Questions and Answers – June 24

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, June 24, 2015 — 7:37 PM

Questions to Ministers

Prime Minister—Statements

1. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement, in question time yesterday, he would “absolutely” retain confidence in a Minister who authorised a multi-million dollar payment to a disaffected businessman to unlock a free-trade deal?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I stand by my statement in response to that question yesterday by the member, but I would note the question does not accurately reflect the actions of Mr McCully in relation to the Saudi sheep issue.

Andrew Little : Why does he think that it is appropriate for his Government to use $4 million of taxpayers’ money to grease the palm of one foreign businessman?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Again, I think the member presents the issue inaccurately, which was a payment made for contract for services.

Andrew Little : What service was given by the businessman in question in exchange for $4 million?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not have it all in detail, but it is laid out in the Cabinet paper.

Andrew Little : Given his answers yesterday that he did not know whether Murray McCully invited Mr Al Khalaf to sue New Zealand, as stated in the 2011 letter from Brownrigg Agriculture, has he now had time to check these serious documented allegations against his Minister, and what assurances can he provide the House today?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Mr McCully has informed me that he has made no such comment. I do not believe that any Minister has told a party to sue the Government. What Ministers do say from time to time—and I have actually said this myself—is that people are free to test their legal rights in court. There is quite a big difference.

Tim Macindoe : Has the Prime Minister seen any reports on the issue that Minister McCully was seeking to resolve with Saudi Arabia?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have. I have seen reports that indicate that trade Minister Phil Goff travelled to Riyadh in 2006 and told the Saudis that live sheep exports for slaughter would resume. I am also seeing reports that suggest that the Labour Government acted in bad faith towards the Saudis by deliberately—deliberately—not telling them that it was changing its position and banning exports. What is clear is that the Labour Government created this problem and Minister McCully is now resolving it.

James Shaw : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If I can get clarification: yesterday I believe you pointed out a ruling that Ministers were not allowed to use a patsy question or a supplementary question to attack Opposition parties.

Tim Macindoe : I reject absolutely the assertion in that member’s question. I was seeking—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That is not going to be helpful. I certainly did use a ruling yesterday—197/6—and I would encourage members to have a look at it. If I detect that a question is lined up simply as a means of attacking another party—[Interruption] Order! To the Hon Annette King: I am on my feet. Therefore, if I detect a question is for that purpose alone—in this particular case I have got to judge quite a significant difference of opinion, clearly, between National and the Labour Opposition in regard to the history of this matter. The questions have been asked and have been flowing across the House now for a considerable length of time. I do not believe that that question was designed simply to attack the Labour Party. I think it is a position that the Government has continued to advance—that the problem was one that was created earlier. It is for members to decide, or determine, how accurate those statements are.

Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister appeared to be quoting from an official document. I ask that he table it.

Mr SPEAKER : That is easily sorted. If the Prime Minister was quoting—the Prime Minister is indicating that he was not, so that is the end of that matter.

Andrew Little : What advice did he and/or his Cabinet receive about the cause—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! Can I just ask that the question be started again?

Andrew Little : What advice did he and/or his Cabinet receive about the cause of action underlying Mr Al Khalaf’s claim against the New Zealand Government?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not have that information with me.

Andrew Little : What was his Government doing sending sheep halfway round the world to die in the desert?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, I refute the proposition in that question.

Tim Macindoe : Has the Prime Minister seen any reports about warnings that were given to the Government in regard to the Saudi sheep issue?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have. I have seen reports that show that the Government’s actions in relation to the Saudi sheep issue carried legal, commercial, and diplomatic risks. These risks were outlined in Cabinet papers—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! I am not going to put up with that form of interjection from that member. If it happens again, she will be leaving the Chamber. I am sorry to interrupt the Prime Minister. I invite him again to complete his answer.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I will start again. I have seen reports that show that the Government’s actions in relation to the Saudi sheep issue carried legal, commercial, and diplomatic risks. These risks were outlined in Cabinet papers, which also show that the Labour Government gave full assurances to the Saudis and then went back on its word.

Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In his answer the Prime Minister quoted from Cabinet papers. I request that he table them.

Mr SPEAKER : If the Prime Minister quoted from an official document, then he must table it. [Interruption] Order! Whether he quoted from a Cabinet paper is not the issue. As to whether he was utilising an official paper, the Prime Minister shook his head and said he was not.

Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like you to consider, perhaps later and in more detail, that when the Prime Minister outlines the contents of a document, whether or not he uses the exact words, he is clearly referring to an official document, and, therefore, he is required to table it.

Mr SPEAKER : I will give the matter further consideration, but, at this stage, my ruling stands. The Prime Minister said that he was not quoting from an official document, and he cannot be required to table it.

Andrew Little : Does he consider that a farm in a desert where 75 percent of lambs die has demonstrated New Zealand’s reputation as a leader in global agriculture?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not think that is a proven fact, in terms of the proposition the member is making, but I do think that the opportunity that the agribusiness hub creates is a good opportunity, actually, to showcase for those 30 companies the technology that New Zealand has.

Foreign Affairs, Minister—Confidence

2. JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister : Does he still have confidence in the Minister of Foreign Affairs?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

James Shaw : How can he have confidence in a Minister who has repeatedly championed the private interests of a disgruntled Saudi businessman over the New Zealand public’s interest?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I think the member is completely and utterly wrong on that statement.

James Shaw : Has he asked Murray McCully who suggested that Mr Al Khalaf sue the New Zealand Government; if so, will he tell the House who it was?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am advised that no Minister told any party to sue the Government. Ministers, as I have said before, from time to time will certainly say that people are free to test their legal rights. That is because we live in a democracy with an independent judicial system, and, actually, people are free to test their legal rights.

James Shaw : Which one of Murray McCully’s statements about the roll over of the live sheep exports ban in 2010 does he believe: the one to the House on 27 May that “What was different was that we did not mislead the Saudi investors about the consequences of the roll over of that order. We fronted up and told them the truth.”, or his statement yesterday that “Well , he did not tell me anything because I did not talk to him about that particular roll-over .”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I would want to see the full context of all the things that are said, but what I can say in relation to the first statement is Mr McCully is absolutely right—this was a problem created by the previous Labour Government.

James Shaw : Given that answer, and given that the November 2011 letter to Murray McCully 3 weeks before the 2011 election says that “Mr Al Khalaf has been working patiently with the New Zealand Government of the last 7 years towards the resumption of the sheep trade. He is now deeply concerned”—he is now, in November 2011, deeply concerned—“that despite repeated Government assurances that progress towards resumption of the trade was continuing, this has now stalled.” How can he continue to believe Murray McCully’s assertions that the threat of a $30 million lawsuit was entirely Labour’s fault?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member has actually defeated his own question, because that is exactly the point. Seven years prior to 2011 we were not the Government. We were not the Government that travelled to Riyadh to inform the Saudis that live sheep exports would continue. We were not the Government that deliberately did not tell the Saudis, and we are certainly aware that the actions of the previous Government, as the previous Government was aware, created legal, commercial, and diplomatic risks. What we are is the Government that has tidied up this mess.

James Shaw : So is the Prime Minister saying that he was not in office between 2008 and 2011, given that the letter says that Mr Al Khalaf has been working patiently with the New Zealand Government of the last 7 years in November 2011?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not want to give the member a basic lesson, but there was not one Government for 7 years; there were a number of Governments over that period of time. But the Government that created this problem is called the Labour Government.

James Shaw : Is the reason that the Prime Minister is not moving to sack the Minister of Foreign Affairs that everybody knows that Murray McCully knows where all the bed —bodies are buried?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Oh, he came to the leadership with such high hopes and we have already got down to these levels. The member knows in his own heart that he is better than that. The Minister of Foreign Affairs dealt with the situation created by Labour. It was a mess. Labour knew it created it. It was advised it delivered commercial, legal, and diplomatic risks. This Government sought to resolve that issue in a way that I think has been good for the relationship with both countries and will progress the relationships together.

Housing Market—Reports on Supply

3. ANDREW BAYLY (National—Hunua) to the Minister of Finance : What reports has he received showing why more housing is needed as part of supporting a growing New Zealand economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The Productivity Commission last week released its draft report on using land for housing. It finds that New Zealand cities have not been able to provide enough greenfield and brownfield land to meet growing populations, particularly in Auckland, and that planning rules have increased the cost of housing. Among its draft recommendations are that councils do not seek requirements that exceed the Building Act for the construction of homes, that there should be better use of existing infrastructure by allowing intensification where supporting infrastructure is in place, and that councils monitor and report on new dwellings and infrastructure delivery to highlight where their regulations are too restrictive.

Andrew Bayly : What are some of the factors the Productivity Commission points to as affecting the supply of more housing where it is needed?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The commission points out that New Zealand’s housing supply is only moderately responsive to demand due mainly to restrictions on land supply and densification. It says that the costs of some urban design requirements may outweigh the benefits, including rules around minimum parking, balconies, and interior design—requirements that raise housing costs without delivering enough benefits to justify them. The report also says that some of these council rules may be unlawful. The commission says that rules around densification are affecting housing supply. The Auckland Plan sets out a 30-year goal of 70 percent of future growth occurring within existing limits. So achieving these growth targets will require reasonably liberal rules around densification.

Andrew Bayly : What does the Productivity Commission say are the consequences of limits on the supply of housing for the economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The commission points out three major consequences from council rules around land use. First, the impact on prices has a disproportionate effect on the less well-off because it is the prices and rents of housing at the bottom end that are most affected by red tape. There is a nationwide shortage of lower priced new housing, as the commission’s report shows. Second, an unresponsive housing supply is a risk to macroeconomic stability as well as a barrier to productivity gains by limiting employment opportunities. Thirdly, the cost of housing puts pressure on the public purse. The accommodation supplement and income-related rents will in 2015-16 exceed a cost of $2 billion.

Andrew Bayly : What steps is the Government taking to deliver more houses by supporting the growing economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The most important one has been to work closely with Auckland City to understand how we can assist it to expand the land supply and ensure that the required infrastructure can be put in place at reasonable cost and in a timely manner. The next step in that process will be when we see the Auckland Unitary Plan again and then we can see whether Auckland City will be able to deliver the supply of housing that its own demand forecasts indicate are required. Alongside that, we have suspended duties and tariffs on building materials, rolled out the Homestart scheme from 1 April, ongoing reforms to the Resource Management Act, and, in particular, lifting the Government’s investment in the supply of new housing to the Auckland market.

Phil Twyford : Why, if he believes that the answer lies in more intensification and greenfield development, has he been talking about this for 9 years now, while doing absolutely nothing about it for 7 years and a shortfall of 32,000 houses has built up on his watch?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Over that time there have been some significant changes like the formation of the single city in Auckland. I have to say—well, actually, it was initiated by the Labour Government and we implemented it. Secondly, we have brought in place a truncated process for the Auckland Unitary Plan, and the member may not realise this, but it is Auckland Council that makes the decisions about houses in Auckland. We have worked hard to influence them and will continue to do so.

Social Bonds—Advice on Risks

4. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Health : What advice, if any, did he give to Cabinet on the risks of the Social Bonds Pilot announced on 1 June 2015?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Papers on social bonds were presented—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I don’t think the microphone has been switched on. Let the Minister start again now.

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : OK. Papers on social bonds were presented to Cabinet—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! If the member could move closer to the microphone and talk into it that would help.

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : No, I do not think it is a problem with my voice; I think it is the microphone.

Mr SPEAKER : If the member speaks clearly and close to the microphone, we will hear the answer.

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : OK. Papers on social bonds were presented to Cabinet by the then Minister of Health—

Mr SPEAKER : No. Order! I cannot hear it. Can the member swap with another microphone? OK.

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : Papers on social bonds were presented to Cabinet by the then Minister of Health in February and August of 2013. In each paper the Cabinet was provided a list of risks and a process for managing these risks was set out. These papers are available on the Ministry of Health website.

Hon Annette King : Was Cabinet advised that a negative impact of social impact bonds could be a poor-quality service?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : I do not recall that specific advice being given.

Hon Annette King : Was Cabinet advised that services provided through social impact bonds could be ineffective and providers could cherry-pick their clients to avoid hard-to-reach users?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : The issue about social bonds is actually that we are contracting for results and what papers have also described as mitigating strategies around any existing risks. So what we are clear about here is we lay out what we want out of these bonds, we contract very tightly for them, and there is no payment paid until the contracted results are delivered.

Hon Annette King : Was Cabinet told that the pilot services for social impact bonds would need to be non-essential health services; if so, does he consider services provided to mental health sufferers and those with chronic illness non-essential?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : Of course those areas are absolutely really important. It is very important that people with mental health issues are guided back into employment and assisted in doing that. What we are clear about is we want a result for this vulnerable population and we are prepared to contract for that and pay for that result to be delivered, unlike other Governments that have preceded us.

Hon Annette King : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question asked—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will immediately resume her seat. The question was in two parts, and in my opinion the Minister addressed the second part—certainly did not address the first part, but addressed the second part—and that meets the Standing Orders.

Hon Annette King : Are those lining up to be investors in social impact bonds philanthropic organisations, well-meaning philanthropists, or foreign-owned banks keen to make an even bigger profit?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : We are actually focusing on the result. The interventions are well proven. We are not actually too worried, as long as the organisations are ethical, about who provides the financing. But you have got to focus on delivering a result for a vulnerable population, and that is what this is all about.

Hon Annette King : I seek leave to table a Cabinet paper to the office of the Minister of Health—to the Cabinet social policy committee, Social bonds: Proposal for a New Zealand pilot, setting out the risks, as I set out—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That last part is not necessary. The paper has been described. It is a paper going to a Cabinet committee, from memory. Leave is sought to table it. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Māori Development, Minister—Statements

5. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister for Māori Development : Does he stand by all his statements?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Māori Development): Tēnā koe. Tēnā tātou katoa. Yes, in the context they were given.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why did the Minister, when asked about his or his staff’s involvement in programming for the Māori Television Whānau Ora debate, deny involvement, first, at the Māori Affairs Committee on 17 June; second, in this Chamber on 17 June; and, third, again yesterday, when he knew those denials were false?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : I reject that statement.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why did he claim to the media yesterday that at his meeting with the chief executive officer of Māori Television content was not discussed, when he knew that to be false?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : In the context of the discussion yesterday, the context was around Whānau Ora. In my purview as the Minister for Māori Development and, indeed, as a responsible Minister for Māori Television, in the context of the wider statement of intent that is given to me, which was part of the discussion with Mr Maxwell, certainly one of those parts of the statement of intent is content in the wider sense. It includes such things as growth and protection of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga, 100 million engagements per week, meeting place of Māori youth. That is the context of the discussion.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why did he deny to the media yesterday that content was discussed when the chief executive officer at that time, with nothing whatsoever to hide, on 27 May, in his email to staff, 2 days after meeting the Minister, confirmed that content was discussed? Was the chief executive officer lying?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : In the context of the discussion, I cannot answer for Mr Maxwell, but certainly he did make the statement around the discussions and talked about strategic pillars as well, partnerships as well, alliances as well, people as well—all of that was a part of the discussion. In the context of what I am required to report back to the House upon, the statement of intent, the discussion around content was certainly, in that context, a part of the discussion.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : When his colleague Marama Fox messaged Mihi Forbes when the Whānau Ora debate was spiked and claimed that the Māori Party had no part in it, was he aware that she had done this, and did she do that with his authority?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : That is outside the realms of my delegations as a Minister.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why did the Minister yesterday admit knowledge of his staff’s involvement in seeking to have New Zealand First removed from the debate using the words “of which I was aware”, which appears in the television coverage of yesterday’s debate, then later changing his Hansard to deny knowledge, when he knew, again, that that denial was false?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : In answer to the second part of the question, I deny absolutely any involvement in the changing of Hansard until the record was corrected today.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I seek leave to table last night’s Hansard with the change in it. He says he did not do it—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! No, the draft Hansard is prepared and available to all members. I get it at about 4.30 p.m. or 5 p.m. It is not necessary to table it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is not a boring matter . The fact is one can change a Hansard to change spelling or for clarity or a misquote, but to put in the word “not”—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will resume his seat. [Interruption] Order! The member is now alleging that the member changed the Hansard. I can assure him that that is not the case. I have checked on this. The Hansard was a draft prepared by Hansard staff. It turned out to be incorrect and as soon as that was noted it was changed.

Hon Te Ururoa Flavell : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

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

Mr SPEAKER : I will hear from the Hon Te Ururoa Flavell first.

Hon Te Ururoa Flavell : I take offence at the Rt Hon Winston Peters suggesting that I changed the Hansard. I would like him to stand and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER : No. Listen—on this occasion, this is a debating matter. I am trying to assist the Minister by stating the facts clearly in the House today. Certainly, I can assure this House that there was no attempt by the Minister to alter this Hansard and have that word stuck in. It was—[Interruption] Order!—effectively a mistake by the Hansard office and that has been acknowledged. It is a draft Hansard that is done very, very quickly for the benefit of all of us members. It is published in haste and then it is distributed, and that is the opportunity for members collectively to make sure that it is accurate.

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

Mr SPEAKER : I will hear from the Rt Hon Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : If one looks at the television coverage yesterday of this question, it is as clear as daylight, if you follow what was said—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! No, the member will immediately sit down.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Well, I want to ask a question about the authority to change it.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! If the member wants to ask a question, get up and do so—I will accept that—but to go back and re-explain what is in the Hansard when I have covered that off quite adequately is unnecessary. So if the member wants to raise a point of order, I will hear it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I want to know how Hansard could possibly change this transcript without the authority of the Minister or someone with his authority from his office. We do not give it to all our staff members.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will now resume his seat. I will explain it once more, as clearly as I can for the member, and then we will move on. Hansard record very quickly what happens, to get it out for members to comment on. A mistake was made. How that was made, I do not know. It was made, and as soon as it was then distributed, it was picked up by members and corrected. That has been the procedure for as long as the member has been here. To suggest that it was either a deliberate mistake by Hansard or that it was somehow influenced by the Minister, I assure the member, is absolutely not correct. Does the member have a further—

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


Rt Hon Winston Peters : No, there will be a point of order.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will resume his seat. There may be a point of order. I will invite the member, if he wants to raise a fresh point of order, to certainly do so, but I will not, under any circumstances, entertain from the member a continuation of this point of order. Fresh point of order—

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I seek leave to table a video of the parliamentary coverage—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That is completely unnecessary and I am not prepared to put the leave.

Ron Mark : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Members have a right to raise points of order. We collectively hope it will be of value.

Ron Mark : I am trying to be helpful. Could you deliberate, then, and at a later time give us your view? How are we to reconcile a transcript of ourselves on video with that finally produced in Hansard if the two do not match, and how do you, as the Speaker, intend to ensure that consistency remains?

Mr SPEAKER : I have now explained it at least twice as clearly as I can. If I have not made it clear enough to Ron Mark, then I am afraid I cannot help him.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Was he so desperate not to debate the Māori Party’s Whānau Ora programme with New Zealand First that he broke the law and got his chief executive office mate Paora Maxwell to scrap the debate, which is why he should resign?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : I am really proud of the efforts that Māori Television has done in respect of all sorts of things, in particular around our reo. I thought I made it really clear to the member yesterday that there was no effort whatsoever to get in the road of the broadcast of the programme. In fact, I outlined it really clearly and I will do it again for him just for today. On 14 May of this year we received the request from Māori Television to appear. On the same day, 14 May, the request was accepted. On 20 May the programme was pulled. There was no interference whatsoever and I gave that assurance to the House.

Denis O’Rourke : What happened in between?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : Well, the member seems to think he knows, but he does not know anything , unfortunately—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Now that answer is quite long enough.

Marama Fox : Did the Minister knowingly mislead the House at any time now, yesterday, in the past weeks, or in the 8 months of his exemplary service as Minister for Māori Development?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : I will apologise for getting up fast—I was so anxious to answer that question and to say to my colleague that I take this as an honourable place, I take the position as a Minister as an honourable position, and I do not intend to do anything to jeopardise that.

Housing Market—Changes to Tax Rules

6. ALASTAIR SCOTT (National—Wairarapa) to the Minister of Revenue : Wha t recent announcements has the Government made around tax rules on property transactions?

Hon TODD McCLAY (Minister of Revenue): As part of Budget 2015, the Prime Minister announced additional measures to ensure that people buying and selling residential property for profit, including overseas buyers, pay their fair share of tax. The measures will take effect from 1 October this year, and they include that buyers and sellers of property other than their main home must provide a New Zealand Inland Revenue Department number; that overseas people must have a New Zealand bank account to get a New Zealand Inland Revenue Department number; and a brightline test to tax gains from residential properties sold within 2 years of purchase, with exemptions if it is the seller’s main home, if it is inherited, or if it is transferred in a relationship property settlement.

Alastair Scott : How will the Government enforce these tax rules?

Hon TODD McCLAY : Since Budget 2010, the Government has provided the Inland Revenue Department with $33 million more for property tax compliance and enforcement. This has resulted in an extra $258 million of tax revenue—a return of $7.80 for every $1 invested. Budget 2015 provided the Inland Revenue Department with a further $29 million for property tax compliance. This takes its total budget to $62 million over the next 5 years. This is expected to generate $420 million of additional tax. Although it is not illegal to trade property to make a gain, property traders are subject to tax rules, like everybody else.

Alastair Scott : What progress has been made on these measures?

Hon TODD McCLAY : Good progress. The Minister for Land Information, Louise Upston, introduced the Taxation (Land Information and Offshore Persons Information) Bill to the House on Monday of this week. The bill contains measures that require buyers and sellers of property other than their main home to provide a New Zealand Inland Revenue Department number. It also requires non-residents to have that New Zealand bank account in order to get their Inland Revenue Department number. I will also be releasing a public consultation document seeking views on implementing a brightline test that would make gains from the sale of residential properties sold within 2 years of purchase taxable, with those exemptions. These measures will provide extra information, which will help the Inland Revenue Department to detect people seeking to avoid their tax obligation, which is unfair to those who pay their fair share of tax.

Saudi Arabia—Trade Agreements

7. Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs : Did he meet with David Brownrigg and George Assaf in Auckland on 18 October 2011 “to discuss trade between New Zealand and the Middle East and, in particular, the resumption of a specialised live export sheep trade with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and was that meeting the subject of a letter to him dated 2 November 2011 from Brownrigg Agriculture on behalf of Mr Al Khalaf and Mr George Assaf?

Hon MURRAY McCULLY (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Yes, Mr Brownrigg wrote to me on 2 November 2011 to express his views on New Zealand’s live export trade protocols.

Hon David Parker : Is Brownrigg Agriculture the same company that was eventually awarded the tender to build the multimillion-dollar model farm in Saudi Arabia on the Al Khalaf property, which Mr Al Khalaf now owns part of?

Hon MURRAY McCULLY : I am advised that that is the case.

Hon David Parker : Did the letter of 18 October 2011 from Brownrigg Agriculture state: “Thank you for your understanding to look seriously at resolving the live trade impasse as part of a wider Gulf trade solution.”?

Hon MURRAY McCULLY : I do not have that letter immediately to hand, but that sounds like the sentiment that I saw in the letter.

Hon David Parker : I seek leave to table the letter dated 2 November 2011 from Brownrigg Agriculture that—

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

Hon David Parker : Did former National Party president Michelle Boag ever propose or endorse a proposal that the New Zealand Government subsidise a model farm in Saudi Arabia benefiting the Al Khalaf group?

Hon MURRAY McCULLY : I think that as a member of the New Zealand Middle East Business Council, she was involved in making representations on those matters, and those have been in the public arena.

Hon David Parker : Did the letter of 18 October 2011 from Brownrigg Agriculture state that the letter was also being copied to Michelle Boag, saying: “… who has been in contact with both of us in her capacity as a director of Laurium Asset Management regarding her interest in seeing the live sheep export issue resolved and the free trade with the Gulf States advanced.”?


111 System—Mobile Calls

8. KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI (National) to the Minister for Communications : What recent announcements has she made on a new emergency response system for mobile 111 calls?

Hon AMY ADAMS (Minister for Communications): Last week I announced a request for proposal for a new emergency response system app for mobile 111 calls. Each year, there are more than 1.3 million genuine calls to 111, and last year 73 percent of those came from a mobile phone. Currently, in about 60 percent of genuine 111 calls, no information is automatically available about caller location. The request for proposal calls for a new smartphone app to be developed by mid next year that can provide caller location information automatically to emergency services as well as allow users to contact directly the service that they require. Lack of location information can mean at least 15 to 20 minutes’ delay in emergency situations, and that can be the difference between life and death.

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi : What other benefits does the Minister expect this application to deliver?

Hon AMY ADAMS : The app will also have the ability to distribute information to the public in the wake of natural disasters or other emergencies, based on their geographical location. This public-alerting function will contribute to public and personal safety by enabling people to see emergency alerts about important public safety matters in their area. The app will be free to download, and the cost of it will be met through the telecommunications development levy.

Prime Minister—Statements

9. FLETCHER TABUTEAU (NZ First) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Fletcher Tabuteau : Would he concede that his firm stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement has become more of a firm footing on quicksand, as he moves from strong statements like “For New Zealand to do a deal it has to be a deal on our terms.” to now saying “It’s probably not at a level that we would currently like for the dairy industry.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No, and the context in which I made that statement—that it is probably currently not at a level we would like—was in relation to the clause around dairy, and that is why the Government is continuing to negotiate to get a better deal for dairy.

Fletcher Tabuteau : Which statement does he stand by: firstly, he told the New Zealand public that it would not look good if New Zealand made concessions on the status of Pharmac, and then several weeks ago he acknowledged that if patents were to run a little bit longer, the Government would, in theory, have to pay a little bit more?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : They are both correct. There are no changes to the model that Pharmac would operate in. It is possible that patents would be a little bit longer, and if they were, they would have no impact on New Zealanders, who will continue to pay $5 for their prescription drugs.

Grant Robertson : Does his statement made in this House last month still stand: “the removal of the $1,000 kick-start contribution will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver.”, given today’s statement from ANZ Investments that enrolments in its KiwiSaver scheme have dropped by 50 percent since his Government announced the immediate end of the kick-start?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Yes, it does stand, and that is because, sure, there may be some initial timing issues, but over time, actually, I am quite confident that the numbers will remain the same. As ANZ said today, its scheme is very good, and if one day a Government goes to auto-enrolment, actually, the numbers will increase from where they are today.

Māori Development, Minister—Statements

10. CLARE CURRAN (Labour—Dunedin South) to the Minister for Māori Development : Why did he tell Radio New Zealand yesterday he did not discuss programming content with Paora Maxwell on 20 May, when Paora Maxwell said in an email to staff on 22 May that “We talked about … content”?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Māori Development): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou. The full question I was asked by Radio New Zealand was: “Did you discuss the programme that they were planning to run on Whānau Ora?”. In response I said that I had no discussions whatsoever about any programme content of any programme. I stand by that statement.

Clare Curran : In the light of that answer, has he encouraged a culture under his ministership where news and current affairs staff of Māori Television are not protected if they scrutinise or criticise the performance of Māori organisations or individuals, and is this not editorial interference?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : If anything, I hope I encourage staff and indeed the country to continue to focus on the kaupapa of Māori Television, te reo me ōna tikanga.

Clare Curran : Can he rule out any connection between Māori Television management saying a panel discussion on Whānau Ora would “not appeal to viewers” and his press secretary saying that a panel discussion on Whānau Ora would not “enlighten viewers”, or is this just a coincidence?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : All I can tell the member is that yesterday the head of news and current affairs at Māori Television said that the claim of political interference in Māori Television is inaccurate, and, in fact, said: “For the record ”—for the record, to help the member—“For the record the 20 May meeting was set up on 19 February, any suggestion that there was a link between the replacement of the panel with a best of show and the meeting does not reflect reality.” That is the statement from Māori Television.

Marama Fox : Given the obvious leaks of emails making their way to the Labour Party benches—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That question will be ruled out of order. I will give the opportunity—[Interruption] Order! Just to ask a supplementary question that is line with the Standing Orders, without that sort of information—otherwise, the member will lose her opportunity.

Marama Fox : Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given the light of new information coming out from the cross benches, does the Minister have—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! If the member just starts where I interrupted her, I will allow the question. If she goes back to where she was, it will not be allowed.

Marama Fox : Thank you for the clarification, Mr Speaker. Does the Minister have concerns about the level of cross bench political interference in the management or processes of Māori Television?

Mr SPEAKER : The Hon Te Ururoa Flavell.

Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to be clear. Are you accepting now that the Minister is responsible for any actions taken by Opposition members of Parliament?

Hon Gerry Brownlee : The question was extremely clear in asking if the Minister had concerns. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! There was an issue yesterday where I had to remind my right-hand side that points of order will be heard in silence. I am going to do the same on this occasion to my left-hand side. Will the Minister please complete his point?

Hon Gerry Brownlee : I have got to say the Opposition—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Just complete your point of order.

Hon Gerry Brownlee : The question was very clear. It asked the Minister if he had concerns about interference in the activities of Māori Television and then referred to interference possibly coming from the cross benches of the Parliament. That is not unreasonable. He has already accepted questions from the cross benches about the issue of interference with the activities of Māori Television.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I was very generous to the member in allowing the question. In my mind the essence of the question was if the Minister can have the opportunity to assure the House if there is political interference from anybody in this House. That is the way I read the question, and on that basis I am allowing the question and the Minister to answer it.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : Bearing in mind that—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! We will now have the answer.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : Bearing in mind that these are some of the accusations that are angled at me, I would be very concerned if there was any political interference by any member of Parliament, and I hold that as a very high standard to ensure that it does not happen. Thank you.

Clare Curran : At an event on 21 May last year did he tell Māori Television staff if they had concerns with Mr Maxwell not to go signing petitions and not to go to media but to come to him, and if he thinks it should be dealt with, he will deal with it?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : That is very good, because in the context of a pōwhiri that was held for the new chief executive officer, it was said in front of the chief executive officer of Māori Television. Why? Because he comes from an honourable waka called Te Arawa. It is important we look after them.

Clare Curran : Did he, in this speech, express anger and disappointment that Paora Maxwell had faced criticism leading to his appointment as chief executive officer?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : I think that is clear because that member carried out a character assassination of a particular member of the waka, and that was sad under the conditions at the time, but, in the end, it is OK because the current chief executive officer went through a rigorous process to become the chief executive officer of Māori Television. And the great thing is they are moving from better to great.

Clare Curran : What concerns has he raised over the management of Māori Television, given that several top journalists have left due in part to claims of managerial interference in news?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : As I said in previous discussions, issues in respect of the operations of Māori Television were not discussed in that context. I made no statement in respect of that and I would not. I should not, I would not, and should not, and if members are going to take me back to the time that there was a pōwhiri for the chief executive officer in front of the chief executive officer and in front of their staff, I think that is drawing long straws.

Businesses, Small—Data Collection from Rural Small Businesses

11. JACQUI DEAN (National—Waitaki) to the Minister for Small Business : What steps are the Government taking to improve the way we collect data from rural small businesses?

Hon CRAIG FOSS (Minister for Small Business): Rural small businesses will benefit from the annual agricultural production survey now being available online. Moving the survey online will save approximately 30,000 rural small businesses time and money, while still providing important information on New Zealand’s biggest industry. Any rural business completing this survey can now do so at a time and a place that suits them, within the 14-day window. Delivering better online services is a key focus of the Government’s Better Public Services programme.

Jacqui Dean : What valuable information from rural small businesses do we get from this online survey?

Hon Craig Foss : Agriculture is New Zealand’s largest industry and earns more than half the country’s total export income. It is important to run a regular survey to identify any changes in the agricultural sector, but it is also important to enable it to be carried out online and to make it as easy as possible. All New Zealand rural small businesses can benefit from contributing to the survey—

Jacinda Ardern : Is this the best you’ve got—a survey?

Hon CRAIG FOSS : Come on—are you going to be next?

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am not going to be next.

Hon CRAIG FOSS : All can benefit from contributing to the survey and using the data from it to better inform their decisions.

Jacqui Dean : How is this Government making it easier for rural small businesses to interact with the Government online?

Hon CRAIG FOSS : The Government’s ultra-fast broadband initiative and Rural Broadband Initiative are allowing for more rural small businesses to interact with the Government online. The Minister for Communications announced recently that we had reached the halfway point for both the ultra-fast broadband initiative and the Rural Broadband Initiative. These initiatives are being extended to regions across New Zealand, meaning more rural small businesses will be able to increase their productivity, reduce costs, and deliver better results.

Hon Gerry Brownlee : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I assume you are about to move on to the next question, but what I would want is to offer one of the spare National Party supplementary questions to the Labour Party—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! And if they wanted one, I am sure they would ask. Supplementary question, Jacinda Ardern.

Jacinda Ardern : Thank you—

Hon Gerry Brownlee : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Are you now withdrawing?

Hon Gerry Brownlee : No, no, no.

Mr SPEAKER : As I try to interpret the chaos of the last 20 seconds, Mr Brownlee has offered one of National’s questions, and we look forward to it.

Jacinda Ardern : Can the Minister confirm that the website said, after the Budget, that there was nothing new in the Budget for small business other than, of course, the survey he just announced for rural small business?

Hon CRAIG FOSS : I welcome the member’s megawatt smile and sparkling brown eyes—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have had to remind this Minister on previous occasions how to answer a question. It is a legitimate question. [Interruption] Order! I do not expect to have to give this tutorial to the Minister on a regular basis. Would he now answer the question.

Hon CRAIG FOSS : There were many initiatives announced in the Budget that not only affect but also improve circumstances for all New Zealand business, such as tax cuts, which were potentially signalled for 2017 and which would be of huge benefit to each and every small business across New Zealand.

Climate Change—Impacts on Health

KEVIN HAGUE (Green): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your ruling on the legitimacy of the transfer of this question from the Minister of Health in light of Speaker’s ruling 168/1—in particular, 168/1(2), your own ruling that “Ministers should be in a position to answer supplementary questions.” This is a question that is primarily around the health consequences of climate change. The fact that the words “climate change” were used in the question does not change the substantive nature of the question. As competent a Minister as I am sure Mr Groser is, he is not an expert in health services. He is not in a position to answer supplementary questions about those issues. Therefore, I find myself in the position, if the question is permitted to be transferred, of not being able to effectively ask some of the supplementary questions that I would like to because the Minister responding will not have the expertise to be able to do so.

Mr SPEAKER : I will hear from the Hon Gerry Brownlee.

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House): Firstly, it is a very bold person who suggests that the Hon Tim Groser does not have expertise in a large range of topics. Quite apart from that—

Mr SPEAKER : If the member could just raise his real point of order, I would be very grateful.

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE : It is up to the Government to choose who it believes can best answer on behalf of the Government. In this case the question is very much focused on climate change. Quite clearly, the suggestions by the professional, which we would have looked at in making that determination, are best answered by the way in which climate change policy might be affected in the months to come.

Mr SPEAKER : I do not need any further assistance. Can I also take the opportunity of inviting the member who raised the point of order to look at Speaker’s ruling 168/2, and that clearly says it is the prerogative of the Government to determine who will answer. The point the member makes in quoting a Speaker’s ruling of mine is that I would certainly not find it acceptable when the supplementary questions were asked for a Minister to then say that you would have to ask the Minister to whom you originally tried to put the question. That is why that particular Speaker’s ruling is there. So we will proceed with the question, and, as Mr Brownlee says, we will wait with interest on the answers given by the Minister for Climate Change Issues.

12. KEVIN HAGUE (Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues : Does he agree with Lancet Commission co-Chair Professor Hugh Montgomery that “climate change is a medical emergency” but “tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”?

Hon TIM GROSER (Minister for Climate Change Issues): In the light of the discussion we have just had, let me put it this way. If one were a climate change denier, then in the last few days it has been a very bad run for anyone who is a doctor, a patient, or a Catholic.

Metiria Turei : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Frankly, if that was not proof of this Minister’s inability to answer these questions, I do not know what is. And it was certainly—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will resume her seat immediately. Sit down. It is not the answer I would have hoped for. The way forward is that I will now allow the member two additional supplementary questions.

Kevin Hague : Is the New Zealand Medical Journal wrong when it says that in New Zealand leading health threats from climate change include high temperatures, extreme events, changing patterns of infectious diseases, and water and food shortages or price changes?

Hon TIM GROSER : No, I do not believe that analysis is wrong. I think it is entirely consistent with the science, and it is also entirely consistent with the underlying objective of the 1992 convention, which calls for Governments to act to stabilise anthropogenic emissions at a level suitable for human habitation.

Kevin Hague : Is Dr Rhys Jones, public health physician and senior lecturer at the University of Auckland, wrong when he said that tackling climate change is likely to be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century, meaning that urgent action to move to a low, and very soon zero, carbon society is not just necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change but if done correctly will be enormously beneficial for our health and well-being right now?

Hon TIM GROSER : I will leave it to medical experts to debate this. What I notice is that The Lancet said it could be. Whether in fact it will be greater than, say, the risk of superbugs to the efficacy of antibiotics, greater than the perennial rise of cancer in advanced societies, or other such major challenges facing the medical community is an interesting question, but, yes, it could be the greatest challenge.

Kevin Hague : Why, then, did the Government’s consultation document on setting New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change target completely fail to consider the health costs of climate change and the health benefits from well-designed climate action?

Hon TIM GROSER : The question fundamentally relates to the risks of climate change; that relates to the science. The consultation was not trying to reopen the science, which we think is extremely clear.

Kevin Hague : What steps has he taken to protect New Zealanders’ health in the face of climate change?

Hon TIM GROSER : I and the team of New Zealand experts that works with me have done a great deal to try to contribute towards global solutions on climate change, which is the root of the problem. We have done this in a variety of ways on which I have addressed this House only recently.

Kevin Hague : If I were to ask another oral question about health services in relation to climate change tomorrow, will he guarantee that the Government will not transfer that question?

Mr SPEAKER : Order! There is no ministerial responsibility for that whatsoever.


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