QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
1. MAGGIE BARRY (National—North Shore) to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on the economy?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): This morning Statistics New Zealand released GDP data for the second quarter of 2013. The New Zealand economy grew by 0.2 percent in that quarter, with the effects of one of the more serious droughts in a generation having a major influence on that result. Annual growth was 2.5 percent. That is consistent with the Government’s aspirations for growth of 2 to 3 percent, which is sufficient to support more jobs and moderate increases in incomes. Previous GDP growth numbers have been revised upwards. So growth for the year is slightly above both our expectations and market expectations. Given the circumstances of a significant drought, this result shows broader-based growth in the economy, and it is likely to continue.
Maggie Barry: What were the main factors affecting growth in the June quarter?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have already referred to the drought earlier this year, which saw the largest fall in dairy production volumes in 24 years. Offsetting the drought was a growth in eight out of 11 service industries: an increase in retail, accommodation, and restaurants, focused mainly in retailing; a 2.6 percent increase in business services; and construction activity increased by 2.3 percent, mainly in infrastructure. This is further evidence of the Government’s substantial and ongoing investment in infrastructure growth. Private consumption grew by 1.5 percent in the quarter. There was a small reduction in manufacturing output for the quarter, related to the drought. But overall, despite Opposition allegations that manufacturing is in crisis, it grew 1.6 percent for the year.
Maggie Barry: How does New Zealand’s growth in the last year compare with other countries’, and what is the outlook for the economy?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Our annual growth of 2.5 percent is ahead of the US on 1.6 percent, the UK on 1.5 percent, Canada on 1.4 percent, Japan on 1.3 percent, and the euro area on minus 0.5 percent. I think our numbers are roughly the same, if not slightly better, than Australia’s and Singapore’s. The outlook for the economy continues to be positive. We are looking at consensus forecasts of 2 to 3 percent growth over the next 3 years. This will support continued growth in new jobs and moderate increases in incomes. However, although this is an encouraging outlook, it is important that we stick to policy that is going to make it easier for businesses to continue to invest another dollar and employ another person, because that is what will improve the welfare of our households.
Hon David Parker: Given that our export and import substitution industries declined by 2.3 percent in the June quarter, does he agree that our economy is overly dependent on the weather, and
that although the sporting hopes of the country in the America’s Cup rely upon the weather, the destiny of our economy ought not?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, I do not agree. I knew that Labour was against jobs, but being against our agricultural industries seems a bit bizarre for a party that aspires to take part in economic debate in New Zealand. The fact is that this result shows precisely the opposite of what the member is saying. It shows a broad-based recovery where a lot of our non-agricultural businesses, including our service industries, are showing promising signs of growth. If we stick to the track we are on, I believe that it will lead to further diversification of our economy. But let us not knock the success of our core protein production industries. They will be core to New Zealand’s success for the next two decades.
Maggie Barry: What steps is the Government taking to build a more productive and competitive economy and to increase growth?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, we are continuing to focus on managing the Government’s finances responsibly, on improving the productivity of the 25 percent of the economy the Government controls directly, so that when we put taxpayers’ money into our social services, we get better protection for vulnerable families, more achievement for our young people, and better health services for our older people. That contributes to a competitive economy and increased growth. We are also continuing with a broad programme to reduce costs for business, cut red tape, continue to invest in innovation, and do whatever we can to keep interest rates lower for longer so that it will be easier for businesses to hire more people.
Hawke’s Bay Water Management—Ruataniwha Scheme
2. Hon RUTH DYSON (Labour—Port Hills) to the Minister of Conservation: Has he ever seen or received a submission or draft submission from the Department of Conservation regarding the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Plan Change 6, which paves the way for the Ruataniwha Dam proposal, which is critical of it?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Conservation): A draft 30-page submission was prepared by the Department of Conservation in early July. I never saw that until Tuesday this week. The Department of Conservation’s final submission was included in a briefing to me on 31 July.
Hon Ruth Dyson: What did he say to his Department of Conservation officials at the meeting on Monday, 29 July in relation to their draft submission?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I did not have at that meeting a copy of any draft submission. At my regular report—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Give the Minister an opportunity to answer the question.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I said to the department that it had provided me with two sentences on its decision about what was in the submission. I said I needed a full briefing. I got that full briefing 2 days later.
Hon Ruth Dyson: In light of the email sent from the deputy director-general Doris Johnston to other senior Department of Conservation staff at 6 p.m. on Monday, 29 July, did he say to officials that he wanted to see their submission before it was lodged and that he was concerned about it?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I did say that I wanted to see the final submission before it was made. That is what a responsible Minister would do. In respect of whether I said I had a concern, yes, I wanted to be properly briefed. Two sentences on this important issue were not enough.
Hon Ruth Dyson: Why did he tell the House on Tuesday, 17 September that he did not know that this draft submission existed until that morning when he had discussed it with Department of Conservation officials at the meeting on Monday, 29 July?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Because I did not know that the draft submission, the 34-page document, existed until Tuesday this week.
Hon Ruth Dyson: Why did he tell the House on Tuesday, 17 September that he did not know that this draft submission existed until that morning, when at a meeting on Monday, 29 July he had expressed concern about its content and asked for a copy of it before it was lodged?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The member’s proposition is incorrect. On 29 July I had never seen the draft submission. What I did have advice on was that the department—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The advice I received was that the department needed to finalise its submission by the end of that week, and I said to the department: “I want to see your submission.”
Hon Ruth Dyson: Did he or any of his staff instruct the Department of Conservation to not send the full submission to him?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Absolutely not.
Hawke’s Bay Water Management—Tukituki Catchment Proposal
3. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Conservation: Does he stand by his statement “No, I did not” when asked in this House whether he gave any indication to the Department of Conservation on the direction or content of its submission on the Tukituki Catchment Proposal?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Conservation): Yes, and I also note today the statement by Doris Johnston, Deputy Director-General of Conservation, confirming this.
Dr Russel Norman: Was Deputy Director-General of the Department of Conservation, Doris Johnston, correct when she said in an email, sent on Monday, 29 July, that he, the Minister, “is concerned” about the submission “and is likely to query whether we leave it all to the EPA to consider.”?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: When the deputy director-general says that the Minister might query— might query—an issue, it simply says that the Minister has not yet come to a view, and how could I come to a view? I suggest to the member it would not be right for a Minister to come to a view on an important issue when I had received two sentences. I asked for a full briefing, which I received on the Wednesday.
Dr Russel Norman: Did he or did he not express concern to the Department of Conservation about the draft 30-page submission when he talked to Doris Johnston, as Doris Johnston says in her email of 29 July?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I draw the member’s attention to the statement today put out by Doris Johnston, deputy director-general, which makes plain that at that meeting on the Monday I sought a full briefing, and that was the responsible thing for a Minister to do on an important issue.
Dr Russel Norman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was about—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question has been adequately addressed. The member has further supplementary questions if he wishes.
Dr Russel Norman: I seek leave to table the email from Doris Johnston on 29 July, where she says that the Minister is concerned and—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is sufficient information. Leave is sought to table that particular email. Is there any objection to that course of action? No, there is not. It can be so tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Dr Russel Norman: How can he stand by his statement in this House that he gave no indication to the Department of Conservation of his views about its submission, when the email from Doris Johnston says very clearly that, firstly, he was concerned about the submission—that is, the Minister was concerned—and, secondly, that the Minister was going to query whether it should be left up to the Environmental Protection Authority?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: My statement to the House on Tuesday was absolutely correct, and that is, having received only two sentences of advice about the issue, that before I came to any view I wanted to see a comprehensive submission. I saw that comprehensive submission on Wednesday.
Dr Russel Norman: Does he stand by his statement this morning and earlier in the week that he did not even know that the substantive submission existed until Tuesday this week, and how is that compatible with the media statement he issued today in which he says he discussed the issues related to the substantive submission on 29 July?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Very easily. In early July a 34-page draft submission was prepared by the Department of Conservation. I did not know about that until this week. What occurred on Monday, 29 July was that I was told the department was preparing a submission. I said: “Get me a copy of the final submission.”, which I received, which was quite different from the original draft.
Dr Russel Norman: Does he know the difference between being aware that a submission exists and actually seeing a submission, and so does he stand by his statement that he did not even know that the submission existed until Tuesday this week even though he said in his own press release that he discussed the issues about the submission on 29 July?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: On 29 July the department told me that it was finalising its submission to be made by that Friday. I said: “Before I make any view on it, I want to see a copy.” I did on the Wednesday.
Dr Russel Norman: Can the Minister explain how he can have a conversation with Department of Conservation officials on 29 July about their submission when he did not know that the submission even existed until this Tuesday?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I was told by the department on the Monday that it is finalising a submission by the Friday. Just because it tells me that its finalising a submission, I will not necessarily know what drafts might exist in the bowels of my department.
Andrew Williams: Will the Minister step down while an inquiry is held into this serious issue, considering he has been caught with his pants down yet again—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! The member has every right to ask his supplementary question. It is helpful if he uses subtly different language, of course.
Andrew Williams: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Can I start again? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am going to invite the member to start again. I suggest to him that it would be helpful if he rephrased his question.
Andrew Williams: I thought it was pretty good. Will the Minister step down while an inquiry is held into this serious issue considering he has once again been caught in a difficult situation, just like he was over the ACC privacy breaches?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Might I say that is a member who should not be asking questions about taking the piss.
Grant Robertson: Does he stand by his statement in the House on Tuesday: “I did not give the department an indication of what that submission would be.”, in light of Doris Johnston’s statement that he expressed concern and said it could be left to the Environmental Protection Authority?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Absolutely, and I draw attention to Doris Johnston’s statement today that confirms that what I said on Tuesday was correct.
Dr Russel Norman: Is it not a simple fact that the Minister misled Parliament when he said he gave no indication to the Department of Conversation of his views about the submission when the leaked email from Doris Johnston shows that he gave very clear views about the submission, that he had concerns about the submission, and that he thought it should be all left to the Environmental Protection Authority?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Quite the contrary. All that Doris Johnston’s email says is that the Minister wants to see the final submission. I say again to the House that if I were to make a decision on an important issue like this on the basis of two sentences I would be negligent in my role as the Minister of Conservation.
4. CLAUDETTE HAUITI (National) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: What reports has he received on competition in the electricity market in New Zealand?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister of Energy and Resources): The Electricity Authority recently released a review of the 2012 What’s My Number campaign. During 2012 there were nearly 25,000 additional switches over those recorded in 2010, before What’s My Number, with an estimated average saving of $175 per switch and estimated annual savings of almost $4.3 million. The estimated national savings if all consumers switched to the cheapest retailer in their region would be $295 million. As Minister, I want to see even more competition in the market, consumers taking more and more advantage of competition, and retailers continuing to respond to the competitive environment, and that is what the Electricity Authority is setting about achieving.
Claudette Hauiti: What other reports has the Minister seen on the electricity market?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: I have seen comments from the Opposition’s favourite expert, Professor Wolak, who agrees with this Government’s focus on competition. “What’s simplest is to say we’re going to make this thing as competitive as possible.”, he says. Professor Wolak also says that a single-buyer policy is “just a sham.”, is “bass-ackwards”—look that up on Google—and is “just a nightmare.” The Opposition might want to consider removing him as their favourite expert.
Pay Equity—Gender Gap
5. DARIEN FENTON (Labour) to the Minister of Labour: Does he believe women should have equal pay to men for work of equal value?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister of Labour): Yes. That is why it is outrageous that that member was replaced as junior whip by a man not as good as her.
Darien Fenton: When he said that the Government may “intervene in the proceedings” in the Kristine Bartlett equal pay case, where she is paid just $14.46 an hour as an aged-care worker, what kind of intervention is he proposing?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: As that member well knows, this party on this side has a very proud tradition in these things. We implemented law—same pay for the same work. At the moment we have a country where there is the lowest gender wage gap in the developed world. But in relation to court cases, as she should also well know, it is not appropriate for me to comment on the substance of the case.
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Although I appreciate that when the Minister finally got to his answer there he mentioned the court proceedings, he has in the public arena stated that he has an intention to intervene, and he should be able to answer on that matter.
Mr SPEAKER: That is not a valid point of order. The Minister is perfectly entitled to say that the case is currently before the courts and on that basis he does not want to comment further.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister is indeed entitled to refuse to comment on the basis that something is before the court, but the Opposition is entitled to question him on public statements that he has made, which is what my colleague Darien Fenton did.
Mr SPEAKER: I accept that point. Darien Fenton is certainly entitled to question the Minister, and she did so. The Minister is then perfectly entitled to answer it, and he answered it in a way that complies with the rules of this House. If the member wants to ask a further question, if she has further supplementary questions, I guess she can try again.
Darien Fenton: Will he guarantee not to intervene with legislation to overturn Kristine Bartlett’s equal pay victory, as his Government did in the family carers court decision?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: The member knows I have concern for vulnerable workers. Chris Hipkins is one of those at the moment. But those matters the member asked about are matters currently under consideration.
Darien Fenton: Does he think it is acceptable that 60 percent of minimum wage workers are women; if not, why will he not commit to allowing women equal pay following the Kristine Bartlett case?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Well, of course it would be good if everyone received higher wages, but I think we can be very proud that in this country we have the lowest gender wage gap in the developed world.
Darien Fenton: Why is he proceeding with the changes in the Employment Relations Amendment Bill that will lower the pay and conditions of women workers, such as Julie Reason, a home support worker who earns $14.10 an hour less petrol per assignment, who submitted to the select committee that his bill is going to make it even harder for her to earn a fair wage?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Because I think it is important that we always look at arrangements and look at workers’ rights, Fran Mold at the moment is one person—
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister might think that low pay is a laughing matter but that was a direct question that deserved a serious answer.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Speaking to the point of order, there is no reason to assume that the Minister was not giving a serious answer. The member, in her question, has quoted individual circumstances. It is not inappropriate that he quote some back.
Grant Robertson: Sit down.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Oh, look, I will stay standing as long as you think you are the Chair, Mr Robertson. At the moment—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I thank the member for his assistance. The question was relatively simple. It was why the Minister was proceeding with changes to the Employment Relations Amendment Bill. If he could answer that, we can all move forward.
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Well, I think that it is important that we look at issues like Part 6A of the legislation. I am aware of proposals to see that extended to all workers, and yet despite the Labour Party saying that and David Cunliffe saying that, he has just given—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is a sufficient answer.
Darien Fenton: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was not about Part 6A; it was about the employment relations legislation and the pay and conditions of a home-care worker. It had nothing—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Your question started with asking why the member was proceeding with changes to that particular legislation. He has now finally addressed it.
Schools, Partnership—Teaching of Creationism
6. CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green) to the Minister of Education: Will she allow creationism to be taught in charter schools; if so, why?
Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Tēnā hoki koe e te Mana Whakahaere mō te whakanui i ngā wahine i tēnei tau. [Salutations to you as well for honouring women this year, Mr Speaker.] All partnership kura are delivering the New Zealand curriculum, Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. Two of the five schools are permitted to offer religious education during school hours, as are integrated schools. Any religious instruction will be delivered alongside but not in place of the curriculum.
Catherine Delahunty: Would she be concerned to learn that one of the charter schools that is to get taxpayer money intends to give equal weight to the teaching of intelligent design, creationism, and evolution in the science curriculum?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: I invite the member to table the exchange of emails between the Opposition parties that make it very clear what the school in question is proposing to offer. It is very clear that the science curriculum will be taught in the national curriculum, and that religious faith instruction will occur alongside of that. There is no definition of creationism, even amongst
communities of faith, and I would commend the member to—and I am happy to table this—refer to a speech given by a former Green Party MP, Jeanette Fitzsimons, entitled “Living Within the Limits of Creation”, where the member talked about both how one constructed economic growth theory and what the Bible had to commend to people. Pērā anō tētahi. Kei te mōhio koe mō ngā kura kaupapa e kōrero ana mō Papatūānuku me Ranginui e tū nei. [There is a parallel situation. You are aware of references to Earth Mother and the great Sky Father that exist in Māori-medium schools.]
Catherine Delahunty: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was a very interesting answer, but I asked whether she was concerned, and I am not sure that she explained whether she was concerned about the science curriculum.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member is now making the mistake of using the point of order system to question or debate the answer that she has been given. The answer addressed the question. If the member has further supplementary questions, that is the appropriate way to get more information from the Minister.
Catherine Delahunty: What will she do to ensure creationism is not part of the science curriculum taught at South Auckland Middle School, given that spokesperson Alwyn Poole told the Green Party that it intends to teach Christian theory on the origin of the planet?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: The contract that we have with the partnership kura, including South Auckland Middle School, is for the delivery of the national curriculum, within which the science strand dealing with evolution for year 8 is dealt with. I have seen the email exchanges between the principal and the Green Party, and I invite that member to table them, which would make it clear that the science curriculum will be taught as part of the science curriculum and that any religious instruction will be taught alongside that curriculum. That is what the contract is for.
Chris Hipkins: For clarity—is the Minister saying that the contract allows the teaching of creationism as a competing theory with evolution, on equal footing?
Hon HEKIA PARATA: No.
Legal Aid System—Setting of Interest Rate on Debt
7. ANDREW LITTLE (Labour) to the Minister of Justice: What factors were taken into account in setting the interest rate on legal aid debt under regulation 14 of the Legal Services Regulations 2011 at 8 percent?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice): Legal aid has always been a loan, not a grant. The charging of interest on legal aid debt was set by Cabinet in 2011 as one of several changes aimed at bringing the ballooning legal aid debt under control. This was included in the Legal Services Bill when it was first introduced. The regulations provide for interest to be charged at the capital charge rate that is used by departments and Crown entities, as it reflects the cost to the Crown of lending that money. Any person who is unable to repay their legal aid debt can apply to the Legal Services Commissioner, who can write off the debt if he is satisfied that it could cause serious hardship.
Andrew Little: Given that the purpose of the Legal Services Act is to provide “legal services to people of insufficient means;”, how does she justify charging interest of 8 percent to the woman in Wainuiōmata who has a legal aid debt incurred obtaining orders to protect herself and her children from her abusive ex-husband and who works 30 hours a week in a low-paid job, and for whom the $75 a week extra needed to pay off the debt by March next year and the extra needed to pay interest will cause her serious hardship?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: As that member well knows, if that particular woman would like to contact the commissioner of legal aid—in fact has already indicated, he is going to be very generous in looking at these cases. The member has already stated that it will cause serious hardship, in which case she would not have to repay that particular debt. I would also just like to confirm for the member, because he may not be aware, that of the $120 million a year that is spent
on legal aid at the moment, only 25 percent of cases do not have their debt waived. So, in other words, in only 25 percent of cases does the debt ever have to be repaid.
Andrew Little: What does the Minister say to the grandmother in Upper Hutt who owes over $2,000 after obtaining orders to protect her grandson—now 9 years old—and who lives on a pension and cannot afford higher payments or interest payments without facing severe hardship?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, I would expect that that particular person would also not be one of the people who would need to pay any interest, given the—
Andrew Little: Well, why weren’t they told that?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: One of the comments from the member seems to be that he expects that the commissioner of legal aid would know the personal circumstances of all of the 60,000 people who have been written to, and, frankly, that is not acceptable. In fact, he has already indicated that there is a 6-month period of grace for anyone to write in and explain their circumstances, and it would be waived.
Andrew Little: Does she accept that people of insufficient means who use legal aid to protect themselves and their children from violent and abusive situations—most of whom are women— have already done the community a favour and that charging 8 percent interest on any debt is just punishing them?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Well, I certainly say to that member that I believe that those women have done the community a favour in holding violent males who abuse women to account, and well done to them. Having said that, I would say that it is very unlikely that most of them would ever have to repay that debt.
Financial Markets—Effect of Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013
8. KATRINA SHANKS (National) to the Minister of Commerce: How will the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013, which will be phased in from 1 April 2014, strengthen our financial markets?
Hon CRAIG FOSS (Minister of Commerce): The Financial Markets Conduct Act will strengthen financial markets conduct, continuing the rebuild of investor confidence in New Zealand’s financial markets. The new law will provide clearer laws and options for the raising, reporting, and monitoring of investor capital. It allows for new forms of capital raising such as peerto- peer lending and crowdfunding. It introduces new licensing regimes for specific financial service providers, including fund managers, independent trustees of workplace superannuation schemes, discretionary investment management services, and derivative issuers. The Act also introduces new duties on fund managers and supervisors with stronger governance requirements and a new system to regulate securities exchanges, allowing for new low-cost exchanges. This Act is a key part of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda, as we continue to rebuild the confidence and trust in New Zealand’s capital markets.
Katrina Shanks: How will the Act help to rebuild investor confidence?
Hon CRAIG FOSS: The new law will remove uncertainties by providing better information and protection for New Zealanders. This includes a new requirement for issues to prepare a single product disclosure statement tailored to retail investors, and two new online public registrars that will offer documents and information to be much more accessible to investors, their advisers, market analysts, and commentators. The Financial Markets Conduct Act is the largest piece of legislation in a suite of reforms in this sector, sitting alongside the Financial Advisers Act, the Financial Reporting Bill, and other bills on the Order Paper.
Housing, Affordable—Member’s Views
9. DENIS O’ROURKE (NZ First) to the Minister of Housing: Does he agree with all of the views expressed by Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga about housing on TV3’s The Vote on 11 September 2013?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister of Housing): I have had a look at the transcript and there are 17 quotes from my colleague, and the bulk of them I agree with.
Denis O’Rourke: Does he agree with Mr Lotu-Iiga that first-home seekers should lower their expectations and that $130,000 for a deposit is not out of their reach?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The member Sam told me that he thought he could have—
Hon Members: Sam!
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Sam Lotu-Iiga said that he could have expressed himself better, and that $130,000 is actually a big stretch for many people to get a deposit for a home.
Denis O’Rourke: Does he agree that the Reserve Bank’s loan-to-value ratio requirement has killed off the hopes of most of New Zealand’s young first-home buyers; if not, why not?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: No, I do not, because this Government has announced a trebling of the number of Welcome Home Loans that are exempt from those loan-to-value ratios. Secondly, this Government has expanded the KiwiSaver first-home deposit subsidy scheme, which will mean that twice as many New Zealanders, and particularly in high-cost markets like Auckland, will be able to get access to a bigger subsidy from the Government to get a deposit.
Denis O’Rourke: Will he give an assurance to home seekers that as a result of the Government’s housing accords and special housing areas legislation at least 15,000 new houses will be available in Auckland City by the next election; if not, what will the number be?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The numbers in Auckland are very clearly set out in the housing accord that has been unanimously agreed with the Auckland Council: 9,000 in the first year, 13,000 houses in the second year, and 17,000 houses in the third year. That is 39,000 homes. That is more than three times the amount per year that are being built.
Denis O’Rourke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the Minister whether he would give an assurance, and all he did was to give a number of houses referred to in a report. I want to know whether he is going to give us an assurance—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Again, that is an attempt to debate the answer that has been given. The Minister has very adequately addressed the question, with exactly the numbers that are in the accord he referred to and that will be delivered over the next 3 years. The question has been answered.
Phil Twyford: In light of the Minister’s answer that he agreed with the bulk of the statements made by the Government spokesperson on TV3’s The Vote programme, would he please tell the House which of the remaining statements by the Government spokesperson he did not agree with?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: My colleague made the statement that 1,100 homes under $500,000 are available in his electorate. He told me he made a mistake: it was 1,100 homes in Auckland rather than in his electorate.
Denis O’Rourke: Does he dispute the BNZ-REINZ Residential Market Survey dated 14 March 2013, which says “In Auckland an estimated 11% of sales are to people offshore.”, and is that a significant proportion of total homebuyers contributing to the housing bubble in Auckland?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Yes, I have seen some of those surveys about trying to estimate the number of foreign persons buying homes. The interesting information I had was that they based it on whether people had foreign-sounding names. That is OK if you are a “Smith”; it is a bit dodgy if you are a “Key”. I suspect there are a few other people with foreign-sounding names who might be banned from buying a house if New Zealand First ever gets in Government.
Denis O’Rourke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was a pretty straight question. It asked fundamentally—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. The question was answered very adequately. He asked about a particular survey, and the Minister then referred to other surveys and adequately addressed that question.
Denis O’Rourke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Is the member raising a fresh point of order or is he attempting to dispute a ruling I have already given?
Denis O’Rourke: I am asking for clarification. You ruled on a point of order that I had not stated. I would like to have the opportunity to state it.
Mr SPEAKER: The member rose questioning the answer that was given by the Minister.
Denis O’Rourke: You did not hear the point of order before you ruled on it.
Mr SPEAKER: I will give the member one more opportunity to clarify his point of order, but I warn the member that if it is an attempt to use the point of order system to further question an answer that has been given by the Minister, then that is out of order.
Denis O’Rourke: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The point of order is simply this: the question was about whether sales to overseas owners were a significant proportion or not. That was not addressed.
Mr SPEAKER: It was very adequately addressed by the Minister saying he had seen results of surveys whereby the basis of the survey is the surname of a particular probable purchaser. On that basis, he said that many surveys were unreliable.
Industry Training—Under-representation of Women
10. CAROL BEAUMONT (Labour) to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and
Employment: Is he concerned about the underrepresentation of women in industry training particularly in light of labour shortages in many trades and technical areas?
Hon TONY RYALL (Acting Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment): It would be good to see more women involved in industry training. In fact, the number is trending up. In 2012 women made up 31.4 percent of industry trainees. Although more men than women are involved in industry training, the reverse is true at higher levels of tertiary study. The proportion of the adult population holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher qualification is higher for women than for men. In 2012 more women than men were enrolled in Bachelor’s degrees, Honours degrees, Master’s degrees, and doctorates.
Carol Beaumont: What efforts has he made to increase the proportion of women in industry training, and given that in 2009 it was 30.8 percent and in 2013 it had dropped to 28.1 percent, does he consider those efforts to have been successful?
Hon TONY RYALL: I am unable to confirm that last number the member gave, but I do know that the Minister has been working closely with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Minister of Women’s Affairs, who have been undertaking a number of actions in order to expand the interest that women have in industry training.
Carol Beaumont: Given that women make up over 50 percent of the population, how does the under-representation of women in industry training assist in achieving the Better Public Services result area No. 6 of increasing the proportion of 25 to 34-year-olds with advanced trade qualifications or supporting the rebuild of Christchurch or achieving the Government’s Business Growth Agenda of delivering vocational education and training that lifts skills?
Hon TONY RYALL: Well, of course, that level of participation does not help those Better Public Services goals, because we would want to have more participation from women in the trades. That is why the Ministry of Women’s Affairs has been undertaking a number of projects in this area towards assisting improving those levels of participation.
Dr Megan Woods: Given that he received Treasury advice that women would be disproportionately affected by Budget 2013 cuts to student allowance eligibility for those aged over 40, is he concerned that his policies will shut women aged over 40 out of tertiary education and training opportunities?
Hon TONY RYALL: I am not in a position to be able to comment directly on the suggestions the member has made, but what I can say is that the Government has been working assiduously in order to ensure that there is strong investment in this area, and that we are delivering results, with increased participation and interest from New Zealanders.
Dr Megan Woods: I seek leave to table the Treasury advice to the Minister for Tertiary Education—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I presume that it is Treasury advice that it is available to all members.
Dr Megan Woods: Well, I am not sure that—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! It is freely available. It is on the website. It is available.
Health Services—Funded Family Care
11. LOUISE UPSTON (National—Taupō) to the Minister of Health: What progress is the Government making with its funded family care policy?
Hon TONY RYALL (Minister of Health): When the Government’s $92 million funded family care policy becomes effective, New Zealand will be only the third country in the world to pay a wage to some family members who care for their adult disabled children. The new policy being implemented will enable around 1,600 disabled adults who meet the high and very high needs eligibility criteria to pay resident family members to care for them at home for up to 40 hours a week, if that is their choice. It is expected that from 1 October 2013, this year, needs assessment and service coordination organisations will begin assessing people for eligibility for funded family care.
Louise Upston: What other progress is being made with the Government’s funded family care policy?
Hon TONY RYALL: The Ministry of Health has worked with representatives of the disability and carer communities to draft plain language funding rules that will set out the terms and condition for payment. Disability groups have been consulted on appropriate quality and safety monitoring that will be needed for funded family care, and advice and guidance materials are being developed to support eligible disabled adults in deciding whether or not to apply for funded family care. Information on how the scheme works and how people can be assessed for funded family care will be available in the next 2 years. This Government is contributing $92 million to the establishment of funded family care, and it observes that even in the best of economic times in this country, the party opposite could not find even $1 for funded family care.
Women’s Affairs, Ministry—Advice to Cabinet
12. SUE MORONEY (Labour) to the Minister of Women’s Affairs: Does her Ministry provide gender implications statements on proposed legislative or policy measures being considered by Cabinet?
Hon JO GOODHEW (Minister of Women’s Affairs): This Government is fully committed to improving outcomes for New Zealand women. All Public Service departments are expected to integrate gender analysis into their policy development. A gender implications statement is required for all papers submitted to the Cabinet social policy committee. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs also provides advice to me, as required, on the gender impacts of specific papers going to Cabinet committees other than the Cabinet social policy committee.
Sue Moroney: So given that the answer to that question was no—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just ask the question.
Sue Moroney: Does the Minister think this mainstreaming approach is working when her Cabinet colleagues in the areas of labour, justice, and tertiary education have just demonstrated today that they are all pursuing legislation and policies that adversely affect women?
Hon JO GOODHEW: I absolutely refute the member’s assertion. In fact, if we look at this Government’s Better Public Services, we will see that we are as a Government working across many portfolios towards reducing long-term welfare dependency, an area where women are overrepresented; boosting skills and employment—again, that will positively affect women—and reducing crime and offending. In case it has escaped the notice of the Opposition, women are overrepresented in our crime statistics as victims.
Sue Moroney: Why is her ministry reporting that no action is being taken on 18 of the recommendations made to this Government by the United Nation’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, including the recommendation to improve representation on the family violence task force and the recommendation to determine the gender impact of collective bargaining reforms—no action?
Hon JO GOODHEW: The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is reported on each 4 years. Each 6 months the Ministry of Women’s Affairs meets with people who are working towards this and who are interested in the outcomes. I think there were, from memory, some 46 recommendations. Some of those recommendations this Government—this Government—is never going to sign up to because they include quotas.
Sue Moroney: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order. [Interruption] Order! This is a point of order and it will be heard in silence.
Sue Moroney: I seek leave to table a document internal to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs that tracks the current situation with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women recommendations.
Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection?
Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes, it must be public, otherwise the member wouldn’t have it.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member can object. I take that as an objection. There is objection.
Sue Moroney: Has she given any advice to the Minister of Labour over his consideration of intervening—[Interruption] I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is actually quite difficult to get this important question out when Tau Henare is barracking across the Chamber.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will start her question again please.
Sue Moroney: Has she given any advice to the Minister of Labour over his consideration of intervening in the Kristine Bartlett case to ensure equal pay for women in low-paid occupations?
Hon JO GOODHEW: No.