1. JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his answers to Oral Question No. 4 in the House yesterday?
James Shaw: Does he stand by his suggestion to me yesterday that New Zealanders should not be concerned about funding for Mr Al Khalaf’s secret agri-hub in the desert because they are also kept in the dark about money spent in the security intelligence area?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Not the way the member phrases it, but I stand by what I said in the House yesterday—yes.
James Shaw: Well, can he explain further in what ways Mr Al Khalaf’s showcase of New Zealand business and innovation is comparable with the New Zealand security and intelligence area?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I was simply drawing an analogy that says that we do not always go into every component part, but, as the Auditor-General said yesterday, “The arrangements entered into were a lawful use of public resources, and public money was spent with appropriate financial authorities in place.”
James Shaw: Does he stand by his statement that he agrees with all of the findings in the Auditor-General’s report, including the finding that the Cabinet paper of February 2013 was drafted by Minister McCully and his office without consulting his ministry or officials?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I stand by all the findings by the Auditor-General, yes.
James Shaw: How many other instances is he aware of when a Cabinet paper has been drafted by the Minister and their office without input from the relevant ministry?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not have that information with me.
James Shaw: Does he believe that Minister McCully’s behaviour was ethical?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Absolutely, and, I think, so does the Auditor-General, who shot down in flames the arguments put up by that member that there was something untoward.
James Shaw: Would the Prime Minister hire an accountant who had “significant shortcomings” and who used creative solutions, even though they were not legally corrupt? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: As far as—[Interruption] Order! I cannot see any prime ministerial responsibility for that question.
Prime Minister—Statements on Young People Looking for Work
2. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement in relation to young people looking for work that they are “living in the wrong place, or they just can’t muster what is required to actually work”?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): As always with the member, it pays to thoroughly fact-check what he says. I stand by my full statement in the radio interview, which was: “It’s not to say that there aren’t great people that don’t transition from Work and Income into work. They do. But it’s equally true that they’re either living in the wrong place or they can’t just muster what is required to actually work.” As I said yesterday in my full statement, it was because they may have a drugs issue or a variety of other issues. That is why the Government has a significant programme of skills, education, and training support to help those young people into jobs.
Andrew Little: How many of the 74,000 young people not in education, work, or employment does he think just cannot muster what is required to actually work?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not know how many people fit into the full statement that I made, but no amount of gerrymandering it is going to make it right, any more than when he tried to gerrymander his policy and got it wrong and abused the media.
Andrew Little: When he says young people just cannot muster what is required to work, does he mean they are lazy, drugged, or pretty damned hopeless—which is it?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I refer the member to the full quote, which talked about the situation where a lot of great people transition through but there are some young people who have a drugs issue, and that is an issue.
Tim Macindoe: What recent announcements has the Government made to support young people into employment?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The Government has a strong focus on helping young people develop the skills they need to move into work. Today we announced a new target—to have 50,000 people training in apprenticeships by 2020, an additional 8,000 on the current levels of 42,000. The Government has also announced two new Auckland jobs and skills hubs, which are partnerships between central and local government, businesses, and tertiary providers. The hubs set up training facilities and wraparound services alongside sizable private sector projects that create job opportunities, giving young people a pathway to employment as well as onsite numeracy, literacy, and practical skills training. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Before I call the member, there were two very loud interjectors to my immediate left. I ask them to quieten down.
Andrew Little: Putting aside the Government’s latest admission of failure today, why has the number of Pasifika youth who are unemployed increased by 67 percent on his Government’s watch?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I refer the member to the fact that the Government is lowering the “neets” (young people not in education, employment, or training) rate further, with more apprenticeships for Māori and Pacific trades training, trades academies, and skills hubs. What is absolutely true is that we have a very strong labour market. The economy has generated 35,000 new jobs in the last quarter alone. We have a huge number of youngsters who are transitioning into work.
Andrew Little: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I let the Prime Minister go to see whether he would actually get on to the question. The question I asked related to the rise in the number of young Pasifika unemployed.
Mr SPEAKER: As I heard the question, there was a part that led into the question, which was actually unnecessary, but I certainly allowed it to stay, and that gave a wider ambit for the Prime Minister to address the question. If the member wants that sort of specific answer, he needs to tighten his supplementary questions.
Andrew Little: Why has the number of Māori youth who have been unemployed for more than a year gone up by 48 percent since 2012?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do not have those details, but what I do have with me is that there are 17,600 more Pasifika in employment in the past year alone.
Tim Macindoe: Can the Prime Minister tell the House what programmes the Government is already delivering to help young people gain the skills they need and move into work?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I can. Well, since the member wants to know, we have many programmes including trades academies, which give secondary school students the opportunity to explore trade and technology careers while still at school. Fees-free tertiary training supports young people who have left school without National Certificate of Educational Achievement level 2. We run trade training programmes for 2,400 Māori and Pasifika students, up from 1,900 last year, and the Youth Service, which helps young people facing particular challenges gain the skills they need to find a job and help secure independent futures. What we are also thinking about doing is running a one-off programme where we will hire one young person with an IQ above 100, so that they can help the Labour Party—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! We are not—[Interruption] Order!
Andrew Little: Why is it then, in light of that vast list of things the Prime Minister has given about trying to help young people, that the number of young people not in employment, education, or training is now 74,000—an increase of 3,000 in 1 year alone—and that the Government has had to announce yet another programme today to answer the same problem?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The Government is constantly announcing programmes and initiatives, and it has done so for the last 8 years. That is actually one of the reasons why, if you look at the 15- to 19-year-old “neets”, it is nearly at the lowest level it has been. No one is arguing that there should not be more opportunities for young people. I think the real debate at the moment, though, is that with a very strong economy that is performing extremely well, with very tight labour markets, there are tremendous opportunities to transition young people into work, and I think sending them bush is not the right thing to do. It is simply a statement of fact that I think these youngsters are going to have greater opportunities.
Andrew Little: When he says young people not in employment, education, or training are living in the wrong place, does he mean the 23,300 in Auckland, the 9,100 in Wellington, or the 8,300 in Canterbury?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: As I said, the member needs to go to the full quote, and no amount of trying to fix it up will fix up the botch-up of his Labour Party conference.
Andrew Little: Instead of blaming young people for being pretty damned hopeless, lazy, or drug addicts, or living in the wrong place, why does he not support Labour’s plan to invest in young people, getting them ready for work, and giving them a better future? Just do something good, for a change.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have not said those things, and that is just another example of the member misleading the House. But then, the member misleads the press gallery all the time, which is why he gets so angry—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member cannot say that another member is misleading the House. That is, effectively, saying that the member is deliberately telling lies in this House.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: But I didn’t say that.
Mr SPEAKER: It is Speaker’s ruling 47/4, if the Prime Minister wants to look at it. But he needs to stand and withdraw the last part of that answer.
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I withdraw.
Mr SPEAKER: Thank you.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to raise a concern with you about the technical operation of the House, in that while the Leader of the Opposition was asking his question, his microphone was turned off while he was doing his question, whereas the Prime Minister went on to make some very out-of-order comments and his microphone was left on for the entire duration of that time, including while you were on your feet.
Mr SPEAKER: I did detect that as well. I am not sure why that happened; I will look into it. When I stand on my feet at any time, then microphones are automatically ceased. But on this occasion I was waiting for the question to finish. It was a rather lengthy question and the bit added at the end probably did not add much value to the essence of the question. I do not control the microphones. I will have a look at the matter. It may have been just a technical mistake, I suspect. [Interruption] Order! We will get back to question time without the interjections.
Darroch Ball: Does he believe his statements yesterday about New Zealand First’s community wage policy show yet another direct flip-flop by National, given Gerry Brownlee once said about the scheme: “This Bill simply sets out to say that we do not want hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders on the scrap-heap. We do not want people suffering the condemnation of unemployment … There is nothing unreasonable about this.”?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No. As I have said, there are plenty of occasions when the Government had promoted a range of different schemes, but with very tight labour markets and the demand for workers, I think sending people bush is the wrong thing to do at the moment. We should send them into paid full employment.
Darroch Ball: Does he believe his statements show yet another direct flip-flop by his party, given Nick Smith once said about New Zealand First’s community wage “Here we are with this good and moderate bill” and that it was a “carefully thought-out provision”?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, but I think the member is on quite dangerous territory if he is going to quote what the National Party said about New Zealand First from time to time, because it could get quite interesting and exciting.
3. ALFRED NGARO (National) to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on job prospects in the New Zealand economy?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Job prospects in the New Zealand economy are so positive that almost any report—in fact, every report—I have read lately indicates that. For instance, the Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), the ANZ Business Outlook, and Statistics New Zealand’s labour market statistics show that the job numbers are growing and expected to keep growing. NZIER reported last month that companies’ hiring intentions have been at their highest level in this survey since 1973. The ANZ reports that 21 percent of businesses expect to take on more staff in the next 12 months.
Alfred Ngaro: What is driving the increase in job numbers and hiring intentions?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: At the highest level, businesses are confident that if they take the risk of employing another person and creating a new job, that is likely to work out well for their business. They have confidence in the direction of the economy. The Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion showed a strong expansion of business activity in the September quarter and a lift in confidence in the construction and tourism industries, both of which are job-rich industries. This is backed up by other indicators such as household spending and consumer confidence, which points to continuing growth.
Alfred Ngaro: What is the Government doing to increase employment opportunities for New Zealanders?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Ultimately, it is the businesses that provide the employment opportunities, but the Government make rules for and funds a number of the pathways, particularly for younger New Zealanders, to those employment opportunities. As the Prime Minister has mentioned, we have announced today a new target of 50,000 people to be in apprenticeships by 2020—up from the 42,000 that we currently have. This is part of a wide range of pathways that have been vastly improved for young people, including trades academies, the Youth Guarantee, the Youth Service, and trade training programmes for Māori and Pasifika. There is now such a wide array of programmes that have been well constructed. It is really a matter of getting the young people on to those pathways and supervising them until they get to work.
Alfred Ngaro: What other proposals has he seen about employment?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have seen proposals for creating work for young people at a time when the unemployment rate has dropped below 5 percent, which means that there are significant numbers of jobs out there. Already, it is a matter of getting young people on a path that allows them to take those opportunities. As my colleague the Hon Steven Joyce has helpfully pointed out, this particular proposal shows a complete lack of understanding of the positive nature of our job market.
4. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement, “there is no evidence that inequality in New Zealand is increasing”; if so, how can he continue to argue that when Statistics New Zealand data shows the cost of living for the poorest groups and superannuitants has risen almost twice as fast as for richer households since 2008?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): As I said in the answer to the same question in June and July, yes. In answer to the second part of the member’s question, it shows he fundamentally does not understand how inequality is measured, because the inequality measures are income measures and the data published yesterday is about expenditure. Of course, if your expenditure is going up, inequality is not rising if your income is going up as well. The cost of living for superannuitants went up, but so did their income. In fact, their income went up faster than their cost of living. That is why inequality is not increasing.
Grant Robertson: In light of that answer, can the Minister of Finance confirm that since 2008 incomes for beneficiaries in real terms have fallen by 4 percent?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No. I think the person who did those numbers for the member was the same one who did the numbers for his job scheme, which was—actually, I think it was probably him. He probably did both of them himself. All the measures of inequality show that income inequality in New Zealand is about the same now as it has been for the last decade or so. Actually, this year, households on a benefit with children had a $25 a week increase, well above consumer price inflation, for the first time in 42 years.
Grant Robertson: Can he confirm that Statistics New Zealand earlier this year said that wealth inequality in New Zealand has grown, by their data set that showed that the top 10 percent of New Zealanders now have 60 percent of the wealth, up from 55 percent?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think I can confirm they said that. There was some debate over whether that was a correct assessment of what was going on, but it is not surprising that in a phase where you had inflation of asset prices driven by very low interest rates around the world, that some wealth went up. Of course, the question now is what is going to happen when interest rates start rising? What is likely to happen is those asset prices will flatten out and maybe drop, and, of course, the member, like me, should be pleased about that.
Grant Robertson: In light of that answer, can the Minister confirm that wealth inequality in New Zealand has grown on his watch?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: No.
Social Development, Minister—Announcements on Information-sharing and Vulnerable Children
5. MAUREEN PUGH (National) to the Minister for Social Development: What recent announcements has she made regarding information sharing and the care and protection of vulnerable children and young people?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Minister for Social Development): Last week, along with the Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, I announced that a bespoke information-sharing framework is to be established as part of the radical overhaul of care and protection. New legislation will be introduced to Parliament to promote the safety and well-being of vulnerable children and young people, which will enable information to flow between those who need to know. This will support the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki to take early preventative action rather than simply to respond to a crisis once a child has been harmed.
Maureen Pugh: How will this new framework improve the current legal settings?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: The expert advisory panel noted that New Zealand is one of the few jurisdictions that do not have a bespoke information-sharing provision for children at risk. The new framework will ensure that the new ministry will have the power to require information from other agencies, organisations, and individuals when performing statutory investigations or responses to reports of concern. At the same time, the new framework will provide certainty to professionals that they will not face criminal, civil, or disciplinary proceedings if they share that information in good faith.
Maureen Pugh: How will the new information-sharing framework help to protect and support vulnerable children at risk?
Hon ANNE TOLLEY: Too often in cases of child neglect and abuse we find out too late that a whole range of different agencies and individuals had information that alone may not have raised concerns but that when brought together showed that the child was at risk and the system of care could have been much better for that child. This new framework will form part of the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki and of the Government’s commitment to creating a child-centred care and protection system that improves the outcomes for vulnerable children, young people, and their families.
Mt Eden Corrections Facility—Fight Clubs
6. KELVIN DAVIS (Labour—Te Tai Tokerau) to the Minister of Corrections: Does she stand by her statement that her department’s behaviour regarding their handling of reports into fight clubs at Mt Eden prison was “disturbing and secretive”?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Corrections): The member is wrong; I did not say that. What I did say was “Work is going on to make sure that there is not a continuation of secrecy around issues that should not be secret.”, and I absolutely stand by that.
Kelvin Davis: When was she or former Ministers Tolley or Lotu-Iiga first made aware, formally or informally, of the existence of the report of the 2014 special monitor’s investigation into allegations of fight clubs at Mt Eden?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I cannot speak for other Ministers, but I can certainly say it was around the time of earlier this year that I found out about it, which is all detailed in the report.
Kelvin Davis: Can she guarantee that Serco is not understaffing units at Auckland South Corrections Facility by rostering on guards who are on leave or have quit, as it was at Mt Eden Corrections Facility; if not, why not?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I understand that the member has made numerous allegations to the Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections, and these matters are being investigated. His complaints, which apparently he has held for some months, are being investigated by the inspectorate. I would also say that corrections officers do not like being called “guards”. They are corrections officers, and they deserve to be given the correct title.
Kelvin Davis: Why does she believe there is a disturbing and secretive culture at the Department of Corrections?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I think the member may have missed my answer to the first question. I did not say that. I seek leave to table an email from Radio New Zealand confirming that what I said was “Work is going on to make sure that there is not a continuation of secrecy around issues that should not be secret.”
Mr SPEAKER: Can I just clarify whether it is a transcript or an email from Radio New Zealand.
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: It is an email.
Mr SPEAKER: It is an email. On that basis—[Interruption] Order! I will put the leave, and members can determine. Leave is sought to table that particular email from Radio New Zealand. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There is objection.
Health Services—Colonoscopy Increases
7. MARK MITCHELL (National—Rodney) to the Minister of Health: Can he confirm that 3,850 patients received a colonoscopy in August 2016 – an increase of 45 percent compared with 2,649 colonoscopies carried out in July 2013?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Excellent question. Yes. This is the result of the extra $15 million that the Government has invested since 2013 to deliver more colonoscopies and reduce colonoscopy waiting times. That has resulted in a 65 percent decrease in the number of patients waiting longer than recommended for a colonoscopy, and 92 percent of urgent cases were carried out within 14 days, compared to only 51 percent back in July 2013.
Chris Bishop: What progress is being made with the roll-out of a national bowel-screening programme? [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No. Order! I cannot hear the question. It will be asked again with less interjection from my left.
Chris Bishop: What progress is being made with the roll-out of a national bowel-screening programme?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: The national bowel-screening programme remains on track for roll-out next year, starting with the Hutt Valley district health board (DHB), as well as the Wairarapa DHB. It is expected that there will then be a progressive roll-out across the country in 6-month blocks over 2018 and 2019, in line with international best practice. Once implemented, it is expected to screen over 700,000 New Zealanders every 2 years, with about 700 cancers expected to be detected each year during those early screening rounds.
Hon Members: Who’s next?
Hon Annette King: Supplementary question. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: The member knew who was next.
Hon Annette King: It is a late bid. Does the $39.3 million over 4 years that he has allocated to the national bowel-screening programme include funding for treatment of patients; if not, why not?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: No, because it is funding for a screening programme. I would point out that it is $39.3 million more than the Labour Party ever allocated. It talked about a programme, but never did anything. It just sent 700 people to Australia for cancer treatment instead.
Hon Annette King: I seek leave to table a press release from 2007 in the name of David Cunliffe, announcing the bowel-screening programme, which was then put on hold until last year.
Mr SPEAKER: Now that the member has so adequately described it, members will be able to find it if they find it interesting. I will not put the leave.
8. FLETCHER TABUTEAU (NZ First) to the Minister of Finance: Does he believe New Zealand has a surplus; if so, why?
Fletcher Tabuteau: If we have a real surplus, then why have the poorest 20 percent of New Zealanders, superannuitants in particular, had to struggle with price increases at literally twice the rate of those of the richest 20 percent since the Minister’s Government came into power in 2008?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member, of course, is talking about two different things here. One is simply the Government accounting system, which is the most transparent public accounting system in the world. On the other hand, he is addressing the issue of how inflation affects superannuitants, and I think the record shows that, because national superannuation increases are tied to movements in the average wage, and movements in the average wage over the last 7 or 8 years have been significantly above inflation, the real value of national superannuation has increased. Of course, theoretically, you could go back and recalculate it according to the index that Statistics New Zealand published yesterday.
Fletcher Tabuteau: If we have a real surplus, then why has this Government decided to cut real funding dollars from our hospitals, schools, police, and housing, undermining the core delivery of all of these vital services?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I simply disagree with the member. It is not the case that what he has asserted is true. All of those services have received significant increases. In fact, in the last Budget I think the Police had an increase of $300 million, which by any reckoning is a large amount. But in any case we are more focused on whether those organisations are getting results than we are on the sheer bulk of spending. The lesson of history often in Government agencies is if they get too much money they become even less able to deliver services. We have struck the balance about right, with a strong focus on results, and where they can show they get results, they get more money.
David Seymour: What happens to interest rates and inflation when a Government abandons fiscal restraints, such as in the period 2005-08?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: For a range of reasons, including the fact that the Government of the time allowed Government expenditure to increase by, I think, 50 percent over about 6 or 7 years, first mortgage rates then were more than double what they are today. Today you can get a 2-year fixed-interest mortgage for 4.2 percent. First mortgage rates in 2007 were 10 percent.
Fletcher Tabuteau: Given the Minister insists he has a surplus, why has his Government back-pedalled on adjusting immigration settings and police numbers, despite insisting that everything was OK about a month ago?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is not really whether I insist we have a surplus. In fact, the accountants and the Auditor-General insist we have a surplus. If we were to report a deficit, with the current expenditure and revenue, they may come to the conclusion of it being political interference. But the member is raising a whole range of policy issues. I just want the member to understand this. We are one of the very few developed countries in the world that has the choice of dealing with those sorts of policy issues. Even our cousins across the Tasman face large and persistent deficits, and they simply do not have the choices that the member is talking about. We do.
Fletcher Tabuteau: Does he think a Government with a real surplus would have sat back and, on its watch, overseen the greatest housing shortages of our time?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I do not see the two as being related. What the Government has been doing—
Hon Member: That’s the problem.
Hon BILL ENGLISH: The problem in the housing market is not some lack of Government expenditure. It is a set of dumb planning rules that have been in place for 20 years, which have prevented the flexible supply of housing when there was strong demand. The Government has set about systematically getting those rules changed, with increasing success.
Fletcher Tabuteau: What has the Minister been able to say to New Zealand’s hard-working families, who cannot afford a home to live in and cannot make it from wage packet to wage packet, let alone save for the future, about this Government’s supposed surplus?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: What we are able to say to those families is, first, that they are in one of the faster growing economies. So whatever challenges they are facing week to week, they are in a country where there is more opportunity to do something about that than most other developed countries. We are also able to say to them that because the Government has surpluses, their entitlements are secure and their public services will continue to improve. That is better than you can say in most developed countries.
Fletcher Tabuteau: What does the Minister say to New Zealand businesses and investors who are worried about the stability of the New Zealand economy because this Minister has grown Government debt to its largest level in New Zealand’s history?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: We explain to them what has happened with the Government debt cycle, and that is because of the recession and the earthquake in Christchurch, where we are just tipping over $17 billion of contribution to the rebuild, that we borrowed when times were tough, and now that the times are better we need to pay that debt down to prudent levels. I look forward to the member’s support, because he has just been giving a long list of new spending, which makes it a lot harder to pay down the debt. I was hoping he might share our priorities to get the right balance of them.
9. STUART NASH (Labour—Napier) to the Minister of Police: Does she agree with Detective Senior Sergeant Blair Burnett that more staff is the only way to combat the growing crime rate?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Police): For a start, Mr Burnett is no longer a detective senior sergeant. He left the Police and he is now, apparently, a real estate agent. But I would say that, clearly, more—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I am just trying to be accurate, because, clearly, the member is not. Clearly, having more police is one way in which to combat crime, but it is certainly not the only way. In fact, it is what you do with police that makes a real difference, and that is one of the reasons that New Zealand has recently been noted by the Global Peace Index as the fourth-safest country in the world.
Stuart Nash: Is the reason that burglaries rose by 17.8 percent in the last year because of “more widespread use of drugs”, as the Prime Minister stated last week, or does she stand by her own statements that drug use is going down?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: It depends on which drugs we are talking about, but I think the Prime Minister is always right, and, occasionally, I have been too.
Stuart Nash: Does she agree with the Prime Minister that technology, such as iPads, is “a far better investment” than more police on the beat?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I think the member has taken the Prime Minister’s comments completely out of context, given that he has only used a couple of the words of the Prime Minister’s and then inserted them into his own allegation and statement. Actually, I believe the Prime Minister was absolutely correct when he noted that we have provided to police the technological assistance to help them be more efficient and effective. But, clearly, more police is something that does help.
Stuart Nash: Does she agree with both the current and former Police Association presidents, and police themselves, that we need more police; and, if not, why does she think she knows more about policing than the police?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I think that the Prime Minister and I have made it clear on numerous occasions that, going into the future, we are going to need to address the issue of police numbers. We have made that very plain.
Stuart Nash: Does she think that perhaps detective senior sergeant Blair Burnett left the Police because over 55 percent of police themselves report that they have undue work stress in their jobs?
Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I cannot tell the member why Mr Burnett might have left Police, but, certainly, I know that police have always left the force. The attrition rate at the moment is around about 3-and-a-bit percent, which is a very low attrition rate. It is about the same as Labour MPs.
Government Industry Agreement—Number of Industry Groups Signed Up
10. IAN McKELVIE (National—Rangitīkei) to the Minister for Primary Industries: How many industry groups have now signed up to a Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity partnership?
Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister for Primary Industries): Yesterday in Parliament, Vegetables New Zealand became the 12th industry partner to join the Government Industry Agreement biosecurity partnership. The group represents over 900 growers, who produce over 50 crops, with a farm-gate value of $390 million per annum. This agreement means that this industry now has a seat around the table with the Ministry for Primary Industries and other groups on managing and responding to biosecurity risks.
Ian McKelvie: Why are GIA biosecurity partnerships so important?
Hon NATHAN GUY: Biosecurity funding is now at a record high of $223 million; however, we will always be at some risk from unwanted pests and diseases. Having a GIA allows those industries with a direct stake in biosecurity to be involved in decision making and overall funding. This will help with prioritising resources to where they are most needed, both to prevent incursions and to eradicate and manage them if one does occur.
Women, Employment—Gender Pay Gap
11. JAN LOGIE (Green) to the Minister for Women: Does she support Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue’s proposal for companies with more than 250 employees to declare gender pay gaps?
Jan Logie: Does she support the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner’s call for three more women Ministers in Cabinet to achieve gender balance?
Hon LOUISE UPSTON: These are, of course, matters for the Prime Minister, and I am sure he is making great decisions on them.
Jan Logie: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I was not asking if she was going to make the decision; I asked if she supported the call.
Mr SPEAKER: No, when I consider the question, the answer has addressed the question. It is the Prime Minister who decides who is in the Cabinet.
Jan Logie: Point of order. I am just seeking some clarification around the role of the Minister as an advocate for women—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member can certainly do that, and the way to do that is to continue to ask good, concise supplementary questions of the Minister.
Jan Logie: What does she plan to do in response to Dr Jackie Blue’s observation: “we’ve asked nicely. We’ve implored. We’ve pleaded. Not much is happening. Women’s representation in Parliament has actually gone static.”?
Hon LOUISE UPSTON: As that member will know, one of the priorities for the Ministry for Women is developing and progressing women in leadership. One of the areas that I am most proud of is that on State sector boards, this Government has the highest percentage ever.
Jan Logie: Point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary question—
Jan Logie: Point of order. Sorry, I know it is frustrating. That quote applied specifically to women’s representation in Parliament, and I am not sure—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, again, the question started with “What’s the Minister planning to do”, and her answer definitely addressed the question.
Jan Logie: Why is she absent from so many public discussions, including just this weekend on The Nation with Dr Jackie Blue, on issues that are critical for women like representation, violence, and pay?
Hon LOUISE UPSTON: I am proud of our record in Government in terms of achievements, like the highest levels of women’s participation in the workforce and in leadership, like State sector boards. There is a range of work that this Government is doing. I am proud of our record, and I am proud of the work that I am doing as the Minister for Women.
12. PEENI HENARE (Labour—Tāmaki Makaurau) to the Minister for Māori Development: Does he believe that the lives of Māori have improved during his time as Minister for Māori Development?
[Thank you for that question, and yes.]
Peeni Henare: How comfortable does he feel about the average Māori having one-fifth of the wealth of the average Pākehā under his watch, and his having no plan to address this?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: There is a plan, and there have been a number of those enunciated throughout the country. Indeed, He Kai Kei Āku Ringa is part of that planning towards dealing with those issues. The Tāmaki-makau-rau Māori economy, for example, is pretty substantial at about $3 billion to $4 billion GDP and $23 billion in assets, which is more than half of the national Māori asset base by value. That is why we have very much focused—in terms of my portfolios, as well—on things like improving land productivity, employability, and skills in the regions, with a clear focus on Māori enterprise. I was really pleased, for example, to attend the Kai Kei Āku Ringa hui in Tāmaki on Friday, and we had huge support from employers, from iwi, and from the council to deal with those issues that the member just talked about.
Peeni Henare: How would he characterise the success of his economic policies, given that the wage gap between Māori and European populations has grown and now stands at $213 a week?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: There are a number of measures, and I will take just one of those mentioned by Mr English and by the Prime Minister earlier. If we take, for example, the desire for this Government to move those children not in employment or education, and youth not in any sort of training whatsoever, what we know is that in South Auckland, for example, the number of “neets” aged between 20 and 24 has actually dropped over the last year. There are also fewer Māori “neets” across the country than in December 2012, and that shows that we are making good progress. There are always things we can do better, but we are making good progress. We must continue to focus on the best outcomes for Māori, and that is what I have been doing in my 2 years as Minister for Māori Development.
Peeni Henare: How comfortable does he feel about the fact that there are 9,000 more Māori unemployed since his Government took office?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Well, we are doing absolutely everything we can to address that. I will take just one example to help the member. We know that 42,000, many of whom are Māori, are currently in apprenticeships and training. After today’s announcement by my colleague Minister Joyce of $183 million for work-based training, the Government is now on track to actually achieve its target of 50,000 by 2017; that is a part of the planning I referred to earlier. That member knows that apprenticeships and training are a proven way to get people into lifelong career options—and, again, it is a good outcome.
David Seymour: What role does primary and secondary education play in labour productivity and, ultimately, wages for Māori?
Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Very important—very important. In fact we are very focused on the achievement rates for Māori, and they are actually rising faster than any other ethnicity in the world. The rate was 45 percent of NCEA level 2 in 2008; it is now 71 percent—71 percent. So, for example, part of that has been because of the educational achievement of kura hourua. If I could just quote the rates for Te Kura Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Parāoa: 70 percent at NCEA level 1, 92 percent at level 2, and 71 percent at level 3. Those results are all about Māori educational achievement.