Questions & Answers for Oral Answer - 3 December
(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers:
1. Auckland Transport Package—Petrol Tax
2. Moth Spraying—Hamilton
3. Patient Safety—Tauranga Surgeon
4. National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Internal Assessment Results
5. Refugees and Immigrants—Employment
Question No. 6 to Minister
7. Border Security—Cost Recovery
Question No. 8 to Minister
8. Justice System—Confidence
9. Small Business—Australia / New Zealand
11. Film-making—Regional Benefits
12. Forestry—Government Policy
Questions to MEMBERS:
1. Smoke-free Environments Amendment
2. Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Effective Date
3. Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Fines
4. Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Enforcement Powers
5. Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Ships
6. Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Marae
7. Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Rural Pubs
8. Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Company Cars
Questions to Ministers
Auckland Transport Package—Petrol Tax
1. Dr DON BRASH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister Will she rule out an increase in petrol tax being included in the Government’s Auckland transport package due to be announced on December 12, in light of her comments recently that a 15c a litre petrol tax increase to fund Auckland transport was “ridiculous in my opinion”; if not, why not?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Acting Prime Minister): Final decisions have not been made on petrol tax in the context of the Auckland transport package.
Dr Don Brash: How will the Government’s package meet the shortfall between currently committed funding and the total expected cost of completing the Auckland transport network, in light of estimates by Government and Auckland officials that the cost of completing the network could be between $8.5 billion and $9.6 billion?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I welcome the member’s recognition that additional funding will be required. That will be met in a number of ways over a period of time.
Peter Brown: Noting those answers, does the Prime Minister realise that the situation in Auckland is desperate—with delays costing individuals and operators thousands of dollars per year—in urgent need of, for want of a better term, a road development programme, and should be addressed immediately; and if the Prime Minister does recognise that, could the House be given some idea how it will be funded?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: That is why some of my most senior Ministers have been working with Auckland officials and Auckland mayors on a road transport package relating to public transport, roading, and other matters. The constraints on that are not merely constraints of funding but also constraints of capability and constraints of consents.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Will the Government be considering all sensible funding options, including the contribution that parking charges might make to both demand management and transport funding in Auckland?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes. A number of measures are being looked at. Of course, demand management is an important part of solving the Auckland problem.
Larry Baldock: If the Government has to increase fuel tax to meet the Auckland roading needs, will the Government consider a reduction also in the amount diverted to the Crown account from fuel excise, as a matching cent-for-cent procedure?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, the Government is prepared to look at that possibility in relation to the Auckland funding package.
Dr Don Brash: Does the Prime Minister accept that the cost of fixing Auckland’s transport problem is at least $8 billion, and can she assure the House that the announcement the Government is due to make next week will contain a commitment of funding appropriate to the size of the problem?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Certainly, the Government will be making a commitment to provide funding appropriate to the size of the problem but also to the nature of the solutions that need to be found.
Hon Richard Prebble: Before the Government decides to tax the motorist, yet again, will the Government take note of the fact that at the moment it is collecting $1,742 million per year from petrol taxes, fuel taxes, road-user charges, and car registration fees, and is spending only $1,464 million on the roads? Surely, there is a good place to start, when the Government is looking for more money?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: As the member knows, the cost of capital is not covered in that series of figures.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: What does that mean?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: If the next Treasurer of this country does not know what the cost of capital means, it shows why he was such a disaster!
Gordon Copeland: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like to have heard the Minister’s answer to that question. We could not hear it in this part of the House.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister might care just to repeat the answer.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The figures referred to by Mr Prebble do not include the cost of capital in relation to the roading system. The member may recall that during the last election the Automobile Association and the Road Transport Association—I think it was—claimed that the excise duty would have to double if the cost of capital were to be fully covered.
2. IAN EWEN-STREET (Green) to the Minister for Biosecurity: What action is he taking following an Occupational Safety and Health report into moth spraying in Hamilton, which found failings with Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) medical reporting systems, and with medical consultations by MAF-contracted doctors?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Minister for Racing) on behalf of the Minister for Biosecurity: No action is required from me, because changes have already been made, especially to ensure workplace clusters of allergies are identified.
Ian Ewen-Street: Can the Minister guarantee to the House that the proven under-reporting of health effects of spraying by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry - contracted doctors is not because those doctors are working in the ministry’s interests, rather than the interests of the patients; if so, how does he explain the occupational safety and health report and the anecdotal evidence of ongoing misdiagnosis?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I do not accept the fact that those doctors are working for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. They are part of a health programme that is put in place to ensure that people who have concerns, who have allergies, and who may think that they will be affected by the spraying programme, can be assessed properly by those doctors. They can then have a practical support plan put in place that will offer them advice as to what they should do when the spraying is taking place.
Janet Mackey: Can the Minister assure us that the spray has been approved as safe for use in New Zealand?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Yes, I can. The appropriate regulatory authorities have approved Foray 48B for use. Components in the spray are commonly consumed in foods and cosmetics, and it has been used successfully in a number of programmes around the world and, indeed, in New Zealand.
Brent Catchpole: What action is the Minister for Biosecurity taking to ensure that the health of the people of Hamilton is his primary concern, given the damning Occupational Safety and Health Service report, and the fact that the spray volumes have been increased from 5 litres a hectare to the unprecedented 7 litres a hectare; or is it that, like his fellow Ministers and other colleagues, he just does not care?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Each of us has been constantly lobbied by the member for Hamilton West, Mr Gallagher, and his colleague Dianne Yates, to ensure that we are protecting the health of Hamilton. If I can accurately point out the conclusions from the report, it states: “Whilst the spray is essentially safe for public use, there are a few individuals who will experience allergies, respiratory problems, or skin sensitivities.” It goes on to make some recommendations that systems be extended to identify workplaces that have groupings of affected employees and to improve the orientation.
Ian Ewen-Street: Now that there is research evidence to support the anecdotal evidence that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has under-reported the human health effects of the spray programmes for the white spotted tussock moth, the painted apple moth, and now the Asian gypsy moth, what is the Minister doing to ensure that Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry – contracted doctors accurately record all future health effects?
Mr SPEAKER: There is too much conversation. It is not necessarily out of order, but the combined effect of it means it is difficult to hear.
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I do not accept the member’s accusation that there has been under-reporting. The conclusions from the report do make some recommendations, one of which is that the medical director has undertaken, and should undertake, to improve orientation and monitoring of consultations that take place with people, to ensure that health conditions are diagnosed and managed both properly and thoroughly.
Ian Ewen-Street: Will the Minister be reviewing the Biosecurity Act to enable ex gratia payments to be made to employers such as Fraser High School that have continued to pay their staff during absences from work on account of the effects of being sprayed while at work; if not, why not?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I can say on behalf of the Minister that I am sure there will be not be a major review of the Biosecurity Act. We have made a lot of progress there and have a strategy in place, but, in regard to payments, the Ministry of Education has assisted the school in paying those teachers who are forced to be away during the programme of spraying in Hamilton.
Ian Ewen-Street: Does the Minister or his officials take any responsibility at all for the effects of the chemicals that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is spraying on the residents of Hamilton and Auckland, or does he simply believe that it is someone else’s problem?
Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I am sure that the Minister is willing to take responsibility for the overall programme and the biosecurity of New Zealand. However, the Minister hands over to officials the detailed operation of day-to-day activities. We have advice, and have said in the House time and time again, that the sprays used and the programmes used are safe for most New Zealanders. Those who have allergies, and who think they may be affected, should be part of the health-monitoring programme.
Patient Safety—Tauranga Surgeon
3. Dr LYNDA SCOTT (National—Kaikoura) to the Minister of Health: Did her Chief Medical Advisor, Dr Colin Feek, reassure Mrs Shirley Crowley in September 2001 that Dr Ian Breeze would be stopped from operating, as stated by Mrs Crowley; if so, why did she or her ministry not then initiate an inquiry into Dr Breeze’s practice?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): I am advised that Dr Feek confirmed with Mrs Shirley Crowley in October 2001 that Mr Breeze had had constraints placed on his ability to practise and was not doing any major surgery. This is in relation to his work at the Tauranga public hospital. Both the Health and Disability Commissioner and the Medical Council have undertaken investigation into Mr Breeze’s practice. They are the agencies with the legal jurisdiction to investigate any claims against Mr Breeze in accordance with the Heath and Disability Commissioner Act 1994, the Medical Practitioners Act 1995, and now the Heath Professionals Competence Assurance Act 2003. Neither the Ministry of Health nor the Minister usually undertakes investigations into the practice of individual doctors.
Dr Lynda Scott: Why did no one in the health system stop this surgeon earlier, when a number of people knew that when it came to Dr Breeze there were 13 cases of documented “serious complications”, five accident compensation “medical mishap”, two “medical error”, and six complaints to the Health and Disability Commissioner?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The appropriate authorities did undertake action against Mr Breeze. I will tell the member the action that was taken. On 29 August 2000 Mr Breeze had restriction placed on him by the district health board in relation to his colorectal surgery. On 14 December 2000 further restriction was placed on his colorectal surgery. In September 2001 restriction was placed on his general surgery, and the Medical Council carried out a competency review of him in 2001. In the words of the Health and Disability Commissioner, it was one of the most extensive audits ever undertaken, with two advisers considering all colorectal surgery performed by Mr Breeze from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2001. [Interruption] Members opposite do not like hearing what has happened.
Dr Lynda Scott: When did the Bay of Plenty District Health Board first become aware of the unacceptable complication rate in Dr Breeze’s patients, and why did they try to convince Mrs Shirley Crowley that her husband’s death was not due to medical misadventure?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I am unsure of when the district health board first became aware of problems with Mr Breeze. The first complaint against him to the Health and Disability Commissioner was received in September 1999. However, it was on 29 August 2000 that the district health board itself placed restrictions on Mr Breeze. That is some considerable time ago, and it was action taken by the district health board.
Dr Lynda Scott: What action will the Minister take to investigate the case of Dr Breeze, now that it is clear the death of Lionel Crowley is only the tip of the iceberg and that for years Tauranga doctors have had concerns and have previously whistle-blown on Dr Breeze?
Hon ANNETTE KING: As that member knows, the appropriate place to whistle-blow on any medical profession is the Health and Disability Commissioner, or its body. [Interruption] That is absolutely right, and it is set out in the Medical Practitioners Act, in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act, and in the Health and Disability Commissioners Act. That is the appropriate place to investigate. I can tell that member that from September 1999 to October 2003 five complaints against Mr Breeze have been received by the Health and Disability Commissioner. One did not proceed because it was not supported by the family. Of the four complaints investigated, one was minor and no action was taken; in two cases, no breach was found; and the third was the Crowley case. The appropriate authorities appropriately handled all complaints, which is exactly what would have happened to Dr Scott if a complaint had ever been laid against her.
Dr Lynda Scott: I seek leave to table an email from Mrs Shirley Crowley to Margaret Wilson dated 19 February stating: “All I want is an answer to why this tragedy happened. Will it happen to others, as has happened before?
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: The Minister concluded that answer with a statement, which leaves a member in some serious difficulty and that is this. She said that is exactly what would have happened had a complaint been made against “her”—referring to another person’s professional background. Though that is a statement on the facts, it is an imputation or an inference that this could have happened. It is wrong, and she should not try that cheap little shot in the House.
Mr SPEAKER: I reflected on it at the time, and if Dr Scott has taken objection I most certainly would have intervened. I think, on reflection, I will ask the Minister to withdraw that last sentence.
Hon ANNETTE KING: I withdraw. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If you listened to my answer, I set out the series of Acts and processes that are undertaken, and I said it could happen to any medical practitioner.
Mr SPEAKER: I do not require that assistance. I ruled the last sentence out of order and that is it.
National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Internal Assessment Results
4. CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Education: What steps have been taken to ensure that the results of National Certificate of Educational Achievement internally assessed standards are available to students?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): This year we have made access to internally assessed National Certificate of Educational Achievement results available online for the first time. This is designed to make student achievement more open and transparent for students, parents, and teachers. It is proving very popular, with more than 10,000 level 1 and level 2 candidates checking results in the first weekend alone.
Clayton Cosgrove: Could he outline the advantages of making internally assessed National Certificate of Educational Achievement results available online?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Students can check their results if they think there is a problem with them. If something has been missed out, or there is an incorrect result, they can contact their schools and get it fixed up before the results are made available in January—a very good system.
Refugees and Immigrants—Employment
5. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Is he concerned that information is not collected on a basis to enable him to answer my question in the House yesterday as to what percentage of refugees and immigrants have obtained paid employment within 6 months of arriving in New Zealand since the election of the Labour Government in 1999; if not, why not?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): No, for four main reasons: first, new migrants are ineligible for the unemployment benefit for 2 years; second, because the household labour force survey tells us that over 88 percent of recent—that is, within less than 2 years—migrants in the labour force were in employment; third, because the Minister of Immigration has tightened up immigration requirements, including sponsorship arrangements and links between qualifications and jobs; and, fourth, because we can identify the number of recent migrants needing a benefit, and that number has dropped by 28 percent. In other words, the information I have available is adequate for me to be able to tell a story that the member, I know, could not tell in the late 1990s because he did not have that information.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can the number of immigrants getting a benefit be 20 percent lower than it was, say, last year, when, by his own claims and the claims of his Government, none of them are on a benefit; and can he clarify what he meant in the House yesterday when he said that only 1.3 percent of migrants are on the unemployment benefit today, and that migrants represent about 1.3 percent of those on the unemployment benefit as well as 16 percent of the Work and Income registered job seekers in Auckland, when in answer to a written question lodged to his ministry it was stated that the ministry does not record that information, and thus figures are not available; so why are he and his colleagues going about giving statistics when, by their own admission, they have no idea what they are?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I just reiterate, on the first point that was asked, that the number of recent migrants needing a benefit has dropped by 28 percent since we became the Government. The figure that I read out yesterday was that, in the last 5 financial years, 206,813 people had residence applications approved. As at 31 October 2003 the number of migrants who had lived in New Zealand for less than 5 years, and who were accessing an unemployment benefit, was 2,717—1.3 percent of total applications.
Georgina Beyer: How many recent migrants currently need the support of an emergency benefit, and how does this figure compare with that for 1998?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The number of recent migrants—for the purposes of this answer let me define recent migrants as people who have arrived in the last 5 years—who received an emergency benefit in 1998 was 6,514. By October 2003 this figure had dropped by 53 percent to 3,066.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can the Minister go about boasting about his $21 million spending spree on immigrants whom he had helped off the dole and into employment, when yesterday he could not even answer a simple question in the House as to what percentage of refugees and immigrants had obtained paid employment within 6 months of arriving in New Zealand, and when the August 2002 briefing paper to the incoming Minister of Immigration states the following: “The rate at which new migrants are employed is relatively poor at 50 percent.”; why is this Minister trying to put a gloss on the situation when he knows it is an unmitigated mess?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No boasting is going on. We announced in the Budget that we were providing $21.2 million over a 4-year period to assist migrants and refugees into work. I announced that in Auckland the other day. The problem we face, of course, is that while people do get jobs—and increasingly under this Government, of course, they do get jobs, because we have much better policies in place—if people do go on to a benefit, they tend to stay there in a way that is a problem for us. Therefore, we are putting money into removing barriers such as English being their second language, and their lacking experience in the workplace. They are very, very good policies.
Georgina Beyer: What reports has the Minister seen on the contribution of skilled migration to New Zealand’s economy?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I note two pieces of information. Yesterday I underestimated the net economic benefit of migration. The Bell study reported that it produces a $1.7 billion per annum net gain to New Zealand. To quote from a recent discussion paper: “New Zealand is a country which has been built by immigrants. There is a longstanding acceptance of the positive role which immigration can play in meeting the demands for skill and capital to underpin economic growth.” I welcome the fact that the National Party said that and agrees with the Government’s policy on immigration.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: If everything is so fine, why is his Government giving people, for example, not loans but grants of $8,000 to become taxi-drivers—grants that are not available to New Zealanders of course? Why is it giving $3,500 per person to people of the type he described in his $21 million package—grants also not available to New Zealanders of course? Is it his policy to support everybody in the world but the New Zealand taxpayer?
Hon STEVE MAHAREY: With an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent I think we are doing pretty well across the whole of the population here in New Zealand. None of the $21 million announced the other day is directed towards training for taxi-drivers. All I can say to the member is that I know we have improved dramatically on the policies he had in place during his time. I know that eats him up, but we are doing a whole lot better.
Question No. 6 to Minister
Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National—East Coast Bays): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I see that the Associate Minister of Mâori Affairs to whom this question is addressed is not in the Chamber, and accordingly I seek the leave of the House that this question be held over until next sitting day.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to defer this question. Is there any objection? There is. Please ask the question.
Hon MURRAY McCULLY (National—East Coast Bays): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question that is on the Order Paper has some quite specific information sought of a particular Minister. It is evident that the Minister to whom the question is addressed has no public engagements outside the House today. The Government has made a calculated decision to avoid her being accountable to this House during question time. That makes a farce of this process.
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. If the member does not want to ask the question, he does not have to. I call question No. 6 from Murray McCully. Question No. 7, Gordon Copeland. [Interruption] I regard that as a totally inappropriate remark. The member will stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I withdraw and apologise.
Hon member: I didn’t hear it.
Mr SPEAKER: I did not hear it, either.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I withdraw and apologise.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That could only be an inappropriate remark if he was referring to Mr McCully or someone else. However, he could have been referring to his colleague, which would be entirely appropriate.
Mr SPEAKER: The member knows that that is an attempt to comment. I want him now to stand and withdraw for any implication that that has.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: I will be removing some people in a moment very quickly. I want the member to stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I shall do it for a second time. I withdraw and apologise.
Border Security—Cost Recovery
7. GORDON COPELAND (United Future) to the Minister of Customs: Will the Government reconsider its decision to recover border security costs from the private sector in light of widespread opposition to this from the travel and trade industries; if not, why not?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Deputy Prime Minister), on behalf of the Minister of Customs: The only Government decision that has been made in relation to border security costs relates to cost recovery for supply chain security. This matter is part of the Border Security Bill, which is currently before the Government Administration Committee, and the Government awaits its report.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister concede that asking the private sector to foot this bill would send a message to New Zealanders and other countries alike that the Government does not work in partnership with its own citizens when it comes to national security obligations, when other Governments do exactly that?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No. With regard to supply chain security, I would not accept that argument, given that a number of other countries have not taken direct Government responsibility for the provision of that security, and, therefore, are charging back to the private sector.
Shane Ardern: Given that that cost is a security cost, not a trade access cost, why is the Government dumping $20 million worth of tax on our export and import industries that traditionally has been paid for by the taxpayer, or is this just the “flatulence tax” in drag?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No. This, of course, is a requirement imposed by the United States Government, not the New Zealand Government. [Interruption] No, we are talking about supply chain security, which is required by the United States Government. If we do not meet those requirements, our exporters will take far longer to clear United States customs. It is now a cost of doing business with the United States.
Luamanuvao Winnie Laban: What opportunity is there for the public and industry to have an input into goods security cost recovery?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The Minister has held a number of meetings with key stakeholders throughout the country. In addition, the Customs Service in the very near future will be consulting industry to discuss the details of cost recovery mechanisms and the quantum.
Shane Ardern: How was the $20 million tax on export and import industries arrived at, and will it run foul of negotiated deals in the GATT negotiations?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: On the latter, no. On the former, my understanding is that that is the estimated cost of meeting United States security requirements. The member should take this up with the Government in Washington.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister intend to put in place those much-needed supply chain security measures, if the private sector does not foot the bill; if not, why not?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: If the private sector is not prepared to foot the bill, there is no reason why it should not face the additional cost, which will be much higher, of going through US customs without prior security clearance.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: With regard to coverage of costs, when on earth will this Government bring in its promised policy of every second-hand car being decontaminated off shore—a claim that its members made in 1999 in respect of their election policy—when fully half of the cars coming in today are coming in un-decontaminated, sitting around in places like the port in Auckland for 3 weeks, and contaminating the rest of the country?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The importation of second-hand cars from Japan has nothing to do with supply chain security to the United States.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Do you see the question? It states: “Will the Government reconsider its decision to recover border security costs ...”, and I am referring to the fact that car carriage companies—that ship cars to this country—bear the offshore costs themselves. I am asking why he does not introduce that policy, as promised in 1999, for all second-hand cars coming into New Zealand, and thereby secure this country’s long-term biological needs.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister addressed the question. He might not have satisfied the member, but that is not my concern.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You allowed the question. The Minister then sought to redefine what it was all about, when there is no specific definition as close as that. Therefore, my question is in order. It is about border security and border security costs. I have given you an example—
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister says he will answer it.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am aware of no widespread opposition from the travel and trade industries to recovering the cost of security in relation to imported used cars the member referred to.
Gordon Copeland: Noting the answer the Minister gave to an earlier question from me, does he mean to say that it is a question of if the private sector will not pay for these measures, then the country will have to do without them, or we will just do it on a laissez-faire basis; if so, would that not make this country much more vulnerable to acts of terror?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No, I am not predicting the latter. It might make the United States vulnerable to more acts of terror, in the unlikely event that they are sourced from New Zealand. But I point out to the member that the contrary to his argument is the notion that the Government, if people are not prepared to pay, simply gives up the rule of law—one that I would have thought his party should not want to promote too far in the House.
Gordon Copeland: Does the Minister recognise that, given the strength of the New Zealand dollar and our worsening balance of payments position, our exporters need encouragement right now, not extra costs?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The dollar goes up and the dollar goes down. I am sure the member would not argue that if the dollar were at a low level, we should therefore increase taxes.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the Labour Party’s commitment and promise in the 1999 election to have every second-hand car decontaminated off shore—just one more broken promise.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Question No. 8 to Minister
RON MARK (NZ First): I see that the Minister of Justice to whom this question is addressed is not available in the House today. I know how much he enjoys answering my questions in the House. I seek leave to have this question deferred until he is present.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to have this question deferred. Is there any objection? There is.
8. RON MARK (NZ First) to the Minister of Justice: Is he confident that the justice system is working in the interests of all New Zealanders?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL (Acting Minister of Justice): To a considerable extend, yes. However, improvements can always be made, both in legislation and in operation.
Ron Mark: How can anyone have confidence in a justice system when Maunu Nicholson, a former sergeant-at-arms in the Nomads gang, stabbed four men in a New Plymouth bar, killing one; was sentenced to 10 years in jail; was a key instigator in a riot in Paremoremo Prison that resulted in a number of prison officers being assaulted; was released on home detention, and then, whilst on home detention, set up a P manufacturing racket; and died of a drug overdose?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I have not received any briefing on that particular case. If the member wants to raise a case in the House, perhaps he could identify it in the original question so that the information can be brought to the House.
Russell Fairbrother: What major changes has this Government made to ensure that the justice system works in the best interests of all New Zealanders?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: New sentencing laws, which have seen record sentences for the worst offenders; increased police numbers in the police budget to record highs; new victims rights laws, which for the first time have given victims enforceable rights; and new bail laws, which make it harder for dangerous offenders to get bail. We have also introduced legislation to extend supervision for child sex offenders, and increased penalties for child pornography, and that is just the beginning.
Richard Worth: With reference to the primary question, how is the justice system working for all New Zealanders, when the courts are clogged with unresolved criminal cases, and accused persons are having charges dropped against them because of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act requirement for expeditious trials?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The advice I have is that the number of stays granted over the last 5 years has not differed greatly from those granted over the previous 5 years. From 1 January 1994 to 31 October 1998 there were 38 stays of proceedings under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.
Richard Worth: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is not a responsive answer to the question. It is not a question of stays being granted, but a question of cases being dropped.
Mr SPEAKER: If the Minister wishes to comment further, she can.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The advice I have is that the relevant statistics are directly comparable, and that there really has not been a significant change in the number of cases that have been stayed as a result of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act requirement that cases be brought on. The delays that existed in the past still exist today, and this is a matter of concern to this Government, as it was to the Government that the member would have represented.
Stephen Franks: With reference to the primary question, how can it be fair to all New Zealanders that a habitual offender like Rambo Barton, an 18-year-old from Nelson, had $26,000 in fines wiped, while decent people like Mrs Taylor of Mapua will be harassed mercilessly to pay her trivial fines on time?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I am not able, as the member knows, to make comments about sentences that are imposed by the court.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Stephen Franks: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Point of order, Mr Franks. He asked the question and he is entitled to raise the point. I am making an assessment that Mr Franks asked the question and wanted the point of order, and he can have the first call.
Stephen Franks: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. These both refer to cases that have been disposed of by the courts, and relate to a matter of practice—a matter of which the Government claims responsibility for—the collection of fines. That is administrative, and I therefore see no reason why the Minister should be able to hide behind the notion that this is something beyond her ability to comment on.
Mr SPEAKER: No, it is up to the Minister to decide how she will respond. If the member is not satisfied, he can take an appropriate step then.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order, which you did not take, was that this matter is not sub judice in any way or effect whatsoever. That is the first thing. The other point I want to raise is that if a member gets to his or her feet first and asks for a point of order, and there be no other distinguishing features—not including the one that you sought to use—then that member should get the point of order first, particularly when that member is senior in the House. That is my point.
Mr SPEAKER: That point might be the member’s view, but it is not mine.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If you have not called anyone, it is at your complete discretion who you can call. In the other matter, I say to you that your ruling is not satisfactory, because you have given a ruling that implies that the Minister’s statement to the House has your support. It is quite wrong for the Minister to say to the House that she cannot comment on sentences—of course she can. She can choose not to—that is up to her—but for her to say that the member knows that she cannot comment implies to people listening that an unfair question has been asked of her, and that it was unfair to ask her to comment on the sentencing practices that are the result of laws passed by this Government. That is not a fair answer. What you should have said, Mr Speaker, is that the Minister could reply, but that under the Standing Orders you cannot make her.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did not claim it was sub judice under the Standing Orders. That is not an issue. It is up to the Minister as to how she responds. There is no implication that I approve, or not, of the reply.
Murray Smith: If the justice system is working in the interests of all New Zealanders, why is there an increasing difficulty in getting jurors to participate in the system, and if he thinks that jurors play an important role in the justice system, why does he not increase daily reimbursements for jurors so that people can be encouraged to fulfil their civic duty without it costing them a considerable amount in lost wages?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I am not aware of the difficulty in respect of jurors, but if the member has a specific issue regarding those numbers, I am happy to supply that information to him.
Ron Mark: In respect of the case of Maunu Nicholson, does the Minister agree with the Minister of Corrections, who says that Maunu Nicholson’s home detention sentence was “well managed” and that it was “unfortunate that a person had died”, or does he agree with all other sane New Zealanders, who think that home detention monitoring is so slack that probation officers who make pre-arranged appointments at regularly scheduled intervals are never going to know what gang members on home detention are doing, and that home detention on that basis alone has passed its use-by date and the whole Act should be repealed?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: As I already advised in my answer to the first supplementary question, if the member had put down a question about the individual case, I would have been well briefed to come to the House to answer it. I do note that that member made serious allegations in the House with regard to the home detention matter, relating to two security officers being beaten up, and we have never seen any evidence of it.
Richard Worth: With reference to the primary question, how is the justice system working in the interests of all New Zealanders, when there are high rates of staff attrition in the courts, there has been a loss of institutional memory in court staff, and court staff are not being properly paid?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I think that question should be addressed to the appropriate Minister—the Minister for Courts.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you give us some guidance, please? We do accept and understand that it is up to the Government, when a Minister is absent, to choose a Minister to answer questions. But surely there must be some guidance about putting up someone who is competent and is aware of the portfolios and can at least try to answer some of the questions. To not do so is to make a mockery out of question time.
Mr SPEAKER: The member is wrong. This Minister is the acting Minister while the Minister is overseas and has been advised as such.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, my colleague sought to have this question deferred until the Minister was in the House. He was declined leave by this Government, which is its entitlement. But surely you should rule out the wasteful comments of a Minister who then tells my colleague to put the question to the proper Minister, who is not here, and to whom we would have put the question in the first place had it been deferred. It is a waste of Parliament’s time and you should stop it.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: What is a waste of Parliament’s time are irrelevant points of order. The Minister is referring to the fact that the supplementary question was referring to a question that is more appropriately directed to the Minister for Courts, not the Minister of Justice. In this case, she is the Minister of Justice. She is the Acting Minister, and the question set down to her has to be answered by her when she is in the House. The Minister of Justice is overseas and will be overseas for some time.
Stephen Franks: My question refers to the Minister’s answer to Mr Russell Fairbrother’s supplementary question, when she referred to the Sentencing Act as an achievement in the interests of all New Zealanders. How does she see that, in the light of District Court judge Ian Mills’ comment, reported on 19 November in the Nelson Mail, that it was unfortunate he was not able to disqualify sickness beneficiary Shane Lee Anderson from driving, after 16 charges of theft from vehicles, as the charges “cried out for it”, and at the same time he remitted $5,000 in unpaid fines from previous offending?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: I am not aware of the connection of that case with the Sentencing Act provisions, where I have referred to record sentences being imposed on the worst offenders. The Sentencing Act now requires that the interests of the community are taken into account in parole considerations, and, in respect of the worst offenders, we have the longest periods of non-parole ever seen in this country before.
Richard Worth: With reference to the primary question, how is the justice system working in the interests of all New Zealanders when, increasingly, the courts detect big holes in the Minister’s much-vaunted sentencing regime, and when the Minister sits on his hands and does nothing to deal with those gaps?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: The irony in the question is that prior to the introduction of the sentencing legislation we saw people walk away with minimal sentences. We have now seen an enormous extension in the time of non-parole periods, over many, many years, which are designed to protect the community from the most serious offenders.
Ron Mark: Accepting the contribution from the Acting Prime Minister, is the Minister of Justice aware of the following case, and can he explain what he has got to say to the family of Mr Victor Grey of Tauranga, who, along with another man, was killed by a former gang member, Charles Anthony Beale—who was convicted of two counts of careless driving causing death, three counts of careless driving causing injury, and a further two counts of driving whilst disqualified—and who has now, to the horror of the victims’ families, been given leave to apply for home detention?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: That one is absolutely clear-cut because it is sub judice. The matter is before the courts, and we cannot comment on it here—[Interruption] I apologise, with respect, to Mr Prebble, because I know what he is going to say—I will not comment on it here.
Hon Richard Prebble: Going back to the main question, is the House to understand that the Minister and the Labour Government are saying that it is a just system in New Zealand, where we have one of the higher crime levels in the OECD and this Government is defending a system where violent criminals—
Ron Mark: Killers!
Hon Richard Prebble:—killers are being sent home on home detention; and would she please explain that to us?
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: As I made it absolutely clear, this particular case is before the courts at the moment. If that member does not respect his legal background, I myself certainly do.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am obliged to the Minister, but I did not ask her about that case. If she has a look at the main question, she will see that it asks whether she has confidence in the justice system. The question I asked her was whether she expresses confidence in a justice system that can send home violent murderers. I want to know whether she is prepared to repeat that statement to the House.
Mr SPEAKER: The member’s point is valid. The member asked the Minister to comment on the general system, not on a specific one, so I would ask the Minister to reply.
Hon LIANNE DALZIEL: We have a system of law in this country where a person is innocent until proven guilty, and we also have a system where finite sentences are given and individuals cannot be kept in jail beyond the end of their finite sentences. Dangerous people are released into our community, but the sentencing and parole legislation that has been introduced by this Government has now put the needs of the community ahead of the interests of individual offenders.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. All I asked was a simple question. I just want to hear from the Acting Minister of Justice whether she is prepared to get up in this House and say that the present situation, where violent criminals and murderers are sent home on home detention, is just.
Mr SPEAKER: The Minister did address the question that was asked by the member. She did talk about it. That might not satisfy the member, but she did address that question.
Stephen Franks: I seek leave to table the report of the judge, lamenting the loss of the power to disqualify, which was taken in the Sentencing Act.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Ron Mark: I seek leave to table a letter from the Minister of Corrections, Mr Paul Swain, to myself, where he states that the management of Maunu Nicholson’s sentence was well handled.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Ron Mark: I seek leave to table a report stating the circumstances in which Mr Victor Grey was killed.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Ron Mark: I seek leave to table a newspaper report about the crimes committed by Mr Maunu—I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it right or appropriate during a point of order, when it should be heard in silence, for a Government member on the back benches to be interjecting?
Mr SPEAKER: No, it is not. I will be watching. Mr Mark will recommence his request.
Ron Mark: I seek leave to table a newspaper report outlining the details of one Mr Maunu Nicholson, who stabbed four men in a New Plymouth bar.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that newspaper report. Is there any objection? There is.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The interjection came from the MP for Napier. Therefore, I seek leave to table a defence he had in a very important criminal case where he said that the defendant’s behaviour was due to the fact that the Treaty of Waitangi was not being honoured.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that report. Is there any objection? There is.
Small Business—Australia / New Zealand
9. MARK PECK (Labour—Invercargill) to the Minister for Small Business: What recent reports has he received comparing the small—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: That is the one warning today. Start again, please.
Mark Peck: Tell that member we measure people from the neck up in the Labour movement. My question is to the Minister for Small Business. What—
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There was an insult from Mr Peck. He was talking about something—I think it was a comment made by Lloyd George about measuring somebody from the neck up—and I hope he was referring to himself.
Mr SPEAKER: I think the member could perhaps restrict his points of order. That was not one.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: This had better be a genuine point of order. That last one was not.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Mr Speaker, if you can tell me where his comments on his written question are, pray tell me now; otherwise, it was a sincere and genuine point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: I ruled it was not. Mr Peck, please ask the question.
Mark Peck: What recent reports has he received comparing the small business environment in New Zealand with Australia?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister for Small Business): According to the New South Wales Chamber of Commerce small businesses in Australia, our largest trading partner, spend four times as long completing their GST returns as New Zealand small businesses do. This is one indicator only. The New South Wales Chamber of Commerce also reports that small businesses in that state spend, on average, 50 days a year on tax and industrial relations paperwork alone. This compares with a total average compliance burden of 9.5 hours a month in New Zealand, according to the National Bank’s small business monitor. While I am pleased that we have a lot lower and lighter level of regulatory burden, this Government is committed to working with business to improve the situation further. Next year’s small business summits will give those running small businesses a chance to have a real say in how that will occur.
Mark Peck: Has the Minister seen the TMP/Hudson job index report; if so, could he tell the House what it states about the hiring expectations of New Zealand business?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: The recently released TMP/Hudson job index report was accurately summarised in today’s New Zealand Herald. There is a job bonanza in New Zealand currently. We have high demand for workers, the lowest unemployment rate in NEw Zealand in 15 years, low inflation, low interest rates, and a growing economy. New Zealand businesses are benefiting from this and from a very worthwhile Government.
Lindsay Tisch: Given that the New Zealand company tax rate of 33 percent is one of the highest company tax rates in the Asia-Pacific region, with Australia’s rate at 30 percent and, from next year, Singapore’s rate at 20 percent, why does he not advocate a lower New Zealand company tax rate to help boost investment and wealth-creating small businesses, and to improve New Zealand’s sustainable economic growth?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Notwithstanding the matters raised by the member, New Zealand businesses have a very, very competitive setting and are doing very well.
Mike Ward: Has the Minister seen the report of the Government of Western Australia on the effectiveness of its “buy local” policies, which shows that 92 percent of state Government agencies purchased at least 70 percent of their requirements from local businesses; does he acknowledge that this policy—the “Buy Queensland First” policy and other Australian “buy local” policies—provide small businesses across the Tasman with a more supportive environment than their counterparts here in New Zealand have; and could he explain his Government’s reluctance to give a similar measure of support to New Zealand’s businesses?
Mr SPEAKER: The member asked three questions, and the Minister may comment on two of them.
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: I have not seen that report.
Mike Ward: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He answered one of the questions. There were two others.
Mr SPEAKER: No, he said he had not seen the report.
Sue Kedgley: Is the Minister aware that small dietary supplements businesses in Australia endure high compliance costs as a result of being regulated by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, and can he assure the House that the Government will listen to the small dietary supplements businesses in New Zealand that are exhorting it not to regulate their industry through the heavy-handed and draconian Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and expose them to higher compliance costs and the bureaucratic quagmire of a trans-Tasman therapeutic goods agency; if not, why not?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: We are aware of a number of dodgy things that have occurred in that industry in Australia, and, as a consequence, the Government has moved to regulate the industry here. We are looking at this matter and studying it very closely.
Mike Ward: I seek leave to table the State Supply Commission of the Government of Western Australia’s Buy-Local Policy.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
10. Hon KEN SHIRLEY (Deputy Leader—ACT) to the Minister of Fisheries: Why has he not delivered the promised legislative framework for aquaculture and why is it necessary to extend the moratorium for 9 months from March 2004?
Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister of Fisheries): It is important to ensure that the proposed aquaculture law reforms are consistent with the proposed resolution on the foreshore and seabed issue, and extending the moratorium will enable us to achieve that.
Hon Ken Shirley: Can the Minister recall promising in November 2001 that the new aquaculture legislation framework would be passed within 12 months, way before the foreshore issue even broke?
Hon PETE HODGSON: I certainly intended that the legislation would be passed before 24 March 2004, which is why I set the moratorium date as it was. The reason it has been delayed is the Court of Appeal announcement, of course.
David Benson-Pope: What benefits can the marine farming industry expect from the Government’s aquaculture reforms?
Hon PETE HODGSON: Bad law has hampered marine farming for many years, and this Government is fixing it. The reforms will enable clearly identified aquaculture management areas to be established, and will introduce a streamlined, one-permit consent system for marine farmers.
Phil Heatley: Can the Minister assure the House that the Ministry of Fisheries has been helpful to regional councils in planning the future of marine farming and that the moratorium was not extended simply because councils have no faith in the Ministry of Fisheries, or in his proposed legislation, and have put all of their planning on the backburner?
Hon PETE HODGSON: I can offer that assurance, and I can distinguish this moratorium from one that was imposed by the National Government in 1996, which was raised 3 years later in 1999 having achieved precisely nothing.
Jim Peters: Why has the Government encouraged regional councils to plan for potential aquaculture management areas, involving rounds of public consultations at this very moment in Kaeo and Russell, and, if it had a plan in mind, can the Minister now say confidently and absolutely that regional councils and industry can place applications to be heard after 1 January 2005?
Hon PETE HODGSON: The Northland Regional Council, to which the member refers, has certainly been on the front foot on this issue and has been well supported, not so much by just the Ministry of Fisheries staff but also by the Ministry for the Environment. They have made some progress in identifying prospective aquaculture management areas. Provision exists in legislation that I have yet to introduce for an uplift—in fact, provision exists now, I understand, for them to apply to the Minister of Conservation for an uplift of the moratorium over a small area, should they choose to do so.
Phil Heatley: Can the Minister confirm that the moratorium was extended, not because of the seabed and foreshore fiasco, but because regional councils throughout New Zealand have consistently told him they have no faith in the draft aquaculture reform legislation, that the Ministry of Fisheries has been unhelpful, and that, consequently, they have had to put all of their aquaculture planning on hold? Can he confirm that the complication is not with the seabed, foreshore, and Mâori, but with regional councils?
Hon PETE HODGSON: No, I certainly cannot confirm that. The member has got the wrong end of the stick. That said, the fact that there is an additional 9 months will, I am sure, mean that further resolution of outstanding issues can be progressed.
Hon Ken Shirley: In view of the fact that the Minister has just confirmed that his failure to deliver on his promise is because of the foreshore and seabed issue, could he tell us what progress is being made with the oceans policy that was heralded by this Labour Government but which is something it has been very quiet on lately?
Mr SPEAKER: This is a little wider, but I will allow the Minister to comment.
Hon PETE HODGSON: The member may not have noticed that the Government has decided to progress the issue of foreshore and seabed before progressing aquaculture, before further progressing the oceans’ policy, and before progressing, for example, marine reserves legislation. Is it going to last for 10 years? No. The Government intends to make its position on the foreshore and seabed available well before then.
11. MOANA MACKEY (Labour) to the Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage: How does Government support of New Zealand film-making benefit our regions?
Hon JUDITH TIZARD (Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage): International productions, such as The Lord of the Rings and The Last Samurai bring considerable economic and tourism benefits to New Zealand’s regions. However, local films supported by the New Zealand Film Commission and the Film Production Fund, such as Whale Rider, The Locals, and Perfect Strangers also have a significant positive effect on our regions, including the West Coast, Waikato, and the Gisborne area.
Moana Mackey: What specific examples can she give of regional benefits from these Film Commission and Film Production Fund – supported films?
Hon JUDITH TIZARD: Perfect Strangers, which was filmed on the West Coast of the South Island, created significant employment opportunities, increased the skill base in film making, facilitated fund-raising for community groups, and has increased the profile of the West Coast. The Locals, filmed in the Waikato, brought economic injections into local business and saw the inclusion of Waikato bands in the film soundtrack. The international success of Whale Rider, including its most recent BAFTA children’s award for best feature film, has resulted in increased focus on tourism to New Zealand in general and to the Whangara area in particular.
Judy Turner: How can she claim that the Government’s support of New Zealand film-making produces any benefits for the regions at all, given that Treasury figures indicate that the effect of recently introduced tax incentives for medium to large film projects could actually produce a net loss to our economy of up to $5 million as well as cause skills shortages and wage rises for local industry?
Hon JUDITH TIZARD: Treasury would say that; however, the evidence is available all around New Zealand, and in the more than 500 jobs, for example, for New Zealanders produced by The Lord of the Rings series.
12. BRIAN CONNELL (National—Rakaia) to the Minister for Industry and Regional Development: Does he stand by his statement made in reaction to Wayne Coffey’s criticisms of the Government’s forestry policies, in which he said, “Well I want to know from the industry because if that’s right … we’ll stop doing what we’re doing.”; if so, can the forestry industry interpret this as a policy statement?
Hon JIM ANDERTON (Minister for Industry and Regional Development): Yes, I do, and, no, they cannot. I made that statement after listening to Mr Wayne Coffey say on Radio New Zealand that the coalition Government views the forestry industry as “some sort of necessary evil”, and that the Government was hostile to business and anti-business. On the contrary, tomorrow in Rotorua I open a multimillion-dollar wood-processing centre of excellence. Thirty million dollars is being invested as I speak in roading in the north and on the East Coast of the North Island, in heavily forested areas, and millions of dollars are being spent on skill training, market development, and industry capability building. If all of this is evil and hostile to the industry, in the considered view of industry members, then of course the Government will stop doing it.
Brian Connell: Given the Minister’s comments, what will this Government’s response be when dealing with the growing number of foresters who publicly label its polices inadequate; will it try to bully them into submission also?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I noticed in the New Zealand Herald this morning an article stating that the New Zealand Forest Industries Council is distancing itself from criticism of the Government by the Timber Industry Federation chief, Wayne Coffey. The council’s chief executive officer, Stephen Jacobi, said that Coffey’s comments were “profoundly unhelpful”, and that the industry was “working with the Government in the Wood Processing Strategy and a separate Forestry Industry Framework Agreement. ‘Obviously the industry would be better served by a forum that had everyone involved,’ Jacobi said. He denied that the council was dominated by Carter Holt Harvey, saying it had 18 core members.” If the forestry industry and everyone that I know, apart from Mr Coffey, in the wood industry is supportive of what is going on, they are all invited to a meeting in my room before Christmas. If they think we are doing a good job, we will continue doing it. If they do not, then we will stop doing it, and the Minister of Finance will have a lot of other things to do with the money we are spending now.
Hon Matt Robson: What assistance has the Labour-Progressive Government provided for the forestry sector?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I have already outlined some of the detail of the coalition Government’s constructive assistance to the wood industry. The wood-processing task force was the first time that any Government had taken such a comprehensive and representative industry grouping and brought its members together to address industry-wide concerns. The coalition Government maintains an ongoing dialogue with the wood industry sector, and that engagement informs the policies and programmes we adopt to assist in its transformation. To give just one example, we have invested $400,000 in trade access work, which has resulted in China recognising pine for construction purposes. We have also provided additional funding for wood quality research initiatives, which is a principal public and private initiative.
Sue Bradford: Does the Minister believe that the Ministry of Economic Development has a role in assisting employees and contractors who have lost jobs and businesses in the current forestry downturn in the East Coast – Bay of Plenty; if so, what is the ministry doing for those people?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: The Government’s response to issues like employment is a whole-of-Government response, and the whole-of-Government response of this coalition Government is that we have the lowest level of unemployment in nearly 20 years.
H V Ross Robertson: Has the Minister seen any reports from the forestry industry on the coalition Government’s policies as they affect the forestry sector, and what they indicated?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: Yes, and I think I have reported to the House on that. As I indicated, I have regular meetings with the forestry industry, along with my colleagues Jim Sutton and Pete Hodgson. Another meeting will be held before Christmas. Everyone in the industry interested in coming to my office knows that the door is open, and that includes Mr Wayne Coffey.
Gerrard Eckhoff: Given the Minister’s undertaking to stop doing what he is doing to the timber industry, will he also give an undertaking to stop what he is doing to all other industry sectors such as the yacht-building industry?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: The Government works in cooperation with industry, and my comment was that if the industry at large wanted the Government to stop doing what it is doing, then of course we would. I doubt that that will be the case. But I did notice that in comparison the ACT party suggests that we should have the equivalent of the United States dollar now. At 64c to the US dollar that might be difficult for some exporters. At 100c to the US dollar it would be virtually impossible for many of them.
Brian Connell: Why does the Minister not acknowledge what many in the forestry industry are saying—that they are sick and tired of empty rhetoric, and what they actually want him to do is reduce costs and fix things like the Resource Management Act?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I know that during the wood-processing task force, issues like the Resource Management Act were addressed by a subcommittee of that task force, and by the Government, and issues are still being addressed. But I do not know of a time when the wood industry, collectively and individually, has been so supportive of Government actions. I would remind the member that during the whole time that the party he is now in Opposition with was in Government, it did nothing whatever for the wood industry. That is on record and everyone knows it.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There was an unparliamentary comment made by the Hon Nick Smith, who is clearly having a bit of a problem today.
Mr SPEAKER: I heard an unparliamentary comment. If the member made that comment he is to withdraw and apologise for it.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I withdraw and apologise. I seek the leave of the House to table the wide range of very positive initiatives that National took for the forestry sector right through the 1990s in contradiction to what the Minister claimed.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Brian Connell: Having threatened to withdraw Government support from the forestry industry unless it pulled its forelock, would the Minister be concerned to find out that many in the industry are hoping that that is a promise?
Hon JIM ANDERTON: I made it clear in my statement I gave to the House that this is a consultative Government. If the industry wants the initiatives that this Government has taken, is taking, and will take ended, then it has a chance to say so. I expect all who have been invited, and that is everyone, to come along and have their say. If that is what they wish, I will be readily reporting that to my colleagues and to the House.
Ron Mark: I seek the leave of the House to table evidence that shows that when New Zealand First came to Government in 1996 the exchange rate was sitting at 69c to the US dollar, and how, under the careful stewardship of Winston Peters, it was driven down to the 50c mark.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that evidence. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Questions to MEMBERS
Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Consequences
1. Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future) to Steve Chadwick (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): Is she satisfied that the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill will not have unintended consequences if enacted; if not, why not?
STEVE CHADWICK (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): No one can give an absolute assurance that unintended consequences will not occur as a result of any legislation. However, I am satisfied that the purpose of the bill, which is to provide for healthier working conditions for workers and the public, will be achieved.
Hon Peter Dunne: Bearing in mind the provisions of section 23A(ea) of the bill, can the member give the House an unqualified assurance that wrapped and unwrapped cigars of such well-known brands as Schimmelpenninck and Van Hartog, which exceed the requirement of 66 square centimetres in area for their packaging, will continue to be able to be displayed; and if she can give that assurance can she point to the section of the Act that provides it, and if she cannot give the assurance can she explain why and where that is given authority also?
STEVE CHADWICK: I refer the questioner to a response today from the Associate Minister of Health Damien O’Connor to Mr Tim Oakes in reference to this very question, which states that he does not, however, believe that his concerns are well founded in terms of points of display for cigar products.
Hon Peter Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member has quoted from what I believe is an official document. I think she is therefore obliged to table that document. She is referring to a letter from the Minister to Mr Oakes, which deals with the point. If she is quoting from that she should be obliged to table it.
Mr SPEAKER: When a Minister quotes from it—I refer the member to the Standing Order.
Hon Peter Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We are going to have a series of questions on this bill, all of which relate to specific provisions of it. If we are going to be able to proceed through this section of question time without disruption I submit to you that it would be in order for the member to answer the questions fully and properly. Because this is the one chance we get, given that the bill is about to enter its third reading. With regard to the question that I have just asked, I know that the answer that the member has given is disputed most strongly by the people to whom she has given it. Yet by not tabling the documentation referred to then, in fact, our ability to get to the heart of this matter, which has significant implications for manufacturers in this regard, is inhibited. So I submit that you should require the member to give full answers and where appropriate table the appropriate documentation for all of us to examine.
Mr SPEAKER: All I can say is that the member is not obliged to disclose her sources of information in answering questions. That is a specific comment made in the Standing Orders. Ministers are different from members in this regard.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am not disputing your ruling in any way; it is completely correct. However, it would be helpful for you as Speaker to point out that although it is only Ministers who are obliged to do so, it would certainly be very parliamentary, especially for a chairperson of a committee who is answering questions and quotes from a document, to table it.
Mr SPEAKER: She is answering not as a chairperson, but as the member in charge of the bill. The point made by the honourable member is an interesting one, and could perhaps be discussed in the Standing Orders Committee.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is that Mr Dunne asked for authority, and I assume he means authority within the legislation or the proposed bill in the first instance, or any other authority if it was the converse. No attempt was made to give any authority in either respect but to recite some comments from the Associate Minister. She has simply not answered the question at all.
STEVE CHADWICK: I seek leave to table the document of 2 December 2003—a response to Mr Tim Oates, the general manager of Stuart Alexander.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Mr SPEAKER: Before I take supplementaries I want to rule, as I did on a previous occasion, that I will allow two supplementaries—one from the member who asked the substantive question, and one other. I will try to spread it round the parties.
Sue Kedgley: Is the member confident that as a result of the passage and implementation of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill that we will see a Renaissance, and not a collapse of the hospitality industry, as customers revel in the new clean indoor environment of pubs and cafes?
STEVE CHADWICK: Yes, I feel confident that that is exactly what we will see.
Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Effective Date
2. Dr MURIEL NEWMAN (ACT) to Steve Chadwick (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): If the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill is enacted will it come into force immediately; if not, why not?
STEVE CHADWICK (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): Different provisions have different commencement dates in this bill. The prohibitions on the supply of tobacco products, the sale and supply of toy cigarettes, and the sale of herbal smoking products to under 18-year-olds will come into effect immediately after the royal assent. Other provisions will come into force at different times up until February 2005.
Dr Muriel Newman: Does the member believe the claims made by the Ministry of Health that second-hand smoke inhalation kills 388 people each year; if so, how on earth can she justify delaying the enactment of that part of the bill for 1 year knowing that by doing so she will be condemning 388 people to death?
STEVE CHADWICK: Evidence supplied to the select committee during the hearings of this bill certainly gave us that evidence in respect of 388 deaths per year.
Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Fines
3. RODNEY HIDE (ACT) to Steve Chadwick (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): Is anyone liable for a fine under the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill if an enforcement officer detects smoking in a bar or club; if so, what is the maximum fine?
STEVE CHADWICK (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): Yes, the licensee—that is, the manager or the proprietor—is liable for a fine of up $4,000 for a body corporate if it is proven that he or she did not take all reasonable and practicable steps to ensure that no one smoked in the premises.
Rodney Hide: Once the bill comes into force what does the member suggest that the publican in, say, Wairoa do in response to gang members lighting up in his or her pub knowing that it is the publican who is liable for the fine, not the gang members who are lighting up the smoke?
STEVE CHADWICK: If the publican can demonstrate that he or she has undertaken all reasonable and practicable steps no fine will be issued.
Hon Richard Prebble: Do I have it right that anybody can go into a pub after this bill is passed, pull out a packet of cigarettes and say to the owner: “If you don’t give me free drinks I’m going to light up and you’re going to get fined”, and what is just about that?
STEVE CHADWICK: This is a public health bill. Individual provisions of enforcement never apply in public health legislation, and it will be the will of the 75 percent of New Zealanders who do not smoke to exert their influence over the smokers and ask them to have their cigarette outside.
Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Enforcement Powers
4. HEATHER ROY (ACT) to Steve Chadwick (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): Does the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill provide enforcement officers with the power to enter pubs armed with air sniffers, cameras, and video cameras; if so, why?
STEVE CHADWICK (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): Yes, to allow the smoke-free protection officers to find out whether the Act is being complied with in respect of the premises being entered.
Heather Roy: Given the member’s statement today that her bill is about social change, and not policing, why does the bill have policing powers and harsh fines for bar and club owners?
STEVE CHADWICK: The bill does not have policing powers. Police will not be involved in this bill, as that member of the committee well understands. This bill has smoke-protection officers who are public health officers employed by the Ministry of Health whose role is to educate licensees and premise-holders as to how to comply with the terms of this legislation.
Peter Brown: Does the member believe that it is fair and reasonable that enforcement officers can enter a bar, a club, or whatever, and if the person in charge is not present upon initial entry, can video, take photographs, or take air samples without identifying themselves to anybody?
STEVE CHADWICK: Yes.
Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Ships
5. Hon RICHARD PREBBLE (Leader—ACT) to Steve Chadwick (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): Under the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill, will crews on ships in New Zealand continental waters be able to smoke inside the ship; if so, under what conditions?
STEVE CHADWICK (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): No. The bill’s provisions will not allow any smoking in indoor areas of an affected ship, except in temporary residential-like areas, such as the individual ship cabins for passengers or crew.
Hon Richard Prebble: Can the member confirm that in fact the situation is that a Taiwanese crew on a Taiwanese ship in New Zealand coastal waters will be free to smoke on that ship, but a New Zealand crew on a New Zealand ship, which happens to be in Taiwanese waters, cannot legally smoke; if so, how did that unworkable, politically correct nonsense come to be in the bill?
STEVE CHADWICK: This law applies only to those ships in New Zealand waters.
Peter Brown: Will an officer on watch on a vessel carrying inflammable cargo, such as a tanker, be allowed to smoke in the wheelhouse, or does he have to go on to the wing of the bridge to have a smoke?
STEVE CHADWICK: No.
Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Marae
6. HEATHER ROY (ACT) to Steve Chadwick (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): Under the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill, will enforcement officers have the power to enter marae?
STEVE CHADWICK (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): This bill is not about power. However, smoke protection officers will be able to go to marae if those marae have a liquor licence or are employing employees for the purpose of that event.
Heather Roy: Is it not political correctness gone mad when the smoke police can enter any bar and club, but not a marae, except under those circumstances?
STEVE CHADWICK: As I answered in the original question, smoke protection officers—and I am offended by the term “smoke police”—certainly can go on to a marae, when a marae has a liquor licence for the purpose of an event.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How does she suggest these “attitude cops” will go on to the Ngâti Whakaue Marae, for example, in Rotorua, to enforce the law, without the greatest degree of racial disruption?
STEVE CHADWICK: I am sure the member knows all too well about auahi kore, who are smoke protection officers, who go around marae now—and Ngâti Whakaue is one of them, as the member well knows, because he smokes outside—to educate people about how to be compliant with the smoke-free provisions of the bill.
Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Rural Pubs
7. GERRARD ECKHOFF (ACT) to Steve Chadwick (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): What sanctions does the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill provide for rural pubs that flout the law and allow their patrons to smoke indoors?
STEVE CHADWICK (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): There is no differentiation between rural and urban publicans in the bill.
Gerrard Eckhoff: Does she really believe that rural pubs such as the Shingle Creek tavern will take one blind bit of notice of this legislation; if so, why?
STEVE CHADWICK: I have not visited those premises, but I will when I get down to the South Island. I must point out that not every rural resident smokes. Seventy-five percent of New Zealanders do not smoke, and they will appreciate the clean air in that hotel when this bill is passed.
Hon Richard Prebble: I appreciate that the member in charge of the bill may not have ever been to a rural pub, but is she telling us that no one in the Labour Party has ever been to a West Coast pub, and what on earth makes her think that this law will be enforced?
Mr SPEAKER: It is not the member’s responsibility, but she can make a brief comment if she wishes.
STEVE CHADWICK: I do not like the slur on the West Coast. However, I cannot give guarantees for my colleagues. I am sure that many of us have enjoyed the hospitality of a rural West Coast pub.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did not want to raise this point of order, as I might want to visit the West Coast again. I think that West Coasters are proud of the fact that they keep their pubs open.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, I can always remember a predecessor—one of the members from the West Coast—Mr Paddy Blanchfield voting against 10 o’clock closing, because he thought that would mean the pubs would have to close 2 hours earlier.
Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Company Cars
8. Hon KEN SHIRLEY (Deputy Leader—ACT) to Steve Chadwick (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): Under the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill, will employees be able to smoke in company cars; if so, under what conditions?
STEVE CHADWICK (Member in charge of Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill): Not generally. However, if all users of the vehicle agree, and the vehicle is not generally accessible to the public, then smoking may be permitted.
Hon Ken Shirley: Who will police smoking in company cars, and who has to pay the fines if anyone is ever caught?
STEVE CHADWICK: I do not think that smoke protection officers will be snooping around company cars. They have better work to do under the provisions of the legislation.
Pita Paraone: How will non-smoking in rental cars be enforced?
STEVE CHADWICK: Just as I have answered in the previous question.
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Like any member answering a question, the member in charge of the bill has to address the question that is asked. To say that the bill has enforcement powers and the officers charged with that enforcement will not enforce those provisions surely cannot be an acceptable answer. That is making a complete mockery of what we will be doing in Parliament this afternoon, which will be to pass legislation that provides for smoke police and gives them wide-ranging powers.
Mr SPEAKER: That is the sort of thing the member can raise in the third reading.
(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)