(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
Thursday, 4 December 2003
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers:
1. Schools—Anti-virus Software
2. Child Support—Liable Parent Debt Write-offs
3. Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Compliance Costs
5. Defence Forces—Deployment Off Shore
6. Patient Safety—Tauranga Surgeon
7. Tourism—Conservation Land Protection
8. Government Revenue—Roads
9. Meridian Energy Ltd—Project Aqua
10. Statistics New Zealand—Mâori Communities
11. Trans-Tasman Therapeutic Products Agency—Bilateral Treaty
12. Speed Cameras—Infringement Demerit Points
1. DAVID BENSON-POPE (Labour—Dunedin South) to the Minister of Education: What steps have been taken to ensure that
schools have ready access to reliable anti-virus software?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): Free anti-virus software for State and State-integrated schools will be
available from the beginning of next year. A large number of schools currently do not have quality anti-virus software,
leaving them exposed to virus attacks. Through the provision of a common, high-quality anti-virus software package, at
no cost to the schools, the Government is protecting the investment schools are making.
David Benson-Pope: How does this initiative fit within the Government’s wider strategy for promoting the use of
information and communication technology in schools?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: As Maurice Williamson often tells me, ensuring our children develop good information and
communication technology skills is as essential part of equipping them for life and work in the 21st century. I am
looking forward to Maurice Williamson getting back on that front bench.
Nandor Tanczos: Is the Minister aware that most viruses are designed to attack the hegemonic proprietary software
platform Microsoft, while non-proprietary operating platforms, such as SuSE Linux, now meet international security
certification, and how will he protect the ability of schools to choose open-source alternatives?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Quite a few schools use open-source software; that is their right, and if they want to do that, that
is fine. I am not aware of the technical details, but my understanding is that a lot of the software will support Linux
as well as Microsoft.
Child Support—Liable Parent Debt Write-offs
2. KATHERINE RICH (National) to the Associate Minister of Revenue: What message does the Government’s announcement that
it will wipe part of the child support debt owed by errant parents on a “dollar for dollar” basis send to struggling
solo mothers and their kids who rely on child support payments?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Associate Minister of Revenue): The Government has made no such announcement.
Katherine Rich: In that case, with regard to comments that that Minister made to the Christchurch Press, how does he
explain his comment that the bill proposed for next year will “increase flexibility and parents will be able to write
off back debt on a dollar for dollar basis”, because certainly every individual would think that their life would be
more flexible if they were able to forget about their debts?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The Government has been canvassing a range of options to encourage parents to pay off child support
debts. I will be progressing legislation next year that helps to reduce penalties on an ongoing basis.
Clayton Cosgrove: When was the current penalties regime put in place, and is it working?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: It was put in place by the National Government in 1992. The growth in debt has demonstrated that it
is not working as well as it could be. That is why we are looking at making some changes.
Dr Muriel Newman: How does the Minster reconcile his statement that “New Zealand actually has one of the best-performing
child support systems in the world” with the dreadful anomalies in our present system, which can have a father of 10
children paying $12 a week for all those children, in total, while a father of two pays almost $20,000 a year in spite
of having his children for 40 percent of the time; and will he now consider a comprehensive review of the whole system
along the lines of that proposed by Judge Trapski almost a decade ago?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: I believe that the child support system in general is working well. The penalties regime, which is a
part of it, is arguably not, and that is why we are looking at reforming it.
Marc Alexander: What message does the Government send to New Zealanders when, on the one hand, it announces that it will
wipe child support debt owed by non-custodial parents and when, on the other hand, Steve Maharey says “Every father has
a responsibility to be emotionally, practically, and financially engaged with his parenting responsibilities.”? Which
one is it to be?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: Non-custodial parents, who are in general, but not always, fathers, do have a very important
responsibility both to their children and their broader families. The Government upholds that. We are trying to make the
system of collecting that debt more effective.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I wonder whether the Minister could help the ordinary people of this country out by telling us
why, if someone is not penalised for not paying his or her debts, that person would bother to pay them?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: Firstly, because people should love their children and they need them. Secondly, because this
Government is not, and has never said it will be, wiping off all penalties—[Interruption]
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. A voice came from over there, best resembling a dog with a
cleft palate, but I think it was Mr Mallard making some allegation.
Mr SPEAKER: I just want to say that comments such as were made were out of order. I prefer not to have them recorded in
Hansard, but now they will be, unfortunately; but since it has been raised, the member will stand, withdraw, and
apologise for that allegation.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I withdraw and apologise. I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can I ask you now to elucidate
somewhat on what was out of order in my comments—a matter of fact was recorded.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, but it was in the second person, for a start, and that is out of order above anything else.
Katherine Rich: Why did the Minister talk about this proposal to wipe big chunks of debt yesterday—3 weeks before
Christmas—when the first thing an irresponsible parent is going to do is to stop paying child support because he knows
the Government next year will wipe out a large proportion of his debt.
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: In the first place, not all irresponsible parents are he’s. In the second place, there are many
reasons to continue paying one’s child support, including the continued existence of penalties.
Marc Alexander: How will the Government’s announcement that it is wiping child support debt generate any sense of
responsibility for the men of this country, or is this a twisted campaign to allow them to fertilise, flee, and forget?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: Members of other parties simply cannot have it both ways. One cannot argue on the one hand that we
need to do more to recover debt, and then criticise when we do so—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is the only warning that Mr Hide gets today.
Katherine Rich: With regard to his statement, how does the Minister explain to mothers, like Christine Hall of Dunedin,
who have been battling for years to get their ex-husbands to pay child support debts, that his big idea to reduce debt
is to forget about it?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: Dealing with taxpayer-specific matters, can I say this: the Government is determined to make it both
better and easier for people to pay their child support payments. The presence of large penalties can act as a blockage
to non-custodial parents re-entering the payment system. It is that blockage that we are seeking to remove.
Marc Alexander: In light of the Government’s announcement that it will wipe child support debt for non-custodial parents
who will not pay for their children’s upbringing, will he also help to wipe the personal debt incurred by parents who
are trying to pay for their children’s upbringing?
Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE: The presumption of the question is wrong. May I repeat that the Government is not proposing to wipe
all debt for people who owe child support.
Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill—Compliance Costs
3. Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future) to the Associate Minister of Health: Has he been advised of any compliance
cost implications from the passage of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health), on behalf of the Associate Minister of Health: Yes, he has. However the
compulsory costs have been kept to a minimum.
Hon Peter Dunne: In view of the provisions of the Act that require, in just 27 days, the outdoor entrance of every
school classroom and building in New Zealand to be labelled as a no-smoking area, firstly, has the Minister advised
schools of their need to comply within that length of time, and, secondly, will her ministry be making an appropriation
to cover the costs, or is it something schools are expected to cover out of their operating grants at the moment, to the
detriment of the children they are supposed to be educating?
Hon ANNETTE KING: There will be a nominal cost to schools to provide external signs at all entrances. The Ministry of
Health is working with the Ministry of Education to keep this cost to a minimum.
Russell Fairbrother: What is the annual estimated cost of treating diseases associated with smoking in New Zealand?
Hon ANNETTE KING: There is a considerable cost to New Zealanders from the impact of smoking. For example, the health
costs alone, including hospital costs, are estimated in 1992 dollars at $202 million a year.
Hon David Carter: How many Ministry of Health officials will be employed to police the smoke-free environments
legislation, and will the Minister assure the House that this number of staff will be able to cover adequately the whole
of New Zealand?
Hon ANNETTE KING: There are no plans to increase the number of smoke-free officers or health protection officers who
currently exist. There are now 17 dedicated smoke-free officers in New Zealand, and their job is to oversee the current
legislation. There are 117 health protection officers in relation to food issues, toxic substances, and so on. There is
no intention or plans to increase the number of them at this stage. We want to give this law a chance—to see how it
Rt Hon Winston Peters: What is the total revenue take for the Government from taxes on cigarettes and tobacco, and is it
not 3½ times higher than the figure the Minister has just given us for the costs?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I do not have with me the exact number of dollars from cigarette revenue, but I gave the member the
cost to the health sector only. The only research we have in New Zealand to show the cost was done by Brian Easton in
1997, and it showed a cost of $22 billion.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think we are entitled to raise by way of point of order
the question as to what the Minister meant when she said $22 billion. Did she mean the whole world?
Mr SPEAKER: That is the Minister’s answer, and she is entitled to give it. It was a specific answer.
Heather Roy: Did the Associate Minister give any regard to the Ministry of Health’s proposal last year, in the 5-year
plan for tobacco control in New Zealand, for its “cost-saving strategy for the health sector” to transfer the
enforcement of smoking laws to the police; and how does he square that proposal to require the police to enforce these
laws with the Government’s claim that anti-smoking laws are about social change and not policing?
Hon ANNETTE KING: Obviously, the Government did not consider giving this matter to the police. No provision was made for
that, and it is not likely to be.
Hon Peter Dunne: What assurance can the Minister give the House that every school in New Zealand will meet the
requirement of the Act to have every outdoor entrance labelled as a non-smoking area by 1 January 2004, in view of the
fact that the Act was passed only last night, and may not yet have received the royal assent, and that most schools are
closing for the holidays in the next couple of weeks—or is this provision just some new employment programme for the
summer, to get people out there painting the signs?
Hon ANNETTE KING: I think the member is assuming that there will be some gold-plated sign applied to the building. I
think we will find that schools have enough time between now and when they return at the end of January to put in place
a sign stating that they are non-smoking areas.
4. DEBORAH CODDINGTON (ACT) to the Minister of Education: Is he on track for closing about 300 schools as reported in
the Sunday Star-Times on 2 November 2003, and how many have been closed this year?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Minister of Education): The figure of 300 is an estimate of the total number over the next decade to
15 years, based on a drop of 76,000 students over the same period. There is no predetermined number of school closures.
Fourteen have been closed this year—none as a result of reviews—and eight will be opened next year or the year after.
Deborah Coddington: Why is his ministry sending out letters to principals telling them not to involve pupils in their
opposition to school closures, when some pupils are old enough to vote, are required to be on boards of trustees, and
are affected by the closures too, or does he think that pupils should not have an opinion about the closing of their
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I respect the psychologist involved in sending out the letter. I think that, from a psychologist’s
point of view, it was quite good advice, and it should be looked at. But I think it would have been better if the
ministry had not sent it, because it has inflamed the situation.
Jill Pettis: Why is the Government engaged in the process of school network reviews?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: As I indicated before, the population drop over the next decade to 15 years of people of school age
will be about 76,000. It is slightly unfortunate that that is happening quite unevenly around the country. We are
building new schools in north-west Auckland and south-east Auckland, where there is likely to be 40,000 extra people
over the next 8 or 9 years. It is important that we have a real matching of where the students are and where the schools
Hon Brian Donnelly: Is the Holy Trinity model of shared governance and professional leadership, which is currently being
proposed for a group of Catholic integrated schools—in line with New Zealand First policy, I might say—being promoted as
a possible alternative for State school reorganisation through the network reviews?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Yes, it is, including by National Party MPs.
Metiria Turei: Is the Minister aware of an email to a South Canterbury mother from Michael Deaker, one of the ministry
facilitators, that states: “The requirement that schools resulting from this review be sustainable over 10 to 15 years
and include viable professional communities of teachers ... we have set a roll figure of around 160 as the minimum for
country primary schools.”; if so, has he told Michael Deaker what he has told this House—that there is no minimum roll
figure for rural schools, and that Mr Deaker should be careful to give factual and accurate information to communities
whose schools are under threat of closure?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: Yes, and, indirectly, yes.
Gerry Brownlee: Does he have a response to the 35-page report commissioned by the Timaru District Council that
challenges not only the flawed network-review consultation process but also its lack of economic and social impact
assessment and the faulty use of population projections?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: In discussing it with the council, I have suggested that the fundamental problem is that we have
more schools than the number of pupils justify, and nobody wants his or her school to close. Education is about children
not buildings. Half-empty schools are in nobody’s best interests. I was quoting Nick Smith.
Deborah Coddington: As Minister of Education, what does he think is so wrong with the schools that he is closing, when
the parents are in favour of them, the community supports them financially and physically, and the Education Review
Office has given many of them glowing reports; can he tell the House why he thinks he knows better? [Interruption]
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: I am not sure of the relevance of the GST comment, but the important point that has to be made is
that we have to make some choices. I accept it is the ACT point of view that schools should be allowed to drift to
closure. As I have indicated, 14 have done that so far this year, but not as part of a review. It is my view that we
have to look to having a sustainable network. We have to have schools in the right places. We have some very strong
boards of trustees and principals in charge of schools of 13 or 14 pupils, when 5 minutes down the road there is another
school that is struggling. If we could put the strengths together, I think we would guarantee quality education in a way
that that member knows is not being delivered in some schools now.
Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There are a couple of things I want to call to your attention.
Firstly, at the end of the last question there was a comment made to the Minister by the junior Government whip to which
he responded at the start of his answer, and, clearly, there was meant to be some barb inside that comment directed
towards the questioner. That was inappropriate. It should have been picked up on. Secondly, in the previous question he
was asked whether he would give a response to the Timaru District Council. He chose instead to read a very good quote,
in the circumstances, from the Hon Nick Smith, but failed to give his own ideas on that matter. That cannot be
considered as addressing the question—if one just says that someone else said this. There is another matter that I would
ask you to consider in the case of this Minister. Throughout his responses there are these little chips and comments,
which, quite frankly, will lead to considerable disorder, if they are not heard by you and if he is not required to
apologise for his appalling performance.
Mr SPEAKER: Thee points were raised, but the second one has no relevance at all. If a Minister quotes another member and
agrees with the member, I cannot see what on earth is wrong with that. The first and third points are relevant and were
accurately made. I am just warning the junior Government whip to keep quiet.
Hon Richard Prebble: Would the Minister try again to reply to the last question put by Deborah Coddington asking why is
he opposed to small schools that the parents are in favour of, the pupils like, and the academic results of which are
excellent; and is he now saying that the only reason he is closing them is that adjacent big schools are failing, and
that somehow closing the successful small schools will help?
Hon TREVOR MALLARD: No.
Defence Forces—Deployment Off Shore
5. DARREN HUGHES (Labour—Otaki) to the Minister of Defence: Has he received any recent updates on current New Zealand
Defence Force deployments off shore?
Hon MARK BURTON (Minister of Defence): Yes. I can tell members that we currently have 480 defence personnel deployed in
17 missions in 12 countries. Major deployments include 17 personnel in Timor-Leste contributing to UN missions, 126 with
the intervention force in the Solomon Islands, and 296 personnel in the Middle East, including Afghanistan and Iraq.
Darren Hughes: Given the multilateral nature of these deployments, has he received any reports on their effectiveness
from the other countries we are working with?
Hon MARK BURTON: Yes. During my recent visit to the United Kingdom the Ministers and defence chiefs whom I met with made
it clear to me that we should be proud of the high regard in which our defence personnel are held by their international
peers. The high standards of training and the approach to operations are valued and respected by the defence personnel
they work alongside.
Patient Safety—Tauranga Surgeon
6. Dr LYNDA SCOTT (National—Kaikoura) to the Minister of Health: How does she explain Mr Ian Breeze performing surgery
on Mr Barry Baker at Norfolk Hospital on 6 December 2000, and operating on Mr Baker again at Tauranga Hospital on 10 and
14 December 2000, given that in her answer to question No. 3 yesterday she stated that restrictions were placed on Mr
Breeze on 29 August 2000?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): The answer I gave yesterday was correct. Restrictions had been placed on Mr
Breeze’s ability to carry out colorectal surgery in Tauranga public hospital on 29 August 2000. I am advised by the Bay
of Plenty District Health Board that surgery carried out on Mr Baker on 10 and 14 December 2000 was not colorectal.
Dr Lynda Scott: Given that, according to the Bay of Plenty District Health Board Chief Executive Officer, Ron Dunham,
fellow surgeons whistle-blew on Dr Breeze, accusing him of incompetence, why was the Bay of Plenty District Health Board
unable to take action until the Health and Disability Commissioner stepped in, why did it not get the college to
competency-review him earlier, and why did it not get the Medical Council involved?
Hon ANNETTE KING: My understanding is that Mr Breeze had had an audit earlier. The member got it wrong this morning when
she said it was done by Mr John Simpson—it was done by another person in 1995. It was the district health board that put
on the restrictions. I say to the member that she ought to ask the Medical Council. After all, she was one who strongly
supported self-regulation by doctors over their own profession.
Dr Lynda Scott: Why was the Bay of Plenty District Health Board unable to stop Dr Breeze practising surgery, when
Southern Cross’s investigation committee was able to conduct an inquiry into his practice in 2000, and immediately
banned him from practising in its hospitals?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The district health board stopped him from operating on colorectal cancer in August 2000. It continued
to put restriction on his practice. However, the competency of health professionals is decided by their own
organisation, the Medical Council. That organisation self-regulates the health professions—something that that member
Dr Lynda Scott: Why did it have to be Shirley Crowley who took a complaint, and I quote: “I was advised to take a
complaint. I was told it was not correct. I was told this in intensive care, and I was told by other medical people,
namely at Southern Cross Hospital, because they did their own investigation, and the investigator there said: ‘You have
to take this further.’ I said: ‘I don’t really feel that I’m the right person to do that.’, and he said ‘Yes, you are’.
He said: ‘Somebody has to do it and it’s got to be you.’” Why did it have to be Shirley Crowley; why did the system not
ensure patient safety?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The member makes a very good point about the system. The member will recall that prior to the passage
of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act, any complaints could be reported to a number of agencies—the
Medical Council, the Accident Compensation Corporation, etc. I explained this to the member yesterday. Fortunately, we
changed that. There is only one place to complain to now, and that is the Health and Disability Commissioner. That came
out of the inquiry we had about Dr Graham Parry. It probably could have been fixed years ago. Fortunately, this
Government has done it.
Question time interrupted.
Tabling of Documents
Pamphlet—Whose Country Is It Anyway?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I seek leave to table the details of the Labour Party’s latest propaganda
campaign on talkback and radio shows, and in the newspapers, put out by Ann Hartley, with respect to the very worthy
pamphlet Whose Country Is It Anyway?.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Question time resumed.
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers
Tourism—Conservation Land Protection
7. DAVID PARKER (Labour—Otago) to the Minister of Conservation: What progress has been made in providing environmentally
sensitive tourism opportunities on conservation lands?
Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): Just last week I was privileged to open a coastal walkway at Milford Sound.
It provides a new opportunity for the 450,000 tourists who visit Milford Sound annually. This is an excellent example of
how the tourism industry can work with my department to provide benefits for both conservation and the economy.
David Parker: What role did the tourism industry play in the development of this walkway?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: The tourism industry, through the Milford Sound Development Authority, helped identify the need for
land-based attractions at Milford Sound. It also helped plan the walkway, and provided approximately half the funding
required to build it. It worked in partnership with the Department of Conservation, the Ministry of Tourism, and Ngâi
Shane Ardern: In the light of the Minister’s answer to the primary question, can he inform the House whether Department
of Conservation staff chopping up rimu on Stewart Island, or clear-felling timber in other parts of New Zealand, is that
new, environmentally sensitive approach?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: As far Stewart Island is concerned, my department has already apologised to the landowner concerned.
People make mistakes. I can say that the Department of Conservation engages very positively with organisations and
individuals throughout New Zealand.
Mike Ward: How is the privatisation of 35 kilometres of land adjacent to Lake Wanaka consistent with both the provision
of environmentally sensitive tourism opportunities on conservation land and the Government’s review of public access?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: I am not responsible for final decisions on tenure review. The tenure review proposals for this
property are currently undergoing public consultation.
Hon Ken Shirley: In recognition of the importance of tourism in Milford, does the Minister support the proposal, which
will have a low environmental impact and is culturally sensitive and energy efficient, of Ngâi Tahu and Skyline
Enterprises to build a gondola system through the Greenstone Valley, linking Glenorchy with Milford and thereby saving
the 12-hour day-trip from Queenstown to Milford?
Hon CHRIS CARTER: Applications for tourism developments on the conservation estate go through a rigorous statutory
process that includes an assessment of the environment effects and public consultation. All cases rest on their merits.
8. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Finance: What is the total amount collected annually by
central government from all taxes, duties, licence fees, and levies for the purposes of road construction, maintenance,
and road safety?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN (Minister of Finance): I am advised that the total in the categories referred to is $1,481 million
GST exclusive, for the year ended 30 June. There were $58 million of GST inclusive refunds.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: How is it that the Minister gave me an answer in the House 4 weeks ago in which he agreed that
the real figure was $2,223 million, not the figure he has just given?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The question the member asked on this occasion was for the purpose of road construction,
maintenance, and road safety. The number I have been given at this point for our total revenue is $1,481 million GST
John Key: Noting the Government’s intentions to release its Auckland roading solutions on 12 December, is the Government
intending to sanction a further fuel tax increase either regionally or nationally; if it is, what is the logic behind
that decision, given the surpluses the Government currently enjoys?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Funding for Auckland’s transport strategy will require commitment to funding over at least a
10-year period, and probably longer. Perhaps, at some time during that period, there might be a National-led Government
and, therefore, a great improbability of surpluses.
John Key: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know the Minister was thinking up his one-liner about a National
Government, but I wonder whether he could answer the question, which was not about the 10-year funding period. It was
about whether the Government intends, on 12 December, to raise fuel taxes above their current level in order to fix
Auckland’s roads. That was the question.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: The question was why that would be considered in the light of current surpluses, and the answer
is that we are committed to a long-term funding programme.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I ask the Minister again whether he will admit to the fact that this Government collected $2,223
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: From motorists.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Yes, from motorists—for the ostensible purpose, originally given in all those cases, of building
roads and for road maintenance and road safety; if that is the case, what on earth is he doing seeking to justify a
petrol-tax rise of 5c per litre to fund a $400 million expenditure to fix Auckland’s traffic congestion problems, as
reported in the Dominion Post on Thursday, December 4, when he is currently sitting on an operating surplus of $1.96
billion and an operating balance excluding revaluations and accounting charges surplus of $5.58 billion?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Firstly, we are not sitting on a surplus of $5.58 billion. That was the surplus last year, and,
surprisingly enough, we do not leave it sitting in my private piggy bank, doing nothing with it in the meantime. The
actual cash surplus was used to pay off debt last year. That money has gone. Secondly, as I have explained to the member
on many occasions, the cost of capital associated with roading is not currently covered out of excise duties, whereas on
rail, for example, the cost of capital is covered by the current operators. Thirdly, there are many other costs
associated with roading that are not included in matters such as road construction, road maintenance, and road safety.
Larry Baldock: Can the Minister confirm that if the Government decides to reduce the fuel tax diversion—as indicated by
his answer to my question yesterday—by even as much as 2.2c, it would be a greater reduction than that accomplished by
Winston Peters when he was Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister in 1998?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Yes, I can confirm that, and by sheer chance, sir, having looked up your maiden speech, I have
found that the largest grab ever in New Zealand’s history for the consolidated account occurred in Sir Robert Muldoon’s
first mini-budget, when he diverted the entire revenue from motor vehicles into the consolidated account.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek to table the 1998 Budget, which sets out very clearly that for the first time in decades,
a Minister of Finance or Treasurer in this country sought to redress that anomaly. Had we remained in Government for 10
years, there would have been a dramatic change and difference in the infrastructural investment in this country on
roads. Mr Baldock should get his facts right.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would not want to accuse the Minister of Finance of misleading the
House, but in terms of 1998 dollars, 2.2c per litre is far less than 2.1c—
Mr SPEAKER: No, no. The member might choose to use that as a debating point; it is not a point of order.
Peter Brown: But he is giving the wrong information—
Mr SPEAKER: Please be seated.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister explain why $2,223 million in revenue was collected from all sources for the
purposes I have outlined, in respect of road construction, maintenance, and safety in the last financial year, when only
$1.4 billion made it into the National Roads Fund; and can he tell us why there is an $823 million shortfall, which is
not being used for the purpose of road construction in Auckland—and he is just passing the buck again to motorists?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: As I said, there are issues relating to the cost of capital for the roading system, and there are
environmental and other costs associated with roading. The present excise duty does not cover the full cost of the
Peter Brown: When will the Minister produce the economic report that will justify diverting 18.5c into the Crown
account, which he has promised for a long time—before the 12 December package is announced, or afterwards so that the
motorist is conned again?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am advised, as it is not my responsibility, that such a report in relation to costs will be
produced next year. Auckland is demanding much faster answers than that.
Peter Brown: Noting that answer, is it not true that the best part of $1 million has been spent already on this report;
and does the Minister think it is satisfactory we are waiting months for such an overdue report—which will come out
after the Government has introduced the legislation?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I cannot confirm that figure. I do not have any information in front of me in relation to the
costs of what has been done. I know that a great deal of work was done on road costs in the 1990s. Much of that has
always been around the issue of generating more income to improve our roading system over the long term.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Minister of Finance allowing himself to become a victim of a lie—which is that
motorists are not already paying sufficiently for all the projects we might have in mind for the next 10 years—but
instead, is putting up an argument that is a clear case of creative accounting when he talks about the cost of capital?
Is it not true that $823 million is currently not spent for the purpose it is collected, and why is he taxing the
motorist one more time?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: No. Cost of capital is not an aspect of creative accounting; it is fundamental.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: It is so. It’s just debt servicing.
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: Oh well, no wonder New Zealand First has a rather strange position on economic policy with the
cost of capital as an aspect of creative accounting! I will try to explain it to the member again. There are cost of
capital elements and there are other costs associated with roading. My authority for this is no less than the Automobile
Association and the road transport federation, which, just before the last election—undoubtedly not in collusion with
any party in this House—estimated that if we were to cover the full cost of roading, we would have to double the excise
Peter Brown: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Noting that that answer was somewhat frivolous, I will be equally
frivolous: can we have George Fairburn here, and we will really get the facts of the Government’s policy?
Mr SPEAKER: No, that is not a point of order and the member knows it.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is it that Transfund New Zealand is currently sitting on $225 million in its bank account,
yet people will shortly be forced to pay another 5c a litre to fix Auckland’s congestion problems; and is this not plain
daylight robbery so that the Government can finance some of its other whacko projects?
Hon Dr MICHAEL CULLEN: I am sure some of this increased tax will be paid at night-time as well, but passing beyond that,
it is equally clear that if there is any change in excise duty, only the proportion that is due to Auckland in terms of
its population will go to Auckland. The rest will go to the rest of the country, and the Auckland share will be matched
by the Government.
Meridian Energy Ltd—Project Aqua
9. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister for the Environment: Does she stand by her reported statement
that the Resource Management Act 1991 is a “beautifully written, beautifully balanced piece of legislation”; if so, why
is special legislation required for Government-owned Meridian Energy Limited’s Project Aqua to proceed?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Minister for the Environment): Yes, I do stand by that comment, but the member omitted the rest of
that wonderful quote, which was that the Resource Management Act had to be made to work. The special Waitaki legislation
is necessary, because, without a regional water plan, the Resource Management Act alone cannot balance the competing
applications. We want to ensure that a fair and open process produces the best decisions for Waitaki water without
favouring any applicant—as wrongly presumed in the member’s question.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Is the Minister for the Environment seriously suggesting to the House and the people of New Zealand
that we would not have this Resource Management Bill in her name if it were not for Project Aqua?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: Without a water allocation plan, Project Aqua and the large irrigation requests—if they were all
granted—mean that no water would be left in the Waitaki.
Nanaia Mahuta: What will be the effect of the water allocation framework to be drawn up by the Waitaki Catchment Board
under the Resource Management (Waitaki Catchment) Amendment Bill?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: The water allocation framework will become operative as if it were a regional water plan under the
Resource Management Act, and will guide the decisions about specific applications for water. Of course, we would not
need to legislate for this if the National Government had not abandoned local government during the 1990s, leaving many
of them without the capacity to draw up regional water plans themselves.
Jeanette Fitzsimons: Would the Minister agree that after 12 years of the Resource Management Act, if there is any
regional council that does not have a catchment management plan and a water allocation plan for a major river system,
then it is negligent and failing in its duty, and would the Minister consider amending the Resource Management Act to
require catchment plans and water allocation plans for the water resources controlled by regional councils?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: I am loath to condemn regional councils and local councils for the absence of plans because plans are
also required for air quality, soil quality, as well as water quality, and, because they were left without the
resources, some of them did not get around to that. An amount of persuasion has gone on with the councils. I do not want
to pass that into legislation because I would much rather give a hand to enable different plans for different
Hon Ken Shirley: Can the Minister for the Environment explain to the House why the re-establishment of a separate
Waitaki catchment commission to allocate water is not just turning the clock back 15 years and an admission that the
Resource Management Act has failed miserably, even if, in her eyes, it is a “beautifully written, beautifully balanced
piece of legislation”?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: The bill uses the Resource Management Act’s very good principles and very good procedures for the most
part. The fact that there was an absence of a water allocation plan meant that it was “first come, first decision”. When
there are 66 applications, a “first in, first served” policy does not mean that the best use is achieved.
Larry Baldock: In light of the ongoing concern and constant criticism expressed by interest groups and Opposition
parties about delays the Resource Management Act causes for major projects, is the Minister surprised by criticism of
her most recent effort to address such problems by those very same groups, including, most notably, the National and ACT
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: The Resource Management Act comes in for a lot of criticism from a whole range of people, whether it
be non-governmental organisations or business concerns. As such, it is always under constant review.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why has this Minister steadfastly refused to make substantial amendments to the Resource Management
Act when asked to do so by the forestry industry, when asked by the agricultural sector, when asked by the energy
sector, and when asked by the transport sector, but, hello, hello, when it is the Government’s own company she will put
a special bill through just to help it out; and how is this any different from the special Clyde Dam legislation that
was passed in 1983?
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: There is an absolute difference in relation to the Clyde Dam legislation. The Clyde Dam legislation
was about fast-tracking—this is not. That legislation was about reversing local decisions. [Interruption] Let me say
again that that legislation was about reversing local decisions. [Interruption] This is about establishing a fair and
considered process to make some difficult decisions.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table a speech made by Dr Michael Cullen in 1983 in which he talks
about constitutional outrage and abuse of process, and in which he states that the people of Otago should decide how
their water resources are used rather than a committee appointed—
Mr SPEAKER: The member knows he went on too long.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I appreciate that you might say that the barracking came from
this side of the House, but not all of us were barracking. Some of us were actually trying to listen. I would really
like the Minister to give the answer again so that we can hear it.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I heard the answer. I heard an amount of interjection but I managed to hear the answer from this part of
Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier you ruled that I was not to interject on a questioner ever
Mr SPEAKER: No, on the asking of a question, not an answer.
Rodney Hide: That is right. So I have sat here, as you know, a model MP—and it has been very difficult. But I could not
help but observe that while Dr Nick Smith was raising a point of order, given that you have always demanded absolute
silence—quite correctly—the Government whip David Benson-Pope interjected on him. The Minister, Marian Hobbs—and she is
nodding her head, indicating that she did—interjected on him, but somehow when they do it on a point of order it isMr
SPEAKER: Well, let me say that it was a member of the National Party who interjected while the member was discussing
that point of order. I usually tend to stand by that rule, but I am not going to be absolutely rigid every single moment
of the day.
Hon Peter Dunne: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to take you back to your earlier ruling. I am sitting
considerably closer to the Minister than Mr Prebble, who raised the point of order, and a lot closer than you are, and I
could not hear the answer that was given. I suggest that it was perhaps a little unfair of you to rule that from your
distance you could hear it, whereas those of us in this sector of the House could not. Maybe the Minister should be
required to repeat it.
Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I hope the Minister could give a brief summary of her answer. I suggest to you, Mr Speaker, that
it should be that and there should be no interjection, otherwise we invite barracking, and members delay question time
by then asking for the answers to be repeated.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, I think the point is well made. There was too much interjection. I, however, thought the Minister was
coping with it. I will now ask the Minister to give—and I want silence—a very brief summary of her answer.
Hon MARIAN HOBBS: As I recall the question, it was that this was being compared with the Clyde Dam. This bill, which we
have before us this week, will not be about fast-tracking any proposals. Nor is it about reversing local decisions, as
it was in the Clyde Dam example. It is about establishing a fair and considered process to make some very difficult
Statistics New Zealand—Mâori Communities
10. MOANA MACKEY (Labour) to the Minister of Statistics: What is Statistics New Zealand doing to raise awareness and
extend the use of official statistics in Maori communities?
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE (Minister of Statistics): Statistics New Zealand has secured funding to obtain six kaitakawaenga, who
will be appointed to work with Mâori communities during the 2006 census. Their role is to raise awareness and extend the
use of official statistics in Mâori communities. Statistics New Zealand plays a vital role in informing social,
political, economic, and business decision-making in this country, and we are proud to be a Government that is taking
Statistics New Zealand seriously after years of neglect by those members opposite.
Moana Mackey: What is Statistics New Zealand doing to improve the availability of official statistics about Mâori
Hon JOHN TAMIHERE: Currently, no systematic official statistics about Mâori business activity are available. As a means
of improving the situation, Statistics New Zealand, in cooperation with Te Puni Kôkiri, is currently testing strategies
for identifying Mâori businesses, so that a systematic range of statistics can be compiled from existing data sources.
The Government believes that these statistics are needed to understand and enhance the contribution of commercial
activities. [Interruption] That is right, and I might add that this Government is supporting Statistics New Zealand in
such projects by providing it with an additional—
Mr SPEAKER: That is sufficient.
Trans-Tasman Therapeutic Products Agency—Bilateral Treaty
11. SUE KEDGLEY (Green) to the Minister of Health: Has the Government made a decision to include the regulation of
complementary medicines and dietary supplements in the proposed trans-Tasman therapeutic products agency, and when does
it expect to sign a bilateral treaty between the Australian and New Zealand Governments establishing the agency?
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): Yes. The Government has decided to include the regulation of complementary
medicines and therapeutic dietary supplements in the proposed trans-Tasman therapeutic products agency. The treaty will
be signed on 10 December.
Sue Kedgley: Why has the Minister made this decision before the Health Committee, which is inquiring into this very
issue, has even reported back, and what does she say to members of the Health Committee who have been toiling away on
this issue for 8 months, only to find at the end of it that that we have completely wasted our time because the Minister
had already made up her mind?
Hon ANNETTE KING: It is not reasonable to expect the Governments of New Zealand or Australia to wait any longer for a
report from a select committee—a report that the Government did not call for—on something that was first decided in
September 2002, 15 months ago. Governments cannot hold up agreements on that basis. What countries would deal with us if
Mark Peck: What process will be followed once the treaty has been signed?
Hon ANNETTE KING: It is proposed that the national interest analysis and a text of the agreement be tabled in Parliament
in accordance with the parliamentary treaty examination process.
Dr Lynda Scott: What are the cost implications for New Zealand’s large complementary health-care market of having a
trans-Tasman therapeutics product agency rather than mutual recognition and a strengthened New Zealand regulatory
Hon ANNETTE KING: Work undertaken by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research suggests the costs of regulating
complementary medicines within a joint agency would be significantly less than that of a New Zealand regulatory scheme.
Sue Kedgley: What was she saying to the hundreds of submitters who made submissions in good faith believing that we were
conducting a genuine inquiry into this issue, and does she understand how they may consider her decision to be arrogant
and extraordinary, and that they too may feel—like the members of the Health Committee—that they have completely wasted
their time because she had already made a predetermined decision on the matter that the committee is inquiring into?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The Cabinet made a decision in principle in November 2002 that complementary medicines would be
included in the joint regulator. We have waited patiently for the select committee to report back. It still has not
reported back. We are working closely with the Australian Government. We have considered what we have heard along the
way. I think the member may well even be pleased when she sees the extent of what has been considered in the joint
Sue Kedgley: In light of comments by the Minister for Small Business yesterday that Australian businesses face much
higher compliance costs than New Zealand businesses do, why is she supporting a proposal to regulate dietary supplements
by an expensive, Australian-based therapeutic goods agency, when overwhelming evidence was presented to the select
committee that that will increase the compliance costs of small New Zealand dietary supplement industries, and that no
further assurance will be given to consumers as a result of these increased compliance costs, as the Pan Pharmaceuticals
debacle amply illustrated?
Mr SPEAKER: That question was far too long. The Minister may comment briefly on one or two aspects of it.
Hon ANNETTE KING: This Government has decided to move, in conjunction with Australia, to regulate complementary and
therapeutic dietary supplements because of the Pan Pharmaceuticals situation. Many New Zealanders demanded that we put
in place regulation, and the work that I have seen shows the impact on small business of what we intend to put in place
will be minimal.
Sue Kedgley: Is she aware that the overwhelming majority of submitters, consumers, and dietary supplement industries are
completely opposed to the course she is pursuing, and does she agree with Margaret Wilson’s comment, in respect of the
Supreme Court debate, that a remote and inaccessible final Court of Appeal is not a hallmark of modern democracy; if so,
why is her Government supporting the establishment of a remote and inaccessible body, based in Australia and staffed
principally by Australians, to regulate dietary supplements in New Zealand?
Hon ANNETTE KING: The member is wrong on just about every point she has made. She has assumed that the body is remote,
she has assumed that it is in Australia, and she has assumed that it is under Australia’s control. She is wrong on all
Speed Cameras—Infringement Demerit Points
12. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Transport: Has he considered introducing demerit points
on speed camera tickets; if so, what recommendations, if any, is he proposing to his Cabinet colleagues on this matter?
Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Transport): Yes, but I am not telling.
Hon Tony Ryall: In making a recommendation to his Cabinet colleagues, did he tell his colleagues that in Victoria, which
does have demerit points for speed camera tickets, it is not uncommon for family members to transfer demerit points
between themselves to avoid getting a disqualification period, and in some companies it is not unheard of for the
receptionist to accept demerit points so that top salespeople can keep their cars on the roads; and does this not show
what a mockery such a policy would be?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: There is a range of issues around demerit points for speed camera tickets. If the member would like
further information on the issues in relation to Victoria, I am happy to show it to him. But those issues need to be
considered carefully, and Cabinet is doing just that.
Lynne Pillay: What indication has he received about public attitudes to speed?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: There is growing support for a tougher line to be taken against speeding on our roads. For example, a
NBR poll in September this year showed that 57 percent of people supported demerit points for speed camera tickets.
Given that one-third of all fatal accidents were primarily speed related, I am keen to hear a lot more from those whose
families suffered the consequences of speeding, and a little less from those who want to drive as fast as they like.
Hon Tony Ryall: Is the Government considering introducing demerit points for other transport matters, such as driving a
tractor up the steps of Parliament, or does the Minister think he will end up with egg on his face, like the Government
and the police have done today with the dropping of charges against Shane Ardern MP?
Mr SPEAKER: In so far as that relates to the Minister’s responsibility he may comment briefly.
Hon PAUL SWAIN: No, and no.
Hon Tony Ryall: In advising his Cabinet colleagues to consider demerit points as in Victoria, did the Minister tell them
that Victoria’s road toll has remained virtually unchanged in the past 10 years, yet New Zealand’s has dropped by 37
percent in the same period, and did he tell his Cabinet colleagues that the New South Wales road toll has fallen by only
3 percent over the same period, despite motorists sometimes being hit with double demerit points?
Hon PAUL SWAIN: Of course, the mess that has been made with those statistics really does not deserve comment, but I will
just say that New Zealand comes off a higher base. But the truth is that Victoria has plateaued out, and is looking at a
range of new measures. Victoria is looking here at some of the things we are doing.
Hon Tony Ryall: I seek leave to table research that shows that Victoria’s road toll has remained static in the last 10
years while New Zealand’s has dropped by 37 percent without having demerit points for speed cameras tickets, as Victoria
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Question No. 3 to Minister
Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): I seek leave to table a report from Brian Easton dated April 1997 that states the
net social cost of tobacco abuse amounts to almost $22.5 billion.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
End of Questions for Oral Answer
(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)