Questions and Answers – June 16

by Desk Editor on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 — 6:25 PM

Questions to Ministers

Economic Growth—Reports

1. Dr PARMJEET PARMAR (National) to the Minister of Finance : What reports has he received showing how New Zealand’s broad-based economic growth is leading most other OECD countries?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Last week the OECD released its economic survey of New Zealand for 2014, reporting that New Zealand is enjoying strong, broad-based economic expansion. It points out that in recent years economic growth has been faster in New Zealand than in most other OECD countries, with strong fiscal and monetary-policy frameworks, a healthy financial sector, and macroeconomic stability—all of these underpinning growth. It points out that employment is high and business investment robust but that there are bottlenecks in housing, urban infrastructure, and skills. But, as the OECD points out, the Government is moving to deal with these issues.

Dr Parmjeet Parmar : How is business investment and employment growth supporting higher wages?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The OECD notes that New Zealand’s solid labour-market performance includes both higher labour-force participation and a higher employment rate—that is, the proportion of working-age New Zealanders actually in jobs is higher than in most other OECD countries. Treasury expects this to continue. Unemployment is forecast to drop below 5 percent in the next 2 years. By mid-2019 a further 150,000 people are forecast to be in work, and the average wage is expected to rise by $7,000 a year to $63,000 a year.

Dr Parmjeet Parmar : What does the OECD say are the main challenges to the economic outlook?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : It says that the main issues in achieving sustained economic growth are addressing shortages in skills, housing, and land transport infrastructure; limiting financial risks in housing; and ensuring that the Government’s finances remain sound. The Government is taking steps in every one of these areas.

Dr Parmjeet Parmar : What steps has the Government taken recently to strengthen New Zealand’s economic opportunities, particularly in Asia?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Despite the OECD’s reasonably positive view of the New Zealand economy, the Government continues to look ahead for better economic opportunities. That is one of the reasons why we have agreed to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is being established to invest in new infrastructure across Asia. This will, of course, enhance the Asian region’s growth, and that will be good for New Zealand. New Zealand was the first Western developed nation to join negotiations to set up the bank, and our membership will enhance our already strong trade and investment links in Asia.

State Housing—Effects on Health

2. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister responsible for HNZC : Does he accept the coroner’s finding that the Housing New Zealand home in which Emma-Lita Bourne lived may have contributed to the pneumonia-like illness that Emma-Lita was suffering at the time of her death?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister responsible for HNZC): First of all, I would like to extend my sympathies to the family of Emma-Lita Bourne. If there were steps that could have been taken to prevent this tragedy, I am sure that all concerned would have taken them. I accept the coroner’s actual statements on the matter: “It is entirely possible the condition of the house had contributed to the pneumonia-like illness that Emma-Lita was suffering at the time of her death.” And further: “Whether the cold living conditions of the house became a contributing factor to the circumstances of Emma-Lita’s death cannot be excluded.” The coroner commented also on the unusual medical aspects of this tragic death.

Metiria Turei : How does the Minister reconcile Nick Smith’s statement that there is nothing new about people dying from pneumonia in winter and the Government cannot do anything about it with Housing New Zealand’s admission that it failed Emma-Lita and the coroner’s ruling that her house could have contributed to her death?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I do not accept the member’s version of Dr Smith’s statement, which has been taken quite out of context. In respect of the other issues that the member raises, Housing New Zealand has demonstrated that it took a number of steps to improve the condition of that house—just as it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on other houses. It does indicate, though, that further change is required in our State housing system to ensure that we do have a wide range of suitable and appropriate-standard housing available to New Zealanders who need it.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree then with Nick Smith when he gave up and said that there is nothing the Government can do to stop people from State houses dying, when Soesa Tovo’s family and his doctors begged Housing New Zealand to move his family into a warmer, drier home to help prevent his tragic death?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I disagree with both the assertions—that is, about what Dr Smith said and about the actions that were taken around the Soesa Tovo family. But, again, I think it underlines—as the member may now understand—that, to the extent that housing has an influence on the health of these families, we must change the State housing system, which has left us with houses that are still not up to the standard required, despite hundreds of millions of dollars of expenditure.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree with Duncan Garner that Nick Smith’s saying that it is normal for people like Emma-Lita and father of six Soesa Tovo to die in winter is a callous statement and amounts to neglect?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : No, that is not what the Minister said, and if Duncan Garner described it that way, then he was incorrect. However, we are used to misrepresentation from that member.

Metiria Turei : Will the Minister commit today to ensuring that all Housing New Zealand homes that cannot be fully insulated, like Emma-Lita’s, are fitted with carpet, thermal curtains, and dehumidifiers now, this winter, to help prevent further deaths like Emma-Lita’s?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Certainly, I can commit to all public services involved with these families taking the steps that they ought to take to prevent as tragic an outcome as a death. I might say that in the case of the family that the member is referring to, there are a range of issues, of which housing was just one, which suggest that we could have done—the Government could have done, the community could have done—a better job to support the health of that family. But I cannot, of course, make impractical undertakings about everything being done right now, when we are dealing with housing stock with an accumulation of 60 or 70 years of problems, partly because of the point of view taken by that member that no house can be sold or redeveloped.

Metiria Turei : I seek leave to table an unpublished written question showing that Housing New Zealand does not supply dehumidifiers to State homes.

Mr SPEAKER : Sorry, can I just understand what leave is being sought for?

Metiria Turei : It is leave to table an unpublished written answer to a written question that I have received, which says that Housing New Zealand does not supply dehumidifiers to State houses.

Mr SPEAKER : It is unusual, but on the basis that the House can make the decision, I will put the leave. Leave is sought to table this particular at-this-stage unpublished written question. Is there any objection to that question being tabled? There is.

Metiria Turei : I seek leave to table an as-yet-unpublished answer.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! No. [Interruption] Order! I am not going to put the leave. That is a matter that has been raised once before. Again—if the member will resume her seat—the member is trying to use the point of order simply to reinforce a political point. That is not what it is designed for. The tabling of documents is about further informing members. Members will have that information when it is published after the 3 days.

Metiria Turei : How many tenants, like Soesa Tovo, have requested, on their doctors’ orders, transfers to healthier homes but are still living in cold, damp, unhealthy State houses; and if he does not know, why does he not know?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : I would have to go and get that information. Housing New Zealand has ways of collating its data. We cannot always tell you the exact reason why a tenant has asked for a transfer, but I might say that we would have more choices about houses to transfer tenants to if we were not fighting a legacy of Green-type policies that prevent the growth and development of a city like Auckland, enabling there to be more houses on the ground faster so that these families have somewhere to move to. Green-type policies are a big part of the problem here.

Metiria Turei : Smirking, Bill English.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! If the member is going to have the opportunity—[Interruption] Order! The member will now just ask her supplementary question.

Metiria Turei : Does the Government have any responsibility for ensuring that people with respiratory illnesses, like Emma-Lita or Mr Tovo, are not forced to sleep in bedrooms with vinyl tiles stuck to uninsulated concrete floors and with mould dripping down the walls, or does he agree with Dr Nick Smith that their deaths are simply nothing new?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Again, I do not agree with the member’s characterisation of Dr Smith’s statements. Yes, of course a Government does have some responsibility—as do the tenants—but the Government is taking the responsibility very seriously. We are setting out for a generational renewal of the State housing stock, and we are trying to cast off the ridiculous policies—which that party has supported—that say that no State house can be sold because the ones built in the 1950s, to 1950s standards, are what we need now. That is a ridiculous position—

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

Hon BILL ENGLISH : —and we will continue to—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I apologise to the Minister. I have a point of order.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : With respect, this is the second answer that that Minister has given, and, with the greatest of respect, it will be patently obvious to everybody that the Greens have not been in Government in the last 6½ years, so why is he persisting and being allowed to get away with that answer?

Mr SPEAKER : Order! He did not say that the Greens had been in Government. I think the words he used were that the Greens had supported a party that was in Government, as I recall.

State Housing—Building and Housing Minister’s Statements

3. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader—Labour) to the Prime Minister : Is he satisfied with his Minister of Building and Housing’s handling of the issue of cold and damp rental properties, in light of his statement that “people dying in winter of pneumonia and other illnesses is not new”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Andrew Little : Has he received a letter signed by over 21,000 New Zealanders calling for immediate cross-party action on this issue because Kiwi families should not have to go through more winters in cold, damp rentals that are killing people like toddler Emma-Lita Bourne?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Yes, and I could take it a little bit more seriously if it was not laced with fake names, including one Lindsay Tisch, who happens to be a National Party caucus member who did not sign the petition. By the way, here is the letter from the Labour Party apologising for getting it wrong—no better than the Greens just making up names—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Supplementary question—[Interruption] Order! For the benefit of the Hon Todd McClay, when I rise—[Interruption] Order! If that Minister wishes to stay for his question, I would advise him to cooperate. When I stand on my feet, I expect members to then cease their interjections.

Andrew Little : Does he accept that with hundreds of thousands of Kiwis still living in cold, damp, and unhealthy rentals, more half-measures like insulation and fire alarms alone just will not cut it?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I accept there are both some rental properties and actually properties that people would own that are in a poor state of affairs. But I also acknowledge what this Government has done, which is to insulate every State house that practically can be insulated and to put together a Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart programme, which has insulated 240,000 homes. The truth is that this Government inherited Housing New Zealand stock that was a complete mess and run down by the previous Government.

Andrew Little : Given there are already 61 votes in this Parliament for Labour’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill, which will ensure that all rentals are insulated, heated, dry, and weathertight, will he accept my offer to work together to make all rentals warm and dry?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No, not in the legislation that the member is presenting, because I do not think it actually meets the bill. But in terms of what the Government is working on, if the member wants to work with the Government on its proposals, we look forward to working with him on them.

Mr SPEAKER : Supplementary question—[Interruption] Order! I have called for order. Andrew Little is asking a supplementary question.

Andrew Little : What exactly is the Prime Minister proposing that his Government puts together that we can work on that is going to make all rental homes warm and dry, rather than just insulated and with smoke alarms?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The Government has a range of initiatives and some more to be announced. But I will make this point: the member keeps talking about a warm home, and, yes, warmth clearly comes from insulation, but is the member really saying that it is now the responsibility of the landlord to actually physically turn on the heaters and pay for those for a tenant? That seems to be what the member is actually saying.

Andrew Little : I seek leave to have the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill in my name set down as members’ order of the day No. 1.

Mr SPEAKER : Leave is sought for that particular course of action. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Andrew Little : Why is he refusing Kiwis’ wish for Parliament to work as one to improve the lives of Kiwis who are living and dying in cold, damp homes?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : As I said, the Government is going to have a range of initiatives, as well as things it has already announced, and we are more than happy to work with any Opposition party that wants to do that, but the bill that we have seen does not actually meet the mark. But I go back to the fundamental point: when we came into office after 9 years of a Labour Government, the Housing New Zealand stock was a mess. There was a fraction of the private homes in New Zealand that were insulated. The members can try to forget about all of that, but what it shows you is that in Government they were like little lamb chops. They roar like lions in Opposition, but it is very hard to take them seriously when they did absolutely nothing in Government.

Businesses, Christchurch—Innovative Business Growth

4. NUK KORAKO (National) to the Minister of Science and Innovation : How is the Government encouraging the development of innovative new businesses in Canterbury?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Science and Innovation): Last week I opened, on behalf of the Government, the new Christchurch GreenHouse hub to support new and emerging businesses in the Christchurch innovation precinct. The GreenHouse hub is a joint partnership between the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment and the Canterbury Development Corporation, and it is supporting early-stage entrepreneurs by providing the necessary technological and social infrastructure required for firms to grow. Early-stage businesses are the generators of new ideas, products, and services. The GreenHouse hub will help develop the next generation of New Zealand’s innovation firms, creating more investment, jobs, and growth in Christchurch.

Nuk Korako : Kia ora anō. Why will the new GreenHouse hub be located in the Christchurch innovation precinct?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : Having start-ups located alongside larger, established firms provides an environment that encourages innovation and collaboration. Innovation precincts attract talented people, encourage interaction and creativity, and foster innovation. Already we have significant national and global players as key tenants in the innovation precinct. Vodafone, Kathmandu, and Wynyard Group amount to more than 600 staff alongside business support agencies, Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and the information and communications technology graduate schools. Through projects like the Christchurch innovation precinct and through support of the Wynyard Quarter in Auckland and other developments like regional business partners in regions across New Zealand, the Government is helping business to innovate, grow, and succeed on the world stage.

Nuk Korako : What new research support is the Government giving to Christchurch?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : There is a whole range of activity, and, of course, since the earthquake, there has been a lot of interest in the study of seismic activity and natural resilience. Last month I announced funding for four new centres of research excellence, including the new quake centre of research excellence, which is a centre for earthquake resilience based at the University of Canterbury. Yesterday I announced $3.2 million in funding for 13 new research programmes under the natural hazards research platform, including a number of proposals to apply the lessons learnt from the Christchurch earthquakes, including investigating the presence of hidden faults under urban areas and potential tsunamis from seismic activity.

Prime Minister—Statements

5. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his statements regarding the Saudi farm deal; if so, why?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, because I believe them to be correct.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Does he stand by this statement, and I am quoting him: “there was also a great opportunity to promote what we were doing in terms of development of our agricultural credentials overseas.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why was a Saudi Arabian – associated company allowed a tender where it could “follow its own procurement guidelines and procedures as long as these adhered to procurement principles of openness, transparency, fairness, accountability, due diligence, value for money, efficiency, and economy.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The advice I have had is that the procurement was handled professionally and according to guidelines.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Is it not a fact that his Government has given funding commitments in excess of $22 million to Saudi Arabian – associated companies recently?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I certainly cannot confirm that number.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why has the Government allowed Saudi business interests, using New Zealand taxpayers’ dollars, to enter tender arrangements where Saudi-owned, not New Zealand – owned, companies are employed to do all the jobs?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not have those details. You would have to put them down for the Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Is it not a fact that this Government has entered commercial arrangements involving bribery, corruption, and jack-ups of the tender process?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : In my experience, when you start calling names, you are losing the argument. That member has lost the argument. He should quit while he is behind.

Building and Housing, Minister—Confidence

ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition): Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Hon Simon Bridges : Oh, not again.

ANDREW LITTLE : There is more where that came from.

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

6. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister : Does he have confidence in his Minister for Building and Housing; if so, why?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Hon Members : Why?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, because he is getting on with the job of increasing the supply of housing, particularly in Auckland.

Andrew Little : When he said yesterday that there were no first right of refusal issues with the Crown land in Auckland, does he now accept that was wrong, and did he get that wrong because Nick Smith gave him bad advice?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No. You would have to look at the whole transcript. The point I was making in terms of the right of first refusal is that it is not triggered in Auckland when it comes to the Tāmaki Collective.

Andrew Little : Now that he has admitted that the 500 hectares of Auckland Crown land was a guesstimate and has also admitted that the four identified sites shown to journalists are only “conceptual”, how many actual houses will his Government be building for real families to live in?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : In the last 12 months there have been 8,500, and I am confident that parcels of land will be identified as being on track by October of this year, and houses will be built by 2016.

Andrew Little : Can he confirm that this is the situation so far: firstly, the policy was leaked early; secondly, some of the land was occupied by power substations and cemeteries; thirdly, it turned out that the Government did not actually have the 500 hectares promised; fourthly, some of the land was not even owned by the Crown; fifthly, it turned out the Government could not sell the land without giving iwi first dibs; and, lastly, it turns out the Government has already given iwi first dibs to the land on Moire Road, and the whole thing is going to wind up in court?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No, but if I did visit the cemetery I know what I would find there: the Labour Party, because according to its review, it is dead.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That answer will not help the order of this House.

Andrew Little : Has he seen his Minister’s comments today blaming the failure of this policy on a reporter creating “enormous pressure” by asking too many questions; if so, can he confirm that the list of people he blames so far for this housing crisis is now Labour, first-home buyers, the council, officials, and TV3’s Brook Sabin—everybody but the Minister for Building and Housing?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No, but I do remember the Leader of the Opposition being in his job for less than a couple of months and starting to get all scratchy with the media.

Andrew Little : When Auckland house prices are going up by $19,000 in 1 month and the shortage of houses is getting worse every day on his watch, does he not think that Auckland families deserve more than the half-baked, last-minute fiascos that pass for a housing policy under this Minister?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Far from it. Let us establish the facts. House prices doubled under the previous Labour Government—doubled. House prices went up in Auckland faster than they are going up under a National Government. Under a National Government we have reformed the Resource Management Act and will continue to do so. Under a National Government we have identified special housing areas, and we are going to fix it. Under a National Government we have taken off the tariffs that are applying to imported goods. Under a National Government we will be releasing land. We are getting the job done, but the reason it is such a big job is that we inherited such a mess from people who, again, did absolutely nothing in Government.

Andrew Little : Is it his position, then, that his Minister for Building and Housing has the Auckland housing problem fully under control?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : What I can say about the Minister for Building and Housing is that he is outstanding. [Interruption] There you go—do you want to clap? [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! You have had your fun. We are now moving to question No. 7. [Interruption] Order! I have given a warning. It now needs to be taken seriously, otherwise one member in particular will be having a very early shower.

State and Social Housing—Hobsonville Point Development

7. ALFRED NGARO (National) to the Minister for Building and Housing : How many new houses have been completed at Hobsonville Point, and how many more are now planned with the Government announcement to speed up the development?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for Building and Housing): Four hundred homes in Hobsonville are completed and occupied, and a further 316 have been sold and are at various stages of construction. Saturday’s announcement brings forward 1,000 homes by 2 years in Buckley B, the village, and the apartment complex around the new Hobsonville Point Primary School. Of these 1,000 homes, 300 are priced as starter homes for first-home buyers.

Alfred Ngaro : When was the development in Hobsonville first announced, and what mechanisms were used legislatively to enable this former Defence Force base to be used for housing?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : The plan to develop the ex – Defence Force land in Hobsonville as housing was announced in 2002. Interestingly, it was declared for housing purposes under the Housing Act, and Cabinet made a decision that it would not be offered for Treaty land banking or for offer-backs. By 2008 no infrastructure had been built and not a single house had been built. In fact, after those 6 years, not a single sod of soil had been turned. This project was mired in resource management and planning issues. With the use of these special housing areas, the project is now blossoming at pace.

Alfred Ngaro : What has been the relationship with local iwi on the Hobsonville project, and how has the Government ensured that Treaty settlements—right of first refusals—have been complied with?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : This Government completed a Treaty settlement with Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara in July 2013. The Government negotiated in good faith with Ngāti Whātua in regard to the Hobsonville development. A pragmatic and mutually beneficial agreement was reached last year, in which Ngāti Whātua will be a development partner for the village precinct at Hobsonville, which is part of the 1,000 homes we accelerated in the announcement on Saturday. This example shows that the Government and iwi are able to work together to bring more housing on stream while respecting Treaty settlements. I am confident we can do the same in respect of the new programme for using Crown land for housing.

Phil Twyford : Can he confirm, based on recent ministerial statements, whether or not the newly announced houses at Hobsonville are a guesstimate, like the 500 hectares he announced in the Budget, and whether they are in fact only a conceptual house like the land he showed journalists on his magical mystery tour; and does he not think that Aucklanders deserve more than a ghost housing policy?

Mr SPEAKER : The Hon Dr Nick Smith—any of those three questions.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : What I can assure the member of is that the houses in Hobsonville are a lot more real than the 3,000 houses that were announced by Labour in 2002, of which they did not build a single one.

Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board—Te Pātaka Ōhanga

8. Hon NANAIA MAHUTA (Labour—Hauraki-Waikato) to the Minister of Education : Does she have confidence in the process undertaken by Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board to determine whether they acted in a responsible and accountable manner in their oversight of Te Pātaka Ōhanga?

Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): I do not have ministerial responsibility for Te Pātaka Ōhanga, as it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust. However, I do have confidence in the processes I have put in place. When it became clear in late 2013 that there were significant questions about the trust’s oversight of Te Pātaka Ōhanga, a number of reviews and investigations were commissioned: a jointly commissioned review by Ernst and Young, and investigations by Charities Services and, separately, by the Serious Fraud Office. These were completed by late last year with recommendations for remedial steps. I have been assured that those steps either have been taken or are in train by the trust. A new chief executive has been appointed. Finally, I expect the trust and kōhanga to reform the governance entity so that a new model is put in place that meets the modern tests of representativeness, transparency, accountability, and auditability.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta : In light of that response, does she have confidence in Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board; if so, why?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : I have no ministerial power to appoint to or disestablish the trust. The trust is in trusteeship for the kōhanga whānau, and therefore it is the kōhanga whānau who make the decision about their representatives.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta : Does she intend to resume negotiations with the trust board regarding its Waitangi Tribunal claim; if not, why not?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : I have put in writing and in meetings with the trust that I expect the modern governance entity to be put in place, at which time I will resume discussions about the Waitangi Tribunal report.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta : What action will she take if the changes to the governance structures at Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board are not made?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : I am not anticipating an outcome that may not occur. I am expecting that the trust and the consultations that it has conducted with kōhanga whānau around the country will result in a modern governance entity.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta : Will the 2014/15 appropriation for kōhanga reo be at risk if necessary changes to the governance structure are not implemented within a specified time frame?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : Kōhanga are paid retrospectively. They are monitored. They are meeting the conditions of their licence. As long as that continues, they are entitled to receive the payment that they receive.

State and Social Housing—Redesignation of Land

9. PITA PARAONE (NZ First) to the Minister for Māori Development : Has he undertaken any discussions or consultation with any other Ministers regarding surplus Crown land in Auckland, which is the subject of potential legal action by Ngāti Whātua and Waikato-Tainui?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Māori Development): Ā, tēnā koe i te pātai. Kua oti kē i au te paku kōrero ki ngā Minita e rua, ki Te Minita mō Ngā Take Whare, otirā, ki Te Minita mō Ngā Take Tiriti, koia nā noa iho! Ā, kua tono reta anō hoki ki Te Pirimia. [I acknowledge you in regards to the question. I have spoken briefly with the two Ministers concerned, the Minister of Housing and the Minister of Treaty Settlements. That’s all really! And I have written a letter to the Prime Minister as well]

Pita Paraone : In light of that answer, has the Minister advised any other Minister that the Crown should take part in a joint approach alongside iwi to seek clarification from the courts regarding the right of first refusal on the surplus Crown land in Auckland; if not, why not?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : Kāre anō! [Not as yet!

Pita Paraone : What assistance or advice has the Minister given to Ngāti Whātua and/or Waikato-Tainui on the proposed release of Crown land in Auckland?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : Kāre ngā iwi nā e kōrerohia nei, i whakapā mai ki te whakautu i tērā pātai kua waea atu ki a rātau, ki te kimi kōrero mō tā rātau tū ēngari, kāre anō rātou kia [ The tribes referred to here have not been in contact to respond to that question made available to them about seeking advice on the stance taken by them, however, they haven’t yet ]

Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The translation service is not working.

Mr SPEAKER : I apologise to the member. On this occasion, yes, the answer that the Minister was giving was not being interpreted. We have two choices of action: to try again or, alternatively, on this occasion it would probably be best if we could ask the Minister to answer that question in English. [Interruption] I am advised that the translation service is back. I am going to invite the member Pita Paraone to repeat the question. We will start again.

Pita Paraone : What assistance or advice has the Minister given to Ngāti Whātua and/or Waikato-Tainui on the proposed release of Crown land in Auckland?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : Kai a rātau tērā, ēhara i te mea kua kōrero au mō tērā take. [That’s really up to them. It is not as if I have expressed a view on that matter.]

Pita Paraone : What assurances can he provide other iwi who are about to settle Treaty claims that the right of first refusal will be honoured within their Treaty settlements?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : Kai roto i ngā ringaringa o ētahi atu Minita tērā kōrero. [That statement is the hands of other Ministers.]

Economic Growth—Roading Infrastructure

10. MATT DOOCEY (National—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Transport : What updates can he provide on the delivery of the Government’s commitment to provide roading infrastructure to support economic growth?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister of Transport): There are many good updates, but let me give one in Gisborne. Alongside the Hon Anne Tolley and Marama Fox, member of Parliament, it was my pleasure to recently open the first of the Government’s accelerated regional roading projects—as I say, near Gisborne. The Government recognises that the East Coast deserves a reliable and a safe transport network and one that supports local industry, especially the vibrant forestry industry of that region. That is why the Government accelerated investment on improvements to State Highway 35. The investment will support economic growth in Gisborne and its region, as well as enabling the forestry sector to thrive while at the same time making it safe for motorists to pass safely.

Matt Doocey : What other updates can he provide on the delivery of the Government’s commitment to provide roading infrastructure to support economic growth?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES : Well, let me give more good news, this time from Canterbury. Recently I turned the first sod on the final section of the western corridor road of national significance in Christchurch with local members of Parliament. The new $122 million Western Belfast Bypass will provide better and safer links throughout greater Christchurch and will help reduce congestion and travel times. With freight volumes through Christchurch expected to more than double in the next 20 years, the completed western corridor will support economic growth by connecting hubs to the west and the south of the city with Christchurch International Airport.

Saudi Arabia—Evaluation of Tender Proposals

11. Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs : What were the names of the “interested Saudi parties” who participated in the evaluation of the tender proposals for the model farm in the Saudi Arabian desert, and how were they related, if at all, to the Al Khalaf Group, which received the first $4 million payment referred to in his Cabinet paper dated 13 February 2013?

Hon TODD McCLAY (Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs): No Saudi parties participated in the evaluation panel.

Hon David Parker : I seek leave to table the expression of interest document, which at page 11 records that “Evaluation of final proposals will be undertaken by representatives of MFAT, NZTE, and interested Saudi parties together.”

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

Hon David Parker : Is the Minister telling the House that no Saudi party had any part in evaluating the final proposals as referenced in his own tender documents?

Hon TODD McCLAY : That was my answer to the substantive question.

Hon David Parker : When did he first learn that members of the Al Khalaf Group had a business relationship with Brownrigg Agriculture, the successful tenderer?

Hon TODD McCLAY : I am advised that in late 2014—at least 1 year after the agri-hub contract was awarded—the Al Khalaf Group became a shareholder in Brownrigg Agriculture. I am informed that Brownrigg Agriculture disclosed it as shareholder at the time with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, which holds the contract.

Hon David Parker : Did the Minister not know of any earlier association between Brownrigg Agriculture and Mr Khalaf?

Hon TODD McCLAY : I do not have that answer. The member will have to put that down in writing.

Hon David Parker : Does the contract for the model farm guarantee access for the other interested desert farmers in Saudi Arabia?

Hon TODD McCLAY : I also do not have that information, but I am not aware that there are a great number of other farmers in that part of the desert.

Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is now 1½ weeks since I sought leave to table those documents. You will recall the discussion that we had in relation to Cabinet papers, and at the time the Government said it would take only a matter of days. They still have not been released and I am—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! This is a point of order. If the member is going to seek leave, would he get on and do it.

Hon David Parker : I seek leave to table the Cabinet paper titled “Policy review of New Zealand’s requirements for the export of livestock for slaughter” dated 11 December 2007.

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

Hon David Parker : I seek leave to table a Cabinet paper dated 3 August 2007 titled “Livestock exports for slaughter and arrangements for live sheep exports for slaughter to Saudi Arabia”.

Mr SPEAKER : Is there any objection to that one being tabled? Yes, there is.

Hon David Parker : And the third—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Is this the last document?

Hon David Parker : It is the last one. The third document is the paper dated 16 October 2007 titled “New Zealand’s requirements for livestock exported for slaughter”.

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

Climate Change—Reports and Advice

12. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues : Does he agree with the finding in the latest Mercer climate investment report that “New Zealand is the most vulnerable of the developed market sovereign bonds, due to a higher proportion of the population living in low-lying areas, as well as a higher dependence of national GDP on the agriculture sector”; if so, has he received any advice or information on the economic impacts of climate change in the last 12 months?

Hon TIM GROSER (Minister for Climate Change Issues): I regard that report as ludicrous on multiple levels. First of all, there are a range of reasons that any bondholder would take into account before making a rational decision. The average maturity of a New Zealand sovereign bond is 6 years. There will be an imperceptible rise in New Zealand’s ocean level. I think that investors will be looking at the strong economic fundamentals of New Zealand and not at this report.

Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question had two legs. The Minister certainly addressed the first one. He thought it was ludicrous. He did not address the second leg.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I will hear from the Minister.

Hon TIM GROSER : Quite apart from the fact that of course there is a well-established principle that we need only answer one question in a multiple question, it was conditional on a certain response to the first, which I rejected.

Mr SPEAKER : On the first point, the Minister is wrong. A primary question can have two legs, and it did have two legs. But on this particular occasion the Minister clearly said that he did not agree with the reports, using words like “it was ludicrous”, or words to that effect, in which case he did not have to address the second part of the question, in my opinion. The member might want to take the issue further forward with a supplementary question.

Dr Russel Norman : Is the Minister for Climate Change Issues doing his job, when the Minister of Finance, in answer to multiple written questions, said that he has received no advice from the Minister for Climate Change Issues or from anyone else in the last 12 months on the economic impacts of climate change?

Hon TIM GROSER : Well, I will leave it to the Prime Minister to decide whether I am doing my job. But the Minister of Finance and I regularly consult on the economic impact of climate change proposals, including some of the more ridiculous proposals put forward by the member.

Dr Russel Norman : Will his strategy of ignoring climate change increase or decrease the future financial risks we face as a nation from climate change?

Hon TIM GROSER : I believe that the policies that this Government is following, which are concentrating overwhelmingly on the real source of the problem, which is the global response, will make a significant contribution to this. With regard to adaptation, I think there is still a lot of work to be done by New Zealand over the next 20 to 50 years, and I am very open to debate on that matter.

Dr Russel Norman : Why is this Government doing next to nothing on climate change, in terms of reducing our emissions, when one of the largest financial consulting firms in the world, Mercer, is saying that our climate risk profile is one of the worst in the developed world; and do not boulders on the roads next to the beach tell him anything about the way the world might change?

Hon TIM GROSER : The boulders on the beach at Lyall Bay do remind people of the need to be a little bit careful when going down there during storms. What the Government is doing is a careful policy of trying to balance economic risks with a responsible attitude towards climate change. We will meet all our international obligations that we have committed ourselves to.


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