Questions and Answers – April 3

by Desk Editor on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 — 6:52 PM


Broadband—Australian Concerns Regarding Huawei Technologies

1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: Has he had any recent discussions with the Prime Minister of Australia over security and intelligence concerns Australia has expressed over Huawei?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): As has been the longstanding* practice in this House by successive Governments, I do not intend to comment on matters of security intelligence.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Prime Minister giving that answer to the House when he was happy to put out a press statement on 29 January, talking about “to strengthen cooperation against the shared and growing challenge of cyber security through a regular Australia New Zealand Cyber Dialogue”? What was that all about?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: We do from time to time put out generic statements in relation to security. That was in relation to the cyber-security strategy and the National Cyber Security Centre*. I know, given the member clearly has an interest in this area, he will be pleased to know that the Government is working aggressively in that area.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: If the Prime Minister is concerned about cyber-security, then why has he not raised this issue with both Australia and the United States, both of whom have denied access to their countries in the way that he has not denied them access to his country?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member’s question is incorrectly phrased. He is making assumptions he should not necessarily make.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not need a grammatical lesson from that Minister either.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is not a point of order. The member will resume his seat.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. Under points of order, members do not get to their feet and say they do not need lectures from that Minister. In answering the member’s question, the Prime Minister asserted the question was not accurate. Ministers are perfectly at liberty to do that. At least it is focused on the question. The member may not agree with that answer; that is why he has further supplementary questions to purse the matter. But the Prime Minister—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I am still on my feet. I will get off them so the member can raise his point of order.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The propriety of questions is for the Speaker to decide. The reason why I made that statement is I thought that you would have jumped to your feet to correct the Prime Minister. I am asking a pretty fundamental question about

the security of this country. It is not a trivial matter, and I think it should be treated seriously by both the House, and you and the Prime Minister. I think we are being unfairly treated here.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Prime Minister answered the question by asserting there was something incorrect in the way the member asked the question. That is a perfectly legitimate answer, to do that. The member has further supplementary questions to pursue the answer given by the Prime Minister. That is what question time is all about. The Speaker cannot judge whether the Prime Minister is right or wrong in making that assertion in his answer. The Speaker cannot judge that, but it was very much an answer focused absolutely on the question, because it said the question contained errors in part. It is up to the member then to pursue that with further supplementary questions.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: What was the error in the question that was seriously asked of you?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In answer to that question, the member made assumptions he is not in a position to make. As I said earlier, it is not a question of whether those questions may or may not have been asked, or statements may or may not have been made—I do not comment on those matters of security. While he is at it, it is not “Hu-a-why”, it is “Hu-a-way”.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He got that wrong as well. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise to the member. Order! Unless I misheard, the member was calling a point of order, and it will be heard in silence.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Mr Speaker, you heard what my question was, which simply related to the fact that Australia and the United States found difficulty with this company with respect to them accessing their market. I have asked him why did he find no difficulty with them, given those relationships we have with the United States and Australia, with—

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: You didn’t ask that, buddy.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: There you go, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The right honourable Prime Minister should not be interjecting during a point of order.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Thank you Mr Speaker. That was what the question was, if he checks the Hansard.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Speaking to the point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: I will hear the Hon Trevor Mallard.

Hon Trevor Mallard: It is in support but probably not that helpful to the Rt Hon Winston Peters. I did listen carefully to the Prime Minister’s primary answer. I listened carefully to the supplementary question, which was interrupted. I think there was an assumption that the member made that there had not been contact with Australia and the United States, which the Prime Minister indicated—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member, I think, is again not raising a valid point of order. He is seeking to comment on the Prime Minister’s answer, which he cannot do, and he should know better than that. If the Rt Hon Winston Peters feels that his question was totally misunderstood, I am prepared to allow it, because I agree there is a genuine public interest in this issue. I accept that absolutely. The Prime Minister has made it clear to the House that he does not comment on security issues, but given the potential for misunderstanding I am happy for the member to repeat that supplementary question without cost of a further question from the member.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: My question is simply this: what was it that the Prime Minister did not seem to understand in the fact that the United States and Australia found difficulty with this company and debarred them from their market, whilst he is allowing them into this market in this country—on the issue of national security, what does he not understand here?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What I can say is we take overall network security issues very carefully. If we see issues, we specifically ensure that we address those issues, and the member is quite incorrect

when he says Huawei is not involved in the Australian and the US market. Actually, it is part of the networks.

Clare Curran: Does he stand by his statement last week that although New Zealand’s ultra-fast broadband contract with Huawei began before Australia’s action against the company, he was “comfortable with the current arrangements” in New Zealand; if so, does he still have full confidence in the security of New Zealand’s broadband network?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes and yes.

Clare Curran: Given Australia has taken action to ban Huawei from tendering for its massive broadband network, does this mean that New Zealand’s cyber-security measures are superior to the Australians; and if so, how?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not comment on those matters of security.

Government Financial Position—Return to Surplus in 2014-15

2. JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa) to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on the Government’s plan to return to Budget surplus in 2014/15?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The IMF* this morning released its statement under the article **IV consultations. IMF has concluded that the Government’s planned reduction path “strikes a balance between the need to limit both public and external debt increases while containing any adverse impact on economic growth during the recovery”, which is essentially an endorsement of the Government’s well-considered and well-balanced path to surplus in 2014-15, where we will be able to stop the rise in Government debt, but on the way we believe that we can improve public services.

John Hayes: How will Budget 2012 contribute to the Government returning to surplus?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: This year’s Budget will hold net new spending over the next 4 years somewhere close to zero. More money will be allocated to health and education. This will be paid for by savings in lower priority areas, and by tightening up various revenue loopholes and reducing tax avoidance. Budget 2012 will help the Government return to surplus in 2014-15.

John Hayes: Why is it important to return to Budget surplus?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: That is a very good question. There are two reasons. One is we need to stop Government debt rising. But, secondly, it is important that New Zealand gets the Government’s books back into good shape so that if there is another recession at some stage in the next decade, we are in a good shape to be able to handle that in a similar way to our handling successfully the last recession.

John Hayes: What are the reasons for net core Crown debt increasing in recent years?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member is pointing, I think, in that question to what has been a significant increase in net debt. In 2008 it was as low as $8 billion; it is currently around $50 billion and will peak at around $75 billion. It has been caused by a number of factors: the Government’s strategy of protecting New Zealanders from the sharpest edges of recession, a very substantial commitment to the rebuilding of Canterbury after the earthquake, and a very large increase in Government spending between 2000 and 2009, which we have worked hard to get under control.

Prime Minister—Statements and Statements Made on His Behalf

3. DAVID SHEARER (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all statements made by him and on his behalf?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I stand by all statements made by me and those people authorised by me to speak on my behalf.

David Shearer: Does he stand by his statement that people gambling in a casino are “in a better environment than, say attached to maybe a pub”; if so, what evidence does he have to support that statement?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I most certainly do stand by that statement. Let me quote a few things for the member’s education. For a start-off, an Australian professor from the *University of Adelaide said the **National Association for Gambling Studies conference in 2008 considered Skycity’s host responsibility programme as probably the most advanced in the world. If one looks at the number of people presenting themselves for harm, on average that is around 1.9 percent of people, yet those who are presenting themselves for harm in non-casino environments are 3.8 percent. If one looks at those presenting themselves for gambling treatment, the majority cite non-casino gaming machines as their primary source of problems.

David Shearer: Why is he proposing the creation of $23 million to $28 million a year of private wealth through an increase in gambling over what would otherwise occur, when all the evidence shows that this will cause harm for thousands of New Zealanders?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, I would utterly reject the number that the member is quoting. Secondly, I think it is worth having a bit of a look at gambling machines. Let us just take a look at pokie machines in the Auckland area. In 2004 that number in the Auckland area was 5,111; today that is 4,227. The number is, as the member can see, in the order of around 900 fewer, and will continue to go lower even if a deal is done with Skycity over time.

David Shearer: I seek leave to table a document by Goldman Sachs on 23 March that sets out clearly that the amount of funds that Skycity will earn from the gambling bill will be between $23 million and $28 million.

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.

David Shearer: Is he aware that Goldman Sachs has estimated—and obviously he is not—that Skycity would make $23 million to $28 million a year of additional profit from the increase in the number of pokie machines; if so, does he regard this and his changes to the Gambling Act* as legislation for sale?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In terms of the latter point, no. In terms of the first point, the member answered his own question earlier, when he said that that is Goldman Sachs’ assessment. If one goes and has a look at the—[Interruption] Well, the deal actually has not been concluded yet. I might add, when we were out announcing that we were doing a deal with Len Brown in Auckland, he was quite a little lamb chops before the election, because Len Brown knew as well that it will create 1,000 jobs in its construction, 900 jobs ongoing, hundreds of thousands of visitor nights for a convention centre, tourists that will be spending twice as much in New Zealand, and that by the way, the number of gaming machines is going down, not up.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I want to hear this question.

David Shearer: Does he stand by his statement about the ACC Minister that he “directly asked her the question on two occasions” as to whether the leak of the email sent by Michelle Boag* came from the Minister, her office, or an agency she was responsible for; and what occurred after the Minister’s first denial that required him to ask her a second time?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, and that was because we had two conversations in which both times, actually, the Minister offered that.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! It is just impossible to hear. I accept that both sides have been guilty of a lot of noise today, but it makes it so hard to hear.

David Shearer: Further to the answer given on his behalf last Thursday, did his office contact Cameron Slater* on the question of the leak of the Boag letter?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, it did not.

David Shearer: Did he chair the Cabinet appointments and honours committee* that appointed his Helensville electorate chair, Stephen McElrea,* to the board of *New Zealand On Air?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, and it was the same one that appointed Michael Cullen to New Zealand Post.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The smaller parties at the back are not guilty in any way in this; it is the main parties at the front here whose noise is unacceptable.

David Shearer: Did he at any time last year indicate to the receivers or the ANZ Bank that the sale of the Crafar farms to *Shanghai Pengxin would be considered favourably by his Government after last year’s election?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Mr SPEAKER: I had not even called the *right honourable Prime Minister. The question asked whether the Prime Minister stood by all his statements or those made on his behalf, and then the supplementary questions are ranging over a range of issues that are not necessarily—Order! I want to make sure they do not depart too far from the primary question.

David Shearer: Does he think that the interference of senior National Party members in all of these incidents leads to a perception of political interference, special treatment, or cronyism?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! What troubles me about that supplementary question is the primary question asked about recent statements, but that supplementary question does not refer to any particular statement. The question—unless I am reading the wrong question—asked: “Does he stand by all statements made by him and on his behalf?”, and several supplementary questions have not referred to any statement made by the right honourable Prime Minister. I listened very carefully to that last question. I heard no reference to a statement made by the Prime Minister. I do not want to deprive the member of his questions, so if the member can relate it to a statement by the Prime Minister, I would be very grateful. Please relate the question to the primary question.

David Shearer: Do his answers to the supplementary questions relate to a sense of the incidence of—a perception of—political interference, special treatment, and cronyism?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, and that is why the New Zealand public support this National Government so strongly.

Crime Statistics—Reports

4. JACQUI DEAN (National—Waitaki) to the Minister of Police: What recent reports has she received about reductions in recorded crime?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister of Police): Yesterday the police released the 2011 crime statistics, which show a 4.8 percent drop in recorded crime. This follows a 5.6 percent reduction in 2010. This result represents the lowest number of recorded offences for New Zealand for 15 years. Homicide and related offending dropped 14.4 percent. Illicit drug offences reduced by 9.8 percent. Abduction, harassment, and other related offences dropped by 8.5 percent. I am sure all members will join with me in commending the police for their excellent work in reducing crime and keeping our communities safe.

Jacqui Dean: What factors have contributed to the lower crime rate?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: The police are focused on the **Policing Excellence strategy, which is aimed at freeing up police on the *front line to go exactly where they are needed. Police now place much greater emphasis on preventing crime with neighbourhood policing teams and the use of mobile technology, meaning that officers can spend more time in their communities. Of course, as a result of the John Key – led National Government, we now have an extra 600 police out on the beat.

Moana Mackey: Is part of her strategy to reduce recorded crime to actually just make it harder for people to report crime, given the recent decision to reduce *front-line services by closing the Gisborne Police Station* to the public overnight, a decision that the Gisborne community were not even told about until they turned up and found the doors locked and the phones diverted to Napier?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Quite the contrary. In fact, the **crime reporting line has recently been introduced to the eastern district. That means that people do not have to travel—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise to the Minister. Look, I assume the members’ colleague’s question—the question by Moana Mackey—was asked in seriousness, and therefore I expect members may want to hear an answer. There is no way an answer can be heard with that rabble.

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: As I said, quite the contrary. In fact, the police are making it much easier for people to report crime, and the crime reporting line has been rolled out in the eastern district. People do not have to visit the police station to report crime; they just get on the telephone and they will be dealt with immediately.

Privacy Commissioner—Law Commission Recommendation

5. CHARLES CHAUVEL (Labour) to the Minister of Justice: Why has she declined to accept the Law Commission’s recommendation, supported by the Privacy Commissioner, to increase the Privacy Commissioner’s investigative powers, including by giving her the power to issue compliance notices, and to conduct information-handling audits?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice): The member is quite wrong.

Charles Chauvel: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I took care in wording the primary question. The Minister has had time to consider it. I wonder whether she would like to—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. The Minister said the member had made errors in his question. She said it was wrong. I cannot know whether the Minister is right or wrong. The solution is to pursue the Minister with incisive supplementary questions.*

Charles Chauvel: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Primary questions go through an authentication process through the Office of the Clerk, so it is not as if a groundless proposition is being put to the Minister here. I wonder whether you might just think about whether or not this is a precedent we want to see followed in future.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The process of the Office of the Clerk approving questions—just because the question has been validated—does not make the question right. There may be support material provided to validate a question, and the Clerk’s Office accepts it, but that does not mean that any supposed fact or statement contained in the question is correct. That is up to the Minister. The Minister has asserted pretty emphatically that something in this question is not right. It is worth pursuing that to find out what it is.

Charles Chauvel: Without the powers that the Privacy Commissioner says she needs to do her job, how can the House have any confidence that the Privacy Commissioner will be able to fully investigate high-profile or important privacy breaches, such as the question of whether the Minister, or any one in her office, improperly disclosed the *Bronwyn Pullar email and associated information?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: There are, in fact, a range of responses that the Law Commission has suggested we make in terms of the Privacy Act. However, I note that the member who has just resumed his seat was in a Government that was in office for 9 years and did not address them—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: —but the Privacy Commissioner—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I invite Charles Chauvel to repeat his question.

Charles Chauvel: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Without the powers that the Privacy Commissioner says she needs to do her job, how can the House have any confidence that the Privacy Commissioner will be able to properly investigate high-profile privacy breaches, such as the question of whether the Minister, or any one in her office, improperly disclosed the Bronwyn Pullar email and associated information?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The member is yet again wrong. The inquiry by the Privacy Commissioner is—and this is all I can really say on it—relating to privacy matters in ACC and what has happened to particular emails and other documents. It is not specifically about my office. So that is wrong. But the Privacy Commissioner already has powers under section—[Interruption] Do they want to hear it or not, Mr Speaker?

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The Privacy Commissioner already has a range of powers, which she set out for the Hon Trevor Mallard and me. They are, obviously, broad powers and roles under section *13 of the Privacy Act; also under section *90 to freely obtain information and make inquiries; under section *91 to require information and evidence to be produced and to summon witnesses; and under section *76 to require a person to attend a compulsory conference. There is an obligation to comply with the requirements of the commissioner, set out in section *92. There are also other relevant powers. In fact, there is the entire Privacy Act, and I suggest that member reads it.

Jonathan Young: What is the Government already doing to implement the recommendations from the Law Commission’s review of the Privacy Act?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The Government has already acted to address the immediate need for better information-sharing for public service delivery through the Privacy (Information Sharing) Bill*, which is expected to be passed later this year. The Privacy (Information Sharing) Bill will improve the rules around the collection, storage, and use of personal information, while ensuring there are safeguards in place to protect an individual’s right to privacy.

Charles Chauvel: Why is the Minister exacerbating the Privacy Commissioner’s inability to press fully for answers in this matter by invoking the public interest defence in this House as a ground for refusing to answer legitimate questions from members, thereby further preventing relevant information from entering the public domain?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The member is quite wrong, again. This is actually an issue for the Privacy Commissioner, and as an independent body, which she is, she needs to be free to conduct her investigations without the sorts of lies and manipulations that people have said in this place.

Charles Chauvel: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I invite you to reflect on whether that answer was in order, particularly the final phrase of it.

Mr SPEAKER: I heard what the Minister said. A member cannot accuse another member of lying. I am not sure the Minister actually did that. She referred to lies and things in this place. I do not like ruling more and more stuff out. It was certainly on the margins—I accept that, absolutely.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, if that was not offensive to this side of the House, then it was a description of her own behaviour that she was talking about. That is the only way she can survive the challenge from the honourable member over here. He says it was offensive—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have heard the member, and I think the member’s point is not unreasonable. I think the Minister should get to her feet, please, and withdraw and apologise.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Yes. I withdraw and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: I thank the Minister.

Charles Chauvel: Why is she further trying to prevent relevant information from entering the public domain by threatening news media and members of this House with meritless defamation proceedings, and just what is it that she has to hide?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The Minister of Justice has no ministerial authority or responsibility for that, and that member should know better.

International Education—Promotion of Christchurch

COLIN KING (National—Kaikōura): My question is to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment and asks: what action is the Government taking to boost—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I apologise to the member. The previous question has been dealt with. The House will come to order.

6. COLIN KING (National—Kaikōura) to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and

Employment: What action is the Government taking to boost international education promotion for Christchurch?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment): Last Thursday in Christchurch I announced a dedicated $5 million fund that *Education New Zealand will use to promote the city overseas, as an education destination, over the next 4 years. Christchurch is normally our second-largest destination for international students, and the city has an excellent international reputation for *high-quality education. However, it has been a tough time for providers in Christchurch following the earthquakes, as it has been for many businesses, with a 37 percent drop in numbers in 2011. This campaign is designed to send the message globally that Canterbury providers are back in business and students are welcome, and it will augment our expanded national marketing campaign.

Colin King: How important is international education to the New Zealand economy?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Currently, the international education sector is worth around $2.3 billion to the New Zealand economy, with contributions from schools, universities, polytechs, and private training establishments. The Government has an ambitious goal of doubling the economic value of New Zealand’s international education sector to $5 billion over the next 15 years. International enrolments have been steadily increasing since 2008. However, the impact of the Canterbury earthquake has meant that although numbers in the rest of the country grew 6 percent last year, with Canterbury included the net growth was flat. Therefore, having Christchurch back on its feet and growing again in this important industry is a crucial part of reaching our goal.

State Highway Projects—Prioritisation

7. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Minister of Transport: Why is the Government prioritising State highway projects with low benefit cost ratios, given that traffic volumes are back to 2004 levels and the Crown is borrowing $12 billion a year?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Transport): There has been a slight fluctuation in measured traffic volumes over the years, but it is not enough to show a trend that would mean that this Government would abandon its proposals for the ongoing road-building programme. Taking no action to improve our roads would assume that our roads were at their optimum point in 2004. The previous Government did not believe that, we do not believe that, and we are going to go ahead with our programme to build roads, because of the economic benefit, the social benefit, and the safety benefits for New Zealanders. The assertion that the Government is borrowing for the roading programme is wrong. That is paid for by the *Land Transport Fund, which is funded by road users.

Julie Anne Genter: Why does the Government claim that the roads of so-called national significance have been selected because of their economic importance, when the projects were announced in early 2009, well before the business cases had been undertaken?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I think the point is that a Government comes in with a programme and does what it thinks is necessary to create the environment for economic growth. There is not a successful economy in the world that has achieved results by stopping roading progress.

Julie Anne Genter: What evidence supports the claim that the roads of national significance will increase economic productivity, given that they have not been updated to reflect the reality of higher oil prices and stagnant traffic volumes?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: I think the roads of national significance are going to have a massive effect on economic growth in New Zealand. And I think it is very hard to argue against history, where you would find not one country in the world that has abandoned roading projects and achieved economic success.

Julie Anne Genter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question quite clear. It said “What evidence supports the claim … ?”. It did not ask for an opinion. The Minister did give his opinion— he thinks these projects will be good for the economy—but I asked—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Because I could not hear the member’s question very well because of the noise—mainly on my left, I must confess, on this occasion—I invite the member to repeat her question.

Julie Anne Genter: What evidence supports the claim that the roads of national significance will increase economic productivity, given that they have not been updated to reflect the reality of higher oil prices and stagnant traffic volumes?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Those last two criteria are very cyclical, so there is no reason to believe that in the long term, they would make a difference to the business case.

Julie Anne Genter: Will he review the plans to prioritise the roads of national significance, given warnings from the *New Zealand Transport Agency and the Ministry of Transport that the programme could lead to a budget blowout of billions of dollars?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: No, but I will challenge him to make sure that does not happen.

Julie Anne Genter: If the economic situation is so tight that the Government will be announcing another zero Budget, why does it still have money for motorways that, on the Government’s own numbers, will never pay for themselves?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Largely because New Zealanders use them and they pay into the fund, and that is where the money comes from.

Julie Anne Genter: Given that New Zealand’s current account deficit of $8.5 billion matches nearly exactly the amount we spend each year on importing oil, and that the cost of importing oil has risen 500 percent in the last 15 years, is it a good use of the Crown’s resources to lock us into a future where our transport system is even more dependent on oil?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: We are not doing that. If the member is going to rely on fluctuating vehicle movements, then the member would have to accept that the oil price is a very sensitive point in people’s decisions over which mode of transport they use. We are investing a huge amount of money, $1.6 billion, in electrification in Auckland. We have got the very, very large commitment to the *KiwiRail rebuilding programme. We have also got huge amounts of money going each year into public transport across the country, and, what is more, the public transport operating model has been widely accepted and welcomed by regional councils throughout New Zealand. We are by far and away leading ahead of any other Government before us in this matter.

Julie Anne Genter: How is it balanced to spend $14 billion, over 75 percent of all new transport infrastructure spending in the next decade, on a few motorway projects, with increasingly shoddy business cases, that will not help motorists, will not help freight, and will not help New Zealanders avoid rising oil prices?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Working backwards, it will help New Zealanders minimise the cost of their transport if they use cars, it will help freight, and it will help general passenger movements. The member makes these assertions as if she is an authority; she is not.

International Students—Changes to Health Screening Rules

8. Dr JIAN YANG (National) to the Minister of Immigration: What changes has the Government made to make it easier for low-risk, high-value students to come to New Zealand?

Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister of Immigration): Yesterday I announced changes to health screening rules that will reduce red tape and costs for international students, while protecting the New Zealand public health system. From July this year, international students without other health conditions will need to be screened only for tuberculosis. This will greatly reduce the cost and hassle for around 62,800 students, and it will save them around $17 million a year in medical costs. International education is worth $2.3 billion to the economy a year, and indirectly supports 32,000 jobs. These changes will help the sector continue to grow.

Dr Jian Yang: How will the public health system be protected with these changes?

Hon NATHAN GUY: Students still must be of an acceptable standard of health. We will now require international students to hold health insurance as a condition of their visa. This will not be an issue for most of these students, as they are ineligible for health services in New Zealand and education providers currently require them to hold insurance. These changes show the Government

is serious about tackling red tape, reducing costs, and attracting migrants who can make a contribution to New Zealand.

Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry—Cost of Change Management

9. Hon PHIL GOFF (Labour—Mt Roskill) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Does he take responsibility for the $9.2 million being spent on the change process in his Ministry this year and does he consider it money well spent?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON (Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations) on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs: The figure quoted by the member is a budgeted figure only. Operational matters are for the chief executive. The chief executive has established a change team to engage in a modernisation project, as he is entitled to do.

Hon Phil Goff: Does he agree with the concerns expressed by top exporting groups the *Meat Industry Association and *Fonterra that the change proposals put forward could put at risk the effectiveness of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade* in work critical to the New Zealand economy; and having already lost recently two of the top trade negotiators, will he risk losing more?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: It is no secret that the Minister listens very carefully to the comments that have been made by the various people to whom the member has referred. The Minister himself has expressed some reservations about the ministry’s change proposals. He has conveyed his views in a manner that is appropriate under the *State Sector Act to the chief executive.

Hon Phil Goff: When a spokeswoman from the *Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade stated that it had been in discussion with the Minister “throughout the process”, and that he has provided “clear direction on their priorities”, how credible is it for him to distance himself from responsibility for the botched change proposals, as he has just done again?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: The Minister is acting exactly in accordance with the requirements of the State Sector Act. The Minister knows the rules that matters of detail are for the chief executive, and it would be quite improper for him to cross over that line. He is not a *micromanager. His name is McCully, not *Stalin or *Helen Clark.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it not a fact that the Minister has long had the reputation in politics of being a micro-interferer—in more ways than one—and how can he possibly expect people to understand what his role is, when he said last Thursday that as a Minister he was no more than “the purchaser of the ministry’s services”? Does he not understand parliamentary democracy?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: The Minister understands parliamentary democracy very well.

Hon Phil Goff: Is it fair for him to continually blame the chief executive officer for the mess-up in the change proposals, when *John Allen is unable to defend himself against ministerial criticism, and when, constitutionally, he as Minister is responsible for what is happening within his ministry?

Hon Annette King: Does he understand that?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Indeed I do. It is a question of what is constitutionally proper. Under the *State Sector Act, the chief executive has the burden of responsibility in carrying out the change plan. Unlike other Ministers in the past, the Minister knows what the bounds of propriety are where a Minister can act.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that this is the Minister of Foreign Affairs who has introduced the hub and spokes concept, whatever that means, has a business model applied to a serious governmental service—namely, foreign affairs—and chose the chief executive, whom he now blames for everything, why does—

Hon Amy Adams: Is there a question coming?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Do not worry, honey. We will get around to it. Even you will be able to understand. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] No, I am on my feet; the member will resume his seat. Members know that if they interject, sometimes they will bring disorder. It is better sometimes just not to interject, if they do not want disorder. I cannot blame a questioner for responding when someone makes some unhelpful interjection.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that this is the Minister of Foreign of Affairs who introduced the hub and spokes concept, whatever that means, applied a business model to a parliamentary and governmental service, and chose the chief executive, whom he is now blaming, why does he not just resign?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: It is not a question of blaming people. It is no secret that the Minister has expressed reservations about aspects of the ministry change proposals. The Minister has conveyed those concerns to the chief executive, and in doing so has conveyed his views in a manner that is appropriate under the State Sector Act. What is so difficult to understand about that?

Hon Phil Goff: Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I want to hear the Hon Phil Goff.

Hon Phil Goff: Was it not his responsibility, under the Public Finance Act,* to vote $9.2 million to be spent on a change process that nobody believes is credible; and if it was not his responsibility to vote that money, who was responsible for wasting it?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: It is important to note that that is the budgeted figure, as I said in the answer to the primary question. What exactly it turns out to be at the end of the day remains to be seen.

Hon Phil Goff: Three-quarters of the way through the financial year, how much of that $9.2 million has been expended, and does it include the latest $200,000 spent on the heads of mission meeting, or redundancy payments?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: The member is sloppy with his facts—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: Well, he is. He is wrong, and I can say this. The amount—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! We will not have this *carry-on. The Minister has acknowledged in a previous answer that the budgeted amount was $9.2 million—I think the Minister acknowledged that. The member questioning the Minister asked how much of it had been spent at this stage of the financial year—three-quarters of the way through the financial year, how much of it had been spent—and asked whether the amount spent included the $200,000 cost of a recent meeting, or something. If the Minister was disputing the cost of the recent meeting, then I apologise to him, because I should not have interrupted if that was the case, but I would ask him to answer. The question asked was not an unreasonable question. It was based on figures already acknowledged, except for that last one. I think to accuse the member of sloppiness in asking a reasonable question is going to provoke disorder. To answer the question, the Hon Chris Finlayson.

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: There are two limbs to the question, and I am answering the second limb, as you perhaps prospectively observe, and he got it wrong. The amount is not $200,000. The projected expenditure is $154,000, and that is what—

Hon Phil Goff: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order has been called.

Hon Phil Goff: We have got a bit of a dilemma here, because the figure I quoted was the figure that the Minister himself had used in the House last week.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is nothing I can do. I mean, the member’s question was answered—[Interruption] Order! The member’s question was answered, and the answer cannot be disputed by way of a point of order.

Hon Phil Goff: Did he or his office seek the deletion, before it was made public, of the reference in the ministerial briefing to him as incoming Minister that the Government “required” annual savings from the ministry of $40 million; if not, who did seek that deletion?

Hon CHRISTOPHER FINLAYSON: I am an acting Minister, and so I am unable to comment on that level of minutiae about what lines were excised from a briefing to an incoming Minister. What I can say is that that member has constantly referred to the figure of $40 million and he is wrong. The correct figure, as the Minister has told him on many occasions, is $24 million.

Crime Prevention—SAFE Initiative for Knife Retailers

10. MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Justice: What is the Government doing to reduce knife crime in New Zealand?

Hon CHESTER BORROWS (Associate Minister of Justice) on behalf of the Minister of

Justice: On Friday we launched **SAFE, a voluntary initiative to educate retailers on some simple steps they can take to prevent theft or inappropriate sale of knives. The SAFE initiative has been developed in conjunction with the *New Zealand Retailers Association. It is supported by major knife retailers—about 15 in number—and is a clear example of how the Government and retailers can work together to deliver a safer New Zealand.

Mark Mitchell: Is knife crime a growing problem in New Zealand? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Now I say, on this occasion to Labour members, it is just unreasonable. The member has a right to ask a supplementary question, and to get that barrage of noise is unacceptable. I repeat, it is unacceptable.

Hon CHESTER BORROWS: No, it is not a problem in New Zealand—or not a growing problem in New Zealand—but it should not be taken lightly by anybody, including the Opposition. The National-led Government has seen a 19 percent drop in the carriage of knives—people apprehended for the carrying of knives—since 2008 when it came into Government, and a 15 percent drop in knife assaults, so the SAFE programme is a preventive measure. It will help ensure that knife crime continues to fall, and is yet another example of this Government’s commitment to reducing violent crime.

Māui’s Dolphin—Protection Areas

11. Hon RUTH DYSON (Labour—Port Hills) to the Minister for Primary Industries: Will he extend the area of proposed protection for Maui’s dolphins beyond the proposed levels in the consultation document, if submissions are overwhelmingly in favour of larger protection areas?

Hon DAVID CARTER (Minister for Primary Industries): As the member will be aware, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry* and the Department of Conservation* are currently considering additional measures to protect Māui’s dolphins* in the Taranaki* region. I will await the outcome of this consultation and the advice from the two departments before making any decision whether to extend the set-net* ban.

Hon Ruth Dyson: Does he agree that his decision gives the New Zealand fishing industry an excellent marketing opportunity to promote itself as a sustainable fishing industry, and that this opportunity would be better than eliminating Māui’s dolphins?

Hon DAVID CARTER: Every decision I make with regard to fishery management gives the fishing industry every opportunity to market offshore that it is managed in a very sustainable manner here in New Zealand.

Hon Ruth Dyson: Is the fishing industry the sole source of research that his ministry is relying on to make its recommendations to him in regard to the protection of Māui’s dolphins; and if the fishing industry is not the sole source of research, what other and independent research is being used?

Hon DAVID CARTER: There is a substantial piece of research under way at the moment, led by the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, called the threat

management plan, which is looking not only at Māui’s dolphins but also at Hector’s dolphins*. I expect that work to be completed by around the end of the year.

Hon Ruth Dyson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister’s answer was very interesting, but it was to an entirely different question. My question was specifically in relation to the research undertaken by his ministry in relation to the current consultation round, not the management of threatened species, which is an entirely separate piece of work. I would ask you to ask the Minister to address my question.

Mr SPEAKER: I clearly did not understand the question myself.

Hon DAVID CARTER: Nor did I.

Mr SPEAKER: I invite the member to repeat her question to avoid the confusion.

Hon Ruth Dyson: Is the fishing industry the sole source of research that his ministry is relying on to make its recommendations to him in regard to the protection of Māui’s dolphins; and if the fishing industry is not the sole source of research, what other and independent research is being used?


Hon Ruth Dyson: Can he assure the House and the over 11,500 people who have to date signed the petition to the Prime Minister to save the Māui’s dolphins that he will do everything he can to save this dolphin subspecies* from extinction, and that his decision will be made on the basis of independent evidence on Māui’s dolphin habitat?

Hon DAVID CARTER: The final decision will be based on the scientific information and advice presented to me by the Department of Conservation and by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, not specifically on the number of submissions received.

Gareth Hughes: As part of the review of protection measures, is the Minister also considering increasing the current statutory 48-hour period within which notification of the injury or death of a Māui’s dolphin must occur?

Hon DAVID CARTER: That may well be part of the information finally presented to me by the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. I will consider that information when the report has been received.

Gareth Hughes: Is the reason why it took 18 days for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and 28 days for the Department of Conservation, to be notified of the recent death of a Māui’s dolphin in fishing gear off the coast of Taranaki because of an agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Department of Conservation regarding the waiving of the 48-hour notification period?

Hon DAVID CARTER: I have no knowledge of how long it took for the report to come in that the dolphin that died may well have been a Maui’s dolphin. I do not have that information.

Gareth Hughes: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am in some trouble here. For months we have been debating this as a Maui’s dolphin, the Minister’s own press release says it is a Maui’s dolphin, and now he brings it into question.

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister is the person being questioned. The Minister has given information in his answer. He answered the question, and the Speaker has to accept the Minister’s answer. There is a further supplementary question, should the member wish to use it.

Gareth Hughes: Why did it take 18 days for the Minister and the ministry to become aware of the death of a dolphin; and will he be starting a prosecution, given that we have seen the law being broken: given the law requires a 48-hour notification period?

Hon DAVID CARTER: As I have just answered to the member, I have no idea how long it took for the reported fatality to come to the notice of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Department of Conservation. That information has never been presented to me.

Question No. 12 to Minister

TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki): For the purposes of clarity, I seek leave of the House to add “2011” to the end of the date 24 March in the question.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is no objection.

Family Start, Changes—Implications of Changes for Providers

12. TE URUROA FLAVELL (Māori Party—Waiariki) to the Minister for Social

Development: What opportunity is there for providers to demonstrate that they have improved practice in order to achieve the Minister’s new “fresh look for Family Start”; and what support has the Ministry for Social Development put in place for providers to understand the ramifications of these changes announced on 24 March 2011?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development): There have been numerous opportunities for providers to demonstrate that they have improved practice—more than you, Mr Speaker, would allow me to do in the time that I am given for this. *Family Start is the most intensive and expensive programme funded by the Ministry of Social Development* to work with our most vulnerable families. An independent report in December 2009 found serious problems with a number of providers, and I made that report available to all of them. Since then the Ministry of Social Development has made extensive technical and professional support available, particularly over the last 12 months, to providers who are struggling to meet the new performance criteria around those most vulnerable children. At the end of the day, nine providers have been assessed as performing well and the Ministry of Social Development will be entering a 3-year contract with them. We will support providers where we know they are delivering good quality programmes, but we cannot accept that our most vulnerable families should receive substandard services.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Is she aware that *Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust Family Start is measuring weekly visits for all new whānau that take place in it and put it in the top 10 of providers, and that 80 percent of its whānau are remaining after 12 months; if so, why is it being considered as one of the providers to be shut down?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: The advice that I have had is that it is one of five poor performers in that it is failing to adhere to some of the basic requirements of the Family Start programme manual and has not been able to successfully implement best-practice advice. This is the minimum standard of practice that is expected to meet its contract requirements. Further, even with additional guidance and support, it has been one of five providers that has not demonstrated that it can reach an adequate level of service delivery and sustain that to be business as usual. It has had something like 14 visits from the department on this very programme since July last year.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Can I ask the Minister what consultation has occurred with Māori and Pasifika communities who will be significantly affected by the proposed cut in Family Start services, in particular in Māngere and *Papakura?

Hon PAULA BENNETT: I think it is really important that we make it clear there is not going to be a cut to services or a cut to the amount of money. We are going to re-tender. So what we have are particular issues with the standards of service for these providers. We are going to re-tender and I imagine other providers will pick up that work. We have got at least 3 months until those contracts are up, and we will extend them slightly if we need to, so that we have got a transition for those families who need it. But at the end of the day we are re-tendering; we are not cutting the amount that is in Family Start.


Question No. 1 to Member

Mr SPEAKER: The House now comes to questions to members, and although question No. 1 stands in the name of the Hon David Parker and is to the chairperson of the Finance and

Expenditure Committee, I do not see the chairperson of the Finance and Expenditure Committee in the House. Therefore the question is postponed until tomorrow.

Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I noted that the chairperson was here at the start of question time—

Hon Member: So what?


Mr SPEAKER: Order! It is a well established—the rules are very clear around questions to members. The chairperson of the Finance and Expenditure Committee, I do not believe is in the House. If I am in error I stand to be corrected, but I do not believe he is in the House, and the question is therefore postponed until tomorrow. [Interruption] Order! That kind of language is totally unacceptable and I will not go there, because I do not want to give more coverage to it.


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