Questions & Answers – 14 April 2016

by alastair on Friday, April 15, 2016 — 1:36 PM

1. Southern District Health Board—Hospital Food
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]
1. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Health: Does he agree with the comments by the Chief Executive of the Southern District Health Board on Tuesday that “there is clearly an issue with the food otherwise patients would not be complaining”; if not, why not?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): I have spoken with the chief executive and I have noted her comments, and I expect that if she feels there is a problem she will fix it. She tells me that in the recent survey of 153 patients, 75 percent said the food was OK and 25 percent wanted improvements. I had a meal there, and I am with the 75 percent. I also accepted that Southern District Health Board is delivering over 2,600 more surgical operations than 8 years ago and is steadily turning round a 12-year financial deficit situation.
Hon Annette King: If his food experience at Dunedin Hospital was “very good”, why have complaints over hospital meals prompted the introduction of “patient experience coordinators” who will patrol wards during and after each meal service, acting like some sort of Mr Bumble from Oliver Twist?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I am not aware of that new appointment. What I do know is that if this is question No. 1 on a Thursday, we are clearly covering off the big issues pretty well.
Hon Annette King: Given that 13 district health boards have not signed up to Compass Group hospital food, what are the total revised savings over the 15-year period of the contract, minus the $4 million spent on the business case?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: If the member would like to put that down in a written question, I would be very happy to give her an answer. What I can say is that there are considerable savings that will help to fund those 50,000 extra operations and 110,000 appointments a year, and make up for the 400 operations that Mrs King cut from—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The last part is not going to help the order of the House. Supplementary question, the Hon Jonathan Coleman.
Hon Annette King: Can he—yes, it is me, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Annette King.
Hon Annette King: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I do not look like him do I? Can he understand the anger of patients at his penny-pinching at their expense leading to families bringing in meals to Dunedin Hospital—something that happens in Third World countries?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Oh, I do not think that patients are angry. As I said, 75 percent are happy with the food.
Hon Annette King: Is he relieved that Compass Group has now removed the muffin and sausage lunch, but should it go further and remove the half-a-burger-bun and runny mince option, or the 1½ pie option, or the macaroni and mash spread choice, for the sake—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Bring the question to a conclusion.
Hon Annette King: —of sick patients’ health?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I am just relieved that this is the biggest health issue in New Zealand. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon Annette King: Is he aware that this is a big issue for patients, which he minimises and laughs at but they certainly do not, so when he said that I should man up and eat the Dunedin Hospital food, did he not realise that he was admitting that the food was so damn terrible you had to have courage to eat it?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: No. I am aware that the big issue in Dunedin was the 400 operations that Mrs King cut down there, and the 2,600 operations extra that we are doing now, compared to when we took over from her disastrous regime.
2. Defence Force—Navy
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]
2. RON MARK (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Defence: Does he believe that our Navy is sufficiently resourced to protect our fisheries from foreign poachers; if so, why?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health) on behalf of the Minister of Defence: Yes; because the navy is meeting the patrol days that are set by the agencies such as the Ministry for Primary Industries and the New Zealand Customs Service. As reported in last year’s annual report, 90 percent of pre-planned patrols were achieved and 100 percent of response tasks were undertaken.
Ron Mark: What assurances can he give New Zealanders that our navy is sufficiently crewed and resourced to patrol our fisheries properly, when in 2015 our entire navy spent only 33 days at sea on fisheries patrol, and so far in 2016 it has spent only 9 days—is that what was planned?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is enough of the question.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The 33 days that Mr Mark refers to actually only refers to Ministry for Primary Industries tasking, so he is not giving a full picture of what was going on. In actual fact, the navy does much more patrolling than that in the exclusive economic zone. So far in this calendar year—contrary to what he has just asserted—all ships have actually completed 137 days within the exclusive economic zone, and last year actually spent 639 days there. So, actually, what he is saying is incorrect, completely.
Ron Mark: I seek leave to table the answers from the Minister’s office that gave us—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. Those answers are published. They are available to all members. Point of order, Ron Mark—and it had better be a fresh point of order if he wants to stay for the balance of question time.
Ron Mark: Well, this is one about protecting MPs from what are—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. He sought leave to table answers to written questions; they are published and are available. If the member feels that he is being misled in some way in the answer, then there is another appropriate course of action, and I suggest that he becomes more familiar with Speakers’ rulings and the Standing Orders.
Ron Mark: How can our fisheries be adequately protected from foreign poachers raping and pillaging them when the navy’s entire fisheries patrol has dropped from 6 months—from his own answers, his own answers—in 2013 to only 1 month in 2015?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: That is absolutely, totally incorrect. As I have just said, all ships spent 639 days in the exclusive economic zone last year, so I am surprised—with Mr Marks’s defence experience as an army cook, he would have been better asking about the Southern District Health Board.
Tracey Martin: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is a completely inappropriate answer with a completely inappropriate attack on a member of Parliament asking a reasonable question.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! As soon as the Minister transgressed in the last part of his answer, I rose immediately and ceased the answer. I could not act until those comments were made, but when I consider the tone of the question and the answers that have previously been given to the member, it is clear that there is a substantial difference in the figures being supplied by the member and by the Minister. I cannot stop that.
Ron Mark: Well, how does the Minister explain providing answers to written questions—these ones here, Minister—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just ask the question.
Ron Mark: —which say one story, and now he trots along to the House and tells everyone—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Questions must be shorter.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I hope Mr Mark could read his recipe book better than he does the answers to written questions, but I can only go on the answers supplied by the Ministry of Defence.
Ron Mark: Must be an early Christmas. Is the Minister saying, in his statements to the public, that our inshore patrol vessels, which he now says he is going to sell, are not up to the job, something that is disputed by those naval staff who designed them, and if he is saying that, why is it then that—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The questions are too long. That is now leading to a second supplementary question. The first question can be answered by the Hon—
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Why are you being harder on me today than you are on other people?
Mr SPEAKER: The member will be very lucky to continue in the Chamber, the way he is behaving. The Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman can answer the first question.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: No, I am not saying that.
Ron Mark: Noting his statements to the public today, will he not admit that the navy is under resourced and that currently we have two of the inshore patrol vessels mothballed and that they will not be sailing anywhere because we do not have the naval staff to crew them?
Hon Phil Goff: Is the Defence Force correct when it has told the select committee every year since 2012, the year in which the navy lost—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Again, bring the question to a conclusion.
Hon Phil Goff: —a quarter of their complement, that the reason that the inshore patrol vessels are not being put to sea is skill and staff shortages.
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I would have to go back and check the transcript of that select committee, because I have found from experience that it is always—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! We do not need that part.
Hon Phil Goff: I seek leave to table the transcripts of the financial reviews by the select committee in 2012, 2013, and 2014, which say just that.
Mr SPEAKER: No. Again, the Standing Orders were modified at their last revision, and those papers are now available to all members.
Ron Mark: What is the point of announcing to the United Nations and the people of New Zealand that this Government intends establishing a new marine reserve in the Kermadecs when the fact is this Government cannot even patrol our current fisheries, cannot crew our current vessels, and is totally ineffective?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Actually, what the member is asserting is totally incorrect. As I have said, we can patrol the areas. And, frankly, he seems to be the only person who thinks the Kermadec reserve is a bad idea.
Hon Phil Goff: How can the Minister’s primary answer be correct, when he said that the Defence Force was meeting the needs of the customs agency, when both the Customs Service and Police are recorded in the annual report this year as saying that the Defence Force, the Navy, was not able to meet their expectations for the provision of resources like inshore patrol vessels?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: There are two different issues there. The Navy is absolutely meeting their contracted patrol days with those agencies.
3. Economic Growth—Announcements
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]
3. TODD MULLER (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement that one of the Government’s main priorities is “to build a more productive and competitive economy”; if so, what recent announcements has the Government made that will save businesses time and reduce costs?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I just want to deal with another matter. If I continue to hear those interjections from Ron Mark, I will be asking him to leave.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you tell us how long the appropriate questions—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! If it is a primary question, it will be inevitably—or often—longer than is allowed for supplementary questions. I have already told the member on one occasion that I am not going to put a limit on them, but when questions go on for too long, either I will ask them to come to a conclusion or, if the member would prefer a stronger action, I can just rule them out of order immediately.
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yes, and yesterday the Prime Minister announced the Budget 2016 business tax package, which includes a new pay-as-you-go option for provisional tax. It is part of a wider transformation programme of the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), which will provide it with completely new technology and make it easier to deal with. About 30 to 40 percent of businesses currently use cloud-based accounting software, and this is expected to grow to 90 percent in the next 10 years. The changes mean small businesses will be able to pay provisional tax through their accounting software on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than through a separate process.
Todd Muller: How else will the tax package support small businesses around New Zealand, including the 22,000 small-business owners and sole traders of the western Bay of Plenty?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Because of that member’s and other members’ advocacy on behalf of the small businesses in their electorates, the Government has moved to reduce a number of the irritant factors around the payment of tax by business owners, who are generally pretty busy trying to make a living. These measures include eliminating use-of-money interest for most taxpayers, increasing flexibility on the withholding rates for contractors, which have not been changed in about 30 years, and reduced penalties for new debt. In total, the changes will reduce IRD tax on businesses by $180 million over the next 4 years.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have just received a phone call—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The fact that the member has received a phone call is not a point of order, but if the member wants to raise a point of order, I am happy to hear it, and I want to hear it in silence; I just want to warn my right-hand side.
Ron Mark: The stand-in Minister of Defence, in answering questions today, called me, in his answers, a “cook”. Now, if I am a cook, he is a lying prat, and I want him either to withdraw—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! In my mind, the member is making a significant effort to create disorder today, but if the Minister did say that at some stage of his answer, then the Minister will stand and withdraw that comment, and apologise.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I withdraw and apologise for calling Mr Mark a “cook”—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I am now going to ask the Minister to stand and do it in accordance with the Standing Orders.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I withdraw and apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: Thank you.
Tracey Martin: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I hope it is a fresh point of order, Tracey Martin. [Interruption] Order! It is a point of order. I must hear it, and it must be heard in silence.
Tracey Martin: I am going to ask you to go and reflect—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I cannot hear the member, because of interjections coming from over here. Start again.
Tracey Martin: I am going to ask you to go and reflect. I am going to ask you to go—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Can I just have the point of order.
Tracey Martin: This is continual from this particular Minister. Insults are made, there are suggestions that Opposition members are liars, and this Minister—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is not what was said. [Interruption] The member will resume her seat if she wants to stay. I have dealt with the matter. It does not need to be relitigated continually by members from the New Zealand First Party.
Todd Muller: What other steps is the—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I did detect certainly a very strong interjection from my left there. The member knows whom I am talking about. If that continues, she will be leaving.
Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I will hear it, but if it is just continuing to create trouble, I will be asking you to leave.
Ron Mark: Well, I am not going to drag it out any longer. From the New Zealand First side, we say that your behaviour today has been totally inappropriate, and we have had enough of it.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, then that member can certainly leave; if the others want to volunteer, that is their business. Now we return to supplementary—[Interruption] Order!
Todd Muller: My supplementary question to the Minister of Finance—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Would Mr O’Rourke please go if he is going. Would you please leave, so we can get back to it—if the member wishes to leave; he does not have to. I am trying to get back to question time. [Interruption] Good. [Interruption] Right, supplementary question, Todd Muller.
Todd Muller: What other steps is the Government taking to support a more productive and competitive economy, particularly in terms of increasing exporters’ access to overseas markets?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The future of small businesses is, in many parts of New Zealand, tied to the success of our export industries. The Government has worked to increase the number of new markets available to our exporters, including free-trade agreements with Malaysia, Hong Kong, ASEAN, and Korea. We are currently negotiating a free-trade agreement upgrade with China, which has been a very successful free-trade agreement, signed by the last Government, but it needs to be upgraded and improved. Of course, we have signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, opening access to two of the world’s three largest economies.
Todd Muller: How is the Government’s focus on supporting a more productive and competitive economy translating into more jobs and higher wages for New Zealand families?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Over the last 3 years, there have been 175,000 more jobs, and it is expected that there will be a further net gain of 173,000 by 2020, with the unemployment rate around 5.5 percent. At the same time, the average annual wage has, up to now, increased by 24 percent since 2009, compared with an inflation of just 11 percent. We would expect these trends to continue.
4. Land Information, Minister—Confidence
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]
4. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in the Minister for Land Information?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.
Grant Robertson: What advice has the Minister for Land Information provided to him or Cabinet regarding an application to the Overseas Investment Office that is connected with Mossack Fonseca?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As far as I am aware, no particular advice. The Overseas Investment Office has statutory responsibility to apply various tests, including the good character test, not just when the application is made but also after. I would expect that the Minister for Land Information ensures that it fulfils its obligations.
Grant Robertson: Does the Prime Minister think that the Minister for Land Information should be updating him about an application to the Overseas Investment Office that is connected with Mossack Fonseca, given that this is one of the largest tax-evasion scandals in history?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: He is certainly aware of the transaction, but the Government is not in a position where it can direct the Overseas Investment Office in its investigations. If it forms a view that there are questions of good character involved, then I would expect that it would investigate those.
Grant Robertson: In light of the answer that the Prime Minister is aware of the application, from which country does it originate?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I do not know.
Grant Robertson: Is he concerned that directional foreign investment from the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, both known as tax havens, was more than $4 billion as at September 2015, nearly seven times more than China, Germany, and France combined?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I am not particularly concerned. The investment has to pass through the Overseas Investment Act criteria, of which there are around, I think, 23 tests. There have been court cases recently that have, effectively, lifted the thresholds. So wherever the investment came from, it has still got to pass our tests.
Grant Robertson: I seek leave of the House to table a table prepared by Land Information New Zealand with a summary of approved investments by country from 2011-15.
Mr SPEAKER: Is it publicly available?
Grant Robertson: It was sent to me directly by them, so I cannot tell you.
Mr SPEAKER: I am asking the member whether he has checked whether it is available on the internet.
Grant Robertson: I have no idea.
Mr SPEAKER: I am going to put the leave, and the House will sort it out. Leave is sought to table that particular table from Land Information New Zealand. Is there any objection? There is objection.
Grant Robertson: Does it cause him any concern that between 2011 and 2015, $304 million of foreign investment came from the Cayman Islands—more than Russia, India, Italy, Spain, and Sweden combined?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, not particularly. It is always a bit tricky trying to decide where investment actually comes from. People can be of one nationality, with a head office located in another country. The critical thing is that every one of those investments had to pass the tests agreed by this Parliament and laid out in the Overseas Investment Act.
5. Child, Youth and Family—Review
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]
5. MATT DOOCEY (National—Waimakariri) to the Minister for Social Development: What measures will help engage New Zealanders in the care and protection of vulnerable children as part of the overhaul of Child, Youth and Family?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development): We need to ensure that all New Zealanders support our vulnerable children, as they are not Child, Youth and Family kids; they are our kids. To do this, work is under way on a strategy that engages all New Zealanders on how they can support children and young people in care. A national awareness campaign will build an understanding of what good care looks like, enable people to take action to support our vulnerable children, and champion their voices across our agencies and communities so that they can live successful lives. Barnardos has said that it agrees wholeheartedly that we must all step up. Ensuring that no child gets left behind involves all New Zealanders.
Matt Doocey: What other measures will help encourage New Zealanders to care, and support vulnerable children?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Ensuring our caregivers have the right support to provide long-term, loving, and stable homes for children and young people is vital if we are to help them thrive. To do this, a recruitment strategy is being developed to attract a wider pool of quality caregivers. They will receive more help, including increased financial support and quicker access to services. Additionally, national care standards will be introduced so that there is a clear expectation for the standard and quality of care. Together, these measures will help ensure that children and young people find a loving and stable home at the earliest opportunity, allowing them to live successful lives.
6. Poverty—Impact of Government Reforms
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]
6. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Deputy Prime Minister: Ka tū a ia i runga i te mana o tana tauākī e mea ake nei, “We want to ensure Government activities are effective in changing the circumstances that trap people in poverty”?
[Does he stand by his statement that “We want to ensure Government activities are effective in changing the circumstances that trap people in poverty”?]
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister): Yes.
Metiria Turei: Is the Deputy Prime Minister reviewing those activities, given today’s Unicef Fairness for Children report that shows that not one of the Government’s policies have improved income inequality in New Zealand?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Deputy Prime Minister): Yes, I am constantly reviewing them, and I am a bit surprised that Unicef does not regard $25 a week for all of New Zealand’s lowest-income families—at least $25 a week—as having some impact on the income of that household. We think it does and, actually, the families think it makes—probably not enough impact, but, certainly, some.
Metiria Turei: Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree with Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills that $25, for those few who will get that much, will not do enough to alleviate child poverty because the gap between the bottom and the middle is growing so fast?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: It certainly does not meet the Children’s Commissioner’s requirements, although I gather he has indicated some positive reception of it. Of course, alongside the direct income issues and core hardship, the Government is investing enormous amounts of time and money in dealing with all of the sociological and employment and education-related aspects that keep people trapped in poverty. Most families can handle a low income for a short time, but it is pretty difficult when they have got to handle it for years and years. Government in the past has, frankly, been a bit passive about that, and we are trying to change it.
Dr Parmjeet Parmar: What changes has the Government made recently to increase support for families in need?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Probably one of the more important ones has been that from 1 April this year we have increased work obligations for beneficiary parents, provided additional childcare subsidies for low-income families, and, also, low-income working families are benefiting from an increase in Working for Families. For those who cannot get a job and are on a benefit, the rates for those families with children have increased by $25 a week after tax—the first such increase in 40 years, and something that the Greens actually did not support when they were part of a previous Government.
Maureen Pugh: How is the Government supporting the creation of jobs to help people move from a benefit and into work?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: We are very keen to work individually with thousands of people on benefit who could move into work, and we have had considerable success with sole parents, where we have the lowest number of sole parents on benefit that New Zealand has had, I think, since 1986. But further success remains dependent on an economy that keeps creating new jobs, and the good news is that over the next 3 or 4 years we are expecting around 173,000 new jobs. The Government wants to make sure that a proportion of those jobs go to people who are currently locked into lifelong welfare.
Metiria Turei: Is it not the case that Government activities have continued to trap people in poverty, given the Unicef evidence that shows that the gap between the poorest families in New Zealand and the average New Zealand family—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Bring the question to a conclusion.
Metiria Turei: —has not improved at all?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: If the member thinks that the actions this Government has taken have made poverty worse, then she just, clearly, is not doing the job of a member of Parliament. She must be missing turning up to select committees, reading nothing in the newspaper, and not following any policy, because, in fact, this Government has spent quite a lot of time and money in changing a lot of how the Public Service works, precisely to deal with the long-term dependency that is so hard on families and so expensive for the taxpayer.
Metiria Turei: So is he saying that it is a successful outcome for the Government that we currently have the poorest New Zealand families living on only about half the income of the average New Zealand family; is that a success for his Government?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Income measures are one measure. In fact, there is any number of income measures; you can pick the ones you like. The fact is that the benefit system has been indexed to inflation, and you can decide whether it is good news or bad news but wages have been rising faster than inflation. The Opposition is always trying to say the cost of living is out of control. Well, you cannot have it both ways. In fact, wages have risen faster than benefits. That is why it is so important that, for those who can work, we provide personalised services to tens of thousands of them so that they can get into work and cover that income gap.
Metiria Turei: Does he agree with the Unicef Fairness for Children report that failing to close the inequality gap will risk children’s health and education outcomes?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, I think that is a real oversimplification. What puts children’s educational and health outcomes at risk is when Government does not try hard enough to educate them when they get to school, regardless of their circumstances. Fortunately, we have a Minister of Education who understands that, and school by school is bringing about significant change in attitudes. Actually, it is the same in health. That is, when a child turns up we should care for their immediate need, but also understand the context in which it occurred and act on it. That is why further changes in primary care and Whānau Ora are starting to have an impact for New Zealand’s most needy families.
Metiria Turei: So is the Minister satisfied by the drop in New Zealand’s ranking to 31 out of 37 OECD countries for worsening educational inequalities for our poorest children?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, of course we would be dissatisfied even if it had not dropped, because New Zealand’s education system has historically not been that good at overcoming socio-economic disadvantage despite its good intentions. That is why the changes going on in education now around understanding children’s progress and what it takes to improve it are so important, and it is good that the education sector has stopped resisting those changes and is now enthusiastically embracing them. I would expect over the next 10 years that we will make a lot of progress.
7. Te Pire mō Te Reo Māori / Māori Language Bill—Effects
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]
7. MARAMA FOX (Co-Leader—Māori Party) to the Minister for Māori Development: He aha te hiranga o Te Pire mō Te Reo Māori i roto i te hītori o te motu?
[ What is the historical significance of Te Pire mō Te Reo Māori? ]
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Māori Development):
• [Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
• [Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
Marama Fox: Tēnā koe, me pēhea Te Pire mō Te Reo Māori e whakaū ai i Te Reo Māori hei Reo mō te hātepe ture o Aotearoa?
• [Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Kātahi te pātai pai, tuahine! Me pēnei te kī, kua mau pai i a mātau te āhuatanga o te ture i tōna hanga, tae rā anō ki tēnei wā ēngari, ko te tino aki o tēnei pire, he aki tonu i te āhuatanga o Te Ao Māori, kia hanga i tōna ake rautaki ēngari anō ki te taha o Te Karauna i roto take hātepe ture nei, ā, ko tā matau, ko te whakarahi ake i te āhuatanga o te kōrero Māori ēngari; he aki tonu i ngā tari o Te Kāwanatanga tuatahi, kia kaha tonu ki te kōrero i Te Māori tuarua, kia tuku kōrero i roto i Te Reo Māori hei whakapakari ake i Te Reo i roto āhuatanga katoa i Te Motu.
• [Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
Marama Fox: Tēnā koe. Me pēhea e taea ai e Te Pire mō Te Reo Māori, te whakamana i Te Tiriti o Waitangi me te nohotahi o ngāi Māori me Te Karauna?
• [Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Ē te tuahine, kai runga noa atu koe! Ko te āhuatanga o tēnei pire, he hanga i tētahi Whare Reo Māori nei. Ko tētahi wāhanga ki Te Kāwanatanga, ko tētahi taha, ā, ki Te Karauna, he tohu tērā mō te āhuatanga o Te Tiriti o Waitangi i kōrerohia e ō mātau mātua, e ō mātau tūpuna, koinei te whakatinanatanga o ngā take i roto i Te Reo Māori—tukuna te pire kia eke, tukuna Te Reo Māori kia kōrerohia!
• [Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]
8. Tax System—Small Businesses
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]
8. MELISSA LEE (National) to the Minister for Small Business: How will small businesses benefit from changes to the provisional tax system?
Hon CRAIG FOSS (Minister for Small Business): The changes to the provisional tax system announced yesterday are yet another way that this Government is helping small business grow and thrive. This Government understands how important cash flow is for small businesses and that the complexity of the tax system is a key issue to them. It is constantly raised with me by business owners, local chambers of commerce, and associations around New Zealand. I know that the member who asked me the question also has that issue raised with her across various ethnic communities. The package announced yesterday will make paying tax simpler, easier, and more certain, and it will lower the burden of interest in penalties, helping small businesses tailor their payments to their circumstances.
Phil Twyford: Good speech! Sit down.
Hon CRAIG FOSS: This Government is consistently looking for better ways, for fairer means—you might want to pay attention.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The answers are too long. Get your office to help you with shorter answers.
Melissa Lee: What reports has he seen that are supportive of the tax changes?
Hon CRAIG FOSS: I have seen many, many reports supporting the changes announced yesterday. I quote a few: Rod Drury from Xero says this is a “huge [win] for small businesses”. James Scollay from Mind Your Own Business says “This will be a game-changer” for small business. The Ernst and Young executive director of tax policy says these new measures are a sensible move, and Business New Zealand is also in support. These comments are but some of the positive comments that show how beneficial this announcement is for small businesses across New Zealand.
Melissa Lee: What other initiatives has this Government implemented that improve the cash flow of small businesses?
Hon CRAIG FOSS: The changes to provisional tax are but one of a number of other recent initiatives helping cash flow for small businesses. For example, reducing ACC levies by $2 billion a year helps improve cash flows. Reducing company and personal tax improves cash flows for small businesses. Policies that lead to lower interest rates help positive cash-flows for small businesses. These changes and many others help improve cash flows for our small businesses and show why this Government is so much better for business.
9. Finance, Minister—Statements
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]
9. CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour—Kelston) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yes, in particular a statement I made to the Federated Farmers meeting in Feilding in April, where I said “And the dairy industry has rightly said that a lot of Kiwis that are turning up are pretty damned hopeless.”, and finished off a description of that by saying “And if we don’t work together to get them working, then they will be with us a long time.”, with reference to a cohort of Kiwis who need a lot of support into work. The Labour Party MP left that out of his description of the speech.
Carmel Sepuloni: What proportion of the 57,100 unemployed young people whom he says are “pretty damned hopeless” cannot read and write properly and do not look to be employable?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I did not say they do not look to be employable; I said what employers are saying. And if that member, like the other one, has not heard that, then she is out of touch. The fact is that a lot of these young people, in addition to those problems, cannot pass a drug test either, and that is why we have to work with them so intensively to get them into work.
Carmel Sepuloni: How can he say that Ministry of Social Development clients “will not stay in the jobs that they are offered.” when the Minister for Social Development states that “There is no reason for Work and Income to continue to monitor people who have left the benefit”; is he just out of touch?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No. What is becoming increasingly clear from the very significant amount of detailed analysis we are doing around these issues is that what was traditionally regarded as a successful work placement—that is, a young person turning up to a job, and that is it—we now realise that they are cycling regularly in and out of work and benefit because they will not turn up to the job, for instance, for more than 3 days in a row. Then they are back on the benefit, and it actually was not a successful job placement. We have to do a lot better in supporting them to stick to work, because a lot of them find it really challenging.
Carmel Sepuloni: Is he reliant on the advice from a handful of employers regarding the capability of former Ministry of Social Development clients to work and stay in work because of the fact that, for 8 long years, the Government has failed to collect and report on long-term employment outcomes for people who have exited the benefit?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Actually, it is exactly the opposite. Coming into Government, I was appalled at how lazy, complacent, and ignorant the Government machine was about what happened to our precious young people. Since then, we have done an enormous amount of analysis, and have made an enormous amount of change in the way the Ministry of Social Development works—from being passive to being active—backed by hundreds of millions of dollars. It is starting to work, but we have got a long way to go.
Carmel Sepuloni: Does he maintain—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There are too many interjections coming, particularly, from my right at this stage.
Carmel Sepuloni: Does he maintain that “Each vulnerable family and individual matters to us.” when he is arrogantly telling prospective employers that many of our young people are pretty damned hopeless?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, that is not the case. But this Government does employers and beneficiaries the respect of talking about how it is, not what the strategy says would be nice, and we are finding that that kind of gritty discussion directly, one by one, with people on welfare is showing that we have hope for them and we can support them to get into work. And, I tell you, I think quite a lot of them are starting to be weaned off the Labour Party, which they realise is patronising and—
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
10. Anzac Day Centenary—Commemorations
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]
10. ALASTAIR SCOTT (National—Wairarapa) to the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage: How will New Zealand be marking the 100th anniversary of the first Anzac Day commemorations?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY (Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage): One hundred years ago this month, the first Anzac Day services were held in New Zealand to mark the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. The New Zealand Government announced the establishment of Anzac Day on 25 April as only a half-day holiday in 1916. Over the last 100 years we have continued to remember those who served and the 18,000 who died. There is a national service at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington, with the Governor-General and Prime Minister both in attendance, as well as dozens of other services across the country.
Alastair Scott: What are some examples of local events marking the centenary?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: The WW100 website has a full list of events across the country. In the Wairarapa a special ceremony will be held to commemorate the Rev. Basil Ashcroft leading people to the top of Mount Maunsell to erect a wooden cross—the first in the world to be permanently dedicated to the memory of the Anzacs killed at Gallipoli. As well, Steam Incorporatedhas organised a special Anzac train excursion from Wellington to Paekākāriki, the steam locomotive “Passchendaele”, in memory of the railwaymen who fell in World War I. In Kaikōura, Anzac 100 Years 100 Horses will re-enact the Kaikoura Mounted Rifles leaving to join the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment.
Alastair Scott: How will New Zealand mark other significant First World War anniversaries this year?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: This year the focus of our commemoration moves from Gallipoli to the Western Front battlefields of France and Belgium. In September we will mark the 100th anniversary of New Zealand’s involvement in the horrific Battle of the Somme, where our forces were exposed to poisonous gas and to mechanised warfare. More than 2,000 New Zealanders were killed on the Somme, with another 6,000 wounded. Many of those who died have no known graves. On 15 September the New Zealand National Memorial, near the town of Longueval, will host three services, marking the anniversary of our first action on the Western Front.
11. Forest Parks—Management
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:1. Text is subject to correction.]
11. Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) to the Minister of Conservation: Is she satisfied with her department’s stewardship of forest parks, and if not, what are the major problems she has identified?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY (Minister of Conservation): Yes, I am satisfied, and of course even a department as outstanding as the Department of Conservation is always striving to improve.
Hon Trevor Mallard: When was she first briefed on the introduction of deliberately TB-infected possums to the Rimutaka Forest Park?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: I have received no such briefing.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Has she read the papers on the spread of TB from possums deliberately infected with TB and released into the Rimutaka Forest Park?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: I have no knowledge of such papers, but if the member would care to approach me in a formal way, with written questions, I would be very happy to supply him with answers.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Will her Government pay compensation to any farmer who can prove they have lost their decade-long TB-free status as a result of infections that have spread from possums deliberately introduced by a Government agency into the Rimutaka Forest Park?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: As I said before, I have no knowledge or information about the allegations coming from that member. If he has anything that he wants to share, by way of a factual nature, then I would strongly suggest that he comes to me, via the usual channels, which a member of his experience ought to know by now. As for the member to his side, it is very unclear what kind of obscene picture—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question has been answered.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I seek leave to table the picture. I will make it clear that it is available on the website. It was not very hard to find.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not need any further assistance. It is freely available. The member has acknowledged that.
Hon Trevor Mallard: Will she take ministerial responsibility for the deliberate release of TB-infected possums into the Rimutaka Forest Park, or will she leave it to Mr Guy, who is the Minister responsible for Landcare Research?
Hon MAGGIE BARRY: I refute what the member is saying, and in the absence of any facts, and with a lot of wild accusations—and strange ones at that from that member—I would, again, urge him to give factual information that can be assessed in the proper way.
Hon Trevor Mallard: I seek leave to print and make available a copy of the Landcare Research New Zealand document that makes it clear that Landcare Research has deliberately released—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! What the member is seeking leave for is to table a Landcare Research report. I need to just check again whether that is available to members if they go on the website and search for it. Is it available?
Hon Trevor Mallard: It could be on the internet.
Mr SPEAKER: Then I will not be putting the leave.
12. Freshwater Management—Water Quality and Sale of Drinking Water
[Sitting date: 14 April 2016. Volume:712;Page:13. Text is subject to correction.]
12. CATHERINE DELAHUNTY (Green) to the Minister for the Environment: Is he concerned that pure, fresh drinking water could be bottled for sale from the Canterbury region, where the water that the locals have to drink has been described as a “ticking time bomb” by the Canterbury District Health Board medical officer of health?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment): No, firstly, because the member only half quotes the medical officer of health’s comments about nitrate levels; secondly, because the Government’s freshwater programme is for the first time putting limits on nitrate pollution in Canterbury through the work of the commissioners at Environment Canterbury and the Government’s national policy statement; and, thirdly, note that of the 325 wells that were tested in 2004, none of them was in Christchurch or Waimakariri, where the bulk of the Canterbury population lives.
Catherine Delahunty: Does it make any sense to use water from the over-allocated and polluted Hakatere River to refill the aquifer because we are selling off the aquifer’s clean water?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I note that, by international standards, Canterbury actually has incredibly clean water. There are areas where there are nitrate issues and they are being addressed by the challenging work of the commissioners. In respect of the bottled water that is being exported, much of that is from deep wells that have incredibly pure water-testing results.
Scott Simpson: What proportion of New Zealand’s total water resource is taken by the bottled water industry, and why has he rejected calls for a moratorium on the export of bottled water?
Mr SPEAKER: Either of those two supplementary questions can be answered.
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I will certainly cover the latter part. Proposals for a moratorium on bottled water, given that it makes up only 0.004 percent of New Zealand’s water volume, are about as sensible as pretending that you would solve Auckland’s transport problem by banning bicycles or—to be more mathematically correct—tricycles.
Catherine Delahunty: If there is so much water available in New Zealand, why have Ashburton locals been advised, by the same council to which he is selling the consent to bottle 40 billion litres of water, to practise water conservation throughout the year?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Because there is a fundamental point that the member seems to miss. That is, there is a big difference between the 500 trillion litres of water that New Zealand has each year in natural water bodies as compared with the limits that individual councils have on their water infrastructure—and that is a big difference. Perhaps if the member supported more water infrastructure, then we would have more water available for irrigation and town water supplies.
Catherine Delahunty: How will the Government support rural Cantabrians, whose water is so badly polluted by nitrates that their unborn and formula-fed babies are at risk, to access the fresh drinking water from Lot 9—the lot that has been sold to a water-bottling company?
Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I would urge the member to actually refer to the actual test results. There are 325 wells that are tested for nitrates. Of those, there are 8 percent that have concerning levels and they are actually in areas where there is a very small population, so 95-plus percent of people in Canterbury have levels of water quality that are, by international standards, excellent. The second thing that I would ask the member to do is to support the Government’s work around the national policy statement and the work of commissioners who are actually, finally, getting on and doing something about the water quality issues in Canterbury.

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