allowed to say such things publicly?

Hon MITA RIRINUI: I was not aware of that particular statement, but if the member wants to put it down in writing, I will certainly give him a written response.

Simon Power: Is the Minister familiar with the department’s policy of restricting media access to prisoners unless they obtain the written approval of the chief executive and as long as prison security or victims’ interests are not compromised; if so, why is his department so out of touch that it continues to treat blog instalments as private letters when they are clearly intended for public audiences?

Hon MITA RIRINUI: As the member should know, no one is free to move in and out of prison at will; they must seek the approval of the Department of Corrections. What does the member not understand about that, either?

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I refer you to Speaker’s ruling 157/1: “A Minister must attempt to give a reasonable answer to a question.” My colleague asked a question, quite specifically, about blogging by prisoners in the Minister’s department. The Minister gave a completely irrelevant answer that had nothing to do with the use of electronics in communicating with the general public. I think you should require him to address the question that was raised by my colleague Mr Simon Power.

Madam SPEAKER: If members would please lower their tone in the House, it would be easy for me to hear the answers. I did not hear what the Minister said. I ask him to repeat his answer in the light of what has been said.

Hon MITA RIRINUI: In response to the first part of the member’s question, I point out that the media, or any other members of the public, are not free to enter and leave prisons at will. They must seek permission, as is required under the Act. Secondly, Mr Selwyn did not post anything on the Internet, and the member knows that.

Simon Power: I seek leave to ask the Minister again whether he agrees with the chief executive officer of the Department of Corrections or with the Prime Minister.

Madam SPEAKER: That is a supplementary question?

Simon Power: No, I seek leave.

Madam SPEAKER: The member has sought leave. Is there any objection? Yes, there is objection.

Keith Locke: I seek leave to table Tim Selwyn’s blogs, for the education of the National Party.

Leave granted.

Keith Locke: I seek leave to table the acknowledgments page of Nelson Mandela’s book Long Walk to Freedom—Dr Brash’s favourite book—in which he explains how he had to smuggle out of prison the notes for that book. Is that what the National Party wants to happen—

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

Questions to Members

Minimum Wage and Remuneration Amendment Bill—Independent Contractors

1. Dr WAYNE MAPP (National—North Shore) to the Member in charge of the Minimum Wage and Remuneration Amendment Bill: What advice, if any, did she obtain in drafting her Minimum Wage and Remuneration Amendment Bill on the number of independent contractors who could be potentially affected by the bill?

DARIEN FENTON (Member in charge of the Minimum Wage and Remuneration Amendment Bill): The advice I received is that there are no reliable estimates of people employed on contracts for services that would include pay rates less than the minimum wage.

Dr Wayne Mapp: Does the member expect, in the event her bill passes the first reading, the select committee to take advice on all the circumstances in which contractors are allegedly employed, including from her colleague Taito Phillip Field, given his vast experience in underpaying people?

Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry but the member has no responsibility for the select committee, so that question is out of order.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The question from Wayne Mapp simply asked the member where she would take advice from. Surely she has to take some advice from somewhere; if she does not, she can just say she is not taking any. Dr Mapp gave an example, which, by your ruling today, is now quite OK. It is a hypothetical proposition put to a member, and, as we have read in a number of Speakers’ rulings today, hypothetical propositions are in order.

Madam SPEAKER: Yes, of course, and the member did address that. It was the second question—the follow-up, supplementary question—that was, in effect, asking the member about matters that the select committee is responsible for and for which she is not responsible. But, certainly, you are right, and she did address that question.

Peter Brown: Could the member clarify whether it is possible that, under her bill, a person could win a contract at an agreed overall price, underachieve, or underestimate, or whatever, then be legally entitled to increased remuneration in order to bring him or her up to the minimum wage level?

DARIEN FENTON: Those are very complex matters and I look forward to the debate on them during the first reading and in a select committee as appropriate. [Interruption]

Madam SPEAKER: There is normally only one supplementary question on questions to members. They are not treated the same as questions to Ministers.

Dr Wayne Mapp: I seek leave, then, to ask the member whether she sought any advice from her colleague Taito Phillip Field, given his deep experience in underpaying people.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to ask that question. Is there any objection? There is objection.

General Election 2005—Inquiry

2. Dr RICHARD WORTH (National) to the Chairperson of the Justice and Electoral Committee: What further evidence, if any, has she requested before the committee completes its inquiry into the 2005 general election?

LYNNE PILLAY (Chairperson of the Justice and Electoral Committee): Any decisions the committee has made to seek further evidence are confidential to the committee at this time.

Dr Richard Worth: Can she confirm that the committee is awaiting a report from the Controller and Auditor-General as to whether the expenditure of public funds by the office of Helen Clark on the Labour Party pledge card and leaflet was outside the scope of the relevant appropriation; if so, what is the reason for the delay in the release of that report?

LYNNE PILLAY: It is not the role of the select committee to determine when that report comes from the Auditor-General.

Dr Richard Worth: I seek leave to table a letter dated 31 July from the Controller and Auditor-General that notes the matters that are the subject of these questions are complex and sensitive.

Leave granted.

LYNNE PILLAY: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. That letter is to the select committee and has not been tabled at that committee yet, so should it be presented?

Madam SPEAKER: There should have been an objection to it being tabled, if that was the case. That was the opportunity to do that.

LYNNE PILLAY: I was going to do that, but I was a little tardy.

Madam SPEAKER: I am afraid the member was too late.

Question No. 5 to Minister

RON MARK (NZ First): I seek leave to table page 81 of Inquiry into Defence Beyond 2000, which states quite categorically that the HMNZS Charles Upham was purchased in 1994—2 years prior to my entering Parliament.

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

RON MARK (NZ First): I seek leave to table the report by the Controller and Auditor-General on the Charles Upham, dated 24 September 1998, which shows clearly that the Charles Upham was purchased by a National Government 2 years before I came to Parliament.

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

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson): I seek leave to table newspaper reports in 1996 and 1997 in which Ron Mark, as the New Zealand First defence spokesperson, strongly endorsed the purchase of the Charles Upham as part of New Zealand’s Defence Force capability.

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

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): I seek leave to table the 1996 coalition document between New Zealand First and National, in which the New Zealand First Party agreed to the very extensive refit of the Charles Upham.

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

PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First): Well, I might as well join in the fray. I seek leave to table whatever documents I have in my office that show that I spoke to the Minister of Defence at the time, Max Bradford, about what could be done for the Charles Upham, because he freely admitted that it was a dog and that purchasing it was a big mistake by the National Government.

Leave granted.

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): I seek leave to table the coalition agreement between New Zealand First and National, in which New Zealand First was insistent that some $38 million be spent on pouring concrete into the bottom of the Charles Upham, because Ron Mark thought that doing that would stabilise it.

Madam SPEAKER: This is getting a tad silly, but leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? Yes, there is objection.

RON MARK (NZ First): I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. [Interruption]

Madam SPEAKER: I remind members that points of order are heard in silence.

RON MARK: Madam Speaker, I just want clarification from you as to which specific paragraph of the Standing Orders applies. Is it true that Standing Order 400(b) makes it possible for a case of privilege to be laid with you where a member has deliberately misled the House by presenting a document that does not exist?

Madam SPEAKER: No. If the member has a matter of privilege, this is not the place—as I have ruled before—for it to be raised. The member knows what the proper process is.

GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It might just help the member to understand a little more about these matters if he were to realise that one cannot take someone to the Privileges Committee for not presenting an accurate document, when leave to present the document was not granted in the first place.

Madam SPEAKER: That is, of course, not a point of order.

ENDS


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Gordon Campbell: On Cunliffe’s Last Stand

Right now, embattled Labour leader David Cunliffe has three options. None of them are particularly attractive for him personally, or for the Labour Party.

In scenario one, Cunliffe could resign immediately and trigger a leadership vote among the caucus, the party membership and unions affiliates. This would be a high risk gambit in that it would pre-empt any review of the Labour election campaign and would be likely to open up new divisions.

While one can safely predict the caucus would vote against Cunliffe, the wider party and union response would be unpredictable, given that Cunliffe (ineptly) ran a centrist neo-Goff/Shearer campaign this year and not the left wing campaign that those who voted him into the leadership were expecting him to pursue. More>>

 

Key Seeking 'New Ideas': Look To Children’s Commissioner On Poverty - Greens

John Key should not reinvent the wheel when it comes to ideas for tackling child poverty, and instead look to the recommendations of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Group on Child Poverty, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says. More>>

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'Safe To Re-Enter' - OIA Docs: Safety Is Absolute Priority At Pike River Mine

“We understand that the time it is taking to complete our evaluation of the risks is frustrating for the family members and we are trying to complete this work as quickly as we can,” Ms Dunphy says. “It is Solid Energy’s responsibility to make this decision and we will do so, once we have all the information required to make a fully-informed decision.” More>>

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Images & Report: Mihi To Welcome Newly-Elected MPs To Parliament

The 29 newly elected MPs were welcomed into Parliament with a Mihi. Parliament’s current Speaker David Carter offered advice from his experience working in Parliament advising the MPs to work collaboratively. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Labour’s Very Bad Year

While Labour leader David Cunliffe still appears to be in denial about the extent of Saturday night’s debacle, there was hardly a single redeeming feature about the election results for the centre-left... More>>

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General Election NZ: National Win

Election Night: With almost all votes counted National and John Key have won a third term and are close to being able to govern alone if they so choose. Key has indicated he will still reach out to form a Government with ACT, United Future and Maori Party. More>>

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Perfectly-Timed Anniversaries: Suffrage Day Is Last Chance To Enrol

“The last chance to enrol is Friday 19 September. You can’t enrol on election day.” More>>

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Gordon Campbell: On First Time Voting (Greens)

For the last two days, I’ve turned my column over to a couple of guest columnists who are first time voters… Today’s guest columnist is Ana Avia-O’Connor, who will be casting her first time vote on Saturday for the Greens. More>>

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Meddling: Aussie Liberals Embroiled In Key Campaign

John Key needs to explain why Australia’s Liberal Party is interfering in New Zealand domestic politics and is encouraging Kiwi voters across the ditch to vote for National just days out from the election, Labour’s campaign spokesperson Annette King says. More>>

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SURVEILLANCE:

Election Ad Soundtrack: Rapper Eminem Sues National Party Over Copyright Breach

US rapper Eminem is suing the New Zealand National Party for alleged copyright infringement over unauthorised use of the rapper’s ‘Lose Yourself’ song in an election campaign advertisement. More>>

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Big March: Call For An End To Domestic Violence

Hundreds of protesters marched down Lambton Quay to Parliament Monday calling for an end to domestic violence. Wearing white facemasks, waving banners and calling for “safety” for the women and children of New Zealand.. More>>

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