Questions & Answers – July 7

by Desk Editor on Friday, July 8, 2016 — 11:17 AM

  • District Health Boards—Funding

    1. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Health: Did each district health board get a funding increase in Budget 2016 sufficient for them to meet all health demographics, wages, and inflationary cost pressures; if not, which ones did not?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Just before I answer, I would just like to congratulate the Labour Party on its 100 years, and in particular Mrs King, who seems to have been here for much of it.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The first part, I think the House—[Interruption] Order! On the first part, I think the House should note it with congratulations; and on the second part, I think the House should take the opportunity of acknowledging the huge contribution the Hon Annette King has made to this House. And now, if we could have the answer to the question.

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Generally speaking, yes, although you never know the actual pressures, such as inflation, until the year is ended. Certainly, the extra $468 million going to district health board (DHB) services this year will ensure that the $150 million underfunding of DHBs delivered in Labour’s last Budget is never repeated.

    Hon Annette King: So what are the total estimated DHB pressures in dollar terms for 2017-18 provided to him by the Ministry of Health?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I have not got that figure with me but it is publicly available.

    Hon Annette King: What is the total amount in dollar terms of efficiency savings that he requires from DHBs in 2016-17 on top of the close to $900 million that DHBs have had to find since 2011-12?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Well, look, it would not be too far off the automatic 0.5 percent dividend that Labour required in terms of efficiencies—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, that is not the question.

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I have not got the full figure with me.

    Mr SPEAKER: The question has now been addressed.

    Hon Annette King: Why did the following DHBs, according to updated figures from the Ministry of Health, not receive sufficient funding to cover all their health pressures in 2016: Auckland, Canterbury, Capital and Coast, Counties Manukau, Hawke’s Bay, Hutt Valley, Nelson-Marlborough, South Canterbury, Taranaki, Wairarapa, Waitematā, and West Coast—12 in total?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: That is completely incorrect. That $468 million will pretty much cover all pressures, but, of course, we will not know the inflation figure until the end of the year. What I can say is that over the last 8 years the money that the Government has put into health has fully funded all pressures, including inflation, and the facts bear that out.

    Hon Annette King: I seek leave to table information sourced from the Parliamentary Library using Vote Health Estimates questions from 2016, showing the 12 DHBs that were not funded to their full extent.

    Mr SPEAKER: On the basis of the answer that was given, I will put the leave for that to be tabled. Leave is sought to table that particular information prepared by the Parliamentary Library. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.

    Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I seek leave to table figures showing that this year the allocation to DHBs covered all pressures.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I just need to know the source of the papers the Minister is seeking to table.

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Ministry of Health.

    Mr SPEAKER: Are they publicly available?


    Mr SPEAKER: I will put the leave. Leave is sought to table that information. [Interruption] Order! The House will decide. Leave is sought to table that information. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.

    Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

    Hon Annette King: Is he satisfied that the impact on Canterbury DHB of not receiving sufficient funding to meet all its pressures means that it is now looking at “the financial sustainability” of services, leading to cuts and reconfigurations, for example—an example that they have given—in older people’s health.

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: No, that is completely incorrect. Look, the Canterbury DHB is receiving an extra $44 million this year, and this Government has supported Canterbury health right throughout the difficult last 5 years. An extra $106 million has gone in there—$20 million specifically for mental health services, on top of the $86 million that has been put in there to make good on the deficit position.

    Hon Annette King: What changes to the care of older people living at home will be required to enable Capital and Coast DHB and Hutt Valley DHB to save $7.6 million as part of his enforced saving review?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I do not know that there are going to be any changes there, but what I can tell you is that deficits across DHBs are about $50 million and dropping—quite different from 8 years ago when they were $150 million and increasing.

    Hon Annette King: I seek leave to table the Capital and Coast DHB board papers, dated 2 February 2016, headed “Procurement of Homecare Support Services”.

    Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those particular board papers. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.

    Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

    Hon Annette King: Why does he not just fess up to the Government’s underfunding the health budget—by a whopping $1.72 billion now, according to independent figures—instead of blaming DHBs and sending in expensive consultants to review them, only to be forced to cough up extra money later on?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Those are not independent figures; that is the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions’ figure and it is incorrect. The fact is that the health budget had increased by $4 billion. But look, we are about services—Mrs King and Labour are just about quibbling over money. So there are more operations, more appointments, more doctors—no one is going to Australia for cancer services. And I tell you what—the Labour Party cannot name one single service that has not improved in the last 8 years. That is a fact.

  • Carbon Emissions—Transport Funding

    2. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Minister of Transport: Mā te whakapau, e iwa tekau mā rua ōrau, o te katoa o te pūtea tahua waka i te mea, kua kitea ko te waka rori, tētahi kaipana matua, whakapiki tukunga waro, mai anō i te tau, kotahi mano, iwa rau, iwa tekau, ka taea e tērā te whakaheke i te whakakinotanga o te āhua rangi?

    [Will spending 92 percent of the total transport budget on roads reduce climate pollution, given road transport has been a key driver of the increase in carbon emissions since 1990?]

    Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Climate Change Issues) on behalf of the Minister of Transport: Until new roads and improvements to existing roads are completed, it is difficult to assess how much climate pollution may be reduced by better vehicle performance on better roads.

    Julie Anne Genter: Can she confirm that reducing climate-damaging pollution is not even an objective of the 30-year Auckland transport strategy, the Auckland Transport Alignment Project, led by her Government?

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: Actually, until it has decided which projects it is going to go ahead with, it has not done the climate change and the greenhouse gas emissions analysis, but there is an environmental analysis that will be done once those projects are chosen.

    Julie Anne Genter: Would it not make more sense to do the greenhouse gas emissions analysis before choosing the project, so that we could actually have an integrated transport system that decreases pollution?

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: Well, actually, we do need roads in this country, and even something for electric vehicles to be able to drive on. So although we do have a focus, certainly, on reducing fossil fuels—and it is a key focus—what we are looking at is the environmental impacts once we have decided which projects we will go ahead with.

    Julie Anne Genter: Why does she think that these isolated environmental assessments of transport projects will work when that is what has been happening for the last few decades and emissions from transport have continued to grow for the last few decades—in fact, it is a key driver of all of our climate pollution over the last three decades?

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: This is a Government that has invested more in public transport and rail than any others in a very long time. So what the member’s question proposes is that we are choosing between the two. I think that we can have both. That is why we look at the environmental impacts. We do support public transport, and we certainly support cycleways—all of which are part of reducing emissions—but we need roads in this country too, and we proudly stand by that.

    Julie Anne Genter: Is she denying that 92 percent of Vote Transport is on roads, and does that seem like a balanced approach that will enable more New Zealanders to take public transport?

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: No, I am not, but that is because it is 92 percent of a much bigger budget, so a lot more money is being spent on both public transport and on roads and on rail.

    Julie Anne Genter: How will it make it easier for ordinary New Zealanders to get to work, get to school, and get where they need to go on public transport when your Government is spending four times as much on expanding a few highways?

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: Well, we need roads for some of that public transport to actually travel on, and I accept that the member does not support new roads or improving existing roads in New Zealand, but this side of the House does. We believe that we are investing—and we know we are investing—far more in public transport, but we equally stand by our actual commitment to roading projects in this country.

    Julie Anne Genter: Is she happy that her legacy for young Aucklanders will be a city without decent public transport, where they cannot afford to buy a house, in a world where they will be the first to feel the effects of damaging climate change—something her Government is actually doing nothing about?

    Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You may like to consider how that question was addressed. The question on the sheet is to the Minister of Transport. As far as I know, the Minister of Transport should not be addressed as “she”, nor should any of those other matters be addressed to the Minister of Transport.

    Mr SPEAKER: Yes, I think the question had quite a lot in there that I could have ruled out of order, particularly a reference to housing costs, etc., which has got nothing to do with transport. But in the spirit—[Interruption] Order! In the spirit of it being the last day before a substantial adjournment, I was very generously allowing the question to stand, and now I hope the Minister will address it.

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: I will stand proudly for those young Aucklanders and their future, because what we are giving them is a range of options for them to get around this country, including the support for the City Rail Link, including the support that we have given in actually electrifying trains out to west Auckland, where his great colleague the Minister for Climate Change Issues lives. Actually, the investment that we are giving in roads is so that those buses can actually travel and get around this country. Does the member not ever ride her bike on a road?

    Julie Anne Genter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am going to acknowledge a point of order.

    Julie Anne Genter: I seek leave to table a forecast that shows pollution from transport increasing over the next 15 years under this Government’s policies.

    Mr SPEAKER: I just need to know the source of the document.

    Julie Anne Genter: The source of the document is the Parliamentary Library, and it has assembled this from documents that have been produced by the Government ministries.

    Mr SPEAKER: I am not going to put the leave, and I refer the member to Speaker’s ruling 165/1: “The document tabled must be an authentic source. It is not acceptable [to use it] to table members’ own views … or documents [that are attempting] to substantiate those views …”, and, in my opinion, the charts are doing that.

    Julie Anne Genter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

    Mr SPEAKER: Is this another matter that is being raised, not any attempt—

    Julie Anne Genter: I would like to raise a question with you about your ruling.

    Mr SPEAKER: No, I have made a ruling. It is not debatable in the House.

    Julie Anne Genter: Sorry, to clarify your ruling—could I ask a question to clarify your ruling?

    Mr SPEAKER: On this occasion, because of the generosity that I expressed earlier, I will hear from the member.

    Julie Anne Genter: Do I understand, based on your ruling, that you do not consider the Parliamentary Library to be an objective source of information?

    Mr SPEAKER: I know that I have got an agnostic view on that, but I know that some members certainly have a very strong view about that, as to the authenticity of the Parliamentary Library. But, no, the reason I said that I would not put the leave is that I think the member is, basically, using it to reinforce the point that she has made from a political perspective and the questions she has raised. The purpose of tabling documents is to further inform members, and if members are as interested in the topic as the member clearly is, then they can certainly go to the library and get very similar information prepared.

  • Economic Growth—Drivers of Economic Growth

    3. ANDREW BAYLY (National—Hunua) to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received showing construction, tourism, and services are driving New Zealand’s economic growth?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Treasury reports economic data over the last month point to a slightly stronger economy than was expected. Real GDP growth in the March quarter was slightly above Budget forecasts, driven by higher tourism numbers in spending, and growth in 10 out of 11 service industries. The construction sector has been a major driver of growth, with activity at record levels. Construction in Auckland has doubled in the last 3 years, and between 2014 and 2017, 85,000 dwellings are expected to be delivered. That is the equivalent number of new houses of twice the size of Dunedin City.

    Andrew Bayly: How does he expect the recent rebound in business confidence to support economic growth in New Zealand?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: Some of that lift in business confidence is because of the extensive construction pipeline out ahead of us and the production of 85,000 new dwellings by the end of 2017. The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research’s business outlook survey shows confidence lifting. It has lifted across construction, manufacturing, and services, as well as across the regions. Hiring intentions and business investment intentions are also positive. Overall, this points to business seeing a positive economic outlook.

    Grant Robertson: In reference to that last answer, how many of the houses that the Minister mentioned would be considered affordable houses?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: If you look at the cost of servicing debt, then, on average—and I would stress “on average”—those houses cost households around the same proportion of weekly income to service the debt, as they used to. But, of course, in parts of the country, some of those houses are not going to be affordable, particularly for middle- and low-income families, and I hope that the Opposition will support the Government’s measures to increase land supply, settle down the housing market, and, therefore, make houses more affordable.

    Andrew Bayly: What reports from international institutions has he seen that recognise the strength and resilience of the New Zealand economy?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: Last week the Moody’s rating agency confirmed New Zealand’s triple A rating, based on the country’s “high economic strength, high institutional and Government financial strength, and low susceptibility to event risk.”—that is, New Zealand’s ability to withstand or be resilient to shocks in the global economy. They point to the following factors supporting their assessment—that public debt levels are lower than most other triple As, the strong fiscal framework and political consensus on targeting balanced budgets and low debt, and a strong banking system.

    Andrew Bayly: What is Treasury’s assessment of how the vote by Britain to exit the European Union will affect New Zealand?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: It will not have much greater insight than the much-studied impact of Brexit. But it does consider that the effects on New Zealand are likely to be limited. Many forecasters expect a recession in the UK in the second half of 2016, and growth in the European Union—the world’s third-biggest economy—is also expected to be negatively affected. The UK accounts for 3.3 percent of goods exports from New Zealand and 7.3 percent of service exports. Our largest exports are lamb, wine, and tourism. Treasury believes the effects will be limited.

  • Inequality, Social and Economic—Commentary

    4. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement that “there is no evidence that inequality in New Zealand is increasing”; if so, what is the statement from Statistics New Zealand last week “individual net worth is more concentrated” evidence of?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yes, I do stand by my statement. I am advised that the method used was to average three different surveys to establish the first data point, and then compare that with a further different one-off survey to establish the second data point. Statistics New Zealand provides a caveat, which says that “Methodological differences … mean the three surveys are not directly comparable. …We advise caution in any comparison customers make between the surveys.” I am advised that the statement made by Statistics New Zealand may not be statistically valid.

    Grant Robertson: Is the Minister of Finance telling the House that Statistics New Zealand is producing statistically invalid reports?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: I am advising the House that the statement made by Statistics New Zealand, that “individual net worth is more concentrated”, cannot be said to be a statistically validated conclusion.

    Grant Robertson: Is the growing gap between the wealth of the top 10 percent and the bottom 40 percent in New Zealand actually evidence of the disparity caused by the stark drop in homeownership by those on low and middle incomes in New Zealand?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member is simply wrong. I know it is commonly believed, and he would love it to be the case, but the evidence presented by this report and extensive reporting by the Ministry of Social Development, set up by the previous Government, does not show growing inequality in incomes or wealth.

    Grant Robertson: Has the rate of homeownership declined on his watch disproportionately for Māori, Pasifika, middle-income earners, and younger New Zealanders?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: That is not clear. There is some evidence—[Interruption]. Well, now that the member has to accept the fact that the statistics do not show growing inequality, we now have to debate the meaning of some statistics around homeownership. There has been a long-term trend to greater rentals, but it is not that clear what has happened in the last 5 or 6 years.

    Grant Robertson: What was he referring to in his interview on Morning Report last week about the Statistics New Zealand publication when he used the term “confiscating people’s assets” in relation to addressing inequality?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member may recall some aggressive questioning from the journalist who, as I said then, sounded tired when we started telling him what was actually happening about New Zealanders on the lowest incomes. I was simply suggesting that even if you thought there was a greater wealth differential—and, actually, there is no evidence for that—then what would you do about it? Confiscate people’s assets?

    Grant Robertson: So is the Minister telling the House and New Zealand that, actually, a progressive tax system, and one where people actually pay a fair share, means confiscating people’s assets for him—and is that how out of touch he has got?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: No. There is no connection between those things and anything that I have said. We do have a progressive tax system. About 15 percent or 20 percent of income tax payers pay way over half of all income tax. Sixty percent of households pay no net income tax at all—zero. They get more into their household than they pay out in tax. So we have a redistributive system; it is basically working. The one area where we need a lot of work to be done is on our planning regime where—

    Grant Robertson: Oh, we are back to that again.

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, when the planning rules constrain the supply of land, the most wealthy benefit the most because their house prices go up the most. I look forward to the Opposition’s support for measures to ensure that house price increases do not drive inequality.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: If the top 10 percent in this country have 60 percent of the wealth, and the bottom 40 percent have 3 percent of the wealth, why is he standing here defying gravity and making a prize fool of himself?

    Mr SPEAKER: I will give a lot of liberty to the Minister in answering that question.

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member needs to understand what is being compared here.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I understand, all right.

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, this just might matter. Those statistics compare a 23-year-old with no savings who is renting a flat, with a double-income household with no children aged 55 who can save $100,000 a year. There is always going to be some inequality in wealth—it is called the life cycle; it is called saving; it is called getting better jobs; it is called owning your own house.

  • Housing—Supply

    Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): This question is to the Minister of Finance—[Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am on my feet. The House will give the member the opportunity to ask his question.

    Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Mr Speaker, I apologise. I wrote that last set of economic facts out on the back of it. But that is why I—

    Mr SPEAKER: I am trying to give the member an opportunity—

    Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I thought some people over there needed a lesson in economics.

    Mr SPEAKER: —to ask his question. I suggest he take it.

    5. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister for Building and Housing: What policies does the Government have to comprehensively deal with the demand side of New Zealand’s housing “challenge”?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for Building and Housing): My responsibilities are primarily around growing housing supply, but the Government has taken a number of measures on the demand side. Tax changes in Budget 2010 removed the right for building investors to deduct depreciation on buildings. This measure increased their tax liability by $700 million per year. Other tax changes include the brightline test introduced last year, the requirement for IRD numbers on all property transactions, $33 million extra for Inland Revenue Department (IRD) enforcement, and the withholding tax on housing investments, which took effect this week. Other demand measures include the loan-to-value ratio limits introduced by the Reserve Bank in October 2013, and the further limits on lending policies targeted at investment housing in 2015.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Where in the comprehensive plan is the most critical thing that economists and now others are calling for, and that is a policy to seriously curb immigration demand, which is inflating house prices and demand in Auckland now and elsewhere?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: My ministry has commissioned research quite specifically on the linkages between migration and house pricing.

    David Shearer: Only now.

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Actually, it is some months ago, and I would be happy to share the results of the research, which actually make a very interesting read.

    David Seymour: Is the Minister at all concerned that his comprehensive plan might be so effective as to trigger an abrupt correction in house prices?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: It is certainly clear that New Zealand house building investment is at the highest level ever. It is 30 percent higher than the last peak, and so on the supply side we are making great progress. On the demand side, actually the thing that is making the greatest difference is the fact that Kiwis are not leaving, and, as a consequence, we have record high population growth.

    David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was a very simple one: was he concerned that the strategy might be overly effective? He made no attempt to address that whatsoever. He simply described some of the measures that were being undertaken.

    Hon Gerry Brownlee: He called for an opinion and he got it. Essentially, the Minister was trying to make a simple question more intelligible for the population.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! That part does not help. I think on this occasion the question has been addressed, but clearly not to the satisfaction of the member.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: What comprehensive plan can the Government possible have if it does not first include massively curbing immigration demand for housing in Auckland and elsewhere?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The big change that has occurred around migration is that 35,000 Kiwis are not going each year to Australia. Unless the member is proposing to block Kiwi citizens coming back to this country, because this Government has been successful in making it such an attractive country, then it actually will not make much difference.

    David Bennett: What research has the Government undertaken on the influence of migration on housing, and what does it conclude?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Research was specifically commissioned by the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis at Waikato University. It noted in its report that in Auckland the bulk of the population was due to natural increase. To give the actual numbers, Auckland’s population increased by 87,700 over the study period of which 87 percent was the difference between births and deaths, and 13 percent was due to net migration. The report also noted that the most dramatic change was the shift in New Zealanders not leaving—i.e., New Zealand’s natural population increase has historically been shielded by the net loss of 35,000 Kiwis leaving. This has stopped, this has meant a stronger natural increase, and this means there is more demand for housing.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why is the Minister refusing to call it what it is, when Kim Campbell, chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association—

    Hon Michael Woodhouse: Xenophobic rant from that member.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: —he a xenophobe, is he; OK—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just complete the question quickly.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: —and Michael Reddell, former Reserve Bank economist, are urging him to join the dots linking the housing crisis to record immigration?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: This Government makes its policies on the basis of facts and evidence, not prejudice. I would draw the member’s attention to the research report from Waikato University that dispels the claims that the member is making.

    David Bennett: What was the conclusion of the study on migration and house prices?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Can I directly quote the report’s conclusion. “The literature and the available data on population change suggests that visa-controlled immigration into New Zealand and, specifically, into Auckland in the recent past has had a relatively small impact on house prices compared to demand factors such as the immigration changes of New Zealanders, low interest rates, investor demand, and capital gains expectations. Consequently, changes in immigration policy, which can only impact on visa-controlled immigration, are unlikely to have much impact on the housing market.”

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: If the Government, when in Opposition, was accusing another party of fuelling the house prices and demand by mass immigration—I am talking circa 2004—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just complete the question.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: —why, when the record level now is 125,0000 gross and 69,000 net, is he trying to defy gravity and say something else?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: It is absolutely true that net migration is having an impact on the housing market. What the member needs to understand is that what has changed is that 35,000 New Zealanders are voting confidence with their feet, saying that New Zealand is a great country to live in, and coming here and adding to the housing pressures. I actually think that it is great thing that New Zealanders are choosing to build their futures in this beautiful country.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that under his watch the housing crisis in Auckland in particular, and around the country now, has dramatically worsened, why does he not do the decent thing and resign for another time?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I note that when that member was Deputy Prime Minister house prices doubled, and that Government did absolutely zip—absolutely zero. What I am proud of is that housebuilding in New Zealand is at an all-time record high, because, ultimately, supply is the answer.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The statement just made by Nick Smith was about another era, another time, and it was not correct. I am saying that what he told the House about, when I was Deputy Prime Minister, is utterly false, and he knows it.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member himself referred to when the current Government was in Opposition in the previous supplementary question.

    Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think the Rt Hon Winston Peters is quite right about that. He was foreign affairs Minister at the time, never in the country, and could not have been responsible.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! Neither of those points of order were much help to keeping order in this House.

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I seek leave of the House to table the report dated 13 April 2016 by the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis from the University of Waikato on the impact of immigration on house prices.

    Mr SPEAKER: Is the report available publicly on a website?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: No, it is not.

    Mr SPEAKER: It is not. I will therefore put the leave to table that particular report from the University of Waikato. Is there any objection? There is objection.

  • HousingConstruction of New Housing

    6. TODD MULLER (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister for Building and Housing: Where is the Government directly contracting to build homes as part of its Comprehensive Housing Plan?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for Building and Housing): There are over 80 sites across New Zealand where houses are being built on public land through Government agencies. Major sites include Hobsonville, Tāmaki, McLennan, Waimahia, Ronaki Road, Waterview in Auckland, Awatea, Welles Street, Colombo Street, and Vanguard Drive in Christchurch—to just name the top 10, which will deliver over 10,000 homes. The Government is building more houses today on public land than at any time in the last quarter-century.

    Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It appears that the Government has tried to pretend that that primary question was in order by capitalising the word “Comprehensive”. It is an assertion that ought not to be, particularly in a primary question. They have been trying to use the word “comprehensive” around their plans all week, but it does not properly sit—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! No, the member might think it is an assertion, but it actually has been identified and authenticated as a fact, and that was required before we could accept the question. The Government has a video publication in which it refers to its, National’s, comprehensive housing plan—[] Order! I expect some respect—[] Order! If I have to ask a member to leave for interjecting when I am on my feet, I will not hesitate to do so. I anticipated this would be raised. I went and sought the evidence. Once the publication was made available, whether members agree with the fact or not, it is authentication enough for the question to be accepted.

    Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would further point out, too, that in primary question No. 5 the Rt Hon Winston Peters, effectively, acknowledges the comprehensive plan by referring to the Government’s ability to “comprehensively deal” with this current challenge.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! That was not at all helpful.

    Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would just seek some reassurance that the video clip that you are referring to was, in fact, a Government video clip and not a National Party video clip, because if it was a National Party one, you would be indicating that, in fact, any material produced by the National Party is something that we could question Ministers on.

    Mr SPEAKER: I am unable to—[Interruption] Order! I am not sure of whether it was a National Party clip or a Government piece. I am sorry, I cannot answer that.

    Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is the very day when the Chilcot Report comes out in the United Kingdom criticising things like loaded terms like “Operation Enduring Freedom” and “Coalition”—

    Mr SPEAKER: Can I just have the point of order, please.

    Hon David Parker: Well, actually, what this is is, effectively, an attempt to dress up loaded terms that are assertions, in a way that ought not to be acceptable as meeting the rules—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! If the question had been put forward and it had referred to a “comprehensive housing plan” with a small “c”, that in my opinion would have been an opinion of this Government. If I ask this House whether there is a “comprehensive”—small “c”—”comprehensive building plan”, I suspect most on my right would say there is, and most on my left would say there is not, in which case I would not have accepted it because it would have been a breach of Standing Order 380, when it was putting both inference and opinion into the question. So in that regard, Mr Parker is absolutely right. Once evidence was presented to me of an effective publication, and the Government has taken the opportunity to call it such, that gave me confidence to accept the question as being authenticated.

    Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is a fresh point of order, Mr Speaker.

    Mr SPEAKER: It is another matter altogether?

    Chris Hipkins: Yes.

    Mr SPEAKER: If it is another matter altogether, I will hear it. I do not want any further discussion around the authenticity and the right for this question to be here.

    Chris Hipkins: Well, it is related to the authenticity—

    Mr SPEAKER: No, well, then it is not a fresh point of order.

    Chris Hipkins: Well, there is a fresh point of order, Mr Speaker.

    Mr SPEAKER: No, it is not. [Interruption] Order! I am on my feet. We have had the opportunity to speak to you privately where you continue to raise points of order that you claim are addressing another matter—and you are saying that this is going to address another matter. If it is, I am happy to hear it. But if in any way it is just continuing to relitigate a ruling that I have made, that in itself leads to disorder, Mr Hipkins.

    Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have the video clip. It is a National Party video clip and not a Government video clip. Does that mean that we can question Ministers on anything that is a National Party publication?

    Mr SPEAKER: No. No, and it does not—[Interruption] Order! It does not mean that you can question it. As I said, when I sought the authentication I did not bother to clarify whether it was the National Party or a Government—I should have done so; I did not. But it certainly does not mean that in the future the Opposition can question a Government on a party matter. The question has been accepted. It is now some time since it has been asked, and I do not think we have had the question, so I am going to invite Todd Muller to repeat the question.

    Todd Muller: How many homes have been completed as part—[Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! If I hear another interjection from Carmel Sepuloni in question time today, I will be asking her to leave. Would the member Todd Muller start the question again.

    Todd Muller: How many homes have been completed as part of the Government’s very comprehensive housing programme?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: At Hobsonville 680 homes are finished and 391 are under construction. At Waimahia 155 homes are complete and another 32 are under construction. On that site a home is being completed every third day. At Tāmaki 32 are completed and 122 are being constructed. At McLennan 11 are complete and 52 are under construction. At Awatea 24 are complete and 20 are under construction. Government projects are expected to deliver at least 10,000 new homes in Auckland by 2020.

    Todd Muller: How does the scale of residential building by public agencies compare historically?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: This year Housing New Zealand has budgeted to spend over a billion dollars on maintenance, upgrades, and new builds. This is double the level—double the level—of the annual investment under the previous Government. Last year Housing New Zealand completed over 800 new homes—that is more than double any year that was achieved under the previous Government—that is, homes completed. Housing New Zealand is ramping up its new house build rate with 2,000 homes to be completed over the next 2 years, and, of course, that is just Housing New Zealand. There are a large number of other agencies, including my own ministry, that are directly contracting for house builds.

    Todd Muller: How much funding is the Government providing to Crown agencies for housing, and how does it compare historically?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Government payments to Housing New Zealand need to also take into account the dividend that is paid back to the Government. The average payment to Housing New Zealand has been $600 million per year under this Government with a dividend per year averaging $73 million—i.e. net payments of $500 million per year.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Hon David Parker.

    Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister is not responsible for Housing New Zealand. I am somewhat surprised that the last two questions have been in respect of someone else’s responsibilities, not his own.

    Mr SPEAKER: No. I considered the matter quite carefully at the time, but I think the matter is related enough for the question to be accepted. Does the Minister wish to complete his answer?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: I am sure members opposite do not want the comparison, because as compared with the $500 million of net payments this Government has made to Housing New Zealand, the previous Government averaged $300 million in payments and $50 million in dividends, i.e. net payments of $250 million from the Government—i.e. this Government is providing Housing New Zealand with more than double the funding of the previous Government.

  • SchoolsFunding

    7. CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka): to the Minister of Education: Does she have confidence that all schools are receiving the funding necessary to serve the diverse needs and abilities of students?

    Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education):

    [Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

    [Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

    I am confident that this year, for the first time, we are spending over $11 billion in education. However, we can always do better, and that is why the funding review advisory group is considering proposals to ensure funding is going to the right student at the right time so that all our young people get the best chance of being educationally successful.

    Chris Hipkins: Why is she proposing to close the special residential school Salisbury School, given her last attempt to do so was overturned by the courts, with Justice Dobson concluding that it was common sense the risk of sexual abuse for girls with impaired intellect was likely to increase, that “No great leap of logic [was] required to recognise the validity of concerns”, and that her arguments amounted to “an abrogation of the responsibilities involved in making a decision”?

    Hon HEKIA PARATA: Just as the member is concerned to ensure that we are confident that all schools are receiving the funding they should, we are also equally concerned to ensure that the best value is attached to that. In the case of Salisbury School, for which the process of consultation is open, what we know is that the nine students at that school are costing us, on average, $214,000 per student, compared with the intensive wraparound service, which is costing us $27,000 per student. [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Tracey Martin, we just need a little less interjection.

    Chris Hipkins: If lack of enrolments is her justification for closure, why is she making it so hard for students to get in, with one family making five attempts over 2 years to enrol their intellectually disabled daughter, who was finally accepted into the school the day that the Minister announced her intention to try, once again, to close it?

    Hon HEKIA PARATA: Lack of enrolments is not the reason that I am in discussion about Salisbury School. It is part of it, but, in fact, there has been a lack of enrolments over four successive years but it is also—[Interruption]—about the cost. [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! Tracey Martin.

    Hon HEKIA PARATA: If I could speak to the particular circumstance the member is raising: that family was trying to get into the intensive wraparound service that then gives the opportunity to consider a residential option; having been accepted into the intensive wraparound service, we then facilitated the enrolment at Salisbury School—that is the process.

    Tracey Martin: What a lie.

    Hon HEKIA PARATA: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member has just said “What a lie” as part of her ongoing barrage. It is not a lie.

    Mr SPEAKER: To Tracey Martin, if she is going to continue to interject like that she will create disorder. I require her to stand and withdraw that remark.

    Tracey Martin: No, Mr Speaker.

    Mr SPEAKER: Then the member will leave the Chamber. [Interruption] Order! Just leave the Chamber.

    Tracey Martin withdrew from the Chamber.

    Chris Hipkins: Did she indicate in her answer to my first supplementary question that the cost of educating kids at Salisbury School was one of the reasons for considering closing it; if so, is the cost per student related to the number of enrolments?

    Hon HEKIA PARATA: The way that Salisbury School has been funded has been on a nominal roll, not an actual one. The nominal roll has far exceeded the actual roll in each of the last 4 years. That funding, therefore, when it is averaged against the number of actual students, is significantly high. That is one of the reasons. As the member himself has indicated consistently, his concern is that education resources are getting to those who need it most. We also have to make sure that we do have that available for the intensive wraparound service, which is proving very successful for families.

    Chris Hipkins: If the cost per student is one of the reasons, as she has indicated, for her considering closing Salisbury School, why have so many parents who have asked to have their children sent to Salisbury School been declined that opportunity?

    Hon HEKIA PARATA: I would have to verify the assertion the member is making, but perhaps I could enlighten him and the House as to the process. When the application is made it is considered by the appropriate clinical and educational experts, by the family involved, by the school, and by the Ministry of Education. They then form a panel to make decisions and, as a result of that, a young person is either accepted into the process or they are not.

    Hon Member: That’s rubbish. You changed the criteria.

    Hon HEKIA PARATA: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We have got another member of the Opposition basically calling me dishonest—[Interruption] I am happy to run a workshop.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Hon Hekia Parata will immediately resume her seat.

    Hon HEKIA PARATA: Sorry, Mr Speaker.

    Mr SPEAKER: It is an interjection that is not helpful, but it is hardly unparliamentary.

  • Lending Practices—Responsible Lending Code

    8. CHRIS BISHOP (National) to the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: What recent reports has he received on the effectiveness of the changes made by the Responsible Lending Code?

    Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs): Last year, the Government strengthened the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act, which included the introduction of the Responsible Lending Code. The code provides guidance to lenders on how to comply with the new lender responsibility principles, and changes were made to give the Commerce Commission more tools and powers to protect consumers from unscrupulous business practices. I am pleased to say that the commission was recently successful in court action against the first two mobile traders sentenced under the new law to increase penalties. The companies involved, Better Life and Good Ring, were collectively fined over $170,000 for failing to provide borrowers with legally required information in a clear and concise way.

    Chris Bishop: What do these prosecutions mean for other truck shops and pay-day lenders?

    Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: These prosecutions send a clear signal to any dishonest mobile traders working out in our communities that the Commerce Commission is active and will work to crack down on unscrupulous lending practices. Although we cannot stop people paying too much for things, we can help consumers to make informed choices and to protect them from deceitful and irresponsible lending practices. But for the honest mobile traders who keep up to date with their obligations and adhere to consumer protection laws, these prosecutions confirm they are able to compete on a level playing field.

    Chris Bishop: What else is the Government doing to protect consumers and promote competition? [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! Sue Moroney. The Minister is answering the question, not Sue Moroney.

    Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: The Government’s role is to provide three things to consumers: effective legislation, proper enforcement, and, thirdly, to make progress towards the long-term goal of improving the financial capabilities of all New Zealanders. And as part of that third goal, I intend to announce changes to the Financial Advisers Act next week—changes that aim to ensure that New Zealanders can access quality financial advice to help them plan, prepare, and progress their savings and investment goals.

  • Silver Fern Farms—Shareholders

    9. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: Does he believe the Crown entities and legislation he is accountable for are protecting the minority shareholders of Silver Fern Farms?

    Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs): I find this a puzzling question. Protecting minority shareholders from what? If he means protecting them from the effects of market downturns: no; from the effects of competition, foreign or domestic: no. But if he is implying protection from illegal actions by other parties, I am confident New Zealand has a robust system in place.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: If that is true, Minister, how could Jane Taylor, a board member of the Crown entity the External Reporting Board and of Radio New Zealand be acceptable to represent Silver Fern Farms before the Financial Markets Authority on 6 May in her capacity as a director of Silver Fern Farms, and how does she handle that conflict of interest?

    Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: I do not agree that there is a conflict of interest.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table four documents. One is the Official Information Act document dated 28 April 2016 from the Financial Markets Authority chief executive Rob Everett regarding Jane Taylor’s role.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The second document?

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: The second document is a notification for an advance from Livestock Logistics to Silver Fern Farms amounting to $44,000 inclusive of wages, office expenses, and rents, and—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! That has been described enough. The third document?

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I seek leave to table the notification for an advance from Livestock Logistics again for, this time, $55,000, describing wages, office expenses, and rent as “cartage”.

    Mr SPEAKER: And the fourth document?

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: The next one is a notification for an advance from, again, the Livestock Logistics and Silver Fern Farms. It sets out $57,000 in wages, offices expenses, and rent also coded as “cartage”—or barometer for theft—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The documents have been well and truly described. Leave is sought to table one Official Information Act document and three documents associated with Livestock Logistics Ltd. Is there any objection to them being tabled? [Interruption] Is there any objection? There is none. They can be tabled.

    Documents, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

  • Community Policing—Resourcing

    10. STUART NASH (Labour—Napier) to the Minister of Police: Does she agree with Local Government New Zealand President Lawrence Yule when he said that many local councils are now having to fund “new safety measures to fill the gap left by a lack of resourcing for community policing”; if not, why not?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health) on behalf of the Minister of Police: No. The police have always worked in partnership with our local communities and local government, where appropriate, including supporting local community patrols, monitoring closed-circuit television (CCTV), and hosting volunteers in stations. This is a long-established partnership aspect of the policing model in New Zealand, and it is greatly valued.

    Stuart Nash: Does she think it is appropriate and fair that the Hastings District Council has had to foot a million-dollar bill to install CCTV cameras and organise security patrols because police told them they have not been given the resources to respond to many crimes?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: On behalf of the Minister, I would have to go away and check that statement, but what I can say is that the allocated budget for the eastern policing districts increased from $51.9 million in 2010-11 to $55.2 million in 2015-16. In addition, there is an extra 15 constabulary staff and, of course, an extra $24 million being spent on new police stations in that community in Hastings as well as Napier.

    Stuart Nash: When she responded to a previous question in this House regarding 18 councils’ criticisms of police resources, by saying “I would also remind them that there is a local government election going on this year.”, was she implying that those councils’ concerns were not genuine and were just politicking?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: We stand by that statement.

    Stuart Nash: Can she confirm that, according to Statistics New Zealand, burglaries have increased by almost 8,000—or 14 percent—this financial year to date?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Look, the bottom line with the policing story is that there is more money, more police hours, less crime, and, actually, higher public satisfaction with the performance of the police—and that is a documented fact.

    Stuart Nash: What is her answer to Lawrence Yule from Local Government New Zealand’s question regarding councils having to fork out for security patrols: “Is it actually the role of local government or is this the systemic underfunding of the Police that has ended us up in this situation?”

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: It is exactly the same answer as was given to the primary question.

    Stuart Nash: Why does she think that assaults have increased by 6 percent and robberies by 10 percent this financial year to date?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: One would actually have to go and check those statistics; but what I can tell you is the only real fact here is that there has been a 50,000 reduction in offences over the last 5 years and a 16 percent decrease in crime, at the same time as there is over half a million extra police front-line hours being delivered per year. So draw your own conclusions on the link between those two.

  • Native Birds—Conservation Initiatives

    11. Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Conservation: What recent announcements has she made regarding efforts to save some of our rarest native birds?

    Hon MAGGIE BARRY (Minister of Conservation): E Te Mana Whakawā, tēnā koe. There have been two significant announcements on partnerships in the past 2 weeks. Meridian Energy is the new partner for the kākāpō recovery programme. That is great news to save one of our most critically endangered taonga species. Meridian Energy’s investment will help fund research into kākāpō fertility, genetics, nutrition, and disease management. It will also really identify potential homes for new generations of kākāpō. The other partnership signed this week is worth $1 million, and that is a partnership between the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Fulton Hogan, which will help the critically endangered takahē continue its recovery and will support the next step of re-establishing it in the wild—the South Island’s high country tussock and the Murchison Mountains, primarily.

    Dr Shane Reti: What reports has she received regarding the breeding successes as a result of these partnerships?

    Hon MAGGIE BARRY: The year 2016 has been the biggest breeding season in the history of the kākāpō recovery programme, with a 30 percent growth in the numbers. Kākāpō are notoriously fussy breeders. Of the 35 chicks that fledged this season, 23 have been successfully raised in the wild. This represents a globally significant conservation success story and has attracted international media attention. That is great news, as is the takahē recovery programme, which has also had its most successful breeding season in history, with 38 chicks fledged in the recovery programme. This has raised the population of a bird that was once considered extinct to around 280 now. This is a tribute to the hard work of DOC’s heroic and outstanding staff and the 4,000 or more community groups and volunteers, who are doing their utmost for the conservation of our natural taonga.

  • Social Housing—Policies

    12. MARAMA DAVIDSON (Green) to the Minister for Social Housing: He kaha te whakapono o Te Minita ki āna kaupapa here whiwhinga whare?

    [Does she have confidence in all her housing policies?]

    Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Housing): Yes.

    Marama Davidson:

    [Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

    [Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: I am sorry, Mr Speaker, but I did not quite get the translation.

    Mr SPEAKER: Can I just ask for the member to repeat—the interpretation just came through a little slowly—the question.

    Marama Davidson:

    [Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

    [Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]


    Marama Davidson:

    [Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

    [Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: There is not a definitive number on that.

    Marama Davidson:

    [Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

    [Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: Well, there is a massive, comprehensive plan when it comes to social housing, whether it is from the emergency housing places that are both providing new beds and funding those existing beds—the first time, actually, that any Government has ever funded the sector with certainty—to the special needs grants, which are now a true grant and not actually a loan, as it was for those in real dire circumstances, to reviewable tenancies where, through just them, we have seen more than 750 people move out of Housing New Zealand houses in order to free them up for people who are more in need, and more than 70 of them have gone and purchased their own home, to the policy of building more houses and seeing developments like I saw last week, where five Housing New Zealand houses are being removed for 18 new homes, where families will have a great start in life, right next to a primary school; it has got everything kind of going for it. Time does not allow me to go through the rest of our comprehensive plan.


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