Questions & Answers – Sept 13

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 — 10:27 AM

  • 1. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: E māia ana ki ōna Minita katoa?

    [Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?]

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

    Metiria Turei: Does the Prime Minister have confidence in his Minister of Justice, who refused to fix the loophole that has allowed criminals to launder money through the housing market?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, on many fronts, including the work that she has done today on family violence, which I think both Parliament and the country will recognise as being some of the most important work that a Minister of Justice has done in a very long period of time.

    Metiria Turei: Is the Prime Minister telling the House that he supports the laws that allow crooks to launder $1.6 billion every year, including through the housing market?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No. Part 2 of the anti – money-laundering legislation has been introduced to the House, but what we do know from the work that the Government has done is that it will have quite far-reaching costs and implications for a number of sectors in New Zealand. Of course, they need to meet those requirements over time, and we will be ensuring that that happens, but there will be a cost implication for New Zealanders and we are just trying to make sure we manage all of that.

    Metiria Turei: Can the Prime Minister confirm that his Ministers have been aware of the real estate money-laundering loophole since 2009 and that they turned down official advice to fix that loophole in both 2014 and 2015?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not think that would be an accurate summary of events.

    Metiria Turei: Has the Prime Minister ever met with real estate agents or overseas property investors to discuss Anti – Money-Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act reforms; if so, when did those meetings occur?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Not to the best of my knowledge, but if the member wants to put it down in writing, I will have my office check.

    Metiria Turei: Why is it that he is satisfied with his Ministers dragging their heels on fixing the housing market when, every day, Auckland first-home buyers are being outbid by speculators who, it turns out, may be laundering dirty money through the housing market?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not accept the member’s proposition.

    Metiria Turei: Will the Prime Minister commit to having phase two of the anti – money-laundering legislation in effect before the next election?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: There will be a bill in the House by the end of the year, but it will go through the normal parliamentary process, and so that will depend, I guess, on the number of submissions. But also, as I said earlier, just before the member trips over her high horse, she needs to realise that there are far-reaching implications for a huge number of New Zealanders. I know there are a lot of New Zealanders she does not represent, but, nevertheless, that is the case.

  • Wage Rates—Family Income

    2. ANDREW BAYLY (National—Hunua) to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on how rising wages and low inflation mean more money for New Zealand families?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Statistics New Zealand reports show that since the Government was elected in 2008, average wages have increased by 25 percent and today sit at just over $58,000—that is, $11,000 more than in 2008. This 25 percent increase compares with inflation over the same period of 12 percent. High wage increases do not necessarily mean high real wage increases. For instance, in the year to September 2008, wages increased by 5.1 percent, but inflation was also high and it increased by 5.1 percent in that year. So low inflation means that higher wages earned by hard-working New Zealanders are going further.

    Andrew Bayly: What trends in the growth of after-tax wages can he report?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: The money that households get to spend is their after-tax income, and the Government’s reduction in taxes on income and savings in 2010 have helped to lift take-home pay. Under this Government, after-tax wages have increased by 31 percent—that is, the average take-home pay for Kiwi workers is nearly a third higher than in 2008, an average annual increase of around 4 percent in take-home pay at a time when inflation was 1.5 percent.

    Andrew Bayly: How does higher take-home pay for workers under this Government compare with previous Governments?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: Since the Government was elected, real take-home pay—that is, income after taxes and excluding inflation—has increased by around 2.2 percent per annum. In the 10 years up to 2008, the increase was around 0.5 percent per annum, so take-home pay after inflation and after tax is increasing at around four times the rate in this 10 years than it did in the previous decade.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: If the minimum wage in 2008, when they became the Government, was $12 per hour, what is it now, and what percentage increase is that over 8 years?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: I cannot confirm the figure the member used, but the minimum wage has increased roughly around the rate of inflation—a bit ahead of inflation—over the last 8 years, with the effect that New Zealand has one of the highest minimum wages relative to average wages in the developed world.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have asked him a direct question. I am asking him what the minimum wage is now, and we are still waiting for the answer.

    Mr SPEAKER: That was not the question the member asked. He prefaced it with something else, talking about—[Interruption] Order! The member can resume his seat. He needs to go back and look at the Hansard, but his start to the question was around the minimum wage being $12 an hour in 2008. The Minister certainly addressed that part of it.

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

    Mr SPEAKER: I have ruled on that matter.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I know what the rules are about arguing with the Speaker’s ruling. My point—

    Mr SPEAKER: Can I just have the point of order?

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: My point is that if it was, as it was, $12 per hour in 2008, when they became the Government, what is it now?

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member has put that into his question, giving the Minister the opportunity to answer that part of the question. If the member wants to ask simple, concise questions, I can help him to get the answer, but when he asks a question like that, it has been addressed.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Given that he has been in that position, as the Minister of Finance, for 8 long years, what now—right now—is the minimum wage in New Zealand?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is $15.25 an hour.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is the very point I sought to make. He did have the answer but he would not give it.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. I explained to the member. I tried to assist him with questions, but the first answer that was given certainly addressed the question in the way it was raised. The member then asked a supplementary question and got the answer he wanted.

    Andrew Bayly: How have the—[Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I ask the member to stand and withdraw that remark immediately.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I withdraw and apologise if you took offence. I am talking about the Minister’s answer.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will stand now and withdraw, without any addition, otherwise he will be leaving the Chamber.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Mr Speaker, I do not wish to waste this Parliament’s time by apologising beyond that matter. It was crap and it is crap.

    Mr SPEAKER: The member will leave the Chamber.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters withdrew from the Chamber.

    Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Was the Rt Hon Winston Peters ejected because he called an answer from the Government “crap” or did you take it to be a reference to yourself? I would have thought a reference to the Government answer being crap is not outside the Standing Orders. [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not need any assistance. I took it to be very much a criticism of myself. I asked the member to withdraw. He withdrew and embellished that. He then decided that he would not withdraw in line with the Standing Orders and chose to leave the Chamber.

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

    Mr SPEAKER: I hope the member is not going to be continuing the argument.

    Hon David Parker: The Rt Hon Winston Peters made it clear that it was not addressed to you, and I do not think it unambiguously was.

    Mr SPEAKER: I found it, the way it was addressed, offensive. I took offence at it and I asked the member to withdraw. That is the end of the matter.

    Andrew Bayly: How have the most vulnerable in our society benefited from improving economic conditions?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: They have benefited from an increase in the minimum wage, which is now $15.25 per hour and is one of the highest minimum wages relative to the average wage in the developed world. Also, families with children on benefits had the benefit of a $25 increase in their rate of benefit on 1 April this year, the first such increase over and above the Consumers Price Index in 42 years. Of course, because we have a growing economy and the Government’s books are in surplus, with surpluses likely to increase, the Government has choices in the future—for instance, about better public services that may enable us to better support the most vulnerable.

    Grant Robertson: Does he really think the most vulnerable in New Zealand are benefiting when the New Zealand Income Survey last week said “…there is evidence of higher [after housing costs] income inequality in the last few years as compared with the mid 2000s and earlier.” and when Tracy Watkins in the Dominion Post said that it is now: “…a clear picture of who is shouldering the biggest burden of the housing crisis in New Zealand – the poorest households…”?

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! Bring the question to a conclusion.

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: I am pleased the member now agrees with the Government position on this. The Government has been pointing out for some time that poor planning and an ideology that says all cities should be small and dense hurts low and middle income New Zealand families because it drives up the cost of housing. I am pleased to see that Auckland City, for instance, has adopted a new, much more expansive plan, which provides hope for low and middle income households that, in the longer term, housing costs will be more reasonable.

  • HousingChildren

    3. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Has he had any meetings with his housing Ministers regarding how the housing crisis is affecting children?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I disagree with the member that there is a housing crisis, but, of course, housing is a key area of focus for this Government and I have had a number of meetings with Ministers on housing and how it affects New Zealanders and their families. That is why the Government has a comprehensive housing plan to address the issue of rising house prices.

    Andrew Little: Before he gets on his high horse—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Can I just ask the member to start the question.

    Andrew Little: Yes. Fair enough, Mr Speaker. Why has the number of homeless families with kids surged by 44 percent on his watch?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I would need to check the validity of the member’s number. What I can say, though, is that the Government is moving more people into social housing more rapidly than we have seen for a long period of time and is providing nearly $2 billion in housing support and accommodation supplements. I am pleased to say, on a somewhat related issue, we have insulated nearly 300,000 homes across New Zealand.

    Andrew Little: I seek leave to table a Parliamentary Library report showing a 44 percent increase in the number of homeless families with dependent children.

    Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that information from the Parliamentary Library. Is there any objection? There is no objection. It can be tabled.

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

    Andrew Little: Given that his Government has reduced the number of State houses available by more than 2,500, does he take responsibility for the fact that there are now 10,000 homeless kids in New Zealand?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is quite incorrect on both parts of his question.

    Andrew Little: What does he say to Jan Tinetti, principal of Merivale School in Tauranga, who says of her kids: “Some are dead in the eyes, they have no emotion at all. This is happening on a daily basis at my school. I dread families telling me they have no housing. There is just no housing left. I feel hopeless. Mums [are] in my office in absolute tears because they don’t know what to do …”?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What the Government has been doing for the most vulnerable New Zealanders in that area is making sure that they get the support that they need, and that includes the additional $50-odd million that we put into the Budget. We are seeing more people moving on to social housing—about 150 extra a week. But, of course, if the person that the member mentions does not have a house to live in, then I suggest that, in the first instance, they go to Work and Income, and Work and Income will be providing them with support.

    Andrew Little: When he gives advice to the people whom Jan Tinetti was talking about to go to Work and Income, what does he say to those who have gone to Work and Income and, 217 days later, are still waiting to be placed in suitable housing?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: That is the very point, is it not? When people go to see Work and Income, if they register that, for instance, they are in the most vulnerable of living conditions—a house or a tent—what in fact happens is that Work and Income do move them into a form of accommodation. It could be a motel, it could be some other form of accommodation—it depends on their circumstances. But then, ultimately, over time they get into a permanent residence, and that is happening more quickly. So, in fact, that is the very point: by going into Work and Income they do get the support.

    Andrew Little: Why did he vote last week to protect offshore property speculators while children in this country are sleeping in cars and garages?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is making it up.

    Andrew Little: With Paula Bennett admitting that there is a homelessness crisis, and Nick Smith finally conceding that he has lost control of the Auckland housing market, why will he not just adopt Labour’s comprehensive housing plan, which will see 100,000 houses being built, 1,000 State houses being built, and 5,000 more places for emergency housing each year?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, we may as well adopt Labour’s housing plan. We can also adopt Labour’s internal polling, and, by the way, we will be living in fairyland, pixieland, or Disneyland—I do not know which, but you can choose.

  • Family Violence Laws—Announcements

    4. JACQUI DEAN (National—Waitaki) to the Minister of Justice: What recent announcements has the Government made regarding reform of New Zealand’s family violence laws?

    Hon AMY ADAMS (Minister of Justice): Today the Prime Minister and I announced sweeping reforms to our laws that will build a better system for combatting abuse. The reforms are underpinned by a strong focus on early intervention to prevent repeated violence, stemming from our review of the Domestic Violence Act. They will help ensure that opportunities within the justice system to intervene as soon as possible to curtail violent behaviour are identified and fully utilised, that family violence is recognised as a pattern of behaviour that can be predicted and prevented through timely and effective interventions, and that perpetrators are held to account and their violent behaviour is contained in a way that increases safety for victims, so that victims do not alone carry responsibility for keeping themselves safe.

    Jacqui Dean: How will these law changes support victims?

    Hon AMY ADAMS: Amongst the more than 50 legislative changes we are proposing, the safety of victims will be made central to bail, sentencing, and parenting orders. A number of measures will mean that it will be easier to get protection orders. There will be more opportunities to get help sooner to stop escalating violence, and the reforms will better protect the rights and needs of children. In addition, property orders will be made more usable to help keep victims safe in their own homes.

    Jacqui Dean: What will the changes mean for perpetrators?

    Hon AMY ADAMS: The changes mean there will be stronger ways to hold perpetrators to account for their behaviour, that their risks will be better identified and managed, and that there will be more opportunities to better connect perpetrators to services to help them change their behaviour. Prosecuting family violence will be strengthened by introducing new offences, such as non-fatal strangulation, forced marriage, and assault on a family member, to recognise the seriousness of these behaviours. An additional aggravating factor will be added to capture offending that occurred while the offender was subject to a protection order.

  • Childhood Obesity—Response

    5. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Minister of Health: Is he satisfied his response to the childhood obesity epidemic is fit for purpose; if so, why?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Yes, tackling the issue of obesity is a key priority for this Government. That is why we launched the Childhood Obesity Plan, with a range of interventions across Government, the private sector, communities, schools, and families. The package has three focus areas made up of 22 initiatives dealing with food, the environment, and being active at each stage of life, starting during pregnancy and early childhood. Development of this initial package drew on recent New Zealand and international evidence, including the interim report from the World Health Organization’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. A technical advisory group also provided advice to the Ministry of Health on evidence for effective interventions and targets.

    Hon Annette King: If the initiatives his Government has put in place to reduce childhood obesity since 2009, including dumping tuck shop food guidelines, have worked, why has obesity in children aged between 2 and 14 increased from 8.3 percent to almost 11 percent under this Government’s watch?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The member needs to remember that this is a long-term challenge. Governments across the world are facing up to the issue, but it is not an easy one to turn around, and I welcome her constructive comments in the wider debate.

    Hon Annette King: If he backs his recently announced New Zealand Health Strategy, which states that it focuses on evidence-based initiatives, will he now adjust his 22-point plan following research from Auckland University, which said his plan was “just business as usual and unlikely to make a difference”?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I will be backing our plan, and I do not intend to readjust it—unlike Mrs King, who last November ruled out a sugar tax and then recently said that actually they might do a sugar tax.

    Hon Annette King: Why don’t you answer your own question?

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Because this is a chance for the Opposition to ask Ministers questions.

    Hon Annette King: If he believes in an evidence-based approach, will he heed the warning from Consumer New Zealand and public health experts, who say the star-rating model he is promoting is flawed and is misleading parents into thinking they are giving their children healthy breakfast food when it is loaded with sugar?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I have not seen those comments from Consumer New Zealand, but what I can tell you is that the Health Star Rating has had an interim assessment, and it is going to have a full assessment in 2019. We are constantly looking at ways in which we can make sure that we turn this problem around. Rather than criticism, I think Mrs King should get on board and come up with something constructive.

    Hon Annette King: I have, Mr Speaker, plenty—if you want me to table it?

    Mr SPEAKER: No, but I would be interested in the supplementary question.

    Hon Annette King: Is Healthy Families, a programme that was brought over from Australia, a success, when so far it has spent $14 million, with one provider collapsing, and its main project appears to be implementing water-only policies in schools—something that could have been done for nothing if the Government had been prepared to show some courage and commitment?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I am very pleased that the member brought up Healthy Families. I invite her to come with me to visit any of those 10 programmes in places like West Auckland, where Labour is trying to get its polling rate above 26 percent, or places like Invercargill, which used to be a Labour stronghold—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order!

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: —because there is a lot of good stuff that is going on there. I invite her to come to places like the East Coast, where, of course, no one votes Labour any more. But she should come and see the wide variety of initiatives bought into by communities that used to vote Labour.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! We do not need that as part of the answer. [Interruption] Order!

  • Subsidised Prescriptions—Increase

    6. SIMON OCONNOR (National—Tāmaki) to the Minister of Health: Can he confirm that New Zealanders received 44 million subsidised prescriptions in 2015/16, and that this is over 10 million more compared to eight years ago—an increase of 30 percent?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Yes, I can. Last year 3.5 million individual New Zealanders received a subsidised medicine. That is more than three out of four Kiwis. One million more subsidised prescriptions were issued in 2015-16 than in the previous year. On top of this, more than 51,000 New Zealanders benefited from new and widened access to 21 more medicines. This is a Government that focuses on the issues that matter.

    Simon OConnor: How has this significant increase in access to medicines been achieved, and what details can he provide on this increased access?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Over the past 8 years, the Government has increased Pharmac’s budget by $200 million, to a record $850 million in 2016-17. Over that time, nearly 170 new medicines have been subsidised and access has been widened to 245 medicines, directly benefiting over 800,000 New Zealanders. New medicines that are now available include Opdivo and Keytruda for advanced melanoma, Harvoni and Viekira Pak for hepatitis C, Atripla and Truvada for HIV, and many, many more medicines.

    Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary question, the Hon Annette King.

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Glutton for punishment.

    Hon Annette King: Oh, you are enjoying that. What does he say to the pharmacists in places like Kaeō who report that they have patients who cannot pick up all of their prescription because this Government has increased the cost of picking up that prescription?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: Well, what I would say is, look, there has been a level of 6 percent of people who have reported affordability as an issue. That has been consistent for many years. But, as the Minister of Finance was saying earlier, this is the first Government to raise benefits above the rate of inflation in four decades, as well as having wages growing ahead of inflation. So, overall, I reckon it is a pretty good package.

  • Budget 2016—GDP Growth and Living Standards

    7. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Finance: Is GDP per capita growth what matters most for achieving higher material living standards as stated in Budget 2016; if so, why?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yes; because it is a measure of wealth per person, but it is only one measure of material living standards. There are others, such as levels of employment, wages, and economic growth, all of which add up, for New Zealand, to a positive package of reasonable outlook for the economy, and, therefore, for household incomes and jobs.

    Grant Robertson: Is ANZ chief economist, Cameron Bagrie, correct when he describes an annual per capita GDP growth rate of 0.7 percent as “lacklustre”?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is a matter of opinion, and sometimes I agree with what the ANZ Bank economist says and sometimes I do not. It is not a surprise, though, that at the moment, per capita GDP—its growth rate—is lower than at some previous periods because we are having a strong growth in population. New Zealand has become a place where Kiwis want to stay home and others want to come and live, and so population numbers are growing just a bit faster than GDP. In time, though, that growth will slow down and GDP per capita will pick up.

    Grant Robertson: Is Westpac wrong when it says that the picture is “far from perfect” when it comes to growth, because it is forecasting per capita growth in the June quarter to amount to 0.6 percent?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: Where I would disagree with Westpac is relying on quarterly numbers. I mean, GDP per capita matters in the long run. In the short run, we have got a surge in population. That is a good problem. We would have high monthly GDP per capita if lots of people were leaving, and, of course, that would be a much bigger problem than the problems of growth, which we have and are positive problems.

    Grant Robertson: Why is Paul Glass from Devon Funds Management wrong when he says: “You do need to strip out population growth because the number that matters is real GDP growth per capita. We only grow our share of the economic cake when GDP per capita grows, otherwise we are running hard to stay still.”?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member is up to his old trick, and that is that if you take out all the things that are growing, then there is no growth. So it used to be too much dairy—you would take that out and there was no growth—too much tourism, too much construction, and now it is too many people. But, actually, if we include all the things that are growing, then, yes, we have a growing economy.

    Fletcher Tabuteau: Does the Minister accept that a feeble real per capita growth rate and a persistently low inflation rate, by definition, means that many people are unnecessarily underemployed and unemployed right now?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: Some people are unemployed and some are underemployed. Our unemployment rate is, I think, in about the top half-dozen of the developed world, and the underemployment rate—it has got a new name now, but if you want to compare it, the New Zealand rate is 12 percent and the Australian rate is 20 percent. That is why New Zealanders are staying home in their thousands. Things simply look better here than in other parts of the world, and that is a good thing, not a bad thing.

    Grant Robertson: Is Paul Glass from Devon Funds Management not correct when talking about GDP per capita growth being lacklustre and saying: “That is why people don’t really feel like the economy is growing strongly because on a per capita basis it isn’t.”?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is a sweeping generalisation. For instance, as we have explained earlier in answers to questions in the House, real wages are growing at a rate better than quite a lot of times in the past. If you take GDP per capita, the dairy sector incomes, for instance, which are 6 to 7 percent of GDP, are way down on where they were. That does not mean everyone’s income is down; it holds the average down, but, actually, wage and salary earners have significant and persistent real wage increases. They are doing well. They are doing pretty well. Farmers are not doing so well at the moment, but the bad news for the member is that if dairy prices pick up, per capita income will also pick up, and when he asks the question for the 12th time, I think, or the 13th time, the answer will be: “Pretty good.”

  • Justice, Minister—Statements

    8. DARROCH BALL (NZ First) to the Minister of Justice: Does she stand by all her statements?

    Hon AMY ADAMS (Minister of Justice): Yes, in the context that they were given.

    Darroch Ball: How does the Government measure the “youth crime rate”, as described in her statement that the youth crime rate has dropped by 38 percent?

    Hon AMY ADAMS: That member has asked me a very similar question in a written question, and we have gone back to him with the evidence that supports the measures underlying the Better Public Services target. We stand by our statement that the youth crime rate has dropped 38 percent since 2011 and more than 60 percent since 2007-08.

    Darroch Ball: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked how the Government measured it, not what the rates were.

    Mr SPEAKER: I listened to the question and I listened to the answer, and on this occasion I am going to invite the member to re-ask the question.

    Darroch Ball: How does the Government measure the “youth crime rate”, as described in her statement that the youth crime rate has dropped by 38 percent?

    Hon AMY ADAMS: The Government has a number of measures of youth offending, from police statistics to Youth Court appearances, to youth reoffending rates. There are a number of measures we use that inform the youth crime information.

    Darroch Ball: Is the Minister aware that the National Government measures youth crime not by the number of youth offences or arrests but instead by “the number of first appearances in [a] court”?

    Hon AMY ADAMS: As I said, we use a number of measures, and the number of appearances in the Youth Court is one of those measures.

    Darroch Ball: I seek leave to table a document that states that youth crime is measured only—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I just need the source of the document.

    Darroch Ball: It is the Minister’s own website.

    Mr SPEAKER: If the member wants to continue to play with the House like that, he is likely not to get any more supplementary questions.

    Darroch Ball: Is the Minister satisfied that, currently, youth are committing multiple crimes and being dealt with outside of court on multiple occasions before their first court appearance is ever recorded as part of this Government’s youth crime rate?

    Hon AMY ADAMS: The practice of using alternative actions than simply taking every young person, putting them in court, and convicting them has been the process in New Zealand for many years. It is a process that is heralded around the world, and it is part of the reason we have been successful in reducing not only the youth crime rate but the crime rate of young people as they graduate into the adult system. So yes, I am very well aware that not every commission of an offence ends up charged in the Youth Court. That has been the practice for many years.

    Darroch Ball: How can the Minister be satisfied that the youth crime rate is accurately measured when 75 percent of youth who actually commit a crime do not even appear in court and are, therefore, not included in her crime rate at all?

    Hon AMY ADAMS: That is exactly the point. We want young people to be dealt with in the way that is most likely to ensure they do not reoffend, and, actually, everything tells us that the system is far more effective at reducing future offending, far more effective at stopping youth graduating to becoming long-term criminals, and far more effective at keeping New Zealanders safe.

    Darroch Ball: How can this Government consider extending the youth justice system to include 17-year-olds when the Minister knows that 50 percent of youth who are dealt with by an alternative action reoffend within 12 months, that more than half of the current adult prison population has been convicted in the Youth Court, and that 80 percent of all youth convicted in the Youth Court reoffend within 2 years, demonstrably showing that the youth justice system is failing?

    Hon AMY ADAMS: I simply do not accept that. The evidence is quite clear that the youth justice system is far more effective at reducing reoffending. We are not saying that every young person who appears in the youth justice system will not reoffend; we are saying that it is a very effective way. In terms of extending it, those decisions have not been made. [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is little point, Mr Ball, in continuing to ask supplementary questions and then continuing to interject right through the answers.

  • Electric Vehicles—Government Support

    9. TODD BARCLAY (National—Clutha-Southland) to the Minister of Transport: How is the Government supporting the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand?

    Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister of Transport): On the weekend I launched the Government’s electric vehicle (EV) information campaign, which coincided with the start of National Drive Electric Week, which has over 50 events planned across the country to promote the benefits of electric vehicles. The information campaign will put better-quality information about electric vehicles and their benefits into the hands of people and encourage New Zealand households and businesses to choose an EV as their next car. Electric vehicles are a big part of the future, and that is why the Government is committed to accelerating the switch sooner rather than later.

    David Seymour: What reports had the Minister seen that New Zealanders were not aware of electric vehicles prior to this initiative?

    Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Many, but can I say the issue is not so much awareness as also getting action. We are seeing really good momentum in that regard.

    Todd Barclay: What measures has the Government announced to support the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand?

    Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Since May, the Government has extended the exemption on road-user charges for light electric vehicles until 2021, meaning EV owners could save up to $3,000 over 5 years. A joint Government and private-sector approach to the procurement of electric vehicles was recently announced, along with an EV leadership group to champion the programme of work. National electric vehicle – charging signage has been issued, a nationwide information campaign launched, and tomorrow the first round of funding will open for the Government’s contestable fund to encourage and support innovative low-emission vehicle projects. These are just a few of many measures.

    David Seymour: Why does the Minister consider enormous savings in fuel costs an insufficient incentive for people to buy a better technology?

    Hon SIMON BRIDGES: I do not—I think that is very much a strong part of the rationale. But, of course, there is also an advantage to New Zealand in terms of the energy and the emissions and the ability to plug in with home-grown, clean, green New Zealand energy rather than the imports.

    David Seymour: Is the Minister saying that savings on fuel are a sufficient incentive to buy EVs, and yet he still needs additional programmes as additional incentives?

    Hon SIMON BRIDGES: I am saying that, at the moment, the purchase price of an electric vehicle is higher, but, actually, over time the proposition is becoming more and more compelling. I think that is why the targets here are 2 percent of the fleet, not more. I agree with the member that, over time, what we will see is that electric vehicles will be much more than a compelling proposition; they will be the vehicle of choice, without any sort of Government intervention.

  • Social Housing—Delivery

    10. PHIL TWYFORD (Labour—Te Atatū) to the Minister for Social Housing: How many of the 1,000 new social housing places she says are in the pipeline will be delivered by the end of the year, if any? [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Is the Minister going to answer? [Interruption] Order!

    Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Housing): Sorry, Mr Speaker. But I have got good news for the House. Might I let the member know that we have—[Interruption] no, here we go; this is good news. We have new houses literally coming on every single week: more than 14 through Housing New Zealand. Actually, I want to—right now the Waimahia development, which your leader actually went and visited, that is being done by social community housing providers. It is a combination of affordable and social houses. There are houses coming on board literally every week. It is a fantastic development, and there is more of that coming our way—from us. You can also see some of those others that are coming through from the Social Housing Unit fund. Of those extra 1,000 that we announced just last week, which we changed, they will be coming on board. There are new houses coming on board every week, every month, and even over the next few years.

    Phil Twyford: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Would it help if I repeated the question? She clearly did not address the question.

    Mr SPEAKER: I certainly will give an additional supplementary question. The member can use it in whichever way he wants. The question has not—[Interruption] Order! The question has not been answered.

    Phil Twyford: What responsibility does she take for the fact that it now takes an average of 217 days to house families who have been living in cars, up from 108 in December last year?

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: We were actually housing around 140 a week; we are now, on average, housing 158 people a week. As I say, we have got new houses. To be very clear, and as we have stated to the member—both in writing and orally, as well—those people may have gone on saying that they are living in a car; they are certainly not in a car for those 7 months. They can now access, of course, that Special Needs Grant where they can get emergency housing immediately if they need it. But we are housing more people each week than we were even just 6 months ago. We have also got new houses coming on board all the time.

    Phil Twyford: Why is she trying to claim that people in cars and tents are being helped in the interim, when her own answer to the written question providing the data shows that this is not the case, stating “It is based on the last reported accommodation of the main applicant prior to being housed.”, which means they were still in a car or a tent at the time?

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: As I have quite clearly said, there is now the Special Needs Grant available from 1 July, so people can get access, if they have to, into motels and the Ministry of Social Development picks up that bill—effectively, the taxpayer does. We have got, literally, hundreds who have taken that up and are doing it. We are also housing more people every single week, and I simply dispute the way that the member is choosing to read that.

    Phil Twyford: How can the stock of social housing be so tight that a person who is living in a tent or a car is categorised as priority B on the waiting list and not priority A?

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: On the whole, I would expect them to be at least a priority A, and a high one at that.

    Phil Twyford: How does she expect just 300 new emergency housing places to make a difference to the housing crisis when there are over 4,000 people in New Zealand living without shelter?

    Hon PAULA BENNETT: I have good news for the member: the member will see announcements in the next few days of where we are now—at over 3,000 that have been contracted for the year. We have also got a whole work programme that is going on around the new places that we are bringing on around emergency housing. As I said in the House last week, for example, Housing New Zealand has just signed a contract for a motel that we are taking over to turn into emergency and transitional housing. We are also working with community group houses—some of those around the country—that might have been set for sale. So that has doubled now—more than doubled. So I am just trying to update the member if he wants to listen. [Interruption] If he wants to listen—more than doubled since then. [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The answer is complete. [Interruption] Order! [Interruption] No. Order! I want both sides to settle down.

  • Marine Protection Environment—Target

    11. EUGENIE SAGE (Green) to the Minister for the Environment: Does he support a target of protecting 30 percent of New Zealand’s marine environment, including the Exclusive Economic Zone; if not, what target does he support?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for the Environment): The Government’s commitment is to a representative network of marine protected areas covering the full range of biodiversity from New Zealand’s subtropical to the sub-Antarctic waters. This is more important than achieving some arbitrary percentage of marine area, although I do know this Government has, with the inclusion of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, increased the area of marine protected areas from 0.5 percent to 15 percent.

    Eugenie Sage: On whose advice did the New Zealand Government delegation to the recent International Union for Conservation of Nature congress refuse to support a motion passed by majority to set aside 30 percent of the marine environment?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: By Ministers.

    Eugenie Sage: Does he agree with World Wide Fund for Nature New Zealand, which called his Government’s refusal to support the International Union for the Conservation of Nature motion as being out of step with marine science and with the 96 percent of Kiwis who want more than a third of New Zealand’s environment protected; if not, why not?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: No, I do not agree with that assessment. With 15 percent of New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, New Zealand will have a higher proportion of its ocean area in reserve than any country in the world, and I note that it would have increased by more than thirtyfold under this John Key – led Government.

    Scott Simpson: How many marine protected areas has this Government established, and in what areas?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: We have established 11 new marine reserves: three in the sub-Antarctic islands, five on the West Coast, as well as reserves in Kaikōura, Akaroa, and in North Auckland, totalling an area of more than 450,000 hectares. That does not include the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, which we intend to have in place by 1 November and which will actually provide for an area of marine protection more than twice the total land area of New Zealand, or equivalent to the area of France.

    Eugenie Sage: Does he still agree with the advice he provided to a Cabinet committee last year that a key shortcoming of the Marine Reserves Act is that it “does not provide for marine protection in the vast majority of our ocean environment, the EEZ, and the continental shelf”; if so, why will his proposed bill not fix this key shortcoming?

    Mr SPEAKER: Either of those two supplementary questions, the Hon Dr Nick Smith.

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Because the member overlooks the very significant decision by Cabinet to establish one of the largest marine protected areas in the world, in the Kermadec Islands, which makes up 15 percent of New Zealand’s EEZ. In anybody’s terms, it is a huge contribution by our Government, both domestically and internationally, to marine protection.

    David Seymour: Will the establishment of these reserves be accompanied by a reduction in overall fishing quota issue, or will they simply displace fishing effort into the remaining parts of the EEZ?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: There is only 20 tonnes currently of fishing in the Kermadec area out of a total fish take per year of 600,000 tonnes, so the shift in any fishing effort is quite small. The bigger issue is that the price of fish increases as does the technology to be able to fish further away—this is the reason why it makes sense. Just in the same way as our forebears set aside areas like Fiordland and Tongariro on land, equally it makes sense for us to set aside this very special part of New Zealand’s ocean area.

    David Seymour: Is the Minister saying that it is OK for the Government to confiscate your property if you are not using it?

    Hon Dr NICK SMITH: No, it is not, and I recall very specifically at the time when the quota management system was established and when the Māori fisheries settlement was done, that the Government made very plain—in fact, I personally at the time questioned whether it was proper for the Government to be able to create marine protected areas, whether they are the individual transferable quota system or the Māori fisheries settlement, and the answer at the time was, very clearly, yes. That is, when the Government set those systems up, it quite deliberately continued to allow the Government to create areas of marine protection.

  • Kiwifruit Exports—Reports

    12. TODD MULLER (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister for Primary Industries: What recent reports has he received on growth in kiwifruit exports?

    Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister for Primary Industries): Recently I was in Tauranga with trade Minister Todd McClay and local MPs Todd Muller and Scott Simpson to attend the Zespri AGM dinner. This is an industry that has bounced back strongly from Psa and is in very good heart. Zespri’s annual return shows that total sales revenue for the latest growing season grew by a record high of $1.9 billion. This is up 22 percent from the previous season. The total fruit and service payment to growers for New Zealand – grown fruit also grew by 22 percent on the previous year, to $1.143 billion, with an average return per hectare reaching a record $60,758—fantastic news.

    Todd Muller: In what ways is the Government supporting this extraordinary growth in the sector?

    Hon NATHAN GUY: Very good question. The Government will continue supporting this sector through research and development, through market access, and through the recent changes we have made to kiwifruit regulations. These updated kiwifruit regulations will allow Zespri shareholders to consider setting rules around maximum shareholding and the eligibility for dividend payments, and provide more certainty about the activities that Zespri can undertake as a matter of core business. This will give Zespri greater certainty for investing in the marketing of New Zealand – grown fruit as well as research and development.

    Hon Damien OConnor: Does the Minister consider a slump of 29 percent in the value of lamb exports in July and a slump of 25 percent in the quantity of lamb exported from New Zealand a success for the New Zealand meat industry?

    Mr SPEAKER: That is a very, very long way from the original question, but if the Minister wants to answer it, he is welcome.

    Hon NATHAN GUY: If the member kept up to speed with questions on the sheet, he would have realised that we are talking about kiwifruit, but I am very happy to answer his question. Of course—

    Hon Damien OConnor: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister, in attempting not to answer my question, has ignored the reality that exports—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. I have allowed the question. It is very wide of the original primary question—I have been very generous to the member. I would now suggest that he allows the Minister to address it.

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