Questions & Answers – Sept 14

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, September 14, 2016 — 7:31 PM

  • 1. Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour) to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

    Hon Annette King: If he has confidence in his Minister for Women, why did he tell the media, in relation to the Chiefs scandal, that he speaks for the Government and “so [Louise Upston] may have thought that’s good enough.”?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Because, firstly, I think it is a well-accepted convention that the Prime Minister does speak for the Government across a range of portfolios. That is why the journalists ask me questions across a range of portfolios, and, actually, it is why the Opposition asks me questions every day across a range of portfolios. Secondly, I made that statement when I was overseas—I think in either Pohnpei or Laos—and the point I was making was that I was not entirely sure what statements Louise had made on her behalf, but she would have seen my comments, and if she had seen my comments, she would accept that I would be speaking for the Government.

    Hon Annette King: Does he think he has got credibility to speak for women, in light of his own behaviour—repeatedly pulling the ponytail of a woman—rather than the Minister whose job, he said, is to advocate for women?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, I do, and I did not see the member making a comment yesterday when I gave what I thought was a pretty hard-hitting speech, actually, on domestic violence. The member criticised me for making that speech.

    Hon Annette King: Has he subsequently asked the Minister for Women to make an effort to speak out for women on the behaviour of some rugby officials and players, having refused to speak up on the grounds that it is entirely a matter for the rugby organisation, or is he happy for it to be left to those who have got the guts to confront attitudes in our national sport?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, I think the Minister is being quite correct. The Government is still a party to the particular inquiry. Actually, I looked at the Minister’s statements. The Minister’s statements were quite hard-hitting in a generic sense, but she did not have the exact information about this particular case.

    Hon Annette King: In light of that answer, having decided himself to speak out on behalf of the Government, does he think his comments such as “disappointing” and “unacceptable” are strong enough when compared with those of the Minister of Police, Judith Collins, who said “it’s time they stopped that stupid behaviour, grew up” and apologised?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes. I think members opposite will know that I am always a very measured person.

    Hon Annette King: Will he give an assurance that he will pass his displeasure at the activities on to the Chiefs players who are currently All Blacks when he next meets them; if not, why not?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not have all of the details, so I cannot tell you exactly the individual players’ names. But in terms of discussions with the New Zealand Rugby Union, I think the rugby union itself—let alone me—has been making the very point that it thinks that this behaviour and the events of the Monday sort of “leer-up” are not a good idea. [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I am trying to call a supplementary question from the end of the House and I do not want the continued interjection.

    Jan Logie: How can the Prime Minister value the role of the Minister for Women when he has placed it outside of Cabinet, given it the least funding of any ministry, and is now propping up a Minister unwilling to support women challenging our culture of violence?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, there is a range of portfolios that from time to time are outside of Cabinet. It just depends on who we think has the best skills, actually, to conduct those. But let us be honest. That member has been outside of Government for the entire time she has been in this Parliament, and maybe that does explain why she has done nothing since she has been here.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will have heard the last two sentences of the Prime Minister’s answer. Demonstrably, they are not allowed in this House by any past ruling by you, so why do you condone it from him?

    Mr SPEAKER: The last two parts to the answer were certainly not helpful to the order of the House, I accept that. But there was no word in there that I would have said was unparliamentary at the time. [Interruption] Order! Mr Mark, if you continue to interject and criticise my rulings, you will get the same treatment as I gave Mr Peters yesterday.

    Hon Annette King: Can he guarantee that the Minister for Women was not told to keep quiet on the Chiefs scandal by any of his Ministers?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, the Minister is free to discuss the matter, but she makes the correct point that she does not have the details. [Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! You can repeat the question.

    Hon Annette King: Can he guarantee that the Minister for Women was not told to keep quiet on the Chiefs scandal by any of his Ministers?

    Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, I am not aware of any Minister who has told the Minister for Women not to comment on this matter.

  • Transport, Minister—Statements

    2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Transport: Does he stand by all his statements on the rail service for Northland; if so, how?

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development) on behalf of the Minister of Transport: Yes, and by asking a Minister to stand here on his behalf and say so.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does he stand by his statement in October last year that there are “no plans to change” the return service from Auckland to Whangarei; if so, why has KiwiRail done just that on Monday this week, halving its service between Auckland and Whangarei from 10 to five per week?

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: KiwiRail makes its own decisions, but I would note for the member that contrary to his press release on this subject, the amount of freight able to be carried on that one service is exactly the same amount as was previously carried on the two services.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why would the Minister believe KiwiRail’s statements on that matter of tonnage when they are the same people who said that they are scrapping the 120-log wagon utilities between Ōtīria and Kauri, when at Kauri there is no place for the wagons to have stopped in the first place?

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: KiwiRail makes a number of decisions designed to maximise its revenue and minimise its costs, like any other business. I appreciate that the member’s view of regional development in Northland is to have trains carrying around fresh air, but I do not think it is anybody else’s definition.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Why does the Minister of Transport not exercise some of his responsibilities by stopping KiwiRail’s very deceptive past behaviour such as closing the Dargaville to Whangarei line without a press statement, shutting down the Portland service junction without a press statement, and halving the service between Whangarei and Auckland this week without a press statement then?

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: If the member is concerned about an absence of press statements—fair enough. But I notice that he has been making more than enough press statements to cater for most people.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Give that is the attitude of the Minister of Transport, does he intend to have a larger engagement in the politics of Northland next year, or will he put up the same loser as last year?

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I tell you what—next year the Government will not be promoting trains carrying around fresh air as economic development in Northland, as the member seems to.

  • EconomyReports

    3. IAN McKELVIE (National—Rangitīkei) to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on the state of the economy?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Today Statistics New Zealand released figures showing that the current account deficit—the difference between what we spend and what we earn overseas—fell from 3.1 percent of GDP to 2.9 percent in the year to June. This is significantly better than forecast for the current account deficit made over the last 3 or 4 years. However, today’s figures show that in the June quarter the current account deficit was $187 million higher than the previous 3 months, as a result of record spending by New Zealanders travelling overseas.

    Ian McKelvie: What does today’s release say about New Zealand’s level of indebtedness?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: New Zealand’s level of external indebtedness has been a concern for about the last 30 years. Our net external debt has fallen slightly, from 56.7 percent of GDP to 56.3 percent of GDP. When the Government took office in 2008, New Zealand’s net external debt was 83 percent of GDP—so it has fallen very significantly over the last 6 or 7 years. Over the same period, New Zealand’s net international liability position deteriorated slightly because of changes in asset values. Lower national debt is good news because it means New Zealand is better placed to respond to future economic shocks.

    Ian McKelvie: How are exporters contributing to New Zealand’s improved economic position?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: Surprisingly well, given the low dairy prices. In the year to June the value of New Zealand exports to the rest of the world rose by more than $3.3 billion, to $71 billion—that is despite the low dairy prices. The New Zealand export economy is becoming more diverse. Tourism, education, the meat industry, kiwifruit, ICT, manufacturing, and seafood are all showing an improved performance.

    Ian McKelvie: What do the falling current account deficit, the rising real wages, and the declining indebtedness tell us about the New Zealand economy?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: It tells us that the New Zealand economy, among developed economies, is in pretty good shape. It has come through the global financial crisis and become more resilient. Of course, good economic figures are not important in themselves: what matters are household incomes and the confidence that households have in higher incomes and more job opportunities. This economy is underpinning higher incomes and more job opportunities.

  • Housing Affordability—Reports and Government Response

    4. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with Tracy Watkins that the poorest New Zealanders are “shouldering the biggest burden” of the housing crisis, spending more than half their income on housing, and that beneath the Government spin on the Household Incomes Report “it’s not nearly so rosy”?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): I agree with some of the comments and not others. I point out to the member that the Government has been aware of these problems and that is why it commissioned the Productivity Commission report back in 2012, where the idea that poor planning law was bad for low and middle income households was regarded as pretty cranky, if not weird. Now it is mainstream thinking, because it is correct. That is why we are setting out to improve planning law so that the cost of land is not driven up by misguided attempts to make cities smaller, because that burden does fall mostly on low and middle income households.

    Grant Robertson: Is the statement on page 15 of the household income report correct that “there is evidence of higher [after-housing costs] income inequality in the last few years as compared with the mid-2000s and earlier.”?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: The report is the report, and I have not looked at that exact statement, but if the member says that is what is there, that is what is there. The point is this, though: the increase in the burden of housing costs has arisen because, at a time when there is growth in demand for housing through New Zealanders not going overseas and through more confidence in the economy, and lower interest rates, the supply has not been able to react quickly. That is the part we need to change, and that is the part that has been locked up for 30 years with misdirected thinking about how planning of our cities should work.

    Grant Robertson: If the problem is poor planning law alone—which it clearly is not—why has the Government not actually done something in the last 8 years to deal with those problems?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: There have been an awful lot of measures, ranging from the HomeStart programme, which will help 90,000 first-home buyers, through to the $2 billion of accommodation subsidies that the Government pays each year. But those measures, of themselves, will not help low and middle income households in the long run, even though they are quite supportive in the short run.

    Grant Robertson: Why is his Government spinning that it is “heading in the right direction on income inequality”, when the household income report shows that it has increased on his watch, when the top 10 percent of earners now earn 10 times as much as the bottom 10 percent, and when the number of children living in cold, damp houses or who own only one pair of shoes has increased by 10,000 in the last year?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member has made a number of statements that are wrong. The report does not show growing income inequality. And it does not matter how often the member asserts that, it is simply not what is in the report. Secondly, the material hardship survey comes from before this Government passed on a $25 a week increase to all families on a benefit with children, the first such increase in 42 years. So we look forward to whether, in the future, the hardship survey shows the same results.

    Grant Robertson: How is it fair that whilst the poorest households are carrying the burden of increased housing costs and income inequality, a third of the wealthiest New Zealanders—those with wealth over $50 million—declared an income of $70,000 or less last year?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: In respect of the high-income earners—as my colleague pointed out to the House last week—as a result of this Government’s changes in income taxation, the top income earners are paying a higher proportion of income tax than they used to under that previous Labour Government. And as for the burden on low and middle income households, we look forward to, and, I think, can now expect, the support of the Opposition parties on law changes that are coming before this House to ensure that the planning system does change so that we do have more supply of housing.

    Grant Robertson: So is he now agreeing with the Prime Minister that it is OK for a third of the New Zealanders with wealth over $50 million to claim to have an income of only $70,000 because, as the Prime Minister says, “They pay a whole lot of GST.”, and does that mean that low-income New Zealanders who pay their taxes and actually spend a higher proportion of their income on GST do not really need to bother paying the right tax, either?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: The higher-income—higher asset owners have to comply with New Zealand’s tax law, and because it—

    Grant Robertson: But they’re not, are they?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, if the member believes any individual is not doing so, he is free to report them to the Inland Revenue Department or the police. The fact is that we have probably, in the developed world, the most comprehensive, even-handed income tax system that you can have, and, as a result of that, higher-income earners are paying a greater share of income tax than they did under the previous Labour Government.

  • Family Violence Law Reforms—Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence

    5. JOANNE HAYES (National) to the Minister of Justice: How will the family violence law reforms support the work of the Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence?

    Hon AMY ADAMS (Minister of Justice): The review of family violence law provides a critical foundation for the ministerial group work programme. For example, it supports the work of the Integrated Safety Response pilot. The independent risk and needs assessment hub, which the reforms enable, will mean that we will have an effective way of targeting the redesigned services to families. The ability to set codes of practice will mean consistent practice can be rolled out across the country, and changes to information sharing and the flagging of family violence offending on records will mean that the wider system can share crucial information to identify risk and enable tailored responses to victims and perpetrators.

    Joanne Hayes: What response has there been to the announcement of the reforms?

    Hon AMY ADAMS: There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the announcement of the reforms, which I think shows the widespread desire and willingness of the sector to make these sorts of changes. For example, I have seen the reforms described as having the potential to be a game-changer for victims of family violence. I have seen them described as strong and decisive action, and as being a massive step forward. I look forward to continuing to work with members right across the House on the package.

    Poto Williams: As part of her reforms, will she ensure that everyone who needs a protection order can get a protection order by guaranteeing that everyone who applies for legal aid for this purpose gets it?

    Hon AMY ADAMS: A big part of the reforms is ensuring that we address and remove the barriers to getting protection orders, some of which are financial, and we are addressing that in a number of ways. First of all, we are ensuring that it is a much easier process to apply for protection orders. We are funding an advice service to help people work through the process if they do not want to use a lawyer. I would also point out to the member that 94 percent of the applications for legal aid are granted. There is not an income threshold imposed, and there is no debt created.

    Tim Macindoe: What recent announcements has the Minister made around the next phase of the Integrated Safety Response pilot, to which she referred in her answer to the primary question?

    Hon AMY ADAMS: The Integrated Safety Response pilot is a key initiative developed by the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence to better support family violence victims by improving safety and stopping family violence escalating by intervening and identifying risks earlier. We are already seeing excellent results out of the first pilot site in Christchurch. Last month, with Ministers Tolley and Collins, I was pleased to announce that the pilot will shortly be extended to the Waikato. Extending the pilot to the Waikato provides us with an opportunity to assess how well the model works across a diverse population, including a higher proportion of rural and Māori communities.

  • Conservation, Department—Employment of Rangers

    6. JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Conservation: How many full-time rangers does the Department of Conservation employ at present, and how does this compare with the number in June 2015?

    Hon NICKY WAGNER (Acting Minister of Conservation): As of 30 June this year, the Department of Conservation (DOC) had 788 rangers, of a total number of 1,928 employees. This compares with 833 at the same point last year, and a total number of 1,942 employees. Numbers tend to fluctuate due to normal turnover, and these changes are within the margin of error.

    James Shaw: How can the Minister claim that the Department of Conservation can adequately protect the spaces and species that New Zealanders love when it employs only one ranger for every 16,380 rugby fields’ worth of conservation land?

    Hon NICKY WAGNER: That is really a bit of a debatable point. Our concern for biodiversity and threatened species is why there is more conservation work being done in New Zealand now than at any other time of our history. It is also why we are introducing Predator Free 2050—because managing predators is our biggest challenge. Being predator free is an ambitious, world-leading project, and it will certainly rid our country of possums, rats, and stoats, which threaten our native animals and also our economy.

    James Shaw: Why, in a time of increasing numbers of visitors to our national parks and increasing threats to our native animals, has her Government cut the Department of Conservation’s budget by an average of $55 million per year for the last 7 years?

    Hon NICKY WAGNER: Vote Conservation has not been cut; it has increased from $416 million in 2008-09 to an expected total of $451 million in 2016-17. On top of that, there has been a further $80 million worth of partnership work over the last 5 years. There is more conservation work being done in New Zealand now than at any other time in our history. DOC has more work programmes: across ecosystems, about 500; and against threatened species, about 300. That is more than ever before.

    James Shaw: How will corporate sponsorship replace her Government’s funding cuts to the Department of Conservation when corporate sponsorship currently accounts for only 2 percent of DOC’s overall budget?

    Hon NICKY WAGNER: Corporate sponsorship will not. It only supplements the $451 million in Vote Conservation. Our partnerships enable us to engage more New Zealanders in conservation. They allow us to do extra work than what we already do and make our resources go further. They encourage all New Zealanders to take ownership of our natural world and its protection, and in this Conservation Week I encourage all New Zealanders to get out into the conservation estate.

    James Shaw: How can the Minister claim that the Department of Conservation is adequately funded when it has only $5 for every quarter-acre section of conservation land to look after per year?

    Hon NICKY WAGNER: I repeat: Vote Conservation is $451 million in the 2016-17 year. On top of that, there is $80 million worth of partnership work. There is more conservation work being done in New Zealand than at any other time in our history. DOC is focused on results, and we are working with more ecosystems and more threatened species than ever before.

    James Shaw: If there were 833 rangers last year and 788 rangers this year, can the Minister confirm that, at this rate of decline, by Christmas 2025 DOC rangers will be extinct?


  • PharmacFunding and Medical Devices

    Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei): Can he confirm that Pharmac plans to free up—[Interruption]

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am just having trouble hearing, because there is quite a lot of interjection. Would the member please start question No. 7 again.

    7. Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Health: Can he confirm that Pharmac plans to free up $25 million for DHB frontline services through improved procurement of medical devices?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Yes. Since Pharmac’s role was expanded in 2013 to include national contracting for hospital medical devices, 34 national contracts have been signed, covering around 20,000 different items from bandages and sutures to orthopaedic drills and cardiac stents. These contracts are worth up to $72 million of district health board (DHB) expenditure every year and will save the district health boards around $25 million over the next 5 years. This is money that can be reinvested into the front line to deliver better services for all New Zealanders.

    Dr Shane Reti: How else is Pharmac delivering better access to medicines for New Zealanders?

    Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: As part of its expanded role, Pharmac also covers the management of medicines in DHB hospitals and the management of community medicines, pharmaceutical cancer treatments, and the national immunisation schedule. Under this Government, Pharmac’s budget is now a record $850 million, and has increased by $200 million since 2008. As a result, nearly 170 new medicines have been subsidised and access has been brought in to 245 medicines, directly benefiting over 800,000 more New Zealanders.

  • Employment Relations—Written Employment Agreements

    8. IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Labour—Palmerston North) to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: Is he concerned that 170,000 people working in New Zealand have no written employment agreement?

    Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety): Yes, I am. This Government expects all employers to comply with the law, and that is why I have asked the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for a report into why these people do not have employment agreements and what can be done to improve compliance.

    Iain Lees-Galloway: Is he concerned that the industries in which workers are least likely to have a written employment agreement—agriculture, forestry, fishing, construction, hospitality, and administration—are also the industries that have the highest numbers of migrant workers?

    Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: The fact that there might be higher proportions of migrant workers in those industries is no reason to be any more or less concerned. Everybody in this country has a right to have a written employment agreement, and that is the expectation that Government sets.

    Iain Lees-Galloway: Is he concerned that the industries with the worst health and safety records—agriculture, forestry, and fishing—are also the least likely to provide a written employment agreement and are amongst the highest users of temporary work visas to meet their labour needs?

    Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I repeat the answer to the previous supplementary question. But I would agree, to the extent that the lack of a written employment agreement is one of the leading indicators of other minimum employment standards not being met—which is why the Government passed law last year to increase the expectations on employers for documentation and the consequences of not having it.

    Iain Lees-Galloway: Why is the Government giving rogue employers who pay low wages, fail to fulfil their most basic employment duties, and fail to provide a safe workplace the option of exploiting migrant workers, rather than cleaning up their act?

    Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: That is probably a question best levelled at the Minister of Immigration, but I am sure what he would say—if he were to answer it—is that that is exactly the expectation that is being laid out to the immigration compliance team. It is why I have asked the labour inspectorate and the immigration compliance team to work more closely together. Access to the international labour market by employers is a privilege, not a right, and it is one that can be lost.

    Iain Lees-Galloway: Should he not focus on getting those employers to sort out their employment practices before claiming that young Kiwis are all lazy and on drugs?

    Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE: I reject the second part of that. No member of this Government has—and I quote the member in his question—said that all Kiwis are “lazy”. What we have said is that there are barriers to employment that need to be removed one by one, and this Government has done more than any to do so. But in terms of the sentiment of the question, I do not necessarily disagree with it.

  • Whānau Ora, Minister—Statements

    9. DARROCH BALL (NZ First) to the Minister for Whānau Ora: Does he stand by all his statements?

    Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Whānau Ora): Āe, i te wā e kōrerohia ana.

    [Yes, at the time it was being discussed.]

    Darroch Ball: Does he stand by his answer on measures of effectiveness provided to justify the increase in funding to Whānau Ora, that “The increase in funding for Whānau Ora … was subject to a cost-benefit analysis consistent with other Budget 2016 social sector initiatives.”?


    Darroch Ball: How could he possibly use the cost-benefit analysis as justification for an increase in funding, when that cost-benefit analysis clearly states that the “benefits achieved through Whānau Ora are difficult to capture using cost-benefit analysis.”?

    Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Arā anō ngā momo toronga o Whānau Ora.

    [Whānau ora has other forms of extensions.]

    Tracey Martin: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can we confirm that there is a translation going on?

    Mr SPEAKER: Certainly—[Interruption] Order! There is a translation, and it would be helpful if members listened to it.

    Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: E tika ana kia whai ahau ā-Minita nei i tēnei kaupapa o te cost-benefit analysis. Kua eke a Whānau Ora ki tērā taumata, kāre he rere kētanga ki ētahi atu Tari Kāwanatanga. Ko taua āhua anō, ka whakamātauria ia tau, ia tau, ia tau.

    [It is proper that I, as a Minister, follow due process in this matter about cost-benefit analysis. Whānau ora has achieved that standard; it is no different from any other Government department. It is that situation again, there is an annual audit each year.]

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This Minister was asked as to how he could make that statement, given that he had on record, from a Government department, a statement about the impossibility of a cost-benefit analysis in the way it was being put in his answer. He was asked how he could say that against that official information that he got, and he did not in any way try to answer the question.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, the question was not as the member has now summarised it; it was somewhat different, and, as I listened to the answer, the answer addressed the question that was asked.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. So, just to clarify your ruling, are you saying that what I heard from the Minister was not what he said?

    Mr SPEAKER: No, let me try to clarify for the benefit of the member. The question that the member, Winston Peters, suggested was asked was not exactly the same as Darroch Ball asked. I listened to what Darroch Ball asked, and I have ruled that the answer given by the Hon Te Ururoa Flavell has addressed that question. That is the end of the matter. There is not much point in continuing on.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With respect, I helped draft this question, so I know what is in it.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. [Interruption] Order! I have ruled that the question has been addressed. The member does not have to agree with that, but he has to accept it. We will move to further supplementary questions; otherwise I am quite happy to move to the next question.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am certainly not going to entertain a further point of order from the Rt Hon Winston Peters contesting my ruling, and if he does so, I will be asking him to leave the Chamber.

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

    Mr SPEAKER: Point of order. Can I just—[Interruption] Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. I just want to be—[Interruption] Sit down. Resume your seat, please. I just want to be absolutely clear—[Interruption] Order! I want to be absolutely clear. I have given the member a warning that I am not prepared to tolerate him continuing to raise a point of order that is challenging a ruling I have just given. If the member wishes to seek a fresh point of order on a completely different matter, that is a right that he has, and I will listen to it, but if I—[Interruption] Order! If I detect for—

    Rt Hon Winston Peters: Oh, Mr Speaker, sit down and let me—[Interruption]—put my point of order.

    Mr SPEAKER: The member will leave the Chamber—[Interruption] The member will leave the Chamber.

    Rt Hon Winston Peters withdrew from the Chamber.

    Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would ask you to reflect on the likely order in the House if, when ruling on a point of order that has been raised by an Opposition member, you are subject to a barrage of abuse, and members on this side are subject to a barrage of abuse from the Government side. If the shoe was on the other foot and you were being asked to rule on a point of order from the Government, and if we were to yell and scream and yahoo all the way through that, I think you would have something to say about that.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I accept the point the member is making. It is certainly unhelpful, but the behaviour we have just seen is completely unacceptable, and I would think that most people who have any respect for this place at all would accept that. It does cause some excitement. Mr Peters was asked to leave, he certainly took some time to leave the Chamber, and there was a fair bit of interjection from my right-hand side, which is not acceptable. I accept the point the member has made.

    Darroch Ball: I seek leave to table a document, which is a response by the Minister for Whānau Ora to an Official Information Act (OIA) request, dated 25 August 2016, entitled Cost-benefit analysis template Whānau Ora: Growing whānau coverage and reach, which states—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The document has been well and truly described. I will put the leave. Leave is sought to table that particular response to an OIA request. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is none.

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

    Darroch Ball: Can he confirm that 50 provider contracts and their associated funding have been transferred from the Ministry of Social Development to Whānau Ora, when Whānau Ora is exiting 30 of those contracts but keeping the millions of dollars that came with them?


    Darroch Ball: I seek leave to table two documents. The first is an Official Information Act report from the Ministry of Social Development, dated 13 April 2016, entitled Transfer of Vote Social Development Funding to Support Whānau Ora, Progressing Transfer“—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! That document has been described enough. [Interruption] The second—

    Darroch Ball: Do you want to know the title of it or not?

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member is very close to now following his leader. I have said that that is enough of a description for it to be put. I will now hear of the second document.

    Darroch Ball: The second document is Treasury advice against the transfer of those contracts and funds, an Official Information Act report from the Ministry of Social Development, dated 24 April 2015, entitled Report on Options for Transferring Programmes to Whānau Ora.

    Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those two particular documents. Is there any objection to them being tabled? There is not. They can be tabled.

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

    Darroch Ball: Why has the Minister for Social Development given him a $3 million slush fund out of the Ministry of Social Development budget, and why it is assigned to his delegation if it is nothing but a massive slush fund to be used by him?

    Mr SPEAKER: Either of those two supplementary questions, the Hon Te Ururoa Flavell.

    Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Ki te pātai tuatahi, kāre au i te paku whakaae ki tāna e kōrero nā.

    [In regard to the first question, I do not agree one bit with what he is saying there.]

    Darroch Ball: I seek leave to table a document that is an Official Information Act report from the Ministry of Social Development, dated 6 May 2015, entitled Assigning Responsibility of Funding in Vote Social Development to the Minister for Whānau Ora, showing a $3 million—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is enough of a description. Leave is sought to table that particular document. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.

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

    Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I know that when you leave the Chamber you do review the proceedings. We have always understood that when we are seeking to table documents we are required to state the title of the document and the date or the place from which it came. On two occasions, whilst my colleague was trying to read out the full title—and these documents do have long titles—you cut him short with the explanation that that was a good enough description of the document when he had not even completed the title, so how would you know?

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I agree with the member. I will certainly review proceedings.

  • Early Childhood Education—Participation and Impact

    10. Dr JIAN YANG (National) to the Minister of Education: What recent announcements has she made regarding participation in early childhood education?

    Hon HEKIA PARATA (Minister of Education): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. I was pleased to announce a new report from the University of Waikato that showed the positive impact that participating in early learning has on some of our most at-risk children and their whānau. The study focuses on the Engaging Priority Families initiative. Engaging Priority Families coordinators support the hardest-to-reach families to enrol their 3- and 4-year-old children in early learning services. The report found that most of the children in the study would not have enrolled in early learning without the support of the coordinators. We have around 800 more children to connect to early childhood education in order to meet our ambitious goal of 98 percent of children participating in early childhood education in 2016. Every bit of effort counts. These families are the hardest to reach because of their complex circumstances. I am very pleased with the findings of the report.

    Dr Jian Yang: How does participating in early childhood education ensure children and young people get the best start for school?

    Hon HEKIA PARATA: The report concludes that all participants develop positive learning foundations across all the strands of Te Whāriki—the early childhood curriculum—especially in oral communications, good listening skills, and enjoyment of reading and writing. Transition to school was easier for this group because they had visited their school, their parents had been introduced to their new entrant teachers, and both children and whānau felt more confident about the transition.

  • New Zealand Police—2016 Police Workplace Survey

    11. STUART NASH (Labour—Napier) to the Minister of Police: Does she take any responsibility for the fact that almost 60 percent of Police do not believe that New Zealand Police delivers on the promises it makes to its customers, as reported in the 2016 Police Workplace Survey?

    Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Police): The question is based on a false premise. I have responsibility to do my best to get the police the resources they need, and I do that. How the New Zealand Police delivers on its promises is its responsibility. But, actually, I think the police are doing an excellent job, unlike that member.

    Stuart Nash: Does she think she has been successful in her job of getting the police the resources they need to do their job?

    Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Given that the police got $300 million in this year’s Budget, I would say yes.

    Stuart Nash: Does she believe that one of the main reasons why only 40 percent of police state that “the New Zealand Police delivers on the promises it makes to its customers.” is that there just are not enough front-line police to solve crime?

    Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Not at all. In fact, I think one of the reasons that some police believe they are not doing as much as they could in terms of fulfilling their promises is that they set such high standards for themselves—significantly better than some members of Parliament. When I look at that, I also compare it with the 77 percent of people in New Zealand who have public trust and confidence in the police, which is far higher than the police have in their own ability to fulfil their promises.

    Stuart Nash: Has she sought an explanation from the Commissioner of Police as to why only 40 percent of police state that “the New Zealand Police provides adequate training for the work I do.”; if so, what was his explanation?

    Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I have, in fact, discussed this matter with the Commissioner of Police, and there were a couple of answers that he gave me. One of them was the fact that the police constantly want to update their training, and they are very committed people who try to do their best for New Zealand. But the other issue is, of course, the constant verbal and public bashing that the police take every day, and particularly, I have to say, from that member, who only yesterday said of the district commander of police in the Eastern district: “A fish rots from the head, and I believe that—”

    Mr SPEAKER: Bring the answer to a conclusion.

    Hon JUDITH COLLINS: —”the district commander needs to go.”

    Stuart Nash: Why has she changed so much between 2011, when in response to Constable Alana Kane’s assault, she thundered that “harsher sentences are needed for people who attack police”, and now, when she is silent when this very same police officer’s attacker received only a 300-hour community service sentence?

    Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Obviously the member was asleep in 2012 when this Parliament, with this Government and myself as the then Minister of Justice, brought in tougher sentencing when there is the aggravating factor of attacking our first responders, such as the police. I would say to that member—[Interruption] Mr Speaker, do they want to hear, or not?

    Mr SPEAKER: Order!

    Hon JUDITH COLLINS: This particular case is a matter that is within in its appeal time. Personally, I do not want to be the person who stuffs up an appeal case because of an attempt to grandstand.

  • Electric Vehicles—Uptake

    12. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Minister of Transport: Can he confirm Treasury advised Ministers that his electric vehicles package will “not be effective at encouraging the uptake of EVs, representing low-value spending and a missed opportunity to prepare New Zealand for the wide-spread uptake of low emission vehicles”?

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development) on behalf of the Minister of Transport: Treasury did make that comment—with the prefix “in their view”—but, I have to say, if the member is looking to Treasury as a potential ally in the electric vehicles (EVs) category, then I must say that she is likely to be quite disappointed.

    Julie Anne Genter: Given the Ministry of Transport estimated that there would be 64,729 electric vehicles in New Zealand by 2021 without Government intervention, why did the Minister set a target of only 64,000 vehicles by 2021? Is it because the Government does not actually plan to increase the number of electric vehicles?

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The substantive question was actually in regard to Treasury advice, but, nevertheless, the Government is very keen to achieve the maximum number of electric vehicles that would make economic sense by 2021. We have a comprehensive package to ensure that that target is reached. If the member would like me to go through it, I am more than happy to.

    Julie Anne Genter: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was about the target that the Government set and how it is lower than what the Ministry of Transport estimated would occur—

    Mr SPEAKER: On this occasion I will allow the member to repeat the question. If she could make it a little more concise it would probably be easier, but the opportunity is there.

    Julie Anne Genter: Given the Ministry of Transport estimated that there would be 64,729 electric vehicles in New Zealand by 2021 without any Government intervention, why did the Minister set a target of only 64,000 electric vehicles, which would actually mean a reduction in the number of electric vehicles that was expected without any Government intervention?

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: As the substantive question was directed to Treasury advice, I do not have that exact quote from the Ministry of Transport to hand, so I cannot confirm the first part of the member’s question. In any event, whether it is 64,000 or 64,000 and change, that would be a lot of electric vehicles by 2021. The Government is determined that that number be achieved, and that is why it has a package to make sure that it is achieved. If the member wants to debate what the target should be, I am more than happy to do that, but 64,000 is a long way ahead of where we are today.

    Julie Anne Genter: I seek leave to table this document from the Ministry of Transport, which shows how many electric vehicles would occur without any Government policy—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! I just need to confirm that it is not available on the Ministry of Transport website.

    Julie Anne Genter: It is publicly available—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! Then I will not—

    Julie Anne Genter: —but it is very difficult to find.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, if it is publicly available, members who want it will find it.

    Julie Anne Genter: Is it because his Government’s EV campaign does not really have any substance that he has now announced his electric vehicle fund on three separate occasions, including on 5 May, 12 August, and yesterday, 14 September?

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, and I reject the assertion in the member’s question. It is a comprehensive package that includes extending the road-user charges exemption, which is the matter that Treasury was critical of; a new road-user charges exemption for heavy electric vehicles; and investigating with the private sector the bulk purchase of electric vehicles to bring more supply into the country—that is a very important part of the story. Government agencies are coordinating the development and roll-out of public charging infrastructure. There is $1 million annually to inform and promote the use of electric vehicles. There is up to $6 million per year to encourage and support innovative low-emission vehicle projects—

    Mr SPEAKER: Bring the answer to a conclusion, please.

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: —there is allowing electric vehicles in bus lanes and high-occupancy vehicle lanes; reviewing tax depreciation—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The general debate will start shortly.

    Julie Anne Genter: Given Treasury says in its advice that the money would be better spent on reducing the upfront price of electric vehicles rather than on the unlikely-to-be-effective initiatives that he just mentioned, why does his Government not support the Green Party’s proposal to exempt electric vehicles from fringe benefit tax, which would reduce the upfront cost of new EVs by a third?

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Treasury’s first, best advice on these matters is to not do anything at all. If it is the member’s preference to back Treasury advice, then I really do suggest to her that it is probably not the department to support the fringe benefit tax. But, anyway, if she is keen on Treasury, it has some other policies for her. It would encourage her to put interest back on student loans, and also—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! We are now moving to an area that does not have much to do with the question.

    Julie Anne Genter: I seek leave to table this advice from Treasury, released under the Official Information Act, that says that it is its view that money would be better spent directly subsidising the upfront—

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The document has been described. Leave is sought to table it. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.

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

    Sue Moroney: Why did he choose such a tiny target for electric vehicles—to be just 2 percent of New Zealand’s vehicle fleet by 2021—given that New Zealand needs to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent, and transport accounts for almost half of those emissions?

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Because electric vehicles are not the only way in which emissions will be reduced. In fact, emissions are being reduced—

    Sue Moroney: Oh, there’d be rail as well, wouldn’t there, and you’re stuffing that up, too.

    Hon STEVEN JOYCE: —in all the rest of the fleet—if the member wants to listen. In all the rest of the fleet, emissions are being reduced because of the increasing fuel efficiency of New Zealand’s wider vehicle fleet. So it is across a whole range of areas. Yes, you will see more electric vehicles. You will also see more hybrids and you will also see a range of different vehicles that have lower emissions, and that will help meet our target.

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