Questions and Answers – June 25

by Desk Editor on Thursday, June 25, 2015 — 6:56 PM

Questions to Ministers

Climate Change—Hague District Court Decision

1. JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues : Does he agree with the decision of the Hague District Court that, “The State must do more to avert the imminent danger caused by climate change, also in view of its duty of care to protect and improve the living environment”, and what steps will he take to ensure that the Crown isn’t open to similar litigation here?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment) on behalf of the Minister for Climate Change Issues : Our programme in New Zealand does have us doing more to reduce those risks. We introduced an emissions trading scheme in 2009, we joined the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, and we reversed the decline in renewable electricity from the previous Government. I would also note, with our Pacific friends in the House, the $100 million that our Government has invested there in providing them with clean and affordable energy. This record and the fact that our Government has met our Kyoto obligations by a significant margin gives me confidence that the risks of similar litigation here are very low.

James Shaw : What does it say about the National Government and its climate record when a country with both lower emissions per capita and a more ambitious reductions target has been found in court to have failed its duty of care towards it citizens?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : I do not accept the member’s premise and I would note that the Netherlands has 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Under this Government we have now got that figure to over 80 percent, and I would urge the member not to run down New Zealand’s good record.

Stuart Smith : What changes have occurred to climate change policy over the last year that will have a beneficial effect on New Zealand’s future emissions?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : The benefits of our emissions trading scheme are directly proportional to the carbon price. The original legislation, supported by all parties in this Parliament, allowed access to international units that after the global financial crisis became very cheap, down to a price of only 10 or 20 cents. The Government’s decision not to allow access to these international units means that emissions from 1 January this year are now priced much more realistically and the current price is $7. This change provides a much stronger incentive to constrain future emissions.

James Shaw : Will he stop using the fact that New Zealand has only 0.2 percent of global emissions as an excuse for a weak emissions reduction target, given that a court has just ruled against the use of the same argument by the Netherlands, which makes up 0.5 percent of global emissions?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : Our Government takes a realistic approach where New Zealand is doing, and will do, its fair share on climate change. The most challenging part for New Zealand, which is unlike any other developed country, is that 50 percent of our emissions come from agricultural gases—methane, and nitrous oxide—and that is the factor that does provide New Zealand with a challenging circumstance because technologies do not currently exist that would enable us to reduce those emissions. That is why our Government is investing so heavily in finding the technologies to solve that unique problem.

James Shaw : Given that New Zealand’s net emissions have risen by 13 percent since National came to power, why should not young New Zealanders sue the National Government for jeopardising their future?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : Because the member’s figures are wrong. Let me put the record straight. New Zealand’s net emissions peaked in 2007. In 2007 New Zealand’s emissions were 84 million tonnes. The latest figure in New Zealand is that our net emissions are 70 million tonnes; that is, 20 percent less than what they were under the previous Government at its peak.

James Shaw : Does he agree with the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday that “Ministers … from time to time will certainly say that people are free to test their legal rights.”, and will he be saying this to young New Zealanders, who will be taking hope and inspiration from the success of their Dutch counterparts?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : In our discussions with young New Zealanders, they want to have good jobs and they want to have a strong economy, as well as also wanting a responsible policy on climate change. The great fear that young people should have is that if you follow the sort of extreme Green policies that that party advocates, many of them would be out of work.

James Shaw : Given that New Zealanders are crying out for real climate action, will he now encourage the Prime Minister to accept our offer to work together on climate change solutions that New Zealanders want and deserve?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : This Government is always open to good, practical ideas on how we can improve our environmental record, but what we will not do is adopt some of the policies that the Greens have advocated that will come with huge cost and will put New Zealanders out of work.


2. TODD MULLER (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Finance : What reports has he received showing progress toward building growth across a range of sectors in the New Zealand economy?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Associate Minister of Finance) on behalf of the Minister of Finance : Statistics New Zealand’s latest GDP data release confirmed that the economy is continuing to perform well and grew 2.6 percent in the year to March 2015. A reduction in dairy production contributed to quarterly growth of 0.2 percent, coming in at the lower end of market expectations. Dairy is important, but it is important to remember that dairy exports make up only one-fifth of our total exports and are around 5 percent of the economy. The reality is that a large number of areas across the economy are growing—and growing strongly. For example, the information and communications technology software services sector has been growing at a rate of 9 percent per annum since 2008 and now contributes 1.7 percent of GDP. Information and communications technology exports have grown at 14 percent per year over the past 6 years, to exceed $930 million in 2014.

Todd Muller : What other sectors of the economy have shown strong growth?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : Many of them, actually. The Government’s programme of microeconomic reforms has helped to make it easier for New Zealand industries to grow. To take one example, the wine industry now exports $1.37 billion, up 8.2 percent in the past year. The kiwifruit industry has recovered well from Psa, and it is booming at this point. High-tech manufacturing has grown from a $139 million industry 20 years ago to a $1.4 billion one in 2012. There is tourism, which is now worth 7 percent of GDP. In the last year, the accommodation industry saw its largest annual growth, at 8 percent, since September 1995. The Government’s economic reform programme and fiscal prudence is helping to keep interest rates lower and is creating the conditions in which businesses are more confident of investing and hiring more people.

Todd Muller : How is this economic growth translating into more jobs for New Zealand families?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : The fundamentals for the economy remain sound. The outlook over the next 3 to 4 years is for moderate, sustained growth of around 3 percent, helping Kiwi families to get ahead. In Budget 2011, Treasury forecast that there would be 171,000 additional new jobs created by June of this year. As at March of this year, 194,000 jobs had been created over that period, so we are currently around 23,000 ahead of that forecast, with the current quarter to finish. A further 150,000 jobs are expected to be added to the economy by mid-2019.

Todd Muller : How do forecasts for higher incomes compare with expected cost of living increases?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : Average annual wages have increased by $5,700 in the past 4 years. Treasury forecasts that they will rise by a further $7,000 to around $63,000 by mid-2019. If you take the 8-year period as a whole, the average wage is expected to rise by almost $13,000, or over 25 percent, compared with inflation of around 15 percent over that same period. It is very important to achieve those numbers in order to stay on course and to continue to attract new investment around the country to build more and higher paying jobs and to really lift our long-term economic performance.

Dr David Clark : When will the Minister accept that he is failing to achieve his own target of growing exports as a percentage of GDP to 40 percent, that currently it has dropped to 27 percent and is projected to drop lower, and that if he does not change his policy, he will never achieve his goal?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : I am pretty sure that the member has heard before that that is a target set for 2025. If he comes back as an Opposition spokesperson for economic development in 2025, then he will be able to ask that question again. But, to reassure the member, in 2008, in nominal dollar terms, our exports of total goods and services were $54.645 billion, and this last year to March, the figure was $67.49 billion—an increase of 24 percent, despite some of the highest US dollar and Australian dollar exchange rates.

Dr David Clark : You’re going backwards

Hon STEVEN JOYCE : It is a 24 percent increase, and the only definition of going backwards is if you turn around and put yourself upside down like Mr Clark does.

Health, Minister—Statements

3. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Health : Does he stand by all his statements?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Yes, within the context that they were made.

Hon Annette King : Does he stand by his statement made just 2 months ago relating to the Canterbury District Health Board: “there is plenty of money there in that huge budget that Canterbury has.”; if so, why has he now written to the Canterbury District Health Board saying that the Ministry of Health is to undertake a financial review?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : Well, the point is that there is plenty of money. There is $1.36 billion that goes into that district health board. We have increased that by $254 million over the past 7 years—by $26 million this year. But at the moment, the Canterbury District Health Board is saying that it is looking for some more money, specifically for mental health services. The idea of a financial review is to help it to find it.

Hon Annette King : Has he seen a recent Canterbury District Health Board presentation that shows that, taking into account the additional Government funding received, the Canterbury District Health Board has had to absorb around $80 million of expenses arising from earthquake-related costs, mismatched elective funding, and $10 million paid for the failed Health Benefits Ltd project?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : I speak to the Canterbury District Health Board all the time, and I have not seen that particular presentation. But what I can say is that tens of millions of dollars of extra support has been poured into Canterbury to support what was a very devastating series of events down there 5 years ago.

Hon Annette King : Is he aware that the Canterbury District Health Board, which the Auditor-General said was the best-performing district health board, has said that the position that the Government has put it in will mean that it will be cutting services to the people of Canterbury, as if they have not faced enough?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : I do not believe that that is what it is saying, but, like all district health boards, it has to make the best possible use of the money that it does have available.

Hon Annette King : Is he confident that the information being provided to him by the Ministry of Health senior officials in relation to the Canterbury District Health Board’s financial position and the pressures it faces is not tainted by personal agenda and vindictive behaviour?


Hon Paula Bennett : What other statements does the Minister stand by?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : I stand by the statement that under this Government the number of first specialist assessments has risen by 50,000, compared with an actual cut of 7,500 between 2000 and 2006. Equally, I stand by the statement that under this Government the number of surgical operations has gone up, such that there are now an extra 44,000 operations per year, compared with an actual cut of 2,200 operations between 2000 and 2006. So, in short, this Government is delivering more; the other crowd delivered less.

Hon Annette King : In light of the widespread knowledge of the dysfunctional relationship between the senior management of the Ministry of Health, the National Health Board, and the Canterbury District Health Board, will he commit to an independent financial review of the Canterbury District Health Board; if not, why not?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : I dispute that there is a dysfunctional relationship there. Obviously, you are always going to get people who will, for whatever reason, try to make trouble—Mrs King may well be one of those. But look, the fact is that I have complete confidence in the ministry staff. They are doing a very good job. They are doing a very good job in helping the Canterbury District Health Board to turn round what is a pretty difficult situation.

Hon Annette King : Well, in light of that answer, has he been told recently that senior executives of the Ministry of Health are lying to him and are bullying Ministry of Health staff, chairs, and chief executives of district health boards?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : I know that some people would like to believe that that is the truth, but it is completely false.


4. MELISSA LEE (National) to the Minister of Education : What announcements has she made about driving innovation across the education sector?

Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. I am pleased to announce that 41 projects have won funding worth a total of approximately $2.6 million in the first round of grants from the Teacher-led Innovation Fund. This fund is part of our Government’s $359 million Investing in Educational Success initiative and is aimed at developing innovative practices that improve learning outcomes. The first round of funding involves more than 80 schools, as well as several early childhood centres. I look forward to releasing the detail of these successful collaborations in the next few weeks.

Melissa Lee : How can schools participate in this initiative to develop innovation in their community?

Hon HEKIA PARATA : The Teacher-led Innovation Fund is worth $10 million over 4 years, and I encourage all schools that consider that they have innovative practice to apply for future rounds. It is open to primary and secondary teachers and State and State-integrated kura and schools, and it is designed to encourage schools to look at different approaches to learning, particularly for students most at risk of failing. This fund reflects our Government’s significant investment in keeping the best teachers teaching, encouraging schools to work together, and strengthening school leadership.

Child, Youth and Family—Action on Notifications

5. JACINDA ARDERN (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development : What action does she expect to be taken by Child, Youth and Family when there are 20 notifications involving just one family, with as many as 10 referrals being due to family violence in the home?

Hon JO GOODHEW (Associate Minister for Social Development) on behalf of the Minister for Social Development : Although I cannot speak about the specifics of this case that the member is referring to while it is before the courts, in this type of situation I would expect all social sector agencies, including Child, Youth and Family, to be working very closely together to ensure that there is a coordinated plan of action in place to resolve the issues in that family that is focused on keeping the children safe.

Jacinda Ardern : Can she confirm that the current case in the media is not an isolated incident when more than 25 percent of notifications received by Child, Youth and Family in April this year were for families who had already been investigated at least once in the past 12 months?

Hon JO GOODHEW : Yes, I can confirm that this case is not an isolated incident, because I know that 147,000 notifications were received by Child, Youth and Family in the last year. Of those, some 58,000 were family violence referrals. I can also tell the member that when each one of these notifications was assessed by a social worker to determine the action that should be taken, some 54,000 required further action by Child, Youth and Family. Of those, 19,600 were substantiated cases of abuse or neglect. I can tell the member those figures because this Government is taking action on many fronts to address what is a very large problem for our nation.

Jacinda Ardern : What action does Child, Youth and Family take when it receives one of the 58,000 family violence referrals that come from the police each year telling the agency that a child is in a home where domestic violence has occurred?

Hon JO GOODHEW : As I have just said, each notification that is received by Child, Youth and Family is carefully assessed by a social worker to ascertain what response, if any, is needed, and how urgent that response should be. The notifications are widely varied. In some examples, a neighbour may raise a concern about hearing raised voices next door. That, of course, is quite different from the family violence referrals that are received from police, but each, nevertheless, is treated in the same way: assessed by a social worker to determine what action is taken.

Jacinda Ardern : What percentage of referrals that the police—not neighbours, but the police—send to Child, Youth and Family are followed up on; and was the Waitakere Anti-violence Essential Services manager Tiaria Fletcher correct when she quoted research that found that only 15 percent of children with a family violence referral had received any kind of support or intervention from Child, Youth and Family?

Hon JO GOODHEW : The member appears not to be listening. I have already told the House that every single one of the 147,000 notifications are assessed by a social worker to determine a professional determination of what action is required to be taken. I do not have a percentage for the 58,000 family violence referrals that have further action taken.

Jacinda Ardern : Which, if any, of the terms of reference for the review of Child, Youth and Family allows her expert panel to make a recommendation that the Government increase Child, Youth and Family’s resources so it can do more for the children who are being referred by police to it than just simply have their files assessed by a social worker?

Hon JO GOODHEW : As the member is aware, Child, Youth and Family is currently under review. That is because we need to do more to protect our vulnerable children. Evidence that we are doing more should be Budget 2015, where an extra $58.6 million over the next 4 years was allocated to help vulnerable children. So we are not waiting for the end of the Child, Youth and Family review; we are already injecting additional resources into the service—$8 million to meet demand due to the duration and complexity of interventions required for children and young people in State care. In addition, Child, Youth and Family was given an additional $3.3 million to allow it to meet the legislation changes—

Jacinda Ardern : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked the Minister whether she could tell me which, if any, of the terms of reference—the specific terms of reference—allowed her Government-appointed panel reviewing Child, Youth and Family to recommend that—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I listened very carefully to the question. I listened to the answer. The answer that was given, which I think addresses the question, was that more resources have been given. The Government is not waiting for the results of the review panel. If the member wishes to ask further questions, she is welcome.

Māori Development, Minister—Statements

6. 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, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou. Āe, in the context they were given.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Does his statement “I deny absolutely any involvement in the changing of Hansard” mean that it is a strange coincidence that the Hansard Office, with precise audio and video records, should change the exact same word in the exact same sentence as he did when he made a personal explanation to the House yesterday?

Mr SPEAKER : The Hon Te Ururoa Flavell, in as far as he has ministerial responsibility.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : I stand by my statements, and any issues in respect of Hansard should be referred to the Speaker.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If he is going to put you into the debate, that is where we were yesterday, and, with respect, that is not an answer. I am asking him about his involvement, not whether you were involved; we will get—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! And the answer was given. He denies any involvement. So the answer has been given. Move forward with further supplementary questions.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Yes, I will do that.

Hon Paula Bennett : Hang your sign up and say no.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : No, no. He is smarter than you. He can answer better—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Can we just have the supplementary—

Rt Hon Winston Peters : You are a bit thick actually.

Hon Members : Oh!

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Oh, yes she is. Did he receive any advice or instruction from the Speaker before—

Hon Maggie Barry : That member’s an expert in “thick”.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Oh, we know who is the expert now—the “orange roughy”.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! At this stage I am not going to rule the question out because I am quite keen for it to be answered, but be very careful not to bring the Speaker into this debate. Let us have the question, without the interjections coming from any side.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : From whom did he receive advice or instruction before question time yesterday telling him to correct his statements in the House as stated by his Māori Party colleague Marama Fox when she said, and I quote her: “He had to make the statement to correct the Hansard as per Speakers’ orders.”?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : I have no responsibility for my colleague Marama Fox, and that issue was dealt with yesterday by my statement to the House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked from whom did he get any advice or instruction, and he is not answering the question.

Mr SPEAKER : No, no. You then brought in a colleague and he referred to that part.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I just want to be clear, because I do not want the member complaining about unfair treatment. I have dealt with the matter as to whether that question was answered. If the member has a fresh point of order, I am only too happy to hear it, but I am not prepared to relitigate the issue as to whether the last supplementary question has been addressed by the Minister.

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

Mr SPEAKER : I think we have a fresh point of order.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : We have a fresh point of order. I recited as evidence Marama Fox’s statement—nothing more than that.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am going to have to ask the member to leave the Chamber. I just explained to him that I have ruled on that matter. Would the member please resume his seat. I have made a ruling. I said to the member I would not entertain, under any circumstances, further litigation, and the member says “I am raising a fresh point of order.” I interpret that to be repeating and relitigating a decision I have made.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I haven’t got to it.

Mr SPEAKER : Well, that is the way I interpret it. If it is a fresh point of order and we are moving past the last supplementary question, I am happy to hear it. But if, when the member rises with a fresh point of order, and I interpret it as simply another mechanism of relitigating what has already occurred, then I will not hesitate to be asking the member to leave the Chamber for the balance of question time.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER : A fresh point of order?

Rt Hon Winston Peters : It is a fresh point of order. I quoted the statement and I seek leave now, because it is in dispute, to table it.

Mr SPEAKER : Leave is sought—can I just, so I am clear before I decide to put the leave, can I be clear as to what the leave is that the member is seeking. What does he want to table?

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I seek leave to table the evidence of the statement that he had made—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I now need the source and the date.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : It is a media—[Interruption] No, no. It is a media report of the exact comment, and I can go to my office and get it for you now, if that is what you want.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I do not need it, because, as I have told the member on many occasions, the tabling of documents is to assist with providing further information. If it is a media report, and if members are interested, they can go and source it for themselves. So I will not be putting the leave.

Marama Fox : Does the Minister have an opinion of how much of his valuable time has been spent defending baseless allegations of the past 2 weeks?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : That is a very good question. There is so much to do and there is so little time. I am anxious to get on with the huge amount of work that is ahead of us. It is sad that the Labour Party, with other colleagues like the New Zealand First Party, takes up too much time on baseless allegations that they have no proof of.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : If neither he nor his office attempted to change the Hansard before question time yesterday, why, when asked—and here is the question: “Why did he change the Hansard before the statement yesterday?”—did his Māori Party colleague Marama Fox not deny the change but answered “He corrected what he meant to say.”?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : In respect of the first part of the question, that issue was dealt with yesterday. The record was corrected in the House by me.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : What on earth did he mean when he said yesterday in this House that one of the things he did discuss with the chief executive of Māori Television was “100 million engagements per week”? What was that about?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : As I pointed out in question time yesterday, it comes straight from a draft statement of intent for the Māori Television Service for 2015-2018, and I am happy to table that in a short space of time.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Can he confirm that Mr Maxwell and he are close friends, so close that when Mr Maxwell’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer of Māori Television was being questioned he was the only member of Parliament to put out a press release defending him, and when Mr Maxwell was welcomed on to Te Puea Marae he was the one, not the Minister in charge, standing beside him at that day?

Mr SPEAKER : In so far as there is ministerial responsibility, the Hon Te Ururoa Flavell.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : The good thing about me is I have got many friends. One of my friends once upon a time was that member, whom I took on to Moerewa marae to represent the National Party once upon a time. That is the width and the breadth of the friendship that I have. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The House, particularly on my right-hand side, will now settle.

Hon Paula Bennett : He can’t remember.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Is it not a fact—where you are involved, you are 100 percent right. Is it not a fact that one of the reasons he saw Mr Maxwell on 20 May was to discuss programme content and panel composition because he could not face a debate with me—[Interruption] That is right; wait for it—and that leaks from Māori Television will confirm that?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : I again reiterate that I did not discuss any issues of the content of that programme with the chief executive. That is fact, and I put it on record in Parliament. The second part is that on the same day that the request was made my office agreed to be on the panel that was set out, so I do not see what the problem is. Move on.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why does he think he can make denials that are demonstrably untrue, such as no discussing of content, when the chief executive officer has confirmed it and Māori Television is now leaking like a sieve?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : If he has that information, I am happy to respond to it, but at the moment, based on yesterday’s discussion, we have confirmation that Māori Television gave a directive some 5 or 6 days after that panel—

Ron Mark : And you changed it.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : It changed it 5 or 6 days after the event. If there are things—talking about being demonstrably wrong and accusations, if there is one person who is doing it, it is that member right now.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek some guidance from you. If it is right for a member to get up on a question that has been approved by your office to say it was all answered yesterday, then that surely cannot be allowed. We are entitled each day to answers to the questions put that day.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am not sure exactly what the point of order is. The member has asked a very general question—[Interruption] Order! He has asked for some guidance. I am happy to give it to him. He has asked a very general question and then followed with a line of supplementary questions. My duty and responsibility here is to judge each one of those answers as to whether it has addressed the question. I am quite satisfied that in each case it did.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : I seek leave of the House to table the draft statement of intent for the Māori Television Service for the years 2015-2018.

Mr SPEAKER : On the basis that it is a draft and therefore has not been published, I will put the leave. Leave is sought to table a draft statement of corporate intent for Māori Television. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled. Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Tourism—Reports on Visitors to New Zealand

7. SIMON O’CONNOR (National—Tāmaki) to the Minister of Tourism : What reports has he received about the increasing number of tourists visiting New Zealand?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Associate Minister of Tourism) on behalf of the Minister of Tourism : Here is some good news. The tourism sector is in great shape, with more people visiting New Zealand than ever before. What is even better is that they are continuing to stay longer and spend more. Recent reports show international visitor numbers were up 7 percent to 2.98 million for the year ending May 2015. That is the highest-ever annual total. Estimated international spend was up 21 percent in the year ending March, with good growth across most of our markets, including a 61-percent increase in spend from Chinese visitors.

Simon O’Connor : How is growth in tourism contributing to our export markets?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : Tourism is a major export-earner for New Zealand, making up 15 percent of our total exports. In the year ending March, tourism exports were worth more than $10.3 billion, which is more than our meat exports, our wood exports, and our oil exports. This is up from $9.8 billion in 2011. Total international tourist spend is expected to reach $11.1 billion by 2021.

Simon O’Connor : How is the growth in tourism benefiting the regions?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : More good news: tourists are not just coming to the main centres. They are visiting towns and regions, which are also benefiting from the growth in numbers. Almost half of the $7 billion spent by international visitors in the year ending March 2014 was spent outside Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. For example, international tourism spend in the Otago region has shown a cumulative annual growth rate of 4.7 percent since 2009. The Waikato and Taranaki regions saw estimated total spend from international visitors of $408 million and $57 million, respectively, for the year ending March 2014.

Health, Ministry—Climate Change

8. KEVIN HAGUE (Green) to the Minister of Health : What has he instructed the Ministry of Health to do to prepare New Zealand’s health services for the impacts of climate change?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): As with any public health issue, the ministry is well aware of my expectation that it understands the risks and prepares to respond to any emerging health issues. With respect to climate change, the Ministry of Health is taking a wide range of preparatory steps, from preparing for extreme weather events to reviewing water safety plans and helping to detect exotic mosquitos.

Kevin Hague : Can the Minister then explain why an Official Information Act request to the ministry revealed no correspondence at all between the Minister and the ministry concerning climate change?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : Well, the point is that the ministry is so well informed, having read the 2013 Gluckman report on New Zealand’s changing climate and oceans, which noted the possibility of increases in the likelihood of mosquito-borne vectors establishing in New Zealand and increases in the number and severity of extreme weather events, that it has taken the initiative and just got on and done it itself.

Kevin Hague : Which of the predicted serious health effects on New Zealanders caused by climate change is he most concerned about: water-borne diseases, such as giardia and salmonella; tropical diseases, such as malaria or dengue fever; or something else? What specific actions has he taken as Minister to avoid those?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : I think the things we should be concerned about are things like increasing incidents of diseases like salmonellosis and cryptosporidiosis, which in warmer climates do start to increase. But, of course, the ministry has the expertise to gear up for that. It is doing that. It has also developed a series of environmental health indicators, and it is undertaking surveillance to detect and gather evidence on the potential effects. So, look, we have got a lot of expertise in there. We have got 1,150 people, and some of them are working on these things that you are very, very concerned about.

Kevin Hague : Does the Minister agree with Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne, who said in a February 2015 speech that an outbreak of dengue fever in New Zealand brought about by the effects of climate change could conservatively cost $250 million and cause the deaths of one in 100,000 people exposed to the disease?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : I have not seen those figures, but I am sure Mr Dunne was basing them on reputable research. As I said in my substantive answer and subsequent supplementary answer, the ministry has been working on mitigating the increased likelihood of mosquito-borne diseases, of which dengue fever is one.

Kevin Hague : In the face of these serious predicted health consequences of climate change, what representation specifically has he made to his Cabinet colleagues to call for at least a 40 percent reduction on 1990 emissions by 2030, as called for, for example, by the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine?

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : I have been so busy dealing with the Southern District Health Board, increasing the number of elective surgeries—

Hon Annette King : Oh, he had nothing to do with that.

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN : —increasing the number of appointments, reading these letters that Mrs King is sending me, and preparing for the launch of the under-13s free GP visits on 1 July that, actually, I have not got around to doing that, sorry.

RON MARK (NZ First): I seek leave of the House to table a series of tweets dated 24 June 2015 between media and Marama Fox, one of which says that the Speaker ordered Te Ururoa Flavell to change his Hansard.

Mr SPEAKER : I am going to put the leave and the House will decide. Leave is sought to table those series of tweets. Is there any objection? There is objection.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—Low-carbon Development Plan

9. Dr MEGAN WOODS (Labour—Wigram) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues : Does he intend to create a low-carbon development strategy or plan as per the 2010 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreement of which New Zealand is a signatory; if so, when?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment): on behalf of the Minister for Climate Change Issues : New Zealand’s strategy includes the emissions trading scheme, the Global Research Alliance on agricultural emissions, our incentives for electric cars, our home insulation programme, our 90 percent renewable electricity goal, and our afforestation grant scheme boosted by $23 million in Budget 2015. This Government favours practical programmes to reduce emissions over idealistic strategies. I note, for instance, the previous Government’s strategy of New Zealand being carbon-neutral, but during 1999 to 2007 net emissions went up by 28 percent.

Dr Megan Woods : How does he plan to meet his Government’s target of a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 with no low-carbon strategy or plan and no plan to create a strategy?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : I am far more interested in actual programmes that will deliver real reductions in emissions than the sorts of idealistic strategies that we had for 9 years when emissions went up, in net terms, by 28 percent. That is why this Government includes an emissions trading scheme, something the previous Government talked about for 9 years but we did—things like the likes of the renewable energy target, where we went backwards under the previous Government but are now are up to 80 percent and are on target to reach 90 percent renewable electricity; things like our electric car programme; and things like the work of Jo Goodhew around the afforestation programme. All of those programmes are real and will make a positive difference.

Dr Megan Woods : Will he consider the appointment of a depoliticised, independent body, such as the one in the UK, that has responsibility for carbon planning and budgeting and an actual plan of how to meet emission reduction targets?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : I think I have set out a very clear, active plan of what this Government is doing around climate change. In my view, having some sort of cross-party think scheme was the sort of approach that occurred under the previous Government when emissions grew very rapidly.

Joanne Hayes : How does this Government’s actual record on emissions compare with that of the previous Government since the Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed?

James Shaw : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I understand that that supplementary question is designed to enable the Minister to attack the previous Labour Government and would contravene your ruling the other day.

Mr SPEAKER : I do not agree. It is perfectly in order for a current administration to talk about records of a former administration and put that in context. [Interruption] Order! I am on my feet. That has always been the case. The point I know that Mr Shaw is referring to is that when I detect that it is simply an attack question rather than an attempt to balance, in terms of current emissions versus earlier emissions, I may well intervene. But in this case I do not see any harm in comparing a current record with a previous record.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : Emissions are reported internationally in both net and gross terms. Gross emissions went up 10 percent under the 1990s National Government. They went up by a further 13 percent under the previous Labour Government, and they have gone up by 3 percent gross under this Government. Net emissions went up 1 percent during the 1990s National Government. They went up by 28 percent net under the previous Labour Government, and net emissions have dropped 11 percent under this Government. These actual emission records show that this Government’s climate policies have been much more successful.

Dr Megan Woods : Given his previous answers on his Government’s reliance on the emissions trading scheme and the carbon price, does the recent increase in the price, of a few dollars, outweigh the previous collapse in the carbon price when his Government took office from over $25 to in the 10c; and if success is being measured by the change in the price of carbon, does this make the last Minister, Nick Smith, a failure?

Mr SPEAKER : The Minister may answer either of those two supplementary questions.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : The legislation that was first introduced to this Parliament by the member’s colleagues provided for the New Zealand emissions trading scheme to be opened to international units. After the global financial crisis the international carbon price collapsed, and that meant under our scheme or your scheme. Then this Government—this Government—took a decision in December 2 years ago to close off the New Zealand scheme to international units and that meant that from 1 January this year the carbon price has lifted from 20c to approximately $7, and that makes the scheme more worthwhile.

Dr Megan Woods : How does he plan to meet emission reduction targets when his Associate Minister, in an answer to a written question, as the Minister of Transport, stated that he was unable to answer because he did not know the meaning of the term “emission reduction target”?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH : I am sure that will be a misrepresentation of the Minister of Transport, who today is taking another positive initiative around transport with the Prime Minister, and I would look at his record around the incentives for electric cars that have been introduced by this Government. I would look at the billion dollars that has been invested in terms of the electrification of Auckland rail. I would also look at initiatives like afforestation and other programmes by my colleagues, which show that this Government’s climate change policies are far more credible and are actually working.

Chief Victims Adviser—Progress

10. JONO NAYLOR (National) to the Minister of Justice : What progress can the Minister report on the role of the Chief Victims Advisor?

Hon AMY ADAMS (Minister of Justice): I am pleased to advise that last week I called for expressions of interest for the newly created role of Chief Victims Advisor to the Government. The Chief Victims Adviser position has been created to provide independent advice to the justice Minister about victims’ experiences in the justice system. They will ensure that the victim’s perspective is at the heart of the advice that I and other Ministers receive in the development of policy affecting the justice sector. This will complement existing lines of advice, including victims’ advocacy groups and Government officials, and will improve the information that Ministers have available when making decisions on how we can best support victims.

Jono Naylor : How does the Minister foresee the Chief Victims Adviser operating, and what sort of skills is she looking for in this role?

Hon AMY ADAMS : The role of the Chief Victims Adviser to the Government has been created initially as a 2-year, fixed-term, 0.3 fulltime-equivalent role. The adviser will need to be someone with a good understanding of and links to victims’ networks. We are looking for someone who can connect effectively and sensitively with those who have experienced first-hand the trauma that crime creates for victims. They also need to be someone who can take those views and experiences and convey them effectively through the systems of Government at different levels and who can build relationships across the justice sector. The application process is currently open, with information on the Ministry of Justice website. Applications close at the end of next week, and I would encourage those who think that they can fill this important role to put themselves forward for consideration.

Foreign Affairs, Minister—Written and Oral Answers

Mr SPEAKER : Question No. 11, the Hon David Parker.

Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek leave to carry my question over to another day, given that the Minister, who was at the select committee this morning—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The latter part only damages the point of order that is made. Leave has been sought to transfer this question to the next sitting day. Is there any objection? There is. [Interruption] Order! I have called the Hon David Parker.

11. Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs : Does he stand by all his answers to written and oral questions regarding the multi-million dollar payment to the Al-Khalaf Group and the model farm in the desert?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister of Local Government) on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs : Yes, within the context in which they were given.

Hon David Parker : Given that the Minister claims the previously undisclosed $4 million initial payment to Al Khalaf was justified to settle his $20 million to $30 million legal claim, did he receive any legal advice from Crown Law or his own ministry as to whether Al Khalaf had any legitimate claim?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : It is my understanding that that was a contract for services, and I cannot answer the question on legal advice, because I do not have it with me.

Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption] My question—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am just going to call the member. I have been waiting for the noise to settle down on my left. The Hon David Parker, a point of order.

Hon David Parker : My question is not what the legal advice is; my question is whether he received any legal advice as to whether the claim was legitimate.

Mr SPEAKER : And I heard the answer. The answer from the Minister answering on behalf of the Minister was “I cannot answer that.” Further supplementary questions?

Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister is answering on behalf of the Minister. She should be in a position to answer that question. It is germane and central to the issue.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member may hope so, but on this occasion, as I have said, I think, last week, at a time when another member is answering on behalf of a Minister, I would actually prefer that if they do not have the information, they are upfront in saying that rather than trying to stumble with a guess that then proves to be inaccurate. If a Minister has come to this question and has not got the answer and says “I have not got that information.”, that addresses the question.

Hon PAULA BENNETT : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I may have an answer here that might help further, if that is of interest to the House.

Mr SPEAKER : Well, I think on that basis the best way forward is that I will invite the Hon David Parker to repeat the question.

Hon David Parker : Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given that the Minister claims that the previously undisclosed $4 million initial payment to Al Khalaf was justified to settle Mr Khalaf’s $20 million to $30 million legal claim, did he, the Minister, receive legal advice from Crown Law or his own ministry as to whether Al Khalaf had any legitimate claim?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : The answer I have here, on behalf of the Minister, is that I am advised that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s legal division provided advice on issues relating to the food security partnership, but I cannot answer further on what the member asked.

Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That does not address my question at all.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! No. It does not answer the question to the member’s satisfaction—that is accepted—but it certainly addresses the question.

Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : No. I am going to give the member—[Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. I have ruled quite categorically that that question has been addressed. Taking further points of order relitigating that leads to disorder. It means that I have to deal with that far more substantially. If the member has further supplementary questions, he is welcome to raise them or equally [Interruption]—I had not quite finished—if the member wants to raise fresh points of order that are genuinely fresh points of order, that is also acceptable.

Hon David Parker : Is it not the real reason that the Minister has refused to answer oral questions, written questions, and select committee questions on this very issue that he never got that legal advice, but to concede it amounts to an admission that he misled his Cabinet colleagues?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : I refute all of the question from the member.

Hon David Parker : Is the reason the Minister is now talking about general trade risks rather than Mr Al Khalaf’s legal claim that, in truth, these payments were to advance the free-trade agreement and trading with Saudi Arabia?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : Certainly, the truth that I have seen is a mess that was left by Labour, which this Government has had to pick up and actually fix so that we are in a position where we can discuss trade with that partner.

Hon David Parker : Is it not the real reason that he continues to pretend the $4 million payment to Al Khalaf was to settle the non-existent legal claim because otherwise it is even more obvious that the multimillion-dollar payment was a facilitation payment, which in other jurisdictions is called a bribe?

Hon PAULA BENNETT : The assertions from the member are wrong and incorrect. What the Minister of Foreign Affairs has done is exactly what this country would expect of him, which is to step up in the best interests of New Zealand and actually fix a mistake that was put in place by a previous Government.

Hon David Parker : Was the Minister surprised that the select committee chair this morning allowed him to make his self-justifying, pre-written assertions about his past conduct and then ruled Opposition questions about the past out of order and blocked Opposition members getting to the bottom of this matter?

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That is a very marginal question. The essence of it is, was the Minister surprised by such alleged action? I will allow the Minister to address that.

Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You seem to be casting aspersions on my question—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am very inclined to deal with it in the way that I have the option of doing. That was a question that was not according to the Standing Orders. It was full of allegation, imputation, etc., throughout that question. I decided to be generous to the member and allow the Minister to address it, and we should continue with that, but if that is going to be an issue, I would not have much hesitation of ruling it out in the first place.

Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You obviously were not at the select committee, because there was nothing in my question that is contentious.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I was definitely not at the select committee. [Interruption] Order! Now I will invite the Minister to complete the answer.

Hon PAULA BENNETT : Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am seldom surprised these days at the inane questions that come from the Opposition, whether it be in a select committee or in this House.

Financial Advice Laws—Improvements

12. TODD BARCLAY (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs : What steps is the Government taking to improve financial advice laws?

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs): The Government is reviewing the laws that regulate financial advisers and how they give advice, to ensure that they are working well for New Zealanders. We want to make sure that New Zealanders can access good quality financial advice that is tailored to their needs, and it is time to take stock and identify where our laws can do better. This review is aimed at identifying opportunities to limit complexity, to balance regulation against benefits, and to ensure that appropriate levels of consumer protection are in place. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is currently consulting on an issues paper that will inform this review.

Todd Barclay : What questions does the issues paper address?

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH : The issues paper asks a number of key questions, such as whether people feel they have access to good quality financial advice and whether they understand how advisers are regulated. Also, we want to find out whether the complexity of the regulations has prevented people from considering advice and whether compliance costs have made advice less accessible. We encourage all those with an interest in this issue to get involved in this process and to have their say. It is important that we understand the industry’s perspective and the needs and expectations of consumers when seeking financial advice. Consultation on the issues paper closes on 22 July, after which an options paper will be produced for public release.


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