Questions and Answers – 20 October 2010

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 — 4:54 PM

Press Release – Office of the Clerk

Tax System Changes—Effect on Families; Economy—International Reports; Inflation—Price Rises Contributing to Recent Surge; Irrigation—Community Irrigation Fund Grants
(uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)




Tax System Changes—Effect on Families

1. Hon PHIL GOFF (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement to the House yesterday “The reason that families should take some comfort is that, by and large, for the most part, their wages are rising faster than the rate of inflation.”; if so, what is the proportion of families that is expected to receive above inflation wage rises between March 2010 and March 2011?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, and I will explain carefully to the member why the quote in the first part of his question is correct. Over the seven quarters from September 2008 to June 2010, Statistics New Zealand data, which happens to be the same data used to calculate New Zealand superannuation, shows the following: wages have risen 7 percent before tax, which equates to 11 percent after tax. Interestingly enough, over the same period prices have risen by 2 percent. Now, for the purpose of the education of the Leader of the Opposition—

Mr SPEAKER: That comment was unnecessary. The Prime Minister was fine until that point, but he should have answered the question as a straight question. He does not need to educate the Leader of the Opposition at all.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Yesterday we had considerable discussion about members on both sides of the House not being seated when you asked them to sit. I think there were three times when you called “Order” to the Prime Minister before he stopped speaking.

Mr SPEAKER: With respect, I think the Prime Minister resumed his seat reasonably promptly when I got to my feet.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: As we can all see, 7 percent and 11 percent are higher than 2 percent, so whichever way we look at it, whether pre-tax or after tax, wages have risen faster than inflation. I know the Leader of the Opposition may not like the facts getting involved with a good story, but that is the way they are. With regard to the second part of the member’s question, I am not aware of any such projections.

Mr SPEAKER: I apologise, but I did not hear the last part of the Rt Hon Prime Minister’s answer. I ask him to repeat that.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: With regard to the second part of the member’s question, I am not aware of any such projections.

Hon Phil Goff: I seek leave of the House to table, for example, the BNZ predictions that show inflation will be hitting close to 5 percent by the beginning of next year.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. I trust there is a document?

Hon Phil Goff: There is.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Hon Phil Goff: Talk about the facts getting in the way of a good story.

Mr SPEAKER: There will be no further comment. The honourable Leader of the Opposition saw me deal with the Prime Minister, and I will deal with the Leader of the Opposition in exactly the same way. That kind of gratuitous comment will not be allowed.

Hon Phil Goff: Is the Prime Minister, therefore, telling New Zealand families that they are wrong when they believe that the cost of everything is going up, which is leaving them less well off than they were a year ago because most of them have not had wage rises?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: If New Zealand families are saying the cost of everything is going up, then yes, they are wrong. The price of petrol in the last 2 years of the previous Labour Government went up by 43 percent; it has gone down by 13 percent under this National Government. The price of vegetables in the last 2 years of the previous Labour Government went up by 21 percent, and under this National Government it has fallen by 6 percent. The price of eggs in the last 2 years of the previous Labour Government went up by 19 percent, and under this National Government it has fallen by 6 percent. Interestingly enough, the price of cheese in the last 2 years of the previous Labour Government went up by 50 percent, and it has now fallen by 3 percent.

Mr SPEAKER: I think the House has heard sufficient answer.

Hon Phil Goff: If the Prime Minister is right, why is it that Veda Advantage, the country’s largest credit agency, reports that “Tens of thousands of New Zealanders are finding they just can’t pay their bills”, and that consumer defaults have leapt by a massive 18 percent since January of this year?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: It is because consumer defaults are a lagging indicator, and unfortunately these people have to deal with the mess that the previous Labour Government left the country in.

Hon Phil Goff: I seek leave to table a document from Veda Advantage showing that this is not a lagging indicator. This information is from January this year.

Mr SPEAKER: Now listen. I say again to the honourable Leader of the Opposition that he is a very experienced member. He knows the rules of the House. When he seeks leave to table a document, he does not make those sorts of comments. I ask him to seek leave properly.

Hon Phil Goff: I seek leave of the House to table a statement from Veda Advantage showing that tens of thousands of New Zealanders are finding they cannot pay their bills, and that the rate of defaults is at an all-time high. It has been 18 percent since January.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Jo Goodhew: Do wages always rise faster than inflation?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, that is not always the case. I give the House just one example, purely for the purposes of comparison. I have chosen the seven quarters from December 2006 to December 2008, in which after-tax wages rose by 6 percent and inflation rose by 7 percent. So in that period wages fell behind inflation, leaving workers worse off. I contrast that with my answer to the primary question, in which I said pre-tax and after-tax wages rose by 7 percent and 11 percent, inflation was 2 percent, and, as everybody in the House knows, seven and 11 are greater than two. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Before I call the honourable member, I say the habit of clapping endlessly is getting a little tiresome.

Hon Phil Goff: Can the Prime Minister tell the House when the last time was that median wages fell in New Zealand, as they did in the year to June of this year?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The lack of economic knowledge on the other side of the House is becoming worrying, but anyway—

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon Trevor Mallard: It was Bill English.

Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat right away. He knows that he does not need to do that when he raises a point of order—in fact, he must not do that. I have warned members, and I spoke to the whips yesterday afternoon. After yesterday everyone is aware that there will not be a repeat of what happened yesterday, and that includes the member who interjected. The Deputy Prime Minister will not do that sort of thing. However, I do have to be careful where members have questions on the Order Paper. I do not want to punish other parts of the House through evicting a Minister who should be answering a question, but I will do what I have to do. I will find another way of penalising Ministers if they think that the Speaker will not penalise them. If they want to keep the supplementary questions that they think some of their colleagues will ask them, then they had better behave, and so too had the member who raised the point of order.

Hon Trevor Mallard: It is a straightforward point of order. It was a very straightforward question, using your advice. It was a direct question, and the Prime Minister abused—

Mr SPEAKER: I hear the member, and I invite—

Hon Simon Power: Speaking to the point of order—

Mr SPEAKER: I will hear the Deputy Leader of the House.

Hon Simon Power: We are probably at the stage now where this issue needs a little more clarification. The understanding that we had through a discussion yesterday was that the matter of the straight question and answer, without any reference to politics—oddly enough—would occur from the primary question, and when supplementary questions followed, there would obviously be a bit of toing and froing. If that matter is to be refined further, then it would be worth letting the House know how well refined it is to be.

Mr SPEAKER: I am very happy to let the House know, because it is clear that I was misunderstood. Where supplementary questions are perfectly clear and do not contain political statements or any such comment, I expect to hear a straight answer. Where they contain political statements, the member who asked the question should know not to expect my help if he or she gets a political statement in response. What is more, if members who ask political questions interrupt the Minister’s answer by raising a point of order, I will deal severely with them too, because I will not accept a situation where members know that they are asking a political question and get their political statement away to the House, and then interrupt a Minister who is giving a political answer. I will not tolerate that, either. I do not want to rule out the questions that members want to ask, but it should not be beyond the wit of members to know when they are asking a straight question. Ministers should listen, and when they hear a straight question, they should answer it. But if it contains political views or political statements or claims, then the Minister is free to respond in whatever political way he or she wishes, within reason. As long as it is not outside what is reasonable in the House, the Minister is perfectly free to respond to it, and a member who then interrupts the Minister will be dealt with severely by me, because members should know when they have asked a political question. I will ask the honourable Leader of the Opposition to repeat his question so that everyone can hear it, and if it is a straight question, I expect a straight answer to be given.

Hon Phil Goff: When was the last time that median wages in New Zealand fell, as they did in the year to June 2010, as reported by Statistics New Zealand?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Let us answer the question as we did last week. The member is quoting from the New Zealand Income Survey. It is exactly the same question that was asked last week. As I pointed out last week, the New Zealand Income Survey is a very broad index, which looks at all sorts of things, including investment income. It does not look at wage income. The member knows this, because he knows that by far the best way to measure median income in New Zealand is by using the quarterly employment survey. It has gone up by $31 a week.

Hon Members: Point of order, Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: I think I can anticipate the point of order, because a question was asked, and even though there may be all sorts of issues around the question, I do not believe the Prime Minister really attempted to answer it. The question was, when did the median income for New Zealanders— if I remember the question correctly—last fall in a 12-month period, as it did, the member claimed, to a particular date in 2010? The Prime Minister may not have that information with him, which is a perfectly acceptable answer, and I have no problem with the explanation that the Prime Minister gave. But there should be some attempt to acknowledge that he does not have that information, because it was a straight question, and I think that the House should hear that.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Last year, which is the last period for which I have data, some data showed it went up and some showed it went down.

Hon Phil Goff: Do I take it from the answer that the only two times in the last 12 years that median wages have fallen is in the last 2 years, under a National Government?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Jo Goodhew: How have wages and prices moved over a longer period of time?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In recent periods after-tax wages have been struggling to keep up with inflation. For example, the Statistics New Zealand data that is used to calculate New Zealand superannuation shows that over the 9-year period between 1999 and 2008 real after-tax wages rose in the entire period by 3 percent. This shows what a diabolical mess the previous Labour Government left New Zealand workers in.

Hon Phil Goff: Is it correct that the Department of Labour reported that last year more than half of New Zealanders did not receive a wage increase, although prices kept on rising?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member, again, is quoting from the labour cost index. The labour cost index is again a measure that looks at a specific job, not the movement—

Hon Darren Hughes: Spare us the seminar. Give us an answer.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: You obviously do not understand it, “Dazza”, so I need to take you through it very slowly, in words of one syllable or fewer, son.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that if the member was addressing another member as “son”, it might be an interesting claim, but not factual. But he did say “you”, and I think we can look at both of you and work out that that is impossible.

Mr SPEAKER: The member’s point is quite correct. The Prime Minister did refer to the Speaker then. At my age it is certainly not possible to be the right honourable Prime Minister’s son.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: It is not true, and even though you do look a lot younger than me, Mr Speaker, I accept completely the point made by Mr Mallard. The labour cost index looks at a specific job in time. It does not look at changes that occur to jobs for a variety of reasons. For instance, over the last decade the labour cost index on average has shown 40 to 50 percent of all people have had no change. That was exactly the same right through the period when the Leader of the Opposition was a member of the Labour Government.

Hon Phil Goff: Is it correct that the Minister of Finance showed in the Budget this year that in fact price inflation would be well ahead of wages right up to 2014, which is obviously another 3 or 4 years out?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I cannot comment on the exact details; I do not have them to hand. But I can say that in the 9 years that Labour was in office, wages rose by 3 percent on a real basis in total. Under a National Government, they have risen by 9 percent in 2 years. That is why New Zealand workers are happy and why they do not want the “Goff-father”.

Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Could I table an extract from the Budget showing that what I have just said was absolutely correct, so the Prime Minister is aware of that?

Mr SPEAKER: Normally I would not seek leave to table something from the Budget. However, given the last comment made by the Prime Minister, I will seek leave. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Hon Trevor Mallard: When he claimed that real after-tax wages rose in the period from September 2008 to June 2010, was he using the average wage for employed people for his calculations and ignoring the massive income reduction for the extra 61,000 families who have unemployed members?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Of course, the employment data shows those who are employed.

Economy—International Reports

2. AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) to the Minister of Finance: What international reports has he received on the economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): In recent weeks I have been able to speak to all three credit-rating agencies. At present, New Zealand’s long-term debt is rated triple A by Moody’s, AA+ by Standard and Poor’s, and AA+ with negative watch by Fitch Ratings. I am pleased to be able to tell the House that these high credit ratings appear secure. All three ratings agencies note that the Government has a sound medium-term plan. They are also encouraged by the recent lift in national savings and the reduction in New Zealand’s actual and forecast balance of payments position.

Amy Adams: How is the world economy performing this year?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The performance of the world economy matters because New Zealand is a small, open economy; it is essentially like a cork bobbing on the ocean. Although the world economy has been recovering over the past year, growth slowed in most Western countries during the middle part of this year. This combination of relatively weak growth is placing severe pressure on Government Budgets. The average deficit is expected to be around 9 percent of GDP in developed economies—New Zealand’s is around 6 percent of GDP—and debt levels are rising rapidly. Fortunately, the markets into which we sell our products, increasingly in the Asia-Pacific area, are growing stronger.

Amy Adams: What feedback has the Minister received on New Zealand’s economic performance?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: By comparison with any number of countries that are experiencing considerable difficulties, the feedback was generally favourable. We have found that those who lend money to us and the credit rating agencies are particularly impressed with the tax switch, which has allowed us to change the incentives in the economy by reducing income taxes and the company tax rate so that we can encourage savings, investment, and new jobs. That is generally opposite to the general trend, where a number of countries are looking to lift personal tax rates.

Hon David Cunliffe: In light of these reports who is correct: the Prime Minister, who described New Zealand’s economic recovery as “aggressive”, or Reserve Bank governor Bollard, who described it in the Finance and Expenditure Committee today as “fragile”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: As the member will be well aware, the Prime Minister was describing the movement of the economy from the bottom of the recession, where there was aggressive recovery. The Governor of the Reserve Bank was describing what has been happening at the moment, which is that growth has flattened because New Zealanders have reversed their appetite for debt built up under the previous Government and are now saving at a very rapid rate. As the member will know if he wants to encourage savings, if one saves it, one cannot spend it.

Hon David Cunliffe: Has the Minister seen a report from the International Monetary Fund warning against Western Governments withdrawing stimulus before 2011, and another report from the International Monetary Fund and the International Labour Organisation that concluded that growing inequality between the many low and middle income earners and the few high-income earners such as delivered in his tax package could hold back recovery with a fall in disposable income leading to a fall in demand?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: What has affected low and middle income earners in New Zealand has been the legacy of bad economic management. They went massively into debt—

Mr SPEAKER: The question asked whether the Minister of Finance was aware of a couple of reports. The Minister did not even attempt to indicate to the House whether he was aware of those reports. He went straight into telling the House what he wanted to tell it. This is question time; the general debate comes after question time. The Minister is perfectly at liberty in the general debate to say what he wants, but in question time he will answer the question.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has been the habit in this House, and a precedent has been established by previous Speakers, that if several questions are asked, then the answerer gets the choice of which questions they answer. The member also raised the issue of the impact of the recession on low and middle income New Zealanders and I chose to answer that question. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: No, we do not need to take further time on that. I accept the point that the Minister has made. It is not totally unreasonable. Therefore, I think the Minister’s point is not unreasonable. However, having said that, I think it would not have been difficult to indicate whether he had seen reports and then gone on to make the point he wanted to make. I invite the Minister to continue.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have seen those reports and I have to say the Government’s policy fits pretty neatly with them. In this fiscal year of 2010-11, the Government is running a $13 billion deficit. No Government before has offered as much support to the economy. That is $13 billion we are borrowing and pumping into the economy for investment in infrastructure and public services. Our fiscal stimulus policy is working very well.

Hon David Cunliffe: I seek leave to table a covering report from the International Monetary Fund entitled: “IMF fears ‘social explosion’ from world jobs crisis”, dated 13 September 2010.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Hon David Cunliffe: I seek leave to table the opening address by the managing director of the International Monetary Fund to the 2010 annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the World Bank where he warns against withdrawal of fiscal stimulus before 2011.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Amy Adams: What are the implications of the global economy on this Government’s strategy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The implications of uncertainty in the global economy are that the Government should stick to its longer-term plan to lift the productivity and strength of this economy. In particular we need to focus on the public sector. There are severe pressures on public sectors around the world and we will see evidence of that in the UK in the next couple of days. The Government has borrowed $13 billion this year to help maintain public services. That makes the stance of groups such as the secondary teachers a bit difficult to understand. That group had enjoyed three previous years of 4 percent wage increases—4 percent in each of the last 3 years— with high job security. It is hard to believe that they do not understand that something has changed since their deal 3 years ago—that is, a global financial crisis, a significant recession in New Zealand, and very large Budget deficits. But something has changed and the Government has no more money for secondary teachers.

Inflation—Price Rises Contributing to Recent Surge

3. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Labour—New Lynn) to the Minister of Finance: What were the main price rises that led to the 1.1 percent inflation surge in the September 2010 quarter and how has the Government acted to control those price rises?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): First of all, it is not at all apparent that inflation has surged. The 1.1 percent inflation in the last September quarter is the lowest September increase in the last 3 years, if the member had not noticed. It is certainly lower than the 1.5 percent inflation in the September quarter in 2008. As the member knows, the Reserve Bank is responsible for the general management of inflation, consistent with the policy targets agreement.

Hon David Cunliffe: How much of the impact of the Minister’s 2.5 percent increase in GST costs was reflected in the 1.1 percent increase in prices in the September quarter, and does the Minister, then, stand by Treasury’s Budget forecast of 5.9 percent inflation for 2011; if not, is it the fragility of the recovery and persistent high unemployment that have led him to revise his estimates in the recession?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think that Treasury’s forecast for inflation for the next 12 months is probably a bit high. The Reserve Bank has since revised its forecast down to closer to 5 percent. The important fact is that where GST is contributing to inflation over the next 12 months, everyone who is on a benefit, on national superannuation, or on Working for Families has already been compensated for that increase in GST. Those who are working have had income tax cuts that are larger than the increase in GST. Therefore the GST impact on inflation will not erode their real wages.

Hon David Cunliffe: How does he reconcile his claim that New Zealanders seem to be enjoying record wage increases with widespread job losses in the manufacturing, retail, and construction sectors; reports that median incomes, which is where most people are, are in decline; and reports from Veda Advantage that record numbers of New Zealanders are struggling to pay their bills?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I do it by just looking at the facts. The facts are that real after-tax wages are rising. Inflation has been relatively low, there have been two rounds of tax cuts, and real aftertax wages are rising. If the member is so concerned about high inflation why is he advocating a policy for the Reserve Bank that would ensure higher inflation?

Todd McClay: How does the latest inflation data compare with the situation historically?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: In September 2008, when the economy had been in recession for 9 months under Labour, annual inflation was 5.1 percent and real after-tax wages were falling. In the last 2 years consumer price inflation has totalled just 3 percent—less than half of the inflation rate in the last 2 years of the Labour Government.

Hon David Cunliffe: How is cutting holiday entitlements, firing workers at will with no reason given, eroding the rights of worker representatives, and the rest of his Government’s Draconian anti-worker agenda contributing to New Zealand families being better off and able to afford his Government’s price rises and extra GST; or were the thousands of New Zealanders on the forecourt of Parliament at lunchtime wrong?

Mr SPEAKER: I told members a moment ago that the time for the general debate is after question time. That question went on and on and on.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government is not doing what the member alleges. It is bringing the employment trial period into line with just about every other developed country. I must say that it is getting very crowded on the left of the Labour Party. Phil Goff, David Cunliffe, and Andrew Little are all headed for that same little corner.

Todd McClay: What do the Reserve Bank forecasts show for the inflation track over the next few years?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: In the monetary policy statement last month the Reserve Bank forecast that headline inflation is likely to settle at around 2 percent through 2012-2013, after reaching a peak during 2011 primarily because of the GST increase. The Reserve Bank noted that a one-off GST rise and costs associated with the Canterbury earthquake will see an increase in inflation in the next year.

Irrigation—Community Irrigation Fund Grants

4. JO GOODHEW (National—Rangitata) to the Minister of Agriculture: What new initiatives is MAF taking to support water augmentation schemes around New Zealand?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment) on behalf of the Minister of

Agriculture: Today the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has announced five new schemes, which are to receive Government support of $1.9 million from the Community Irrigation Fund for technical design work. They are the Lee Valley community water augmentation storage dam in Nelson, the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme in South Canterbury, the Maungaroa irrigation scheme in the Bay of Plenty, the Mayfield-Hinds irrigation scheme, and the Ashburton-Lyndhurst irrigation scheme in Rangitata. These proposals have the potential to grow horticultural and agricultural exports by more than $200 million a year. These initiatives show that the Government is committed to improving rural infrastructure and to helping rebalance the economy towards productive exports.

Jo Goodhew: What changes has the Government made to the eligibility criteria of the Community Irrigation Fund that has enabled this support to be given?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The Minister of Agriculture has been concerned that the criteria were too narrow and did not enable support for technical design work, which is critical for getting projects to the point of consenting and securing capital investment. None of this design work could have been funded from this scheme without the changes initiated by the Minister. These changes have enabled the maximum benefit to be secured for the communities from the Community Irrigation Fund.

Hon Damien O’Connor: Will the Government reinstate the $80 million taken from the Drinking-water Assistance Programme put in place to help rural communities access safe drinkingwater; or does he think that irrigation of dairy land is more important than rural New Zealanders getting safe drinking-water?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The first point I make is that this Government is committed to the productive investment that will enable the growth of our export industries. The difficulty with the policy of the previous Government is that it set a “Rolls-Royce” standard for drinking water, yet the amount of funding that was provided from local government was less than 5 percent of what was required. This Government is committed to exports and growth. It is a pity that exports flat-lined from 2002 under the previous Government.

Jacqui Dean: What steps is the Government taking to ensure community engagement and good environment outcomes with the Community Irrigation Fund?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The very purpose of the fund is to help local communities find local solutions to challenges over water management so as to grow our primary industries in a sustainable way. The Government has also initiated a nationwide dialogue on improving New Zealand’s freshwater management through the Land and Water Forum, which begins tonight in Nelson and proceeds with 13 public workshops around New Zealand. This blue-green approach, with both the Community Irrigation Fund and the Land and Water Forum, is about growing the economy and looking after the environment. I know that concept is foreign to members opposite.

Employment, 90-day Trial Period—New Employment Agreements

5. Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) to the Minister of Labour: Is it Government policy for the 90-day scheme to be the default provision in all new employment agreements?

Hon KATE WILKINSON (Minister of Labour): No.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Does the Government agree with Chief Judge Colgan, who said in paragraph 48 of his judgment in the Smith 90-day case that sections 67A and 67B remove access to justice?

Hon KATE WILKINSON: I agree with the judge’s judgment that actually shows the law is working and that protections are in place for employees who may have been treated badly.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was a very specific question about a specific section of the judgment, which the Minister has read. It goes to the question of those sections removing access to justice. The Minister did not address that question.

Hon Simon Power: It may well be that we will need to have clarified at this point whether it is appropriate for a Minister to express a view—either in agreement or disagreement—on a judgment of the court.

Mr SPEAKER: To the Speaker, as long as the court is not being maligned, that is a matter for the Minister to assess. It would be perfectly proper for a Minister to tell the House that in his or her view it is not appropriate to comment on a judge’s ruling, decision, or comment. That would be a perfectly appropriate answer. But where I think the Hon Trevor Mallard has a point is that, although he cannot expect the Minister to say yes or no as to whether she agrees with a particular comment, some reference to the part of the judge’s statement that the member was referring to would be helpful—even for the Minister to say she is not prepared to comment on it. But to ignore it totally— and there was only one part to the question—I do not think is reasonable. I ask the Hon Kate Wilkinson to reply, and it may be that it is not in fact appropriate to comment on the judge’s comment.

Hon KATE WILKINSON: As I said, although I am prepared to comment in a generic manner on a judgment, I am not prepared to comment on the specifics, because that case may well go to appeal.

Hon Trevor Mallard: On the question of the appeal, is it the Government’s intention to appeal the part of the judgment that says, in paragraph 48, that sections 67A and 67B, which she introduced, remove access to justice?

Hon KATE WILKINSON: At this stage we have no intention to appeal the decision, nor were we a party to the proceedings.

David Bennett: What reports has she seen on how trail periods work overseas?

Hon KATE WILKINSON: In the United Kingdom there is a very successful mandatory period of a year. In Australia it is a year for small businesses and 6 months for everyone else. It is worth noting that the Australian Council of Trade Unions supports a 90-day grievance-free period just like ours. I look forward to the day the New Zealand unions catch up with the rest of the world.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Is she satisfied to be the Minister in charge of legislation that a Chief Judge says removes access to justice?

Hon KATE WILKINSON: I am satisfied that the 90-day trial as introduced last year is working well. It has protections, and we always intended that it have protections to avoid any exploitation and abuse.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Does she agree with the Chief Judge when he says that her legislation removes access to justice?

Hon KATE WILKINSON: I agree generically with what the Chief Judge said. The legislation has protections, those protections worked, and the judge found in favour of the employee.

Question No. 6 to Minister

TE URUROA FLAVELL (Whip—Māori Party): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Tēnā koe. I note that the question as written starts with “Will his amendment …”—I am assuming it is to the Attorney-General. I am asking about the ability of the member to ask a question on a document that Parliament has not seen at this point in time. I am supposing that the amendment referred to is a Supplementary Order Paper that Parliament has not yet seen. Therefore, I question the relevance of the question.

Mr SPEAKER: The member raises an interesting point of order, and I might seek a little advice on it. Obviously, the primary question has already passed scrutiny, but I am aware of what has caused the member to raise the point of order. Normally, matters that are before a select committee, for example, cannot be the subject of questions unless they have been reported back to the House.

However, the supposed amendment being referred to here, as I understand it, is not before a select committee, so I do not think it would be covered by any issues there. I think the issue that is relevant here is the Minister has talked about a possible amendment to the legislation, and there is no requirement for a Supplementary Order Paper to be lodged for it to be referred to in a question. It is my ruling that the question is in order.

Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill—Public Access

6. HILARY CALVERT (ACT) to the Attorney-General: Will his amendment to the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill to ensure that public access to the foreshore and seabed is free, allow for mum, dad and the children to go to the beach for a picnic, a paddle, and to build a sandcastle below the line of mean high water springs so that they won’t be charged for the privilege; if not, why not?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Attorney-General): The bill as already drafted protects recreational activities in or on the common marine and coastal area. I refer the honourable member to clause 27(1)(c). Moreover, clause 7 provides that the marine and coastal area encompasses the area from the line of the mean high water springs to the outer limits of the territorial sea. Although building sandcastles on the wet part of the beach is generally inadvisable, I would advise the member not to build sandcastles towards the outer limits of the territorial sea.

Hilary Calvert: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister did not answer the question at all. You asked us to make questions simple. The question was capable of a yes or a no answer. The Attorney-General has referred to something quite other than the amendment I asked about.

Mr SPEAKER: I think—[Interruption] When the Speaker is on his feet there will be silence. We cannot be absolutely precise as to how Ministers will answer questions, and I do not believe that the Minister tried to dodge the question. He argued in answering it that the existing clauses of the bill guarantee what the member’s question was asking about, even without the suggested amendment that is being talked about. I believe that that is a reasonable answer to the question. I think it would be pretty unreasonable for the Speaker to rule otherwise. The member’s party has another supplementary question with which to test the Minister’s answer further.

Hon John Boscawen: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am reluctant to challenge your ruling, but the Attorney-General has said that he is making an amendment to this bill. The Prime Minister has further said that that amendment can be made very simply by inserting the word “free”. My colleague is asking the Attorney-General to confirm that when those amendments are made they will provide for mum, dad, and the children to be able to go to the beach and have a paddle. We do not think it is unreasonable for the Attorney-General to confirm that that is the intention of making that amendment.

Mr SPEAKER: I think the members of the ACT Party have a further supplementary question with which to test the Minister’s answer. If one wants to be pedantic, the Minister could even answer that he does not yet have an amendment and just sit down. I do not know whether he has an amendment, but if one has not been tabled, the Minister can simply say that he does not have one and sit down. But the Minister tried, I think, in answering the question, to assure the questioner that what the question was seeking an assurance on was in fact already assured by certain clauses in the bill that the Minister quoted. The member has a supplementary question with which to test that further.

Hilary Calvert: Will his amendment encompass all activities of surf life-saving clubs, including training days and fund-raising activities, and will it cover the Kiwi Kids Weet-Bix Tryathlon; if not, why not?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: There is actually no amendment drafted, but I say this to the honourable member: the bill as already drafted makes it clear that those activities are covered.

Hilary Calvert: Will his amendment to ensure that public access is free encompass wāhi tapu areas provided for in clause 77; if not, why not?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: No; wāhi tapu areas are covered by the bill in appropriate circumstances. There will be wāhi tapu areas for the very good reason that there is justification for them in the particular circumstances in that area.

Hon Shane Jones: Can the Minister advise the House whether an ACT MP wanting to have a picnic in a wāhi tapu would be out to lunch?

Mr SPEAKER: I do not think I can allow that question because it—

Hon Members: Oh!

Mr SPEAKER: Far be it for me to deprive the House, but it would not be reasonable if I were to allow the question, because the Minister in answering it may make unfair comments about a third party—not the questioner’s party—and that would be unreasonable. I think the question was too far wide of order and too far wide of the Standing Orders.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is not the problem with that that you are prejudging the Attorney-General’s response?

Mr SPEAKER: No, no; I am ruling out the question.

Hon Shane Jones: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There was an element of seriousness in the question. We have had to tolerate a diatribe—

Mr SPEAKER: No, no. That is not acceptable—not acceptable, at all.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Why is the Minister considering an amendment from the ACT Party when public submissions on the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill are yet to close, and how appropriate is it for the Government to make decisions on proposed amendments while a bill is still before a select committee?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Actually, I am considering promoting an amendment of my own to clause 27; it is not an ACT amendment. But I hear what the honourable member is saying. This is a complex bill, it is before the select committee, and any amendments should ideally be considered after the select committee has heard submissions.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Does he consider that in suggesting that the current bill’s drafting does not allow free access for mums, dads, and kids to build sandcastles on the foreshore, the ACT member herself is building a sandcastle on a foundation of quicksand, and may disappear at the next election?

Mr SPEAKER: Having ruled out a question like that from the Labour Party, I will rule out that question, too.

Hon Christopher Finlayson: I seek leave to table a document I procured from, entitled “How to build a sandcastle”.

Mr SPEAKER: We will not do that.

Overseas Investment—Farms and Forests Awaiting Sale Consents

7. Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) to the Minister for Land Information: How many farms or forests worth $1 million or more are currently the subject of Overseas Investment Office consent?

Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON (Minister for Land Information): Twenty-two.

Hon David Parker: Given the Prime Minister’s stated concern about the sale of large tracts of dairy land to overseas buyers, and the breadth of the Minister’s existing discretion to decline, why did the Minister not decline the largest-ever, at $34 million, sale of some of New Zealand’s largest dairy farms to overseas interests just 2 weeks ago?

Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: Because, as I have said many times in this House, I am bound to act within the law. The law, as set out in the Overseas Investment Act 2005, which was written by Labour, has criteria that must be adhered to. We would be able to be judicially challenged if we did not adhere to those criteria. The application the member refers to met all the requirements of the law.

Hon David Parker: Why does the Minister pretend that he does not have the broad discretion to decline farm sales now if he chooses to exercise his existing discretion?

Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: In fact, the current law did not have enough criteria in it for Ministers to make some of those discretionary decisions, and that is why quite recently the Minister of Finance announced two additional criteria, which are to do with the economic interest test, and the aggregation issue, which I think was the other area people were concerned about. Once those criteria come into effect on 1 December, Ministers will have more tools in the tool box to make those decisions.

Jonathan Young: Has the amount of the land going into foreign ownership increased or decreased over recent years?

Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: I think I can best answer the question by giving the exact numbers. Between 2000 and 2008, while Labour was in power, 650,000 hectares of land were sold to foreigners—

Hon Tony Ryall: How much?

Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: —650,000 hectares of land were sold to foreigners, peaking in 2006 with, in just 1 year, the sale of 383,000 hectares. I must say that in that 1 year Labour did decline one application—

Hon Member: What?

Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: —it did; it declined 2.5 hectares. Since National came into power the total amount of land sold to foreigners has been less than 20 percent of that figure, at just on 33,000 hectares.

Hon David Parker: Can the Minister not see that the way the discretion has been exercised by him and his predecessors proves the need to narrow the Minister’s discretion as proposed by Labour, rather than just add two more criteria that the Minister can override?

Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: I think the member is basically calling into question his own performance, given that that discretion was—

Hon Trevor Mallard: We learnt.

Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: Oh, “We learnt.”! It took 9 years, but “We learnt.”! I think the two new criteria that now come into effect on 1 December are absolutely vital to make sure the Overseas Investment Act works, and as Minister I will continue working within the law to make sure it works.

Hon David Parker: Why has the Minister agreed to the massive $34 million sale of dairy farms to Americans, but is still delaying his decision on the Crafar farm applications by Chinese interests, and is that because of politics and xenophobia; if not, what is the reason for the delay?

Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON: This question is really easy. The American application came to me from the Overseas Investment Office, ready for a decision, so we made the decision. The Crafar farm decision has not yet come to me, so I have not.

Income Gap, Parity with Australia—Role of Unions

8. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Finance: Does he still want to close the wage gap with Australia; and if so, what role does he consider unions will have in closing that gap?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yes, unions will have a role in assisting to boost productivity in the workplace, so that the economy can sustain higher wages. In fact, the Government has committed about a million dollars to a productivity programme that has been started by dairy workers and someone else—I cannot remember which was the other union. Legislating for higher wages in the long run will not work.

Metiria Turei: How will restricting union access to workplaces help to narrow the wage gap with Australia?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government has put a number of amendments before the House, including one that does not restrict union access but changes the way that decisions are made about union access to the workplace—there is no doubt about that. We believe that package will assist with having a more flexible and productive labour market, which is vital to closing the wage gap with Australia.

Metiria Turei: Who exactly is pushing the policy to restrict union access to workplaces, given that even Business New Zealand thinks it is a very low priority?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is one measure among dozens that the Government is taking that we believe in the long run will lift the strength of the economy. The amendments, like the other ones in the industrial relations package, were put forward by the National-led Government.

Metiria Turei: Would it not be a quicker pathway to closing the wage gap between New Zealand and Australia if the Minister would agree to index the minimum wage to the median wage, so that the lowest-paid workers in this country can share in the benefits of the productivity that he talks about, and closing the gap between rich and poor—or does he consider that it is OK for productivity increases to enrich the rich and continue to impoverish the poor?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think that productivity increases historically have had probably the opposite effect, in that they are the one way in which we can raise the living standards of those on lower incomes. The fact is we could just stick the minimum wage to $20 an hour, I suppose, and that would make some people better off. It would also drive hundreds, if not thousands, of small businesses out of business and exclude thousands of New Zealanders, particularly young New Zealanders, from the workforce altogether. We all know there are trade-offs around minimum wages, and simply legislating for higher minimum wages does not get rid of the risk of businesses being unable to continue and of the effect of locking workers, particularly young workers, out of the workforce. That matters now, because the number of young workers as a proportion of the total unemployed is higher than it has been for some time.

Metiria Turei: Does the Minister not know that increasing numbers of low-wage workers, ordinary New Zealand workers like drivers, labourers, and machine operators, are heading to Australia because the minimum wage there is the equivalent of NZ$19.74 an hour, and because unions have played a long-term part in strengthening working conditions for the lowest-paid workers?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, I am aware of some New Zealanders crossing the Tasman to an economy where wages are anywhere between 10 and 30 percent higher than they are here. That is a continuous challenge for New Zealand. We have taken some recent steps to help to close up that wage gap and to make New Zealand a more productive option. For instance, people who drive trucks now pay a top statutory tax rate of 17.5c in the dollar, which is quite low, and it means that if they do another hour of overtime they keep 82.5c of each dollar paid for it. We believe that improving the incentives for workers right across the income range is important, and we have taken probably the biggest step that a Government has for a long time to improve their incentives.

Metiria Turei: Does the Minister not care that we are losing ordinary New Zealand working families, who are trying to have an ordinary working life, either to higher wages in Australia or to poverty here at home, because of his Government’s failure to take basic steps to increase the minimum wage for the lowest-paid workers?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Of course I care about that, as the Government does, and I think the member cares about it, and maybe even the Labour Party cares about it. At the moment the biggest challenge in this economy is to undo the damage arising from the excesses of the last decade, when too many of those families were reliant on jobs that were funded by debt, and that is not sustainable. Too many of them were reliant on jobs that were funded by excessive Government spending, and that is not sustainable. We are turning that round.

Sue Kedgley: Does he think it is fair that the majority of caregivers who work in aged care, and who look after some of the sickest and most vulnerable New Zealanders with complex health needs,

are amongst the lowest-paid workers in New Zealand and do not get any additional pay, overtime, or penal rates when they are required to work at nights or on weekends?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member is probably aware of a court case in respect of the work at night, but yes, these people are among New Zealand’s lower-paid workers. I am quite surprised that after a decade of Labour’s being in office, it did virtually nothing about that. In fact, all the wage increases in health under Labour went to the highest-paid health workers, not to the lowest-paid, and I cannot understand the logic of that.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Does he agree that when he took over as finance Minister, New Zealand was in a reasonable position to deal with the uncertainty of our economic outlook?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, I do not. The problem when we took over was that, first, the economy was in recession; secondly, inflation was at over 5 percent; thirdly, households had massive debt; and, fourthly, Government spending was out of control. The one factor that has worked for us is relatively low Government debt. The rest of it was a mess.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I seek leave to table a statement of the Hon Bill English of 18 December 2008: “I want to stress that New Zealand starts”—

Mr SPEAKER: Is this a press statement?

Hon Trevor Mallard: It is a report in the New Zealand Herald—

Mr SPEAKER: Members know we are not tabling press statements or newspaper clippings.

Conservation, Director-General—Support for Vision

9. Hon STEVE CHADWICK (Labour) to the Minister of Conservation: Does she support the Director-General of the Department of Conservation and his vision for the future of conservation in New Zealand?

Hon KATE WILKINSON (Minister of Conservation): Yes, and in the statement of intent I agree with the vision that “New Zealand is the greatest living space on Earth.”, although I prefer to say that New Zealand is the best country in the world.

Hon Steve Chadwick: Does the Minister agree with the Director-General of the Department of Conservation, who said in the annual state of the environment speech that it is “a necessary investment in natural capital that sits at the base of our economy. Water, soil, air, nutrient cycles, climate regulation, pollination—these and other services are the natural capital we need to survive and prosper.”, contrary to the belief that “only rich countries can afford clean environments”?

Hon KATE WILKINSON: I will not go through, point by point, the Director-General’s speech. But I can tell the member that I agree with him that conservation is good for business and business is good for conservation.

Hon Steve Chadwick: Does the Minister, therefore, not agree with the Minister of Energy and Resources, Gerry Brownlee, that “it is only through a strong economy that New Zealand can afford the expenditure required to look after and improve our environment.”?

Hon KATE WILKINSON: I think it is fairly patently obvious that we need a strong economy, and under the current National Government we will get a strong economy—which we did not get under the previous Labour Government in 9 years.

Hon Steve Chadwick: Given her agreement, why is she, then, giving the energy Minister, who has the opposite intention, the power to sign off on mineral exploration permits in the conservation estate?

Hon KATE WILKINSON: I think the member is assuming far too much there. As the member knows, it is proposed that access arrangements be by way of a joint decision-making process. No access can occur on conservation land without my signature.

Hon Steve Chadwick: I seek leave to table the speech given by Director-General of Conservation, Al Morrison, at Lincoln University on 7 October, stressing the value—

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Jurors and Jury Duty—Legislative Reform

10. SIMON BRIDGES (National—Tauranga) to the Minister of Justice: What changes, if any, is the Government making to the law relating to jurors?

Hon SIMON POWER (Minister of Justice): I am pleased to report to the House that the Government is making changes to improve jurors’ privacy and safety by removing the addresses of potential jurors from jury lists. These changes follow a recent trial during which convicted murderer George Baker, who was representing himself, memorised address details from a jury list and then corresponded with a juror.

Simon Bridges: How will the changes depart from existing law?

Hon SIMON POWER: Under the current law a jury list must contain the name, occupation, date of birth, and full address of potential jurors. Amongst other things, the proposed changes will remove the addresses of potential jurors from jury lists, but it will allow the prosecution, defence lawyer, or a court-appointed adviser to defendants who are representing themselves to have automatic access to all address information on request, and will prevent the accused from ever seeing potential jurors’ addresses by prohibiting the defence lawyer or court-appointed adviser from showing the address to the accused. These changes strike a balance between a juror’s right to privacy and safety, and a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

Education, National Standards—Progress

11. Hon CHRIS CARTER (—Te Atatū) to the Minister of Education: Is she satisfied with the progress being made to implement national standards?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister of Education): Yes, but as the member well knows, there is always room for improvement.

Hon Chris Carter: Does she agree that national standards, by definition, must be consistent across all schools to have any validity; if so, can she explain to the House what steps she has taken to ensure that parents can be confident that an achieved standard at one school will be the same as that recorded at any other school?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Yes, the standards themselves are a set of consistent expectations in reading, writing, and maths that show that progress by a student against those standards will enable the student to achieve National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 2. The standards themselves are consistent. I think the member is talking about the overall teacher judgments that will be used by the teaching profession to measure and report on progress against those standards. That is called moderation. The consistency will be supported by what is called moderation, and that will be quality assured by the Education Review Office. The Ministry of Education is providing tools, like exemplars, to illustrate these standards; there are moderation modules for teachers; enhancements are being made to the student management system to support moderation; online moderation case studies of good practices are being provided; targeted professional development will be provided by the ministry; and there is an alignment of commonly used assessment tools. But at the end of it, this Government has absolute confidence in the professionalism and expertise of our teachers to deliver those overall teacher judgments.

Hon Chris Carter: Could she explain to the House the rationale for sending all State and Stateintegrated primary and intermediate schools a letter on 8 October instructing them to put into their school charters new reporting targets for national standards by the beginning of the 2011 school year, when the criteria for defining and moderating those targets have yet to be defined on a national basis?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I sent no such letter.

Hon Chris Carter: I seek leave to table the letter, which was sent out from the Ministry of Education on 8 October to all primary and intermediate schools in New Zealand.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is no objection. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Civil Defence—Disaster Preparedness

12. JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa) to the Minister of Civil Defence: What is happening throughout New Zealand to assist the nation to “Get Ready” and “Get Thru”?

Hon JOHN CARTER (Minister of Civil Defence): Today Exercise Tangaroa is being held. Across the regions and nationally, this exercise will put us to the test and will be used to assess the capability of civil defence. The exercise is a national multi-agency exercise, led by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, and supported by 16 civil defence emergency management groups, central government departments, emergency services, lifeline utilities, and other agencies. It is important that New Zealanders are ready to “Get Thru”.

John Hayes: What is happening in Wellington to “Get Ready” and “Get Thru”?

Hon JOHN CARTER: The National Crisis Management Centre, staffed by the ministry and others, is busy coordinating the efforts of the civil defence management groups and their exercise activities. Locally, Wellington civil defence, like many other areas, will use this exercise as an opportunity to sound their tsunami sirens. However, there may be circumstances, such as an inshore tsunami in Cook Strait, where there may not be enough time to activate sirens, so the message clearly is that New Zealanders have to be aware of the threats and be ready to “Get Thru”.


Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill—Purpose

1. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the member in Charge of the

Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill: What is the purpose of the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill?

Hon HEATHER ROY (Member in charge of the Education (Freedom of Association)

Amendment Bill): The purpose of this bill is to make students association membership voluntary, beginning in 2012. No other group in society is compelled to join and pay fees to a union, and students, like all other members of society, should enjoy freedom of association. This bill will achieve that.

Grant Robertson: Is the member aware that when the same provisions as in her bill were implemented in Australia, 72 percent of students associations had total or near total cuts to services, and is that the real purpose of the legislation?

Hon HEATHER ROY: No, it is not. We should not sit here and try to presume what might happen. Students associations will have the opportunity to listen to their entire student membership and to put in place the services that they really want.

Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill—Status

2. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Member in charge of the

Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill: What is the current status of the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill?

Hon HEATHER ROY (Member in charge of the Education (Freedom of Association)

Amendment Bill): The bill was reported back from the Education and Science Committee to the House on 24 September and it will have its second reading in the House this evening. I think the member might be aware of that.

Grant Robertson: Can she confirm whether she has majority support in the House for the bill through all stages or just for the second reading?

Hon HEATHER ROY: I understand I have the confidence of National and United Future to support the bill right through.

Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill—Potential Changes

3. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Member in charge of the

Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill: Does she intend to propose any changes to the Education (Freedom of Association) Amendment Bill as reported back from select committee; if so, what?

Hon HEATHER ROY (Member in charge of the Education (Freedom of Association)

Amendment Bill): No; I am happy with the bill in its current form. However, all members of the House will have the opportunity during the Committee of the whole House to put forward any amendments they wish.

Grant Robertson: Can she confirm that 98 percent of the 4,837 submissions on the bill opposed it, including submissions from every tertiary institution, and does this not give her cause to change the bill?

Hon HEATHER ROY: I think that is probably a question best asked of the chair of the Education and Science Committee. However, I understand that there were 4,837 submissions, including 4,418 form submissions. Given the emails over the last 2 days that were facilitated by the New Zealand University Students’ Association, where many people who were purported to have sent the emails did not actually send them, it is difficult to say whether the form submissions actually came from those they were supposed to have come from. However, I will say that around 300 of the submissions were substantive and of very high quality, and provided the committee with evidence it needed.


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