Questions and Answers - April 10
QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Film Industry, United States—Meeting with Prime Minister
1. ANDREW WILLIAMS (NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Has he ever met with representatives of the Motion Picture Association of America; if so, when?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Acting Prime Minister): Yes, the Prime Minister spoke briefly with the chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America during a private dinner hosted by James Cameron and Jon Landau in Los Angeles on 3 October last year, where his discussions focused on promotion of New Zealand as a location for film and television productions. Kim Dotcom was mentioned in passing. He also had a chance meeting with the executive director of the New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft in a Koru lounge in May 2011. It was a brief conversation about the implementation of the Copyright Amendment Bill.
Andrew Williams: Is it therefore a fact that he met with Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros and a director of the Motion Picture Association of America, in October 2010, as part of the Hobbit movie talks?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I do not have that specific information here with me. My colleague Gerry Brownlee was a party to those talks. The Prime Minister took part on occasion. I cannot tell the member whether the Prime Minister actually met that person.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have just been told that the Minister’s microphone cannot be heard on the television, so anybody who is listening in on these proceedings in public cannot actually hear anything. They can hear the Opposition, but they cannot hear anything the Minister is saying.
Mr SPEAKER: We will have the microphone checked. In the meantime we will carry on.
Andrew Williams: Is he aware that Mr Tsujihara was in charge of Warner Bros’ anti-piracy efforts?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Again, I do not have those facts in front of me, but I will take the member at his word.
Andrew Williams: Can he confirm whether or not Mr Tsujihara has ever discussed with him the Dotcom case?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, I cannot confirm that.
Andrew Williams: Is it not a fact that the Security Intelligence Service hold on Kim Dotcom’s residence application was lifted on 28 October 2010, 1 day after the Prime Minister’s meetings with Mr Tsujihara on 26 and 27 October 2010, as has also been confirmed by Mr David Fisher of the New Zealand Herald?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, I cannot confirm that. Although I took the member’s assertion of facts and took the member’s word on his previous question, I would be a bit less inclined to believe this.
Andrew Williams: Given this incredible set of coincidences that led up to Dotcom’s arrest, does the Prime Minister still stand by his statement that he did not know about Kim Dotcom prior to 19 January 2012, the day before the raid on Dotcom’s mansion—in his own electorate—and when will he come clean about the true extent of his knowledge of the Dotcom case?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Prime Minister stands by all his statements on that matter.
Andrew Williams: Point of order—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is a point of order. It will be heard in silence.
Andrew Williams: I seek leave to table a time line document sourced from Official Information Act letters to the Prime Minister’s office prepared by our research department, detailing all the dates in 2010, 2011, and 2012 that the Prime Minister had meetings—
Mr SPEAKER: OK. That is enough—that is enough detail for the House to make a decision. Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There appears to be none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Andrew Williams: I seek leave to also table an official biography of Mr Kevin Tsujihara—
Mr SPEAKER: Sourced?
Andrew Williams: —provided by Warner Bros, which confirms he is a director of the Motion Picture Association of America—provided by Warner Bros.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table such a biography. Is there any objection? Yes, there is.
Economy—Business Activity and Economic Growth
2. JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa) to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on business activity and the outlook for growth?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yesterday the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research released its quarterly survey of business opinion, which shows business optimism at the highest level since March 2010. Its measure of domestic trading activity increased to the strongest reading since 2007, suggesting that the reasonably strong growth in the December quarter of last year carried through into the first quarter of 2013. The institute commented that “This is the most broad based strength seen in the survey since the recession began in 2008.”
John Hayes: What does the survey say about the manufacturing and export sectors?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The institute’s survey shows that capacity utilisation for manufacturers and builders is the highest it has been in nearly 3 years. Export firms have led this increase. Their capacity is now above the long run average. These results are consistent with other data such as the BNZ - BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index, and I want to thank the Opposition for setting up its inquiry to draw attention to the performance of our manufacturing sector, which continues to strengthen.
John Hayes: What does the survey say about jobs and investment intentions?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Our increased confidence, of course, makes a difference only when it translates into jobs and investment, and the survey shows increased hiring intentions among businesses and increased investment intentions for buildings, plant, and machinery. This is broadbased improvement, and includes intentions for investment and employment in the manufacturing sector. So if this is the Opposition’s version of a crisis, then I would like to see how the manufacturing sector was doing when it was doing moderately well.
John Hayes: What steps is the Government taking to build on the progress in growth, confidence, and investment?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: In the first place it is important to remember that we are recovering ground that was lost during the recession and that this rate of pick up in the economy is generally slower than we would have expected or that we have enjoyed out of other recessions. The Government is continuing to focus on building confidence for investment and employment by
investing significantly in modern infrastructure such as roads, rail, ultra-fast broadband, hospitals, and schools, working on dozens of different policy areas under the Business Growth Agenda, which will, when taken together, assist businesses to make the decisions to invest more.
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The problem with the audio on the television feed has not improved and I wonder whether we could ask Mr English to shift to the next seat to see if that microphone might be better. [Interruption] They cannot hear it out there, Gerry.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: We don’t play to the television audience, unlike you, Grant.
Grant Robertson: Great commitment to democracy, Gerry—good on you.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The problem is being investigated. Question time will continue.
3. DAVID SHEARER (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Acting Prime Minister): Yes.
David Shearer: Does he stand by his statement on 24 September last year in relation to the Government Communications Security Bureau that “I’ve never had advice in the four years that I’ve been minister that they’ve in any way ever acted unlawfully outside of the advice I received last Monday, which was that they possibly acted unlawfully.”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, in July last year I was told by the Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau that a question had been raised by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security about the Government Communications Security Bureau’s assistance to the Security Intelligence Service. I am advised that this question was raised in the context of the inspector-general’s involvement in a review of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act. Lawyers for both the Government Communications Security Bureau and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service were convinced that their longstanding interpretation, which had been in place for several decades, and their practices were correct. When the question was raised, the lawyers for both of those agencies informed the relevant directors of their view that the interpretations and the practices were correct. The Prime Minister was not told in July that the activities were unlawful. In fact, as a result of the issues being raised, he was advised that they were lawful. Legal discussions continued to be followed, and that was the case for some time.
David Shearer: Given that he was told in July about the possible unlawful spying on New Zealanders, why did he not immediately suspend any such activity to protect the fundamental rights of New Zealanders?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Is it going? Sorry, Mr Speaker, can I hear the question again?
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, certainly. Would David Shearer please repeat the question for continuity.
David Shearer: Given that he was told in July about the possible unlawful spying on New Zealanders, why did he not immediately suspend any such activity to protect the fundamental freedoms of New Zealanders?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As I pointed out in answer to the principal question, when an issue was raised of—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: It is more important that Parliament hears this than television.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As I said in the answer to the principal question, when the matter was raised by the Inspector-General advice was given by the lawyers of the Government Communications Security Bureau and the Security Intelligence Service that the longstanding practice and interpretation, which had been in place both prior to the Government Communications Security Bureau Act and under the Government Communications Security Bureau Act under the previous Labour Government for 5 or 6 years, was legally valid. That was not the end, however, of legal discussions. They went on for some time.
David Shearer: Does he not think it is his duty to New Zealanders that, as soon as he finds out that there is the possibility of illegal spying, he stops spying altogether?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: When sufficient doubt was raised about that—
Grant Robertson: Rubbish!
Hon BILL ENGLISH: When sufficient doubt was raised about that the Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau took exactly that step, and it still remains in place. At the time that these matters were raised with the Prime Minister the subsequent advice was that the activities were lawful. That turned out to be incorrect.
Louise Upston: So when was the Prime Minister first made aware that there were 88 people who may have unlawfully been subjects of surveillance by the Government Communications Security Bureau?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: On behalf of the Government Communications Security Bureau— [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I want to hear.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: —the Prime Minister—the Government Communications Security Bureau is not very pleased with the Government! The Prime Minister was made aware when he received Rebecca Kitteridge’s report on 22 March. Miss Kitteridge was unable to confirm the number herself until the day before she completed her report. In addition, final legal advice was not received from the Solicitor-General on this matter on the legality of the Government Communications Security Bureau’s activities until 19 March 2013. It is a nonsense to suggest that the Prime Minister should or could have released information regarding the question of legality surrounding these 88 people sooner than when the advice was clear and the report was completed. This was something that was unclear. Legal interpretation still remains difficult and it would be irresponsible for the Prime Minister to raise these issues in public without full information and without clear legal advice as to the status of the Government Communications Security Bureau’s activities.
David Shearer: Why did he not ever mention in the myriad of media interviews and public statements he has made on the issue of the illegal spying that there were red flags, as he calls it, raised in July last year?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: This amounts to the Prime Minister saying he knew something before he knew it. The Inspector-General raised the possibility that there were questions. The immediate answer to those questions was that the activities of the Government Communications Security Bureau were legal, because the chief legal advisers of both intelligence agencies thought that the practices they had followed under the previous Labour Government, pursuant to the Act that the previous Labour Government had passed, were legal.
Louise Upston: What was the purpose of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act of 2003?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government Communications Security Bureau Act was passed in 2003 under the previous Labour Government and its purpose was to continue the Government Communications Security Bureau and establish it as a part of the State. It actually already existed and it was already active. The Act was intended to codify the existing practices. Those practices included the Government Communications Security Bureau assisting the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service to undertake surveillance of New Zealanders. That was known to the Government of the time, never questioned by the Government of the time, and nor were any questions raised about the legality of those activities when that Act was passed. The Government Communications Security Bureau was assisting the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service. I think the House needs to be aware that the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service does legally undertake surveillance of New Zealanders. The Government Communications Security Bureau was acting as its agent to assist with its specialised analytical skills.
David Shearer: Can the Prime Minister confirm that he is the first Minister responsible for the GCSB who has been alerted to the potential illegal spying by that bureau?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I do not think the Prime Minister can confirm that, because he will not be aware of every conversation that would have happened under the previous Prime Minister, who passed the Government Communications Security Bureau Act, and, I presume, very thoroughly examined the way the Act was structured to ensure that the activities of the Government Communications Security Bureau were legal. What I can tell the member is that when the Prime Minister became aware of the significant legal issues, he took action, and in the next couple of weeks the results of that action will be made clear to the House and to Parliament.
Louise Upston: Why is the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security now looking into the 88 cases referred to him?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security is the watchdog that has been set up by this Parliament to oversee the activities of the intelligence agencies. The Prime Minister has written to the inspector-general and asked him to look into these cases. His office is the correct place for these inquiries to be directed. Parliament has set out in section 11 of the Inspector- General of Intelligence and Security Act that his functions are to inquire “... into any matter that relates to compliance by an intelligence and security agency with the law of New Zealand”. His functions also include inquiring into any matter where it appears that a New Zealand person “... has or may have been adversely affected by an act, ... or procedure of an intelligence and security agency.” So the inspector-general is the correct person to refer concerns about the legality of actions of the intelligence agencies.
David Shearer: Just yesterday the Prime Minister said that the question of the legality of the Government Communications Security Bureau was “unresolved”; why did he not, with that amount of doubt, stop the activities of the Government Communications Security Bureau in its illegal spying?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The answer is the same as the answer I gave earlier. When the questions were raised by the inspector-general and advice was taken on the legality of the actions that immediately related to that, the advice from the senior legal counsel on these matters, regarded as expert, who had overseen the process—and it is one that lasted for many years—was that the activities were legal. However, that was not the end of the legal discussion. As soon as the Prime Minister took the view that there was significant doubt about the legality of the actions, he, along with the Government Communications Security Bureau, moved to suspend the activities of the Government Communications Security Bureau that may have been in doubt. And I would stress the point the member made. It still an open question as to whether those activities were legal or not legal, and the inspector-general is going to have a look at it and he will recommend what action should be taken.
David Shearer: In relation to his answer, can he please answer why spying continued when the question of legality was still unresolved in the mind of the Prime Minister; why did that spying continue when it was unresolved?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Because the legal advice at the time appeared to resolve the matter with the advice that the behaviour was legal—that is why.
Dr Russel Norman: When issues arose in July 2012, when the Prime Minister was briefed as to some concerns as to the legality of what the Government Communications Security Bureau was doing, why did the Prime Minister not ask for a legal opinion from the Crown Law Office?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I cannot give you exactly the answer on whether one was requested or whether one was offered. The advice I have on behalf of the Prime Minister is that the senior legal advisers of the agencies believed the actions were legal. That was not the end of the legal discussion. Advice has been subsequently taken. As I said before, it is still an open question as to whether the interpretation of the Act, which was in place under the previous Government and under this Government, was correct or not correct. There is doubt about it. The activities of the
Government Communications Security Bureau have been suspended, and the inspector-general is looking into the matter.
Dr Russel Norman: Is the Minister aware of the “Cabinet Directions for the Conduct of Crown Legal Business 2012, which state that “... the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General, have constitutional responsibility for determining the Crown’s view of what the law is ...”; and if he were aware of that, given that there was a question of the legality of the Government Communications Security Bureau raised with him in July 2012, why did he not follow these Cabinet directions and seek a legal opinion from the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Legal opinions were sought and, as I answered in an earlier question, the Solicitor-General gave his final legal advice on this matter as recently as 19 March. So, in fact, the Government has been keen to sort out exactly what the legal issues are. It has turned out that in the light of 20 or 30 years of practice, where the legality was taken for granted and the behaviour was advised as legal, it has taken some time for others who have addressed the issue to come to a view that there is serious doubt. In fact, as soon as the Prime Minister was aware of significant doubt about the legality of those matters, and as soon as the Government Communications Security Bureau was aware of it, they suspended activities. That was about 6 months ago.
Dr Russel Norman: Given that the Minister responsible, the Prime Minister, did not go to Crown Law on immediately discovering there was a question of legal interpretation as to whether the Government Communications Security Bureau was acting lawfully, is he confident that the Minister responsible is up to the job of providing oversight of the bureau?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I do not accept the member’s assertion about what the Prime Minister did or did not do, simply because we do not have that information in front of us. But I can reassure the member that the inspector-general raised the issue, as is his wont. Just quite why it came up after many years of the same practice, only after the implementation of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act, is not yet clear. When the Prime Minister had the view and the Government Communications Security Bureau had the view that there was a significant question to be answered, he took action. Again, I will emphasise that the inspector-general has yet to determine whether the actions were legal or not legal, and Crown Law advice on the matter has been received only as recently as 19 March. This has been a complex process of unravelling decades of practice and decades of legal interpretation, which everyone took for granted. In fact, that member should be pleased that the Government has brought all these matters to the public attention, and is in a position to resolve them over the next few months.
Dr Russel Norman: We are idiots!
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just ask the supplementary question.
Dr Russel Norman: If the Prime Minister were to find out that his Minister, the Minister responsible for overseeing the GCSB, on finding out in July 2012 that there was an issue of legal interpretation as to whether the bureau was acting lawfully, did not immediately seek a Crown Law opinion on that matter, as he is required to under the Cabinet directions, would he still have confidence in the ability of that Minister?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, again, I do not accept the member’s assertions. It is fundamentally the task of the legal advisers of the agencies to be familiar with the law. You might assume that they were familiar with the law, having spent many decades interpreting and operating that law, and, secondly, relying on the role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security as an independent oversight of the intelligence agencies. The matter was raised with the Prime Minister. Subsequent action led to legal advice that the activities were legal. One might have assumed that that resolved the issue, but, in fact, legal debate continued, and 8 months later the Solicitor General produced an opinion on 19 March this year.
Dr Russel Norman: Does the Prime Minister not realise that in his statement just then he exactly restated the problem, which is he said that they should be relying on the internal legal advisers within those departments, when Rebecca Kitteridge, in her report, is absolutely explicit that
the Government Communications Security Bureau as a public service department is bound by the position that it is the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General who have the constitutional responsibility for determining the Crown’s position on what the law is—so by relying on those internal advisers he did not follow the position that is in the “Cabinet Directions for the Conduct of Crown Legal Business 2012”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Of course Ms Kitteridge’s report is correct in laying out that process. When there was reasonable doubt, when the question became reasonably significant as to interpretation, then certainly other authorities were contacted and became part of the discussion. The fact that the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security mentioned the issue, and that it was fundamentally his job to oversee it, and that the legal advice at the time from the agencies was that the activities were legal, may not have constituted a reason to get independent advice right then. I cannot give the member the exact timetable, but Crown Law was engaged. Crown Law took many months, actually, to produce an opinion because it is a difficult technical area of interpretation. When there was any reasonable doubt, then the Government Communications Security Bureau suspended its activities. The key point here is that the participants could not know about the mistake before they knew. When they became aware that there was reasonable doubt, they acted appropriately to protect the constitutional interests of New Zealanders.
Dr Russel Norman: Does he have full confidence in the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and full confidence that the inspector-general can provide adequate oversight of the Government Communications Security Bureau?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, that is a statutory role, and that is why the Prime Minister has acted consistently with the statute and referred these cases to the inspector-general to make a determination.
Roading, Waikato—Waikato Expressway
4. TIM MACINDOE (National—Hamilton West) to the Minister of Transport: What reports has he received regarding the Waikato Expressway Road of National Significance?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Transport): In the last few days I have seen and heard a number of reports regarding the Waikato Expressway. The first was a report from Radio New Zealand, unusually, stating that Waikato iwi representatives are praising the consultation process over the design of the southernmost stage of the Waikato Expressway. The second was a report from the Waikato Times on the large amount of land being opened up for development thanks to the Waikato Expressway. The third, also in the Waikato Times, was a story praising Fulton Hogan for the winning of the supreme award at the Waikato contractors annual awards for its work on the Te Rapa bypass. All of these reports show that when building such a significant piece of transport infrastructure it is not about just the roads, it is about boosting the economic growth of an area, bringing communities closer together, and fostering innovation. Put simply, it is a smart transport plan.
Jonathan Young: Have there been any other reports on the roads of national significance?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Yes. I heard a story on Newstalk ZB claiming that the Government was ignoring Taranaki by not including it in the roads of national significance programme. This surprised me because the comments came from someone who had previously campaigned against the roads of national significance, so I want to take this opportunity in the House this afternoon to thank Mr Andrew Little for recognising a smart transport plan when he sees one.
Tim Macindoe: Has the Minister seen any other reports about the Waikato Expressway?
Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Yes, I have seen comment in the Waikato Times that “a Labourled government would want an in-depth analysis of the Waikato expressway before committing to the project in its current form.” I have also seen comments from a former Labour MP, Martin
Gallagher, where he has raised concern that Labour would cancel or delay the Waikato Expressway. Thankfully, though, he also expressed his view that he does not expect a change in Government.
Mr SPEAKER: Before I call question No. 5, I thought I would take the opportunity of acknowledging to members the presence today of a former member, Mr Haddon Donald, who was the member for Wairarapa from 1963 to 1969. The reason I do this is that at 96 years of age he is the oldest former member, and I thought members might like to take the opportunity to acknowledge Mr Donald. I am now informed that the TV sound system is also working.
Health Services—Minister’s Statements
5. Hon ANNETTE KING (Labour—Rongotai) to the Minister of Health: Does he stand by his statement that the Government will not agree to anything that “doesn’t improve patient services”?
Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health): Yes, within the context of that statement made 4 years ago, referring to the high-level recommendations of the ministerial review group. I also stand by my statement that despite millions of dollars of extra funding, some programmes may be slowed, changed, or stopped. An example of this is Fruit in Schools, where we have stopped millions of dollars being spent on administration, and we are now providing more fruit to schoolkids for less cost.
Hon Annette King: If quality is important to him, did he agree to the proposal from Health Benefits Ltd, which he set up in 2010, to close all public hospital kitchens and have TV-style reheated dinners fed to sick patients, prepared only in Auckland and Christchurch, and then transported hundreds of kilometres around New Zealand?
Hon TONY RYALL: Yes, I am aware of that from a media report today. What I can say to the member is that Health Benefits Ltd is working on a business case to try to save money, and any money that is saved in changes to kitchen services will be reinvested back into the New Zealand public health service.
Hon Annette King: Is he aware that the preferred provider of these budget airline-style meals for sick New Zealanders in our public hospitals is the Compass Group, a UK multinational company, which recently fed horse meat in its dinners; if so, how does he intend to measure the quality of the food provided by it in New Zealand? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I am interested in the answer.
Hon TONY RYALL: I have yet to receive a formal proposition from Health Benefits Ltd for this. I can tell the member that, as she knows, a large number of hospital kitchens, even when she was Minister of Health, were contracted out to the private sector. It has a long history of involvement in hospital kitchens, and I can assure the member that before any district health board and Health Benefits were to proceed with this, they would want to assure themselves as to the quality of the hospital food and the standard of food that is being provided to New Zealand patients. What I can assure the member of is that every dollar saved through more effective back-office services will be reinvested in front-line services for New Zealand patients, like more operations and more care for New Zealanders.
Darien Fenton: Has he considered the impact this will have on the 1,300 or so low-income workers and their families who work in hospital food services throughout New Zealand?
Hon TONY RYALL: I am absolutely certain that the interests of those people are being considered in these decisions. Many of those 1,300 people are employed by private contractors now—many of our hospital food staff. So this is what they are looking at. I have to say that in tight financial times I welcome smart ideas that can save on back-office administrative costs, so that we can put that money into front-line services. But members can be assured that quality and, I hope, improvement of hospital food in some parts of the country are a major consideration in this.
Darien Fenton: Will he be prepared to front up to hospital food staff in his electorate in every town in the country, throughout New Zealand, to tell them that they are back-office staff and deserve to be laid off en masse?
Hon TONY RYALL: I think the member is getting way ahead of herself. Health Benefits Ltd is preparing a business case to take to the district health boards and see what we can do. The key thing here is that I would have thought the Opposition would want the money that we have in health spent in the most efficient way possible. That is why so many services were contracted out when Annette King was Minister of Health. We want the money being spent the most effective way, maintaining quality, with any savings going back into more services for patients.
Child Sexual Abuse, Online—Government Initiatives to Combat
6. Hon KATE WILKINSON (National—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Justice: What actions is the Government undertaking to eliminate online child sexual abuse?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice): Online sexual abuse of children is totally abhorrent. Not only is the child abused in the making of the videos but, because it is online, children are re-victimised over and over by the international dissemination of this illegal material. Because of the internet, this needs an international response by crime detection agencies. New Zealand has joined the Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online, headed by the European Union and the United States, which is focused on combating this evil.
Hon Kate Wilkinson: What steps are now being taken by New Zealand agencies as part of this new initiative?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: As part of the global alliance and this Government’s commitment to better public services, New Zealand agencies, including the Customs Service, the police, and the Department of Internal Affairs, are working together as a task force to share information on persons of interest, to improve the identification of victims and ensure increased levels of support for victims, to increase efforts to investigate online offending and prosecute offenders, to increase public awareness of the risks involved by children’s activities online, and to reduce the amount of child pornography online. As a result of our participation in the international sexual exploitation database, agencies have recently identified six victims in New Zealand and have been able to identify and rescue four victims in the United Kingdom.
Government Communications Security Bureau—Review of Compliance
7. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Who in his Government had access to the Rebecca Kitteridge report into the Government Communications Security Bureau before it was publicly released; and did the Prime Minister, or any of his Ministers, or their offices, leak the report?
Mr SPEAKER: Before I call the Minister, my office has been advised that the answer will be longer than normal to give the detail.
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Acting Prime Minister): The report by Rebecca Kitteridge was initially provided to the Prime Minister and his office on 22 March. The paper was circulated under strict Cabinet security procedures to members of the Cabinet committee on domestic and external security—and the membership of that is available on the Cabinet Office website—of senior Ministers. Copies of the report were received by the directors, secretaries, or chief executives of the following agencies or organisations: the Government Communications Security Bureau, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Crown Law, the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, the intelligence coordination group within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the State Services Commission. In addition, 11 other senior officials within these agencies were given the report. Two other Ministers received it: the Hon Peter Dunne, consistent with his membership of the coalition, and the Hon Maurice Williamson, in his capacity as Minister of Customs. The Prime Minister can give a categorical
assurance that neither he nor his office leaked the report. He does not believe for a moment that his Ministers or their offices leaked the report either. Earlier today in China the Prime Minister informed the media that he had asked his chief executive at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to speak with the State Services Commissioner to provide some advice about a potential inquiry into the leak. That advice is likely to be received upon the Prime Minister’s return to New Zealand.
Dr Russel Norman: Thank you for the answer. Was the timing of the leak part of a communication strategy to divert attention from his inappropriate involvement—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I invite the member to start his question again.
Dr Russel Norman: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Was the timing of the leak part of a communication strategy to divert attention from his inappropriate involvement in the appointment of Ian Fletcher, and to have other Ministers front questions in Parliament?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, the member’s assertion is ridiculous. He should understand, if he regards himself as potentially a member of any Government in the future, that no Prime Minister would treat matters of national security in that fashion, and I would hope that as a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee he will not treat matters of national security in that fashion.
Dr Russel Norman: Is the reason he is so confident the Kitteridge report appendices have not been leaked that he knows what was and was not leaked because he knows who leaked it?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, I think I answered the question yesterday about the appendices. I simply said on behalf of the Prime Minister that they do not appear to have been leaked, because they have not appeared in the newspapers. They may be sitting in a shoebox under someone’s bed, but we cannot know whether they have been leaked until they appear in public.
Dr Russel Norman: Is the Prime Minister too relaxed when it comes to protecting the fundamental freedoms and rights of citizens, and does he think they will be able to relax when the law is changed, as he is proposing, to allow the Government Communications Security Bureau to spy on every phone call, every email, every conversation, and every meeting that a New Zealander has?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No. In fact, I think the extent to which the Prime Minister has gone to ensure that the law is complied with, despite the fact that everyone assumed it had been legal for the Government Communications Security Bureau to conduct these activities for decades, tells you how seriously he does take these issues. I might point out to the member, and for general interest, that, in fact, the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, which to most New Zealanders will not be distinguishable from the Government Communications Security Bureau, has full legal rights to spy on all New Zealanders at any time, subject to warrants, etc. So if people think that New Zealanders cannot be put under surveillance by Government security agencies, they are wrong. The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service can do that.
Question No. 8 to Minister
Hon PHIL HEATLEY (National—Whangarei): To the Minister for Social Development— [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon Trevor Mallard: Start again, Mr Speaker. Give him a chance.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! We are trying to give him a chance. If the members could please stop interjecting, then we can have question No. 8 in the name of the Hon Phil Heatley.
Hon PHIL HEATLEY: My question is to the Minister for Social Development—
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not one for high dress standards, but business attire does not normally include flappers.
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.
Child Protection—Support for Grandparents and Other Kin Carers
8. Hon PHIL HEATLEY (National—Whangarei) to the Minister for Social Development: What announcements has she made as part of the Children’s Action Plan to support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren?
Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development): As part of the White Paper for Vulnerable Children, we announced an extra $10 million to help with carers’ additional costs. Today I have announced the establishment of a ministerial reference group that will provide me with advice on how best to allocate that financial support to grandparents who are raising grandchildren, and other kin carers. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren will be part of the group to provide that formal advice, as will Fostering Kids, and I am looking forward to receiving it.
Hon Phil Heatley: What has the reference group been asked to focus on?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: The terms of reference ask the group to provide options on the extra financial assistance to facilitate ideas from the wider community and to provide a report to me in August. What I have done, though, is ask it to think outside the box—that this need not be another allowance via Work and Income, that it could think about it being administered quite differently and to be better targeted on need, and I look forward to receiving it.
Hon Phil Heatley: How else is the Government supporting grandparents raising grandchildren?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: There are a number of ways. We have given them access to respite care in the past. We have made sure that they have had advice on the parenting that they needed when they are second-time parents, if you like. We are now able to offer them that extra financial assistance. I recently gave them someone very senior within Work and Income who can cut through issues or problems that might be being made. This group, though, that we are setting up and is exploring ways of grant funding—we have got a really good cross-section, I think, from the communities that care about it, and I think that will make a fundamental difference as well.
Jacinda Ardern: How will she know that the Children’s Action Plan is making a difference to child well-being when, according to a report released today, New Zealand is one of just six countries that does not collect enough data to fully measure how well our kids are doing?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: I think what I got from that report as well is that what they are looking for is action, and that is exactly what the Children’s Action Plan is. It has more than 32 responses to vulnerable children, which cross from community responses right through to legislative changes that are needed, so that we can ensure that joint chief executives are taking responsibility for these kids. I fundamentally believe that that will be the difference for them.
Jacinda Ardern: Why does she not measure child poverty in the same range of ways that 29 other OECD nations already do?
Hon PAULA BENNETT: Because while the Labour Party is worried about what those measures are, we are getting on and actually doing something about it.
Jacinda Ardern: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That was a relatively straightforward question, but I really do not think that she addressed—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! It was a political question and it got a political answer back again. Question No. 9, Clare Curran.
Jacinda Ardern: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask whether I could perhaps, just for clarification on my point of order and for my future learning experience, have it explained to me how that was a political question.
Mr SPEAKER: I invite the member to go back and look at it—why not measure child poverty in the way other countries do, etc. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have called Clare Curran—question No. 9
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: If the member is attempting to relitigate my decision as to the adequacy of that answer, then I will take that very seriously.
Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wish to ask you a serious question, to gain some clarification. Is it out of order to cite a measurement for something and ask whether the Government is prepared to use its own statistics in the same way? Is that out of order or is that political?
Mr SPEAKER: That is not out of order.
Justice, Ministry—Security of Online Information
9. CLARE CURRAN (Labour—Dunedin South) to the Minister of Justice: Was an outside person able to gain access to Ministry of Justice data which showed plain text passwords to a secure database and a payment gateway?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice): A hacker was able to view a configuration page on the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority website, a view that included two passwords. The passwords were completely unusable by that hacker, and could not provide an outside person access to any private information. The website access is isolated and there are layers of protection that control access to other ministry systems. There was no privacy breach. No private or financial information was able to be accessed. This is not a member of the public inadvertently finding information. It would require some very deliberate action by people with very good IT skills.
Clare Curran: Did the Ministry of Justice shut down parts of its website due to security concerns yesterday?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Yes, the ministry did in fact take the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority website off-line while it checked the member’s assertions that she provided to me and the ministry yesterday. I also understand that there was quite a large amount of Twitter conversation between her and the hackers over the weekend.
Clare Curran: Can she rule out—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I have called Clare Curran, and she will be given the opportunity to ask her supplementary question.
Clare Curran: Can she rule out categorically that there was a breach of privacy as a result of the security holes in the Ministry of Justice website that were identified yesterday?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: That is the information I have, and I think that that also concurs with the information that the member sent to me yesterday.
Alfred Ngaro: What assurance can she give New Zealanders that the Ministry of Justice website is secure and that personal and private information is not at risk?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: When the site in question was built in 2011 it was tested by external IT security experts and was found to be secure. At the end of 2012 the platform the site is on was also tested by external IT security experts and was found to be secure. As a precaution, the ministry has shut down the site, to ensure that it knows precisely what these external hackers have done and to ensure that any identified weakness is fixed. External experts have also been engaged to check the site, to ensure it is secure.
Clare Curran: Will she carry out an independent security review to ensure that the ministry’s systems are all patched to the most recent secure versions and to ensure that there are no other gaping holes such as the one identified yesterday?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: There was no gaping hole. However, if the member had bothered to listen to the answer that I have just given our colleague Mr Ngaro, she would have heard that in fact external experts have again been engaged to check. And I wish she would not come down here with these pre-prepared questions, and listen to the answers that she is given.
Clare Curran: Supplementary—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I cannot hear the member because of the noise coming from her own colleagues.
Clare Curran: Has she, her office, or her ministry been in contact with the whistleblower, who has made their contact details available to her, and who did the right thing by bringing this serious security hole to the attention of the Government and the public; if not, why not?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The ministry and I do not deal with hackers and we do not deal with burglars.
Clare Curran: Point of order. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I think I have a point of order, is it?
Clare Curran: Point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: Point of order—and it will be heard in silence.
Clare Curran: I seek leave to table a letter from the Minister to me yesterday afternoon, received at 12.34 p.m., noting my advice that I was willing to produce to the ministry the details of person X.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that letter. Is there any objection? There appears to be none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Clare Curran: I seek leave to table an email from me to the Minister providing those details.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table the email from the member to the Minister. Are there any objections? There appears to be none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Clare Curran: I seek leave to table a redacted version of the screenshot of the unprotected page of data, provided to me by a whistleblower who accessed a secure part of the Ministry of Justice website by clicking a publicly available link.
Mr SPEAKER: I think we have got enough information. Is there any objection to that being tabled? Yes, there is.
Drowning Prevention—Campaign Targeting Pacific Community
10. Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA (National—Maungakiekie) to the Minister for ACC: What is the Government doing to reduce drowning numbers amongst the Pacific community in New Zealand?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister for ACC): ACC is involved in a joint initiative called Folau Malu, or Journey Safely. It is specifically aimed at reducing drowning among Māori and Pacific people. It involves collaboration with Maritime New Zealand, Coastguard Northern Region, and the Auckland Council Harbourmaster.
Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga: How does this programme specifically meet the needs of the Pacific community?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The Folau Malu programme has been tailored to be user-friendly for the Pacific community. For example, Pacific people who are passionate about boating and fishing were selected to act as Pacific champions to communicate safe boating messages to others in their communities. The initial group of champions included a schoolteacher, church leaders, and a former commercial skipper, who were trained to become Maritime New Zealand volunteer safe boating advisers. Coastguard skipper day training has been held in Pacific community venues in South Auckland, rather than the Marine Rescue Centre in central Auckland. Training material has been translated into Pacific languages. Tests are conducted orally rather than the usual written test in English, just to make sure that everybody is able to participate.
Education, Ministry—Confidence and Resignation of Secretary for Education
11. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka) to the Minister of Education: Does she stand by all of her answers to Oral Question No 11 on 26 March 2013; if not, why not?
Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Yes. However, as the member is aware, on 26 March I also made a personal explanation to the House to clarify that although I was not consulted at the final stage of the State Services Commissioner’s decision to accept Ms Longstone’s resignation, I had been involved in earlier discussions.
Chris Hipkins: Why did she indicate that the State Services Commissioner had not consulted her about Lesley Longstone’s resignation?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Because I had misunderstood the question relating to the final decision-making powers, which rest exclusively with the State Services Commissioner.
Chris Hipkins: When did the State Services Commissioner first discuss Lesley Longstone’s possible resignation as the Secretary for Education with her?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I was first informed on 6 December 2012 that Ms Longstone and the State Services Commissioner were in discussions as part of her annual performance review, and that Ms Longstone was considering returning to the United Kingdom, and, if so, would step aside from her position. I was informed on Tuesday, 18 December that Ms Longstone had resigned and the State Services Commissioner had accepted her resignation, and that he would be holding a press conference the following day about this.
Chris Hipkins: Did she indicate in any discussions with the State Services Commissioner a preference that Lesley Longstone should not continue as the Secretary for Education; if so, why?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: As is standard practice for all Ministers, I was involved in the State Services Commissioner’s annual performance review process for chief executives. As part of this process, I provided a wide range of feedback on Ms Longstone’s performance to the commissioner. There are contractual arrangements between the State Services Commissioner and Ms Longstone regarding her employment. I have been advised that to go into any further detail about performance matters would be a breach.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did not ask about any performance matters to do with Lesley Longstone. I simply asked the Minister whether she indicated a preference that Lesley Longstone should not continue as the Secretary for Education.
Mr SPEAKER: I appreciate the member’s point of order. I listened carefully to the question and the answer, and I think it has been adequately addressed. The member has further supplementary questions.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I will not overly labour this, but the question is—I did not ask—
Mr SPEAKER: I know exactly what the member asked, and I listened very carefully to the answer. I think that on this occasion the question has been addressed. I invite the member to ask a further supplementary question.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Before I ask a further supplementary question, which I would like to do, if you could indicate to me whether the answer was affirmative—
Mr SPEAKER: No. You had the opportunity to listen to the answer, as I did. If the member wants a further supplementary question, I advise him to take it.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Is this a point of order on a completely different matter?
Chris Hipkins: It is a completely different point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: A fresh point of order?
Chris Hipkins: It is a completely different point of order. This is a relatively serious matter, and there is very—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order is being heard and it will be heard in silence.
Chris Hipkins: That is actually the point of order I was going to raise. There are very clear rulings from the Speaker that points of order are to be heard in silence. I do not think I have raised any trivial matters in points of order. Is that standard still going to apply?
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, it does. The House has been particularly noisy from all parts of the House today, but the member has further supplementary questions.
Chris Hipkins: Did she indicate to the State Services Commissioner at any stage that Lesley Longstone should not have to work out her notice as Secretary for Education; if so, why?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: Matters of that nature are exclusively the preserve of the employment contract and its processes between the chief commissioner and the employee.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did not ask her about matters relating to the State Services Commissioner and Lesley Longstone. I asked her what signals she gave to the State Services Commissioner. That is actually her responsibility as a Minister.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: It is quite clear from what Minister Parata has said to the House that it would be inappropriate for her to give any sort of indication about what were effectively and what are effectively—and people on the other side of the House who have been Ministers will know this—confidential discussions between the State Services Commissioner and the Minister about the performance of chief executives. I think the way she answered that is effectively saying it is not in the public interest to continue, and that should be accepted.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I speak with some experience both as a portfolio Minister and Minister of State Services—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order and it will be heard in silence, otherwise a member is going to be asked to leave the Chamber.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Ministers have, on a number of occasions, been asked to indicate in this House whether or not they have confidence in their chief executives. This question goes to that. The question goes to the spending of probably a quarter of a million dollars extra because of the lack of notice. My experience is that a Minister’s opinion would be sought on that by the commissioner. On the question of whether a Minister could work with the chief executive, that opinion would be sought, and, just like a Minister can be asked whether they have confidence in the chief executive, that response should be a matter of record. It may well be that the Minister indicated that she could not, but I think, given the large amount of money—public money—that was spent on someone to be sent back to the United Kingdom, we have the right to know whether Hekia Parata indicated that she thought that was appropriate.
Mr SPEAKER: The difficulty I have with the last point of order is that it is not actually the question that was asked. It is, sort of, the information that the member is trying to obtain—I accept that. The question was whether the Minister indicated whether it was her preference that Ms Longstone work out her notice, etc., and the answer, which I think Mr Brownlee has put very succinctly, and the way I interpreted the answer, was that it is a private matter and it is not in the interests of an employment agreement for that to be breached. That is the difficulty I have as Speaker, but the member has further supplementary questions. I invite him to ask them.
Chris Hipkins: Was she made aware when she was consulted about Lesley Longstone’s resignation that her early departure rather than working out her notice would cost the taxpayer an additional $267,952?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I had no knowledge of those arrangements until after they had been finalised. They were an employment matter between Ms Longstone and the State Services Commissioner.
Chris Hipkins: Did she indicate to the State Services Commissioner at any stage that she would be happy for Lesley Longstone to leave her contract early and not work out any notice period?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: The employment relationship was between Ms Longstone and the State Services Commissioner. Therefore, any details related to that were properly the preserve of those discussions and I was not involved in them.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is not what I asked the Minister. I asked her whether she indicated that she—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am going to invite the member to ask that question again.
Chris Hipkins: Did she indicate at any stage of her discussions with the State Services Commissioner that she would be happy for Lesley Longstone to leave her contract early rather than work out her notice?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: As I have indicated in my previous answer, as those matters are part of the employment process between Ms Longstone and the State Services Commissioner, I was not involved in them. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Question No. 12, the Hon Tariana Turia. [Interruption] Order! Order! I have called the Hon Tariana Turia for question No. 12.
Young Offenders, Māori—Prosecution Rates
12. Hon TARIANA TURIA (Co-Leader—Māori Party) to the Minister of Police: What instructions will she be giving to New Zealand Police about the fact that, despite a plethora of research reports and strategies to reduce youth crime, today’s report from the youth law advocacy group, Just Speak, has just revealed that young Māori between the ages of 10 and 16 have a much higher chance of facing prosecution than young Pākehā?
Mr SPEAKER: Before I call the Minister, my office has also advised that this may be a longer answer than normal.
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister of Police): The figures released by JustSpeak need to be read with extreme caution. They are a basic comparison between the number of apprehensions and the resulting number of prosecutions. The figures do not show the number of offenders, nor do they show the number of repeat offenders. The figures do not take into account whether evidence is available to successfully prosecute, the seriousness of the offence, an offender’s criminal history, or an offender’s support network, and these are all important factors when the police make decisions on whether to prosecute an offender or to use an alternative resolution. Although the Policing Act prevents me from instructing the police on operational matters, I have discussed with both the police and the Department of Corrections how we can address Māori over-representation in the criminal justice system. An example of this is the Turning the Tide action plan, which was released by the Commissioner of Police and prominent iwi late last year. One of the aims of this plan is to reduce the proportion of first-time youth and adult offenders who are Māori by 10 percent. The police also launched their national youth policing plan last year, which aims to prevent first-time and repeat offending by young people, with a focus on Māori.
Hon Tariana Turia: Does the Minister agree with Tai Ahu, who was speaking on Radio New Zealand National this morning, that the way the criminal justice system is affecting Māori is disproportionate and it suggests that there is some level of systemic bias in the criminal justice system; and what strategies has she in place to address institutional bias?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I strongly disagree that Māori are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system because of institutional bias. People are prosecuted because they have committed a crime. Police have been working hard to build positive and constructive relationships with iwi and the community. These relationships are focused on preventing crime and victimisation, and the fact that the crime rate has fallen for 3 years in a row is testament that this approach is now working.
Hon Tariana Turia: Moana Jackson’s report He Whaipānga Hou identified these very issues about 30 years ago—what radical reform is the Minister planning to tackle this decades-old problem?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: There are a number of programmes in play at the moment that I will list for the member that have a particular focus on working with Māori youth. For instance, the national youth policing plan that was launched last year focused on ensuring that police interact positively with young Māori people and focused on early intervention to stop childhood offending becoming a lifelong issue. I would also point to the police partnership with Blue Light, the successful CACTUS programmes that the police are involved with, many of which are done out of hours by police, and
also the police in schools programmes. All of these are in play at the moment and are part of a determined effort by both the police and iwi to ensure that young Māori people do not enter the justice system as young people and that they do not continue reoffending and appearing in front of our courts.