Questions and Answers – May 29

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 — 2:19 PM

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Prime Minister—Statements

1. DAVID SHEARER (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

David Shearer: Does he stand by the statement made on his behalf about the Kitteridge report: “The Prime Minister can give a categorical assurance that neither he nor his office leaked the report. He does not believe for a moment that his Ministers or their offices leaked the report, either.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes.

David Shearer: In light of his statement that “It’s a very sensitive document that wasn’t widely distributed.”, was the Hon Peter Dunne a recipient of that report?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: My understanding is yes.

David Shearer: Has the Hon Peter Dunne given David Henry, who was investigating the matter, an assurance that neither he nor his office made the report or any part of it available to any member of the media?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not party to any conversations that Mr Dunne has had with Mr Henry, but what I have seen is Mr Dunne’s categorical assurance that he in no way leaked that report.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The leader of the Labour Party specifically asked in respect of not just Mr Dunne but his staff and it is the same ambit that caught a previous Minister in respect of whether they had responsibility for a leak or otherwise. The Prime Minister deliberately avoided answering the question as to whether Mr Dunne’s staff was involved.

Mr SPEAKER: I do not recall, I am sorry, the mention of the staff. I recall the question being about Mr Dunne having a conversation with Mr Henry, and the Prime Minister clearly saying he was not party to that. But on the basis that there is an assurance from the members to my left that the word “staff” was included in the question, I will invite the Leader of the Opposition to ask the question again.

David Shearer: Has the Hon Peter Dunne given David Henry, who is investigating this matter, an assurance that neither he nor his office made the report or any part of it available to a member of the media?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: To repeat my first answer, I am not privy to the conversations that Mr Dunne has had with Mr Henry. I am aware of the statements that Mr Dunne has made where he has categorically ruled out that he had played any part in leaking the report. If the specific question is about Mr Dunne’s staff, I have had no conversations with them at all nor seen any statements, because they would not be requested. But you are inquiring about the chief of staff for Mr Dunne,

who is Rob Eaddy. He is person of absolute integrity and I would be absolutely stunned if he played any part in leaking the report.

David Shearer: Has the Prime Minister had any discussions with Peter Dunne about the leaking of the report and sought any other assurances from him also?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, because that is not necessary on a number of fronts. Firstly, Mr Henry is conducting an inquiry on behalf of Mr Kibblewhite and Mr Fletcher. When that report is received in the fullness of time, you will be able to see that. Secondly, Mr Dunne has given a categorical assurance that he played no part in leaking the report. Thirdly, the member is playing the same game that Mr Peters was in trying to use parliamentary privilege to make scurrilous—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister first of all told us he did not know the full circumstances and then he makes allegations—vile, false, and totally unacceptable to Parliament. He should have been stopped in his track.

Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister was asked whether he had had recent discussion with Mr Dunne. He clearly answered that. He added some political connotation to the answer—it was, after all, a political question.

David Shearer: Did Peter Dunne give his assurances to David Henry under oath?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not party to that and I am not aware of the answer to that.

David Shearer: Was the decision of National MPs to block the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ line of questioning in the Finance and Expenditure Committee today done under the direction of him or the members of the committee?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question asked whether it was done under his direction or under the volition of the other members of the committee. The answer cannot be “No.”

Mr SPEAKER: It was a two-part question; the answer can clearly be “No.”

Hon Trevor Mallard: Well, it’s an either/or. It’s not a—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

David Shearer: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The answer “No.” was to either one part of the question or the other. I do not know to which one he had answered “No.”

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member asked two parts in the supplementary question. The Prime Minister has clearly answered one part to my satisfaction.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There were not two parts to it. There was one that was an either/or, and “No.” is not an answer.

Mr SPEAKER: I have ruled that the Prime Minister satisfactorily addressed one part to that question. [Interruption] Order!

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a different point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: If it is a different point of order, I am happy to hear it.

Chris Hipkins: If you are indicating that in your view it was a two-part question and that the Prime Minister addressed one part—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Oh, that’s different.

Chris Hipkins: —no, it is a different point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The point of order will be heard in silence.

Chris Hipkins: The previous speaker has indicated that where a Minister chooses to address one part of a question, the Minister does need to indicate which part of the question they are addressing.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have ruled that the matter has been addressed. To raise further points of order will lead to disorder. I invite the member to continue his line of questioning.

David Shearer: Let me ask the question again. Was the decision of National MPs to block the Rt Hon Winston Peters’ line of questioning in the Finance and Expenditure Committee this morning done under the direction from him or his office, or of their own volition?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have no knowledge of it being blocked. I was not at the meeting. No, it was not done under my direction. But if I was to hazard a guess—and it should be seen in those terms because I do not want to mislead the House; the reason it would be a guess is that I am pretty sure it would be right—I am sure that the committee chairman would have seen that Mr Peters was attempting to use parliamentary privilege to say something he did not have the courage to say outside. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the member carries on with that sort of interjection, he will certainly find himself out. Would the Prime Minister stand and withdraw the last part of that answer.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I withdraw. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I make the instructions here. I asked the Prime Minister to withdraw; the Prime Minister did withdraw.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is ample precedent on such an occasion for the Speaker to ask for—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have heard quite enough. The Speaker has the right to decide his action when a comment like that is made. I chose to ask the Prime Minister to withdraw; he has done so. That is sufficient on this occasion.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: If the member is questioning my decision—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: It is a fresh point of order—

Mr SPEAKER: If it is a fresh point of order, I will happily hear it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The fresh point of order is that when someone raises an objection that has been raised, it is whether or not that person—[Interruption] no, hang on a second—finds it offensive. I do find it offensive to have a statement like that made, and now I have got ample—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the member was offended by that statement, then the member should have immediately risen to his feet and said that he was offended, but he did not do that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The reason why I was not called was that someone else got the call first and then you stood up, and on the first available opportunity to me, I protested and that is what should be guiding your judgment.

Mr SPEAKER: If the member is now saying that he took personal offence to that comment—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I do.

Mr SPEAKER: —then I will now ask the Prime Minister to stand, withdraw, and apologise because the member has taken offence.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I withdraw and apologise. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member has every opportunity now to ask a supplementary question. [Interruption]

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Lighten up, sunshine.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the member is going to ask his supplementary question, he will get on with it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, I am trying to get myself heard, and I am sure you want to hear it as well. My supplementary question is when the Hon Peter Dunne was questioned by Mr David Henry, was his evidence electronically recorded; if not, why not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have no knowledge of that. I was no party to that. You would have to direct the question to either Mr Henry or Mr Dunne.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, now that the Prime Minister in a number of questions has displayed his lack of knowledge on any of these matters, why did he rush to give an assurance that all was well?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, it is important to understand that it is an ongoing inquiry for a report that has not been written or given by the authors yet. The reason I gave an assurance was on two fronts: firstly, because Mr Dunne has categorically stated that he did not leak the report. He has

categorically made that statement. You, Mr Peters, have not given one piece of evidence to support your argument.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It should be very apparent to you that the Prime Minister, who has been here a little while now, cannot bring you into the debate, and he just did.

Mr SPEAKER: Oh!

Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, it is not a matter of “Oh!”. Either there is one rule for everybody in the House and a different one for the Prime Minister, or there is one law for everybody.

Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister was clearly referring to the member.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. He was clearly referring to the member. Is your ruling henceforth that the word “you” can be used willy-nilly if you feel like it?

Mr SPEAKER: Are there any other supplementary questions to this? Otherwise, I am moving—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Speaker’s ruling?

Mr SPEAKER: I did rule for the benefit of the member. I said the use of the word followed immediately by reference to the member was not out of order, in my opinion. I have ruled.

Budget 2013—Economic Growth

Hon TAU HENARE (National): My question is to the Minister of Finance.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Sit down, Tau!

Hon TAU HENARE: Do you think I am going to listen to you, Trevor? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! For the benefit of the member Hon Trevor Mallard, he was not allowed to do it yesterday. He was told off for doing it, and the member is now only going to create more disorder, when I have asked the member to ask his question, by Mr Mallard continuing to interject.

2. Hon TAU HENARE (National) to the Minister of Finance: What measures did Budget 2013 take to help build economic growth based on more exports, productive investment and sustainable jobs?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Quite a number, including the Government remaining on track to surplus, which will help keep interest rates lower than they otherwise would have been and will free up resources for private sector investment—in particular, signalling a path of significant reductions in ACC levies. The Budget also provided $400 million over 4 years for an internationally focused growth package, including considerable extra investment in research and development, tourism, and international education. There were significant measures to address the issue of housing affordability and the potential damage that a housing bubble could do to the broader balanced economy.

Hon Tau Henare: What other measures has the Government taken since we won in 2008 to support the rebalancing of the economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: One of the early measures the Government took was to get the Government’s own house in order and get control of runaway Government spending, which jumped by 50 percent in the 5 years to 2008, without any obvious impact on the kinds of social problems or other investments that the Government makes. There were no revenue streams to pay for that kind of massive increase in spending. Since then we have focused on better public services—on the idea that better results from public services will help fix the Government’s books and help rebalance the economy. Other measures have included a tax package in 2010 that reduced taxes on work, savings, and investment, and increased taxes on consumption and property speculation. Just this year on 1 April, minimum KiwiSaver contributions were increased to 3 percent for both individuals and employers.

Hon Tau Henare: Given the Government’s focus on building more sustainable growth, what progress is being made in rebalancing the economy towards more exports, more savings, and increased productive investment?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Of course we would prefer to have made more progress. The tradable sector has grown since September 2010 at about the same rate as the non-tradable sector, and households are saving a bit more. As I said before to the member, contributions to KiwiSaver were increased on 1 April. This has been a considerable improvement on the previous few years. The tradable sector actually went into recession around 2005, before the rest of the world, under the previous Government. It has taken some time for us to fix the damage done by the Labour Government to New Zealand’s productive capacity. [Interruption]

Hon David Parker: Correct. Has the Minister seen the latest forecast from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, which forecasts that under his mismanagement, the current account deficit, which is already the worst in the developed world, will increase to 10 percent of GDP in 2017—$25 billion—while export growth slumps, and unemployment stays high; if so, how does that point to anything other than his failure to rebalance the economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, that is a forecast, and we can argue about whether we agree with it or not. If the member looks at the facts, though, the current account deficit right now is about 4 percent, which is half—half—the level that it was when the Labour Government was in charge. I would call that progress.

Hon Tau Henare: What alternative approaches would damage current progress in rebalancing the economy towards exports and productive investment?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: We know what those approaches are, because we saw them in action from about 2005 onwards. They include high rates of increased Government spending; wasteful Government spending; more costs and taxes for households and businesses; and more Government control of more of the economy, in a way that chills private sector investment and destroys the kind of confidence that underpins jobs and growth. The Government is very pleased to see rising business confidence and a growing willingness by New Zealand businesses to create more jobs by investing more cash.

Child Poverty—Prime Minister’s Statements

3. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that “I am deeply concerned about every child in New Zealand who is in poverty”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Metiria Turei: Given that 21 percent of New Zealand children are currently living in material deprivation, by which date does the Prime Minister expect that that number will reduce to just 15 percent?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not have any modelling to be able to answer the member’s question.

Metiria Turei: Which of the 78 recommendations from the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty has his Government implemented to date?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not have an exact timetable of how many we have implemented to date, but I know that we have adopted or broadly supported two-thirds of the 78 recommendations.

Metiria Turei: How can the public take the Prime Minister seriously regarding his comment that he is deeply concerned about every New Zealand child who is in poverty, when he has no information as to how to measure that rate of poverty, or a target for its reduction, and cannot name the specific recommendations that his Government is implementing from the Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand report produced by the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member will notice that the Ministerial Committee on Poverty issued its recommendations in relation to the expert advisory group’s report. In that it summarises what the Government has been doing. I think if the member is genuinely interested in what the Government is actually doing to help vulnerable children she will read it. I do not expect her to understand or to have at the tip of her fingers every single thing the Government has been doing, but let me just run

through a few. I do have them, so let me just run through them. Given the member has asked, I will be more fulsome in my answer. For rheumatic fever we put $21.3 million in over the last 4 years. In Budget 2013 we doubled that by another $24 million. In home insulation, in Budget 2013 alone we put $100 million in over the next 3 years, and that will be targeting low-income families in need. That will add on to the 215,000 homes that we insulated at a cost of over $300 million. We are looking at a warrant of fitness for rental properties. We are trialling it on Housing New Zealand Corporation properties. The member will be aware that when it comes to Housing New Zealand Corporation the Government is not only building more State houses but will add 3,000 additional bedrooms to try to give relief to the issue of overcrowding. The Government is targeting early childhood education for low-income families. The member will be aware that the Government has a stated target of getting that to 98 percent for all New Zealand families, and is doing pretty well. We are going into exploring the options for low-interest or no-interest loans, through microfinancing. The member will be aware that that is one of the issues these families do face. The member will be aware that yesterday we—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is quite a sufficiently long answer.

Metiria Turei: Is the Government implementing the recommendation of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty that it set targets to reduce child poverty covering both the short term and the longer term, to be reviewed at least every 3 years; if not, why not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not think it is the Government’s view that we should set a target. I think the Government’s view is that we should address the issue of poverty through a series of measures. That includes, amongst other things, trying to ensure that as many New Zealanders who want jobs can get jobs. One of the biggest issues that comes through on this issue is that if a family is on a benefit, then it is highly likely that those children will be in the deprivation that the member talks about. We know that about 60 percent of those vulnerable children are in benefit-based households. On that basis then, it is worth mentioning these two facts—if we were to look at Working for Families and the way that that works in relation to people on a benefit, someone who was a sole parent with three children and not working would get $517 a week from the benefit and from Working for Families. In addition to that they would get an accommodation supplement of up to $225 a week. So it could be expected that their weekly income would be $742 a week from the Government, or $38,584. Equally it is worth looking at it that if that family was a very low-income family—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Surely the Prime Minister is just dragging on the answer to this question. All it needs is a succinct statement of a number of facts, not a long tedious answer that would put Mogadon out of business.

Mr SPEAKER: I think—

Rt Hon John Key: Mr Speaker, very often we come to the House and the honourable member gets on his feet to tell the House that the Ministers have not been—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am hearing a point of order.

Hon Annette King: What is it?

Mr SPEAKER: That is what I am trying to find out.

Rt Hon John Key: —addressing the question fully or providing the facts and information. In no way have I attempted, in answering the member’s question, to be facetious or smart or in any way political. I was simply giving her the facts of what has been going on with the Government.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am ruling on the first point made by the Rt Hon Winston Peters. I think on this occasion, in response to a supplementary question, the answer was quite sufficiently long enough. On that basis are there further—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: The question was therefore unreasonable.

Mr SPEAKER: The question was accepted as reasonable. I am now accepting a further supplementary question from Metiria Turei.

Metiria Turei: Is the Government implementing the recommendation of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty to review all child-related benefits and to implement a universal child payment; if not, why not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, the Government will not be adopting that recommendation. The Government does not believe that it is either currently affordable or the right approach.

Metiria Turei: Is the Government implementing the recommendation of the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty that the remaining 700,000 uninsulated or poorly insulated homes are properly insulated, given that he plans to insulate less than 10 percent of that number over the next 3 years, and if he does not intend to insulate the full number, why not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: If this Government is in office for a very long period of time, it is eminently possible we will actually get to the point where we insulate every home. If you look at it on the basis that we have been operating under, we insulated 215,000 homes in the first 3 years and we have indicated we will be insulating another 46,000 homes for very low-income New Zealanders, through this Budget. We have also indicated that we will be insulating every State house that can actually be insulated. That is a very impressive record. I say to the member that she should look at the partners that she is cuddling up to—that is the only way that she will get warmth, because they did not insulate any homes when they were in office.

Metiria Turei: Does the Prime Minister agree with the Ministry of Health that incomes are so inadequate that nearly a quarter of Kiwi families run out of money for food, and is it his view that dropping off milk and Weet-Bix at the school gate is a sufficient solution to income inadequacy?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, I do not think that providing breakfast for children across New Zealand is the sole answer to income issues. I do think, though, that it is a comprehensive response, inasmuch as every single New Zealand child will be offered breakfast in school. Let me make this point about income inadequacy and what the Government is doing in very difficult times. Let us take someone who is a full-time worker with a family of three children—one full-time earner, and that person earns the minimum wage, which is $13.75 an hour. The member would argue strongly that that is not enough. We would all agree that it would be great, over time, to see the minimum wage go up. That person would earn $28,600 from their wages. Actually, they would pay about $4,000 in tax, leaving them a net $24,024. We would all agree that that is not nearly enough. This Government, through Working for Families, then supports them with $282 a week. It continues to support them with an income-related accommodation supplement of $225 a week. So what is the net effect? The net effect is that someone earning $28,600 a year gross, even before tax, takes home over $46,000. That is the system that provides a lot of support, relative to the OECD, for lowincome families.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I apologise to the member. The Prime Minister appeared to be quoting from an official document and, therefore, I ask that he table it.

Mr SPEAKER: Is the Prime Minister quoting from an official document?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister says he is not quoting from an official document.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: These are my briefing notes, but I am more than happy to give the member the documents about—

Grant Robertson: Just table the whole thing. That’d be great. Thanks.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Not the whole document; I am more than happy to give him the bit about how they earn $46,000.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! It is not an official document. If the Prime Minister wants to table it, he can seek leave to table it.

Metiria Turei: If the Prime Minister is so deeply concerned about the children in New Zealand who live in poverty, why has his Government been prepared to give the elite Wanganui Collegiate School $3 million a year, but will not even budget $2 million a year to feed the thousands of New Zealand children who go to school hungry?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, the Government yesterday rolled out a comprehensive solution. Every New Zealand child who wants breakfast will, by 2014, have that breakfast in a New Zealand school that accepts the programme. Just because a programme is very efficient to run—run with the private sector, run with the generosity of communities—does not mean that it is not a good programme. If the judging is just on spending the most amount of money, which seems to be the way the Greens do things, then of course it is not a winner. But if it comes to maximising taxpayers’ returns for very good results for young New Zealand children, then, actually, it is a very good programme.

Inequality—Prime Minister’s Statements

4. JACINDA ARDERN (Labour) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement “We would prefer that we were a more equal society with less inequality”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I stand by my full statement, which was: “We would prefer that we were a more equal society with less inequality, but what the report actually goes on to quite clearly demonstrate is that the vast bulk of the changes that have taken place is due to the global financial crisis.” I went on to say in the same statement: “Fortunately, the Government has an economic plan that is seeing the economy grow and enabling people to get into work. This Government is focused on welfare reforms to get people into work. This Government has been quite prepared to put up [hundreds of millions of dollars] to insulate homes in New Zealand.” Now, in Budget 2013, we are putting an additional $100 million into that, targeted at low-income households. We are protecting entitlements during the recession. We are supporting more kids from low-income families into early childhood education. We are putting millions of dollars into tackling rheumatic fever. This Government is increasing vaccination rates for young kids. This Government is putting billions of dollars into education to give the youngsters—

Jacinda Ardern: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There was a reason I summarised that quote, and I am sure there would have been a full stop in there, from what the Prime Minister was quoting from.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is not a point of order.

Jacinda Ardern: Why is it not the Government’s view that it should set a target to reduce child poverty when he has set targets, for instance, for rheumatic fever, which poverty contributes to?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Broadly, I think the view is that there are many ways you can actually define and measure poverty, so the Government would rather have a series of programmes.

Jacinda Ardern: Does he agree with the Expert Advisory Group on Solutions to Child Poverty that there are five measures of poverty, and will he accept its recommendation to use all of them?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In relation to the last part of the question, no, we will not be.

Jacinda Ardern: Does he agree with the expert advisory group’s co-chair Jonathan Boston that very little of what the Government has done to date directly addresses the challenges of low incomes?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, I do not, actually, and the reason for that, amongst a whole lot of other things, would be, firstly, if one looks at the inflation rate in New Zealand under this Government, it is running at under 1 percent. If one looks at the average hourly wages, they rose 2.1 percent in the last year. If one looks at the changes we have made to the minimum wage, we have increased it to $13.75, which is half the average hourly wage of $27.50. It is interesting to note that the OECD database shows that half the average hourly wage—which is the proportion we have—is, in fact, the highest in the developed world. The Government, during very difficult times, has supported Working for Families, accommodation supplements, and income-related rents. We have had to do that, actually, by borrowing, but we have still supported the most vulnerable New Zealanders.

Jacinda Ardern: Did he read both the expert advisory group’s report and his own Government’s response, given some commentators have said: “… National’s approach is about as ‘in line’ with the report as the atmosphere on Mars is ‘in line’ with that on Earth.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, and that was a statement made by John Armstrong in his column this morning. Quite frankly, after the polls we have had in the last few days, I cannot wait to read his column in the weekend.

Budget 2013—Economic Programme

5. COLIN KING (National—Kaikōura) to the Minister for Economic Development: How is Budget 2013 advancing the Government’s work to build a more productive and competitive economy?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): Through Budget 2013 the Government is investing an additional $400 million over 4 years in the Government’s Business Growth Agenda, in a range of measures to help make the New Zealand economy more productive and competitive. The internationally focused growth package includes $106 million of new funding for extra research and development for businesses and supporting start-ups; a further $93.5 million for public science, including the National Science Challenges and the Marsden Fund; an additional $158 million for high-value tourism; $40 million for promoting New Zealand to international students; and $2 million for launching the New Zealand Story. The package is designed to support the Government’s comprehensive plan to grow our exports and create more and higher-paying jobs for New Zealanders and their families.

Colin King: What plan does the Government have to boost our exports?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The Government has set an ambitious target to grow our exports as a percentage of GDP from 30 percent to 40 percent by 2025, and the Business Growth Agenda sets out to achieve that. Meeting this target will require nominal export growth, on average, of between 6.7 percent and 7.6 percent over that period. Recent statistics show that annual export growth in the last 4 years has averaged 4.6 percent, despite the unusually high New Zealand dollar and the lingering effects of the global financial crisis. The aim of the internationally focused growth package is to help accelerate this growth over the medium term and, in particular, to build on the opportunities that exist in emerging markets like China, India, South-east Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Colin King: What is the Government’s investment in research, science, and innovation, and how does this compare with past funding?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: It compares very well. The Government’s additional investment of $200 million over 4 years in this package brings our total cross-portfolio funding for science, innovation, and research in Budget 2013 to $1.36 billion, including $141.5 million for research and development grants this year, which represents the largest co-investment ever with high-tech firms. This compares with annual funding of less than $1 billion in total under the previous Government, and a research and development tax credit scheme that achieved little more than businesses recategorising existing expenditure as research and development.

Mining in Conservation Areas—Denniston Plateau

6. EUGENIE SAGE (Green) to the Minister of Conservation: Why did he grant Bathurst Resources’ access application, for an opencast coal mine on conservation land a day before the Crown Minerals Act 1991 changed to require public consultation?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Conservation): There are three reasons. Firstly, the access application was lodged in 2008, and delaying its consideration further because of a subsequent legislative change is not good process. I advised all parties some time ago that I intended to make the decision under the existing legislation. Secondly, this mining proposal has been subject to extensive public consultation, and no one can credibly argue that they had no opportunity to have a

say. Thirdly, the parties supporting and opposing the mine on the Denniston Plateau were working hard to reach a compromise. I wanted to give the best chance of success, so I waited until their last scheduled meeting, on 16 May. Agreement was not able to be reached. I made my decision on 21 May. The legislative change took effect on 24 May.

Eugenie Sage: Given that, as Minister, he is responsible for conservation land on behalf of all New Zealanders, should the general public not have been able to give him their views on a mine proposal that his own department says “would present a significant and permanent loss of currently high conservation values”?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The member is very selective in what she quotes from the 240-page report from the department, which also pointed out the very significant conservation benefits from the compensation package. In terms of the public having a say, I would note that the proposal for the mine was publicly advertised all the way back in 2010, it was heard by independent commissioners and they approved it, it has subsequently been appealed to the Environment Court and to the High Court, and my understanding is there is also an appeal out on two other issues in other courts. For the member to argue the public has not had a say is simply being dishonest.

Eugenie Sage: Does he agree with the conclusions of his own department that the mine would present a significant and permanent loss of currently high conservation values, including a loss of nationally significant wetlands within the mine footprint, a loss of distinctive assemblages of rare and threatened plant species not recorded elsewhere on the Denniston Plateau, the permanent loss of originally rare sandstone pavement ecosystems—and the list goes on?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The department is responsible for 9 million hectares of New Zealand. It is classified into national parks, into conservation parks, and into 12 different categories of reserve and sanctuary. The Denniston Plateau is in the lowest of all those categories. The member makes reference to the wetland and lake. I visited the site, and it was pointed out to me by the Department of Conservation that the lake was created by a dam that was put in place by previous miners. If you proposed to create the dam today, the Greens would be objecting and protesting. The final point I would make is that the mine takes up only 5 percent of the Denniston Plateau area. There is a case for protecting part of the Denniston Plateau. That is something I am happy to consider in future.

Eugenie Sage: Is not the lack of public consultation to the Minister of Conservation, separate from the Resource Management Act consultation on the Bathurst access application, just another example of the Government looking after foreign corporates at the expense of ordinary New Zealanders and the public conservation estate?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The part I find extraordinary about the Green Party is that I get lectured on local democracy. Well, the local council strongly supports the mine and the local member of Parliament sometimes—sometimes—supports the mine. For the Green Party to argue that an application that has been before the process for over 4 years has been a rushed process really just shows what a ridiculous party we have in the corner of the Parliament.

Regional Economies—Unemployment

7. Hon SHANE JONES (Labour) to the Minister for Economic Development: Does he agree that New Zealand is operating as a two-speed economy in the regions given that unemployment in Northland is 10 percent, 8 percent in the Bay of Plenty and 8.4 percent in Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): I welcome the member for his maiden question in the portfolio.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Would the Minister please answer the question.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, I do not agree with the member. However, there is no doubt that there are regional variations across New Zealand when it comes to the unemployment rate, as there always have been. What is interesting—I think the member does raise an interesting point—is that places like Southland, which has an unemployment rate of around 3.5 percent and an employment rate of 71.5 percent, and Taranaki, which has an unemployment rate of 5.5 percent and an

employment rate of 69 percent, have said yes to many development opportunities in those regions and to taking their economic opportunities. So for places like Northland, which has an unemployment rate, as the member points out, of 10 percent and an employment rate of a very low 54.3 percent, and the East Coast, which has an unemployment rate of 8.4 percent and an employment rate of 61 percent, it is important that we all redouble our efforts—and that the regions do—to take advantage of all their economic opportunities.

Hon Shane Jones: What does he propose the one in 10 Northlanders who are unemployed do, given that it may be decades, if at all, before any benefits from oil and gas are seen, given that his sole response to Northland’s poor performance in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Regional Economic Activity Report was to back oil and gas?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I am sorry that the member may not have read this report, actually, because it has a number of initiatives in it in regard to what is really quite a comprehensive plan for development in Northland. I am happy to record them for the House, given that the member has, obviously, not read it. Firstly, he mentions the oil and gas, but there is also the mineral exploration that is going on up there. There is the aquaculture development that the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research is sponsoring at Bream Bay. Of course, we have the Northland Polytechnic focusing on skills for the region. We have Treaty settlements in the north, which the Hon Minister Finlayson is working on, that are a very important part of the north’s development. We have the Ultra-fast Broadband Initiative, which is being done with Northpower in Whangarei. We have the Rural Broadband Initiative, which is continuing around the region. We had the Māori Trade Training programme, where there has been a big increase in investment in the Budget, with help from the Māori Party. Of course, there is the Pūhoi to Wellsford road of national significance, which links that region with the largest city in the country just to the south of it, and which, of course, the Labour Party opposes.

Hon Shane Jones: Given his exhaustive reading of his Regional Economic Activity Report, is the reason, and does he agree, that higher unemployment in the North Island is because there are too many Māoris and Pacific Islanders living there?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, I think that is, frankly, a trivial suggestion in relation to the variations in employment that occur around the country. What is important to note is that the unemployment rate in the South Island is significantly lower than the North Island’s at this point. It often is, but right now the margin of difference between the two islands is actually at reasonably unprecedented large levels, which means that we would expect to see more people moving to the South Island to take up opportunities. Partly that is in the primary sector, partly that is in the hightech manufacturing sector, particularly around Christchurch and Dunedin, and partly it is, of course, in the Christchurch rebuild. But I think it is really a case of significant opportunities in the South Island at the moment, and I think many people will be examining their opportunities in that island.

Hon Shane Jones: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was straightforward: does he agree with his own Regional Economic Activity Report that there are too many Māoris and Pacific Islanders in the North Island, and that is why unemployment is bad, from his own report?

Mr SPEAKER: The Minister very adequately addressed that question.

Hon Shane Jones: Is he aware of his ministry’s target of having Māori median weekly income equal to the national median by 2040; if so, does he believe 27 years until Māori get to have their brighter future under this Government is an acceptable time frame?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I am not specifically aware of the statistic the member raises. However, I would point out to the member that this Government has, in the context of what is an ongoing disparity of income between Māori and Pasifika and the rest of New Zealand that goes back—

Hon Shane Jones: Twenty-seven years.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE:—well, frankly, probably 100 years, been working very hard over the last 4 and a bit years to improve outcomes for Māori and Pasifika. Just one in my own portfolio is

the very significant improvements in tertiary qualifications and completions for both Māori and Pasifika, which we are all very proud of.

Hon Shane Jones: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question related to Māori statistics. Why is this Minister so afraid to talk about his treatment—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister very adequately addressed the question that was asked.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I seek leave to table this Regional Economic Activity Report—

Mr SPEAKER: It is available to every member.

Crime Victims—Legislative Protection

8. Hon KATE WILKINSON (National—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Justice: What recent action has been taken to protect victims of serious violent and sexual offences?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice): This week I have introduced the Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill, creating a new order to protect victims from unwanted contact or harassment by their attackers. Victims of serious violent and sexual offences will be able to apply for a non-contact order where the offender has been sentenced to 5 years or more in prison. A judge will be able to make an order prohibiting the offender from contacting the victim or from entering, living, or working in a particular area, so that the victim can feel some level of safety.

Hon Kate Wilkinson: What other steps is the Government taking to support victims of crime?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The Victims of Crime Reform Bill implements the Government’s reform package for victims of crime. This bill, which is awaiting its second reading, introduces a victims’ code to provide victims with better information support. Agencies will be required to record information on the services for victims, complaints received, and how they were resolved, and the use of victim impact statements will be enhanced in court proceedings.

Jacinda Ardern: Has she raised concerns with the Minister for Social Development that due to the end of the Community Response Fund services like the Help Foundation and Wellington Rape Crisis are losing almost $75,000 per annum and already have long waiting lists for those who have experienced sexual violence?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: On the contrary, the Minister for Social Development has raised the issue with me with another portfolio hat on. I can assure the member that a very good announcement will be coming out very soon.

State-owned Energy Companies, Shares—Ownership Categories

9. Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE (Labour) to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises: How many of the 113,000 “mum and dad” investors in Mighty River Power at float were companies, trusts or New Zealand investment institutions and what proportion of shares were they allocated?

Hon TONY RYALL (Minister for State Owned Enterprises): I am advised that the share register does not differentiate retail investors in the categories that the member’s question requests. New Zealanders could choose whether they purchased their shares through their family trust, family company, or as individuals. In the case of companies and family trusts, they have to be based in New Zealand and the majority of their ultimate beneficial owners must be New Zealand citizens or permanent residents. But the member is welcome to look through the 113,458 names on the publicly available register if he wants to. I have to say that anyone thinking that mum and dad investors cannot own a company or have a family trust is a bit behind the eight ball.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Why did he mislead the public by referring to the initial 113,000 retail shareholders in Mighty River Power as “New Zealanders” and “Kiwi mums and dads”, when yesterday Treasury publicly defined retail investors as including companies, trusts, and New Zealand investment institutions?

Hon TONY RYALL: There is nothing new in what the member is saying in respect of who is being classified as part of the general offer. What is quite clear here is that New Zealanders could

choose how they bought their shares, through their family company, or their family trust, and that was always very clear at the beginning of the offer.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Given the near collapse of Solid Energy, can he confirm that $6 billion, the amount allocated to the so-called Future Investment Fund in Budget 2013, will be raised from his asset sales programme?

Hon TONY RYALL: The Government’s expectation is that the proceeds of the partial asset sales will be within the range that the Government has set previously. What I have to say to the member is that on this side of the House we think it is fantastic that 77,000 first-time investors have taken a stake directly in Mighty River Power, joining with the 51 percent owned by the Government.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Does he believe that the hundreds of thousands of dollars of quick profit made from a few trades of Mighty River Power within 2 minutes of the float, including three transactions making a total profit of $185,000 in those 120 seconds, align with his commitment to long-term New Zealand ownership for so-called mum and dad Kiwi investors?

Hon TONY RYALL: This Government trusts everyday New Zealanders to make investment decisions that are good for them. We have got over 113,000 everyday New Zealanders who have bought shares in Mighty River Power—

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Despite that, the question asked about some facts and whether they aligned with his policy. He has not even got there yet. He did not even start to address the—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I found it a complicated question. Can the member please ask it again? I think that is the best way forward.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: Does he believe that the hundreds of thousands of dollars of quick profit made from a few trades of Mighty River Power within 2 minutes of the float, including three transactions making a total profit of $185,000, align with his commitment to long-term New Zealand ownership, the so-called Kiwi mum and dad investors?

Hon TONY RYALL: Well, clearly, the shape of the offer is such that it is to provide every incentive for New Zealanders to have long-term stakes in these businesses. That is the reason why we have got the loyalty share. That is why we have got 113,000 everyday New Zealanders having a stake in Mighty River Power directly. I have to say that that member is well and truly behind the eight ball. He has spent an election campaign trying to stop this policy—

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think we had the answer about 40 seconds ago. We do not need the diatribe.

Mr SPEAKER: I am delighted that the member on this occasion is happy with the answer.

Hon Clayton Cosgrove: I seek leave to table the screenshots of the NZX trading board that show that within the first 2 minutes of the float three single transactions made $185,000.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Education, National Standards—Measurement of Student Achievement

10. TRACEY MARTIN (NZ First) to the Minister of Education: What reports, if any, has she received on the 2012 STAR test and the 2012 e-asTTle tests as markers for achievement against National Standards?

Hon NIKKI KAYE (Associate Minister of Education) on behalf of the Minister of

Education: Talofa lava. I have not received any formal reports from the Ministry of Education as neither the Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource nor e-asTTle are designed to be markers for achievement against national standards. They are simply two tools that are available to assist teachers with exercising their overall professional judgment about student progress and

achievement. I am aware that my office has received information about these two tools, following other interest.

Tracey Martin: Can the Minister confirm or deny that the e-asTTle tests used to inform national standards writing levels for 2012 have been identified as flawed, and that the inflationary effect on student achievement scores is across schools, but is up to 30 percent within lower-decile schools, therefore making any national standards data not just ropey but irrelevant?

Hon NIKKI KAYE: No, e-asTTle is not flawed. There has been a review of the tool that was undertaken with the education profession. As a result of that, there has been realignment, but the tool is not flawed.

Tracey Martin: In light of her answer just given, can she confirm that she was consulted by officials prior to the ministry amending downward all existing test results, without consulting the schools affected?

Hon NIKKI KAYE: Obviously I am answering on behalf of the Minister of Education, so I cannot confirm any consultation, but what I can say is that I think the member needs to be very clear about what the process has been. As a result of a review of the e-asTTle tool—this is one tool in overall teacher judgments, which is a really important point. There was significant consultation with the sector in December and January. As a result of that, the changes were uploaded on the Ministry of Education’s website, which is publicly available. They were made over the holidays because we thought that was the best process to ensure minimal disruption to teachers. They have been publicly available on the Ministry of Education website.

Tracey Martin: I seek leave to table an email from a school principal incorporating a message from the Ministry of Education, informing them retrospectively that changes have been made to student achievement e-asTTle scale scores by lowering them.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that email. Is there any objection? There is none. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Tracey Martin: Will the Minister intervene to stop the ministry from publishing reading and writing national standards results for the 2012 year, in light of the fact that they have been identified by numerous educational professionals as being utterly incorrect; if not, why not?

Hon NIKKI KAYE: As I have already explained, e-asTTle is one tool in overall teacher judgments, so there are a range of other things that are taken into account in what are overall professional teacher judgments. From our perspective, we have been really clear when we published national standards data last year that this is about continuous improvement. We highlighted the importance of parents seeking a wider set of information to get a more rounded picture. We will do the same this year—for example, parents can visit a school, they can talk to educators, they can review a school’s charter and annual plans and consider the school’s latest Education Review Office report. This is about a wide range of data informing parents, and we will be publishing that data because we are confident of overall teacher judgments, not just one assessment tool.

Budget 2013—Preschool Health and Development Checks

11. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Hunua) to the Minister of Health: What investments in Budget 2013 is this Government making to provide more health and development checks for children under five?

Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health): Budget 2013 has increased the Government’s investment in B4 School Checks by $7 million over the next 4 years, which means that more New Zealand children can have the best possible start before they begin school. The Government currently invests just over $9 million a year in B4 School Checks, and Budget 2013 will increase this total to nearly $11 million a year. This funding will be used to increase coverage of the B4 School Check programme from 80 percent to 90 percent of under-fives, which is a significant

improvement from only a few years ago, when only around half of all 4-year-old children had received a B4 School Check, despite a promise in 2005 to bring it in in a few weeks time.

Dr Paul Hutchison: Why are B4 School Checks important?

Hon TONY RYALL: The B4 School Check aims to identify and address any health, behavioural, social, or developmental concerns—yes, developmental concerns—that could affect a child’s ability to learn, and children are referred to an appropriate health, education, or social service for further help and support if required. Since B4 School Checks began in 2008, 191,500 4- year-olds have received a free health and development check, and 82 percent of eligible 4-year-olds have received a B4 School Check since July last year. This additional funding announced by the Government will help particularly with improving access to B4 School Checks for those children living in our more deprived communities here in New Zealand.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave for the qualified Dr Paul Hutchison to ask another question of the unqualified Minister.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is not a genuine point of order.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner—Appointment Process

12. GRANT ROBERTSON (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Justice: How many expressions of interest or nominations for the position of Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner were received by the Ministry of Justice after the advertised deadline of 13 October 2012?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice): Well, the member is wrong. There is no deadline. This is a ministerial appointment. The Ministry of Justice was assisting me, not directing me, because it is an administrative date for the Ministry of Justice only.

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

Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order has been raised and I wish to hear it in silence.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Your office accepted the question, with proper authentication showing that there was an advertised deadline. It was tabled in the House yesterday. The Minister should be asked to answer that question. There was an advertised deadline, and for her to deny it is not appropriate.

Mr SPEAKER: No, on this occasion the member has addressed the question in a way that is not helpful to the House. I think it is pointless to ask for the question to be repeated, because I suspect we will get the same answer, but on this occasion I invite the member to have an additional three supplementary questions if he so requires.

Grant Robertson: Did she receive the report from the Ministry of Justice dated 1 November 2012 that summarised the expressions of interest in the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner position and sought her views on a short list, a paper that did not include Jackie Blue’s name among the applicants?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, again, the member is not quite right in that question, because, of course, I had already received an expression of interest from Dr Jackie Blue, and the ministry had not at that stage because I had not passed it on to the ministry.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not think the Minister understood the question. I asked whether she had received a report—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I invite the member to ask the question again.

Grant Robertson: Did she receive the report from the Ministry of Justice dated 1 November 2012 that summarised the expressions of interest for the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner position and sought her views on a short list, a paper that did not include Jackie Blue among the applicants?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Of course, the member—how can I try to answer this as best I can, given that the question is clearly wrong? I got a—

Hon Annette King: Yes or no?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Excuse me! Do you want the answer? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I am also trying to listen to the answer.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, Mr Shearer might say that—he is down there. Actually, what I would say to that member is that there was a report from the ministry, but it did not include the expression of interest that Dr Blue had already—

Grant Robertson: Did you receive it?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I just said that there was a report. [Interruption] So, is that your answer? OK.

Grant Robertson: In light of that answer, why did she answer to written question No. 4721, which asked her when she received a list of those who had expressed interest, that she received that on 19 December 2012, and did not mention the report of 1 November 2012?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I have just explained in what I think was my second answer to the question that he has asked today that the expression of interest from Dr Jackie Blue was not included in the—whatever—early November report from the ministry, and it was included in the one in December. I do not think it is that difficult, is it?

Grant Robertson: Why did the Minister not acknowledge the existence of the 1 November report in her answers to written questions?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Because the report did not include all expressions of interest received. For goodness’ sake!

Scott Simpson: How is the appointment of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner made?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Finally, a good question. The role—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am very keen to hear the answer. It might help me in the future.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: The role of Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner is made under the Crown Entities Act 2004. All members of the Human Rights Commission are appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice determines what process is followed in identifying suitable candidates, and it is the Minister of Justice who determines which candidates are to be short-listed. The Minister of Justice is free to take whatever advice she wishes to ensure that the right recommendation is made to the Governor- General. However, this Minister of Justice did not decide to put herself on any panel, unlike the other side.

Grant Robertson: Why did she withhold the name of the third person on the interview panel for the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner process? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is so much noise that now the Minister cannot hear the question. Would the member please repeat the question?

Grant Robertson: I am very pleased to. Why has she withheld the name of the third person on the interview panel for the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner position?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Because to reveal that person’s name would breach the privacy of a natural person.

Grant Robertson: Why should members of the public have confidence in the process of the appointment of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner if the Minister will not reveal to the public who was on the interview panel?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I would expect that the members of the public would expect that we comply with the Privacy Act. The other thing, too, is that I can assure that member that it was no member of the Public Service, no member in the ministerial office, and no Minister—unlike the party opposite, which used to do it all the time.

Grant Robertson: In light of that answer, why does a note from Andrew Bridgman, the Secretary for Justice, say that the third person on the panel was the chief executive of a State-owned enterprise, in contradiction to the answer the Minister has just given?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I think that member has mixed up his Official Information Acts.

Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! It is a point of order. We will hear it in silence.

Grant Robertson: I seek leave of the House to table an email from Andrew Bridgman, the Secretary for Justice, dated Tuesday, 29 January 2013, where he says: “In particular, I would be interested in your view”—he is writing to the State Services Commission—“as to whether the proposed interview panel, comprised as it is of chief executives of two Government departments and an SOE, is appropriate.”

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that. Is there any objection? There is none. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Grant Robertson: In light of her earlier answer, how is it appropriate for her to answer in this House that the person whom she will not identify on the panel was not the chief executive of a State-owned enterprise?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, I would have thought the answer was pretty jolly obvious. There was going to be that particular person, and then that was changed. I can tell the member that the person is not a chair of a State-owned enterprise, has nothing to do with the Government, and is, in fact, actually a prominent QC.

ENDS

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