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Questions And Answers – 24 June 2008

Questions And Answers – 24 June 2008

1. Physiotherapists—Funding

1. Hon TARIANA TURIA (Co-Leader—Māori Party) to the Minister for ACC: What progress has been made in responding to the recommendation from the Government-appointed reviewer, David Goddard QC, that physiotherapists needed a 33 percent increase immediately as “ACC funding arrangements for physiotherapists are unsustainable.”?

Hon MARYAN STREET (Minister for ACC) : I have asked officials to work with the physiotherapy sector to establish a funding model to address the sustainability of physiotherapy services.

Hon Tariana Turia: Is it appropriate for physiotherapists to bear an unfair proportion of the cost of treating injuries; if not, what will this Government do to address this concern?

Hon MARYAN STREET: Officials are currently engaged in exploring how physiotherapy services may be sustainably funded.

Sue Moroney: What adjustments to funding have physiotherapists received previously?

Hon MARYAN STREET: Several. For instance, the Labour-led Government has raised the regulated physiotherapy rates by over 28 percent. However a previous funding adjustment in 1992 resulted in funding to physiotherapists being slashed by 15 percent. That generous adjustment happened under the previous National Government.

Hon Tariana Turia: What action will the Minister take to prevent physiotherapists from leaving for better pay in Australia or opting out of the profession altogether for greater security, less stress, and better pay in other occupations?

Hon MARYAN STREET: The reviewer noted, in fact, that there was no evidence to suggest that New Zealand was materially out of step with comparable jurisdictions in retaining senior members of the physiotherapy profession.

Peter Brown: In light of that answer will the Minister scotch a particular rumour and confirm for the benefit of this House and the wider public that the Government is more than satisfied with the review, the manner in which it was conducted, and the analysis that the reviewer obtained in order to make his findings; in short, will she confirm that the review was very well done and the reviewer came to a justified conclusion?

Hon MARYAN STREET: The review was very competently done and addressed the questions and the terms of reference set down for it.

Peter Brown: Will the Minister confirm that the physiotherapy profession conducted itself in a proper and responsible manner in calling for this review and was totally supportive of it, and will she confirm also that physiotherapists play an exceedingly important role in rehabilitating accident victims; if she can confirm those two assertions, can she advise why the Government in the recent Budget did not move some way at all towards a 33 percent increase and instead treated these people like overlooked women and men?

Hon MARYAN STREET: I can confirm those two things. However, the evidence needed to ensure that a sustainable rate of pay is arrived at for physiotherapists was not present in that review.

/NR/rdonlyres/99A0EFAD-1402-4216-99BD-A16A542FA96F/85712/48HansQ_20080624_00000073_.pdfFull transcript of Questions for Oral Answer for Tuesday, 24 June 2008 [PDF 203k]

2. New Zealand - Australia—Net Migration

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

2. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Leader—National) on behalf of JOHN KEY (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her reported statement that New Zealand is losing labour to Australia but the Government is satisfied that New Zealand has positive net migration; if so, why?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister) : Yes, because it is true.

Hon Bill English: What is the Prime Minister’s response to the latest statistics that show that in the last year 80,000 people left New Zealand permanently to live overseas—the highest exodus of New Zealanders since 1979—and that net migration to Australia has grown by 53 percent in the last 2 years alone?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: My response is that for the last 8 years under Labour, net migration to New Zealand has been positive. For the last 2 years, of course, of the previous National Government the figures were negative, and I also note that in every year under National, from 1991 to 1999 inclusive, there was a net outflow to Australia.

Hon Phil Goff: Has the Prime Minister seen the latest edition of Trans Tasman, which points out that because of international factors such as soaring fuel prices and the credit crunch, in the last month in New South Wales alone a net 17,000 jobs were lost; and does that suggest to her that Australia is not simply the land of milk and honey?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It certainly does, and, of course, it is a matter of record that unemployment is higher in Australia than it is here. I also note that young New Zealand family people are being quoted in our media as talking about how the higher cost of living for families really kicks in for them in Australia. Their small children are generally not getting free health care, as they would get here, and they have to pay to get on to the kindergarten waiting list. And, of course, in some places the public schools are so poor that people are paying hard-earned money for private education.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Prime Minister whether she has seen the latest June report from the Reserve Bank, which forecasts that we are going to face 95,000 more unemployed, and that that will cost $7.4 billion through our economy and will also mean minimal growth for this economy for the next 4 years; and is she not now coming to the conclusion that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act—so beloved of the old political parties—simply does not work for an export-dependent nation?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I have seen the Reserve Bank’s forecasts. I note that they are probably the most pessimistic of those of any forecaster around at the present time. In relatively recent memory New Zealand has gone through years of extremely high inflation. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act brought that steadily down, and it has maintained low inflation. I think that has, overall, been to the benefit of New Zealanders and savers.

Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister agree with this statement, made before the 1999 election by the then Leader of the Opposition: “The real issue this election is whether we are going to build an economy that can retain our talented and skilled people, because that’s the only way we’ll prosper.”, and how does she see that statement in the light of the recent emigration statistics?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: When I am looking at year after year after year of positive net migration to New Zealand, I know this country is very capable of attracting and retaining its best and brightest.

Madam SPEAKER: I call the Rt Hon Winston Peters for a supplementary question.

Gerry Brownlee: Tell us about the emissions trading scheme!

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The what?

Gerry Brownlee: You’re worried about the cost to the economy. What about the cost to the economy of the emissions trading scheme—do you have a position?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: He suffers from a condition called recognition hunger. I do not want to help him out today. I ask the Prime Minister, if the Reserve Bank forecasts are the same as Treasury’s forecasts in respect of minimal growth in the economy and a virtual doubling of unemployment, when will this country begin to understand that an economic theory that was designed for an economy that exports 8 percent of its GDP does not fit one that is designed to export 38 percent of its GDP, and understand that that economic theory now sees us paying the highest interest rates in the Western world, while seeing a currency movement of 34 percent in just 3 years; and how is that designed to help this country in the future, which is the position, sadly, that the two old parties have taken?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: My recollection is that there is quite a variation between the Treasury forecasts and the Reserve Bank ones. Treasury continues to predict 1.5 percent growth in the year to March next; the Reserve Bank came in at 0.9 percent, as I recall. Treasury also had rather more optimistic forecasts about the labour market. But the Reserve Bank in its last Monetary Policy Statement did say that it thought it would be in a position to reduce interest rates later in the year. That, in itself, had a downward impact on the currency, which is, of course, beneficial for exporters—and I know the member’s concern about that matter. But, of course, one person’s nirvana is another’s misery, and there is no doubt that if the dollar comes back a little, that will feed into other imported prices.

Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister agree that the fact that thousands of people are leaving for Australia—in fact, in record numbers—means that she failed to do what she said the 1999 election was about, which was to “build an economy that can retain our talented and skilled people”?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I think the member is making rather a big mistake in isolating only the figures for Australia. One has to look at the figures for the whole world and at who is coming and going. Those figures continue to be very positive. I would also note that in this international slow-down New Zealand is in a far better position than it was in the last one of 1997-98. Let us not forget that in that last recession Bill English was part of a Government that cut New Zealand superannuation and sold one of the jewels in the crown of our State-owned enterprises: Contact Energy. That was a ridiculous decision, which this country has rued ever since.

Madam SPEAKER: The Rt Hon Winston Peters.

Gerry Brownlee: This is the easiest one.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: It is coming. Does the Prime Minister have any reports about the last time we had a tightening in our economy, occasioned by the Asian monetary crisis, which saw us lose in some cases 6 percent of our export markets; and at a time of such international crisis was it the right response to tighten liquidity on the local market, which is exactly what Bill English did?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I agree with the implication in the member’s question—that at that time of slow-down, the National Government did exactly the opposite of what it should have done. It took away spending power from our superannuitants, it kept the purse strings tight on health and education, and it sold a State-owned enterprise so the Government could try to pay its bills. That had a contractionary effect on New Zealand’s economy, and that is not the approach of this Labour-led Government, supported on confidence and supply by the member and his party.

Hon Bill English: Can the Prime Minister confirm that it is now Labour’s policy to argue over what happened 10 years ago while 80,000 people have left New Zealand permanently to live overseas; and is it now Labour’s policy that it is unconcerned about near-record levels of emigration from New Zealand, so long as the number of people arriving from overseas is greater than the number of New Zealanders leaving?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, it is Labour’s policy to tell the truth about National’s policy, which it will not tell itself. National has the cheek to talk about it being time for a change, but it will not tell the voters what it would change. We are very happy to fill in the gaps.

Hon Bill English: Can the Prime Minister tell the House how, in her election campaigning around the country, she has been able to avoid all those hundreds of people who come up to us and say that if Helen Clark and Labour win the election they are going to leave New Zealand?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, on the contrary I am approached by hundreds of people who say they fear the possibility of a National Government because they know that National has voted against every progressive thing this Government has ever done. Working for Families has no future under National, KiwiSaver has no future under National, 20 hours’ free education for early childhood has no future under National, and Kiwibank has no future under National. Those are things valued from a Labour Government, which is why I believe we will prevail.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Having regard to that last question from Mr English, has the Prime Minister received some reports to suggest that given the financial funding from the big corporates of a certain political party, such a departure to Australia would be by only 18,000 people—the total membership of the National Party?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Indeed, the National Party today is not the party the member joined many years ago. It is a party that he left because it stopped caring about New Zealanders and was always running us down and trying to claim Australia was a better place than New Zealand. If that is the way the National members feel, they should join their mates who have gone there.

Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister not realise that if she is meeting people around the country who support everything that Labour has done, then if she wants to win an election she needs to talk to some people who are neither members of Labour Party electorate committees nor Labour candidates?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I can assure the member that countless hundreds of thousands of people out there live in terror of Bill English, the two Smiths, Murray McCully, Tony Ryall, and Maurice Williamson—the same tired old hacks from a discredited former National Government—ever getting near the Treasury benches again.

/NR/rdonlyres/6689D793-4BE3-4165-B095-E81FC9A90F54/85714/48HansQ_20080624_00000131_.pdfFull transcript of Questions for Oral Answer for Tuesday, 24 June 2008 [PDF 203k]

3. Benefits—Beneficiary Numbers

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

3. RUSSELL FAIRBROTHER (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: What reports has she received about the number of people receiving benefits?

Hon RUTH DYSON (Minister for Social Development and Employment) : I have received a report saying that at the end of May this year there was a total of 255,000 people on benefits. That is 5,000 fewer people than at the same time last year. This includes all people on unemployment, domestic purposes, sickness, and invalids benefits. Under a Labour-led Government people continue to move off benefits and into paid work.

Russell Fairbrother: What is the main reason for people to move off the unemployment benefit?

Hon RUTH DYSON: The main reason for people leaving the unemployment benefit is to enter paid employment. It is simply not true to allege, as the National Party does, that a large number of people move from the unemployment benefit to the sickness or invalids benefit. Between March 2000 and March of this year there were close to 1 million cancellations of the unemployment benefit; 8.8 percent of those cancellations were because of a transfer to the sickness benefit, and only one-third of 1 percent were because of a transfer to an invalids benefit. The main reason for people leaving the unemployment benefit is to move into paid work.

Judith Collins: Can the Minister provide a straightforward answer to a reasonably straightforward question—why is it taking more bureaucrats, especially in the communications and policy units, to administer fewer benefits?

Hon RUTH DYSON: As I explained to the member at the select committee and in the House last week, it is our policy to ensure that people are aware of and receive their full and correct entitlements. That is a primary role of a core Government department, and that is why people now do not complain about Work and Income in the way they did when that member’s party was leading the Government.

/NR/rdonlyres/EC7ED2DD-E5D7-4F43-855B-451A3C120934/85716/48HansQ_20080624_00000245_.pdfFull transcript of Questions for Oral Answer for Tuesday, 24 June 2008 [PDF 203k]

4. Election Advertising—Political Party Logos

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

4. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister of Justice: Is it Government policy that all political party logos must carry a promoter statement in the regulated period, no matter what the context in which they are used; if so, why?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Justice) : The Electoral Finance Act 2007 sets out the rules to be administered by the Electoral Commission and the Chief Electoral Officer. It is to those independent agencies that the member should direct his question.

Hon Bill English: Can she confirm reports that almost 7 months into election year, after 2 years of Labour putting the Electoral Finance Act through Parliament, the Electoral Commission has still not decided whether party logos by themselves are election advertisements, and can she understand the frustrations of MPs and party activists when we still do not know the answer to the basic question of whether a display of a party logo is legal or illegal under her Government’s law?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I am aware of a comment made in the New Zealand Herald by Dr Catt from the Electoral Commission that there were some differences of opinion amongst commissioners and they are working through that. I am also aware that she said that she disputes the claims made by Bill English that she had suggested during a private meeting of political parties in the Speaker’s office last week that logo advertisements needed authorisation. It seems to me that Bill English was up to his old tricks of making things up for political purposes.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister tell the House the answer to this question: if I am making it up, why could she not answer the primary question, which she has had since 10 o’clock this morning, which is this: is it Government policy that party political logos must carry a promoter statement—can she answer that question?

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. On what the Minister previously said, I wonder whether she could explain to us how Mr English believes that Ministers get copies of questions at 10 o’clock, when they are not delivered until close to an hour later than that?

Madam SPEAKER: That is an interesting point, but it is not a point of order.

Hon ANNETTE KING: I can tell the member that it is not Government policy to do anything other than to obey the Electoral Finance Act.

Hon Bill English: Has the Minister, who seems to think I am making it up, seen the statement by Helena Catt where she has said on the issue of whether party logos are a political advertisement: “this is a ‘pressing issue but it is not an easy issue, so we have to work through differing views’.”, and what are MPs meant to think?

Hon ANNETTE KING: MPs should think they are working through the issues.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister of Justice answer this question, which is directly relevant to what the Government does, and not just MPs: will it be legal to have a party logo on the ballot paper, as has been the tradition now for many elections, without an authorisation?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I will not give an opinion on that. It will be up to the independent agencies to decide that, not me.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister tell us when the independent agencies will make up their minds about party logos, given that the law has been in force now for 7 months, and no political party or member of Parliament knows whether it is legal to display their party logo on a pen, on a piece of paper, or on a T-shirt?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The member should look up the word “independent”. The agencies are independent; they are not told by Bill English or by the Government what they should do.

Hon Bill English: Will the Minister take advice about her own party logo that is sitting on her bench in front of her, which appears to be the only one in the House that does not have an authorisation on it—and, therefore, while she is answering questions she is also breaking the law in regard to the Electoral Finance Act?

Hon ANNETTE KING: If Bill English is such an expert on what the Electoral Finance Act means, his having just given a ruling, I suggest he applies that to his own party.

Hon Bill English: Can the Minister just explain to the public and the House whether the situation is that Labour spent most of this term putting together the Electoral Finance Act, after 2 years of official advice; it spent about 8 months pushing it through Parliament and select committees, and now, 7 months into an election year, it cannot answer one simple question, and that is whether we can legally display a party logo—how bloody ridiculous is that?

Rt Hon Helen Clark: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It is not my understanding that swear words are permissible in the House, and I would ask that that word be withdrawn.

Madam SPEAKER: In the context of the question, that word was unnecessary and added nothing to the question. Would the member just withdraw it, please.

Hon Bill English: I withdraw.

Hon ANNETTE KING: What I can tell the member is that the National Party has spent 7 months of this year wasting its party finances on disputing every part of the Electoral Finance Act, because it does not like the fact that it cannot spend the war chest that it thought it would be able to spend before the election. National now has to be transparent, it has to be honest, it has to say where its money comes from, and it has to declare whether the money comes from its big backers like the Exclusive Brethren. That is what National does not like.

/NR/rdonlyres/136C9330-E13D-48FA-A9DE-8619B01C1422/85718/48HansQ_20080624_00000279_.pdfFull transcript of Questions for Oral Answer for Tuesday, 24 June 2008 [PDF 203k]

5. Liquor Licensing—Communities

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

5. LYNNE PILLAY (Labour—Waitakere) to the Associate Minister of Justice: What action is the Government planning to ensure communities have a real say in liquor licensing decisions?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Associate Minister of Justice) : Among the law changes that are being proposed, we intend to give local councils and their communities real teeth to establish plans that include setting things like opening hours, one-way door policies, limitations on outlet density, and proximity to other premises like schools. Communities have made it clear that they want a say in licensing decisions, and we intend to introduce a bill to allow just that, which is why it has been so warmly welcomed from all around New Zealand.

Lynne Pillay: Has the Government considered taking measures to prevent activities that may promote excessive consumption of alcohol or binge drinking?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: Parliament considered this issue in 1999, when I moved an amendment to make it an offence to promote excessive alcohol consumption on licensed premises. Prominent MPs on the other side of the House voted against the amendment, including Bill English, Gerry Brownlee, the then Minister of Justice—Tony Ryall—and, surprisingly, Pansy Wong. Fortunately, good sense prevailed and the amendment was passed. I am surprised that some of the people who say they support stronger measures today did not support even that most basic measure to limit binge drinking just a few years ago.

Simon Power: Why, when a review of alcohol issues that was commissioned in 2006 included in its terms of reference the number of alcohol outlets, is this matter now being further kicked to touch to the Law Commission?

Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The issue of the number of outlets was referred to in terms of reference to the things that had changed, but it was never actually the subject of that review. That review produced a whole lot of good measures that this Government is proceeding with. One of those is the “three strikes and you’re out” rule, and another is the removal of the defence of “reasonable belief” for serving alcohol to a minor. A significant change that we have made to the announcement we made last year is that there will be a ban on adults supplying liquor to under-18-year-olds, unless the adult is a parent or guardian, or has the consent of a parent or guardian. That is a major change that we are making. I heard Simon Power say on TV over the weekend that National has spent some months calling for action on the proliferation of liquor licences; well, I could not find anything about it.

/NR/rdonlyres/EF30DACE-F51C-44BB-A9FF-7BCDD30BCD06/85720/48HansQ_20080624_00000355_.pdfFull transcript of Questions for Oral Answer for Tuesday, 24 June 2008 [PDF 203k]

6. Gangs—Government Actions

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

6. SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei) to the Minister of Justice: Does she stand by the Prime Minister’s statement last year regarding her Government’s approach to gangs that “No one has been idle here. People have been very proactive.”; if so, why?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Justice) : Yes; because this Government and Government agencies have taken criminal gang activity seriously. For example, in 2007 over 26,000 separate charges were placed before the courts against persons identified with gang connections.

Simon Power: Can the Minister confirm that if the bill she has just introduced had come to the House immediately after it was signed off by Cabinet on 9 July last year, then every gang member who has offended in the past year—like those who allegedly cut a swathe through a Hawke’s Bay party at the weekend, using machetes and baseball bats—could have their sentences doubled if found guilty?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The member may not be aware, but this Labour-led Government is a minority Government and does require support from other parties. It would have been interesting to see whether the National Party would have supported that bill, having spent most of the last 8½ years opposing the justice bills that have come before this House.

Hon Phil Goff: Can the Minister confirm that police and corrections’ estimates are that around 40 percent of all known gang members are currently in prison; if that is the case, is that not evidence that the police have been targeting gang members involved in organised crime, and have been successful in getting them arrested, convicted, and imprisoned?

Hon ANNETTE KING: It certainly is working, because I can confirm that police and corrections’ estimates are that around 1,500 gang members, or 40 percent of the New Zealand gang population, are already in prison for various offences. Those involved in organised criminal activity can expect to be targeted and dealt with. The prison figures reflect this, and the police are being effective in doing just what we expect them to do.

Ron Mark: Has the Minister heard the comments of her ministerial colleagues who continue to say that there are only 3,500 gang members, associates, and affiliates in New Zealand, when a former Minister of Police George Hawkins told the House in 2002 that there were 10,000 in 1995, when the same Minister told us in 2003 that the number in 2002 had risen to 21,882, and when the Police Association said on television last week that the number could be as high as 60,000—is the Minister seriously telling the House that she believes there are only 3,500 gang members in the country?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The member asked me this question last week. I took the time to get the police to get me the details of gang members, and the latest figures they have. I gave them to the member in the House last week. I also said that the police were actively working on reviewing the figures, because they stressed that obtaining accurate figures was difficult due to factors such as people being dishonest with the police about their gang membership or associations and the fact that not all gangs wear patches. Certainly, organised criminal gangs, like our white-collar criminal gangs—

Hon Member: Leave the National Party out of it.

Hon ANNETTE KING: —yes, I will leave the National Party out of it—and those who have come in from Asia, are very hard to identify.

Simon Power: Can the Minister confirm reports that the previous Minister of Justice, Mark Burton, had been too busy to find the time to table the bill last year because he was dealing with the electoral finance legislation; and what should New Zealanders think when her Government puts dreaming up an undemocratic campaign finance law above the need to deal to gangs?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No. I do not know who the member gossips to, but that is certainly incorrect.

Ron Mark: Can the Minister understand the scepticism of the public, who see gang members wearing their colours every day of every week of every year, in the streets and in their communities, and who see the violence and mayhem in Wanganui, Hawke’s Bay, Tauranga, Manurewa, and Manukau, yet who hear this Government minimising the size of the issue by telling them there are only 3,500 gang members, associates, and affiliates in the whole of the country?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The member would be incorrect to say that the Government is minimising the issue of gangs and gang membership. I gave the member the figure provided to me, and I must take at actual value the information provided to me. I certainly say to the member that the Government does not underestimate the impact of gangs. I noted the comments made this morning on the radio by Denis O’Reilly, who in fact, as the member will know, was a former gang leader. He had this to say: “These occurrences we have just seen were quite common in the 1990s. But these things can occur when there is simply a change of someone coming out of prison, or a change in a local gang hierarchy and local politics.”, which means we always have to be vigilant about those who would participate in criminal gang activity.

Simon Power: Does the Minister stand by the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday that urban design is now to blame for crime, after already claiming it was the sun and the moon, and a budget from 17 years ago; if so, why do Cabinet papers show that she passed up the opportunity to strengthen laws that would have made it easier for the police to tear down the real urban design problem—that is, gang fortifications—as National proposes, when it is these forts that have been the target of recent gang warfare in Invercargill?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I can tell the member that the Prime Minister certainly is not as superficial as the member’s question. The Prime Minister has always taken a comprehensive approach to issues like crime, looking at all the causes of crime—not just coming up with a flash slogan one can get out just before an election.

Simon Power: Can the Minister confirm that Ministry of Justice officials attempted to set up a workshop with other Government agencies involved with gangs, to be held in June 2005, with the aim of establishing an organised crime task force, but that this workshop and the inter-agency task force were both dumped and no further work was undertaken for a further 2 years until the death of Jhia Te Tua in May last year; or is this just another example of her Government’s proactive approach to gangs?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I cannot confirm that. But I can confirm that when Simon Power made a speech about National getting tough on gangs, one could ask why it took National years to come around to being tough. It took them till May 2007 to become tough—incidentally, after there was a drive-by shooting of a young child—even though we know that a similar drive-by shooting, identified by Ron Mark just this morning, happened in the mid-1990s. I can tell the member, also, that of his four-point plan this Government has already accomplished three of the points.

Simon Power: Can the Minister confirm that, according to Cabinet papers, the new Organised and Financial Crime Agency is supposed to be established “at the point of the enactment of the enabling legislation, planned for 1 July 2008”; and how confident is she that that bill will be passed by 1 July—next Tuesday?

Hon ANNETTE KING: That bill will not be passed by next Tuesday. It requires the support of this Parliament, and we have been working with our confidence and supply partners in terms of votes for this. It is interesting that National members are so interested in this issue—they refuse to support the Organised and Financial Crime Agency and they voted against the transitional clauses going to it.

Simon Power: We voted against the disestablishment of the SFO.

Hon ANNETTE KING: The very powers that are in the Serious Fraud Office are transferred over to the new agency for them to be used, not for just financial crime but for organised crime as well. National members are not able to grasp that fact, though everybody else seems to have been able to.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the record of a National Party spokesperson on police saying that the day after the election he would bulldoze down the gang headquarters around New Zealand. That was John Banks, of course.

 Leave granted.

Madam SPEAKER: The level of noise in the Chamber is almost becoming impossible to hear over.

Ron Mark: I seek leave to table an answer from a former Minister of Police saying that in 1995 there were 10,000 gang members, associates, and affiliates—

 Leave granted.

Ron Mark: I seek leave to table another answer from a former Minister of Police George Hawkins saying that in 2002 there were 21,882 gang members—

 Leave granted.

/NR/rdonlyres/670FD6C7-0E52-48A9-B668-9B1FF0BF063A/85722/48HansQ_20080624_00000389_.pdfFull transcript of Questions for Oral Answer for Tuesday, 24 June 2008 [PDF 203k]

7. Violent Offending—South Auckland

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

7. GORDON COPELAND (Independent) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statement to the House last week: “I do not have any evidence to suggest that family breakdown would be the predominant cause,” in reference to crime in South Auckland and elsewhere?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister) : Yes.

Gordon Copeland: Would the Prime Minister be surprised, therefore, that the Principal Youth Court Judge has released figures from a study of youth crime showing that 12 percent of offenders were living with both parents, 28 percent were living with one parent—usually the mother—and that a staggering 60 percent were not living with either their mother or their father; and is that not compelling evidence of the link between family breakdown and crime?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I have not seen those figures, but of course there are quite significant numbers of families in our country where parents or partners have split, and where the children live with one or the other. I do not have those figures to hand either, but I would say that, sadly, it is rather a feature of our society that many children do not have a home where there are two loving parents present.

Sue Bradford: Does the Prime Minister agree with Manurewa Community Board member Alan Johnson that what is needed in areas like Randwick Park are a lot more resources directed towards children; if so, will her Government, for example, require the Ministry of Education to take urgent action to increase the number of early childhood education places available there?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I have some sympathy with what the member has quoted from Alan Johnson on the community board. He is someone with a long history of concern for people down on their luck, and their families. I am sure that increasing the number of small children in early childhood education would be a very, very positive move for those areas. I am conscious that there is less provision for that in parts of the Counties Manukau area. It is something the Ministry of Education will be asked to look at more closely.

Dr Pita Sharples: Tēnā koe, Madam Speaker. Tēnā tātou. Does the Prime Minister agree with the Ministry of Justice in its strategic policy brief of August 2007 that amongst other factors, “Poor educational outcomes are known to be linked to later criminality”, that “people of low socio-economic status are more likely to participate in crime”, and that “individuals already prone to involvement in crime offend more frequently when they are unemployed.”; and what specific investment will be provided to South Auckland communities to address some of these known risk factors?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As the member will be aware, the overall crime rate is down. I think it is almost certain that that is linked to the very substantial fall in unemployment across New Zealand and of course also in Counties Manukau. That has been very positive. I also agree with him that low educational achievement and a short number of years at schools are an issue. That is an issue the Government is addressing through the Schools Plus policy. So I have no problem with the general prognosis he has quoted from the Ministry of Justice, and I think in a number of ways we are addressing those basic factors.

Gordon Copeland: Is the Prime Minister aware that numerous studies indicate that children raised by a married couple have by far the lowest chance of becoming criminals; if so, does she realise that when she says marriage has “inappropriate connotations” and then prescribes the ways in which loving Kiwi parents can train and correct their children, many people now see her Government as being part of the problem rather than part of the solution?

Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: This Government stands second to none in the support it has offered our families, through Working for Families, through low State house rentals, through bringing back support for young couples owning their own homes, through the B4 School health checks, through the low numbers of children in new entrants classes, through the 20 hours’ free early childhood education, and through cheaper doctors’ fees and prescription charges. All these policies, every single one of them opposed by the National Party, make life easier for families. That is why I can say that all over New Zealand I have hundreds of people approaching me saying they would be terrified by a change of Government because they do not want to lose the substantial provision for families that Labour makes.

Gordon Copeland: I seek leave of the House to table the statistics from the Youth Court in New Zealand that I mentioned.

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

Dr Pita Sharples: I seek leave to table the Māori and safer communities symposium strategy policy brief for the Ministry of Justice.

 Leave granted.

Gordon Copeland: I seek leave of the House to table a documentthatoutlines that marriage produces less crime.

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

/NR/rdonlyres/A58FAD67-1942-456E-BFED-B97DBD7AC874/85724/48HansQ_20080624_00000485_.pdfFull transcript of Questions for Oral Answer for Tuesday, 24 June 2008 [PDF 203k]

8. State Services, Minister—Mary Anne Thompson

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

8. Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH (National—Rodney) to the Minister of State Services: When was the Minister of State Services first briefed, formally or informally, on issues relating to allegations of unlawful decision-making involving the family of the head of the Immigration Service?

Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister of State Services) : As I recall, the first mention I heard was when Minister Cosgrove advised his Cabinet colleagues in brief terms that the new Chief Executive of the Department of Labour had informed him on 14 December that there had been an independent investigation into employment matters under the previous chief executive.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. My question was very carefully worded. I did not ask the Minister when he was first briefed; I asked when the Minister of State Services was first briefed. The question was on notice, and the Minister has had some hours to obtain the answer to that question. I accept that he personally was not the Minister when this issue first arose within the State sector. My question specifically asked when the Minister of State Services was first briefed.

Madam SPEAKER: I thought, actually, that the Minister addressed the question, but I can see how there could have been an ambiguity in the question. I ask the Minister whether he wishes to add anything more to his answer.

Hon DAVID PARKER: My understanding is that the previous Minister was not briefed any earlier, if that answers the—

Gerry Brownlee: The Minister is being slippery.

Hon DAVID PARKER: The member accuses me of being slippery; that is an attribute that attaches to the National Party, not this Government. I did read and answer the question. The member then posited the question with a different inference in that he asked whether the previous Minister of State Services had heard any earlier. I have just checked with the previous Minister of State Services, who said that she had not. I think that directly answers it.

Madam SPEAKER: I think that is correct.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Is the Minister satisfied that the Minister of State Services was not briefed in February 2007 on an issue as significant as potentially unlawful decision-making involving the head of the Immigration Service, given that the State Services Commissioner told the Finance and Expenditure Committee last week that the State Services Commission was aware of the issue as early as February 2007?

Hon DAVID PARKER: Of course, these are issues that we have asked the Auditor-General to look at, and the facts of who knew what when, and whether information was acted upon appropriately, will be determined by the Auditor-General in his inquiry.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Did the Minister of State Services discuss issues relating to an inquiry into unlawful decision-making involving the head of the Immigration Service with the Minister of Immigration in 2007; if so, when did those discussions take place, and what was said?

Hon DAVID PARKER: I am not in a position to answer that question, because I have not checked with the previous Minister. I can say that the first discussion I had, in respect of these suggestions, with the current Minister of Immigration was, from memory, around 21 April.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: Does the Minister agree with the State Services Commissioner, who told the Finance and Expenditure Committee last week that when he read the Oughton report he could see that it clearly did not relate only to employment matters; if so, what other matters were raised by the Oughton report?

Hon DAVID PARKER: As I said earlier, the facts of who knew what when, who should have known what when, what their responses were, and what their responses ought to have been will be considered and answered in the Auditor-General’s report.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: What exactly did the Minister mean when, at the Finance and Expenditure Committee last week, he questioned the lack of action in response to the Oughton report, and what action does he believe should have been taken immediately following the completion of the Oughton report?

Hon DAVID PARKER: My recollection of when I criticised the lack of action being taken within the State Services Commission was the surprise that Ministers felt on learning that the issue relating to qualifications that had been raised with Mr Wintringham had gone no further, either within the State Services Commission or, certainly, from within the State Services Commission to Ministers at the time.

/NR/rdonlyres/F6E40526-379F-4ECF-B7C9-088DB1B1A78C/85726/48HansQ_20080624_00000539_.pdfFull transcript of Questions for Oral Answer for Tuesday, 24 June 2008 [PDF 203k]

9. Biofuels—Impact on Fuel Prices

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

9. Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Energy: What recent reports has he received on the impact of biofuels on fuel prices?

Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister of Energy) : I have seen a briefing from the Ministry of Economic Development to the Local Government and Environment Committee that advises that, with the recent increases in the price of oil, the biofuels obligation is likely to lower fuel prices by around 1c per litre.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Yeah, right!

Hon DAVID PARKER: Dr Nick Smith received that briefing, yet he continues to use out-of-date information to claim that biofuels will cause fuel prices to rise. This proves once again that National will oppose sustainability initiatives, no matter what evidence is put before it.

Hon Marian Hobbs: What other evidence does the Minister have that biofuels can be sold more cheaply than normal fuels?

Hon DAVID PARKER: The most compelling evidence—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Yeah, right!

Hon DAVID PARKER: —which, again, Dr Smith denies, is that Gull Petroleum is already selling a 98 octane blend of petrol and bio-ethanol for less than the price charged by other companies for high-octane fuels that do not contain any biofuels. In addition, I have also seen advice from a number of local bio-diesel producers who say they can produce bio-diesel from tallow and rapeseed crops at prices that are now competitive with those of traditional diesel.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why does the Minister make the ridiculous claim that having a biofuels sales obligation will reduce the cost of fuel, when, of course, people would buy it anyway, without compulsion, if it were cheaper; and can he confirm the Christchurch Press report today that Environment Canterbury is abandoning its bio-diesel buses because they have become “a casualty of economics”, in that the price of bio-diesels has become so high that the cost to the ratepayer is too great?

Hon DAVID PARKER: In respect of the Christchurch situation, I understand that those biofuels are produced in Auckland and shipped in small quantities to Christchurch, which would explain why they might be expensive in that particular situation. In respect of why we need mandatory obligations to bring forward this new infrastructure, few producers will commit to the cost of the change in infrastructure if they do not have guaranteed uptake of their product, because otherwise they would face the risk that they would produce these biofuels and the oil companies would not buy them.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave to table a transcript of the Radio New Zealand National interview this morning in which the Minister said the tallow price has dropped.

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

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave to table information from the Parliamentary Library that shows that the price of tallow has soared—

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

Hon DAVID PARKER: I seek leave to table an email from the Ministry of Economic Development to me today that shows that the price of tallow has dropped by—

 Leave granted.

/NR/rdonlyres/E6FD3B38-8905-4BAB-B5ED-B26A33D01041/85728/48HansQ_20080624_00000598_.pdfFull transcript of Questions for Oral Answer for Tuesday, 24 June 2008 [PDF 203k]

10. Incandescent Light Bulbs—Importation

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

10. GERRY BROWNLEE (National—Ilam) to the Minister of Energy: From what date will conventional incandescent light bulbs be unable to be imported into New Zealand?

Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister of Energy) : It is intended that from October 2009 the sale of inefficient light bulbs will be phased out where we have cost-effective alternatives. This move is supported by the industry, it will save consumers money, and it will help the environment. Yet National opposes it.

Gerry Brownlee: Why has the Government opted for a legislative sledgehammer by banning the importation of conventional light bulbs when the evidence shows that around half of all New Zealanders have started to use energy-efficient light bulbs because they choose to, and why can the Government not let people make that choice rather than making a blanket ban and treating us all like children who must obey nanny State?

Hon DAVID PARKER: This has been done under the minimum efficiency performance criteria, which we apply to fridges and washing machines. We are doing it with Australia; they are doing the same thing. Why are we doing it? We are doing it because, as members can see here, we have efficient down light bulbs, we have efficient ordinary light bulbs, we have screw-in light bulbs, we have bayonet-fitting light bulbs—we even have light bulbs for chandelier fittings, which are efficient for members of the National Party—we have small ones, we have big ones, we have dimmable ones, and still the National Party opposes it. The National Party cannot even change a light bulb.

Gerry Brownlee: Is this not just another crackdown on consumer choice from a busybody Government that loves telling New Zealanders what to do, when to do it, and how to do it; and can he confirm that the next items on the Government’s banned list will be petrol-powered lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, and garden vacuums?

Hon DAVID PARKER: I really do think this is rather pathetic.

Gerry Brownlee: Does the Government consider it somewhat ironic that while it presses ahead with a ban on conventional light bulbs, the mercury in compact fluorescent light bulbs makes it uneconomic to recycle them, meaning that the disposal of them will ultimately add to New Zealand’s toxic-waste stream?

Hon DAVID PARKER: This one here is actually a fluorescent bulb. It saves 80 percent power. These ones here are not—they have no mercury in them but they still save 35 percent. So these savings are in the range of 35 to 80 percent. Some of them have a little amount of mercury, but it is far less than the old fluorescent light bulbs we used to have. Yes, we need to do better in the future in terms of recycling these things, but I am confident that we will. It is just another excuse for delay on the part of the National Party

Gerry Brownlee: Is the Minister aware that broken compact fluorescent light bulbs emit mercury vapour at a rate of 100,000 nanograms per square metre and if so—[Interruption] I see, it is all funny, it is just a joke; putting a bit of boot into the choice of New Zealanders is a joke—can he assure the House that a broken compact fluorescent light bulb does not pose a health threat to New Zealand households, particularly those with young children in them?

Hon DAVID PARKER: I would point out that if I stuck this light bulb in my mouth, there would be less mercury than if I stuck a thermometer in it. The member’s press release yesterday said his objection to these things is because they are not dimmable. He might be dim, but the reality is we have dimmable versions of these light bulbs and National still opposes them.

Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I invite the Minister to give us a demo by shoving the light bulb into his mouth and swallowing it.

Madam SPEAKER: Members are on the verge of being silly again.

/NR/rdonlyres/861A5F02-4698-4113-BB88-D7671B499E9B/85730/48HansQ_20080624_00000647_.pdfFull transcript of Questions for Oral Answer for Tuesday, 24 June 2008 [PDF 203k]

11. Affiliate Te Arawa Iwi and Hapu Claims Settlement Bill—Airspace Protection

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

11. TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) to the Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations: What is the reason that an airspace protection provision for Ngāti Uenukukōpako is not being considered within the Affiliate Te Arawa Iwi and Hapu Claims Settlement Bill?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister in charge of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations) : The Crown received a request for airspace protection above Ruamatā Marae on 3 June 2008, clearly too late to be included in the deed of settlement. In any case, such matters do not normally fall within the ambit of historical Treaty settlements. However, I have asked the Minister of Transport to contact the representatives of Ruamatā Marae regarding this issue, which is better dealt with as a relationship issue, not as a Treaty claim issue.

Te Ururoa Flavell: What assurance can the Minister give to Ngāti Uenukukōpako that their Treaty rights will not be breached in the future, requiring the people of Ruamatā Marae to move their ancestral meeting house again as they did in the 1960s, as a result of the threat created by the use of aircraft in the airspace immediately above their marae, and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ruamatā, which adjoins the marae?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: These are matters for civil aviation authorities, and obviously also involve Rotorua District Council as the potential promoter of changes at Rotorua airport. I would not regard this as being a historical claim issue at this point, but certainly as one that is best dealt with by discussions between the relevant parties.

Te Ururoa Flavell: What response did he make to Blanche Hohepa-Kiriona of Ngāti Uenukukōpako, who has described the forced relocation of their marae in the 1960s, the impact of their land being taken for the airport, and the adverse impact of aircraft operations on the marae and the people at one of the “telling our stories” hui, which gave affiliate iwi of Te Pūmautanga an opportunity to express various Treaty grievances, and what criteria are used to describe what is an accepted Treaty grievance and what is not?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It obviously varies very much from case to case. In terms of matters that happened in the 1960s, then in so far as they were part of any Treaty claim, any legislation that settles those Treaty claims settles that particular matter. What the member is referring to at the moment is proposed plans, as I understand, in relation to changes at Rotorua airport, in terms, particularly, of international flights and how those might affect the marae itself. That is best dealt with, as I say, by negotiations between the parties currently involved, rather than trying to insert that matter into a historical Treaty claim bill, because this is yet to happen in the case of what is now being proposed.

Louisa Wall: Kia ora, Madam Speaker, tēnā koutou katoa. How does the affiliate Te Arawa iwi and hapū settlement relate to the Central North Island Iwi Collective Crown forest land settlement?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Central North Island Iwi Collective Crown forest deed of settlement will supersede the licensed Crown forest land redress negotiated in the 2006 affiliate Te Arawa deed. In the 2008 deed the Crown has recognised the financial contribution that Te Pūmautanga has made to enable the transfer of the central North Island licensed Crown forest lands to the Central North Island Iwi Collective. I would like to pay tribute to the patience and flexibility and determination of the leadership of Te Pūmautanga in agreeing to these changes.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Further to the discussion the Minister has offered, are any courses of action available to Ngāti Uenukukōpako to achieve a settlement on their airspace protection claims that they have not as yet already followed?

Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am not sufficiently well briefed on that matter. As I have said, I have asked the Minister of Transport to talk to the relevant transport authorities and people who actually have control over airspace issues. Obviously we will want to follow up that further, and as a Minister with an interest in these matters I will want to be kept informed around that and will appreciate further briefings from the member in that regard.

/NR/rdonlyres/954F3040-19A5-4823-ACDC-C85CF5E69554/85732/48HansQ_20080624_00000701_.pdfFull transcript of Questions for Oral Answer for Tuesday, 24 June 2008 [PDF 203k]

12. Public Health Bill—Hairdressers

[Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing.]

12. JO GOODHEW (National—Aoraki) on behalf of the Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Health: Has he taken into account the full implications of the Public Health Bill on all sectors of the economy; if so, how?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Minister of Health) :Yes. The bill is hugely important and will bring many benefits to all New Zealanders. For example, the bill updates previous provisions on communicable diseases and for the first time provides a legislative response to non-communicable diseases, which are the major causes of ill health and premature death in New Zealand and, accordingly, are the major drivers of health expenditure.

Jo Goodhew: How many people, during the last year, have become sick or have died as a result of going to the hairdresser?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I am well aware that that matter is being covered by the Health Committee, but if the member wishes to have specific information on that, it would be as well to put it in a primary question.

Lesley Soper: Can the Minister comment on public submissions on the bill?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: Although the consideration of the submissions is a matter for the committee, I am aware that two-thirds of all public submissions were in favour of the bill. I am further advised that most of the remaining third focused on specific issues that I am confident the select committee and, ultimately, the House will be able to address.

Jo Goodhew: Why, then, if the Minister has no evidence that hairdressers are the new public health menace, is it the intention of the Public Health Bill that hairdressers be required to prepare a public health risk management plan, which must be independently audited by assessors and then reported to the Director-General of Health, who maintains a national database; is that not bureaucracy gone mad?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The member’s question is quite fascinating in two regards. In the first place, I am advised that hairdressers have for many years been regulated as to the substances they can put on the heads of people, including children. There is no legislative change in that regard. The second fascinating thing is that the member is asking the Minister in the House a question, when she has had access to the Minister’s officials through the select committee process for the last 3 months.

Jo Goodhew: How will it make any difference to the public if a hairdresser has to complete a public health risk-management plan that identifies the risks to the public from hairdressing and how those hairdressing risks will be prevented or minimised, and then sets a timetable for how the hairdresser will manage those hairdressing risks; is that not just nanny State out of control?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: There are about 300 pages in this bill. The best example the Opposition can come up with in order to criticise the bill is one provision about hairdressers, which was in place long before the bill was consulted on. I would say that it is obviously very sound legislation.

Jo Goodhew: Does the Minister realise that not only will hairdressers have to prepare a public health risk management plan but also they will have to apply for a certificate of approval of their public health risk management plan, as well as applying for a council consent to be a hairdresser; and does not all that bureaucracy, plus the nonsense on light bulbs, end up putting cost pressures on to consumers, who are already struggling under the skyrocketing costs of living?

Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: A small step for humankind; a giant leap for a natural blond. Will the member object next to the same contaminant provisions that regulate shellfish toxin poisoning or legionella bacteria from cooling towers, or object to the reporting of communicable diseases such as HIV and AIDS, or indeed object to the potential to regulate damaging non-communicable conditions like the obesity epidemic—or is that member focusing on one little thing that is particularly close to her own skin?


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