Wednesday's Questions & Answers for Oral Answer
WEDNESDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER 2003
(uncorrected transcript¡ªsubject to correction and further editing)
Questions to Ministers:
1. National Bank¡ªSale
2. Foreshore and Seabed¡ªGovernment Proposals
3. Road Transport¡ªFunding
4. Refugees¡ªMinisterial Confidence
5. Ethnic Communities¡ªConservation
6. Genetically Modified Sweetcorn¡ªDocument Disclosure
7. Genetically Modified Foods¡ªLabelling
8. Foreshore and Seabed¡ªM¨¡ori Land Court
9. Gambling Bill¡ªInteractive Gambling
10. Unemployment Benefit¡ªAdministration
11. Biotechnology Strategy¡ªResearch and Business
12. Home Detention and Parole¡ªAccountability
back to top
1. MARK PECK (NZ Labour¡ªInvercargill) to the Minister of Finance: Has he received any reports on his powers in relation to the potential sale of the National Bank?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): I have very, very little by way of effective powers of intervention in this case, and I am amazed that anyone would suggest differently, especially someone with a background in commercial law as Mr Stephen Franks has.
Mark Peck: What tests will the Minister apply to any sale?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Reserve Bank will be required to give written consent and it can impose conditions¡ªfor example, local incorporation to protect the financial system in the event of bank failure. The *Commerce Commission will determine whether any purchase is anti-competitive. The *Overseas Investment Commission will decide whether the potential purchasers meet the prudential requirements of the Overseas Investment Act*.
Dr Don Brash: Has the Minister taken any steps at all to assist the Reserve Bank to protect the interests of the New Zealand banking sector against the adverse effects of Australian banking law, which, of course, gives a preference to Australian depositors vis-¨¤-vis* the depositors of other countries?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have raised that issue with the Australian Treasurer. The Australian Government has indicated it is not likely to be making any changes in that regard.
Stephen Franks: Can he confirm that after Dr Rod Carr, former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank, publicly described Australian¡¯s banking laws as ¡°predatory regulation¡± the Reserve Bank asked him to support at Government to Government level our bank¡¯s efforts to protect New Zealand depositors with Australian banks; and until there is more than zero movement from Australia, why should Aussies who want the National Bank not be told ¡°transaction declined¡±?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The member has not listened to what I said. The Minister of Finance does not make those decisions. Those decisions are made by the Reserve Bank, and when the member asks me in public to tell the Reserve Bank what to do in this regard, I see we could apply the same criteria to the operation of monetary policy.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister agree that the response of the Australian Government runs counter to the spirit of *closer economic relations, since he was simply exercising, I think, his responsibility to ensure that New Zealand depositors do get equal treatment in the event that an Australian-owned bank purchases the National Bank?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Certainly, my preference would be to see that issue dealt with directly and indeed by means of a combined Australia - New Zealand approach on those matters. In the absence of that, of course, the Reserve Bank now thinks the legislation passed quite quickly through this House recently now has greater substantial powers to deal with the issue by other means.
Mark Peck: What powers, if any, does the Minister have under the Overseas Investment Act?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I have the right to refuse approval if the purchase involves sensitive land. I am advised that the National Bank owns no such land. I could call in a delegation from the Overseas Investment Commission in relation to the prudential criteria. These other purchasers must have business experience, demonstrated financial commitment, and be of good character. Without prejudicing what the Overseas Investment Commission may decide, I think any New Zealand Minister of Finance who declared the ANZ Bank did not have business experience or demonstrate financial commitment and was not of good character would be risking some form of reputational response.
back to top
Foreshore and Seabed¡ªGovernment Proposals
2. Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Do any of the four fundamental principles for proposed foreshore and seabed legislation, as expressed in the Government proposals for consultation published by her department, include any references to co-management, kaitiakitanga, and guardianship; if not, why not?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): The Government proposal on the principle of protection outlines the current protection of customary rights, including reference to kaitiakitanga and guardianship, as provided for in the Resource Management Act* passed by National in 1991. This is a useful precedent, as are other Acts and the customary fishing regulations passed under National Governments.
Hon Bill English: Why is it that in the Government¡¯s popular publication there is no reference to these concepts, and why is it that when she talks on mainstream media she talks about absolute non-negotiable bottom lines, but when she goes to the marae she talks about compromise and negotiation?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: The first point to make is that one does not get 36 pages of a discussion document into a pamphlet. The second point is I have not, of course, been at the hui.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Prime Minister why it is that she has changed her view, as expressed by three different and, one assumes, independent journalists of the press gallery, on 24 June¡ªin the New Zealand Herald in the first instance, in the Dominion Post in the second instance, and in the Nelson Mail, which was a New Zealand Press Association* report in the third instance¡ªall of which have the following statements: ¡°But Prime Minister Helen Clark said ownership of the seabed and foreshore had long been considered to lie with the Crown, and legislation would clarify that.¡±? That is the import of three independent journalists¡¯ view of what she said on 23 June; why is she ducking and diving and changing her mind now?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: What I have consistently said is that clarifying legislation would be required, and it will be.
Hon Richard Prebble: Where is the Government¡¯s moral mandate for so-called clarifying legislation to have 15 percent of the population co-managing and having guardianship of our beaches; and how does she know that when she has not only not fronted up¡ªas she has just told us¡ªto any of the hui, but she has not been prepared to front up at any public meeting with any New Zealander on this issue?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Presumably the same mandate that led a previous Government to put such concepts into various pieces of legislation and regulations. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry. I do not want to warn people again. I have called Metiria Turei and she alone has the floor.
Metiria Turei: Given Michael Cullen¡¯s statement at **Omahu Marae that the Government¡¯s bottom line is no further private exclusive title, and that no M¨¡ori at the hui has sought private exclusive title, will the Government now engage with M¨¡ori in a negotiation based on this common ground?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am advised by the Deputy Prime Minister that the assertion about what M¨¡ori have not asserted is simply not true.
Hon Peter Dunne: Can I ask the Prime Minister, in the light of her response to my supplementary question yesterday that she agreed with the assertion that all New Zealanders of whatever origin indivisibly and equally owned a share of the foreshore and seabed, whether, at the hui that Ministers have been able to get into without having their security compromised or threatened, or being otherwise abused, there have been concepts of ownership advanced that would be consistent with that position?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I understand there have been some submissions that have indeed supported the Government proposal that these areas should in effect be a commons.
Hon Bill English: Can the Prime Minister tell us whether the Crown will exercise the principle of regulation on its own or in partnership with iwi?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As I have said, there are rather interesting precedents for co-management. I could, for example, cite the precedent of the Mataitai Reserves, which provide, under 1998 fisheries regulations, for hands-on management of all non-commercial fishing activity on traditional fishing grounds by kaitiaki. Now, that was 1998, under a previous Government¡ªmaybe it was all right then and not now.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Prime Minister denying that on 23 June, she and Margaret Wilson told a press conference the following statement, which is, as reported by *David McLoughlin of the Dominion Post the next day: ¡°Ms Wilson and Prime Minister Helen Clark said the planned law change would clarify that the Crown, and thus the public in general, owned beach, foreshores and the seabed.¡±, or as reported by none other than *Audrey Young on the same day: ¡°But Prime Minister Helen Clark said ownership of the seabed and foreshore had long been considered to lie with the Crown, and legislation would clarify that.¡± Why is she now trying to do a *doublespeak on that and say she did not say it in the first place¡ªthat ownership belonged to the Crown?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I am very aware of what I said on 23 June at a press conference, which was that clarifying legislation would be required.
Hon Bill English: Given that the Prime Minister is willing to confirm the second part of the statement, which is that clarifying legislation would be introduced, why can she not confirm the first part of the statement, that ownership had long been considered to lie with the Crown¡ªor is she being selective?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: That statement was made some days earlier, and it is not correct to link the two as being made on one day.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I take it from the Prime Minister that every journalist there¡ªall of whom repeated the words that the foreshore and seabed issue would be clarified to the extent that ownership would lie with the Crown¡ªgot it wrong, that they are all telling lies, and that she alone is telling the truth?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: What I can say is that on 23 June I was very clear that clarifying legislation would be required. I did not say what it would be. I look forward to that member clarifying his party¡¯s position that there should be Crown ownership so that he does not con M¨¡ori again like he did in 1996.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Apparently, we have a most interesting circumstance here. The Prime Minister has no idea of what her policy is or of what she said, but she has certainty about ours¡ªand I can understand that: ours makes sense.
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.
Hon Richard Prebble: Is the House to understand that the moral authority for this Government¡¯s legislation on the beaches is that in 1998 the National Party introduced legislation into the House; if so, why is the Prime Minister not prepared to front up at hui and public meetings and tell us all that the reason the Labour Government is passing something is that National did it?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: That would never be a good reason. The basis for concepts like this being put into law and regulations, under both the present and previous Governments, is that Governments in this day and age endeavour to see how the treaty can be made relevant. That is why these concepts are adopted.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that on 23 June the view of the Prime Minister and her Government was that legislation clarifying that foreshore and seabed ownership would lie with the Crown was a statement she made, but that she then got hit by a revolt from the seven dwarfs and changed her mind in the next few months?
Mr SPEAKER: If that is a reference to any member of Parliament, the member will withdraw and apologise for it.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How could you assume that?
Mr SPEAKER: I want the member¡¯s assurance that he was not referring to a member of Parliament. Will he give that assurance now?
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will tell you what I will do. I will repeat the words ¡°seven dwarfs¡± as long as I like, but until I give a name to them, you will not make an imputation about it.
Mr SPEAKER: The member will give me that answer or he will be leaving the Chamber. I want to know whether that was a reference to any member of Parliament.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: You are not going to tell me what I am thinking. I will use that phrase, and so would I expect any self-respecting member of Parliament¡ª
Mr SPEAKER: I am going to have an answer. The member will be seated or he will be leaving. I want an assurance that that was not a reference to any member of Parliament.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: You are not going to get it.
Mr SPEAKER: The member leaves the Chamber.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Here we go again.
Mr SPEAKER: The member leaves the Chamber.
Rt Hon Winston Peters withdrew from the Chamber.
Hon Bill English: Given the Prime Minister¡¯s answer before, that the two parts of the published statement were made on different days, can she confirm to the House whether she ever said¡ª[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: I am sorry, Mr English. You are perfectly entitled to have your question asked in silence, and I now ask you to start again.
Hon Bill English: It is not another one of their walk-ins, is it?
Mr SPEAKER: I do not know. The member will ask the question.
Hon Bill English: Can the Prime Minister confirm whether she ever made her reported comments that ownership of the seabed and foreshore had long been assumed to lie with the Crown?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: On the Friday before that press conference I did indeed make that statement, and I believe I was justified in making it, given one¡¯s recollection that they were deemed to be vested in the Crown. That was another matter from what was said on 23 June at the press conference, which was when I said that clarifying legislation would be required and I was non-specific about what.
Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I draw your attention to the fact that the Rt Hon Winston Peters is set down to ask question No. 4, and I ask that he be allowed to return to the House to ask that question and a number of supplementary questions.
Mr SPEAKER: No, because the member has been asked to leave. It is bad luck, on this occasion. He cannot do that.
Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, I draw your attention to the fact that it was not that long ago that another member¡ªI think it was the Hon Dr Nick Smith¡ªwas asked to leave by your good self, and you saw fit to allow the member back in to ask his questions and leave again afterwards. I ask you to show the same consideration to the Rt Hon Winston Peters.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: My recollection is that the incident with Dr Smith did not involve a direct challenge to the authority of the Chair, as Mr Peters¡¯ behaviour did, and I am sure that was a factor you have taken into account.
Mr SPEAKER: That is exactly the point I would make. In fact, I wanted to be generous on that occasion, because Dr Smith did not challenge the Chair. Mr Peters did, and he stays out for this question time.
Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you tell me where it is categorised in the Standing Orders, and to what degree, that a member has to leave for this or that type of punishment? Consistency should be shown to all members of Parliament asked to leave the Chamber.
Mr SPEAKER: It is for any disorderly behaviour, as I see it, and when the member refused to accede to my request, that was disorderly.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is probably valuable for the House to get a better steer on exactly what your rulings are surrounding Mr Peters¡¯ removal from the House. It seems to me that the issue that Mr Peters was advancing was a reasonable one. The Speaker should not assume to know the thoughts of a member by putting some imputation upon the words that member has spoken. I am now a little unclear as to what the ruling that will now appear in Speakers¡¯ Rulings will say on this matter.
Mr SPEAKER: Quite simply, it will be this. I asked whether the member was referring to a member of the House. I am perfectly entitled to do that. It has been done. on occasion, by every Speaker who has ever sat in this Chair, because comments can be ironic or epithetical. If I had had an assurance that it was not a reference to a member of the House, that would have been the end of the matter. The member refused to give that assurance. He disobeyed an instruction, and he was asked to leave.
Dail Jones: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to have it clear that a member has to be very careful how one refers to another member, that one cannot use the word ¡°dwarf¡± to refer to another member, and that, somehow, the word ¡°dwarf¡± is now out of order and you are ruling on our freedom of speech in that regard. I believe the use of the word ¡°dwarf¡± is quite appropriate in a parliamentary sense. Some of us might be giants, and some of us might be dwarfs. It all varies. Some of us might be bald, and some of us might not be. Are you now ruling that the word ¡°dwarf¡± is not acceptable in the New Zealand Parliament to describe another member?
Mr SPEAKER: No, I ruled that out because the member¡ª[Interruption]
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If that member continues to interject he should be removed.
Mr SPEAKER: He will be, if I find out who it was.
Hon Members: It was David Cunliffe!
Mr SPEAKER: I want to ask whether the member was interjecting when the point of order was being discussed.
Hon David Cunliffe: Yes, I was, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Right, leave the Chamber.
Hon David Cunliffe withdrew from the Chamber.
Hon Richard Prebble: My point of order is that, under Standing Order *365(b), questions should not contain arguments, inferences, imputations, epithets, ironical expressions, and the like. So the question was actually out of order under that matter. I think it might assist Mr Peters to know that all he needed to do was actually withdraw that statement. You have not actually ruled that the colourful expression ¡°the seven dwarfs¡± is unparliamentary. That is another matter for general debate. All you have said is that in the question it is not appropriate, and it most certainly is not. We all know that it actually is a reference to members, because in previous statements we have heard he has said so. I suggest that if Mr Peters and his whips want to talk to you, then they ought to arrange for Mr Peters to come back and withdraw and apologise for those remarks¡ªif they want him to participate.
Mr SPEAKER: That is a very good thought. However, I gave the member a number of chances to do that. I think he defied the Chair, and that is the reason he was asked to leave.
Dail Jones: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, you have not ruled on the matter.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, I have.
Dail Jones: Is ¡°dwarf¡± now out of order?
Mr SPEAKER: If it refers in an ironic or an epithetical way to any member of this House, of course it is. There are a large number of words that are out of order as far as describing members is concerned. If the member reads the Standing Orders, he will see that members are to be described as honourable members or by their rank or office.
back to top
3. LARRY BALDOCK (United Future) to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with the Minister of Transport¡¯s statement to the Road Transport Forum yesterday that ¡°The car ¡ is behind unprecedented demand for funding, which has not kept pace with vehicle use.¡±; if so, does he have any plans for addressing this transport funding shortfall in next year¡¯s budget?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): Yes, as so often, I agree with my colleague the Minister of Transport. A range of work is proceeding on how to fund future roading demands, particularly in the Auckland region.
Larry Baldock: Noting widespread public concern that the diversion of petrol excise tax revenue into the consolidated account* is a key contributor to the transport funding shortfall, has the Government completed its economic analysis into how this diversion can be justified, as mentioned in reply to an oral question earlier this year; and when will the results of this analysis be released to the public?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The member may recall before the last election, the *Automobile Association and other organisations released documentation that showed that if the Government was to recover the full cost of roading from excise duty, then excise duty would have to be increased substantially. The so-called diversion into the Crown account, I am afraid, is a well-worn myth, but a myth nonetheless.
Hon Roger Sowry: Does the Minister support the use of network tolling and congestion pricing as methods to gain extra capital for new roading projects; if not why not?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Those issues are under consideration at the moment. It would be premature of me at this instance to give an indication of the likely outcome of that.
Peter Brown: Noting the answer to the last question to Larry Baldock, is the Minister telling members in this House that Government policy is framed around what the Automobile Association suggests, or thinks, or submits, or do they do their independent assessments of various situations?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, although the Government obviously takes considerable notice of what the Automobile Association says. The Automobile Association¡¯s claims were based on Government documents.
Deborah Coddington: Does he accept that the lack of investment in roading is a major constraint to economic development in this country; if so, why will he not rapidly expedite legislation that would allow Auckland to urgently complete its motorways, and stop squandering public money on railways and rail corridors?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Part of the answer to roading demand is also total demand management and reasonable alternatives to roading, including rail. Were we to pass legislation right now, if what I assume the member is referring to is public-private partnerships*, firstly, it is far from clear how many of the Auckland roads would qualify in a commercial sense, especially as the costs continue to escalate¡ª[Interruption] The member says so, so I shall take her word on it. Secondly, of course, none of those roads are ready for construction immediately, as far as I understand.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Does the Minister recall the British attempt to match traffic growth and funding, dollar for kilometre, known as ¡°Maggie Thatcher¡¯s Great Car Economy¡±, which failed spectacularly to deliver anything other than traffic jams, and does he agree that current balanced transport policy that looks at infrastructure needs, alternatives to roading, and demand management, is a far more sensible approach?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, I do, although I do confess that I do not expect to see all Aucklanders cycling or walking to work within the foreseeable future.
Larry Baldock: Can the Minister confirm, in relation to a question asked earlier this year, that the Government was undertaking some economic analysis as to the justification for money coming from the petrol excise tax and into the consolidated account*?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: It is the Crown account. We have not had a consolidated account for many years, although people continue to use that term. Yes, work has been done and all the conclusions of the work, that I am aware of, are that there is no case to be made that substantial diversion is occurring. The Government does not recover the full economic costs of the roading system¡ªa point, of course, that Tranz Rail* has made, in a different context.
Larry Baldock: Can the Minister let us know when that information and analysis may be made available to the public, so they can also have the benefit of the work that is being done?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I will consult my colleague the Minister of Transport and come back to the member.
Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask the Minister to say that he will not only come back to the member, but as there are other members who are interested in this issue could I ask the Minister to come back to everybody.
Mr SPEAKER: That is not really a point of order, but the Minister might like to comment.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I would be happy to make the information available to all members.
back to top
4. DAIL JONES (NZ First), on behalf of Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader¡ªNZ First), to the Prime Minister: With regard to the refugee situation, does she have confidence in the Minister of Immigration?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes.
Dail Jones: In what way does she believe the Minister of Immigration has assisted, for example, the five women, two of whom are confirmed as having HIV*¡ªthe other three are not confirmed¡ªthrough the deliberate actions of Shingirayi Nyarirangwe, the refugee from Zimbabwe facing multiple counts of rape, male assaults, and infecting another person with HIV, and why has this individual not had deportation actions commenced against him?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: This matter is presently before the courts. These are very serious charges, and if the person concerned is found guilty the Minister would normally seek his removal from New Zealand, such is the seriousness of the charges.
Hon Jim Anderton: Has the Prime Minister received any reports of damage being done to New Zealand¡¯s reputation in other countries of importance to New Zealand¡¯s economic future by questions such as this, targeting immigrants, in the Parliament of New Zealand?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I was very concerned to see a report today about a growing backlash against our country from reports that appear in Asian media about anti-Asian sentiment here. We are advised in this report in the New Zealand Herald that it specifically refers to coverage of Mr Peters¡¯ attacks on immigration.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The points the Prime Minister made may well be valid and might well be a valid answer to some other question. However, the question being asked today was about a refugee from Zimbabwe. Unless my geography has gone hopelessly astray I cannot imagine Asians being in any way sympathetic to this bloke being here. In fact, they must wonder why we have not thrown him out.
Mr SPEAKER: That is a long way away from the principal question, and I agree with the member to that extent.
Dail Jones: Is the Prime Minister now telling the House that she does not support condemnation of people such as Shingirayi Nyarirangwe who has inflicted *HIV on at least two other people, and that she is concerned what the Chinese people might say about reports that New Zealanders want to deport people from Zimbabwe who are infecting New Zealand women?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As I said in response to the member¡¯s earlier supplementary question, these are very serious charges and if the man is convicted, then in the normal course of events the Minister would seek to deport. In a further supplementary answer I referred to the constant cheap politics in this House by an anti-immigration party.
Dail Jones: Does the Prime Minister support New Zealand First¡¯s condemnation of African immigrants who are inflicting *AIDS and HIV on New Zealand women, yes or no?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Unlike New Zealand First, I unreservedly condemn any person who does that thing.
Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It took two questions to get that answer from the Prime Minister. You are rationing the supplementary questions in this House and I want to voice my concern that we are absolutely wasting questions when it takes two questions to get an answer from the Prime Minister where she actually condemns something and agrees with New Zealand First.
Mr SPEAKER: As far as the question was concerned, there was a question that was wide of the mark, but that was asked by another member. I will have a look at that particular issue.
back to top
5. STEVE CHADWICK (NZ Labour¡ªRotorua) to the Minister of Conservation: What progress, if any, has been made in engaging ethnic communities in conservation?
Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): Excellent progress! For example, my department is working closely with the Chinese Conservation Education Trust. It now has over 600 members and is making a huge practical contribution to conservation. In addition, the Department of Conservation is also in partnership with the Pacific Island communities Tapa Conservation Trust, which targets conservation work in New Zealand and in the Pacific Islands.
Steve Chadwick: What have been some of the outcomes of this engagement?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: A much greater awareness among Asian and Pacific communities about the reasons for restrictions on trade and endangered species and the importance of border biosecurity, financial contributions towards pest control, and hands-on involvement in nature restoration projects, such as that on Motutapu Island.
Steve Chadwick: What efforts have been undertaken to protect the rare and endangered nocturnal green parrot?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I am not sure whether the green parrot is under threat from new ethnic minorities, although I would mention that there is at least one member of this House who seems to spend a great deal of time there in the early hours of the morning.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is being facetious. [Interruption] A number of people sometimes enjoy that place.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Given your concern for we people of short stature and the derogatory epithets that may be cast upon us, I ask whether you are going to seek the same assurance that aspersions will not being cast upon people whose faces appear in photographs down at the Green Parrott, such as your good self, the Rt Hon Mike Moore, former Prime Minister, and the Hon Annette King, and whether those disparaging comments were not in some way intended. I ask whether you will seek the same assurance from this member that he is not casting aspersions on honourable members, and if he refuses to respond, whether you will chuck him out of the House just like you did before with Mr Peters.
Mr SPEAKER: I have dealt with that issue.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With all due respect, I do not think that issue has been dealt with. Notwithstanding the difficulties that Mr Mark might have got into over the enunciation of his point¡ª
Mr SPEAKER: I did not worry about that.
Gerry Brownlee: Good. Well, the real point is whether this Minister set out to cast aspersions on other members of this House. I do not think it is unreasonable that he be asked whether that was his intention, and if it was he should be treated the same as Mr Peters.
Mr SPEAKER: I did rule his reply out of order, but I now suggest that he withdraw and apologise to the number of members concerned.
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I withdraw and apologise.
back to top
Genetically Modified Sweetcorn¡ªDocument Disclosure
6. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (NZ National¡ªNelson) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statements ¡°I believe in total disclosure on this.¡±, ¡°I¡¯m not putting any restrictions on anyone talking about it.¡± and ¡°I am very happy for officials to speak completely openly because there¡¯s nothing to hide.¡± in respect to ¡°corngate¡±; if so, why?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): As I advised the member last week, those statements were made on 11 July, the day after the Nicky *Hager book appeared, when I said that officials should come forward to brief the media on what had happened, and they did that very day.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: How does she reconcile her statement to the House that she could not explain why key documents to her were kept secret, and that the select committee should recall Dr Prebble, the head of her department, to answer those questions, with her Labour members on the committee voting against my very motion in that regard?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: That is entirely a matter for the committee.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting the Prime Minister¡¯s commitment to total disclosure, would she explain to the House why key scientists, notably *Dr Geoff Ricketts, from the *Victoria University biological sciences department, and Professor Charles Hurburgh, of Iowa State University and their grain quality initiative, both of whom have reviewed the test results of the corn concerned and expressed a view that they very probably show contamination, why is it that Labour members have voted against those scientists being able to give evidence to the select committee, and noting that that is against the Prime Minister¡¯s previous commitments of total disclosure?
Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister is not responsible for the actions of a select committee.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not suggesting the Prime Minister is responsible for Labour members of the select committee. She is responsible for her statements on behalf of her Government, and my question was how those actions were consistent with her statements of open disclosure and previous commitments.
Mr SPEAKER: The second part of the question is in order, but not the first part.
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: As I advised, those statements were made on 11 July, and the officials briefed the media that very same day. What the committee does is entirely a matter for the committee.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Noting that the Prime Minister has castigated the select committee as ¡°a circus¡±, will she and her Government support members¡¯ notice of motion No. 1 in my name on today¡¯s Order Paper that requires that all sessions of the committee in respect of the ¡°corngate¡± inquiry be held in open public session so the public and media can judge for themselves who is making an honest endeavour to find the truth with regard to the ¡°corngate¡± affair?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I draw the House¡¯s attention to Standing Order 237, ¡°Confidentiality of proceedings and reports¡±, which states: ¡°(1) The proceedings of a select committee or a subcommittee other than during the hearing of evidence are not open to the public and remain strictly confidential to the committee until it reports to the House.¡± My office has been advised by the *Clerk¡¯s Office that there is absolutely no precedent for what the member is asking.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is an unacceptable answer from the Prime Minister. She has been in this House since 1981 and would know that if there were a notice of motion on the Order Paper to be considered by this House and voted in favour of by this House, that becomes the precedent.
Hon Richard Prebble: We have a very interesting situation here. We have a Prime Minister who has publicly said that we are in favour of a select committee, that she wants it all to be open, and now stands up in the House with a straight face and says that this is a matter for the committee. Every member of Parliament knows, including the member interjecting, that at the Labour Party caucus an argument that it is up to the committee would get nowhere at all. Of course that committee is acting under an instruction from the Prime Minister, and she ought to front up and answer.
Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister did directly address the question. Whether the answer satisfies members is another matter.
Hon Bill English: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is another interesting aspect of the statement that has just been made. The notice of motion is on the Order Paper, and therefore we take it to be a notice of motion that is in order. At the same time the Prime Minister is quoting advice from the Clerk¡¯s Office as if the notice of motion is out of order. That leaves us confused. Either it is in order or it is out of order. Whether it is a precedent would be a matter for debate, and we debated that in the case of Harry Duynhoven, where there was no precedent for retrospectively qualifying him for Parliament. The question I want clarity on from you is whether that notice of motion is in order. If it is in order, it is open to this House to seek leave and debate the motion.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is perfectly correct in both things he said. It is in order, and it is in order for anybody to seek leave to have it debated, otherwise it would not be on the Order Paper.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sorry to have missed the previous call, because I want to raise a point of order about what Mr Prebble said at the end of his statement that the Prime Minister had instructed the Labour members of the committee to do certain things.
I suggest that the member is raising an issue of privilege. To instruct members of the committee on how they are going to behave, in that sense, is in itself a breach of privilege, because members must be free to act. Therefore, if the member wants to raise that matter, he should raise it by way of a letter to you, not by way of speaking in the House.
Hon Richard Prebble: That is a novel and interesting argument. If the Minister of Finance went to a select committee he would discover that prior to voting, members would say that they are going back to their caucus for consultation. They would then come back and say that this is the Government line. That is going on in every committee. If the member wants to front me up in front of the Privileges Committee for telling what we all know, make my day.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: This is actually an important point. I do note that I am already on two select committees, plus the Business Committee. But apart from that, there is a question of consultation in seeking the views of one¡¯s colleagues and one¡¯s colleagues voting on those views. Even members of the ACT party¡ªwhich apparently is supposed to be a bastion of liberalism and individualism¡ªseem to vote on those matters. It is quite a different matter to say that members are being instructed by the Prime Minister on how they are to vote.
Mr SPEAKER: Rules about instruction relate to instruction from outside the House. However, the point has been made during the course of the point of order. The last part of the member¡¯s point of order was not a point of order.
Hon Ken Shirley: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have considerable sympathy for Dr Smith. As a member of that select committee, I point out that the Government uses its majority to block key witnesses coming to that select committee hearing. We then learn that it is only through an instruction in the House that the committee can be made open to the public¡ªan objective that the Prime Minister publicly claimed she wants but in private the Government blocks. Dr Smith has a notice of motion on the Order Paper and, again, the Government uses its majority to block that action. It places the Opposition in a very difficult position, when really all we are trying to get is an inquiry that is open and transparent.
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. Any member can seek leave to debate that motion, and can. [Interruption] Just one moment. It has not yet been sought, but if it is sought and denied, that is the end of the matter. But that is not a point of order.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Given her public repeated statements of favouring complete openness and disclosure on this issue, what reasons would the Government have for not supporting my notice of motion that all of the select committee¡¯s deliberations on the inquiry into ¡°corngate¡± be held in open session?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: In response to the previous question on this, I cited the Standing Orders. Of course, it is always open to the member to go to the Standing Orders Committee. Apart from that, I do not wish to intervene in the affairs of the committee.
Hon Ken Shirley: On reflection, does the Prime Minister believe that her public comments criticising the select committee¡¯s inquiry, chaired by Green leader Jeanette Fitzsimmons, calling it a ¡°circus¡± and a ¡°farce¡±, on reflection, is compatible with her stated public intention of having an open and transparent inquiry?
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: It is a circus and a farce.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave of the House to table the minutes of the select committee so that the public might judge who is responsible¡ª
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table the minutes. Is there any objection? There is.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek leave for Notice of Motion No. 1 on the Order Paper in my name to be put to the vote without debate immediately following question time today.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to take that course of action. Is there any objection? There is.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have had an intriguing answer from the Prime Minister and I wonder whether she wants to review it. She told us that the committee is independent and that she has nothing to do with it. Indeed, she has given the impression that she does not know what is going on with the committee, yet she is prepared to tell the whole House that it is a circus and a farce. Is she the circus master, or is she not?
Marc Alexander: That is not a point of order.
back to top
Genetically Modified Foods¡ªLabelling
7. SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister for Food Safety: What progress has she made in implementing the recommendation 8.3 of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification* ¡°that, as a matter of priority, the Food Administration Authority* disseminate information on the labelling regime for genetically modified foods and consumer rights in relation to foods made available for consumption at restaurants and takeaway* bars.¡±?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister for Food Safety): An exemption under standard 1.5.2 of the foods standards code exists for restaurants and takeaway outlets. Obviously it is unworkable to label composite meals. However, the New Zealand Food Safety Authority* has undertaken a public and trade information programme that describes the labelling system and consumer rights. Restaurants and takeaway outlets are also required to comply with New Zealand law in relation to the use of GM* food¡ªthat is, they can use only foods that have been investigated, assessed, and approved.
Sue Kedgley: Can she confirm that despite the priority given by the royal commission to that recommendation, the Food Safety Authority has done absolutely nothing to require takeaway outlet owners to disclose the GE content of their foods, or to protect consumer rights to avoid eating GE takeaway foods if they so wish?
Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I will not confirm that, because the New Zealand Food Safety Authority has provided information for the public in the form of pamphlets, postcards*, and a large poster that tells the public of New Zealand that the labelling requirement applies to all packaged foods but not to foods prepared in restaurants and cafes. It is the same as most other labelling requirements. If people are concerned they can ask whether the food contains any GM ingredients before they choose to buy.
Nanaia Mahuta: What was the royal commission¡¯s view of the approach taken in the GM labelling standard?
Hon ANNETTE KING: In paragraph 197 on page 233 of the report, the commission noted that it supported the labelling system provided under the standard, and when discussing point of sale issues, it noted in paragraph 202 on page 234 that: ¡°We have confidence in the ANZFA safety assessment process.¡±
Hon Brian Donnelly: Can the Minister confirm that the conclusion drawn by the royal commission¡ªthat there is no evidence, either empirical or theoretical, that demonstrates that GE food is dangerous to human health¡ªis still valid today, more than 2 years later?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes, I can.
Sue Kedgley: Can the Minister explain the logic behind the fact that when food containing some GE ingredients is bought in a supermarket it needs to be declared on a label, but when identical food is bought in a takeaway store it does not have to be declared; and how does this protect the right of New Zealand consumers to know what is in the food they eat?
Hon ANNETTE KING: It was considered unworkable to go to a restaurant and have labelling on parts of food, on sauces used on food, or on any processed parts of food. It would not work and would be a nonsense. As it is not required for safety reasons, it has not been implemented.
Sue Kedgley: Is the Minister aware that in places like the *UK, labelling is required in takeaway stores¡ªif not restaurants¡ªfor GE ingredients; and further to the Food Safety Authority¡¯s comments this morning that our labelling laws are framed to inform people of the GE content of the foods they eat, why are consumers given absolutely no information about whether food they buy in takeaway bars¡ªsuch as these potato chips I have before me¡ªhas been cooked in genetically engineered oil and whether it contains GE ingredients?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I answered the last part of that question. In relation to the first part, what people do in the UK is their business. However, I have not heard the member protesting the fact that the European Union has decided to exempt wines and cheese that have GM organisms in them. Obviously, each country will make its own decision as to what will be part of its labelling regime.
Sue Kedgley: I seek leave to table these takeaway chips so that the Minister for Food Safety can let me know whether they contain genetically engineered ingredients.
Mr SPEAKER: Before members get over-eager, is there any objection to that course? There is.
back to top
Foreshore and Seabed¡ªM¨¡ori Land Court
8. STEPHEN FRANKS (ACT NZ) to the Associate Minister of Justice: Were there any M¨¡ori Land Court decisions about seabed and foreshore away from the Marlborough Sounds awaiting the outcome of the Marlborough Sounds appeal; if so, will the Crown now stop the claimants getting titles to such areas?
Hon RICK BARKER (Associate Minister of Justice): There are no M¨¡ori Land Court decisions awaiting the outcome of the Marlborough Sounds appeal. There are applications about the seabed and foreshore in addition to the Marlborough Sounds application that are awaiting a hearing. With regard to the last question, the Crown will not prevent any applications from being filed.
Stephen Franks: Can the Associate Minister confirm that a large part of the bed of Ohiwa Harbour* in the Bay of Plenty was made into M¨¡ori freehold land by order of the M¨¡ori Land Court* on 21 September 1999; and although that order was partly reversed 7 months later, will the Crown now try to stop the M¨¡ori Land Court from going ahead, when it is asked to do so, to turn it into freehold land¡ªbeing a huge area of Ohiwa Harbour and its foreshore¡ªas the court plainly intended in September 1999?
Hon RICK BARKER: I wish the member had been more specific in his original question so that I could have been better briefed on the matter. I say to the member that I have no specific advice on the matter and I would be very reluctant to give an answer without a considerable amount of research, which I will undertake to do and to give the member an answer later.
Tim Barnett: Is it the Government¡¯s policy that the M¨¡ori Land Court, when deciding applications about seabed and foreshore currently before it, will be able to grant only interests and rights that fall short of a fee simple title and do ensure continued public access?
Hon RICK BARKER: Yes. As set out in the Government¡¯s proposal for consultation, the Government intends that all applications about the foreshore and seabed, regardless of when they are made, will be subject to the regime the Government is putting in place for the M¨¡ori Land Court. The cornerstone of that regime is that there will be no fee simple title, and guaranteed continuation of public access.
Stephen Franks: Why is the Government planning for the M¨¡ori Land Court to have the role of deciding on claims in the future, including to reject unjustified claims, when that court has already made its view plain at Ohiwa; when the lawyers for the Ohiwa claimants who resisted the correction of the first order were Joe Williams* and **Layne Harvey, who are now both judges of the court; when all judges of that court are also members of the Waitangi Tribunal¡ª
Mr SPEAKER: The question is very long. I ask the member to please come to the question.
Stephen Franks: ¡ªwhich is openly partisan on this issue; and when that court does not¡ª
Mr SPEAKER: The question is far too long. Is the member just about finished?
Stephen Franks: Just about, yes.
Mr SPEAKER: Right. He is to come to an end quickly.
Stephen Franks: ¡ªwhen that court does not usually take evidence on oath or pursue perjury, and accepts tales and documents that would not be acceptable in any other court? [Interruption]
Hon RICK BARKER: Firstly, it is lamentable that the member has made such assertions about members of the judiciary. Secondly, the member obviously has not been listening in the previous few weeks. The Government has said over and over again that it will be passing legislation to clarify these matters. In the light of that clarification, the role of the M¨¡ori Land Court will be very, very clear.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. On a number of occasions you have reminded the House about the problems involved when members who sit on cross benches directly opposite each other choose to interject on each other. You have asked and requested members to respect those problems and to be silent. My second point is that you have consistently reminded the House in general that questions will be left free to be asked in silence. Throughout the entire asking of that question by Mr Stephen Franks, Mr Mark Peck consistently interjected¡ªnot once, not twice, but three times. Everybody sat here and heard him, yet he remains in the Chamber. I ask for your consistency, Mr Speaker.
Mark Peck: I think there comes a point when attacking the judiciary in this House has to be challenged, and I make no apologies for doing that.
Mr SPEAKER: Unfortunately, the member will now have to leave the Chamber, however. [Interruption]
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is not appropriate for a member of Parliament who has been asked to leave to put out a threat, saying: ¡°I haven¡¯t finished with you.¡±, as he is leaving. That comment, in the first person, is a clear a reference to you, Mr Speaker, and I think the member should be asked to withdraw and apologise for that statement.
Mark Peck: I withdraw and apologise.
Hon Mark Gosche: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is also not appropriate for members of the ACT party to chip the member as he is leaving the Chamber at your instruction, so perhaps there should be some apologies from them, as well.
Mr SPEAKER: No. Mr Peck, please leave.
Mark Peck withdrew from the Chamber.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Point of order¡ª
Mr SPEAKER: Just a minute; I am dealing with one matter first. Regarding the matter raised by Mr Gosche, I declare that we now move on to the next question.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. While Mr Gosche was raising that point of order Mr Heatley interjected extremely loudly from the *back bench opposite.
Mr SPEAKER: He did, and he will leave, too.
Phil Heatley withdrew from the Chamber.
Hon Roger Sowry: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to raise with you the issue about where you are going to draw the line on this. Mr Peck left the Chamber, as you requested, then turned and walked straight back in. So Mr Peck was asked to leave, made a comment as he was leaving, which he should not have done, went and sat somewhere else, withdrew and apologised, walked out, then walked back in. Then one member has said to another member that he should get out, and the punishment for saying that to the member¡ªthat he, too, has to leave the Chamber¡ªis, quite frankly, ridiculous.
Hon Marian Hobbs: Point of order¡ª
Mr SPEAKER: No, I do not need any assistance on this matter¡ªat all. I judge when people are going to be allowed back in, and that is the severity of the punishment I dictate. I have observed what happened. I observed that Mr Peck was asked to withdraw and apologise, which he did, but I observed that he then did do something that was excessive, and he, of course, will have longer out than other people will have out.
back to top
Gambling Bill¡ªInteractive Gambling
9. JUDITH COLLINS (NZ National¡ªClevedon) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Who suggested that interactive gambling should be included in the Gambling Bill, and what were the reasons for its inclusion?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS (Minister of Internal Affairs): I am advised that the inclusion of remote interactive gambling was suggested by the Lotteries Commission* in its submission to the select committee. I imagine they made that decision because they thought it was a sound idea.
Judith Collins: Did United Future members communicate to him or his representatives their reason, as they recently said, for being pleased with the changes allowing the Lotteries Commission to move into Internet-based gaming; if so, what influence did their reason have on the inclusion of the interactive gambling provision in the bill?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: Many people had input to that. I remind that member that her party¡¯s minority report in the Government Administration Committee¡¯s report on the Gambling Bill stated that: ¡°The Lotteries Commission, which has lost market share over the years, is penalised, as it cannot use modern technology such as the online telephone account to see their products. Unless the Lotteries Commission has flexibility, its long-term future is limited.¡±*
Dianne Yates: What has been the reaction to the passage of the Gambling Bill?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: I have had very little correspondence about the bill since it passed. However, I note that Dave Macpherson* of the Waikato Action on Gambling Group praised the reduction in the number of pokie machines* in Hamilton as a result of the bill.
Sue Bradford: On what grounds did the Minister overturn the considered decision of the select committee, which had heard the submissions of the Lotteries Commission and other bodies, in terms of putting up the last-minute Supplementary Order Paper, which did introduce interactive Internet gaming through the Lotteries Commission?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: After visiting Europe and Scandinavia and seeing it in operation I thought it was a good idea.
Judith Collins: Has he received advice from United Future that the Australian Productivity Commission inquiry found that interactive gambling was ¡°a quantum leap¡± in accessibility for problem gamblers and that there were undue risks associated with problem gambling by minors and people under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
Hon GEORGE HAWKINS: We had a good look at everything. The Productivity Commission report of 1999 states: ¡°Without harm-minimisation measures and appropriate regulation, online gambling will pose significant new risks for problem gambling.¡±
We have put in safeguards.
back to top
10. GEORGINA BEYER (NZ Labour¡ªWairarapa) to the Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment: What recent operational changes have been made to the process for people applying for the unemployment benefit?
Hon RICK BARKER (Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment): There is a new seminar process being rolled out across the country. This seminar process has two main focuses. It provides clients with information about their full and correct entitlements and their obligations prior to a benefit application. The second active focus for the seminar is for the client to identify what steps they are going to take in order to find work. Work and Income provide the necessary support and training, advice identifying opportunities, and encourage clients to go out and do it for themselves, as there has not been a better time to find a job.
Georgina Beyer: What effect has this had on the number of people registering for the unemployment benefit?
Hon RICK BARKER: ¡°Work for You¡± seminars have been piloted in the Avondale, Onehunga, and Manukau Work and Income sites since 2003. Interim analysis suggests that the number of people requiring an unemployment benefit in those sites is 19 percent lower than it would have been without the ¡°Work for You¡± seminars. At 97,822 registered on the unemployment benefit, this represents a 16-year low in unemployment. This Labour-Progressive Government has the unemployed out looking for jobs, jobs that are there, in contrast to what Don Brash and National have. They would have the unemployed looking for a post office.
Judith Collins: What reports has the Minister received about the level of problem gambling experienced by people currently applying for the unemployment, sickness, and *invalids benefits?
Hon RICK BARKER: I do not have any specific figures on those who are applying for sickness and invalids benefits. However, I make the point, which the member has alluded to, that we do have a small rise in invalids and sickness beneficiaries, but this is more than offset by a decline of 53,000 fewer people on the unemployment benefit now, compared with what it was in 1999¡ªa 34 percent reduction.
Sue Bradford: Can the Minister advise as to under what legal powers people applying for the unemployment benefit have been required for some months already to attend ¡°Work for You¡± seminars prior to their receiving the benefit, or have applicants been conned into thinking this is a legal requirement when it is not?
Hon RICK BARKER: Applicants have been more than happy to attend the seminars. They have received very good advice, and I bring to the member¡¯s attention a case that recently came to my attention while I was in Greymouth. Someone was so inspired by attending the seminar and taking the responsibility for themselves to find a job, that they walked 9 miles to Strongman Mine, found there was no job there, walked somewhere else, and came back to Work and Income and said: ¡°I¡¯ve got a job.¡± I think that is the sort of positive attitude this Government is trying to encourage, and that member should support it.
back to top
Biotechnology Strategy¡ªResearch and Business
11. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (NZ National¡ªPort Waikato) to the Minister of Research, Science and Technology: Does he agree with the ¡°key actions¡± of the New Zealand Biotechnology Strategy to recruit and retain scientists and to encourage collaboration between research providers and businesses; if so, why?
Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister of Research, Science and Technology): Yes, I do, because recruitment, retention, and collaboration are good things.
Dr Paul Hutchison: With the new knowledge that the *AgResearch plans to close the *Wallaceville Animal Research Station will have far greater impact than originally thought, including significant loss of scientists overseas, huge loss of morale, and the disintegration of the research business clusters in the Hutt Valley, what role will he play to prevent this critical loss of science capacity in New Zealand; if not, why not?
Hon PETE HODGSON: The member appears to be misinformed. The truth of the matter is that the immunology group, which is due to leave for Palmerston North in something like early 2005, has chosen to do so. The animal health group has chosen to leave and set up with *Massey University and the *AgResearch campus in Massey, across the road, in around about January 2006. The only group of scientists who have yet to make their decision are the reproductive scientists, who are likely, but not yet certain, to move to the *Invermay Agricultural Centre in, I think, January 2007.
Helen Duncan: Can the Minister provide any examples of where the Government is facilitating collaboration between research providers and business?
Hon PETE HODGSON: Yes I can. The Government¡¯s new Research Consortia programme is proving very popular with New Zealand industry. Already six consortia have been contracted and four more are under negotiation. Together these consortia have a total private and public budget in excess of $30 million a year, each year, for the next 4 to 6 years.
Bernie Ogilvy: If the New Zealand Biotechnology Strategy does not have sufficient funding, as in the case, for instance, of the Lincoln University Soil Programme, then what other avenues are available to recruit and retain their scientists, and how do the business partners act when the Government research body is unable to operate?
Hon PETE HODGSON: I regret the member is a little misinformed about the soil science issues. There have been reports that soil science research has been cut. This is not true. It has been cut a little¡ªfrom $7.4 million, I think, to $7.2 million¡ªbut not the $6 million to $3 million cut that the New Zealand Herald would have. The underlying fact is that the sustainability round just completed was oversubscribed by nearly 300 percent.
Dr Paul Hutchison: How does he reconcile his earlier reply with the *New Zealand Institute of Economic Research report on the closure of Wallaceville, which shows an annual loss of $24 million to the regional economy, and the loss of 240 full-time jobs around the Hutt Valley; and does he accept that the AgResearch closure plan needs an urgent review, with a view to retaining and building on the strengths of Wallaceville?
Hon PETE HODGSON: I regret to advise that I have seen a pattern with New Zealand Institute of Economic Research reports in that they tend to have some bearing on those who pay for them.
Dr Paul Hutchison: I seek leave to table two articles. The first entitled: ¡°The economic impact of closing the Wallaceville Research Facility¡±, which shows a loss of $24 million a year.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that. Is there any objection? There is.
Dr Paul Hutchison: The second is from the Independent, July 2003: ¡°Government punishes research while promising to promote it¡±.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that. Is there any objection? There is.
Question No. 8 to Minister
STEPHEN FRANKS (ACT NZ): I seek leave to table three orders of the M¨¡ori Land Court: two on 21 September 1999 and one on 14 April 2000.
Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
back to top
Home Detention and Parole¡ªAccountability
12. RON MARK (NZ First) to the Minister of Corrections: Is he satisfied that home detention and parole are fulfilling the purpose for which they were intended and does he have confidence in them?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Corrections): Generally, yes. Both schemes are designed to reduce the incidence of reoffending. Statistics show that both schemes do achieve this purpose, and in the case of home detention, dramatically so.
Ron Mark: What was the purpose and intent behind the decisions made by his department that saw a man who had been sentenced to 6 years¡¯ jail for six robberies, paroled after serving only 2 years of that sentence, and who, despite being in total breach of his parole conditions, was never hunted down and recalled to prison, but was instead left at large, so allowing him to carry out another eight armed robberies for which he is now awaiting sentencing?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: It is very hard to comment on a specific case without the full details. I am happy to look into that, if the member were to provide them.
Martin Gallagher: Has he seen evidence that others share the Minister¡¯s confidence in home detention?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Yes. The benefits of home detention have been broadly recognised for many years since its introduction by the National Government in 1993, its expansion by the National - New Zealand First coalition, and through to the New Zealand First 1999 law and order policy, which called for greater use of home detention, instead of, as Mr Winston Peters said, ¡°Giving those louts taxpayer-funded accommodation that cost $60,000 a year each.¡±
Hon Tony Ryall: Can the Minister explain why Chubb security guards were required to monitor an inmate on home detention by making a 1-hour round trip every 3 hours, 24 hours a day, for 57 days; what sort of electronic monitoring is that?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: It is often acknowledged that in some parts of New Zealand it is difficult to get the electronic monitoring in place. [Interruption] Well, partly it is true because that National Government did nothing about telecommunications reform for 9 years. We are doing something about that. Eventually there will be 100 percent coverage, but that member must recognise that it will take some time.
Heather Roy: Does he have any concerns about the case in today¡¯s Dominion Post where a rapist under the age of 15 does not have to even ask for home detention, because under current sentencing laws he cannot be sent to prison; and if the Minister is concerned, by what date will this bizarre law be changed?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: That is obviously a matter to do with sentencing and the Minister of Justice. The whole issue of home detention, which was the subject of the initial question, has been a success. Some changes need to be made, and I am considering some of those at the moment. But there is no doubt about it¡ªit has reduced the recidivism rate in New Zealand quite substantially.
Marc Alexander: Can the Minister give this House a categorical assurance that each and every breach of the provisions of home detention¡ªno matter how trivial they may seem¡ªare reflected in the figures provided by the Department of Corrections; if not, what confidence can we have that the detentions can be said to be effective when the veracity of the figures is found to be wanting?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Breach of conditions are obviously monitored and recorded by the probation service, and I say to the member that the service does an extraordinarily good job in difficult circumstances. I hope that the member will provide some support for that kind of group, which is doing a very good service for the rest of the community.
Marc Alexander: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance because I asked a question as to what assurance the Minister could give about the veracity of the figures. I did not get an answer to that.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister might care to comment.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: I indicated to the member that breaches around things like home detention are recorded and monitored by the probation service, and if there is a case where a breach is significant, then recall is an option. In many, many cases the probation service applies to the Parole Board* for recall to prison.
Ron Mark: What was the purpose and intent of allowing a senior Mongrel Mob* member whose previous multiple convictions included aggravated robbery times three, kidnapping times one, escaping custody times two, and aggravated assault to have front-end home detention, which has since resulted in his being busted for manufacturing methamphetamine and being in possession of a pistol with ammunition¡ªwhat is that all about?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Once again, it is hard to comment on an individual case, because I do not have the information before me. But what I will say is that decisions on those kinds of matters are appropriately made by the Parole Board, and that is the way it should be.
Ron Mark: Why does the Minister not just admit that his statistics on breaches of home detention are shonky, and that he has not got a clue as to what is going on in his department; if he rejects that assertion, could he please explain to the House how it is that people are committing offences whilst on home detention and are being given community service rather than being recalled to prison?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: The statistics on breaches are pretty good. The question is really about the relationship between breaches and offences, and I have already indicated to that member that that is something I am looking into, because I think we need tighter statistics on that.
End of Questions for Oral Answer
(uncorrected transcript¡ªsubject to correction and further editing)