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Flavell: Customs and Excise Amendment Bill

Customs and Excise Amendment Bill (No 3)

Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki

Thursday 13 December 2007

Tēnā tātou katoa e te Whare. Kia ora tātou, I tēnei pō.

Every Tuesday morning, and every Thursday night, I depart and arrive at a place, “which is not a Customs place”, but may well be in the near future.

Rotorua Airport certainly has plans in the pipeline to enter the running for an airport which will be designated as Customs places.

That is, of course, dependent on the strength of their consultation with the affected community, and particularly in our case with Ngāti Uenukukopako.

Ngati Uenukukopako has in fact, lodged a complaint to the Human Rights Commission claiming that the Rotorua District Council has prejudiced them by failing to offer them the same or similar redress it has extended to others situated within the same noise impacted areas identified by the Council.

The dispute centres on the way in which consultation has occurred around the proposal to extend the runway – a proposal which would place Rotorua firmly in the queue for establishing an international airport.

I am interested in the amendments in this Customs and Excise Bill in respect of the arrival of aircrafts who may land at Rotorua for both commercial and recreational purposes and require customs services.

This Bill will enable a process to occur in which the Chief Executive of Customs could designate Rotorua Airport as a customs place – with the understanding of course that all those agencies who have an interest in border control would also enable such a process to occur.

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It makes it easier for agencies like the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Health, Maritime New Zealand – and others with an interest – to be involved in the process of assessing an airport or port’s eligibility for approving ad hoc arrivals and departures.

From another angle, this Bill also provides clarification around the ‘personal use exemption for manufacturing tobacco’ and strengthens the penalty regime in respect of unlawfully manufactured tobacco, as has been discussed by other members this evening.

As the House will know, we in the Maori Party and in particular my fine colleague from the north Hone Harawira have placed priority on our campaign to Get Tobacco Out of Aotearoa. The TOA campaign encourages tangata whenua to work towards their auahi koretanga – to be smokefree and proud.

Our strategy has included the promotion of marae who seek to make their tribal womb totally smokefree.

We have also spoken out about other initiatives, such as the proposal from the Cancer Society and ASH to ban visible cigarette displays.

In May of this year my fine upstanding colleague and good friend Mr Harawira launched the Black Rock Awards for contributions to making Aotearoa smoke-free. Recipients this year included Brendon Pongia, the Warriors, the Motion Picture Association of America, and Smokefree workers.

So it is entirely consistent with our Tobacco out of Aotearoa strategy to support the amendments in this Bill which places controls on the manufacture of tobacco.

And I want to also mihi to all of those auahi kore champions across Aotearoa, such as Mr Mahara Okeroa, who are doing their best to reduce the use of tobacco, legal or illegal.

Things like the Smokefree Hikoi that was organised this year around the lakefront in Rotorua by Te Papa Takaro O Te Arawa, Te Whare Hauora O Ngongotaha; Korowai Aroha, and Tipu Ora Maori Providers to acknowledge “World Smokefree Day”.

This Bill builds on all of these efforts to stamp out a product which clearly does such injury to our health, our economic stability, our social wellbeing, our future.

We hope that the measures mooted in this Bill will provide a strong disincentive to the illegal manufacture or use of tobacco. We know too well, the toll that tobacco has on our people and we want to be clear that our support for this Bill, aligns with our strategy to make Tobacco smoke free.

But we, however, puzzled, that the Bill puts in place mechanisms to address the issue of illegally manufactured tobacco products, but still allows individuals who wish to cultivate and manufacture a small quantity of tobacco for their own consumption, the ability to do so, as Mr Hide alluded to.

I cannot quite see the logic of it myself. Surely it’s either illegal or its not. And exactly what sort of tests will be carried out to ascertain whether the ‘small quantity of tobacco’ is actually for personal use or not.

Statutory Forfeiture and Seizure

Finally, I want to touch on the appeal and review rights under the statutory forfeiture and seizure regime.

We note that the Law Commission has recommended that the current appeal system should be replaced with another process which provides for a cheap and speedy internal review process.

In its report, the Law Commission had highlighted concerns with a dual system of appeal to a court and a ministerial review.

But there is also another report by the Law Commission which might be relevant for further discussion in this Bill.

The President of the Law Commission, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer, said, and I quote:

“The law on search and surveillance in New Zealand is a mess. The rule of law in our society depends upon having certain and principled law enforcement powers. New Zealand does not currently have that.”

As I understand it, the report of the Law Commission into search and surveillance was a massive report of some five hundred pages with three hundred recommendations, which took the Law Commission five years to complete.

The Law Commission also found that present statutory provisions often contain insufficient safeguards to ensure that the rights of innocent citizens are protected.

We know that Section 21 of the Bill of Rights Act provides the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure. But as the Law Commission concludes, clear controls on the use of search and surveillance powers by law enforcement officers are necessary.

And so, whilst we support the general intentions of this Bill in the general progress it makes in controlling the illegal manufacture of tobacco, and opening up other ports and airports that have not been designated as Customs place, we leave open the question as to how thoroughly and effectively the forfeiture and seizure regime has dealt with the issues around protecting also the rights of citizens.

We will look forward to the select committee for further debate.


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