First Session, Forty-eighth Parliament, 2005-2006 Parliamentary Debates (HANSARD) Wednesday, 3 May 2006 (for inclusion in Volume 630) WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND Published under the authority of the House of Representatives—2006 WEDNESDAY, 3 MAY 2006 TABLE OF CONTENTS POINTS OF ORDER— Questions for Written Answer—Replies ...........................................................2679 QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER— Questions to Ministers— Health Services—Waiting Lists....................................................................2679 Petrol—GST..................................................................................................2682 Question No. 3 to Minister............................................................................2683 Housing New Zealand—Chairman ...............................................................2683 United States - New Zealand—Partnership Dialogue...................................2684 National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Results ........................2685 David Parker—Reinstatement to Executive .................................................2687 Prison Service—Corrections, Minister’s Statement .....................................2688 Air Quality—Health Risks............................................................................2689 Electricity Commission—Investment Process.............................................. 2690 Building Licences—Reports .........................................................................2692 PlunketLine—Quality of Service..................................................................2695 Biodiversity Strategy—National Goals ........................................................2696 TABLING OF DOCUMENTS— Housing New Zealand Financial Review ..........................................................2697 GENERAL DEBATE............................................................................................. 2698 MANFEILD PARK BILL— Procedure ...........................................................................................................2712 Second Reading .................................................................................................2712 Third Reading ....................................................................................................2716 EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS (FLEXIBLE WORKING HOURS) AMENDMENT BILL— Consideration of Interim Report of Transport and Industrial Relations Committee .........................................................................2717 RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES (DAMAGE INSURANCE) AMENDMENT BILL— First Reading......................................................................................................2742 HUMAN TISSUE (ORGAN DONATION) AMENDMENT BILL— First Reading......................................................................................................2748 MARINE RESERVES (CONSULTATION WITH STAKEHOLDERS) AMENDMENT BILL— First Reading......................................................................................................2759 3 May 2006 Points of Order 2679 WEDNESDAY, 3 MAY 2006 Madam Speaker took the Chair at 2 p.m. Prayers. POINTS OF ORDER Questions for Written Answer—Replies GERRY BROWNLEE (Deputy Leader—National): I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I bring to your attention an issue that appears to be arising more frequently. It is to do with written questions that are submitted to Ministers. A number of Ministers are now replying that they cannot answer the question in a particular time. It is becoming a little ridiculous. Recently, when a question that had previously been asked of a Minister was asked of him again, he simply replied that he had previously answered that question, and gave the number of it, and when the answer previously given was looked up it was found that it had been that he could not answer the question in the time allowed. So the Minister was asked the question twice, and he had been able to dodge answering it on both occasions. It would seem to me that that is not playing according to the Standing Orders, and is not being at all reasonable about the accountability that Ministers have to this House. Madam Speaker, I would ask you to consider ruling that Ministers should, wherever possible, either answer in the time frame available or indicate a time by which they may answer that question, as used to be the case. Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. I will certainly look into that immediately. SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei): I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Following on from the shadow Leader of the House’s comments, I seek your assistance in respect of written questions Nos 04226, 04227, 04228, and 04229. Each of those was an individual question to the Minister of Corrections asking for the original target budget for each of the four prisons. The response I had was that the information required to answer those questions could not be collated in the time allowed, which was 12 days. It seems very odd that that department had no idea of the original target budgets for those prisons—and it had 12 days to answer. Madam Speaker, I seek your assistance to get action from Ministers who are using this excuse, which, on the basis that the information should be readily available to those Ministers, clearly has no merit. Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. I would remind members, of course, that holding replies are acceptable in principle, but I am very happy to look into specific instances. If you would like to refer those to me, I will follow them up immediately. QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS Health Services—Waiting Lists 1. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Health: How many patients does he expect this financial year will be removed from waiting lists and returned to their GP for ongoing care, and how does this number compare with the previous years? Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister of Health): First, let me thank the member for acknowledging that when patients are returned to general practitioners they are returned for ongoing care. About 5,000 a year have been returned to their general practitioners for ongoing care in previous years. So far this year it is about 6,500. Most of those have previously been placed in the active review category. 2680 Questions for Oral Answer 3 May 2006 Hon Tony Ryall: How can the Minister stand in this House and say that only 6,500 people have been referred back to their general practitioner this year, when we know that the Hawke’s Bay is about to send back 1,800, Waikato has sent back 3,000, Counties Manukau has admitted to sending 1,800 back, Canterbury has admitted to sending 2,000 patients back to general practitioner care this year, and there have been 400 in the Bay of Plenty; is the fact this, that this Minister does not want to admit that this crisis is getting beyond him? Hon PETE HODGSON: No, that is not the fact. The fact is that the member who has asked the question has confused surgery and specialist waiting lists. I have answered in respect of surgical waiting lists and will happily answer in respect of specialist waiting lists should he wish to put down another question another day. Maryan Street: In what circumstances are people returned to the care of their general practitioner? Hon PETE HODGSON: The main reasons are that their condition has not deteriorated as it might have—these are the people in the active review category that I mentioned in my first answer. This is the booking system, introduced by the former National Government, the active review category, introduced by the National Government, and the “return to GP” idea, introduced by the National Government. But there are two other reasons. One is that the patient is currently medically unfit for surgery, and the other reason is that the patient has changed his or her mind. Hon Tony Ryall: Is it not the case that this Minister does not know how many people have been dumped from waiting lists around the country—that the figure is up to 3,000 in the Waikato, 2,000 in Canterbury, 1,800 in South Auckland, 1,800 expected in Hawke’s Bay, and 1,100 in MidCentral District Health Board—and who is responsible for the fact that so many thousands of New Zealanders are being sent back to their general practitioners? Hon PETE HODGSON: Now that it is clear that the member is talking about a specialist waiting list and not a surgical waiting list, I am happy to advise him as follows. There are 24,000 people waiting for a first specialist assessment who have been waiting for longer than 6 months. This is not satisfactory. Just to give the situation some context, however, I point out that when we became the Government the figure was not 24,000 but 41,000, and on top of that— Hon Members: Oh! Madam SPEAKER: Members know—[Interruption] Yes, members are losing control. Members are allowed to interject, but barracking so that others cannot hear is not permitted. Hon PETE HODGSON: Not only were 41,000 waiting for more than 6 months but a further 51,000 had been waiting for God knows how long. That totals 92,000. Now, in respect of the 24,000—noting that we have three-quarters fixed the mess left to us by the previous Government, so how about a bit of credit—some proportion will be seen by a specialist and some proportion will be returned to their general practitioner. These are individual decisions by district health boards. In Hawke’s Bay, for example—the area the member refers to—1,800 have been returned to their general practitioners in recent weeks. The Southland urology service, to give another example, had a very serious backlog, and every one of those people was seen by a specialist and none were returned to their general practitioner. Tariana Turia: Is the Minister aware of the first national cervical audit undertaken by Auckland University in 2004 that revealed that for 21 percent of Māori it took more than 6 months from their first high-grade smear until they were diagnosed, compared with 10 percent of non-Māori, and is the latest debacle at Waitematā another example of that systemic bias; if not, how can such delays be accounted for? 3 May 2006 Questions for Oral Answer 2681 Hon PETE HODGSON: I regret to advise the member that I was not aware, but I do wonder, given the year that she spoke of, which of us was a health Minister at the time. Hon Tony Ryall: How many New Zealanders, many of whom, a specialist has said, need an operation, are now in the care of their general practitioner? How many people are in the care of their general practitioners—which has effectively become the waiting list to get on the waiting list to get on the waiting list? Hon PETE HODGSON: Of course, one cannot answer that question except to say that there are approximately 16 million visits to a general practitioner each year, and that, I guess, is the starting point. Some of those visits might be for coughs and colds, however. Hon Tony Ryall: Has the Minister inquired as to how many people culled from waiting lists in the last year have actually died because they did not get an operation? Hon PETE HODGSON: The issue of people dying while on, or off, waiting lists was raised by the ACT party approximately 18 months ago in this House. For some period of time the crisis makers of the day decided that people were going to die on a waiting list from the thing that was the reason they were waiting. Actually, when we go back over all of the details—and the Ministry of Health did so back then—we find that there were virtually no deaths on waiting lists from the thing that caused the people to be on that waiting list. Hon Tony Ryall: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. This question was quite specific in referring to general practitioner care. It is completely out of order, and in no way can be interpreted as addressing the question, for the Minister to give an answer to a completely different question that he did not receive. How many people have died while under general practitioner care because they were sent off a waiting list? Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The Minister did give an answer to that, and the answer was that in terms of people dying of the thing for which they were on the waiting list, virtually none. The member might just as well ask how many people died who were not on a waiting list. Madam SPEAKER: The Minister gave a very full answer. If he wishes to add anything more, I am sure the House would appreciate it. Hon PETE HODGSON: What characterises the health policy of this Government is very substantial attention to primary health care. So if someone dies without seeing his or her general practitioner, or having seen his or her general practitioner only once, and having failed to go back to the general practitioner because of, for example, price, or whatever reason, then help is on the way. The most remarkable changes to our health system are in the primary health-care system. [Interruption] I say to the member now— but he has to stop talking for a little bit while I am talking, because he cannot listen and talk at once—that we will discover in years to come, as the primary health-care strategy rolls out, that a whole lot of people will get care these days that they never would have received under a National Government. Dr Jonathan Coleman: What would the Minister say to the people of Counties Manukau, whose children are getting less than half the number of elective tonsil operations they were getting 4 years ago; is that what he means by prioritisation—that as each year goes by, South Auckland kids get fewer of the tonsil operations they need—and does that not make an absolute mockery of his claim in his speech 2 days ago that child health is a priority under this Government? Hon PETE HODGSON: Child health is a priority under this Government, and we are very proud of the programme of health care that we will roll out over the next 3 years in the child health area. As far as tonsillectomies are concerned, the member, who is himself a doctor, might like to advise the House whether the fashion for 2682 Questions for Oral Answer 3 May 2006 tonsillectomies is as high now as it was some years ago, and whether that might have anything to do with the change in provision. Petrol—GST 2. PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Revenue: How much has GST per litre of petrol increased in real terms since April 2000? Hon PETER DUNNE (Minister of Revenue): I am advised that GST per litre has increased in real terms by 6c over the last 6 years. Peter Brown: Will the Minister inform the House as to what that represents per year in actual dollars? Hon PETER DUNNE: I do not have that information to hand, but I can tell the House that because the rate of GST is 12.5 percent, the rate of increase over that period of time will have been constant. I can also tell the House that because GST is a consumption-based tax, there is no discernible impact on overall levels of GST income from a movement in one particular item, since people simply shift their budgets to accommodate that change. Peter Brown: Does the Minister accept that much of that increased revenue is a windfall gain, and, noting the United Future party’s objection to a tax on a tax when it comes to rates, will he support New Zealand First’s call to abolish GST on petrol, or at least to reduce it; if not, why not? Hon PETER DUNNE: The point I made in response to the previous question applies here. The rate of GST receipts over the period in question does not reflect a significant shift, because when people spend more on petrol they spend correspondingly less on something else. Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: What is the Minister doing to transfer a greater amount of the tax collected from petrol towards building new roads, rather than it being diverted into the Crown bank account, consistent with United Future’s policy at the last election—or was the bauble of ministerial office more important than United Future’s policy on petrol tax and roads? Hon PETER DUNNE: There are two points in response to that question. The area of transfer comes through the excise tax, which is the responsibility of the Minister of Transport. Hon Dr Nick Smith: Pass the buck. Hon PETER DUNNE: I am not going to pass the buck; I am going to spend the buck. The second point I was going to make was that as part of the agreement between the Labour-led Government and United Future, the funding previously set aside for the Wellington regional roading programme, initially for the proposed coastal expressway, will now, as a result of the changes that have been made in the Wellington region, be going towards Transmission Gully. That is a huge windfall for the people of Wellington. Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister received reports from his department in respect of prior efforts to divert a far greater proportion of road taxes to roading, in respect of two circumstances: in 1995, when a bill came before this House to do just that, and in 1999, when again the National Government torpedoed such efforts; what reports has he received? Hon PETER DUNNE: I am certainly aware of both of those incidents, having been in the House at the time. I am also aware that during the term of the last Parliament a very significant diversion into road funding was made, which beat any of the attempts that were formulated over previous years. Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Can the Minister confirm that the introduction of GST was accompanied by a very careful programme headed by a committee that recommended a 3 May 2006 Questions for Oral Answer 2683 flat rate of GST on the broadest possible range of consumption, and that the chairman of that committee was one Dr Don Brash? Hon PETER DUNNE: I am very happy to confirm that point. In fact, one of the points of envy from many other countries over the years has been the one rate, universal application of our GST system, which Dr Brash so wisely recommended. Question No. 3 to Minister Madam SPEAKER: I call question No. 3, Phil Heatley. Question No. 4 then, Dianne Yates. Oh, the member wants to ask his question, question No. 3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Minister of Foreign Affairs): I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. With respect, Mr Heatley lost his chance. You moved to question No. 4. There are punishments in this Parliament for being asleep, not on the job, and not being focused. He has just learnt them. [Interruption] If he wants any advice on that he should ask Tau Henare—he is an expert on it. Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. I am sure the member’s attention was straying for just a moment. I ask Mr Heatley to please ask his question. Housing New Zealand—Chairman 3. PHIL HEATLEY (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Housing: In what specific ways did the Chairman of Housing New Zealand Corporation act “appropriately and promptly” in respect of the allegations of accounting irregularities made by a former contractor and the associated gagging clause of that contractor? Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Housing): As far as I am aware, once the chairman saw the text of the gagging letter he immediately indicated that he regarded it as inappropriate and inquired into it. As far as I am aware, once the chairman was fully aware of all the circumstances of the allegations he set in train processes to inquire into them. Phil Heatley: How can the Minister have confidence that the chairman acted “promptly”, if he heard about the gagging clause from talkback radio some weeks before print media pressure forced him both to tell that Minister and to suggest an inquiry? Hon CHRIS CARTER: It may come as a surprise to the member, but not everybody listens to talkback radio. I have an assurance from the chairman of the board of Housing New Zealand Corporation that he first learnt of the gagging order on 7 April—the day I learnt of it from him—and the inquiry was set up 3 days later. Georgina Beyer: What matters will the inquiry conducted by the Office of the Controller and Auditor-General into allegations made against Housing New Zealand Corporation consider? Hon CHRIS CARTER: Some of the matters the Auditor-General’s inquiry will consider include the allegations made by the former contractor in an agreed statement of facts, any other allegations made by the contractor that the Auditor-General considers desirable to investigate, and the events leading up to the signing of the settlement agreement with the former contractor, including whether the chief executive authorised the agreement and was aware in advance of its terms. Phil Heatley: Why did the chairman say publicly that he knew of the gagging clause from talkback radio several weeks before he told the Minister, contrary to what the Minister is claiming in the House today? Hon CHRIS CARTER: I am unaware of that allegation. I would be delighted to see some evidence from that member. Phil Heatley: How can the Minister have confidence that the chairman acted “appropriately”, if he broke the no-surprises agreement? 2684 Questions for Oral Answer 3 May 2006 Hon CHRIS CARTER: As I said in my opening statement to the House in answer to the first question, as far as I am aware, the chairman has acted entirely appropriately throughout this sorry saga. Phil Heatley: How can the Minister have confidence that the chairman acted appropriately if the chairman went to a “please explain” meeting with him promising an internal investigation by Housing New Zealand’s usual auditors, Ernst and Young, but came out of the “please explain” meeting with the Minister promising an independent inquiry by the Auditor-General? Hon CHRIS CARTER: People are entirely able to change their mind. Phil Heatley: Is the Minister very, very sure the chairman did not know about the gagging clause soon after the letter was signed in December, given that he knew about the allegations of accounting irregularities in September and as a good chairman presumably would have followed this up by asking the chief executive whether the matter had been resolved? Hon CHRIS CARTER: I can only repeat to the House that the chairman of the board has told me that he found out about the gagging order on 7 April, the same day that I found out about it. Phil Heatley: I seek leave to table a report stating that the chairman said he heard about the gagging clause on Newstalk ZB some weeks before he told the Minister. Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection. Hon CHRIS CARTER: I seek leave to table the terms of reference for the Auditor- General’s inquiry into certain allegations involving the Housing New Zealand Corporation. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House. Hon Paul Swain: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I wish to clarify that I objected to the earlier seeking of leave because I thought that the member was referring to a newspaper report. If the member can clarify that it was not a newspaper report, then I am happy to go along with the granting of leave. Madam SPEAKER: I think the moment has passed unless the member wishes to put it again. Does Mr Heatley wish to put it again? Phil Heatley: I seek leave to table a report where the chairman stated that he heard about the gagging order on Newstalk ZB a few weeks before he told the Minister. Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection—[Interruption] Sorry, is it a newspaper article? Phil Heatley: It is a newspaper report. Madam SPEAKER: Well, there is objection. That has clarified the point; at least we have that clarified. United States - New Zealand—Partnership Dialogue 4. DIANNE YATES (Labour) to the Minister of Trade: What reports, if any, has he received commenting on the outcome of the United States - New Zealand partnership dialogue held in Washington recently? Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Trade): I have received a number of reports, all favourable. I think the mood of the participants at the dialogue was best summed up by the New Zealand Herald, which stated that the event was “an overwhelming positive and can only help to create renewed understandings which will ultimately benefit New Zealand business.” I think the dialogue did move the relationship forward, in a way that was really helped by the delegates from this country taking a “New Zealand Incorporated” approach. 3 May 2006 Questions for Oral Answer 2685 Dianne Yates: What level of support emerged from the American side to strengthen the relationship? Hon PHIL GOFF: I think there was strong high-level support from the American side, which did succeed in taking the relationship forward. In particular, I welcomed the strong support that was received from assistant secretary of State Chris Hill for the relationship, and the very strong comments that came from the president of the US Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, who was very much in favour of a free-trade agreement. But most important, I think, was the ground-breaking article co-authored by Richard Armitage and Randy Shriver in the Asian Wall Street Journal. That came out very strongly in favour of a free-trade agreement and a closer defence and security relationship with New Zealand. Hon Tau Henare: Bring back Winston! Hon PHIL GOFF: If Mr Tau Henare has anything to say, I invite him to ask a question. Dianne Yates: To what extent will the dialogue help to achieve a free-trade agreement and closer security cooperation? Hon PHIL GOFF: I think it was a step in the right direction. In trade, it builds on other positive support that New Zealand has received, and in particular the very positive letter from Senators John McCain and John Sununu to the President in support of a free- trade agreement. The National Association of Manufacturers has also put New Zealand in the top five of the countries it wants a free-trade agreement with. However, it is true that there are time and resource constraints with the United States Trade Representative, and that means our negotiations have to be seen as a medium, as well as a short-term, objective. Briefly, on the security front, I think the fact that New Zealand works very closely with the United States on counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation—and that point was highlighted—also helped with the relationship between the partners at the partnership dialogue. I would like also to congratulate National members on their positive support for the Government’s position in that regard. National Certificate of Educational Achievement—Results 5. Hon BILL ENGLISH (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister of Education: What evidence has he received that supports his official’s statements that the NCEA process ensures “results are consistent and fair”? Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister of Education): The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) national statistics released 3 weeks ago demonstrated the fairness and consistency of NCEA results in 2005. They show that over 70 percent of the results of the 335 external standards were within expected ranges. Where they fell outside those expected ranges, the marking schedules were checked to ensure fairness and consistency, and in a small number of standards exams were re- marked to ensure no student was treated anything other than fairly. Hon Bill English: Is the Minister aware that the evidence he has described is not regarded by assessment experts as giving any reliable assessment of the fairness of the exam; and can he tell us whether the New Zealand Qualifications Authority has any evidence that uses internationally standard measures of fairness and reliability, and measurement of error? Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Because the member never provides names of anybody, I assume he may be referring to Warwick Elley, who said that 40 out of 140 standards in 10 subjects had variable failure results. I just want to assure the member that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority disagrees with Professor Elley, and will be publishing a response to him in the next few weeks. In relation to whether we can talk about issues that the member often raises around, I think, a view that NCEA ought to be norm 2686 Questions for Oral Answer 3 May 2006 referenced, no, we do not have that kind of reliability. But we do rely, of course, on the fact that we have a very professional group of teachers who are setting and examining these results, and as we are able to develop over time the body of information that we get from the national statistics—which were released just 3 weeks ago—we will get a very reliable picture of NCEA. Moana Mackey: What else did the NCEA 2005 exam statistics show? Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The national statistics show that more students than ever are gaining qualifications: 72.5 percent of students achieved the level 1 literacy standard, which is up from 69 percent in 2004; 78.8 percent achieved the level 1 numeracy standard, which is up from 75.7 percent in 2004; the percentage of year 11 students on the school roll achieving level 1 NCEA went up from 52.5 percent; to 56.4 percent. The number of Māori and Pacific Island students leaving school without qualifications has fallen by 10 percent in the last 2 years and, of course, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority put in place improved processes to ensure consistency and fairness, so that we had an exam season without drama, except for the drama brought up by Bill English. Hon Brian Donnelly: What is the nature of the research currently being undertaken by the Ministry of Education into the motivational effects of NCEA on students, and when will the results of this research be made public? Hon STEVE MAHAREY: We do have to look at the issue of how students view NCEA, and research has already been released around this, which is largely just the views expressed to researchers by students. A more reliable picture will build up in July this year when research that is being undertaken by the Ministry of Education will be released on student motivation, and that will be used by us as we go forward and look at what students are choosing to do. Hon Bill English: Why has the New Zealand Qualifications Authority decided that results in NCEA can fluctuate by up to 10 percent per year, whereas every other test applied to New Zealand children, whether by New Zealand agencies or overseas ones, has a variation of a maximum 2 to 3 percent per year, and can he explain to the House why the authority’s standards are so completely different from those used by every other testing regime? Hon STEVE MAHAREY: One of the things about the history of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s work with NCEA is, of course, too much variability. But one pleasing thing this year is that we have seen much less variation, so that every assessment expert whom we have had available to us, including people like John Hattie who has been part of the ministerial reference group, has said that this year the variation is fine. Hon Bill English: Can the Minister explain a geography standard on country development where 1,250 students passed the standard out of 5,000 who sat it, but if those students had sat the standard last year another 1,000 would have passed, and how fair is that to those 1,000 students? Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Accepting the point I made before that one of the admitted problems of NCEA historically has been its variation—which this year, pleasingly, has been brought within bounds that people accept is fine—I tell the member that one of the things he has to remember is that this— Hon Bill English: That is wrong. Hon STEVE MAHAREY:—would the member be quiet for just a tick—is a standards-based system. Standards are set each year, and the standards this year were set in a way that people regard is fine, and the variation is fine. 3 May 2006 Questions for Oral Answer 2687 Allan Peachey: What evidence-based explanation can the Minister of Education give the House to explain why, in the 2005 NCEA assessments, failure rates fell outside the New Zealand Qualifications Authority’s expected levels in 47 of the standards? Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The member may not have been listening to my answer to the original question from Bill English when I pointed out to Mr English that for 70 percent of the 335 standards, things have gone exactly as we would have expected. For some of the standards the marking schedule was checked to make sure of fairness and consistency, and, in some cases, exams were re-marked so that we got fairness and consistency. Allan Peachey: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. My question asked for an explanation, not for an excuse. Please can I have an explanation. Madam SPEAKER: The Minister addressed the question quite fully. Hon Bill English: Can the Minister explain why in two geometry standards, also taken by thousands of students, there were 2,000 more failures in each of these standards this year compared with last year, when international testing of similar tasks shows no change in the achievement of students in geometry, and why NCEA allows thousands more students to fail, when international testing shows the students are just as able this year as they were last year? Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Of course, this is one of the things one cannot do—the member is once again preferring his norm-referenced approach to exams over a standards-based approach and wants me to compare a standards-based system with a norm-referenced one overseas. But accepting that, and accepting that the member prefers norm referencing to a standards-based system, and a comparison cannot made, can he also accept that I have explained that in the recent history of NCEA there has been variation in the setting of the standards, but this year we have made a major step forward in that way. Can I also point out to the member that one of the real strengths of this system is its transparency. Students in this country even get their exam script back, so that if they do not think it is fair, they can go back and have it looked at again—as many of them have done. David Parker—Reinstatement to Executive 6. RODNEY HIDE (Leader—ACT) to the Prime Minister: Following David Parker’s admission that he had “cut a corner and that was a mistake”, did she or her staff ask David Parker before he was reinstated into Cabinet whether there were any other corners that he might have cut that could compromise his ability to be an effective Minister; if so, was she satisfied with his response? Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes. Rodney Hide: What is the Prime Minister’s response, then, to Mr Stephenson and Mr Clear swearing statements that David Parker made a false representation about the ownership of a major asset belonging to his company and arranged a series of preferential payments to creditors at a time when he knew his company to be insolvent? Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I understand the matters referred to were dealt with in a normal liquidation process and no irregularities were found. Rodney Hide: If Mr Clear and Mr Stephenson are telling the truth in their statements, would it be the Prime Minister’s opinion that Mr David Parker had done wrong? Madam SPEAKER: I do not think the Prime Minister is responsible for that. Would you like to rephrase the question? I am aware you have only a limited number of supplementary questions. Rodney Hide: If Mr Clear and Mr Stephenson are telling the truth, would Mr Parker be of a standard acceptable to her Cabinet? 2688 Questions for Oral Answer 3 May 2006 Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I simply repeat that these matters were subject to a normal liquidation process and no irregularities were found. Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Prime Minister seen Mr Hide’s interpretation of the recent investigation in respect of Mr Parker, which was that a 1999 document was a whitewash of an event that happened 6 years later, and what does she think of that? Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: What I think is that Mr Hide is simply unable to accept the outcome of any investigation that he does not agree with. Prison Service—Corrections, Minister’s Statement 7. SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei) to the Minister of Corrections: Does he stand by his statement: “The prison service is not in crisis; it is running really well.”; if so, why? Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR (Minister of Corrections): Yes, but there is always room for improvement. Simon Power: Has his department ever considered releasing remand prisoners back into the community on electronic monitoring, to alleviate overcrowding and costs; if so, when? Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: The department is currently carrying out trials of electronic monitoring of people who might safely be held in the community rather than in prison. Martin Gallagher: Further to the Minister’s answer to the primary question, in the Minister’s view, how do the Department of Corrections’ current key performance indicators compare with those of the 1990s, when the National Government was in power? Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: A very good question. As a result of significant investment in, and commitment to, the Department of Corrections by this Government we have—to give a couple of examples—reduced the number of break-out escapes by more than 80 percent, and reduced the number of serious assaults on staff by inmates by more than 90 percent. And we have confiscated far more contraband items in the last 3 years, because we have put in place systems that identify and apprehend those people. Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is not the real answer to Mr Power’s first supplementary question that that idea is exactly what was proposed by the National Government’s Minister Nick Smith in 1997? Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: I believe that could possibly be the truth. Simon Power: What is the Minister’s reaction to the leaked internal Department of Corrections memo written by a prison manager that proposes releasing remand prisoners on electronic monitoring rather than putting them in jail, in order to “significantly alleviate operational costs and the constant media attention”? Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: We welcome within our department any good ideas that may result in the better management of inmates in our prison system, but we will not do anything that puts the community at risk. We will continue to apprehend, prosecute, and lock up more dangerous and violent offenders—and we have done so. Simon Power: Can he explain to the House why the leaked internal memo makes no mention of public safety, and mentions only the need to cut costs and to avoid the negative publicity associated with overcrowding in prisons? Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Nothing is done by the Department of Corrections without considering the underlying and primary objective of protecting the community from dangerous and violent criminals. Simon Power: Can the Minister confirm that approximately 50 percent of prisoners remanded in custody go on to serve a jail sentence; and if he does proceed with his 3 May 2006 Questions for Oral Answer 2689 department’s plan to release remand prisoners into the public on electronic monitoring, how will he know which half are guilty and which half are not? Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: By the member’s own admission, 50 percent of those people held on remand do not go on to serve custodial sentences. We have a very extensive process of justice in this country whereby judges and the Parole Board make such decisions. We will leave those decisions to those independent authorities and individuals. Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it true that the party in Government that introduced bracelets for home detention was, in fact, the National Party; and will he release all the documentation of 1997 in which Nick Smith undertook to do just that—to make sure the public know who is responsible for this issue? Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The premise of the member’s question is incorrect. I seek the leave of the House to table the Cabinet paper—Winston was probably asleep—in which we looked at home detention; it shows we never proposed it for remand inmates. Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection. Can we now proceed with the response to the question. Simon Power: It was a point of order. Madam SPEAKER: It was a point of order; it was addressed. The question still remains on the table. Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Evaluation of home detention has proved that the rate of reoffending is very, very low. Electronic monitoring has been used internationally to ensure that authorities can keep an eye on prisoners who are on home detention. We are currently conducting trials, and no decisions have been made. Simon Power: What other plans is his department working on to “significantly alleviate operational costs and the constant media attention” without any reference to public safety? Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: We are undertaking no initiatives without considering, primarily, public safety. To quote a member of the House: “There are a lot of people in prison that for my mind don’t actually belong in prisons. You know, their crimes don’t actually say that they should be locked up like other prisoners.” Rt Hon Winston Peters: Who said that? Hon DAMIEN O'CONNOR: Tau Henare said that. Perhaps Simon Power should speak to him. Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table a series of Cabinet papers, including the one with National’s proposal in respect of private prisons. The deal was that it would have private prisons, and early release, with bracelets, on home detention. Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those documents. Is there any objection? There is objection. Air Quality—Health Risks 8. STEVE CHADWICK (Labour—Rotorua) to the Minister for the Environment: What steps has the Government taken to reduce health risks associated with poor air quality? Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE (Minister for the Environment): I am sure all members of the House and most New Zealanders would agree that maintaining a clean and healthy environment is a strategic investment in the country’s future. That is why this Government has introduced 14 National Environmental Standards for Air Quality, banned activities that discharge toxins into the air, such as the burning of tyres, oil, and coated wire, reduced the sulphur in diesel from 3,000 parts per million to just 50 parts per million, and is looking at a further reduction, funded $800,000 of air quality 2690 Questions for Oral Answer 3 May 2006 monitoring equipment for regional councils to help them to meet those standards, established a Warm Homes project to investigate how to encourage a move to cleaner heating and warmer homes, and introduced design standards for new domestic woodburners. Steve Chadwick: What is the most recent initiative the Government has undertaken? Hon DAVID BENSON-POPE: The Government has just committed a further $750,000 to assist Canterbury’s Clean Heat project and Nelson’s Clean Heat - Warm Homes scheme. In New Zealand fine particle air pollution contributes to an estimated 870 premature deaths a year, and the problem is clearly worse in some areas than others due to topography and climate. That sort of investment in clean and efficient home heating will doubtless help to reduce air pollution, and it is a most important investment in the health of New Zealanders in such areas. Electricity Commission—Investment Process 9. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister of Energy: Does he agree with Electricity Commissioner David Close’s “fundamental reservations” over the way the commission approves investments in the national grid; if not, why not? Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister of Energy): The application of the grid investment test is a matter for the Electricity Commission. Differing opinions within the commission are matters that the commission itself addresses. Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does the Minister consider it acceptable in an area so critical to New Zealand as security of supply of electricity to have the commission last month make a mistake of over 15 percent in the amount of electricity supply in respect of the min-zone, and this month to have one of its own commissioners state that he has fundamental reservations about grid investment decisions, and with these sorts of shenanigans why should we have any confidence that the commission will be able to keep the lights on? Hon DAVID PARKER: The current grid investment test was approved after wide consultation with the industry. Nevertheless, it is true that the draft decision of Transpower on the proposed 400 kilovolts upgrade into Auckland is the first time that that grid investment test has been applied in practice to a major proposal. I would naturally expect there to be debate about whether the test has weaknesses. If it does, those weaknesses will be addressed. Hon Jim Anderton: Has the Minister received any reports on the accuracy of forecast by the leader of the National Party when he went down to examine the water storage in the lakes in the South Island and made some projections about what might happen to hydro generation in New Zealand? Hon DAVID PARKER: I am pleased to say that there is more water in the lakes now than there was then. Hon Steve Maharey: Did you set him up? Madam SPEAKER: Order, please. Hon Dr Nick Smith: When I did that, I got kicked out. Never mind—different rules. Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry. Would the member please withdraw that comment. I had called for order. The member had hesitated, he had not started asking his question, there was no interjection, but there was loud muttering around the Chamber. Hon Dr Nick Smith: I heard a specific interjection from Mr Maharey. Madam SPEAKER: Well, I did not hear it. Would the member please ask his question. Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. You asked him to withdraw and you should ask him also to apologise. If you do not, he will carry on behaving in that way, and he has been doing it for far too long. 3 May 2006 Questions for Oral Answer 2691 Madam SPEAKER: No, I ask the member—the member has a pattern of behaviour of questioning the Speaker’s rulings. I did ask him to withdraw that comment. I ask him again so we can now proceed. Hon Dr Nick Smith: I withdraw it. Madam SPEAKER: Thank you. Please ask your question. Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Dr Smith most certainly has withdrawn but the point he makes is valid. You have been very, very staunch in insisting that when questions are asked, they are asked in silence. By and large, we have made every effort to cooperate with that particular ruling. That was a deliberate interjection from Mr Maharey and I would have thought extremely difficult for anyone to miss. He knows that he has made that interjection. Maybe he should be required to apologise to the House for his behaviour as well. He is lucky he is staying here. Madam SPEAKER: If in fact Mr Maharey had made that interjection when the member was asking his question, he would have been out, but the member had not started asking his question, which I would ask him to do at this moment, please. Hon Dr Nick Smith: How does the Minister reconcile the statement by the Electricity Commission that its draft decision is “very robust” when one of its own commissioners has seen fit to publicly slam the decision-making process around transmission? Hon DAVID PARKER: The commissioner concerned has not publicly slammed the commission’s decision; he has expressed a differing opinion. As I said in my answer to the primary question, differing opinions within the commission are matters the commission itself addresses. Shane Jones: Is the expression of a minority opinion in line with the purpose and function of the Electricity Commission? Hon DAVID PARKER: Yes, indeed it is. One of the reasons for having independent commissioners is to enable a range of informed opinions to be considered in the decision-making process. Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does the Minister accept that his Government is already taking unacceptable risks in respect of transmission to Auckland, noting the statement from the Electricity Commission last week that “security is not at preferred levels now”, and the statement of Dr Keith Turner, chief executive of Meridian Energy, that lines are so overworked into Auckland they cannot be taken out of service for maintenance, and that that is unheard of in the Western World? Do not those two statements show that this Government is already taking unacceptable risks with the transmission of power into Auckland? Hon DAVID PARKER: No, they do not. The Government has long acknowledged that there is a need to upgrade power transmission capacity into Auckland. I would note that one of the problems we have had in New Zealand over recent years is that there was an assumption under the Bradford reforms that pricing signals would be given to Transpower in a way that would cause it to make an economically based decision, based on those pricing signals, as to when it should upgrade the grid. This Government rejected that model, and that is why we set up the Electricity Commission to do what it is doing. Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Does the Minister take it from Dr Smith’s questions that the National Party is now supporting the 400-kilovolt upgrade of the North Island transmission line; if so, will he ask Dr Smith to convey that view to his colleagues, some of whom opposed that upgrade before the election? Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Based on your own rulings in recent weeks, the question by the Leader of the House is clearly out of order. I would be more than happy to answer it for him if it is the wish of the House. 2692 Questions for Oral Answer 3 May 2006 Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I cannot see why the question is out of order. I have asked the Minister for his interpretation of the questions he is being asked and whether he will then be asking that member to engage in certain acts to clarify the confusion and division within the National Party on this issue. Madam SPEAKER: The question is whether the Minister has responsibility for the actions of another party, and in this instance the answer is no. Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why does his Government back the judgment of the Electricity Commission, a board with little engineering experience, over that of Transpower and Meridian Energy, which have a huge depth of engineering experience on security of transmission systems, when recent international history is littered with stories of major power failings in Queensland, north-east America, and Europe because Governments ignored the advice of transmission engineers? Hon DAVID PARKER: As Minister Mallard commented when the draft decision was announced, the Government is keenly interested in ensuring that there is a consensus. The level of consensus, between parties that were recently some distance apart, is improving. The gap has narrowed, but we are concerned to see that the submission process, which ends on 9 June with the closing of submissions, further narrows that gap. Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Is the Minister aware that the staunchest opposition to the 400-kilovolt upgrade came from Dr Smith’s bench mate Judith Collins; if so, will he be approaching Ms Collins and Dr Smith to encourage them to sort out their differences? Hon DAVID PARKER: I am aware that some of the strident opposition to the 400- kilovolt upgrade came from National Party members. Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does the Minister have confidence in the confusing structure his Government has created between the Electricity Commission, Transpower, and the Commerce Commission in respect of decisions about the management of the national grid; if so, why do the select committee, unanimously, the Government’s State-owned enterprise, and most players in the electricity industry say that the structure is a mess and is not adequate to keep the lights on? Hon DAVID PARKER: I have confidence that the improvements that this Government has made to structures concerning investment decisions and transmission capacity have improved the situation. I do note that in a discussion paper the Government has put out, we signal that at some time in the future we think it will be wise to bring some of the functions of the Commerce Commission into the Electricity Commission. Building Licences—Reports 10. H V ROSS ROBERTSON (Labour—Manukau East) to the Minister for Building Issues: What reports, if any, has he received on proposals to license building practitioners? Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE (Minister for Building Issues): I have received numerous reports supporting the proposed licensing regime for the building industry, which is part and parcel of the Government’s programme to restore confidence in the sector and ensure that buildings are built right the first time, while at the same time protecting the Kiwi DIY tradition. The Registered Master Builders Federation, for instance, stated that the regime “would ensure only skilled and competent people could work in the industry.” The Construction Industry Council stated: “the days of cowboys in the building sector are clearly numbered.”, and: “The new regime will hold designers and builders of houses accountable.” Finally, the Certified Builders Association stated that the regime “is a significant milestone in the project to reform the building industry.” It is a sound policy from a sound Government. 3 May 2006 Questions for Oral Answer 2693 H V Ross Robertson: How will do-it-yourself home handymen and handywomen be affected by the licensing regime? Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: The good old Kiwi tradition of having a go with a hammer and nails has been protected. Some in the industry wanted us to restrict all DIY work, but we have struck a common-sense balance. DIYers will be able to tackle nearly all the work they do now. For instance, they will be able to build a new kitchen, a bathroom, a deck, and a garden shed, and a farmer will be able to build a hayshed. But significant work will need to be supervised by a licensed builder. That includes new buildings and extensions, or major alterations to where people live and work, and it will ensure public safety and buyer confidence when a property is on-sold. Hon Dr Nick Smith: Can the Minister give this House one single example of a leaky building constructed by a do-it-yourself builder that can justify changes in what Kiwis can do to their own houses; can he name one example of a leaky home problem that has arisen from a do-it-yourselfer, when the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service says there are none? Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: Let us be clear on this matter. As I have just said for the benefit of the member, do-it-yourselfers will be able to do basically what they do now, unless it is significant work. I say to the member we should be clear that the state of the construction industry today can be levelled at two things: first, the deliberate destruction of apprenticeships in the 1990s—[Interruption] Madam SPEAKER: Order! Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE:—and, second, the total deregulation of the industry in the 1990s—[Interruption] Madam SPEAKER: Order! Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: The member let the cowboys in; we are booting them out. Madam SPEAKER: Would the Minister please be seated. The Minister knows better than that. When I am on my feet, he is to be seated. Would the Minister please now address the question. Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: If the member wants to go around Auckland and Christchurch, he will find examples of leaky buildings all over the show. Yes, some were done by individuals. Under our regime, do-it-yourselfers will be able to do basically what they do now, apart from significant work. Hence, we will not get a leaky building problem. I say again that the legacy of the previous National Government was the deregulation of the whole building industry in the 1990s. Anything went—shonky, lazy cowboys were allowed into the industry. That was a symptom of the National Party caucus—it is gone, too. Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table two documents. The first of those is a speech made by the Hon George Hawkins, who said that Labour was responsible for the deregulation of the building industry in the late 1980s and that National had no right to claim credit for it. Document not tabled. Hon Dr Nick Smith: The second document is a formal answer from the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service, which states that in not a single case out of over 3,000 leaky home cases were the leaks the responsibility of a do-it-yourselfer. Document not tabled. Hon Dr Michael Cullen: Is there any point in people going to the Weathertight Homes Resolution Service to complain about a leaky home that they built themselves? Madam SPEAKER: I remind the Minister that answers are meant to be succinct. 2694 Questions for Oral Answer 3 May 2006 Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: I thank the member for his question. I think the answer is self-evident: no. Dr Smith may disagree. He happens to be an engineer, but he has no credibility in the industry. Madam SPEAKER: Would the member please withdraw and apologise for that last comment. Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: I withdraw and apologise. Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. There is a tradition in this House that if a member seeks leave to table a document, he or she usually has the courtesy to wait until the end of the supplementary questions to a question. That is the first point. The second point is that Dr Smith has made a claim in respect of Mr Hawkins’ speech regarding who was responsible for the deregulation of the industry. I notice that he has asked for leave to table the document, and he has not tabled it. Can we please see it? Madam SPEAKER: It used to be that members sought leave to table documents at the end of the questioning, and it certainly would be of assistance to the Speaker if that happened. I notice that in many cases it does not happen now, but that is members’ privilege. Also, members have until 10 o’clock this evening to be able to table documents, and I am sure they will do so. Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why is the Government setting up a whole new Government bureaucracy to license builders rather than following the model for lawyers, doctors, engineers, nurses, and accountants, whereby the Government approves the professional associations to undertake that role; why does the Minister not trust either the Registered Master Builders Federation or the Certified Builders Association to license builders directly, rather than creating a dual structure with a Government bureaucracy? Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: The reason we have set this regime up is the botch- up and the legacy that was left to us, thanks to the Government that member belonged to. I am happy to table the support from the Registered Master Builders Federation, the Certified Builders Association, the Construction Industry Council, and the other trade associations. If the member is right, then everybody else who supported this regime is wrong. I will measure the credibility of people like Mr Pieter Burghout, chief executive officer of the Registered Master Builders Federation, against that member’s lack of credibility when he was Minister in the previous Government. Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. This Minister has again, in respect of that answer, chosen to go outside your previous ruling by questioning my own credibility. But, more important, he did not answer my question. My question was quite straightforward, and it asked why the Government has chosen to set up a new bureaucracy to do the registration, rather than, as the Government has done in other areas of professional regulation, trusting either the master builders or the certified builders to do it. He has made no attempt at all to answer that quite specific and important question. Madam SPEAKER: Would the Minister like to succinctly address that question further. Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: This Government works in partnership with industry associations like the Registered Master Builders Federation and the Certified Builders Association, which have supported the regime. They agree with us; we agree with them. We are doing what an industry wants and are protecting good, honest Kiwis when they buy a home, so that they get a licensed builder to build a building right the first time. We are doing that because it is supported by the industry and it is the right thing to do in order to protect consumers. That member over there in the Opposition did nothing to protect consumers. He hung them out to dry. 3 May 2006 Questions for Oral Answer 2695 Hon Dr Nick Smith: I seek the leave of the House to table documents from the Registered Master Builders Federation, showing it would much prefer a self-regulation model rather than that imposed on it by the Minister. Documents not tabled. Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: I seek leave to table media statements from the Registered Master Builders Federation of 23 April, the Construction Industry Council of 23 April, and the Certified Builders Association of the same date, where they support the Government announcement wholeheartedly. Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House. PlunketLine—Quality of Service 11. Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her statement, “What I’m satisfied by is that PlunketLine, in terms of calls picked up, was not providing a good service”; if so, what did she mean by “not providing a good service”? Rt Hon HELEN CLARK (Prime Minister): Yes, because the rate of calls not picked up was high, at 87.3 percent in the year to December 2005. Plunket’s Well Child health advice itself is excellent and the Government is now discussing with Plunket and McKessons where to take the issue from here. Hon Tony Ryall: Has the Prime Minister bothered to find out why the answer rate was so low, and if she has, did she find out that PlunketLine was contracted to answer only 58,000 to 70,000 calls a year and in fact answered 76,000 calls this year, and the reason why people did not know that information—that PlunketLine could not answer more calls—was, as the president of Plunket has confirmed today, that her Government expressly prohibited them from answering any more calls? Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: On the contrary, I have received advice that Plunket was offered funding for more calls and did not take up the offer. Sue Kedgley: Why would the Government allow a trusted and widely respected organisation like Plunket, with a century of experience in helping New Zealand parents, and that sees 91 percent of New Zealand babies, to be passed over for a subsidiary of a multinational corporation that has recently been involved in settling claims that it defrauded the US Defense Department? Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I have worked with Plunket for many years and know it provides a good Well Child health service, and the Government is now working with Plunket to take the matter forward. Hon Tony Ryall: Is she the same Helen Clark who led a nationwide petition to fully fund a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week PlunketLine service, and why has she now frozen Plunket out from delivering this vital extension of its services? Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Yes, just as Dr Brash is the leader of the same party that refused to give the service a penny in the 1990s, and further, I can say the Government will be funding a 24-hour Well Child health service. That is what the whole issue is about. Hon Tony Ryall: Is she the same Helen Clark who stated: “We see real value in PlunketLine, and we want it to receive Government funding.”; if so, what did she mean by that? Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Exactly the reason a Labour Government funds 24-hour Well Child health services—something the National Party never did. Hon Tony Ryall: Is she the same Helen Clark who stated: “I want to make a special plea for Government funding for PlunketLine. It was Labour’s policy to fund it because 2696 Questions for Oral Answer 3 May 2006 we have been very impressed by the service. With more funding to operate more lines, with more nurses, it could have been even better.”? Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Absolutely, just as that member is from the same party that complained in this House 2 years ago that PlunketLine was answering only one in nine calls. Judy Turner: Will the Prime Minister be prepared to support my notice of motion on tomorrow’s Order Paper that: “This House calls for the Government to ensure funding to enable PlunketLine to continue its service to young New Zealand families?” Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: No, I do not propose to take up Government time with that. If the member from a party that does enjoy a constructive relationship with the Government would like to come and discuss the issue, I would be very happy for her to have a briefing. Jo Goodhew: Can the Prime Minister confirm that she is the same Helen Clark who championed the postcard campaign “Don’t Let the Hotline Go Cold”, and the same Helen Clark who has completely frozen the iconic Plunket service out of delivering a vital service to New Zealand families? [Interruption] Madam SPEAKER: It is very difficult to hear. As I said, barracking is not permitted; interjections are. Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: I imagine the member is talking to the same Plunket organisation that agreed to go into an open tender process. I understand that the member is from the same political party that attacked the Government for not tendering $1.5 million worth of contracts, when this was a $2 million one. Hon Tony Ryall: I seek leave to table a newspaper article in which the president of Plunket confirms that the Clark ministry expressly prohibited Plunket from answering more calls. Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that article. Is there any objection? There is objection. Biodiversity Strategy—National Goals 12. METIRIA TUREI (Green) to the Minister of Conservation: Does he stand by the national goals of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy to “turn the tide on the decline of our biodiversity, and to maintain and restore a full range of our remaining natural habitats and ecosystems and viable populations of all native species.”? Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): Yes, that remains the vision and goal to be pursued within the available resources over time. Metiria Turei: How, then, does the Minister reconcile these goals with his decision to permit Solid Energy to transfer 250 Powelliphanta augustus snails and then mine their natural habitat on Mount Augustus, given that this species may well become extinct directly as a result of his decision? Madam SPEAKER: There were interjections during that question. Would the member please just leave. Shane Ardern withdrew from the Chamber. Hon CHRIS CARTER: In making our decision, the Associate Minister of Energy and I had to consider the welfare of Powelliphanta augustus under the Wildlife Act, and the economic benefits that flow from the efficient development and use of New Zealand’s coal resources under the Coal Mines Act. On balance we have decided to allow the snails to be moved. However, we are requiring a larger mitigation package than was originally offered by Solid Energy. Gordon Copeland: Why are animals such as deer and thar still considered exotic pests when people of, say, Irish or Chinese descent who have been in New Zealand for 3 May 2006 Questions for Oral Answer 2697 the same length of time are now considered indigenous by Trevor Mallard, and in what circumstances will he accept deer and thar as an integral part of New Zealand’s biodiversity? Hon CHRIS CARTER: I have never really considered animals to be the same as people, but I am happy to discuss the matter with the member further. Dr Pita Sharples: Kei te āwangawanga ia, mō te pāpātanga o te hangarau patu i ngā kākano, kua waia ki te whenua mō te maha o ngā tau, arā, ngā purapura o te iwi tangata whenua me ō rātou pārekereke, ā, he aha ngā kōrero kua puta mai i ōna hui i te taha o te Māori mō taua āhuatanga? [An interpretation in English was given to the House.] [Is he concerned about the impact that terminator technology will have on the ability of indigenous people to renew crops based on centuries of seeds that have naturally adapted to their environment; and what have his consultations with Māori told him about that phenomenon?] Hon CHRIS CARTER: The New Zealand Government does not support the technology. Metiria Turei: Will Solid Energy be prevented from mining the endangered snails’ last remaining natural habitat until the relocation described by the Minister has been proven to be successful; if not, is this an example of his understanding of the precautionary principle? Hon CHRIS CARTER: In exploring the option of how long we would have to monitor the site to determine success we were told it would be up to 20 years. That is why we have taken very extensive steps in mitigation, such as the relocation by hand of as many snails as possible, the establishment of an expanded new habitat, the protection of the area with an expensive, intensive predator-proof fence, and also a captive breeding programme. These are very extensive mitigation actions. Metiria Turei: If the mining occurs, the relocation is unsuccessful, and all the snails die, will he have any qualms that as Minister of Conservation he and his colleague the Minister of Energy will have approved New Zealand’s first State-sanctioned extinction of an endangered native species? Hon CHRIS CARTER: I take my responsibilities to protect New Zealand’s unique biodiversity very seriously. The issues involved in the application to move Powelliphanta augustus were finely balanced. In reaching the decision, I had to operate—as did my colleague the Associate Minister of Energy—under two statutes, that is, the Wildlife Act and the Coal Mines Act. The only possible decision I could make under those was the decision we made. Hon CHRIS CARTER: I seek leave to table the document: A Vision, Goals, and Principles for Managing New Zealand’s Biodiversity. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House. TABLING OF DOCUMENTS Housing New Zealand Financial Review GEORGINA BEYER (Labour): I seek leave of the House to table a letter. I do this as chair of the Social Services Committee on behalf of that committee. It is a letter from Helen Fulcher, Chief Executive of the Housing New Zealand Corporation, that provides a correction to an answer given during the financial review of Housing New Zealand. The letter corrects the information. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House. 2698 General Debate 3 May 2006 GENERAL DEBATE Hon TONY RYALL (National—Bay of Plenty): I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business. The National Party looks forward to this general debate, because this week the Government has come back from the “recess from hell”. It has been the “recess from hell” for the Labour Government, because it has completely lost touch with the country, and it has been completely exposed for its mismanagement across a huge number of portfolio areas. Not the least of those is Vote Health. Pete Hodgson’s speech was billed as the Minister’s grand vision for health. It was billed as Pete Hodgson’s putting his stamp on the Labour Party’s health policy. But what was it all about? Nine out of the 10 pages of speech notes were all about the National Party and the agenda it has been setting in the debate about the public health services in this country. It was all about National setting the agenda in health, just as we have spent the last adjournment setting the agenda regarding the Government’s hopeless performance in the law and order portfolio. We found out today that the Government has been running a secret criminal release scheme, which puts remand prisoners out into the community without telling anybody about that change in Government policy. This Government is also losing control of the housing portfolio, where the chief executive of Housing New Zealand was paying public servants in order to gag them from talking to members of this House. If we look across the benches, we see a Minister of Health who is very much under pressure, completely out of his depth, and unable to see the wood for the trees—and he is straining, as the New Zealand Herald stated. What is he straining under? He is straining under the fact that after 6 years of a Labour Government and billions of extra dollars in health, New Zealanders are asking where the extra operations are. This Minister stood up at Victoria University and tried to say that this Government had done 107,000 elective operations and only 8,000 people had been turned away. Well, what about the fact that he is no “Good Shepherd”? A “Good Shepherd” would be more worried about those who were missing out than those who were getting surgery— 107,000 elective operations in the last year. That number has dropped from the year before. In fact, it is lower than it was 5 years previously. Fewer New Zealanders are getting elective surgery, and those who are, are a lot sicker than they were 5 years ago. It is not just the New Zealand National Party Opposition that says that. The Auckland District Health Board says that patients have to be sicker today in order to get an operation than they had to be 5 years ago. The Capital and Coast District Health Board has admitted that people have to be sicker than they had to be 5 years ago in order to get an operation. The Canterbury District Health Board has admitted that people have to be sicker than they had to be 5 years ago in order to get an operation, and this Minister cannot stand up in the House and justify that. All we see are those sorts of Goff-like vein-popping reactions, as the Minister tries to shout, bluff, and blunder his way through answers to questions—and he has no answer at all. Rt Hon Winston Peters: I’m next! Hon TONY RYALL: I am glad Mr Peters interjects, because I know he is concerned about the hundreds of people being dumped off waiting lists in Tauranga. And I know that Mr Peters is concerned about the number of people who die while on the waiting list, in Tauranga. I know he is concerned about the fact that potentially thousands of people in the Bay of Plenty region will be dumped off the waiting list— and we will hear that from the Minister tomorrow. The Minister’s speech on health was completely bereft of any vision, new ideas, or fresh approach to dealing with the problems he has inherited from the much-overrated Annette King. All the things that she could hide with bluff and blunder, and by 3 May 2006 General Debate 2699 pretending not to deal with the issues, are now coming home to roost, and Minister Hodgson is completely incapable of dealing with the vital issues facing the health service. What about the workforce in health? There is a massive shortage of doctors and nurses, but there are plenty of bureaucrats. What about dealing with the issues? Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Defence): If that was a “recess from hell”, it was a “recess from hell” for the National Party—which entirely disappeared out of the sight of this country for 3 weeks. It was an adjournment where that party so failed to find an issue that it could not even put an adjournment letter before the House yesterday, to demonstrate some area where the Government had not been performing. This Opposition is lacklustre, underperforming, leaderless, directionless, confused, and frustrated, and does not even deserve the title “Opposition”. A consultant’s letter came out yesterday from a political consultancy firm. It is headed: “Labour still firmly in control”, and it has some good advice for the National Party. It states that National’s leadership crisis is a more urgent issue than some in its caucus would believe. We saw the pretenders for the leadership. There was blustering Bill English, trying to claim that a kid charged with murder would be placed back in his school, when he knew that a condition of bail was that the child was not allowed back into his school. Sean Plunket made a clown of that member yesterday—the tried and failed leader of the National Party trying again, because there is a vacuum there. Then we had Gerry Brownlee— Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Who? Hon PHIL GOFF: Gerry Brownlee, the man who on the weekend said that National was going to reverse its policy on the Māori seats. Why was it going to do that? Well, National believed in abolishing the Māori seats but would rely on the Māori Party for votes next time, so Gerry Brownlee told the country on Saturday that National had changed the policy. But Don Brash then came back and said no. Poor old Gerry had to turn up at the caucus yesterday and apologise for causing confusion. Then we have John Key, the other intending assassin. John Key is now saying that maybe National will not have the tax cuts, which were the flagship of the National Party at the last election. Poor old John—he is a nice guy, but try to get a straight answer out of him! The Agenda programme on Saturday morning asked John whether he believed in God. Well, there were four answers: yes, no, maybe, or “Mind your own business.” But we heard 3 minutes of prevarication and no answer. If John Key wants to be the leader of the National Party, then he has to learn to give a straight answer. We are 6 months now into a new parliamentary term, and this Government has consolidated both its position and its reputation for competency, leadership, and having the vision and the policy agenda to take this country forward—a country that is proud and increasingly confident about its national identity, a country that is on the path to transforming its economy to play a leading role in the 21st century, and a country that is committed to looking after its families, old and young, giving them security, and giving them the opportunity to make the most of their lives. I want to say something in favour of the National Party. I want to defend it, because I have heard it put around that the National Party is a party that does not believe in anything. I think that is wrong. National members do believe in anything, and that is their problem. They will say yes to any lobby group that comes along. They have no credibility at all. They have no firm principles. The firm principle that “We will not have Māori seats unless we need Māori seats to get us into power.”—that is the strength of principle of the National Party! Six years and 6 months into Opposition, that party has learnt nothing. That party is no closer to being the Government today than when Bill English stabbed Jenny Shipley in the back for the leadership, or when Don Brash then stabbed Bill English in the back 2700 General Debate 3 May 2006 for leadership. Now there are three assassins trying to stab Don Brash in the back, but what Don Brash has got going for him is that not one of those intending assassins is worth anything as a leader. That is why he dribbles along as the leader of the National Party—because there is no option. There is no alternative. In all of the years I have been in this Parliament I have never seen such a hopelessly incompetent Opposition. PHIL HEATLEY (National—Whangarei): I think all in this Parliament would agree—certainly, the public would agree—that Housing New Zealand Corporation is in an absolute shambles. I have to say that today the Minister looked very, very grim when answering questions about the corporation. Yesterday he looked very, very grim when defending his chairman of the board, and today he looked very, very grim when defending him again. I recall quite keenly yesterday the Minister saying that the chairman had acted appropriately and promptly in dealing with the allegations levelled against the corporation about the misappropriation of funds, and with the allegations that the corporation had put a gagging order on a New Zealand citizen, who was not allowed to talk to his or her member of Parliament. Housing New Zealand Corporation said that a New Zealand citizen could not approach and talk to his or her member of Parliament! Could our democracy be undermined by anything worse than a State entity, run by this Labour Government, putting gagging orders on fellow Kiwis so that they could not talk to their elected representative? That is a most appalling situation, indeed—and we have seen the paperwork. When did the chairman know about the gagging order? That is the big question in the House this week. Today in the House Chris Carter would have us believe that the chairman found out at exactly the same time that he did—that is, when it all blew up in the media, in the Herald on Sunday story. But in trawling through the documents—and we have done that—and the media reports, we have discovered that the chairman of the corporation’s board said that he found out about the gagging order several weeks before the Minister did, when he was listening to talkback radio on Newstalk ZB. Now, did he go and tell the Minister? No, he did not. Did he stick to the no-surprises policy that the Prime Minister demands? No, he did not. Did he keep the Minister abreast of the situation? Clearly, he did not. So on the one hand here we have the Minister, Chris Carter, defending in the House the chairman of the corporation’s board and saying that he heard about it at the same time as he did. On the other hand the Prime Minister is saying that it was inappropriate for the chairman to break the no-surprises policy. Who is right: the Minister, who says that the chairman found out about the gagging order at the same time as he did, or the Prime Minister, who said that the chairman broke the no- surprises policy? Well, that question is up in the air, and this House needs to find the answer very shortly. Another question we will be putting to the House is simply to ask why the chairman of the board of Housing New Zealand Corporation did not have an external inquiry into the misappropriation of funds when he found out last September. Why did it take media pressure before he called for an inquiry? Why, when he called for an inquiry, did he call in the internal auditors—Housing New Zealand Corporation’s usual internal auditors— but, when he talked to the Minister, discover the sense in actually having an external, independent inquiry by the Auditor-General? Clearly, this chairman is not overseeing the function of the corporation appropriately. We have seen that he is prepared to stand down a senior manager of Housing New Zealand Corporation, based on the gagging order letter, but that he will not oversee the standing down of the chief executive officer, who is also implicated in that gagging letter. This Minister needs to be taken to account for his management of his politically appointed chairman. 3 May 2006 General Debate 2701 Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Minister of Foreign Affairs): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There are still some members of the House and the listening public who are awake, and therefore I move an extension of time for Mr Heatley. The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): That is not a point of order. I say to the member that he has been here long enough to know that sort of thing can lead to disorder. DAVID BENNETT (National—Hamilton East): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. During that fine speech from Mr Heatley, one of the members of New Zealand First was speaking to the gallery. I understand that is not allowed. The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I thank Mr Bennett for that. It is during the course of their speeches that members are not to address the gallery. Hon BRIAN DONNELLY (NZ First): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. An allegation has just been made about a member of New Zealand First. There are three members of New Zealand First here, and I would like to know which member the allegation refers to. The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I just say that the member’s point of order did not stand. It would have stood only if someone who had the call addressed someone outside or in the gallery. Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE (Minister for Building Issues): I have to say that was a rich speech coming from a National Party member. Mr Heatley should read the historical annals out there in the corridor. It is a bit rich for him and his kind to come in here and lecture us about Housing New Zealand Corporation, when the National Government deliberately attempted to destroy Housing New Zealand and destroy State housing in this country. No one can argue with that point, because that National Government sold over 12,000 houses. That is why we have long waiting lists; people want to get into the houses that National sold. Not only did that member stand up and pontificate about housing but he also forgot to mention the building sector and the destroyed apprenticeships that we brought back. As I mentioned at question time, there are few rules in the industry. There is a big dose of amnesia over on that side of the House. Mr Heatley is the biggest example of a headless chook in the National Party that members will ever see—running around with no direction and no brains. He is an exact example of why the National members are on the Opposition benches. They are a rudderless crew—completely rudderless. I went to the Canterbury Manufacturers Association president’s function last week, and the great speaker, the great man, the great hope for some—they are few; a minority—was one John Key, who was pretending to be the leader. He got up, and he did not give a bad speech—there was lots of stuff about Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew. He had read a book, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, and expounded knowledge about that. Then it came to a thing called question time. It is always a cracker, question time. I quite enjoy it on both sides. John Key was asked what his policy was on this, that, and the other. I know that the two National Party members there who were there at the time were cringing away at the speech. Then a very eminent Cantabrian and Kiwi businessman, Angus Tait from Tait Electronics—he is a superb human being—asked the clanger question: “What are you going to do?”. What was the reply from John Key? A bit of dodging and a bit of weaving. He was not quite sure; he could not really say at that moment. Angus is a good guy. He is a bit like a dog with a bone; he does not give up easily. He then called him again and asked: “What are you going to do?”. John Key replied: “Oh, I can’t really say. The election is a while away. I haven’t really done much policy work.”—that type of thing. 2702 General Debate 3 May 2006 I will tell members the feedback from the members of the Canterbury Manufacturers Association that I have talked to, because I have friends and former colleagues in that organisation. They said the speech was long on rhetoric and short on detail. It was a nothing speech. Did he elucidate all the work he may have done on research and development policy or depreciation policy? Did he tell them he was going to backtrack, as National did on the weekend, on tax? No, he did not say that—heck, no. There was no policy. The National Party is a rudderless pack of headless chooks. I was really gratified after that speech, because I am also told that the National Party MPs turned up at the Canterbury Manufacturers Association and met with its members—as the Labour Canterbury MPs did. I am told David Carter was there. The National MPs gave a briefing; they sat there and pontificated. The people they met with are manufacturers—guys who make things, and smart business people. So what, in an hour and a half of the breakfast meeting, did the National Party MPs talk about to manufacturers? All David Carter could talk about was dog microchipping. There was no policy on manufacturing—and he was a business person, I am told. I tell members that was the feedback from that meeting, and those manufacturers are eminent Kiwis. I turn briefly to the ACT party, because I cannot resist. There is the ACT party, down from eight members to two. Heather Roy is off to the Territorial Army—she has a lot of time on her hands—and I commend her for that. Good on her! That is honourable—she is off to join the Territorials. Then we have Mr Hide—“Twinkletoes”. I predict Mr Hide will win Dancing with the Stars. Do members know why? Because his two specialist dances will be, first, the hustle—and we know he is the best at it—and, second, the limbo dance because, of course, no one goes lower than Mr Hide. I am also told that his hearing is going. When a producer at Television New Zealand asked him whether he would go on the show because he could dance like Anna Pavlova—the Russian ballet dancer—Mr Hide misheard. He thought the producer had asked him whether he would like a pavlova. He asked for two, and he said yes. Then he told members he was on a crash diet. I am told he is down to four meals a day. So I say what a wonderful contribution Mr Hide and Ms Roy are making. I think Ms Roy is doing a good thing. She will make a better contribution, I hope, to our armed forces—and good on her; we want to encourage that—than she has in here. But I say to the Opposition over there and their mates from ACT that they are a bunch of headless chooks. They have no policy. Members cannot turn up at a Canterbury Manufacturers Association breakfast, for example, and talk about everything apart from manufacturing. Members cannot turn up and give a keynote speech to eminent business people and when asked: “What would you do if you were Minister of Finance?” say: “Well, I haven’t quite worked that out yet.” Members cannot do that, because that is a huge credibility gap. Our policies are out there. Our economic transformations policies are out there for everyone to see. We are proud of them. National is hollowed out; it has no policy. SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei): I have a bit of advice for Clayton Cosgrove: the Cabinet reshuffle is over. He can relax now. He does not have to come down to the House and try to outperform his colleagues. The colleague sitting next to Clayton Cosgrove is Mr Paul Swain, and this House has never seen him look as relaxed as he has in recent months. Initially, members of this House thought it was good on the Hon Paul Swain for making a lifestyle decision to spend time with his young child. That was a very wise decision, in my view. But, actually, in recent weeks we have discovered why Paul Swain is looking so relaxed. It is because he has nothing to do with the Department of Corrections any more. He is a mile away from it, and he is loving it. Paul Swain is nodding away furiously there. He loves the fact that those problems have now been landed on the lap of his good friend Damien 3 May 2006 General Debate 2703 O’Connor. Every time a question about the Department of Corrections is raised in this House or a press release goes out, the word around the building is that Mr Swain leans back in his chair, puts his hands behind his head, and says he thanks goodness he has nothing to do with that department any more. We discovered over the adjournment that more and more problems are coming out of the Department of Corrections. My personal favourite was the fact that in these times of fiscal prudence, the taxpayer will spend $11 million on landscaping four prisons. It does not matter which way the public looks at it; that is a lot of ferns and a lot of pavers. The Government is trying to spin the line that certain environmental standards set by certain local councils have to be met in order for prisons to be built in their areas. That is not the case in terms of two out of four of those prisons. In Spring Hill’s case, we will spend $4.34 million on landscaping that prison. Members may call me old-fashioned, but I always thought that prisons were supposed to be a bit unpleasant, and that the outlook for prisoners was not supposed to be particularly scenic. But this Government has no compunction at all in dealing out hard-earned taxpayers’ money in a way that leads us to believe the only thing that will happen to Paul Swain over the next 6 months is that he is likely to become more and more relaxed and more and more happy. I can tell this House, and I can tell Damien O’Connor, his staff, and his department, that the Department of Corrections is leaking like a sieve. If that Minister thinks that the leaked internal memo presented to the House today is the last of it, let me reassure him that it is the first of it. The Department of Corrections is leaking like a sieve, and there is much more to come. So during the time that we have a $490 million budget blowout on the new prisons, what does the Department of Corrections decide to do for the individual charged with overseeing the construction programme? Mark Blumsky: Pay him more. SIMON POWER: Pay him more. So $1,000 a day plus GST when the original contracts—I was going to say were tendered, but that is not quite right, I say to Mr Mark. They were never tendered originally, nor were they tendered at the second bite. I say to Mr Swain that it was only the third bite that saw those contracts tendered. In the meantime, we have seen the people in charge of producing those prisons have a 30 percent pay increase, taking their pay to $1,800 a day plus GST. That is $2 million over the time the prison-building project has taken so far, to the point where nearly half a billion dollars has blown out in that budget. That money could have been spent on quality rehabilitation programmes. That money could have been spent on quality employment programmes for inmates. But, no, that money is being paid out to an entity and an ex-Department of Corrections individual who are completely wrecking the building project process by having those budget blowouts. Then what does the Government do? It pays the individual concerned more for the privilege of doing that, which is just extraordinary. On top of that, in recent weeks we have seen such a range of appalling revelations in the corrections area that I predict Paul Swain will grow hair over the next 6 months, because he will be so relaxed. He will grow hair, and it will go from a distinguished grey to a young, fawn brown colour, as all the pressure lifts off his shoulders. I predict that all the hair dye in the world will not save Damien O’Connor from going grey over the next 6 months, because we have only just begun on our revelations. METIRIA TUREI (Green): During the adjournment I went to Happy Valley, a beautiful area of native bush, very fragile wetlands, and a thriving ecosystem of native birds and animals. Happy Valley is on the West Coast of the South Island, just north- east of Westport. It takes a few hours to climb up there—for me, especially—but I strongly recommend it. It is well worth the effort. Hon Member: I thought she was talking about Malaita. 2704 General Debate 3 May 2006 METIRIA TUREI: Not quite Malaita—it is much prettier than Malaita. Happy Valley is home to many threatened species, including the great spotted kiwi and the native patrickensis land snail, kākā, kārāriki, and western weka. New Zealand falcon, kea, kererū, and the long-tailed cuckoo have also been seen in that area. The valley is now also the home of a long-term occupation of committed environmentalists who, since January of this year, have been highlighting the devastation intended by Solid Energy’s plans for an open-cast mine. The mine will consist of two open-cast pits covering half of the 265 hectare site. The open pits will be up to nearly 100 metres deep. Solid Energy will extract 500,000 tonnes of coal from the mine every year for 10 years, mostly for export. This will require the removal of 29 million cubic metres of the rock and soil that cover the coal, approximately half of which will be acid-forming. The Government has estimated that between the Stockton and Happy Valley mines, up to 6.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere per annum. The chief executive of Solid Energy, Don Elder, has been reported as stating that there will be no net increase in jobs for the West Coast from the Happy Valley mine, but despite this the classic tension between those who support the mine, ostensibly for jobs, and those who want to protect New Zealand’s indigenous species from extinction is raging again. Conservationists, like Coaster Peter Lusk, are being subjected to criminal harassment, threats, property damage, and abuse because of their conservation ethic. There is no justification for that criminal behaviour; we are supposed to live in a free country. When I went to the valley I spoke to a few of the locals. One guy I met told me that his family was brought to the Coast a hundred years ago for the mining, but although coalmining attracted his old people to the Coast, it will not be coalmining that keeps him and his family there. In fact, he does not work at the mine; he is in the tourism industry. The fact is that Westland can no longer rely on extractive resources as the basis of its economy. It simply must move towards sustainability if it is to have any hope of surviving in the future. There are alternatives to extractive resources. For example, significant dairying—which has good features and bad features—is going on there. It could be better developed for the area, with a stronger emphasis on local processing into high-value cheeses, for example—and at least the area has good rainfall, as opposed to the drought-ridden dairy farms of Canterbury. Ecotourism is a growing development on the Coast. There is plantation forestry, which could be very significant if highly skilled wood-processing facilities are established. If that industry was to be combined with the development of the port, so that the Coast does not have to keep transporting everything to Christchurch by train, the Coast would then have the beginnings of the infrastructure it needs to grow a local, independent, and sustainable economy that is not reliant on the destruction of the very natural resources on which it depends. Those examples are at least some attempts to move away from extractive resources, which not only lead to the extinction of native species but also to acid mine drainage, for example, that poisons the rivers on which those other industries and the community depend. It is also crucial that the value of development remains on the Coast. Solid Energy’s profits do not go back to the Coast. They are sent elsewhere and benefit other areas. Regional business support schemes, strong ecotourism, and “buy local” strategies would all keep Coast money in Coast hands. Supporting coalmining on the grounds that it provides jobs for Coasters is dishonest and irresponsible. It binds the Coast to an unsustainable, dead-end economic cycle that will only eat away at those very communities, either because they push away committed Coasters like Peter Lusk, or 3 May 2006 General Debate 2705 because the economic opportunities become so narrow and mean that it is no longer viable to live and raise a family there. The only way to avoid conflict between the conservationists and Coasters over issues like the snails in Happy Valley is to protect the economic future of the Coast through truly sustainable opportunities. Hon DOVER SAMUELS (Minister of State): “To be, or not to be,”—that indeed is the question. It is a famous line from that well-known English writer William Shakespeare—from Act III, Scene I of the famous play Hamlet. In the last few weeks this country has witnessed a modern version of that play, starring and directed by Gerry Brownlee and Don Brash. To be or not to be? That is the question the public is asking. There is mass confusion out there amongst the people who saw Don Brash at Ōrewa. He made that wonderful speech about how he would abolish the Māori seats and everything Māori. The speech in Ōrewa catapulted his popularity in the polls—and led to mass confusion over who really was the leader of the National Party. The co-leader of the Māori Party Tariana Turia said yesterday: “Of course, he did not behave like that after the election. He did not care that our seats were won through the Māori seats.” She went on to say: “I cannot quite read the National Party leader.” I say to Tariana Turia that I support her 100 percent. So, probably, do 99 percent of the people of this country and the public who are listening to this debate. What is sadder, I believe, is that 90 percent of those who supported Don Brash in his Ōrewa speech are also confused right now as to who the leader of the National Party is. I will outline for members the script of a new play. This, then, is Act I of “To Be or Not to Be”, a play about National and the Māori seats. National members want one thing; Don Brash wants another. People can imagine the stage. The curtain rises; enter, Don Brash. His first line is: “I think having any Māori representation at any level of Government is a fundamental mistake, dangerous for New Zealand’s future.” He goes on to say: “We have already said we are not in favour of separate Māori electorates. We propose to scrap them if we become Government.”—God help us!—“The issue is, therefore, do we contest them because they still exist or do we not contest them on the grounds that we do not think that they should exist?”. The play goes on with his next line: “We do not see the logic of retaining the Māori seats themselves. We think the whole logic for those seats has long gone.” Enter, Gerry Brownlee. In response to this question from a reporter: “Would you be prepared to move away from your policy of abolishing the Māori seats?”, Gerry Brownlee says: “Well, that is a question that I think we need to ask, and that is why I am raising it.” Now, enter, the king of the waka jumpers, Tau Henare, whose line is: “We will not get rid of them in the next 3 years, so they are around for the next election cycle and most probably the one after that, as well. I mean, it is all about what we put on the table and whom you negotiate with after the election.” The star, Dr Brash, then says: “Well, I am making it clear to you that the National Party remains committed to the abolition of the Māori seats.” Georgina te Heuheu’s line is: “I have always thought that one day the seats would not be needed and that Māori should make that choice. I question whether the time has come.” I can imagine Georgina te Heuheu, a very respected wahine from Ngāti Tūwharetoa, climbing on the volcano of Tongariro and wondering what was happening to the National Party. Tony Ryall has said: “The National Party’s policy has always been that the Māori seats will go when the Māori people chose for them to go.”, and Bill English has said: “The new voters will be young and brown, and if we’re not getting their vote, we’re not going to get into Parliament at all.” That is the party that the Māori Party wants to dance with on the political stage. I wonder what the voters of Te Tai Tokerau, Tamaki Makaurau, Waiariki, and Te Tai Hauauru think about all that. 2706 General Debate 3 May 2006 KATHERINE RICH (National): I suggest that that member leave Shakespeare alone and concentrate on the shameful position that Helen Clark has taken on PlunketLine. If we are going to bring out the old cliché of “to be or not to be”, we should remember that thousands of mothers and families who use the Plunket service are wondering just that question. The Prime Minister’s position on PlunketLine is duplicitous, dishonest, and just plain dumb. We have seen an explanation in the House today from the Prime Minister that demonstrates exactly the misinformation that the Government is pedalling about PlunketLine. Jill Pettis: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is unparliamentary to refer to a member as duplicitous and dishonest, and I ask that that comment be withdrawn. KATHERINE RICH: Speaking to the point of order, Mr Speaker, if the member had been listening she would have heard that I did not refer to Helen Clark; I referred to the position and the argument. I am able to do that under the Standing Orders. The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Thank you. Just before the member resumes her speech, I tell members that the use of cellphones in the House is not permitted. They should be switched off within the debating chamber. The use of cellphones is against Speakers’ rulings. KATHERINE RICH: If we are looking at misinformation, we need to look only at the answers that were given in the House today. Helen Clark and Pete Hodgson continue to point out that PlunketLine handles only one in nine calls. What they do not point out is that PlunketLine is contracted to handle only a certain number of calls, and the number of calls to PlunketLine far outnumbered the volume of calls paid for by the Government. What they also do not point out is that Healthline had a huge resource that was not available to PlunketLine. In terms of the low call-answering rates, Ministers ignore that at certain times Healthline had three times the number of nurses answering one-third of the call volume that PlunketLine had to face. Of course, Healthline looked like a star. What Helen Clark and Pete Hodgson have not explained is why the Government has snubbed a national icon for a multinational. Being overseas-owned is not in itself an issue, but if one looks at the directors on that board, one will find that there is not one domiciled director of McKesson New Zealand Ltd. Members can contrast that with PlunketLine. Kay Crowther and Plunket are supported by hundreds of thousands of Kiwi mothers and babies who use that service. The Government does not point out that it has given the Well Child service to an organisation that has limited experience in handling Well Child calls. McKesson does not even have enough nurses to answer the calls. Evidence of that can be seen in the local papers, where it is advertising for Well Child nurses. It is salt in Plunket’s wounds that most of the nurses will actually come from its own service to staff the new service run by McKesson. This Government continues to put out misinformation and to promote the idea that Plunket has made huge mistakes. Actually, Plunket was caught between a rock and a hard place. The Government paid for it to answer only up to 70,000 calls. Plunket surpassed that contracted figure; it answered 76,000 calls. The problem for Plunket was that it was a successful service, and double that number of people tried to call. The Government should introduce a bit of honesty to the debate, and take into account how New Zealanders feel about that service. One of the things that many New Zealanders already feel for Plunket is a great amount of trust; they do not feel that trust for Healthline. When mothers speak to a Plunket nurse or a PlunketLine nurse, there is already an inherent trust that has been built up over a hundred years. They do not feel that way when they talk to any other Government agency—a Department of Child, Youth and Family Services worker, or a 3 May 2006 General Debate 2707 worker from Work and Income New Zealand. They will talk about certain sorts of things with Plunket nurses; they will not do so with other people. PlunketLine is a well-known brand. Now the Government will give millions of dollars to Healthline so it can be promoted. That was not necessary, because most New Zealanders know PlunketLine—it is probably one of the most well-known brands in this country. One of the things that needs to be emphasised is the connection that organisation has with New Zealand families, and that has been built up over a hundred years. That connection cannot be replaced by a new organisation. The key issue here is the two-faced way that some members of Parliament who are still in this House campaigned while in Opposition to save PlunketLine, yet they do something else when they are in a position of power. Helen Clark led protests up and down this country to save the service. She said: “Don’t let PlunketLine go cold.” But she is the very person to axe it—the very person who has made the decision that PlunketLine will not be supported. So I think she needs to look at herself in the mirror. Her political nose has gone off. Now she is backing something that in Opposition she spoke very strongly against. MARYAN STREET (Labour): When leadership is in question, divisions are rife. That is what we have in the National Party. There is no leadership, and that leads to what my colleague referred to earlier, if I could use his words, as the “headless chook” syndrome. During National’s 3-day caucus in Taupō some time ago, its number one leadership contender, John Key, suggested that one of National’s own MPs was behind claims that he was running a campaign of destabilisation against Dr Brash. The MP had accused Mr Key in the Weekend Herald of encouraging media speculation about the leadership, and claimed the caucus was furious with the finance spokesperson. The claims about a destabilisation campaign were regarded by Mr Key’s supporters as an attempt by the Brash camp to spoil any attempt Mr Key might make on the leadership. John Key confirmed he knew who the individual in the caucus was, but he declined to name the person and said he would not be confronting him or her. That level of toxicity within a party tends to be terminal for one contender or the other. The question is which contender it will be terminal for. Over half of National’s supporters backed John Key to replace Dr Brash. A TV3 poll showed that 33 percent of National voters wanted Dr Brash to be replaced, which is a margin that must surely be causing the National leader some discomfort. Perhaps of even greater discomfort to Dr Brash was the clear-cut result—again, amongst National voters—when National voters were asked who should replace Dr Brash, if there were to be a change in leadership. The polls showed overwhelming support—some 53 percent—for John Key to have the top job. That level of dissatisfaction with the current leader is clearly causing concern within the National Party. It must be causing some of the more able, new intake of National MPs to despair. One of two of them with, perhaps, some useful ability to bring to this House are sitting back and watching their front bench lead them to disaster. This cannot be what they thought would happen when they put themselves up for selection. There is, however, a cure for their ailment. It is policy. Where there are ideas, where there are policy initiatives, and where there are novel solutions to the challenges before New Zealand, even a divided caucus will fall in behind its leaders and work together to address the critical issues of the day. Where there is a compelling vision behind which thoughtful polices are positioned, there will be a united caucus effort to realise them. The truth is that the National Party has neither a compelling vision nor any policy, thoughtful or otherwise, behind it. Dr Brash is incapable of articulating a vision, and incapable of leading policy development to a point where it can be remembered—even by himself—and that is driving the National caucus to gnaw itself to pieces. 2708 General Debate 3 May 2006 In marked and absolute contrast to the National Party, Labour has a vision for this country of economic transformation, shared prosperity, inclusive celebration of our identity as New Zealanders, and giving families the best chance possible to bring up their children. We have secure, capable, and popular leadership. We have an easily articulated vision of pride in our country and its achievements. We have a team fired up on our policies and on moving forward to get them supported and implemented. In stark contrast to the lame, divided, inarticulate, unpersuasive Opposition, Labour will continue to lead this Government in a way that New Zealanders who care about fairness for all can be proud of. The policies that we have, and that we are working to get implemented and to gain popular support for, and on which we campaigned and—in fact—won the election, are policies around economic transformation, fairness to people, and giving families the best opportunity possible to bring up their children. They are about ensuring that the prosperity of this country is given a chance to continue to grow, and that it moves along on a stable policy platform and is shared equitably among New Zealanders. GORDON COPELAND (United Future): I remind the House this afternoon that the original intent of Parliament in introducing the microchipping law for dogs was the protection of New Zealand children from dog attacks. I also remind the House that all of the parties in this House, with the single exception of ACT, voted in favour of the new microchipping regime. That included the Green Party and the National Party. Those facts seem to have been lost sight of in recent days, when we have seen some real flip- flops in their positions. I say that that was the intent of the microchipping law, and I liken it to the attempts of Parliament, over many years, to reduce the road toll. If we can take a step, as a Parliament, to protect New Zealand children from dog attacks, then we should do so. That was what we had in mind a couple of years ago, when we put the legislation in place. Having said that, I want to say immediately, however, that United Future supports an exemption from microchipping for working farm dogs. We support an exemption for two reasons. First of all, 40 percent of all dogs in New Zealand are working farm dogs, but dog attacks on farms constitute about 2 percent of all the dog attacks in New Zealand. In other words, 40 percent of our dogs are working farm dogs, but they are responsible for less than 2 percent of the dog attacks that occur on a daily basis in this country. Second, I draw the House’s attention to the fact that in New South Wales there has been a microchipping regime for about 7 years in which all applicable dogs are microchipped. But in that state, where about 28 percent of all dogs are farm dogs, working farm dogs are excluded from the regime. Accordingly, the position that United Future has on this matter is one of principle. It addresses the real issue, which is the 98 percent of dog attacks that are committed by non - working farm dogs, and has regard to the reality that those attacks occur within urban communities and not on farms. Let us not forget that all of this happened after a dog attack occurred in an urban community on little Carolina Anderson. I was here in Parliament when people from Auckland and other parts of New Zealand came here in big numbers. They said we must address the issue and make the streets of New Zealand’s cities and towns safer for children when it comes to attacks from dogs. We do not resile from our support for the principle of a microchipping regime. Nor will we, just because the Greens have done a massive backflip. They informed the press of this country 24 hours ago that they supported an exemption for working farm dogs, and then last night they went and said that no, it was all or nothing and they opposed microchipping in total. That is illogical and not a good example— Metiria Turei: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Copeland is making a serious misrepresentation of the facts of the Green Party position. What is your advice as to 3 May 2006 General Debate 2709 how we can remedy that misrepresentation in the House, as it misleads this House and may bring the House into disrepute? The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): I suggest to the member that what we have is a debating matter, and misrepresentation must follow from the speech of the member. If he is misrepresenting what the member previously said, that is a different matter. If not, then it is a debating matter. GORDON COPELAND: Nor will we resile from our position on the microchipping of dogs, with the exception I mentioned of working farm dogs, just because the National Party has decided to jump on the Greens’ bandwagon by abandoning in total the requirement to improve safety for children in our towns and cities in this country. I think that is a disgraceful action. National has chosen to go with a narrow interest group. United Future supports the farmers—I have made that very clear—and that is what our amendment aims to do. But to do that at the cost of abandoning the children in our towns and cities is just not acceptable to United Future. We will therefore persevere with our Supplementary Order Paper to exempt farm dogs from microchipping, and we will not, in any circumstances, join with the Greens and National in trying to repeal the regime in total. My advice to the Greens and National is simply this. You do not have the numbers to repeal this legislation. Therefore, if you are sincere in your intentions, you should at least go— The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): The member is bringing the Speaker into the debate. GORDON COPELAND: I beg your pardon, Mr Assistant Speaker; I apologise for that. But my advice to the Green and National parties is that they, as parties, knowing that they do not now have the numbers to repeal the microchipping legislation, should go back to the position they had 24 hours ago. The National Party has already said it will support an exemption for farm dogs. [Interruption] Yes, it has said that today publicly, and the Greens should do the same thing. That would mean that we are back to where we were and New Zealand gets a good outcome. We must keep in mind the two realities that we are endeavouring to protect children from dog attacks, and that farm dogs, by and large, are not involved in those attacks. SUE MORONEY (Labour): How do we describe this Opposition? It is hard to work it out, but I have heard a few of my parliamentary colleagues use the phrase “headless chooks” and I think that fits. It is a very, very apt description. Why are Opposition members headless chooks? They are headless chooks because, first of all, they are leaderless. There does not seem to be any leadership coming from the Opposition whatsoever, and they are running around in circles like headless chooks. They are running around in circles because they cannot decide what their policy platform is, and what it is not. As we have witnessed in previous months, they have been scratching around in the dirt, as headless chooks do. That is what they have been spending their time doing. In today’s debate I think we have seen that the description of headless chooks has been even more apt, because there has been a really good impersonation of Chicken Little hanging around in this debating chamber today. Chicken Little—the sky is still falling. That is what we have heard during this debate. The sky, which we have been waiting to fall in for 7 years now, is still about to fall in. Headless chooks are being Chicken Little yet again today. So, the sky has not fallen in and, even though we have had those predictions now for 7 years, we just keep going forward and New Zealand keeps going forward in terms of its statistics in the OECD. We keep proving ourselves and the country is going forward. 2710 General Debate 3 May 2006 Just like headless chooks, Opposition members are all right when they are kept in the coop. If they are kept cooped up, they can run around in circles, bump into the fence, and peck each other, but they are still contained so it is not too difficult. But what happens when they are let out of the coop—if they are given a parliamentary adjournment? I ask members what happened during the parliamentary adjournment. First of all, we had the National Party regional conference. I was looking forward to seeing what its vision and strategy would be; I thought good policy could come from the regional conference. National members were let out of the coop—let out during the parliamentary adjournment—and, sadly, once again, they quickly exposed their lack of strategy and their lack of cohesion. So what did we get from the regional conference? We got a lot of confusion about what actually is the National Party’s stance on the Māori seats, for example. That comes hot on the heels of the debacle of National’s last caucus gathering in Taupō during the last parliamentary adjournment. Really, the chickens should be kept in the coop. They are displaying no leadership on the important issues—issues like the Māori seats and antinuclear legislation. What is the National Party position on those issues? Confused? It certainly is. David Bennett: What about economic growth? SUE MORONEY: That must be particularly confusing for that member, and the other new National MPs. It must be particularly confusing for them. They add further confusion to the mix. As Ruth Berry noted in the New Zealand Herald, the maiden speeches of National’s new MPs raised more eyebrows in the House because of their repeated acknowledgment of matters Māori. That is true of the new, male, provincial members in particular. Ruth Berry wrote that National’s “PC Eradicator”, Wayne Mapp, “must have wondered where he was supposed to look when Napier’s earnest Chris Tremain delivered nearly half his speech in te reo.” That just adds to all the confusion. It is no wonder there is division in National. Hon Paul Swain: Where is the “PC Eradicator”, I wonder? SUE MORONEY: Yes, where is he? It is no wonder there is division in National’s caucus. In contrast—and, thank goodness, there is a contrast—to that performance, is Labour’s. Labour is in Government to make a difference for the better, and we are making a difference for real people in real families in good, practical ways. We are not fighting against ourselves; we are getting on and doing the job. So what did getting on and doing the job mean for the Labour Government during the parliamentary adjournment? It meant that almost three in every four New Zealand families with dependent children are now entitled to family assistance tax credits. I am sure that while we were working during the parliamentary adjournment, and while school children were on holiday, that policy made a real and practical difference to New Zealand families. I know it did. What else was going on during the parliamentary adjournment? Well, students were having their first interest-free break from lectures. What a relief that must have been for them. New Zealand is going forward. PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First): I listened to that contribution with interest. I think that the one sentence that actually said something to me was the sentence in which the honourable member said she and the Labour Government want to make a difference for the better for real people in a real way. Much else that was said was just an attack on the National Party. The Labour member who spoke a couple of calls before that, spoke very well on a number of issues, but she told us that Labour stood for fairness. Well, let me invite Labour members, and indeed National members, to think about what is fair in this country. What should be done to make things fairer and to make a difference for real people in a real way? 3 May 2006 General Debate 2711 This issue is a small thing, but it is a very important thing, and it is an issue that New Zealand First has stood by, and will stand firm on for many a day yet. We want GST to be removed from petrol. It has now reached the level of a fraction under 19c a litre on 91 octane petrol, and a good deal more on 96 octane petrol. Something in the vicinity of $700 million in GST is now being collected by the Government, and much of that is a windfall tax. It is a tax that the Government has not budgeted for; it just takes it and pockets it. I heard the Minister of Revenue today repeat what the Minister of Transport said a few days ago on television, and I heard the Minister of Finance say the same thing: that when people buy petrol at the expense of something else, that makes the whole thing tax-neutral. That is a myth—a fallacy. To put it simply—and I have put it simply because I am not allowed much time— there are three categories of people. There are people who can afford to buy petrol whatever the price, and whatever other commodity they also need. In other words, the increased GST is a windfall gain. I recognise that there are people who, when they fill their cars with petrol, have to make a choice. They know that if they fill the car up that week to take the children to school or take grandparents around, or whatever, they will have to cut out something else. That, it might well be argued, is tax-neutral. The third category of people are those who have to fill their tank with petrol but cannot pay their accommodation costs—their rent or their mortgages, which are GST exempt—and that represents a gain to the Minister of Finance. I have to say that when we look at the exemptions—and there are not many of them; accommodations costs are one, financial services costs are another, and charitable donations are a third—we see that, in essence, the tax take by this Government is increasing at the expense, to some degree, of charitable donations and, to some degree, of people paying their mortgages or their rent. We say that is not good enough. Would the Government lose all the $700 million, or whatever figure it is, if it removed GST from petrol? The simple answer is no, because many businesses use petrol to drive their equipment, their cars, and what have you. A successful business, which most businesses are, makes a deduction for the GST it paid on fuel, or indeed on any other commodity, against the GST it owes the Government. If, say, a business accrued $100 in GST on fuel-related earnings but spent $10 on GST, it will pay the Government $90. If that business has paid no GST on the cost of its petrol, then it will pay the Government the full $100. New Zealand First is saying, as strongly and as loudly as it can, that it is about time we parliamentarians recognised the importance of a car to an individual in this country. I am not saying anything against public transport, but people need their cars, and they cannot afford to go out and buy smaller cars, as some people have suggested, because the loss of capital value is huge. I note that the Automobile Association has taken up this issue since the election. The Automobile Association is an organisation that represents over 1 million motorists. We in New Zealand First say that it is about time that the Government and the finance sector of the Government looked outside the square and applied some reasonable, compassionate thought to the tax take in this country. The debate having concluded, the motion lapsed. 2712 Manfeild Park Bill 3 May 2006 MANFEILD PARK BILL Procedure SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei): I seek the leave of the House for this bill to go from its second reading straight to its third reading, omitting the Committee stage, in order to have it completed today. The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (H V Ross Robertson): Is there any objection to that course of action being taken? There appears to be none. Second Reading SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei): I move, That the Manfeild Park Bill be now read a second time. The Manfield Park Bill was referred to the Local Government and Environment Committee. I take this opportunity to thank that committee, and in particular its chairperson, Steve Chadwick, for not only accommodating this bill in a speedy way but also accommodating my own personal requirements to be at the committee at the time that the bill was put before it. Her ability to include me, as the member promoting the bill, was very much appreciated. The bill did not go through the select committee without controversy. I acknowledge the concerns that have been raised by both the Green Party and the Māori Party around issues of representation on the Manfield Park Trust. I also acknowledge Metiria Turei’s contribution on the committee. Her comments are contained at the conclusion of the section in the commentary that relates to the electoral college. I say to the Green Party and the Māori Party that I hope they consider that the extension of the bill’s report-back date—it was reported back later than we initially thought would be the case—was at least some gesture of goodwill. It enabled those who had concerns around representation on the electoral college to have an opportunity to air those concerns at the select committee in a way that ensured that they saw the process as constructive, but that also highlighted to those who will be in charge of the trust itself that some matters remain outstanding. I think that is a fair way to summarise the bill. The bill has been substantially altered from the time it entered the select committee, and I think that proves that the select committee process—and MMP, to some extent, I say a little begrudgingly—does work. The committee discovered that the original bill as drafted by the promoter was just too prescriptive in nature. It attempted to reach down into the management and representation requirements of the Manfeild Park Trust. The select committee—and then, with the benefit of having heard submissions, the promoter of the bill—determined that the best way to avoid the legislation coming back to the House for constant revision and amendment, as the journey of the Manfeild Park Trust commenced, was simply to make the bill as wide as possible in application and to reduce somewhat the prescriptive nature of the bill’s original intent. If members look through the bill, they will see that large chunks have been struck out unanimously by the select committee—apart from the electoral college provisions, which were struck out by majority. I do not want to say any more than that, other than to thank the Hon Steve Maharey for working alongside me on the progression of the bill. I believe that has made a difference to the way in which the bill has progressed through the House and the select committee, and I look forward to the bill completing all its stages this afternoon. DARREN HUGHES (Labour—Otaki): The Labour Party supports the second reading this afternoon of the Manfeild Park Bill, which is being shepherded through the House by the member for Rangitikei, Mr Simon Power. As Mr Power said, the bill went to the Local Government and Environment Committee, where there was an opportunity for submissions to be made. As is often the case with local and private bills, there was a limited number of submissions, because the 3 May 2006 Manfeild Park Bill 2713 issues that the bill covers are very much localised to Manfeild Park. Indeed, the committee report notes that the committee received two submissions from interested groups and members of the public, and two from groups associated with the development of the bill. The committee heard submissions from all four groups. Manfeild Park plays a very prominent role in the town of Feilding, being used for a number of community purposes and major public events. Those range from, obviously, motor sport through to the events of the local A and P association. Many other groups also use the park. The bill will set up a trust, and the committee has considered a number of provisions regarding how that trust can best be managed. Mr Power has already spoken about the make-up of the electoral college. The Government will support the second reading of this bill. Hon BRIAN DONNELLY (NZ First): I will take just a brief call. New Zealand First did not have a member on the Local Government and Environment Committee, which looked at this bill, but from a personal point of view I need only to look at the name of the person who promoted the bill to know that it will be pretty sensible legislation. That member, Simon Power, was on the select committee I chaired in the last Parliament, and I have to say that he was a very, very good member who made a tremendous contribution. I know that he would not put forward stupid legislation. Nevertheless, New Zealand First would support the legislation anyhow, because we think it is a sensible approach to the issue on behalf of the people of Feilding and its surrounding environments. After reading through the report back, I compliment the select committee on its approach in, firstly, trimming the legislation to its bare necessities, and, secondly, focusing on creating an enabling piece of legislation. I am sure that this legislation will improve the manner in which Manfeild Park can be operated. I have a brother-in-law who is a petrolhead, and I am sure that he will take a keen interest in ensuring that that part of the park, in terms of motor racing, will be used in the best way possible. We in New Zealand First hope that the passage of this bill will enable Manfeild Park to be used to its fullest potential for the benefit of the people of Feilding, in particular, and also the wider community of New Zealand. METIRIA TUREI (Green): First of all, I thank Simon Power very much for his comment about the concerns that the Greens raised in the Local Government and Environment Committee. It is very much appreciated. But I think it is really important that the concerns of that hapū are set out for the House. The Greens considered the bill to be relatively simple and were looking forward to it being progressed. We felt confident that the issues the mana whenua had could be resolved constructively, but that was not to be the case. We had hoped the bill could be an example of the way that councils and organisations like the Feilding Industrial, Agricultural and Pastoral Association and the Manawatū Car Club could work together with mana whenua, but that did not happen. We were very saddened and surprised that the select committee facilitated that failure. First off, let me tell members a story. Around 1876 the land owned by the mana whenua, Ngāti Kauwhata, was leased—this is my understanding from the records—long term to a farmer who owed money to the Bank of New Zealand. Because of the mortgage he had and the provisions of the lease agreement, the Bank of New Zealand forced the sale of the land that was leased without the consent of the owners, the mana whenua. Despite the mana whenua making numerous requests over the last 100-plus years to various Government departments and the courts, and making petitions to Parliaments—all of this on record—the issue of the wrongful taking of the land was not resolved, and the land remains alienated from its original owners. Now, well over 100 years later, that land has changed ownership on numerous occasions and is currently 2714 Manfeild Park Bill 3 May 2006 privately owned by the Manawatū District Council, the Manawatū Car Club, and the Feilding Industrial, Agricultural and Pastoral Association. Given the history of the land and the fact that it was wrongly taken, which is very common in this country, and given that the mana whenua have been trying to have the issue resolved in a constructive way for the last 100 years, with all of their petitioning in writing—even going so far as to lodge a Wai claim—what might we have expected the hapū to have asked the select committee for? Did they want the land to be returned to them in its entirety, without charge to them? No, they did not. Did they want the current owners to pay them vast sums of money, to compensate them for the loss of profits that they might have had from the use and development of that land over the last 100 years? No, they did not. Did they ask to take royalties or rents for future use of the land—the historical taking of which they have been trying to resolve? No, they did not. Did they want to have management of the land—to be the decision makers over it, and to have the power of veto over any decisions made about the use of it? No, they did not. All they asked was to be represented on the electoral college that would appoint the trustees who would manage the land. That is all they wanted. They wanted to be part of the overall governance. They did not want a veto, and they did not want the chair; they just wanted to be part of the process for the land that was wrongfully taken from them. What did the car club, the council, and the pastoral association say, when asked whether the hapū could be on the electoral college? They said no. I asked them why they were disagreeing with such a simple, polite, and reasonable request, but they just did not want those people on that college. I was appalled that the select committee then supported that position by taking the electoral college out of the bill, thereby making it impossible for us to deal with the issues constructively. We could have done something about that. It is absolutely astounding that in 2006 this is the state of so-called race relations in this country—that two Māori representatives on a simple electoral college are just two Māori too many. TARIANA TURIA (Co-Leader—Māori Party): The billboards welcoming visitors to Manfeild Autocourse, one of New Zealand’s premier motor sport venues, promote the call to “feel your heart racing”. The hearts of the mana whenua of the land in question, Ngāti Kauwhata, were indeed racing when this bill was introduced last August. There is an extensive history, a whakapapa, to settlement on Ngāti Kauwhata lands. There remains no evidence of the consent of governors to the alienation of that land, and there are accordingly significant issues surrounding the ownership of Manfeild Park, claimed by the Manawatū District Council, the Feilding Industrial, Agricultural and Pastoral Association, and the Manawatū Car Club. Feeling is thus running high about the need for Ngāti Kauwhata’s property rights and kaitiakitanga to be recognised and validated before any other decisions are made about their whenua. The hearts of the Māori Party MPs were also racing when we raised the exclusion of Ngāti Kauwhata at the first reading of the bill, and here, I must say, we were warmly received by the member for Rangitikei. We were delighted that Simon Power was supportive of the recommendation to meet with the chairman of Ngāti Kauwhata Trust, Dennis Emery, and trustee Professor Mason Durie. At that time he said that he anticipated that “the trust will meet with iwi representatives during the submission process and will welcome their input.” From such a meeting would come volumes of archival information about the Kawakawa Block, the subject of Ngāti Raukawa claim Wai 113 and the more specific Ngāti Kauwhata claim Wai 782. These claims are currently tabled with the Waitangi Tribunal. At a very minimum we assumed that the Local Government and Environment Committee would make sure Māori do not have a claim on land before it is transferred. 3 May 2006 Manfeild Park Bill 2715 We would have thought the situations of Paraparaumu Airport or the sale by Landcorp of Taurewa Station, which is part of the seven Tāwhai north and Ōkahukura Māori land blocks, would have been sufficient reason for caution. Ngāti Kauwhata would like the opportunity to address and resolve their claims through the tribunal process before any further decisions are made. This is a simple enough request, one would think. It was therefore very disappointing to read the report back from the Local Government and Environment Committee and to see such little consideration given to the suggestions put forward by Ngāti Kauwhata. The Māori Party will do its utmost to defend mana whenua rights and to advance Te Kauwhata’s interests. This House needs to know that Ngāti Kauwhata are not opposed to the development of Manfeild Park, but they do want their unique status as mana whenua recognised, they want to be involved in an ongoing fashion, and they want their relationship to their land to be acknowledged. When Dr Sharples spoke on this bill during the first reading debate, he tracked over the history of this land. He advised how some 74 years ago, in 1932, tribal elders took a petition to Parliament outlining the unlawful taking of their land, but the petition was destroyed by fire. That petition outlined the alienation and unlawful taking of the Kawakawa Block. Te Komiti Marae o Kauwhata Trust member Edward Penetito has provided details of the missing 17 acres known as the Kawakawa Block. All that Ngāti Kauwhata are asking is that we think clearly, motivated to provide a proud legacy for their children and mokopuna based on justice. If we act with honour and integrity, then the legacy we leave behind will be one we can all own. The report of the select committee members noted that they were aware that some Manfeild Park land is subject to a claim before the Waitangi Tribunal. They resisted the opportunity to show leadership, backing out from the opportunity to make a stand for justice, and instead stating: “Issues concerning possible land alienation are not within the scope of the bill,”. We are all charged with the responsibility of making the hard decisions and of acting in the best interests of the nation. It is not as if members of the select committee can make out that they were unaware of the unresolved issues for Ngāti Kauwhata. They cannot cry ignorance or innocence. They must face up to the decision—they know that the issue of land ownership is contentious, yet still they have acted against one group of New Zealanders: Ngāti Kauwhata. Will they do that to others? Will they set in place a process to steal their property rights in such an underhand way? There is no integrity in treating Māori property rights differently from non-Māori property rights. This is not enabling legislation; it is legislative theft. I remind this House of the landmark decision in 1987 by the Court of Appeal in describing the Treaty as “part of the fabric of New Zealand society” and as “the country’s founding constitutional instrument”, based on legislation that prohibits “the Crown to act in a manner that is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.” Those are strong words— words that have as much meaning for the Manfeild Park Bill as they do for any Treaty settlement, or indeed for any issue that impacts on the social, economic, and cultural well-being of the people. If the Treaty of Waitangi is really part of the fabric of New Zealand society, we should not run roughshod over the wishes of mana whenua to be consulted, to be involved, to be included, and to be heard. Ngāti Kauwhata asked to be included in decision making as representatives of the electoral college that is to appoint and remove trustees of the Manfeild Park Trust. They came forward with a model—a tangata whenua, tangata tiriti model—that could be used to establish provisions for Ngāti Kauwhata to be included in this bill. So how did the select committee members respond to that genuine wish for membership on the Manfeild Park Trust electoral college? They 2716 Manfeild Park Bill 3 May 2006 recommended that the clauses to establish an electoral college be removed. That is shameful. There is far more than a car club, a site for an A and P show a district council, and a motor sport venue at stake here. This is about whenua—land. It is about identity, about permanence, and about property rights. Members of this House will no doubt be aware of the wealth of expressions and cultural art forms that promote a concept of the central role of land in our lives. One of Ngāti Kauwhata’s leading academics, and indeed the nation’s leading academic, Professor Mason Durie, argues that a lack of access to tribal land is a sign of ill-health for Māori. He concludes that a colonisation process that has marginalised Māori from land must surely be woven through an explanation of poor Māori health status. The United Nations report by the special rapporteur also endorses that view, noting: “As a result of land sales and breaches of the Treaty by the Crown, Māori lost most of their land, resources, self-governance and cultural identity.” Those issues are at the core of the status and current position of tanga whenua in Aotearoa today. With the Manfeild Park Bill this Parliament had a chance to make a difference, to write a new history. As the member of Parliament for Te Tai Hauauru I am profoundly sad that the select committee did not take up this opportunity to be innovative, to address the property rights and interests of Ngāti Kauwhata, and to show that they had been heard. The Māori Party will continue to oppose this bill until such time as the aspirations of Ngāti Kauwhata are given life. Amendments recommended by the Local Government and Environment Committee by majority agreed to. A party vote was called for on the question, That the Manfeild Park Bill be now read a second time. Ayes 109 New Zealand Labour 50; New Zealand National 48; New Zealand First 7; United Future 3; Progressive 1. Noes 10 Green Party 6; Māori Party 4. Bill read a second time. Third Reading SIMON POWER (National—Rangitikei): I move, That the Manfeild Park Bill be now read a third time. Many of the arguments contained within this bill have been canvassed thoroughly in the second reading. I do not intend to delay the House any longer, but I do want to say to the Māori Party members that I listened very closely to the concerns raised by them in both the first and second readings. I acknowledge that these matters are often difficult. I met with Dennis Emery on a couple of occasions, and also spoke to him on the phone on a couple of occasions, to try to progress some of the concerns of Ngāti Kauwhata and of the iwi represented by him. But, in the end, the concerns raised by those iwi, in the minds of the members of the Local Government and Environment Committee, are best dealt with by the Waitangi Tribunal. In fact, two claims currently sit before the Waitangi Tribunal to address the matters put to the House by the honourable Tariana Turia. I am not saying the select committee in any way sought or intended to undermine the rights of local iwi to have those claims heard in full. In fact, it was my hope that the passage of this bill would assist them at the time the Waitangi Tribunal considers the two claims that are currently lodged before it. But it is not the role of the Local Government and Environment Committee, nor is it the role of this bill, 3 May 2006 Manfeild Park Bill 2717 to provide a decision on the merits or otherwise of the claims currently before the Waitangi Tribunal. It is my hope that the two iwi concerned with the matters contained in this bill will have an opportunity at the Waitangi Tribunal to put those claims in full, and it is my genuine hope that they are resolved in a way that those local iwi will be happy with. This bill is designed to create a very scant and non-prescriptive answer to some concerns at law that were contained in the way property was held, particularly by the Feilding Industrial, Agricultural and Pastoral Association, an association that is subject to its own legislation. This bill is the only legislative way to alleviate those concerns in a manner that would see this particular instrument provide the mechanism to allow the Manfeild Park Trust to exist in a way whereby the land would be made available according to the wishes and for the betterment of the wider Manawatū community. I thank those parties that have supported this bill. In particular, as I said in the second reading, I thank the Hon Steve Maharey for his support, and the Government for its support. But I do not want to finish without acknowledging the very real concerns that have been expressed, particularly by Tariana Turia in her contribution in the second reading. It is my hope that another forum will provide the answers to those questions. I thank the House for its support. A party vote was called for on the question, That the Manfeild Park Bill be now read a third time. Ayes 109 New Zealand Labour 50; New Zealand National 48; New Zealand First 7; United Future 3; Progressive 1. Noes 10 Green Party 6; Māori Party 4. Bill read a third time. EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS (FLEXIBLE WORKING HOURS) AMENDMENT BILL Consideration of Interim Report of Transport and Industrial Relations Committee SUE KEDGLEY (Green): I move, That the House take note of the interim report of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee on the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Hours) Amendment Bill. Today we are debating an unusual parliamentary procedure—an interim report by the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee on my member’s bill that sets aside the House’s consideration of this bill for a year, so that officials can undertake further research and collect further information on workplace practices regarding flexible working hours, and consult more widely with industry, unions, and other stakeholders about how best to deliver flexible working practices in New Zealand. It is a novel procedure and I do not think it has happened in recent memory. Some say that perhaps it has never happened before, but it is a process that the Green Party welcomes and considers very constructive, because it provides us with the opportunity for more research to be undertaken by officials on the extent of flexible working practices in New Zealand and for further consultation to take place, in order to improve the wording of the bill and possibly its provisions, and also, hopefully, to allay some of the fears some employers expressed about how the bill may affect workplaces in New Zealand. We acknowledge that when the legislation on which this bill is based was introduced in the United Kingdom, it was Government legislation proposed by Labour in England, 2718 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 so the Government was able to have an extended period of consultation with employers and unions before it introduced the bill. That lengthy consultation period enabled it to iron out concerns and discuss the details of implementation. But because this is a member’s bill, there has not been the same opportunity to do so here. The 1-year pause enables that to happen, and we welcome that as a very constructive and innovative process. I thank the chair of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, the Hon Mark Gosche, for his positive role in facilitating this novel process and for his support for the bill. I also thank all of the members of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee for their consideration of the bill and all the submitters—I think there were about 100— who made submissions on it. We believe that the fears expressed by some of the employers who made submissions during the hearings on the bill were unfounded. We believe that if they really understood the huge proven advantages that flexible working offers employers in terms of increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and so forth—and the tremendous success of the almost identical legislation in the United Kingdom—they would embrace the bill. The quality of our working lives, work-life balance issues, and more flexible working practices, especially for employees with families, are huge issues in New Zealand, and survey after survey has confirmed that. A recent survey of 4,500 parents found that 93 percent of them said that the single change they would most like to see in the workplace was flexible working hours. They said they were finding it increasingly difficult to juggle paid work and parenting and they felt unsupported by workplaces. Regardless of their gender, age, or ethnicity, the need for more flexible workplaces was the single most important issue. It was the same in numerous other surveys. In a survey of 1,200 fathers, 80 percent said that they wanted to be able to spend more time with their children. Another survey by a recruitment agency found that almost a third of people said they believed their current working hours were undermining family life. But I think the reason this is such an important social issue here in New Zealand is that we stand out internationally in terms of the proportion of people who are working long hours. On average, New Zealanders work 1,826 hours a year, compared with an average of 1,778 hours across the OECD. One study the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions referred to in its submission showed that one in five workers in New Zealand works 50 or more hours and, as its working families study showed, that culture of long and, indeed, excessive working hours impacts heavily on parents with children or other dependants. We heard in the submissions to the committee numerous examples of parents who were having great difficulty in trying to cope with long working hours and commutes, and with raising their children. So it is time that Parliament addressed this important social issue. This bill presents us with the opportunity to do so, and to encourage employers to go beyond the work-to-rule mentality and recognise the immense benefits in providing more flexible working arrangements. I will not go into very much detail about the bill. It is based on UK legislation, where parents with young or disabled children have the right to request—and that is all it does. All it enshrines is a statutory right to request to work flexible working hours, and a framework to negotiate to work those hours. So it is really minimal legislation. The employer can turn down a request, but the employer has a statutory duty to consider that request seriously. In fact, many submitters among businesses that opposed the bill thought that it was about the right to work flexibly, when it is actually a much more modest right just to request to work flexibly. The legislation has been enormously successful in the UK, even though it is modest legislation. More than a million employees in the United Kingdom have successfully used the mechanisms in the bill to seek flexible working hours, and 90 percent of the 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2719 requests have been accepted in whole or through a compromise. I think a recent study found that almost 90 percent of cases were settled very easily, and many of the requests are made by email. It is very minimal and low-cost legislation but, interestingly, when the bill was proposed in the United Kingdom, employers there expressed the identical fears that some employers here have expressed—namely, that it would increase compliance costs. None of those fears have been realised. One of the great things about introducing legislation that already exists elsewhere is that there have been more than five comprehensive surveys carried out by business organisations in the UK, such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and the UK Department of Trade and Industry. All of those surveys have found that most employers in the UK—for example, 76 percent in one study—have had little difficulty with that new right. They did not believe that it had tipped the balance too far in favour of working parents. The UK Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that 90 percent had no significant problems in complying with the new requirements, despite the concerns about that before the bill was passed. Sixty percent of employers who provided some form of flexible working hours considered the practice to be cost-effective; there were minimal or no costs. I could go on and on, but the good news, too, is that huge benefits were found in terms of increased productivity, etc. The legislation has been a huge success there, so why would we not embrace it here? More than a hundred submissions were heard on the bill, which was overwhelmingly supported by women’s organisations, unions, and women’s business organisations, but employers raised three issues. They said that they did not need legislation, because they already had flexible working hours. They said that all they needed was education. The claim that we have flexible working hours does not stack up. Just in 2004 research by Toshiba found that few organisations in New Zealand have embraced the practice of flexible working. Most had only a vague understanding of the advantages. I have already cited the survey in which the overwhelming majority of parents said that it was the single most important change they would like to see in the workplace. If we had flexible working hours, then 93 percent of parents would not be saying that that was the change they would most like to see. The fact is that although there are some outstanding examples of workplaces that do introduce flexible hours, such as Telecom and Treasury, most employees do not have them in their workplaces. So we need legislation that ensures that all employees, and not just those who work at Telecom or Treasury, etc., have access to those flexible working arrangements, particularly when their children are young. As for the argument about education, we have had education on the issue for years. It has gone on and on. The Equal Employment Opportunities Trust has been plugging away. In fact, back in 1971 flexible working hours was one of the main demands of the women’s movement. That was 37 years ago. Are we going to wait another 37 years for it? Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands—many countries go much further than this bill goes. They provide a legal right to request more flexible working arrangements for all workers. Many submitters supported extending the right, and we would definitely like to extend it, certainly in the first instance, for all persons caring for an elderly dependant, which has just been done in the UK, and, indeed, in time across the entire workplace. We believe that this bill is not just about assisting our parents struggling with full- time work and trying to look after young families, although that is very important; it is about encouraging a more flexible results-driven rather than an hours-driven culture, and about a much more innovative culture in New Zealand. 2720 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 Dr WAYNE MAPP (National—North Shore):Thank you for the call, Mr Deputy Speaker, although I will say at this point that the other person seeking the call, Mr Gosche, was the chair of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, and I feel that that probably should be noted in the circumstances. I guess what the report does is to sound a note of caution—which was certainly the National Party’s concern, to put it mildly—about this whole bill. We support the recommendation that more research needs to be done. I would have to say, however, that we anticipate that that research will show the opposite conclusion to that drawn by Ms Sue Kedgley, who is the promoter of the bill. There were a large number of submissions—there is no doubt about that—and they were divided. Many of them, I would have to say, were based on some misapprehension, in that people making submissions would often say that they personally did not have a problem because they had flexible working hours, but they believed that others had a problem and therefore the bill was necessary. The key point that I and other National speakers wish to make—and it is in direct contradiction to the viewpoint of the Green Party—is that New Zealand actually does have a culture of flexible working hours, although perhaps not in exactly the way Sue Kedgley believes. We have a lot more part-time work now. A lot of families, in particular, value the importance of part-time work, because when young children are involved in the family it is very difficult for both parents to work full-time. In fact, the practice of working part-time is far more suitable and appropriate to the needs and demands of family life in such circumstances. There is a huge amount of part-time work in the New Zealand workplace, and it exists for a reason. It is not because there are not enough jobs; rather, it is because it meets the needs of people seeking employment. In a relatively tight labour market—and I acknowledge that that does exist to some extent at the present moment—employers have had to be flexible in order to recruit staff. I imagine that the Green Party member might ask what the situation will be when the market is less tight. I am sure she would argue that we will need a more prescriptive approach. I also want to make it clear that business organisations, and in particular Business New Zealand, the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Northern), and the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Central) were not opposed to the idea of more education, more analysis, more discussion, and more debate on how we can deal with these issues. That was one of the things they made a particular note of at the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee. That fact was perhaps not immediately evident in their initial submissions, but it was certainly evident in the oral submissions that were made. I note that Ms Kedgley acknowledges that particular point. There is an opportunity here, I suggest, for the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust to take an active role. That is, I imagine, the sort of the thing that would be developed and discussed in this year-long period of further analysis, consideration, and discussion. One of the issues that did come to the fore—and I do not believe it has been properly acknowledged thus far in the debate—is what has happened in the United Kingdom. This is very much, in the words of Dr Ross Armstrong, a situation where first-mover advantage can apply. An employer can certainly provide flexibility for the first people who apply—there has been no real difficulty in the UK around that—and in truth that would actually apply whether or not legislation was in place. It is easy to accommodate the first people, because, frankly, not very much adjustment is required in the balance of the workforce. Evidence was brought by various submitters in business organisations that as more and more people apply, the legislation becomes more and more difficult. It is much harder to accommodate the later people who apply, because at that point one starts to 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2721 put real pressure on the accommodations that other employees have to make. So it is very much an advantage to the first people who apply and not so much for the later group. That seems to be one of the stresses and strains that is occurring in the UK situation, and that is certainly the evidence that was given to us by submitters. The other point I wish to raise is that New Zealand is uniquely, and certainly much more so than Europe, a place of small businesses and small workforces. That means two things. It means that there is a very close and intimate relationship between employer and employee, and that a pattern of dialogue and discussion is just simply what happens in the workplace. Actually, one does not need complex systems of industrial law to accommodate people in that situation. If people wonder why unionism has dropped off so dramatically in New Zealand, and it has— Darien Fenton: It is growing. Dr WAYNE MAPP: —I can tell them it is because it is not relevant for small workplaces. I hear Darien Fenton say it is growing, but it is growing primarily in the State sector and in large business organisations. In small workplaces that is simply not the case. Employers and employees simply do not see unions as relevant to their lives. They do not see the whole process of adjudication and so forth as necessary and relevant in their lives. People make their own arrangements, and when they cannot make their own arrangements they go and find more suitable arrangements, and often the person who loses out in that particular case is the employer who chose not to be flexible enough. There is a dynamic workplace environment. I heard on the radio the other day Mr Andrew Little acknowledge that people change their jobs much more frequently today than they did previously. Now, that is hardly a revelation, but it was an important point for him to note. The truth is that people do not go for lifetime employment, by and large. They do not work for decades for one employer. Increasingly, people change jobs on a regular basis. Increasingly, people work in smaller enterprises, start ups, and so forth, and that is the fundamental reason why there has been a reduction in unionism. It does not fit the needs of many contemporary workplaces, but I acknowledge it has a role in more traditional work sites. So National is saying, yes, we are supporting this delay for consideration, but in truth we expect an outcome that is different from what the Green Party expects. I want to conclude on this particular point. One of the things that is often said by members on the Government side—not all of them, I acknowledge, but some of them— is that, in essence, employers are only out to exploit people, that they take a dog-eat-dog approach to the world, that they want to have no dialogue or discussion with their employees, and that they just want to be able to set the rules and that is that. Well, I would suggest that the submissions made by, in particular, Business New Zealand, the Employers and Manufacturers Association (Central) Inc., and many other employers show a change of approach and a recognition that dialogue is critical for good working relationships. I guess that has been a fundamental lesson that has been learnt as our economy has become more open and more flexible in recent years, and as employees are much more willing to change their jobs—indeed they want to—more regularly. The old-fashioned view that the employers are rigidly on one side and the employees are all on the other side, within unions, simply no longer applies in the contemporary workplace—certainly not to the extent it might have in the past. A new dynamic exists in the contemporary workforce, and it is our view that this bill does not recognise that sufficiently, and that there is, in fact, a better way of dealing with these issues—which are real; I acknowledge that. There are real issues involved, but there are better ways of dealing with them than this legislation. 2722 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 Hon MARK GOSCHE (Labour—Maungakiekie): I thank Sue Kedgley, first of all, for promoting this bill and beginning a debate in this country about the way forward on this issue, and I thank fellow members of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, who attacked this issue with, I think, some genuine interest. The politics, I suppose, have been largely taken out of the report, if we read it, and we are actually trying to find solutions. It is perhaps a good course of action for other members who promote members’ bills to look at. Here, a promoter of a bill has agreed to have that bill held over for another year so that further debate, study, and, hopefully, education, can take place. In a year’s time this Parliament may decide that we do not need this bill, or it may decide that we do need to pass legislation. It gives a good opportunity and a window for people to actually prove their points. The arguments put before the select committee were really about whether we should regulate or educate. Largely, employers indicated a preference for education, and, largely, the people representing workers—and that in itself was a very interesting collection of people; everyone from women in the law, through to business and professional women, through to the traditional trade unions—preferred regulation. Some employers also wrote submissions stating that they supported the legislation, but by the time they turned up at the select committee they had slightly changed their minds, which was interesting. However, everybody agreed that flexible working hours are desirable. The problem is in defining who sets the flexible working hours, and the select committee heard many different arguments. What I would like to see, before going into a little bit more detail about those arguments, is this year taken up as an opportunity by the Department of Labour, employers, unions, and any other representatives of workers to see how the education approach actually would work in New Zealand, because we have a 12-month window of opportunity. Let us hope it is taken up with vigour, because at the end of that year the select committee will be able to say that the arguments were right—that the education way is the correct way and we do not need to regulate. I am hoping that all those employer organisations that came along and said that this is the way forward—and so did the Council of Trade Unions; it said that education was a vital part of this—will grab this opportunity and run with it. I think we would probably all be happy if we could achieve the result that this bill seeks to achieve, without regulation and without law. But let us see how it goes over the next 12 months, and see whether a concerted effort can be made through a tripartite approach among the Government, workers, and employers. There is no doubt that the flexible working hours arrangements in some industries are good, but some are not. One employer submission just about convinced me on the spot that this law should be passed. That was from the Hospitality Association. What did it say? I know those people from way back. That industry has the most flexible working hours one can imagine in this country, because the hospitality industry is a 24/7 industry, and has been for most of New Zealand’s history. The association’s idea of flexible working hours is to go down the street and see about 20 restaurants all offering different, flexible working hours. The hospitality industry describes itself as being very democratic. The view is that if employees do not like the hours at a particular restaurant, they should just vote with their feet and go down the road and get a new job. That is the sort of unenlightened approach that makes it necessary to have this bill. So there is a big, black mark against the hospitality industry for the submission it made. That one single submission almost convinced me that Sue Kedgley’s bill should not only be passed but be strengthened. So that industry needs to learn something from the other industries that came along and gave us a much better picture of what could be done. 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2723 Telecom made a good submission and outlined, as did other organisations, how it worked with its workforce to provide flexible working hours. What was very clear from the Human Rights Commission was that we do not really know enough about what is actually happening in New Zealand in this context. Where are the good examples? How can other employers learn from those good examples? That education process could take off and make a good deal of progress in the next year. So we are pleased to see that the Human Rights Commission and other organisations are willing to help in this process. We heard from workers who came along and said they have flexibility beyond belief. They came from the National Distribution Union and told us that their hours are so flexible that they do not know what their hours will be tomorrow. That is the sort of problem that families have to contend with. It has been interesting this week to see organisations throw up their hands in horror at the idea of a kids’ hotel, where people will have 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week opportunities to put their kids into childcare. I felt somewhat queasy at that idea too, having three adult children now, and watching my grandson, who spends quite a bit of his time in childcare centres. It is very different from my upbringing, when mum stayed at home and looked after the seven kids while dad went out to work. We have changed as a society. But people are looking at this idea of 7-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day childcare centres with somewhat of a queasy approach. So what does that say about the need for real flexibility that goes both ways? I congratulate the Federation of Business and Professional Women on its submission, because it pointed out that childcare centres do not operate to cover those women who are suddenly required to be at a breakfast meeting at 7.15 a.m. and who are told that they are not pulling their weight and are not part of the team if they do not turn up to after-work drinks. They may have to contend with the sudden appearance of chickenpox and cannot take the kids to a childcare centre for those 2 weeks when they might give everybody else chickenpox. Do we have genuine flexibility on both sides of the argument in terms of employee and employer when having to deal with those types of issues? Certainly, a lot of the women who appeared before the select committee outlined their difficulties. For example, women lawyers indicated that about a quarter of the legal staff in New Zealand are working in a part-time capacity because there is not adequate flexibility to be able to cope as a working woman with the demands of a very busy legal practice. So there were very powerful arguments from that side of the argument as to why one might want to regulate. But, equally, there were powerful arguments from a lot of employers. They came along and said in a very considered way that they have to take into account a whole lot of other things, and that the bill did not necessarily cover all of their concerns. There were contractual arrangements. Points were raised about seniority and the right to work extra hours in the bus industry, for instance. Contracts of employment have to be dealt with. So this is an opportunity for employers, unions, and the Department of Labour and other Government agencies to get their heads together and work through a good education programme, in order to pick up on the research that the select committee clearly saw as being lacking. We have that opportunity over the next 12 months, and I applaud the select committee for taking a very mature approach to this bill. When we next report, Parliament will get a clearer picture of the situation. Hopefully in the 12- month period of time we will see a great deal of effort made by employers, unions, and Government departments to try to make sure that flexibility is a two-way thing, and see good examples shown by employers to other employers as to how they were flexible and how that might fit different workplaces. 2724 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 The 12-month period also gives Sue Kedgley, as the promoter of the bill, an opportunity to listen to the submitters who have made valid criticisms about the bill itself—the way it was drafted and where the gaps are. They said it did not go far enough, and I agree with that. I do not think it went far enough in terms of the types of people it would apply to. There is no reason why others should not be entitled to this type of thing if it were made law. We have a good opportunity now as a Parliament to consider this matter again, and hopefully we will come back with a decision that is based on a lot more fact, a lot more knowledge, and a lot more work. So I say well done to Sue Kedgley for promoting this bill, and I again thank the select committee members for a job well done in compiling this interim report. PETER BROWN (Deputy Leader—NZ First): Let me start by saying that New Zealand First supports the concept of flexible working hours. When one compares this country with places like the UK, we see that to a large degree we already have them. When I was an employer some years ago, I offered very flexible working hours to many of my staff, and for many more comprehensive reasons than this bill provides for. Indeed, it was made known to us on the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee that the Employment Relations Act has actually strengthened the ability to request flexible working hours more than perhaps was the case when the Employment Contracts Act was in place. The Hon Mark Gosche made some very, very good points, but I have to say I think he was a little bit harsh on the submitter from the hospitality industry. It just goes to show how one side can misunderstand the other side. Hon Mark Gosche: I understood exactly what he was talking about. PETER BROWN: Well, I took it from his submission that he was saying that effectively the industry has got to cater for its staff and has got to consider a request for flexible working hours, otherwise they will walk down the street and get the hours they want in the next café. But those members did not see that. It is like seeing one’s beer glass as half empty or half full, and I have to say that I think Bruce Robertson made that point pretty clearly. Hon Jim Sutton: Will the member answer a question? PETER BROWN: I will answer any question, but the member should put it at question time. Hon Jim Sutton: Did the member impose flexible hours on his employees? PETER BROWN: I am not sure what the member means. When I was manager of the Bay of Plenty Stevedoring Co. Ltd, I listened to my employees’ concerns and gave them as much flexibility as I possibly could. In fact, I am 20 years ahead of this bill. I have to take my colleague Dr Mapp to task, because in the last 2 minutes of his speech, which seemed like an eternity, he spoke of a them-and-us culture. I say to Dr Mapp that when we compare this country with the UK and Australia, we can see that we have never had a them-and-us culture. There has always been dialogue. I have dealt with the toughest unions—the unions for seafarers and stevedores—on a day-to-day basis, and more than anybody else here. Nobody should try to tell me that they are a bunch of wimps, because I can tell people that they are not. I have to say to members that, in comparison with the UK, there is a huge amount of dialogue here, although the UK might well have improved. I say to Sue Kedgley that there used to be a saying in the UK: “Get a bar of Lifebuoy.” That might be news to the House. It was a polite way of saying that someone had BO. I am not about to tell Sue Kedgley that she has BO—she has not—but most certainly she has got this bill wrong, and the polite assertions being made here will not give her that impression, at all. First of all—and she corrected it, and I take my hat off to her for correcting it—clause 3(1) stated: “The purpose of this Act is to grant 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2725 qualifying employees the right to change their working hours …”. She changed that by stating that it means to make a request to change their working hours. She made reference to similar legislation in the UK. The explanatory note of the bill states: “The bill sets out the reasons which would justify rejecting a request—including the burden of additional costs to the business and the inability to organise work within available staffing.” There is no reference at all in this bill to giving an employer the right to reject a request on the basis of cost. That provision is in the UK bill, as is another one providing that an employer can reject a request on the basis of the effect it will have on the company’s clients. Clearly, those provisions were taken out by the Greens before they put up this bill for a first reading. I say that it is a little bit naughty to then stand in the House, both in the first reading debate and just now, and say that this bill is based on the UK legislation. It is based on the UK legislation, but some very, very significant clauses have been taken out. New Zealand First has a large concern that this bill applies only to people who have responsibility for young children up to the age of 5, or for disabled children up to the age of 18. It ignores people who take on responsibility for elderly parents or other family members, and caregivers at large. That is not good enough. In this modern society, those people play a very prominent part. I heard the member say that she will include them now, but I would have much preferred this bill to be more comprehensive when it first came to this House. As I recall, New Zealand First voted against it then for the very same reasons I am outlining now. We welcome the year for education. The Hon Mark Gosche said that it was a question of regulate or educate. We believe he hit the nail on the head. We welcome the year, or thereabouts, to educate the public. We were told by Business New Zealand and other employers that they fully support a regime—for want of a better word—of educating employers, but we are not prepared to treat employers like fools. We believe that New Zealand employers for the most part know what they are doing, know what they can afford, know what they want to achieve, and have the talents to run successful businesses. So if they say they cannot live with flexible working hours, New Zealand First is prepared to listen to them, and to listen to them seriously. We need successful employers in this country, and we should be promoting and encouraging them. That does not mean we remove our sympathy towards people who want to have flexible working hours. We want that, but we will not impose these sorts of conditions. Mark Gosche illustrated quite a few of the situations we heard about at the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, where employees outlined difficulties, and, I think, all of us on the select committee had sympathy for the plight of those people. But we also heard from employers who said it is very impractical, very difficult, or very costly simply to implement flexible working hours across the board. I think those employers should be listened to. New Zealand First will support legislation that is fair to both employees and employers. But I have to say as strongly as possible that we will not support legislation that looks only at the needs of caregivers of children. We want legislation that bases flexible working hours around all caregivers, including people who look after the elderly. We have an ageing population in this country—500,000 of them right now— and in not too many years’ time we will have a good deal more. Indeed, I might be one of them in a few years’ time. I want to give people who look after the elderly a fair go. As Wayne Mapp illustrated, under similar legislation in the UK a person can come along and receive flexible working hours, but those in the queue behind that person may receive nothing or very little. We think that situation is not flexible enough, so when the new draft of this bill comes back to the House, it must embrace all these concerns. It is a serious issue, and I do not want to move away from recognising that fact. If we are to 2726 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 bring in legislation like this, we have to get it right. We have to consider everybody and anybody who could be affected by it, from employers, to caregivers of children, through to caregivers of elderly folk. We need to be fair. I believe that an honest attempt will be made by employers to try to sell this to other employers in a fair way, and I wish them well. The feedback I am receiving from employers and employer groups is that they have taken on board the fact that Parliament is looking at this legislation, they want to encourage its development, and they are prepared to play a positive role in educating their folk. But I want to make it clear that the employer must always have the right to reject a request for flexible working hours where there are genuine reasons to reject it. He or she runs the business and is captain of the ship, and New Zealand First is not encouraging mutinies. HONE HARAWIRA (Māori Party—Te Tai Tokerau): The Māori Party is pleased to support Sue Kedgley’s bill, because it is a genuine attempt to help people to balance their work and family life—although if I were to go across the road to my marae back home and ask my aunties how they were handling their work-life balance, they would probably slap my ears and tell me to stay out of their business and get back on the taumata. Work-life balance is not something that people in my neck of the woods have even heard about yet, although they certainly understand the need to work when there is work to be done and to stop to smell the daisies when the work has all been done. Yet trying to juggle the pace of life that is becoming more and more frenetic in today’s evermore complex world requires us all to consider that balance. Māori are used to doing things like holding down a job while at the same time helping at the marae, running kids to sports and wānanga, organising gear for the school kapahaka, running the batons up, looking after the mokopuna, fund-raising for school trips, paying the bills, cooking for nephews and nieces who drop by every day, and keeping the home safe, and they still have time to worry about how their kids are doing and about where they are, who they are hanging with, what they are getting up to, and how come they are too tired to do any work around the house but they always have time to loaf around town doing nothing at all. It is those kids we are thinking about in supporting this bill. I think of the way kids text one another instead of talking—even when they are in the same room. In my day it was kanohi ki te kanohi, or face to face, and that is how we got on with one another. In today’s world it is kōnui ki te kōnui, or thumb to thumb. It is a whole different way of relating to people, and it is hard for parents to understand, because we are so locked up in our world of work, work, work. We just do not have the time to see what the kids are doing. I can see how this bill will benefit working parents and their whānau, as well as their workplaces. In giving employees with young children the right to ask for flexible working hours, and requiring employers to take these requests seriously, this bill is what we like to see. Yesterday I challenged this Parliament to hear the May Day signals and recognise, protect, and preserve parents’ rights against the onslaught of society’s drive to force mothers and fathers into the workforce. I made that challenge because I think this nation has had enough of the mean-spirited attacks on parents and their responsibilities, including the marginalisation and exclusion of beneficiary parents from the Working for Families package and the bizarre shut-down of one of this country’s most cherished parent support services, PlunketLine. I just note for Dr Mapp, in case he has forgotten, that the reason why unions are not so strong is not that workers do not feel the need for them any more; it is that National passed legislation that smashed them. To Labour’s everlasting shame, it did nothing to return that power. 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2727 I made my challenge yesterday because I think of the need for us to move forward, and I have to say I am greatly saddened, in reflecting on the Working for Families package, to note that Labour’s Māori MPs not only sat by but actually voted for that legislation, which denies vital support to more than 100,000 Māori children. Thankfully, the Greens have heard that call, and I am happy to note that within 24 days of my May Day alert we have a bill before the House that supports parents in the workforce and challenges the culture that discriminates against employees with families. I also take note of the report of the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, which recommends that “Social delivery services … should continue to be specifically targeted and tailored to the needs of Maori, requiring more targeted research, evaluation and statistical data bases.” The rapporteur’s comments are important, because we need to have the proper data to hand if we are to clearly identify the needs of the sector of society that is most affected by trends in employment and unemployment—Māori. We need to develop proper education programmes to ensure workers are best able to take advantage of flexible working hours. The situation of Māori workers is important. Because many Māori in the workforce are employed in vulnerable, last-hired first-fired jobs, their right to request flexible working hours is very likely to go untested, for fear of losing their jobs. Having the proper information to hand, then, is very important, but this could become a problem given that this Government has decided to shelve the gathering of Māori data. Again, this is a matter of huge concern for Māori, and one about which Labour’s Māori MPs have been strangely silent. The Māori Party is mindful of the greater whānau obligations of Māori employees. The fact that Māori are more likely to undertake voluntary work is an ever-growing reality of the increasing number of solo parent employees. The tension from balancing paid work with family responsibilities is a huge issue for everyone in Aotearoa, and at a time when pressures are increasing on whānau, a little flexibility has to be a great idea. As a parent and a grandfather who has raised his mokopuna for the last 11 years, I see heaps of benefits for flexibility in the workforce. As an employer, I have always operated on the basis that my staff members’ personal time is as valuable to me as their work time, and that if I can help to enhance their personal situation, the benefits will be felt in the workplace as well. My stories are anecdotal, of course, but the official research confirms that view. If we give families a break, everybody wins. There will be lower absentee rates, better morale, less staff turnover and recruitment costs, and, of course, that all translates into greater workplace productivity. For all the technological advances of the last half-century, we do not, for some strange reason, seem to be working any less. In fact, the opposite seems to be the case— we are overworking. Overwork threatens our health. It leads to fatigue, and accidents and injuries, and it forces us to eat fast food and have frantic relationships. It means less time for each other, for our kids, for our whānau, and even for our elders. Overwork also reduces employment. Fewer people working longer hours reduces the number of workers needed, and it adds stress and burn-out to those who are working. With higher unemployment, employers feel comfortable about pushing back working conditions, and pushing down wages. So we are finding that the low paid are on a frenetic Ferris wheel—needing to work longer and longer hours just to earn enough to get by. Higher- paid people often feel trapped into working more hours than they want to, in order to keep pace with their own station in life. The Māori Party congratulates the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions on speaking out against this spiralling pattern of stress and burn-out, and on its campaign for work-life balance called Get a Life! Its national secretary, Carol Beaumont, recently said: “The Government must make sure that laws which set out the minimum code for 2728 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 workers’ pay and conditions take into account the need for balance between work and life.” A few years ago a poll conducted by the Center for a New American Dream showed that 60 percent of Americans felt too much pressure to work, and more than 80 percent wished they had more family time. More recently, Time magazine featured a New Jersey initiative called Ready, Set, Relax!, which was described by one local businessman as a citywide sanity check—to slow down and to persuade frazzled families to put down some speed bumps in their fast-paced lives. So this bill is consistent with positive working trends from all around the world. In the same way that a Government has the authority to ensure proper working conditions, it also has the authority to empower workers to negotiate flexible working hours. Another intriguing question, of course, is how we would spend that time and energy if we had those hours. We might cancel something hectic in our calendar— maybe even change our children’s schedule, as well, to spend a bit of quality time with them. We might take the whānau out to lunch, switch off the TV, talk to one another, go and watch the kids play sport, or just go to the beach and enjoy the sun. It is all a question of how we choose to balance out our lives. This bill is a moment in time to say: “Stop, get a life, get ready to relax, take a nationwide sanity check, take back your time, and reclaim your life.” This is a good bill, and on behalf of all whānau in Aotearoa, Māori and non-Māori, we stand to support it wholeheartedly. JO GOODHEW (National—Aoraki): Let me say from the outset that I fully support flexible working hours—where possible. I did not have the privilege of hearing the submissions and the discussion at the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee. I wish I had done so, so that today I would, from memory, be able to discuss some of what was heard there. But I have taken the time to read the opinions of a number of people, and the reports back. I commend the fact that we will have a year to look into whether this legislation will achieve what Green Party member Ms Kedgley intends it to achieve, but I have grave misgivings for what it might mean for New Zealand businesses, and for what it is saying about New Zealand families. As I often like to do, I will start by looking at the history of this legislation. The Green Party member Ms Kedgley promotes the UK view that legislation is the way to achieve this flexibility and work-life balance. Members should make no mistake: this bill is largely about women, for it is women who will often want that flexibility to attend to their family duties. Women have come a very long way over the years in showing their value in the workplace, and in being valued in the workplace. They are valued for their skills, and their employers know it. Employers would be the first to say that they do not want their valuable employees to move on because they cannot find some form of balance in how they utilise their hours. In the last 4 years there has been an increase of more than 16 percent in women’s participation in the workplace. That suggests to me—and I think it may do to others—that that might have happened because the contemporary workplace is a good place to be and because it has attracted women back into it, which may well be because they have been able to achieve flexibility. I do not pretend that that will always be the case for everyone, but I am suggesting, from what I have read and heard, that it is the case in many, many situations. The philosophy behind this bill is admirable. But, equally, there are significant potential fish-hooks aplenty. Family-friendly policies— Darren Hughes: That’s why National will vote against it when it comes back. JO GOODHEW: I hear on the other side of the House that National will vote against the bill, but I want to say that we are looking very positively towards the year of gathering information. We will not make our decisions today about how we will be 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2729 voting in a year’s time; the member suggests, unkindly, that we will. We are, however, supporting this bill— Darren Hughes: Will the member bet me $10? I’ll bet you $5! JO GOODHEW: I’m not a betting woman. So the philosophy, as I have said, is admirable. Family-friendly policies sound great, and having work-life balance sounds great, as well. But New Zealand businesses—and 95 percent of them are small businesses—are not the proverbial Father Christmas. They have to make their businesses pay; they have an investment to protect. I bring to members’ attention here today a number of implications of this bill for businesses. It is said that the bill will possibly create difficult hurdles for business, to the point where it might be unfair or impossible for some businesses to implement the legislation. In a comment in the Independent, Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer, Tim Leslie, said that flexibility should not be a right but that it should be part of a negotiation of employee conditions. I agree wholeheartedly. Mr Phil O’Reilly from Business New Zealand says he has yet to see proof of the problem Ms Kedgley is trying to fix and, if it does exist, he says education is the better route. Of course, in the House this afternoon we have already heard support for education as an option for improving the number of workplaces that offer flexibility. The bill is being deferred, and for good reason. It is so that officials can collect and collate reliable information on New Zealand workplace practices, for it seems clear that the select committee heard that many are offering that flexibility. Mr O’Reilly also pointed out that maybe this family-friendly bill will exclude some who have family responsibilities towards elderly parents or sick spouses, and today Ms Kedgley has acknowledged that and said she would like to see the bill extended. But I worry that that might be the thin end of the wedge and that we will find, as in the paid parental leave legislation, that once everyone is included it will not represent what we had hoped. Everyone will have so much flexibility that we will put businesses out of business. I ask where the responsibility that New Zealanders have to look after family starts and ends. This Government, and clearly the Green Party too, would have us believe that it is the responsibility of businesses to put at risk their profitability, in order to assist employees to meet their responsibilities to family members. As a parent, I took on employment that meant I was able to meet my obligations as a parent, and I know I was lucky in that respect. But my various employers assisted by varying my hours where possible, because they were good employers—and possibly because they also wanted to keep me on. They did not need legislation to enforce their provision of flexible working hours where their circumstances of running the business allowed. Other examples in my electorate of Aoraki abound. It is largely a rural service area of the country, and I have been approached by businesses that are concerned by this bill because they have some women—a small number only—who work in those businesses. They have offered those women what flexibility they can, but the reality is that the businesses operate between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and the women in the businesses, should they ask for more flexibility, would certainly not to be able to answer customers’ calls after 5 o’clock at night, because those calls just do not occur—they do not happen after 5 o’clock at night. So employers will have to turn those requests down. Interesting reasons abound for the requests for flexibility, such as employees having too little time to spend with their families. Does that mean, perhaps, that after parents have had a busy day at home with their families and their children, businesses should crank up and operate at night to suit the needs of those parents? Perhaps I take that to the extreme. The benefits to business of flexible working hours have been said to be a drop in staff turnover, retention of skills, a decrease in absenteeism, and an increase in job satisfaction. That is absolutely true; those are all benefits of flexible working hours. 2730 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 Those same benefits also have the potential to be monetary benefits for businesses, because they mean businesses keep their staff. So why would businesses not be flexible without having legislation to require that? Businesses are wary of further legislation and compliance costs, which is not surprising, because even just lately amendments to a number of Acts have increased business compliance costs: the Health and Safety in Employment Act, the Holidays Act, and the Employment Relations Act. Businesses are wary; they are very wary. I found it interesting to read some of the opinions of Nikki Dines of Simpson Grierson’s employment law group, because she gave some insights into the potential for problems. While the rationale for the bill may be commendable—and I have already mentioned that—there are some serious issues with it both from a legal and economic perspective. The employer can refuse the application only if it cannot reasonably be accommodated on one or more of the following grounds: inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff, inability to recruit additional staff, detrimental impact on quality, detrimental impact on performance, insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work, and planned structural changes. But it does not matter if there is a burden of additional costs on employers or any detrimental effect on their ability to meet customer demand. Where an employer fails to give proper consideration to flexible working requests, the employee may be awarded compensation, and we are told there is no cap on the level of compensation. That really is a potential worry. This bill looks to increase compliance costs for employers significantly. It seems to be yet another proposal that could lead to uncertainty and increase costs for employers. But let me remind members again that I am in favour of flexible working hours for employees. I can tell members that that happens without legislation requiring it—but let us see. I ask members to wait for another year and see exactly what is collected and collated, for we will not decide today. I have another example of a workplace, in which a colleague of mine tells me there is grave concern. It is a legal practice with 15 employees, eight of whom, by having young children, would qualify for the flexibility provisions. This legislation is a concern to them. I say in conclusion that I am hopeful we will actually get some sense out of this issue next year, and we will know how to vote then. DARIEN FENTON (Labour): I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the consideration of the report on the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Hours) Amendment Bill. Like others, I want to thank Sue Kedgley for bringing the bill to Parliament and to the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee. It was indeed a committee where we had interesting and healthy debate on the bill. This bill was supported in principle by many organisations and many submissioners, including family-friendly employers, union organisations, women’s organisations, professional women’s organisations, and others who are increasingly concerned about how we balance our work and family responsibilities. Balancing work and home life is a growing concern for both employers and workers. Improving that balance can help with employee recruitment and retention—as others have said—it can match people, who would not otherwise work, with particular jobs, and it benefits families and communities. We have to face the fact that the world has changed. The simple facts are that there are now more women, more dual-income families, and more sole parents in the workforce, and that is amplifying the potential for conflict between work and family life. In addition, New Zealand has an ageing population so more of the workforce is likely to be involved in caring for elderly parents and whānau. Jobs have changed significantly over the past couple of decades. We have moved from a predominance of work in primary industries, to increased numbers of jobs in retail, hospitality, 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2731 information technology, and finance. Over this period, there has been a growth in non- standard employment such as self-employment, contracting-out, and temporary and casual work. The pattern of working hours has also changed. The trend has been away from the standard full-time working week of 40 hours a week, 8 hours a day between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., towards either underemployment—that is, where workers cannot get enough hours to make a living in one job so they work two or three jobs—or overwork, where workers are working more than 50 hours a week. Skill shortages exist in some sectors, and there is difficulty, as we know, in retaining skilled workers in many industries. Sitting suspended from 6 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. DARIEN FENTON: There is plenty of evidence that balancing work and family responsibilities is one of the significant pressures that New Zealand families are facing. In the report, Thirty Families – Work Hours by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, for example, work hours were a significant problem for workers, their families, and their communities. For many, the hours they were working were simply too long, and expectations had increased that additional hours would be contributed to the employer, without overtime pay. A significant issue for those working long hours was control over their hours. Many felt they had no say and just had to put up with it, regardless of their family circumstances. We heard two views in the submissions. One was from some employers and employers’ organisations who felt they were being as flexible as possible, and some said that indeed providing any flexibility in terms of the proposed bill would be a significant impost on their business. The other view expressed was the real frustration workers are having in progressing the issue of balancing work and family responsibilities in their workplace. Although some employers have moved with the times, others deny that any move towards flexible working hours is necessary—or if they do agree, they do not want to have it legislated for. I do want to acknowledge here the many employers who have genuinely attempted to recognise that their employees are more than machines, that they come to work as whole people with families and communities behind them, and that they are not there just as robots to deliver for the business, but more often than not are working to make life better for their families and communities. I have been a judge for the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust, which has been mentioned in this House in this debate, and its work and life awards for employers who have made innovative progress in their businesses towards implementing work-life balance policies. There are many good examples of that, but I noted during my time as a judge a distinct lack of entries from organisations that employ low-paid workers, manufacturing workers, workers doing shift work in the hospitality and care-giving industries, and, of course, those at the bottom of the heap—for example, cleaners. It became clear to me that organisations that compete for highly skilled staff, such as law firms and universities, could see the benefits of developing family-friendly policies. But often the cleaners, the kitchen workers, and the clerical workers who work in those same firms were excluded from those family-friendly policies. They applied only to those whose skills were in demand. Many of the employers who submitted to us claimed to have flexible workplaces because they employ part-time and casual workers. I think they are a bit confused about what flexibility means, because they are talking about flexibility for the employer but the employees have no say over that flexibility. Dr Wayne Mapp: Most of the people who work part-time want to be part-time. 2732 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 DARIEN FENTON: That is simply not true. Participating in the select committee debate was an interesting experience, because Labour does support improving the work- life balance of workers in this country. But the question we grappled with was not whether employers were doing that anyway, as some submitters claimed, because that is not true. There is plenty of evidence that the number of employers who have actually implemented provisions like the ones proposed in the bill is not great. So the question we grappled with in the select committee was whether the legislation proposed could be practically implemented in its current form. There are many issues to be considered in legislation like this. These include whether workers would have the right to revert to their original hours once their need for flexible hours was considered, and that is a considerable concern for many workers because flexible hours can be used as an opportunity to reduce hours, leaving them without any security in the future. There was also the need to renegotiate the many collective agreements where unions have specifically sought to regulate hours to prevent casualisation, and Air New Zealand gave us the example of its 50 collective agreements that would require renegotiation with the unions involved. Many collective agreements have specific full- time hours spelt out, and unions have fought hard to hold on to those provisions against the increasing tide of part-time and casual work. We have already talked in this House about the exclusion of some groups, such as those that have the care and responsibility of older whānau. There was a very good submission from one group on the growing problems of an ageing population and the impact on work. There was the difficulty of making this bill work in practice so that all workers could be treated fairly and it would not operate on a “first in, first served” basis. Consideration needs to be given to this because the workplaces that I am very familiar with jealously guard their rights to fairness in shift and hours allocation. Why is that? Because they are always competing for decent work, for full-time hours, and for a job that will feed their families. I also have an ongoing concern about the highly casualised industries. Their struggle is not for flexible hours but for secure hours and decent work. I know that was not within the ambit of this bill, but without significant protections it would be difficult to see how these workers could benefit, and indeed flexible hours tend to be something to be avoided for them. The select committee did indeed stimulate a healthy and insightful debate, but there is more work to be done, and we welcome that. We want to be sure we can successfully implement the type of flexible work that the bill’s author envisages. Again, I want to thank Sue Kedgley for bringing the bill forward, and I look forward to considering this matter again within the year. KEITH LOCKE (Green): The Green Party is very proud that our colleague Sue Kedgley’s bill has been treated so seriously by this House and by the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee, and that further research will be done to make sure that the outcome of the bill is the best possible. I have been listening tonight to the National Party arguments from Wayne Mapp and Jo Goodhew, and they are not very convincing at all; in fact, they are a bit contradictory. They say that things are wonderful in the workplace, that everyone dialogues nicely, that employers dialogue with workers, and that everything is sorted out informally and people do not need anything else. But even if that were the case, why should those members be so frightened of a bill like this, which prescribes procedures? If their view is correct—that the procedures are unnecessary and everything is wonderful—they should not be threatened by the fallback to procedures that this bill provides in case things do not go well. We all know that the whole raft of workplace law we have built up over the years, by both National-led Governments and Labour-led Governments, is for situations in the 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2733 workplace where everything is not going well and where employers are not acting in the best interests of their workers. As Darien Fenton has pointed out, it depends a bit on the demand for one’s skills. If a person is a cleaner and there seem to be other people around who could take on that person’s job if that person does not do exactly what he or she is told, then the negotiation, the dialogue, does not seem to go on quite as well as it would if that person is well-skilled, those skills are in high demand, and the employer does not want to lose that person. There might then be a bit of flexibility as to one’s work hours. So I think this bill is very important, and will be so for lower-paid workers and less- skilled workers. It will be even more important if we have higher unemployment. We have been quite lucky over the last year or two to have low unemployment, but if we get higher unemployment, then fewer employers, naturally, will be interested in having proper dialogue and flexibility in the workforce. But, actually, as has been pointed out by my colleague and others, it is more efficient for employers to have happy workers. If there is a flexible workforce arrangement, there is less absenteeism, which means that if workers have some important household duties or something to do that concerns their kids, they do not have to throw a sickie all of a sudden and put the employer out. It is all much more planned, and there are structures in place—replacement structures, etc.—so that it does not affect the industry so much. The workers are better workers because they are more motivated. They think they are being treated well and there is less turnover in the workforce. As we all know, one of the major costs—and the National Party goes on and on about compliance costs—of any employer is selecting and training new labour. This will be reduced if we have happy workers. They might stay with an employer all their lives, if we treat them well under this bill. Employers would also keep the experience and skills that are so important to an efficient workplace. It is important to point out, as other speakers have, that women tend to suffer more if such procedures as are outlined in this bill are not put in place. They have to scurry around, fitting their other household and childcare duties into a very difficult employment situation. The people whom Darien Fenton talked about—the lower-paid workers—often work very long hours, too. The figure quoted by Sue Kedgley was that a fifth of the workforce works 50 or more hours a week. It is very hard to pay proper attention to one’s family in that situation, and even harder if one does not have flexible work relationships. [Interruption] As my colleague Sue Kedgley just commented, MPs sometimes have difficulty in coping with their family responsibilities, and we should be particularly sensitive to others in the workforce who have similar problems. [Interruption] Peter Brown, who has just interjected, mentioned the cost argument—that somehow this legislation does not cover costs. This is very broad-brush legislation. Sure, it could be tightened up and be more prescriptive in the way that Peter Brown has suggested, but we wanted to put the framework in place at this point, and also get the support of the National Party. I thought that by having such moderate legislation, surely the National Party would support it, along with New Zealand First. But even under the general prescriptions here, if a case goes to an employer and then the appeal system is brought into effect, surely the effect of what the employee is demanding of the employer would take into account the importance of that particular worker to the industry, etc. All the particulars will be taken into account as part of this process, which might reflect on the cost structure for the business. I do not think business people need to worry, at all. Peter Brown said that the bill should include those who look after elderly parents as well as young children. Sue Kedgley stated at the time that she agrees. That is something we could extend into the bill as it goes along. Much of the discussion so far 2734 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 has been on the bill’s effect on workers—on their being happier and able to carry out their family duties, etc.—but I think we also have to look very closely at the kids. It does not do kids any favours when their parents work 50 or more hours a week and do not have the flexibility to look after their kids properly. A lot of kids become latchkey kids in this situation. It is not good for their development. They often get into trouble or do not do their homework. All kinds of things happen if parents do not have that flexibility. If the mother and the father are stressed, and the kids can see that they are stressed, it carries over to the kids too and inhibits their proper development. I think this bill will help to alleviate those problems, too. Also, speaking as a male Green MP, having flexible work hours helps the balance between men and women who look after children. The hours apply to men and to women. There is an increasing tendency in society, although it has not gone terribly far yet, for house husbands to take over the care of the kids for a few years, and for men to play a greater role in the bringing up of their children. The arrangements in the bill will enable that flexibility to be perfected much more, and will lead to a more balanced development of children. As I think a previous speaker pointed out, there are a lot of solo parents around now, and if they have jobs they find it particularly difficult to cater for their children and have flexibility too. Often, solo parents are not in full-time employment, or their employment shifts from time to time. They might be in full-time employment for a period and then not be employed full time, and having an arrangement such as under this bill whereby they can pay attention to their kids, even though they are solo parents, is very important. It will help to address the problem of casualisation that Darien Fenton mentioned. One reason why we have such a degree of part-time work—and some of it is legitimate part- time work, but some of it is forced part-time work or casualisation—is that parents do not have a flexible arrangement guaranteed by legislation and they have to go from part- time job to part-time job. This bill will help to address that. If members have looked at the Green Party logo, they will see that it has the words “Quality of Life” under it. I think this bill will improve the quality of life for everyone—for male parents, for female parents, and for kids. Having a work-life balance is very important for the quality of life of all of us. CHRIS TREMAIN (National—Napier): Tēnā koutou. Ki te Whare e tū nei, ki a Papatūānuku kei waho, tēnā kōrua. Ki ngā rangatira o Aotearoa, tēnā koutou. Ki ngā hoa o te Pāremata tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa. [Greetings to you collectively. To the House standing here and to the Earth Mother outside, greetings to you two. To the chiefs of New Zealand collectively, greetings. To fellow parliamentarians, greetings, greetings, greetings to you and to us all.] I rise to support the recommendation made by the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee to set aside the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Hours) Amendment Bill for 1 year. The select committee has recommended to set it aside for 1 year, in order to examine its real advantages and disadvantages, and to do more research. I certainly wish to examine the advantages and disadvantages—particularly the advantages, given my background in business and my having employed many people over many years. Before I continue, I make the comment that there is something we should ask about every bill that stands before this House at the moment, particularly given this Labour- led Government’s desire for economic transformation. We need to ask ourselves whether this bill will lift economic growth. Will it lift us up the OECD rankings? Will it increase wages for employees? Will it increase flexibility in working hours? Will it generally do that? Or will it reduce the flexibility needed to grow businesses and lift up 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2735 our ranking in the OECD? Will it further increase Big Brother Government? Will it further increase bureaucracy? Will it further increase red tape? Those are the questions, both for and against the legislation, that we need to examine over the next year. My personal opinion is that this type of legislation is unnecessary. I will talk members through its advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, let us examine the purpose of this bill. Its purpose is to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 to provide employees with young, dependent children the statutory right to request part-time and flexible hours and a framework within which employees can negotiate reduced working hours. It has some key criteria that not many other speakers have alluded to tonight, but they are important none the less. I congratulate Sue Kedgley on some of those key criteria, because they will be important to business people if this legislation comes into force. Firstly, the legislation can apply only if an employee has been with the same employer for 6 months. That is an important thing, because normally when people negotiate their first employment contract they negotiate flexibility in hours right there and then with their employers. It is important that there is some sort of time frame within which someone can go back to an employer and ask for a change in his or her working relationship. Secondly, the employee has to have children under the age of 5, or children with a disability. Again, that is a key, important point. The request has to be made in writing, set out the work pattern, and explain how it could be made to work. That is a criterion that I am struggling with, because it will involve more discussion. My experience is that when an employee comes to me to ask for flexible hours, we reach that by discussion. Employers know how their businesses run, and they know what other people they need in their businesses to fill holes in employment. They also know the value of their employees concerned. I understand the need for the request for flexibility to be in writing, but I suggest that in good employment practice people will largely work together on the issue of flexible hours—as I believe they do now. Thirdly, the employer must consider the application for flexible hours as soon as possible, and refuse it only when it cannot reasonably be accommodated under prescribed set conditions. It is interesting that we talked about some of the conditions that have been raised, which vary from business to business—the type of environment people are in. Some businesses very much depend on a combination of the skill of employees—as in the legal profession—plus the time frames within which they need to get jobs done. It is not easy to replace some employees, particularly when big financial jobs are coming through. If a lawyer has a particular skill in an area and that lawyer is negotiating a contract—and there are deadlines in multimillion-dollar contracts—those sorts of things cannot deal with the inflexibility of some legislation. Negotiation is required between employer and employee. Those things are important. Lastly, employees have a right of appeal; that is another part of the legislation. Those are the criteria that I believe are reasonable, but I now want to examine the arguments both for and against the bill. Firstly, I turn to the arguments for the bill, and a number of those arguments have been made tonight. In recent surveys a majority of employees said that they were working longer hours than previously, that they were feeling under constant stress, that their lives were out of balance, and that they were under significant pressure. I say that that is very much the case with many employers in this country, as well. I do not think there is any difference between employees and employers. Secondly, some employees who have children simply give up the struggle and drop out of the labour market because they cannot find ways to combine paid work and the demands of looking after young children. Well, that will happen anyway, regardless of 2736 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 flexible hours. Some men and some women simply cannot deal with the stress of working even flexible hours. I think we need to understand that point, too. The third point is that a number of countries, particularly OECD countries like Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands, all provide employees with a legal right to request more flexible working arrangements or to reduce their working hours. There are a number of arguments for that. Arguments against the bill are that it is simply more bureaucracy, more legislation, and more Big Brother Government prescription—employers are in business, so employees will do this! I think that is where one of the problems lies in this legislation. There is more Government involvement in the lives of New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses. I often hear it said across the floor: “Oh, why is there all that bureaucracy? Why is there all that red tape?”. Well, this is more bureaucracy in the making. There are 322,519 small businesses out there, which employ 100 people or fewer. Those businesses account for nearly 99 percent of the employees in this country. I suggest to members that by far the majority of those small-business owners know the value of the employee-employer relationship. The fact of the matter is that a small business with one or two people cannot grow its business without having a positive relationship with its employees, and without some form of flexible working arrangements in place. I believe that an argument against the bill is that by far the majority of small to medium sized enterprises treat their employees extremely well, and form relationships with those employees from day one. Many employees are part of the business and treat it as their own, as well, which is fantastic. Despite that, the problem I have is that there has always been the insinuation from the Government, and in fact sometimes from the Greens as well, that employers are bad, that they are evil, and that they do not care for their staff, for the families of their staff, or for the welfare of their staff. I have to say quite simply, having been an employer of many years standing, that that is not true. Numerous small businesses out there lend money to their employees when they get into strife, give employees additional holidays over and above the legislative requirement, give wages in advance, and allow staff leave to attend their kids’ swimming sports and prize-givings and go on their kids’ school camps. Those events are all important parts of employees’ lives, and of employers’ lives too. Flexibility in employment arrangements happens in hundreds of thousands of New Zealand businesses right now. Believe it or not, businesses do provide flexible working hours as we speak. Women are a key part of this workforce. As my colleague Jo Goodhew said earlier, there has been a 16 percent increase in the number of women in the workforce in the last 4 years. Having employed many, many women in my lifetime, I know they are fantastic employees. They are dedicated and they want to get ahead. Any employer who cannot form a positive relationship with the women in his or her workforce is on a hiding to nothing. Employers have to form positive relationships and provide opportunities to have an ongoing relationship with their staff. To sum up, I say that we support the review of the legislation over the next year. SUE MORONEY (Labour): It is my pleasure to rise in support of the interim report of the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee on the Employment Relations (Flexible Working Hours) Amendment Bill. Along with my colleagues I also thank Sue Kedgley for bringing this bill forward for our consideration. It comes in the context that we in this country have some of the longest hours worked in the OECD. Also, for me, it comes in the context of having in my maiden speech labelled work-life balance as one of the things that I had at the forefront of my mind when coming into Parliament. I 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2737 really do believe that work-life balance is one of the most important things we face in this country. It is something we must make some progress on. It is within that context that I was very pleased to be able to participate in the discussion in our select committee on this bill and to hear from the many submitters who came forward. I thank the submitters, because obviously much thought had gone into the submissions that were received by our select committee. It was interesting to see what I perceived as quite a split coming forward from the submissions we received. It was an interesting split because I perceived that it was business versus the rest of the community. That was very much the nature of the submissions received on this bill. The rest of the community were unions, women’s groups, lawyers and their firms, nurses, supermarket workers, and a whole range of other organisations that came forward to say that they really do believe there is a need for regulation in this area, because of their past experiences. It came down to a debate in the select committee about education versus regulation. But I want to stress that it is not quite as simple as that. Of course, if we were engaged in regulation in this area, we would also need a massive education campaign to sit alongside that. I think that is one of the fundamental issues that everyone in the select committee could agree on—that there is a need for education on what the possibilities are, what the opportunities are, and what the benefits are. Also, there is a need for education for working people so that they feel they have the courage and the information to go forward and make a request of their employer for flexible working hours. One of the most powerful submissions for me personally came from the Federation of Business and Professional Women. That was one of the submissions that, to me, went outside the feeling of business versus the rest of the community that I was getting. Dr Wayne Mapp: You mean hard-line unionists. SUE MORONEY: And I mean women’s groups, and lawyers, and nurses, and supermarket workers, and the list goes on. The member knows the list of submitters as well as I do. Business was the only group that had any concerns to raise about this bill. The Federation of Business and Professional Women submission was extremely interesting to me, from this perspective. It was an extremely powerful submission. The group’s submitter talked in her oral submission about having interviewed a woman just the previous week for a cleaning job. That is what she did outside of her role of representing business and professional women. She was interviewing this woman who was going for a cleaning job, who in fact was a very successful salesperson. She asked this woman why on earth she was applying for the job as she was over-qualified—if there is such a thing—for it. The woman replied that it was because of the hours and the flexibility that they would offer her. She said she could not use her skills as a salesperson and get that flexibility. This happened just the week before the representative came to see our select committee. I thought it was very powerful example of the sort of wastage— Dr Wayne Mapp: You believe that was true? SUE MORONEY: Yes, I do believe it was true, because a submitter told us that. I believe it was true. Dr Jonathan Coleman: Oh, so it must be true. SUE MORONEY: I believe the submission made by the Federation of Business and Professional Women—I sincerely do. That was an example of the type of wastage going on in our economy because of not using people’s skills properly when we do not have that flexibility in our workplaces. It is something that is quite personal for me as well, because, as a working woman with young children, I rely, and my family relies, very heavily on flexibility in my 2738 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 husband’s working arrangements for our situation to actually work. So I fully understand what it means for families. In that context I add that this is not just an issue for women—it is an issue for families and for the men in those families. The new work-life balance that is being demanded is sought by people. I share the concerns raised by my colleague Mark Gosche earlier. I am concerned at hearing some sort of feigned outcry from the community about 24-hour childcare when that is what our economy requires. It is no big secret; it should not be shock and horror. This is the type of environment in which we all live and thrive, and we need the support services to go with that. As a working mother I reiterate that flexible working hours are a key to our lives. Another issue that came up in the discussion with the select committee was the idea that somehow the market would just sort this out. I want to talk about that a bit because I think we need to face up to the myth that lies behind it. We went through a very bad experiment in the 1990s when the market was going to fix all sorts of things—but it never did. Apprenticeship schemes, etc., all went by the by. I think we really need to front up to the discussion about whether the market will provide. My colleague Darien Fenton alluded to this and talked about her real-life experience in this area. If one works in an area that is deemed to be low status—and I very carefully say “deemed” to be a low-status area rather than “is” a low-status area—then one’s ability to get one’s employer to agree to flexible working hours is much more limited than it is for someone in a high-status job. That is what we are left with if we leave it up to the market. The market makes a call on low-status and high-status jobs, so we have to face up to that reality. It was within that context that I was therefore quite surprised to hear that many of the submissions made to the select committee were from women in high-status, high-paid jobs. Women lawyers came along to our select committee and said that they do not have the sort of flexibility in their work that they need to make their working lives and their family lives work for them. Nurses and teachers also came along to the select committee. These are professional women who understand exactly how they could work. They could describe to our select committee exactly how, within their work, which they understood very well, they could work, but they could not get agreement to that. We have this argument about regulation versus education, and we have 12 months to have a good look at it and see which way it falls. I must note that the bill has stimulated healthy debate at the select committee. However, we do have agreement on some key fundamental points. The need for flexible working hours is agreed. Hallelujah, we have got there! So we agree that it needs to happen, but we need to have more consideration of the mechanism. A fear expressed by many of the submitters who came forward to us was that they would have to do something they could not possibly do, and I think some members opposite are reflecting that. They think that this bill forces employers to do something they cannot possibly do. However, I note that under this bill an employer can turn down an application when it cannot be reasonably accommodated on one or more of the following grounds: “(i) inability to re-organise work among existing staff: (ii) inability to recruit additional staff: (iii) detrimental impact on quality: (iv) detrimental impact on performance: (v) insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; and (vi) planned structural changes.” So members opposite would find, if they took the time to read the context of the bill, that the sorts of fears they have raised about it are unfounded. I look forward to this bill coming back so that we can have a look at what has happened in the previous 12 months. However, while I am on my feet I will take the opportunity to do a bit of myth-busting. Some members opposite have taken the 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2739 opportunity to talk about flexible working hours being a business compliance cost. I feel very sad that the idea of flexible working hours is viewed by the Opposition as being a business compliance cost. I also want to bust the myth that somehow New Zealand has a high level of business compliance costs, because that is clearly not true. Why does this country keep topping the reports on ease of business in OECD countries? PANSY WONG (National): One is not surprised that this bill is promoted by the Green Party member. This bill, according to the Green Party member, is about flexible working hours. It is so indicative of the Labour and Green Party members, who have a concept that to cater for flexible working hours we must have an inflexible mechanism to enforce it. They simply cannot equate flexibility with letting individuals work out a solution that is flexible enough for both parties. They have never really learnt to trust employers and employees in the 21st century to work out a mechanism that is flexible for both parties. Sue Moroney started her speech by saying that as a working mother she understands the need for flexible working hours. My challenge to the Labour member is, No. 1, whether we are looking at extending these flexible working hours to members of Parliament who have dependent or disabled children so that they will come to Parliament to participate in the debating chamber or at select committees only when it is flexible for those members; and, No. 2, will the Labour Government start giving instructions to the Parliamentary Service that cleaners who come in to tidy up the parliamentary complex will be able to come at hours that are flexible—that are convenient to the cleaning contractors? Until the Government and Green Party members are able to practise what they lecture, I once again caution them against putting in a very inflexible framework for, largely, the small businesses of New Zealand. Labour members ask what the big deal is, as employers can turn down a request from employees for flexible working hours. But that is the point. Small-business proprietors are doing that right now. Of course staff can make requests. When 86 percent of businesses in New Zealand are classified as small businesses, which means they employ only five employees or fewer, no one can tell us that the boss and the employees do not talk to one another. Any successful business proprietors can tell the public that the only way their business can be successful is to have good staff working for them, and to have the staff and the proprietor working as a team. I am talking about busting the myth, perpetually believed by Labour and the Greens, that all employers are there to abuse staff, and not to care about employees’ welfare. I find it very strange when Labour members say that employees go to work because they want to take home money to support their families; those members never mention that employees go to work because they want to be part of a team to grow a successful business. On the other hand, Labour members always declare that the reasons people go into business is not because those people want to take a risk and improve their own economic situation, but that their first objective is to provide employment. I can tell members that the motivation for any people to go into business is actually the same as the motivation for workers—to better their individual position. But employers also understand that for business to be successful they must look after their employees. It is only a tiny minority of short-sighted employers who believe they do not have to look after their staff. So why should we support a bill that sends another signal that employers are somehow not to be trusted? We are in the 21st century where people do know their choices and do make them. I would like to take issue with some of the examples that were offered by the previous speaker. My friend was a very successful partner in a medium-sized law practice, and, yes, she decided that the structure of the practice did not really suit her. 2740 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 There was no big hassle, and she started her own legal practice. So individuals in that position, with a skill base, do make choices and know the consequences—the advantages and disadvantages—of being part of a larger entity or of starting their own business. They do not need legislation that requests them to put a formal proposal to their employers. Can members imagine they are corner dairy proprietors, and suddenly one of their part-time staff has come in and put in a formal request to work, maybe on Mondays and Wednesdays. The only means by which they can be turned down is for the proprietor to come back with a business case, with some sort of spreadsheet, and then, after negotiations with other employees, to ask whether a case can be made, formally to turn down the proposal. That is nonsense. Flexibility for one employee may mean imposing inflexibility on another employee. What happens when one of the five employees in an entity wants some sort of flexibility to suit his or her own work and life situation? What does that mean for the other employees in the same entity? I say that in this modern world most people in those situations have come to a realisation that they can help each other out. Six people in an entity can talk to each other, and manage to do that. The National Party is supporting this interim report, but I personally think we should encourage the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee to take as long as it likes to conduct proper surveys. If this bill does not get reported back to Parliament, I do not think it will be a bad thing. I think a lot of modern enterprises and small-business entrepreneurs of New Zealand would benefit from a Parliament that resists the temptation to impose legislation on them at every possible moment. So I ask the Green member to reflect, and send out some messages to say that she does treat individuals equally and that she does not hold on to the old belief of “us versus them”. I certainly see in most businesses that proprietors know that having a good team of staff is the ingredient for success in business. SUE KEDGLEY (Green): Mr Deputy Speaker— Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Sue Kedgley, is there a matter you wish to raise? SUE KEDGLEY: I wish to respond very briefly to some of the comments that have been made. Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: No. SUE KEDGLEY: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I thought it was an unlimited debate. Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: No. There is no right of reply as such, but, of course, you may seek leave. SUE KEDGLEY: I seek leave to respond very, very briefly to some of the comments that have been made. Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Leave has been sought for that course to be followed. Is there any objection? There appears to be none. SUE KEDGLEY: I thank members for giving me leave to speak very briefly. I know there are some other very important members’ bills that we are keen to debate. I want to thank members who have participated in the debate. I particularly thank Chris Tremain, Darien Fenton, Sue Moroney, Mark Gosche, and Hone Harawira for their thoughtful contributions. I believe that in our heart of hearts we all know that the need for flexible working hours is a hugely important issue. In our heart of hearts we know that the “work, work, work” culture, with its excessively long working-hours, that we have here in New Zealand—it is well documented—is causing incredible stress and is probably partly responsible for the levels of violence and many other things in our society. It is interesting that the National Party is happy to put more and more people in jail and to build more prisons, but not to do something as simple as support a very modest 3 May 2006 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 2741 piece of legislation—one of the least prescriptive pieces of legislation ever to come before this Parliament—to ensure that people with children have a right to request flexible working hours and to reduce the stress in their lives. Hone Harawira spoke eloquently of the “work, work, work” stresses and what that is doing to families in New Zealand. So I think that in our heart of hearts we know this is a huge social issue. We know we need to do something about it, but what is needed is political will. The problem is that particularly the major political parties in this House hate to do anything to get offside with business, so they are terrified to introduce legislation that some businesses oppose. In fact, the odd thing is that businesses in England, where this legislation has been introduced, have overwhelmingly supported it. It is quite extraordinary that National members keep going on about Big Brother, bureaucracy, dictating legislation, and so on and so forth, as though this is something that has to be imposed on employers. I remind members again of some of the surveys that have found overwhelming support by businesses in the United Kingdom for this legislation. In the 2 years the UK has had the legislation it has been found that it has not resulted in increased compliance costs. I have mentioned that. There has been no increase in compliance costs in the United Kingdom. Members can fly off on their next Speaker’s tour and see for themselves, but they will not find that there have been increased compliance costs in the United Kingdom. Nor have people in the UK found any problems with this right. In fact, they found huge benefits for employers. I will give members a couple of points from the surveys: managers of flexible workers rated them as out-performing their traditional full-time colleagues; employers who offer flexibility achieve a rate of more than 90 percent of women returning from maternity leave; 90 percent of employers with flexible working practices think they are cost-effective; 39 percent say that the performance of people with flexible working practices outstrips that of their competitors; there is increased goodwill, increased productivity, lower turnover rates, reductions in staff sickness—shall I go on and on? Where is the problem for business? The point is that businesses in the United Kingdom went on and on, as have some of the businesses here, saying: “Oh no, we hate this legislation. It will result in increased compliance costs.” In fact, it has done no such thing. What it has done is increase by 20 percent the uptake in flexible working practices in the United Kingdom. More than a million employees have made the request to work flexibly, and in 90 percent of cases they have been accommodated and it has worked out well. Some Opposition members have gone on and on, asking what would happen with this and what would happen with that. Well, they can turn the request down—it is in the legislation. Employers have five grounds on which they can turn down a request, and I have already said that I am happy to expand those grounds. I am happy to have another criterion—that of increased compliance costs—for turning down a request. Do members know why I am so happy? Because in the UK there has never been—I think it happened in 1 percent of cases—any grounds for turning a request down. But if members want to put that in the legislation, they can go for it. There is no problem for businesses; it is a win-win. The UK Minister said it has been an outstanding success and it has provided a safety net of legislation. One would think that this family-friendly piece of legislation would get cross-party support, in particular from those parties that say they are family-friendly and want to support families. One would have thought that this minimal, tiny, little bit—the right to request flexible working hours if one had children—would be supported especially by members of the National Party, and I think they would if they read the research and realised the overwhelming benefits. 2742 Employment Relations (Flexible Hours) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 My final point is that yes, of course, I agree with New Zealand First and with Mark Gosche that we should extend it to all people who are looking after others—for example, those who have elderly dependants—and ideally we would like to extend it to employees in general. We are very happy to make amendments, as Darien Fenton mentioned, to deal with some of the issues that were raised during the select committee process. Motion agreed to. RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES (DAMAGE INSURANCE) AMENDMENT BILL First Reading Debate resumed from 29 March. CHRIS TREMAIN (National—Napier): In the brief 3½ minutes that I have, I would like to finish my speech about the Residential Tenancies (Damage Insurance) Amendment Bill. The aim of the bill is to protect tenants against personal liability for damage caused to a premise when they played no part in causing it. Just quickly before I get into that, I want to look at the current relationship that exists between landlords and tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act. It is a contract at common law. There are a couple of things here that cover both the landlord’s responsibilities and the tenant’s responsibilities. The landlord’s responsibility is, firstly, to provide and maintain the premise in a reasonable condition. Secondly, the landlord is to allow the tenant quiet enjoyment of the premises. Those are a couple of the landlord’s responsibilities. Let us look at some of the tenant’s responsibilities. They are to pay the rent on time, to keep the premises reasonably clean and tidy, and to notify the landlord as soon as any repairs are needed. The most important point here, though, is that one cannot damage or permit damage to be done to the premises, one must inform the landlord of any damage, and, lastly, one must leave the property clean and tidy, and clear of rubbish and possessions, at the end of the tenancy. In my opinion the accountability is clear there. If the tenant damages the property, or if the tenant brings friends on to the property who damage the property, the accountability is clear. The law sends the right message. If there is a positive relationship and the tenant damages the property, he or she is responsible for fixing it and putting it right—that person is responsible as the tenant. If we look at what this legislation seeks to do, we see it seeks to protect a tenant against personal liability for major damage, to take away any responsibility from the tenant, and to avoid the tenant coming up with payment for any damage that he or she played no part in causing. I will just give members a quick example of something that happened over the adjournment. I was called to a property in Hastings Street in Napier. The neighbour, in fact, called me to view a tenanted property. We walked up there. There were plates strewn across the road and rubbish all outside the place. The front door had been smashed in. We found out what had happened. The tenant had vacated the property and left two friends in the property with their small child. It was the friends who were responsible for the damage that had taken place in that property. The new law would protect the tenant against personal liability for any major damage that had been caused by his or her friends—a premise that is absolutely crazy. We have a situation where the damage has been caused by the act of the tenant who has brought his or her friends in, and now we are looking to pass legislation that takes any responsibility for that away from the tenant. 3 May 2006 Residential Tenancies (Damage Insurance) Amdt Bill 2743 I personally think that is crazy. The poor landlord is now faced with proving the extent of the damage and the amount of it. The landlord has to prove who is responsible for the damage— Kate Wilkinson: He is not even there. CHRIS TREMAIN: He is not even there; it is absolutely crazy. We will now force landlords to take out tenant insurance. Whom will that be passed on to? Probably to the tenant, resulting in an increase in rent. Lastly, it sends absolutely the wrong message to tenants. It tells them not to worry about the property any more, because if they bring their friends on to the property and the friends damage it, well c’est la vie. I am totally against this legislation; so is the National Party. SUE BRADFORD (Green): On behalf of the Green Party I welcome the introduction of this bill to Parliament. We will be voting for it, and I hope sufficient other parties will do likewise so that it can proceed to select committee for deeper consideration. I also congratulate Maryan Street on getting a useful member’s bill like this into the House so early in her parliamentary career. I hope it succeeds, whether as a bill in its own right or as part of the broader revamping of the Residential Tenancies Act, which I hope will happen soon. I just hope that Ms Street’s bill does not share the fate of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill that deals with boarding houses, which sank into the mire of parliamentary process in the Social Services Committee and has never been seen again since it came out of that committee. The Green Party supports this bill from a fundamental belief that New Zealanders deserve secure and affordable long-term rental accommodation as a valid housing option, and that both tenants and landlords deserve to be treated fairly by the State and by each other. However, we ought to accept that residential tenants are, on the whole, an economically and socially vulnerable sector. Landlords, with admitted exceptions, and insurance companies tend to have considerably more economic power than tenants. Over the years there have been a number of cases in the tenancy tribunal that have resulted in decisions regarding damage to a landlord’s property that have been blatantly unfair to tenants. For example, one of the earliest was tenancy tribunal decision No. 33/87. In that case, when damage was caused by subtenants the chief tenant was found liable by the tribunal, despite having no responsibility whatsoever for the damage caused. Cases of this nature culminated in a District Court appeal from the tenancy tribunal in September 2002, in which Judge MacAskill in the Dunedin District Court specifically suggested legislative change as a mechanism to address what is an obvious injustice in the law. I commend Maryan Street for taking up Judge MacAskill’s observations about the inadequacy of the law in this area and for taking the opportunity of using the member’s bill process to rectify what is a clear inequity. The Green Party believes that the principle behind this bill is totally fair. Insurance cover should be extended to include the interests of tenants, not just those of landlords, and tenants should be covered for all situations except damage that they have intentionally caused themselves. One tenant should not be required to pay compensation for damage caused by another for whom they have no responsibility, as can currently occur. Landlords should be required to insure against damage caused to their property by tenants or their subtenants or visitors. This bill does not impose any additional costs on landlords. As I hope members will realise—and, indeed, I have heard some of the National Party members say this—the costs of insuring against tenant liability for damage can be passed on to the tenant by means of rent. Nothing in this bill will stop that from happening. It will not necessarily be an extra cost for the landlord. What this legislation proposes is an exemption from the insurance covering tenant liability when damage has been caused intentionally by a tenant. That is simply 2744 Residential Tenancies (Damage Insurance) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 reasonable and is consistent with other legislative provisions, such as the recovery of a debt incurred as a result of fraud, which is treated differently in law from the recovery of a normal civil debt. However, we do have some reservations in the area of the limitation of this provision to intentional damage. What if, for example, damage has been caused unintentionally but by an unlawful act, such as a tenant operating a P lab that explodes in the property, or through a grossly negligent act such as a drunk tenant smoking in bed and passing out and fire taking hold? Should the landlord’s insurance company bear the brunt of the cost of damage caused by such unlawful or grossly negligent acts? These are matters for the Social Services Committee to consider, but I do note that we have some concerns at this stage about this particular aspect of the bill. However, I am sure they can be sorted out. There is no question that, overall, the bill is sound in principle. It will work to rectify a longstanding injustice, and the Green Party welcomes its introduction. I look forward to what I hope will be a substantial consideration of it by our select committee shortly. TARIANA TURIA (Co-Leader—Māori Party): What is said in the whare, or in this case what is said by members of Parliament, is heard by the tāhuhu, who hear everything that has been said, everything that has gone before us, and the words of those who are gathered here today. So housing matters have always been of importance to Māori, whether as owners, tenants, insurance agents, or inhabitants. The current housing profile for Māori is, unfortunately, not a very pretty picture. Despite the fact that home ownership is a strong aspiration for Māori people, such a desire is frequently not translated into reality. We are three times more likely to live in rental accommodation than New Zealand Europeans. Currently, 59.7 percent of Māori people live in households that pay rent, compared with 21.6 percent of non-Māori. Factors such as higher levels of unemployment, lower personal incomes, strong urbanisation, and concentration in high-cost housing markets like Auckland have all contributed to the disparities that are evident between Māori and non-Māori in the housing market. Other factors, such as institutional racism, may account for differences in housing allocation. In looking at this bill, we must be guided by the high rental environment that tangata whenua inhabit. The Māori Party will support this bill going to a select committee in order to enable the large number of Māori who are renting, boarding, and flatting as tenants to be able to have a say. We seek every opportunity for people to participate and for their voices to be heard. We are, however, also mindful of the numbers of Māori who are involved in the housing sector as landlords, investors, and owners. We are aware of key housing networks such as Te Tai Tonga Housing Forum, led by Rakiihia Tau and Tiopira Hape Rauna, who would have considerable experience to contribute to this debate about the universal goal of achieving quality, affordable housing with safe and secure homes. These people must have a say, as well as the tenants. We understand the purpose of the bill as being to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 in order to protect tenants against personal liability for major damage caused to premises that they play no part in causing. The fundamental question, however, must be why we should automatically assume that landlords should therefore be liable for damage caused to premises that they also have no part in causing. The Māori Party is keen to encourage further discussion on the concept of collective responsibility and ownership, and by this we mean the capacity to care for one another. Putting it simply, who is more likely to know about the damage caused to premises: the landlord, who may not even live in the same town, or the tenant in the next room? We must restore the sense of responsibility as individuals and collectives—as a whānau or a group of tenants 3 May 2006 Residential Tenancies (Damage Insurance) Amdt Bill 2745 in a single property who all sit around the same television at night, who contribute to the same food kitty, and who collectively pay the rent. Why could not these same people also pay to protect themselves? That is the question. Although we appreciate that nothing in the bill will prevent landlords from passing on the cost of additional premiums to tenants as part of the rent, could we not see this as an educational process for tenants, particularly our young people, about the value of insurance and of taking responsibility for one’s property and other people’s property? The final issue that we seek further ideas on in the select committee is the low insurance coverage for Māori in the housing sector. If there is any doubt of this, one need only look at the nature of the crisis response required after the freak damage created by the floods, earthquakes, and storms of the last few years, such as, in my electorate, the Rangitīkei and Manawatū floods, the East Coast floods, and the destruction that ravaged through the Bay of Plenty. Indeed, one report in 2004 stated that an incredible 111 of the 141 homes in Whakatāne that were deemed uninhabitable did not have contents insurance. Those are but some of the issues that we hope can be raised in the ongoing debate around this bill. The provision of quality, affordable housing, particularly for low- income families, is a significant priority focus for the Māori Party. If this bill can do anything for these families, particularly the 63,000 Māori families who have been cut out of the Working for Families package, then we will be eager to hear about it. We will support this bill going to select committee to ensure that Māori views are able to be heard, and we look forward to that process. Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister of Energy): I thank the members for their prior contributions. I think they have all been valuable. I acknowledge Maryan Street for bringing this bill forward. I also thank a constituent of mine when I was the MP for Otago, Warwick Goldsmith, who is a lawyer in Queenstown and who is the source of this bill originally. He wrote to me as a constituent, and as a lawyer, reporting a commentary on the Harrison v Shields and others and Medical Assurance Society New Zealand Ltd decision, whereby, as a prior speaker mentioned, the judge concluded in his comments that: “The outcome of this proceeding, though in accordance with the law, is unjust.” I think that is the essence of the issue we are dealing with today. Is it just when there is a joint tenancy between tenants to enforce liability on the part of one of the tenants if the place burns down? The present position is that the landlord can, and generally does, insure the property, but when the property burns down the landlord’s insurerFR can exercise a right of subrogation and stand in the shoes of the insured and do what the landlord could do if the landlord was not insured. So the insurance company can effectively force the landlord—who might not want to do anything against the tenant, and might think it is quite an unjust outcome—to sue the tenant to recover the losses that may not have been caused by that tenant. I think that is unfair, and I contrast the position with a family that occupies their own home. The family might occupy their own home and insure it. Their mother might be living with them and it might be the mother’s negligence in leaving the towel next to the heater that causes the fire, but one does not hear in that situation of the insurer exercising rights of subrogation to sue the mother, or the child, or the wife, or the husband who caused the fire. The insurance premium, of course, is not much different in either situation, yet in the situation of the non - owner-occupied property, the insurer has the opportunity to have, and does exercise, rights of subrogation that would not occur in an owner- occupied situation. Having said that, I do acknowledge that there is something in some of the statements made by Tariana Turia and by the National Party. They suggest we need to take care that we do not cause unnecessary problems in respect of minor 2746 Residential Tenancies (Damage Insurance) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 damage to premises where perhaps it is appropriate that all tenants share the obligation to make good damage caused by a co-tenant, because they may be able to influence that damage not happening if they have some level of responsibility. I am not sure where the line should be drawn there, and I think it is something that the select committee should look at. What I am clear on is that it is not right in the case of fire that the major risk being insured against by the landlord does not also cover the interests of the tenant. That could be achieved for so small an extra cost and the full amount of that extra cost could be passed on to the tenant. So I think this is a good bill. Finally, I will respond to one thing Sue Bradford said. She gave the example of someone falling asleep in bed while smoking and thus causing a fire. She thought that person should perhaps be made liable, but I do not think that person should be. I think the same situation should apply to that person as a tenant as would apply if that person was an owner-occupier, or the mother or child of the owner-occupier, if they were to do the same thing. I think this is a good bill and that there is a need to look at the issue of minor damage. I suggest that this bill should be limited to matters of damage caused by fire so as to avoid the large risk that could cause, perhaps, a $100,000 liability, but those are matters of detail that the select committee can report to the House. I support the bill. GORDON COPELAND (United Future): Firstly, I would like to offer my congratulations to Maryan Street on having had her bill drawn from the ballot. I know from my experience in the last Parliament that it is always good to have one’s bills drawn. I had a couple drawn in the last Parliament, one of which, I might mention, is an important constitutional bill to do with property rights. We are now just a few days away from the anniversary of the first reading of that bill, and submissions have yet to be heard by the select committee, so it could be a very long process. This bill raises a very interesting issue. I am a landlord and I insure the property that I let for my interest in it, which is the replacement value of the property itself and also the value of those contents inside the property that are my property rather than the tenants’ property. Of course, I expect the tenants to insure their own goods inside the house, be they personal clothing, furniture, or whatever. I do that as a landlord because I want to protect my property in the event of it being accidentally destroyed by fire, earthquake, flood, or whatever. This bill raises a new issue in respect of damage done to a property by a person who has only a peripheral, if you like, relationship with another joint tenant and who is not actually involved in any shape or form with the cause of the destruction of the property or its damage. For that reason I think it is good for this bill to go to a select committee, and United Future will be supporting it going to a select committee. Like the Hon David Parker, who has just resumed his seat, we support this bill. By the way, I would like to publicly congratulate David on his reinstatement to his various portfolios, and I wish him well in those endeavours in the future. I have not had a chance to offer my congratulations to him personally because he was talking with the media at the time. I believe that the Hon David Parker has a lot to offer this country and this Parliament. United Future will support this bill going to a select committee, and I hope that it will look carefully at the matters raised in relation to physical damage caused to a property. Under a normal tenant-landlord agreement, that sort of damage should result in the tenant being expelled from the property. It would bring the tenancy itself to an end, in any event, under normal contractual arrangements, and the landlord is free to pursue remedies against the tenant for that damage. This bill is about insurance. I think we need to keep those two things in mind and not mix them up—as I believe a couple of earlier speakers have done. 3 May 2006 Residential Tenancies (Damage Insurance) Amdt Bill 2747 With those few remarks I am happy to signal that United Future will vote to send this bill to the select committee. MARYAN STREET (Labour): In my right of reply I want to raise a couple of points, particularly with regard to some of the speeches and media comments that have been made recently around this bill, which have completely got the wrong end of the stick. I thank the member who has just resumed his seat for drawing attention to one of those confusions that has been presented in the public domain. First of all, I say that this bill in no way diminishes the responsibility of tenants that exists anyway under the Residential Tenancies Act. Tenants have responsibilities. Under section 40(2)(a) of that Act, they shall not “Intentionally or carelessly damage, or permit any other person to damage, the premises;”. Further to the point that my colleague the Hon David Parker made a moment ago, I want to describe how personal responsibility as a tenant under the Residential Tenancies Act fits with the intention of this bill. This bill is really about insurance—as Gordon Copeland has just said—and insurance companies know their business. It goes like this: as homeowners, we might pay insurance to cover damage done to our property. Landlords, as I am advised by representatives of the insurance industry, already pay a loading of some 30 percent on top of what ordinary homeowners, who live in the houses they are insuring, would pay by way of premiums. So landlords already pay a 30 percent loading on top of an ordinary homeowner’s insurance. If I burn down my house, which I own and insure accordingly, the insurance company does not come after me to recover costs. If, however, I am a tenant and I burn down the property I am renting, then the insurance company, through its powers of subrogation, is able to come after me to recover costs. That is the thing that Judge MacAskill stated was patently unfair in the Dunedin case. I cite that case, because it was revisited in a brief item on Television One last night. The mother of the young man interviewed in that programme, who is now overseas, said that he was her son and that she had contacted me when she heard that this bill was in the offing. She said that her son was a second-year university student and he did not have sufficient belongings to have a household contents insurance policy. That situation is typical of many students, and of many people who are low-income earners or beneficiaries and who would have few belongings to insure. For a period of 4 years he was pursued by the insurance company through the District Court and the High Court, and finally he had a debt of $67,000 plus interest to pay to the insurance company. He was absent from the house at the time the damage was caused. This bill would simply put tenants on the same footing as homeowners. Why should insurance companies get it both ways? They get an additional loading from the landlord on premiums for properties they own and properties they rent out. If insurance companies are then to go after tenants for the recovery of costs, they are getting it both ways. That is not fair. The other point I need to stress is that in my consultation with insurance representatives there has been an assessment to say that were there ever to be any increases to insurance premiums as a result of this bill—and that is by no means an instance of cause and effect—then the increase is likely to be closer to $10 per annum than it is to $100 per annum. So I suggest that if insurance companies seek to increase premiums, they are simply using this bill as an excuse to do so. Insurance companies should operate for tenants in the same way as they operate for other customers of their policies. 2748 Residential Tenancies (Damage Insurance) Amdt Bill 3 May 2006 A party vote was called for on the question, That the Residential Tenancies (Damage Insurance) Amendment Bill be now read a first time. Ayes 71 New Zealand Labour 50; New Zealand First 7; Green Party 6; Māori Party 4; United Future 3; Progressive 1. Noes 48 New Zealand National 48. Bill read a first time. Bill referred to the Social Services Committee. HUMAN TISSUE (ORGAN DONATION) AMENDMENT BILL First Reading Dr JACKIE BLUE (National): I move, That the Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill be now read a first time. It gives me great pleasure to speak to the first reading of this bill, and at the appropriate time I intend to move that it be considered by the Health Committee. I say to my colleagues that there are many examples of laws passed in the House that improve outdated legislation, make the lives of New Zealanders easier, or make the work of Government more efficient. But bills that can claim to improve the quality of life or save the lives of New Zealanders are few and far between. This bill is one of them. I would like to acknowledge Andy Tookey, who has lobbied for change for over 4 years. This is Andy Tookey’s bill. The Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill, when passed into law, will allow for an opt-on, informed consent register where individuals can indicate which organs they wish to donate, and can elect whether the organs are for therapeutic use or for the purposes of medical educational research. There is provision in the bill for those people who wish to register a clear instruction that they do not wish to be an organ donor under any circumstance. The bill also allows for registered donors to change their minds and opt off at any stage. This can be done in writing or orally in the presence of a witness. The bill also, importantly, allows for the wishes of the organ donor to be paramount, and because the informed consent process is rigorous, this means the donor’s wishes are clear, witnessed, and have legal status. The bill makes provision for both brain-dead and non-beating heart donors, whereby the organs are removed after circulation has ceased. Importantly, provision is also made for public education regarding organ donation. Countries with established organ donor registers that have resulted in an increase in organ donors link their success directly to education and publicity. The call for change has been evident for over 4 years. In 2002 Andy Tookey and 1,169 others presented a petition to Parliament that requested a review of organ donation practices. The Health Committee tabled reports in November 2003 and October 2004 that requested urgent action to improve New Zealand’s organ donor shortage and provided information on how an organ donor register might work. Our donor rates have dropped further since the Health Committee reported back to Parliament. Contributing to the problem is the fact that there are fewer brain-dead patients as a result of medical interventions, and fewer people have suffered brain injuries and brain haemorrhages. There is also a greater demand for organs. The threshold to go on a waiting list has been lowered, and organ transplantation is now an option for more and more illnesses, for which it was not contemplated a decade ago. New Zealand is facing 3 May 2006 Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill 2749 an epidemic in diabetes, with the numbers of people on renal dialysis and those requiring kidney transplants set to increase dramatically. The number of people who need a liver transplant is expected to double over the next decade due to liver disease that will result from the 25,000 people with chronic hepatitis C and the 50,000 people with chronic hepatitis B infections. Since 1998 the New Zealand Liver Transplant Unit waiting times have doubled, and the waiting list mortality rate is now 32 percent. There are fewer transplant operations being done; the 2004 figure of only 105 was the lowest since 1996. Over 350 people are currently on a waiting list for organ donation. Kidney dialysis costs between $22,000 and $45,000 per year per patient. The savings to the health budget from performing kidney transplant operations is considerable. In 2004, 1,770 patients underwent renal dialysis, and 43 percent of those patients were Māori, Pacific Island, or Asian. Māori are overrepresented in those statistics, but for cultural reasons they are reluctant to be donors. When it comes to tissue matching ethnicity does matter and in organ transplants Māori are under-represented. I hope that Māori, as a result of public education and debate amongst themselves, will consider becoming donors. It has been estimated that one organ donor can save the lives, or improve the quality of life, of between seven and 10 people. Clearly, even a small increase in organ donation rates would save the country in both human and financial costs. We therefore urgently need to raise the organ donor rate in New Zealand. The number of organ donors in New Zealand—only 40 in 2004—was one of the lowest in the Western World, but last year it dropped to just 29. That equates to around 6.7 donors per million of population. As a comparison, Spain, at the other end of the scale, has 39 donors per million of population, the USA has 22, the UK has 13, and Australia has 10. It has been shown that donor rates can be improved by ensuring that all possible potential donors are identified, that contact is made with the donor’s family in an appropriate way, and through enhanced public education. That has been the experience of South Australia, which has had a voluntary opt-on organ register since 2000. In 2004 its donor rate was 20 per million, which is double that of the Australian-wide donation rate of only 10 per million. Last year, because of medical intervention in brain injury patients, which resulted in fewer brain-dead patients, the rate dropped to 13 per million, but this was still double New Zealand’s rate. South Australia links its success to a team approach of identifying donors, working with families, and having a consent register that gives clarity to the donor’s wishes. The model uses medical donor advisers— intensive care - trained doctors—who work with specially trained organ donor coordinators. Importantly, they work as a team. The success of the South Australian model is such that Western Australia and Queensland are adopting it as well. With the proposed new Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill, which provides for the opt-on organ donation register and a public education programme, there is a very real expectation and hope that the vast majority of organ donors, because of the process involved when signing up, will inform their family and make their wishes and intentions crystal clear. I believe the organ donor register will help grieving families and the intensive care team by providing clarity in an emotionally charged and fraught situation. By voting for the bill to go to the select committee, members will be supporting the vast majority of New Zealanders who also want change. There is growing evidence that members of the New Zealand population are not happy about the ability of others to veto their wishes to be donors. In 2004 Colmar Brunton ran a poll asking that very question—whether family members should be able to veto one’s wish to be a donor. A resounding 80 percent said no, they should not. New Zealanders want autonomy over 2750 Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill 3 May 2006 their bodies in death as they have in life. The proposed Organ Donor Register will serve this purpose. I say to colleagues that I have been heartened by the positive feedback from New Zealanders, and by comments made in newspaper editorials supporting this bill. The “tick a box” licence is not informed consent and is meaningless. In the face of declining organ donor numbers internationally, there is a steady stream of countries implementing organ registers. In the USA, 43 states have a law stipulating others cannot override donors’ wishes, and so do some 26 European countries. Some countries have presumed consent registers where everyone is presumed to be a donor and must physically opt off if they do not wish to be. I urge all members not to invent the wheel but to let all those countries that do well in organ donation become our model for a better system that would not only respect individuals’ wishes and be kinder to grieving families but would save the lives of those who would die needlessly. I have canvassed the opinions of intensive care doctors and transplant surgeons who have concerns about a donor register. I totally respect the important work they perform in the most difficult of circumstances but I believe this matter should be democratically debated in the Health Committee. I welcome the comments of colleagues in the debate. The Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill has been drafted so that it is a vehicle that can be amended and refined. I urge members to vote for the first reading of this bill so New Zealanders can have that debate and input at the Health Committee. Hon PETE HODGSON (Minister of Health): Labour will happily support Dr Jackie Blue’s Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill going to a select committee, and I congratulate her and the co-author, Mr Andy Tookey, on the efforts they have made to get us as far as this. We have reservations, and I shall come to them, but before I do so it seems to me appropriate to say that from my knowledge of organ donation—which is modest but increasing—the member who has just resumed her seat has pretty much canvassed the issues. I think she has canvassed them fairly, and I want to acknowledge her contribution and thank her for it. I shall certainly not be repeating international comparisons and other matters. Instead of that, it seems to me that my contribution is best limited to mentioning a few things to do with where we are heading as a Government and how the Health Committee may wish to manage the bill when it comes before it. The Government has, of course, its own initiative in respect of a register. It was a pre-election position for us. Indeed, before the last election a policy was developed for that purpose. I came upon the policy not as the Minister of Health but as the Minister of Transport, because there was hope, at some stage, that we would be able to use existing registers to save a little bit of money. It turns out that the savings are not as we had hoped they would be. That was the point at which I came upon the issue and the good and bad aspects of it. Certainly, the Government joins with the member—and I am sure any other member of this House—in saying that anything that can be reasonably done to improve the organ donation rate of this country across a variety of organs, for the reasons that the member has laid out, is to be supported and we certainly support it strongly. As to timing, I do not actually know when this human tissues bill, which the Government has in mind to replace the Human Tissue Act 1964, will be introduced into the House, but I do know that it will not be long. I suspect that in about 4 or 5 weeks Cabinet will again look at the next part of the process of getting this bill prepared for introduction, and it is my hope that it will be introduced and, if possible, passed in the 2006 calendar year. We shall see. That therefore influences perhaps—though it is for the select committee to decide—how the committee manages the legislation when it comes before it. 3 May 2006 Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill 2751 There was a time when I was in Opposition that I was annoyed by the lack of progress on animal welfare legislation. I wrote animal welfare legislation—or, more honestly, had it written for me by the person who had written the Government’s version of the legislation, which the Government had then not proceeded with—and like the member, Dr Jackie Blue, I won a ballot and introduced it. As is the case for the member, the Government then said it had legislation coming along, too. In that particular instance, the Government changed its mind and decided that discretion was the better part of valour. In the end, it was good legislation, and it is on our statute book now. The Government bill of the day took precedence because it was broader and because— frankly—it was a little more modern. It may be—although I do not want in any way to be seen to influence the select committee—that the select committee decides on a similar approach. That is up to it, but in any case my office would happily advise the select committee on the progress of the Government’s bill any time the select committee wishes it. I hope a range of opinions will be forthcoming; I actually have no doubt that that will be the case. I am sure the aforementioned Mr Tookey will be interested, and I am sure the other person who was quoted with him in the New Zealand Herald on Monday, the vice-president of the Australia and New Zealand Intensive Care Society, Dr Peter Hicks, along with other intensivists, will be in front of the Health Committee. They will want the committee to take part in a very serious and interesting debate that the member herself has referred to on the issue of the primacy of the individual to have a say over what happens to his or her body after death. It is an issue that is played out in cremation and autopsy, and it is now about to be played out in organ donation. The Government has reservations about that aspect of the member’s bill and wants to put those on the table now. Government members are very happy for the select committee to examine the detail. We are particularly happy for the select committee to look at international evidence. As committee members look at all of the international evidence in Europe, and so on—as the member has already alluded to—I ask them also to please contemplate looking across the Tasman, where, I understand, Australia is now beginning to have experience of this kind of legislation. I ask them to try to divine what it is about a register that makes it work or not work. There is the possibility, as the member suggested in her remarks, that it is the surrounding education that matters. That is to say, I ask members not to go for the thing that is easy to do—to get the register up and say that that is it, and that they have done their bit—but to please work out what it is that makes some countries’ registers more successful than others. Certainly, our organ transplant rate is amongst the lowest in the Western World. In many aspects of our health system we are usually in the top half of any group of countries. In this particular measure, we are second to bottom, according to my figures, with Australia coming in last. So we do have an issue, quite apart from the fact that we have the epidemic of kidney and perhaps liver complaints coming on, for the reasons that the member has pointed out. Those are my remarks. We want to support the legislation. I personally offer to the member my acknowledgment of, and congratulations on, her work. It is a really good example of members’ legislation in action. We are delighted. We have serious reservations about aspects of the legislation. The Government has its own legislation coming forward, and it may be that the two bills could or should be merged. I ask the select committee members, when they are deliberating on the bill to please—for my sake, as well as for the sake of the rest of the country—pay close attention to what they think are the key drivers behind organ donation rates in other countries; what cultural or educational programmes, for example, what other influences, exist in those other 2752 Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill 3 May 2006 countries that result in such a great disparity in the organ donation rates, and that have ours running second to bottom. BARBARA STEWART (NZ First): New Zealand First supports the intent of this bill and will support its passage to select committee. We must congratulate Dr Blue and Mr Tookey on their efforts to increase the awareness of organ donation, and on their bill that together they have brought to the House. In New Zealand First, we are very aware that those countries that have followed this very same line have found that organ donation rates did not increase significantly. I was interested to read in the New Zealand Herald recently that doctors believed that this bill is unworkable and they intend to oppose it for a whole variety of reasons, which we will, no doubt, find out over the next few weeks. However, by voting the bill through to the select committee the public of New Zealand will have the opportunity to comment on the bill and suggest appropriate amendments, which we need them to do. It is a fact that donor rates are declining internationally, and the New Zealand rate of organ donation is no exception to this trend. Fewer organ transplants are being carried out here, for a whole variety of reasons. So it is not only a New Zealand problem; it is an international one. As the Minister has said, all countries are looking at ways to improve the rate of organ donation, and this type of legislation may be one of the ways that helps to raise the profile of organ donation and, perhaps, result in an increase in various organs for donation. We know that the 2004 figure was very low, as it has been in many years, and the Minister has said that our rate is among the lowest in the Western World. We were pleased in New Zealand First to see that the bill discusses setting up an opt- on register. We believe that most people, when they tick the donor box on the driver- licensing application, believe they will be a donor, but this is actually not the case, unfortunately. There is no link between the land transport and the health databases. So one must wonder why people are asked during the driver-licensing process about becoming a donor, when their decision cannot be enforced. The proposed register in this bill allows people to indicate which organs they wish to donate and whether these donations can be for therapeutic use, or used for medical education or research. We say that people need to be aware of the necessity of communicating their wishes for donation to their families. I note that a national donor register would make this unnecessary, but it still can come as a shock to a grieving family that their loved family member wishes this course of action to occur. I am very aware, too, that at this point in time family members can and do overrule the dying family member’s wish. Aligned to the rate of organ donation is the need for further education of the public in this area. People do need to know more about organ donation and the uses various organs can be put to. Perhaps this bill may lead to increased donor awareness and give people the right to have their wishes respected. As I said earlier, research from overseas indicates that this type of legislation has not resulted in significant increases in donor rates, but we must acknowledge that some action is better than no action. I am reminded of the saying that failure is not the worst thing in the world, the very worst thing is not to try. The medical ethics surrounding organ donation will need to be carefully explored during the select committee process. We must be very clear about these, as the grieving family definitely has rights too. Hopefully, the medical profession will be participating in the select committee process to guide our deliberations in this area. New Zealand First acknowledges that this bill is well meaning, and there are issues surrounding organ donation that do need some clarification and public discussion. So we will be most interested to hear the views of the submitters to the select committee. 3 May 2006 Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill 2753 SUE KEDGLEY (Green): The Green Party would like to congratulate Dr Jackie Blue and Andrew Tookey on bringing this important issue to the House. It is really only those families with family members who require organ donation who know just how important this bill is. I think it must be terrifying to be someone like Andrew Tookey. He has a child who, he knows, will need an organ transplant, and he knows that there were only 29 organ donors last year. He knows too that there are literally hundreds of people waiting—I think about 350 people in New Zealand are waiting for a transplant; they are waiting mainly for kidneys but also for other organs—that some of them are dying because they cannot get an organ, and that their lives would have been saved if one had been available. I think the key issue in this whole debate is the fact that more than 1 million New Zealanders have indicated on their driver’s licence that they are willing to donate one of their organs, yet only 29 people were donors last year. Why is there a discrepancy? What is going on? When more than 1 million New Zealanders say they are willing to donate an organ, why do we have one of the lowest rates of organ donation in the world? Of course, as the Minister has indicated, it is an issue we must address because we will need more and more organs, particularly kidneys, if the epidemics of type 2 diabetes and obesity, etc. continue. The interesting thing is that Andy Tookey brought this issue to Parliament about 3 years ago, I think. The Health Committee considered it and wrote a report. We had a whole lot of recommendations, and basically the Government turned down most of them. I suspect that, really, this bill is implementing a number of our recommendations—for example, the establishment of a national donor register to replace the current driver’s-licence system. I personally feel frustrated at the length of time this has taken. We discussed this issue, and all members on the Heath Committee agreed that it was urgent and that it was a priority, yet nothing seems to have happened. So I am absolutely delighted that this bill will force the Health Committee to deal with the issue. I hope that we can deal with it as expeditiously as possible, because, frankly, I am frustrated at the seeming lack of action despite the petitions and the recommendations that we have already made. We have to respect cultural values. That must be inherent in the bill. We have to incorporate tikanga Māori. We have to acknowledge that whānau have a very significant role. We have to find a way to accommodate all of that. Yes, concerns have been raised about whether the wishes of the donor should be able to be overturned by the family. We will have to wrestle with those issues, and we will hear submissions on that. The other problem is that at the moment it is not clear what a request on a driver’s- licence application form exactly permits. It states: “Would you be willing to donate organs in the event of your death?”. As Barbara Stewart has pointed out, what does this mean—for what purpose? Would it be for a therapeutic purpose? It could be interpreted as giving permission for one’s organs to be used for medical research and education, which some people may not be happy about, at all. So, frankly, the driver’s-licence system, as we all agreed many years ago, does not work, and we need to scrap it. We need to set up an organ donor register, and we need much more publicity. Those are the sorts of things that are proposed in this bill—and were proposed to the Health Committee a number of years ago—and we hope that this time it will result in the select committee, or the Government, coming up with legislation that will address the situation and we will not have 2 or 3 more years of delay. The Green Party is extremely happy to be supporting this member’s bill, and congratulates Jackie Blue and Andy Tookey on their work in bringing it to the House. 2754 Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill 3 May 2006 TARIANA TURIA (Co-Leader—Māori Party): It is not unusual for us to receive calls regarding the deaths of family members. Two days ago I got a call that a whanaunga of mine not in her 60s yet, with a history of diabetes, had passed away. Our people are overrepresented in cases of diabetic renal failure, with rates up to 10 times those of non-Māori. One of the greatest tragedies of our time is that the rate of organ donation to prolong the lives of so many of our whanaunga is low. A statistical analysis by the National Transplant Donor Coordination Office showed that only six Māori families consented to organ donation between 1988 and 1996, from a total of 290 families. Given the prevalence of kidney disease in our population and potential issues around tissue matching, this low rate of organ donation seriously affects Māori people. We are very aware that the current demand for tissue-compatible Māori organs exceeds current supply. This is a huge issue for our communities, and it is a dialogue that the Māori Party very much wants to continue amongst our people. We welcome and will seek further opportunity for meaningful debate around how health and other professionals deal with the removal, retention, and return of body parts, and with organ donation. We mihi to Jackie Blue, for her courage, and to that member and to Andy Tookey for their initiative in trying to address the donor shortage problem in New Zealand. But the bill being discussed here today goes far further than many of our people are willing to consider. Many Māori are very uncomfortable with the concept of organ donation following death—the tūpāpaku is tapu, and to interfere with it in any way is abhorrent to our culture. Human tissue organ donation is a massive issue for us, and it raises huge questions about issues of protection, informed consent, tangata whenua control of information and medical processes, access to information and medical care, and, most of all, cultural respect. The issue of the removal of body parts without seeking informed consent has a heavy history for Māori. Controversy arose in 1991 regarding the removal of organs from Māori bodies either to determine the cause of death or for research or transplant purposes. Some cases dated back to 1963. In many cases the removals were not necessary to determine the cause of death, as, indeed, I spoke about last night in reference to the Coroners Bill. The practice broke tapu and breached Māori cultural protocols, and many whānau were traumatised, suffering unacceptable delays before the tūpāpaku were returned. I raise another way of looking at this issue. It is one that the Māori Party has been talking about in our communities, given that people spoke so strongly against the bill when we presented it to them. We raised the issue of live transplants between whānau members. That actually seemed to catch on with our people. They were quite accepting of the idea that it is really important that we take responsibility within our whānau to ensure the wellness of our whānau and that we give life back to our own. Despite the fact we are not voting with Jackie tonight, I thank her, because it is probably not an issue we would have otherwise discussed. I thank her for raising this legislation and, in a way, for creating the opportunity for us to take the issue back to our people. Ethnicity is said to be an important aspect in respect of tissue matching, but I tell members of a recent situation when a whānau were looking for a live donor amongst themselves. In fact, the only match was the Pākehā sister-in-law. The transplant took place, but it was not one of the whakapapa family who gave the donation. There are some very important stories for us to learn from. In taking this issue to the people we learned of the desire of our people to know more about their legal rights and requirements in relation to organ donation and post- mortems. We heard many concerns that our people have about the process, and the aspiration of wider whānau members, such as kaumātua and kuia, to benefit from the 3 May 2006 Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill 2755 information. We as a political party wanted to send this bill to a select committee, but ultimately our commitment to our constituency means everything, and we must be true to them. Over and over again the bill was rejected outright. Nā reira, ka nui te mihi ki a koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa. JUDY TURNER (Deputy Leader—United Future): I rise on behalf of United Future to say that we will gladly support the first reading of this bill. I congratulate the sponsor, Jackie Blue, and, of course, I congratulate Andy Tookey on the commitment he has shown to this cause. I have to say that I am a little bit disappointed that the Māori Party has chosen at this stage not to offer support. I think that supporting a first reading gives a great opportunity for ongoing dialogue, not just within this House but outside. I understand the cultural sensitivities around this matter, but I also understand that all cultures are dynamic and responsive to phenomena, and often adjust over time. I believe that this discussion is an important one because of the fact that Māori are so overrepresented in the group that will often need organ donations. This issue is not unfamiliar to me. I personally have had some ethical dilemmas in my own life regarding certain medical procedures of in vitro fertilisation. I know that the technology has moved on a lot, but years ago, prior to when I was considering having children, I looked very seriously at this issue and wondered what would happen if I discovered I had a fertility problem, because I had some ethical dilemmas around the processes that were available at that time. I decided for myself that if I discovered I was going to have difficulties, I would have to live with those, because I could not ethically condone the practices of in vitro fertilisation of that time. I mention that because on this matter all members need to ask themselves, with real honesty and regardless of their concerns, what their opinions would be if they or one of their close family members were put in a situation where an organ donation would save a life. All of us need to think that through very carefully. I realise that it is not just the Māori community that has some concerns around this. Other communities in New Zealand share some reservations about what we do with body parts. I respect those views, but I also think that this technology provides us with an opportunity to think again and to re-evaluate, together as a community, what this means. This bill is long overdue. For years we have put up with the silly situation whereby upon going into an Automobile Association office to sign up for a driver’s licence, we suddenly, often unexpectedly, are faced with the chance to tick a box and say whether we are prepared to be a donor. Often we have not given it any thought at all, and we make a snap decision. I know of many people who did not tick the box because they could think of parts of their body that they did not want to donate, and other parts that they would be happy to donate. They did not get that option on the form, and therefore they ticked “No”. The other aspect is that two very unrelated things—a driver’s licence and an organ donation system—are linked together, and that very matter was one of the things the select committee looked at when Mr Tookey petitioned us. One of the things that I suggest would be an interesting consideration would be to look at the current blood donor system. People go in to give blood in donation mode. They may be very open at that stage to considering organ donation. When people have decided to be a donor, we must follow up that offer with some really good information and encourage them to spend time talking to their families. Certainly, since Mr Tookey brought his petition I have done just that with my family. We have discussed organ donation thoroughly. I have expressed my desire to be an organ donor. I have checked with my children, who are now adults, about what their desire would be if something befell them. We have talked about it really clearly, and we all now know where we stand on that. 2756 Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill 3 May 2006 I also mention in passing that one of my roles in my previous life was as a funeral celebrant. So I am very well acquainted with the trauma and emotional baggage that goes on when people have lost someone very close to them, and I know how difficult it is to make a decision. We agree with surgeons that nobody wants to force a family who are grieving to go ahead with the donation against their will. That is why it is really important to have this discussion. We will support this bill. We think some changes need to be made, but we congratulate the sponsor of the bill, and we congratulate Andy Tookey. It is great that this discussion can now begin. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Port Waikato): It is very encouraging to hear that the Minister is keen for an open and collaborative discussion on how we in New Zealand can increase organ donation. I certainly also hope that during the select committee process the Māori Party’s views will be well made to and better understood across the various parties in the House. But, firstly, I acknowledge the initiative and work of my colleague Dr Jackie Blue and congratulate her on the way she has taken on the responsibility of this bill. I also acknowledge Andy Tookey, who is sitting in the gallery. He firstly, with dogged determination, brought a petition to Parliament, and then he consistently supported with ardent fervour this organ donation bill coming into Parliament. Dr Blue has clearly outlined that donor shortage is a major problem in New Zealand, and that with an ageing population and an obesity and diabetic epidemic in the country there will be even greater demands for donor organs into the future. Unless new techniques such as may occur from stem cell research become a reality, demand will continue to outstrip supply. I also acknowledge the altruism of individuals and families throughout New Zealand who are willing to donate their organs to help others. It is classic Kiwi goodwill that so many are available. The tragedy is that so few come for donation in New Zealand. It is clear that many New Zealanders know little about the complexities and subtleties, legal and technical, associated with organ donation. One thing that I think must never occur is the commercial aspect to donation, apart from compensation for expenses. Coupled with the donor’s generosity, it is fundamental to acknowledge the extremely sensitive, demanding, and challenging work that doctors, nurses, and intensivists—transplant specialists—undertake on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week, to enable the process of organ donation to proceed effectively when organs are available in New Zealand. The House should be reminded that the 2004 report of the Health Committee recommended to the Government that it proceed to investigate the option of an indicative register that records organ donation wishes, independent of its review of the regulation of human tissue and tissue-based therapy. Dr Stephen Streat, a specialist intensivist, has taken on the extremely demanding job of clinical leader of Organ Donation New Zealand. There is no doubt that it is hugely important, if we are to achieve a successful organ donor system in New Zealand, that the views of all participants in the process are thoroughly understood and listened to so that it runs smoothly. There needs to be a framework of cooperation, not a framework of conflict. I understand that in the United Kingdom there has been antagonism between the transplant and the intensive care community. However, in New Zealand under the present regime, indicative as it is, there is a highly collaborative relationship that leads to the smooth running of this very technically complex process. It has been impressed on me that the quality of the processes developed must be extremely high, as any mistakes are liable to be magnified. New Zealand does have a legacy of failures around informed consent, dating from the National Women’s Hospital cervical cancer inquiry, the Gisborne inquiry, the Green Lane Hospital heart library, and the neonatal physiotherapy saga. Therefore, it is vital that the lessons learnt from these extremely 3 May 2006 Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill 2757 damaging episodes of New Zealand history are taken on board when it comes to developing the regulatory framework of a successful donor system, and particularly the parameters around informed consent. I end by saying that Dr Jackie Blue’s bill will serve as a very important template to generate informed discussion about organ donation. Hopefully, after going through the select committee process, it will achieve a regulatory framework that successfully serves the organ donation needs of the New Zealand community and will be evidence- based. STEVE CHADWICK (Labour—Rotorua): I am pleased to take a call tonight and I congratulate Dr Jackie Blue on her initiatives in bringing this bill to the House. However, I have to say that I have great reservations about it, and I am glad to have the opportunity to mention them. I was chair of the Health Committee when we heard Andy Tookey’s petition, and we were all very moved. I am glad he is here tonight to see this bill coming to the House. I think this bill will certainly stimulate and increase discussion about the position of organ donation in New Zealand. We were very careful. We took Andy’s petition very, very seriously because we are worried about the organ donation rate in this country. We came up with eight recommendations, and not one of those recommendations was a legislative option. I remind all members that after we had heard the petition, not one of our eight recommendations suggested a bill. We were focused on ongoing education campaigns. We were looking at a national public awareness campaign. We knew there needed to be a lot of discussion with Māori over the issues of lore, not law. We knew that we were a long way away from increasing that level of awareness. We instigated the establishment of Organ Donation New Zealand, and I was really thrilled to see that happen. My colleague Sue Kedgley said that nothing has happened, but Organ Donation New Zealand is now set up. It is now moving to develop policies and protocols to increase awareness of the need for organ donation. I admit to some frustration with the New Zealand driver’s-licence system, and the farce that it is to tick the box to be registered as a donor. I sought approval from Cabinet to draft a member’s bill. Off I went, with a legal drafter, to see the intensivists at Auckland Hospital. I was told very, very clearly that no matter what is on the driver’s licence and on a register, they will never look at that first, because they never want to be put in the position, with end-of-life care, of looking like they are harvesting organs. They want a family to reach its own conclusion in respect of end-of-life care. They do not want it to look like they see the tick on the register then go in to harvest the organs. We have to respect that. They are the intensivists whom we all depend upon when we have a loved one needing end-of-life care. I came out of that meeting with those people who now run Organ Donation New Zealand and decided that I would not draft a bill. That was after doing a lot of research on the international figures. I think this Government has gone about this issue the right way. It is about incremental change. We now have Organ Donation New Zealand. It is progressing. We have also developed a human tissue bill. That has been done. We are waiting for the bill to be introduced, as the Minister Pete Hodgson said. Developing that bill was an incredibly important step, because when we went out on consultation, with a discussion document, we received an enormous response from people around the country. They too did not understand the complexity around organ donation. That bill will address the issues that are in Dr Blue’s bill. I think it will be interesting to see which one comes first and how the Health Committee interfaces the approaches. I do not believe that legislation is the right mechanism at this stage to increase organ availability. I think we need to look at the issue of informed consent when we get our 2758 Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill 3 May 2006 driver’s licence or when we register with a primary health organisation. That is the time to have a discussion with the family doctor about what it means to be a donor, and whether a donor can give some organs and not others. We can then go back and make our families very aware of our wishes. That is indicative consent that the family will give. I do not like the fact that the family has no power of veto. I do not think that will help towards the yield of organs, which we want in order to increase the numbers on the Organ Donor Register. It will be interesting to see how the Health Committee looks at the human tissue legislation and at Dr Blue’s bill. I urge the Health Committee to invite those intensivists to participate, and also to look at the very interesting opinion that is held at the moment by the New Zealand Medical Association, which has a contrary view. The committee has the difficult task of putting those views together, and I wish it well. Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (National—Northcote): It is my pleasure to speak today in support of Dr Jackie Blue’s Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill. I also acknowledge Andy Tookey’s presence here. I know he made the trip down here before the adjournment to hear this bill. We did not get through all the business that night, so it is a sign of his dedication that he is back here again. I believe that this bill will go some way to addressing the pressing problem of a shortage of organs for donation in this country. As such, it really does stand to benefit greatly the people of New Zealand. It will represent a significant change to the current system for donor arrangements. The bottom line is that organ donation saves lives. New Zealanders deserve the right to have their wishes respected in death, including the decision to donate an organ. Many New Zealand families have been enormously comforted in times of distress by the knowledge that a dearly loved family member has been able to give another human being the chance of life. What is more, the long-term success rates for transplant surgery have increased dramatically over the past few years. Now, 5 years after gaining a new heart, 75 percent of recipients are still alive, and 5 years after receiving a new liver, 90 percent of people are still living. From just one donor, as many as 10 people can directly benefit and drastically improve their quality of life or be given the chance of continued life. Organ donation has positively impacted on the lives of many, many New Zealanders and their families. However, it is my belief that the current Act is not working and that New Zealand really does need to proactively address why our level of organ donation is so low, so that we can find a solution to this problem before more people die while waiting for a donor organ to become available. In 2004 approximately 400 New Zealanders were waiting for a donor organ, and there are 350 at the present time. In 2005, 19 people died while waiting for a donor organ, and with a diabetes epidemic upon us, the demand for donor kidneys will further outstrip the number of organs available. Interestingly, around 1.1 million New Zealanders have said yes to organ donation on their drivers’ licences. In many cases, though, when someone in this situation becomes eligible to donate his or her organs, family members veto such a request. This is one of the major issues that Jackie Blue’s bill seeks to address. Although only a small number of people who die each year are medically suitable to donate their organs, on average 43 percent of these people are stopped from donating due to the veto of the family. Indeed, it is well known that putting “donor” on one’s driver’s licence is not a legally binding way to become an organ donor. This bill would make a person’s stated and documented wish to donate legally binding. Another area of contention in the current Act is the lack of a national register for organ donors, as well as there being no choice as to what organs a person can choose to donate. For an organ donation system to work effectively, a national register such as the 3 May 2006 Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill 2759 one Dr Blue proposes is necessary. This is because such a register would include non- drivers, unlike the current system, and would allow people to specify which organs they would and would not like to donate once they are deceased. As well as this, they would be given a choice about what their organs would be used for—for medical research or for donation to a fellow human being. In 2004 the Health Committee considered the issue of organ donor rates and what could be done about increasing them. Although there have been efforts to act on many of the committee’s recommendations, it is clear that more impetus is required. New Zealanders deserve the chance for this bill to be examined at select committee level. There is a groundswell of public support out there for this issue to be examined. The articles, letters, and editorials in our newspapers are testament to this. We are under no illusion that there will not be difficulties in enacting what this bill proposes, but we would be letting down the people of New Zealand if we filed this one away in the too- hard basket. In summary, the Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill seeks to address the shortcomings of the current system. It is a step in the right direction of addressing a major problem for our nation—our terribly low organ donor rates. Any bill that seriously attempts to do this should be given the chance to be considered in detail by this Parliament. We owe that to the people. Dr JACKIE BLUE (National): I would like to thank all members for their comments. I am grateful there appears to be support for this bill to go to the Health Committee. I thank the Minister the Hon Pete Hodgson for his input, and I agree that we must get it right. The Health Committee must look overseas to find examples of how the legislation works. I believe the key will be a register that gives clarity, education, and teamwork, and I agree with Steve Chadwick that Organ Donation New Zealand has started that process already. When I met with Steve in the street, I was very impressed and very pleased to learn that that teamwork is happening in the intensive care units around New Zealand. I acknowledge Tariana Turia. I respect the Māori Party’s position, and understand the cultural difficulties it has with donations from deceased donors. I am very pleased that as a result of this bill there has been discussion and debate with Ms Turia’s people, and that Māori are now talking about live donation. I note in yesterday’s New Zealand Herald that a Māori health worker, Mr Phil Heremaia, will go on the road in a bid to increase donor rates among Māori people, and I think that is a very positive step. In conclusion, I thank all members for their comments. The bill will be a challenge, but it is one that the Health Committee must meet, as we must find a way through this issue. Bill read a first time. Bill referred to the Health Committee. MARINE RESERVES (CONSULTATION WITH STAKEHOLDERS) AMENDMENT BILL First Reading ERIC ROY (National—Invercargill): I move, That the Marine Reserves (Consultation with Stakeholders) Amendment Bill be now read a first time. I am very happy to promote this bill to the House. The bill has really come out of seeing a model working, and working in a particular area, with quite startling outcomes. There have been some very, very good results from what has been achieved in the Fiordland area— but I will talk more about that later. I thank spokespeople from the various parties who 2760 Marine Reserves (Consultation) Amendment Bill 3 May 2006 have shown an interest in this bill, and those who have consulted with me during the process today. I thank them for their interest. Initially, I will say a few things about marine reserves. I do not believe that there should be an arbitrary percentage of the economic zone in a marine reserve. I think that if we are to adopt that, we are admitting failures in a number of areas. In 1996 the Fisheries Act was rewritten to embrace the purposes and principles of sustainability, and that is what underpins the management of the marine areas of New Zealand. Sustainability must come first. Marine reserves are important—they are an important tool—but they fit alongside a number of other mechanisms that are embraced in that legislation: mātaitai reserves, tai-ā-pure, fisheries management plans, total allowable catch management of the fishery, and a whole number of mechanisms that are there. Marine reserves are an important part of that. There is a rational argument that we should preserve some parts of our marine environment untouched and unmodified. There is a rational argument that there are fragile areas that need protection—and I am thinking of some of the black and red corals that exist in Fiordland, and of similar examples around New Zealand. These need to be protected, and the marine reserve may well be the best mechanism for doing that. There are places in the marine reserve that are high recruitment areas where fish go to spawn. I can think of a number of areas like that where a marine reserve may well be the appropriate mechanism of protection. There are some iconic locations in our marine environment where placing a marine reserve over those locations increases the prestige and enhances the value of those particular areas. So marine reserves are important. So the question arises as to why this particular bill is necessary. If we look at our track record of the process of setting up marine reserves and at how many marine reserves have been established, particularly in recent days, we can see that it is, indeed, a very tortuous process. In some instances there were quite lengthy and quite polarised opinions, quite a degree of acrimony and, indeed, some isolation. In fact, in the last 7 years under this Labour Government 13 marine reserves have been established. Now, that may sound— Hon Chris Carter: Sixteen. ERIC ROY: Well, I am corrected. My researcher tells me 13. Well, if it is 16 that is fine. The interesting thing is that eight of these marine reserves were established in Fiordland by the process upon which the Marine Reserves (Consultation with Stakeholders) Amendment Bill is modelled. Simply, this bill requires consultation with all stakeholders. We are saying that every stakeholder is important in the establishment. We have had situations whereby stakeholders have not considered their worth as being equal and in many cases have felt isolated, so they have taken a position of antagonism towards marine reserves. The situation in Fiordland was that all the stakeholders said that it is a precious and unique area and that they needed to do some things to manage it. That was the concept around which they gathered. There were commercial operators who were in tourism and fishing, recreational boaties, fishermen, iwi, and conservationists. A range of people simply got together and set up the Guardians of Fiordland’s Fisheries and Marine Environment. Yes, they got some help from a few people with specialities in the area to guide and lead them, but essentially it was a homespun solution to a very unique and precious part of New Zealand. Out of that came the recognition that we need to have protection over some areas, and that the best way to do that is to have marine reserves. In one piece of legislation eight marine reserves were established, simply because consultation was taken seriously and all the parties who had an interest in that particular area were consulted. I think that is an absolutely stunning result. There we have an example whereby half of the marine 3 May 2006 Marine Reserves (Consultation) Amendment Bill 2761 reserves that have been established in the last 7 years were achieved by the group that had total consultation in the area. So I say that it is absolutely necessary that we consider the importance of individual stakeholders in establishing a marine reserve. This bill requires that consultation. I am aware that there is a Marine Reserves Bill 2002 that is parked in the Local Government and Environment Committee, so at the conclusion of the debate on this particular bill—and I presume that it will be successful—I will move that it go to the Local Government and Environment Committee. It is my expectation that this bill will stimulate some result and that we may see the more complete Marine Reserves Bill come back on to the Table. I notice that the Minister of Conservation is nodding. That will be my second objective in putting in this bill, and I want to see some action on this. Where this bill differs slightly in process to the Marine Reserves Bill is in relation to Part 4 of the Marine Reserves Bill, regarding the consultation and establishment process. I say to members that they might like to consider, in particular, clauses 46 to about 53. The bill that I am promoting ramps up the process of consultation with those stakeholders. I am happy to promote this bill. I believe that it will be a significant step forward. I live between two areas that have totally different approaches. On one side of me is Nugget Point, and the Minister Clayton Cosgrove, I am sure, will recognise the agony that has been gone through around that process. Having met with those people— [Interruption] I know that the member for Waimakariri is indeed interested in this bill. He cannot contain himself; he is so excited to promote it. He may care just to listen and learn from the example. What I am saying is that in Nugget Point there is a totally polarised position whereby the local community is not in favour of it. Some are in favour and some are not, but, essentially, they feel disenfranchised. On the other side, in Fiordland, where there was complete involvement by a whole range of stakeholders, there are now eight marine reserves, just like that. Probably one of the key aspects in including this wider consultation is that if the community is involved, they take ownership of the outcome. In taking ownership of that outcome they actually value that outcome, and that will be one of the key protection items in maintaining compliance with a marine reserve. Many of these marine reserves are in quite isolated areas. One can think of up around the islands to the north of New Zealand, of the subantarctic, and of Fiordland. We do not actually have a lot of fisheries officers there to monitor and ensure the protection of and compliance with what a marine reserve establishes. So if we have a buy-in from the community, they will ensure the compliance with what is necessary to maintain that marine reserve. I commend this bill to the House. I thank members who have shown an interest in it. I look forward to seeing it progress through the Local Government and Environment Committee, and also look forward to the Marine Reserves Bill 2002 being reconsidered so that we might have some sensible outcomes with one tool. That is important to the management of our marine environment. Hon CHRIS CARTER (Minister of Conservation): The Government will support the Marine Reserves (Consultation with Stakeholders) Amendment Bill. As the previous speaker, who is sponsoring the bill, Eric Roy, said, New Zealand has a biologically rich and complex marine environment. Hon Tau Henare: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Sometimes members’ interjections are nice and witty. The accusation by “Mini Mike Moore” over there that I should be bouncing away in a bar is absolutely horrendous. I ask you, Madam Assistant Speaker, to get him to withdraw and apologise. Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I withdraw and apologise. 2762 Marine Reserves (Consultation) Amendment Bill 3 May 2006 Hon CHRIS CARTER: I realise I have just a couple of minutes to go. In 2 weeks’ time, when the bill comes back, I will be in Kiribati visiting the third-largest marine protected area in the world, which was declared as such a few weeks ago by the Government of that Pacific Island State. Marine protection is something that all countries of the world with a coastline and marine area are absolutely passionate about. New Zealand has the world’s fourth-largest marine zone—a zone that is 15 times larger than our land area—and contained within that unique biological area are some 15,000 species, most of which are endemic to our region. It is absolutely critical that we protect them. Marine reserves provide one tool for doing that. Mr Roy is correct: the Marine Reserves Bill has been sitting with the Local Government and Environment Committee for a long time. I hope his bill, which I support, will stimulate progress on that legislation. There is a real opportunity for the consultative processes that he has incorporated into his bill to be weaved into the Marine Reserves Bill, because the bills contain many similar provisions. Also, of course, the Government has declared its marine protected area strategy, which I launched last year with the Minister of Fisheries. The strategy is all about creating an environment where key stakeholders—recreational fishers, commercial fishers, iwi, local government, and conservationists—work together to create just the sort of outcome that Mr Roy described in respect of Fiordland. Debate interrupted. The House adjourned at 10 p.m.