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Parliament: Questions and Answers – Feb 22

Press Release – Hansard

1. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy LeaderNational) to the Prime Minister : Does she have confidence in all of her Ministers? Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister : Yes. Hon Paula Bennett : Does she have confidence …

ORAL QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Question No 1—Prime Minister

1. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she have confidence in all of her Ministers?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.
Hon Paula Bennett: Does she have confidence in her Associate Minister of Education who, despite section 2.69 of the Cabinet Manual, which states, “Ministers should take care, however, to ensure that they do not become associated with non-governmental organisations or community groups where: a. the group’s objectives may conflict with government policy; b. the organisation is a lobby group; or c. the organisation receives or applies for government funding.” has not declared any perceived conflict of interest in relation to He Puna Mārama Trust?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Could I advise the member that there are three associate education Ministers. Which one is she referring to?
Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I answer the Minister’s question?
Mr SPEAKER: The question’s been addressed—not quite in the normal frame, but it’s been addressed.
Hon Paula Bennett: All right. Have any of those Associate Ministers of Education declared any conflicts of interest in relation to charter schools?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: To cut to the chase, seeing as allegations have been in this House and they were against Mr Davis on this matter, can I say that the Cabinet Office has given a ruling on this matter inside the construct of the rules around the Cabinet Manual, and they have found that the allegations in this case are baseless.
Hon Paula Bennett: So in light of section 2.79 of the Cabinet Manual, which states any Minister who is an associate Minister to a portfolio irrespective of their delegations needs to manage any possible conflict, how has her associate Minister of Education Kelvin Davis managed his conflicts of interest in relation to He Puna Mārama Trust?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Because in Mr Davis’ case, all he did—
Hon Steven Joyce: “How”; not “because”—”how”.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I know whether it’s was, how, when, and why. If you’ll keep quiet I’ll let you know.
Hon Steven Joyce: How? Just answer the question.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Unlike that massively conflicted former Minister, we know what the Cabinet Manual says. In Mr Davis’ case, he merely provided information to the trust pointing them to the publicly available information. Better independent judges on this matter in terms of the Cabinet Manual ruling have decided that he has offended no rule at all.
Hon Paula Bennett: Hmm, a bit defensive. Does she expect all of her Ministers to sign out their own answers to written questions?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I would imagine that every Minister is responsibly looking at their questions. I know that we were attacked with a telephone volume of questions by the former National Party Government when they went into Opposition in some sort of vindictive act, but I would imagine that every member, every Minister would be signing out their own written questions.
Hon Paula Bennett: Does he have confidence in her Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media who doesn’t seem to sign out her own answers to written questions and thinks a breakfast with a senior manager in a Government entity she’s responsible for isn’t a meeting, and fudges details in written and oral questions?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Well, I am going to let the Minister answer it, but there were probably three allegations that were made—unsubstantiated allegations made—as part of that question, all of which are strictly out of order.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The fact is that having a casual breakfast meeting with someone, which is very frequent given the proximity of the media to politics in this part of the country, namely Wellington, is not going to give rise to a conflict of interest, or failing to disclose information as to the official nature when it may well just have been sharing a breakfast.
Hon Paula Bennett: Does she have confidence in her Minister for Māori Development, given she had to withdraw 67 misleading written parliamentary questions?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The answer to that is if the officials wrongly prepared the answer—[Interruption] Well, I do recognise—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, I just ask the Deputy Prime Minister to sit down. If members on my left want this line of questioning to continue, they will let the answers continue.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I do realise that some members of this House claim to have an elephantine memory and are able to answer all their questions without any preparation at all from their civil servants. We admit to being far more humble than that, and we rely upon the Public Service of this country to prepare the answers. Sometimes they may get it wrong, and that’s why they’ll be withdrawn. But there’s no—
Hon Paula Bennett: But you just said Ministers sign them out. You just said Ministers sign them out.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yes, I just said Ministers sign them out because, with civil servants having prepared them, you’d expect the Minister to rely upon those civil servants—bearing in mind, these were the same people gifted to us by the former Government after nine years of being in office.
Hon Nanaia Mahuta: Does the Prime Minister agree that in order to ensure administrative accuracy, it may be a possibility that written questions would have to be amended?
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Oh, most definitely. That sounds like the reasonable, rational, sane thing to do, which is why it has appeal on this side of the House and no appeal over there.
Hon Paula Bennett: So does she have confidence in her Minister of Foreign Affairs, given he railed vehemently against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement for years, and now suddenly seems to be one of its biggest supporters?
Mr SPEAKER: There’s no—sorry. Does the member want to have another go at the question.
Hon Paula Bennett: Oh, nah.
Mr SPEAKER: All right. You understand? All right.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I cannot think of a Minister that the Prime Minister has got more confidence in, because what that Minister has managed to do, alongside the Minister for trade and other colleagues, is to take a ragtail sell-out of this country’s sovereignty and turn it around in the national interest. That’s why Donald Trump wants back in.
Question No 2—Health
2. Dr SHANE RETI (National—Whangarei) to the Minister of Health: What are his priorities in the health portfolio?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER (Associate Minister of Health) on behalf of the Minister of Health: Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Better health for New Zealanders.
Dr Shane Reti: Is it a priority for the Minister to honour his pre-election pledge of a $20 million fund for rare diseases?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: In fact, there was no amount specified in a pledge, but it is extremely important to me that we do have funds for rare diseases, and that’s why I’m quite pleased to say that Pharmac has announced they will be continuing the $5 million fund for rare diseases next year.
Dr Shane Reti: Why is Collette Bromhead, the CEO of the New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders, saying that she was promised there would be a new $20 million fund, and now Government MPs have told her that it is “off the table”?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: I’m not sure why she’s saying that, because there was no specified amount in the Labour Party manifesto. There was a commitment, and I’ve made it very clear that this is an issue that is incredibly important to me, and I’m pleased that Pharmac will be continuing to fund rare diseases, and I’ve already asked both Pharmac and the Ministry of Health for advice on how we can continue to support those with rare diseases.
Dr Shane Reti: Why did the Minister write to the New Zealand Pompe disease network around Labour’s policy of establishing a rare disease fund when the Government is now saying the fund is “off the table”?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member has now, I think, at least three times made an allegation that he’s based a fact on. Normally, when one makes some allegation, one needs to provide authentication, and I am seeking authentication from him.
Dr Shane Reti: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Shall I rephrase the question with the authentication?
Mr SPEAKER: I think it would be a good idea, because I did happen to listen to the radio programme that the member might be relying on from yesterday.
Dr Shane Reti: Thank you. Why did the Minister write to the New Zealand Pompe disease network around Labour’s policy of establishing a rare disease fund, when the Radio New Zealand interview yesterday reported two MPs saying the fund is “off the table”?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: In the New Zealand Labour Party’s disability issues manifesto, there is a commitment to a specific fund for medicines to treat rare diseases. I am happy to say that Pharmac is continuing with the trial-specific funds for rare diseases this year, and that I’ve asked the Ministry of Health and Pharmac for advice on how we can continue to support funding medicines for those with rare diseases.
Dr Shane Reti: How could it be that the Minister told Radio New Zealand yesterday that “I wasn’t aware” of a vital funding cut to the New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders, when CEO Collette Bromhead says, “He does know that our funding is at threat, because we sent repeated letters to his office and I have spoken to his private secretary.”?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: I’m afraid that information is incorrect. The ministry has made no decisions on what is happening with funding for the New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders. It’s being considered along with all other things that are considered for funding in the Budget process for next year.
Dr SHANE RETI: Is he confirming, then, that he has not received repeated letters to his office, and his private secretary has not been spoken to by CEO Collette Bromhead?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: I’m afraid that I can’t confirm that one way or another, but if he puts the question in writing we might be able to answer it.
Angie Warren-Clark: Does the Minister agree with former chairman of the three Auckland district health boards, Lester Levy, when he told the Health Committee yesterday that the system in Auckland is under stress?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, the member will resume her seat. That does not flow from either the primary question or the supplementaries.
Question No 3—Finance
3. JAN LOGIE (Green) to the Associate Minister of Finance: What recent progress has there been on development of the Living Standards Framework and other sustainable development indicators?
Hon JAMES SHAW (Associate Minister of Finance): Today, Treasury published four discussion papers and a position paper on natural capital, human capital, social capital, and a well-being framework. The papers are designed to spark conversations about lifting the quality of policy advice from Government departments by incorporating an intergenerational well-being perspective into policy formation, including environmental well-being. Our Government is committed to developing a more fulsome set of measurements for how we’re doing as a country, and these papers are a valuable contribution. For decades, the Greens have been advocating a more holistic view of the economy and well-being, rather than a narrow focus on gross domestic product. The Treasury papers today show just how far into the mainstream these ideas have come and that they are a core part of our Government’s economic strategy.
Jan Logie: Why is the Government working on measuring success differently?
Hon JAMES SHAW: What gets measured gets managed. Extending our focus beyond income to broader well-being will help to guide Government decision-making in the interests of all New Zealanders and the ecosystems that sustain us. Alongside the Living Standards Framework, Statistics New Zealand is working with Treasury to build a comprehensive measurement framework to support better policy-making.
Jan Logie: How will measuring success differently flow into Government decision-making?
Hon JAMES SHAW: This work will help to support the Government’s intention to amend the Public Finance Act to require reporting on well-being measures. The first step, as the House knows, is the Prime Minister’s work to insert child poverty data into formal budget reporting. Next year, the Minister of Finance has signalled a fuller integration for the well-being approach into Budget 2019. To quote a former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, we are working towards a system where “our success is counted not by the size of our GDP and our incomes but by the warmth of our relationships with each other and with nature, by the health of our children and our elders and our rivers and our land.”
Jan Logie: Will the Government still be measuring traditional economic indicators like GDP and gross national income?
Hon JAMES SHAW: Yes, it will, but GDP is too narrow and at the same time too generalised to be particularly useful for measuring actual well-being. GDP does not tell us if the poor are getting poorer, it does not tell us if homes are cold and damp and unaffordable, it does not tell us if our rivers are too dirty to swim in, and it doesn’t measure the scarcity of resources. In fact, Simon Kuznets, who standardised the measurement of growth, warned, “The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from the measure of national income. Economic growth”—he pointed out—”measured only annual flow, rather than stocks of wealth and their distribution.” Our goal is not just a bigger economy; it’s a better economy.
Question No. 4—Regional Economic Development
4. JONATHAN YOUNG (National—New Plymouth) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Does he believe that the Regional Development (Provincial Growth) Fund is going to make a difference in the Tairāwhiti region?
Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): Yes, the provincial growth fund will make a difference in the Tairāwhiti.
Jonathan Young: Following the comment of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment at their annual review this morning, that the present Government is continuing all of the previous Government’s regional initiatives, will he continue to support all the programmes around youth employment already started, and notably the commitment of $450,000 over three years to support the young people of the Gisborne-Tairāwhiti region to get their driver licence—noting the importance of a driver licence to perform many jobs and to get to and from work?
Mr SPEAKER: Can I just remind members, as I have been this week, that that contained an extra bit on the end that was not necessary for the sense of the question.
Hon SHANE JONES: Obviously, interventions that enable people to go to and from work in the Tairāwhiti region, without being stopped by the police and charged for not having the right licence, is something that I look forward to championing. But I’m sad that it does disproportionately affect our young Māori folk in that area, and in that sense I look forward to working closely with Mr Jackson.
Jonathan Young: Is the Government going to announce the first project to be funded under its regional development fund tomorrow, and if so, will the Government publish the bidding and funding approval process for the Government’s regional development fund before or after the announcement of the first project?
Hon SHANE JONES: As a former MP of Gisborne, Sir James Carroll, was wont to say, you’ll have to tai ho.
Jonathan Young: Following their meeting with Juken New Zealand yesterday, is the Government planning to spend $20 million on a wood-processing plant in Gisborne, what was Treasury’s advice on the Gisborne wood-processing plant, and has a cost-benefit analysis of this project been completed?
Mr SPEAKER: Any of the four questions.
Hon SHANE JONES: I guess I have met with the CEO of Juken Nissho but the majority of my discussions with him related to the future of the Kaitāia Juken Nissho factory. In relation to any specific proposal located in Gisborne, about the future of that firm’s investments, the member will just have to wait and see.
Jonathan Young: Will he guarantee 100 million trees a year will get planted, knowing that he is already 33.5 million trees behind, and can he tell us how many “neets” he plans to get off the couch, or will he need Willie Jackson to help him with that answer?
Mr SPEAKER: Next question.
Question No. 5—Justice
5. VIRGINIA ANDERSEN (Labour) to the Minister of Justice: What announcement has he made regarding recent concerns about the handling of reported allegations of sexual harassment at the Human Rights Commission?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE (Minister of Justice): Yesterday, I announced a review of the Human Rights Commission’s culture, governance, management practices, policies, and procedures for handling internal sexual harassment complaints, under section 132 of the Crown Entities Act 2004. This review will be led by former Employment Court Judge Coral Shaw.
Virginia Andersen: Why is it important to have an independent review of the Human Rights Commission regarding this matter?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: Public confidence in the Human Rights Commission is paramount. As an organisation whose functions include promoting awareness about discrimination and harassment, as well as advising on sexual harassment claims, they must be an exemplar of best practice. Also, a review under the Crown Entities Act respects the independence that the commission is afforded under legislation and under the Paris principles.
Virginia Andersen: Why is it important that the Human Rights Commission is an exemplar of best practice when handling sexual harassment complaints?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: A function of the Human Rights Commission is handling sexual harassment complaints. However, the standards of the commission should be the same as for any other employer in this country, and that is that sexual harassment is not tolerated and complaints are managed fairly and appropriately.
Question No 6—Employment
6. Hon LOUISE UPSTON (National—Taupō) to the Minister of Employment: Does he stand by all of his Government’s policies on youth employment; if so, what is the number of 15 to 24-year-olds not in employment, education, or training?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON (Minister of Employment): Yes, I stand by all the Government’s policies on youth employment, and the number of 15- to 24-year-olds not in employment, education, or training is 80,000.
Hon Louise Upston: What is the number of 15- to 24-year-olds who are classified as “neet” and are on a main benefit?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: I don’t have that information in front of me, but if the member wants to write to my office I’ll gladly provide the information.
Hon Louise Upston: For the 18,000 people getting the single-person jobseeker benefit, who receive a benefit, what is the comparison between what they earn and what someone receives on the minimum wage?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Again, I don’t have that information in front of me. But, again, happy to take your question and respond accordingly.
Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki: Why is tackling youth unemployment a priority for the Government?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: The crisis of youth unemployment is real for many rangatahi and their communities, and providing them with pathways to sustained employment will help strengthen communities, improve living standards, and reduce child poverty. Yesterday, I started the first of my regional visits in Whangarei. It was wonderful to witness the commitment from employers and people in the community—Māori and Pākehā. It was a fantastic visit yesterday, and that’s why I wasn’t here at question time yesterday. Kia ora, Mr Speaker.
Hon Louise Upston: What is the Minister’s definition, on behalf of his Government, of “meaningful work”?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: That’s a good question. I thank the member for the question. One of the problems we’ve had is, what is work? What is a job? Of course, it’s recognised as one hour, but the whole nature of employment has changed, and this Government is fixed on giving dignified work back to the people—dignified work, not just throwing them a shovel. We want to throw them a strategy, a future, and possibilities in the future. So we’re talking about dignified work, not just any work.
Hon Louise Upston: What is the Minister’s definition of “dignified work”?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Dignified work is not having a job on a week-by-week basis, that’s what dignified work is. Dignified work is about job security; about knowing you have a job three months down the track, six months down the track. Dignified work is about investing in employers, investing in communities, and investing in regions that that previous Government forgot all about in the last nine years.
Question No 7—Local Government
7. JAMI-LEE ROSS (National—Botany) to the Minister of Local Government: Does she stand by all of her answers to oral and written questions?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA (Minister of Local Government): Yes, I do, within the context that they were given.
Jami-Lee Ross: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You’ve ruled previously that supplementaries must flow from previous answers. I’m in an unusual situation now where the Minister has just said she agrees with her answers to oral questions and her answers to written questions, and they actually differ now because she’s corrected a whole lot of written questions.
Mr SPEAKER: The member can try and ask a supplementary if he wants to.
Jami-Lee Ross: OK. Does she stand by her oral answer on 1 February 2018, where she confirmed she had received no correspondence from the Whangarei District Council, or does she stand by her written answer, where she says she has received correspondence from the Whangarei District Council on 7 November 2017?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek a point of clarification.
Mr SPEAKER: No, there’s no such thing.
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: OK. Yes, I stand by the answers that I gave, but, for further clarification, I provided and included administrative adjustments to written answers, which included congratulation letters, invitations, thankyou cards, and Christmas cards.
Jami-Lee Ross: Is she now confident that all her answers to written questions are accurate?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: As best I can, yes.
Jami-Lee Ross: Does she stand by her newly corrected answer to written question number 15161, where she said that she had received no correspondence from the Masterton District Council between 26 October 2017 and 28 November 2017?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: Can I repeat, for administrative accuracy, I included invitations, Christmas cards, and congratulations as a part of the answer that was amended.
Jami-Lee Ross: I seek leave to table a letter from the Masterton District Council mayor from 3 November 2017 to the Hon Nanaia Mahuta.
Hon Iain Lees-Galloway: Speaking to the point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: It was not a point of order.
Hon Iain Lees-Galloway: Could we get some clarification on the leave? Can I ask if the letter was written by the mayor in her capacity as mayor?
Mr SPEAKER: No. The answer to that is no. If people are unhappy with it being tabled, they can decline. The letter has been described as being a letter of a particular date from the mayor. If it’s been inaccurately described, then there are consequences for the person who sought leave. Is there any objection to it being tabled? There appears to be none.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Jami-Lee Ross: How can we have confidence in any of her answers when she has twice stood in this House and said she stands by her written answers and then her office withdraws 67 answers for written question and then, after correction, she still can’t provide accurate answers to this Parliament?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: We ensured that we were accurate. In terms of the extent of the administrative response to the requests, we have included correspondence that otherwise might have been considered purely administrative so as to improve the answer to the member.
Jami-Lee Ross: How does the Minister stand by her answer that it is purely an administrative error when in her answers to written questions she told me she had received no correspondence from any council for the first month that she was Minister of Local Government? Does she think that was plausible? Was it her error or an administrative error?
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: At the early stages of becoming a Minister, the clarity around emails and the nature of whether they were considered correspondence or not is a matter which—
Jami-Lee Ross: You’ve been a Minister before.
Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: Either that member wants the answer or he doesn’t. At the point at which we were seeking to assure the member that we were covering all the administration components of the request that was made, we did decide to include invitations, congratulations letters, and “merry Christmas” cards.
Question No 8—Trade and Export Growth
8. WILLOW-JEAN PRIME (Labour) to the Minister for Trade and Export Growth: How will workers benefit from the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Hon DAVID PARKER (Minister for Trade and Export Growth): The Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (CPTPP) is expected to have benefits for New Zealand workers. As New Zealand already has low levels of import tariffs, no sector in New Zealand is expected to have significant decline in wages or job numbers as a result of CPTPP. Lower tariffs, via exports of wine, kiwifruit, forestry, seafood, and meat, as well as lower non-tariff barriers for small businesses and the digital sector will lead to significantly higher incomes and greater employment. This agreement works for the freezing worker to the farm owner. Also important to people who work for their living is the ability to buy a home in New Zealand without having to compete with foreign buyers. [Interruption] This coalition Government has ensured that our existing homes, from the most expensive to the most modest, can only be purchased by New Zealanders.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Before the supplementaries are asked, I am going to ask the Hon Dr Nick Smith to tone down both the frequency and the volume of his interjections. He’s soon to become the father of the House, and he, I’m sure, has a very positive contribution to make, but I think when serious questions are being answered—ones that are important, I think, to all members of the House—we don’t need a barrage of interjections from him, which affect the ability of other members to hear the answers.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Speaking to the point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: No. It’s not a point of order.
Willow-Jean Prime: What effect will the increase in exports from the CPTPP have on job growth?
Hon DAVID PARKER: The national interest analysis on the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership that was released yesterday shows that around 8,500 New Zealanders are employed for every billion dollars of exports. Job growth as a consequence of CPTPP is likely to be stronger in areas where New Zealand has comparative advantage, such as the primary sector and niche technology. [Interruption] That is why the four—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Hon Dr Nick Smith will stand, withdraw, and apologise.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I stand, I withdraw, and I apologise, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Dr Nick Smith, we’ve had this one once before. The member will withdraw and apologise properly.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Mr Speaker, could you clarify as to what part of—
Mr SPEAKER: No, I don’t need to clarify. The member has been here now for 27 years. He knows how to withdraw and apologise.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Mr Speaker, I stand, I withdraw, and I apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: And that will result in the loss of three supplementary questions from the Opposition, and Nick Smith will now withdraw and apologise properly and without any other comment added.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Mr Speaker, I withdraw and I apologise.
Mr SPEAKER: And from now on, for the rest of this question time, Nick Smith will not interject. If he needs to speak, he can talk to his colleagues and he might be allowed a supplementary.
Hon DAVID PARKER: Job growth is likely to be stronger in areas where New Zealand has comparative advantage, such as the primary sector and niche technology. This is why the forecast returns to labour from CPTPP are greater than the return to the overall economy. CPTPP is estimated to add up to 1 percent to annual GDP, while, again, for labour, is estimated to be up to 1.2 percent.
Willow-Jean Prime: How is this Government ensuring the benefits of trade are shared more fairly?
Hon DAVID PARKER: Many New Zealanders have been justifiably concerned at the increasing share of wealth going to the top 1 percent.
Hon Steven Joyce: That’s incorrect.
Hon DAVID PARKER: We need to rebuild public confidence in trade—
Hon Steven Joyce: Substantiate that answer.
Hon DAVID PARKER: It is patently correct, Mr Joyce. You are as ignorant—well, no, that’s the wrong word, sir. You are as incorrect on that issue as you were on the $11 billion mistake you made. We need to rebuild public confidence in trade, as the Deputy Prime Minister has said, by making capitalism regain its responsible human face. We’re doing this by pursuing productive, sustainable, inclusive growth to improve the well-being and living standards of all New Zealanders. Our first steps include our Families Package, which lowers income inequality, banning foreign buyers. It will also improve the opportunity of New Zealanders to own their home. There’s much we can do, including combating multinational tax avoidance—
Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’m sure you can anticipate the point of order. That has now become a speech from the Minister rather than an answer to a question.
Mr SPEAKER: When that member has a bit more experience, he’ll have a good look at Standing Orders and Speaker’s rulings, and he’ll know that the only person who can interrupt on that basis is me.
Hon Louise Upston: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In terms of interjections, I thought it was a practice in this House that every elected member of Parliament had the freedom of expression. I am interested to know if you are creating a new ruling today, based on your comments to the Hon Dr Nick Smith about participation—
Mr SPEAKER: No, that member will resume her seat. Firstly, she’s trifling with the Chair, and, secondly, I think she should probably have a discussion with the Rt Hon David Carter who has made a very similar ruling. I know because he made it to me.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Minister as to whether he’s received letters of congratulation for turning a sovereignty sell-out into a national interest sign-up, so much so that the anti-TPP interests in the United States are now looking seriously at this new deal that he’s organised.
Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier you asked my colleague to make sure that he could substantiate a claim in a supplementary question. I don’t think, with respect to the Rt Hon Deputy Prime Minister, that the claim that he made in his supplementary question could in any way be substantiated. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: No, I don’t need that. The fact that it is being contemplated is something that has been reported in the media, and I have no problem with that possibility being put to the Minister.
Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I hope the member is not going to trifle.
Hon Steven Joyce: No. I would never seek to trifle with the Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I’m not saying whether the member is seeking to; the question is about whether he is going to try.
Hon Steven Joyce: I’m pointing out that I was referring to a different aspect of the question, which is in relation to the member referring to a sell-out of sovereignty and he would need to substantiate that if we are applying the same standard as we applied to Jami-Lee Ross earlier.
Mr SPEAKER: I heard it. It was marginal. There have been comments made that have been, I think, stronger than that coming the other way during this very same question time, and I did not rule it out. And, again, I want members to take care as far as their challenging of rulings is concerned. Now, I think if the member starts his answer again, it might be the right approach.
Hon DAVID PARKER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have received copious quantities of correspondence congratulating the Government for protecting the sovereignty of not just this Parliament but future Parliaments, to protect New Zealanders against some of these excesses of globalisation, particularly by banning foreign buyers of their homes so that we have a New Zealand, not an international, market for our homes, which would have been lost had the prior Government continued on its course.
Question No 9—Corrections
9. SIMON O’CONNOR (National—Tāmaki) to the Minister of Corrections: Does he stand by all of his statements?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE (Minister of Justice) on behalf of the Minister of Corrections: Yes, and in the context in which they were given.
Simon O’Connor: Given his answer to Question No. 9 on 12 December, “We are yet to make any final decisions on the rebuild of Waikeria,”, how long is the public going to have to wait on the decision to ensure that we are able to adequately house prisoners, given that there are only around 300 beds left in the prison network?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: In light of the chaos and crisis in which the last Government left the prison service, this Government is focused on making sure it makes a good-quality decision about the future of Waikeria Prison and on ensuring that we have a prison service that serves the needs of all New Zealanders.
Simon O’Connor: Is he aware that due his inaction on increasing prison capacity, police holding cells and disaster recovery beds are being used to house general prisoners?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: There is no question that as a result of decisions from the previous Government it rapidly escalated the prison population, and the last Government left office with no plan at all about how to deal with the trajectory of increasing prisoner numbers. This Government has been left to deal with the problem, and we are doing good work and making sure we make good decisions to deal with this long-term problem.
Simon O’Connor: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It’s possible—and, obviously, your call—that it was addressed, but the question was specifically asking about police holding cells and what I know as disaster recovery beds and were they being used—
Mr SPEAKER: I think the member started with “in light of the Minister’s inaction”—at that point just about anything the member says is addressing the question.
Simon O’Connor: Is it his policy to hold prisoners in disaster recovery beds and police holding cells rather than build a new prison in Waikeria?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: It is this Government’s policy to ensure that we have a prison service that treats prisoners with dignity and actually seeks to improve them so they leave the service capable of being good citizens. That is not the state the prison service is in at the moment.
Simon O’Connor: Given that addressing, can he still agree with Kelvin Davis, who said in 2016 that it was inappropriate to use emergency beds for routinely holding general prisoners?
Hon ANDREW LITTLE: It is inappropriate to hold a sentenced prison in anything other than a proper prison designed for the purpose of correcting their behaviour, but because of the crisis and chaos the last Government left the prison service in, we are left to fix up the mess.
Question No 10—Climate Change
10. TODD MULLER (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister for Climate Change: What aspects of a Zero Carbon Bill are up for discussion in the consultation planned for later this year?
Hon James Shaw: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The piece of legislation that the member is asking about is a fairly significant piece of economic legislation with long-term implications, and due to the truncated number of supplementary questions available to the Opposition in this question time, I seek your permission to give a longer answer to the primary question than I otherwise would’ve.
Mr SPEAKER: The member can try, and I may stop him.
Hon JAMES SHAW (Minister for Climate Change): So I intend to consult on a range of matters in transitioning to a low-carbon and resilient economy, including the full range of options for the 2050 emissions reduction target, the roles and functions of the independent climate change commission, and what role the commission should have in supporting New Zealand to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The consultation material will be supported by a number of studies looking into how New Zealand can make the transition to a low-emissions economy. These include, first, the Productivity Commission’s draft report into the low-emissions economy; second, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report called Stepping stones to Paris and beyond; third, an expert report underpinning the Ministry for the Environment’s impact analysis on a range of potential 2050 targets, such as the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research and Infometrics modelling the impact of targets across the economy, sectors, and society—the approach builds on and extends the 2015 modelling work—Sense Partners Ltd assessing the potential for targets to drive New Zealand’s rate of innovation and impact on New Zealand’s international competitiveness; expert reports underpinning the Productivity Commission’s analysis by Vivid Economics, Motu, and Concept Consulting Group on transition pathways to low emissions under uncertainty; and Sapere Consulting on moving to greater renewable electricity.
Todd Muller: Could you repeat that?
Mr SPEAKER: I can’t, Mr Muller.
Todd Muller: Will the Government consult on the merits of excluding short-lived gases from within his zero carbon target?
Hon JAMES SHAW: At this stage, all options are on the table for a new domestic emissions reduction target. One of the key considerations will be our responsibilities under the Paris Agreement to have a sequence of all-sectors, all-gases international targets, including our current and subsequent nationally determined contributions, and for the 2050 target to be successful, we will need it to be compatible with our international targets as well as being sustainable, simple to understand, and internationally credible.
Todd Muller: Will the Government provide estimates of the comparative economic costs between a zero emission target for carbon dioxide only and a target that includes other greenhouse gases as well before public consultation takes place?
Hon JAMES SHAW: The series of reports that I referred to that provide the economic modelling underpinning the consultation will look at that range of options.
Todd Muller: Will the Government provide estimates of the regional and sectorial impact of those various scenarios for a zero emission target, such as changes in activity levels for steel manufacturing or pastoral agricultural production, before public consultation takes place?
Hon JAMES SHAW: Yes. We will be looking at the marginal abatement cost curves across sectors and regions. This is a much more comprehensive piece of modelling work than the piece of work that was done in 2015 in preparation for the Paris Agreement, but I do just want to caution that it is very difficult to make assessments 30 years out. This is the most sophisticated piece of economic modelling that this country has yet undertaken over an extremely long time frame, and so it does have its limits. It is, I guess, based on the best information we’ve got, the best set of scenarios that we can produce for the next 30 years.
Todd Muller: Will the divergent opinions and advice between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry for the Environment, and the Ministry for Primary Industries regarding the various economic costs of the various net zero scenarios be shared with New Zealand as part of that consultation?
Hon JAMES SHAW: I actually can’t answer that question. I expect agencies to provide robust advice based on their perspective, and that is part of the contestable nature of advice that we get from different agencies. I can’t commit, at this stage, before we’ve gotten too far down the design of the specific range of consultation options, on exactly what information will be included in that. The main reports that we’re talking about, like I said, are the series of economic modelling reports, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report, the Productivity Commission’s report, and work under way across different agencies on how different sectors can reduce emissions. We will also be doing reviews of international literature on the effects of climate policy on the economy and society at large, and within sectors and regions. But I can’t commit today to precisely what the consultation will include.
Question No 11—Civil Defence
11. RINO TIRIKATENE (Labour—Te Tai Tonga) to the Minister of Civil Defence: What reports has he seen on the damage caused by ex-tropical Cyclone Gita?
Hon KRIS FAAFOI (Minister of Civil Defence): I have received a number of reports updating me on the impacts of ex-tropical Cyclone Gita. In particular, I have received reports, and saw for myself yesterday, that the Tākaka Hill road is badly damaged. Today, the New Zealand Transport Agency is continuing to work to determine how long it will take to open at least single-lane access. It is likely to be several days, although I’ve been reassured that everything possible is being done to expedite progress. The New Plymouth District Council continues to work today on repair of a broken water pipe, and has started contingency arrangements for the supply of water. Additionally, efforts are being made by Powerco to restore electricity to close to 5,000 properties in Taranaki. Yesterday, I visited Gita-affected areas in Nelson, Tasman, Golden Bay, Westport, Greymouth, and Hokitika with my colleague the MP for West Coast – Tasman, Damien O’Connor, and saw the damage first hand. I would like to thank, on behalf of this House, the civil defence emergency management groups, emergency services, the Defence Force, and the many volunteers and members of the community who helped prepare and respond, and are now part of the community’s recovery from this event.
Rino Tirikatene: How well has the civil defence system stood up to these adverse weather events?
Hon KRIS FAAFOI: While there was considerable damage, on the whole people were well informed and took appropriate precautions, and good decisions were made to declare local states of emergency early. This meant that local civil defence groups were able to keep people safe. Civil defence emergency management groups were also well prepared for this event. I’d like to thank communities, too, for their cooperation and understanding in Tākaka, where fuel is being limited to ensure supply, and in New Plymouth, where water is the concern. I would also like to acknowledge Fonterra for allowing a barge it is chartering to get milk product out of Tākaka to be used by civil defence to get crucial supplies of food into Tākaka while the hill road remains closed.
Rino Tirikatene: What steps can New Zealanders take to ensure they are prepared for emergencies like Cyclone Gita?
Hon KRIS FAAFOI: With events such as ex-tropical Cyclone Gita likely to become more frequent, it’s more important than ever to be prepared. New Zealanders can start by having a conversation with people in their households and planning where they might go in the event of an emergency. Also, look to who can help you and who might need your help. We also encourage people, as they did in preparation for Cyclone Gita, to ensure they have at least three days’ worth of food and water and a grab bag in case they need to evacuate, and that they know where to get the emergency information and are able to do so. With Cyclone Gita, many New Zealanders took steps to keep themselves and their families safe and followed official advice. This helped limit the consequences of the storm and shows the benefit of preparation.
Question No 12—Biosecurity
12. BARBARA KURIGER (National—Taranaki – King Country) to the Minister for Biosecurity: Does he stand by all his statements in relation to brown marmorated stink bugs?
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR (Minister for Biosecurity): Yes, in the context they were given. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the member for keeping this important issue in the public arena.
Barbara Kuriger: Thank you, Minister. Given the Minister’s statement that biosecurity was severely underfunded by the previous Government, what new funding that had not been already reserved for biosecurity has he requested from Cabinet?
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR: In spite of us, unfortunately, facing some big challenges in the areas of biosecurity where a failure of the system has delivered us Mycoplasma bovis and a number of other incursions, recently I asked my colleagues for an extra $9.3 million in December for the Mycoplasma bovis response, which took pressure off other areas of the Ministry for Primary Industries and the biosecurity response team. I can tell you that we are shifting all the resource we can into these important areas to protect New Zealand from the brown marmorated stink bug and to try and eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.
Barbara Kuriger: Supplementary—
Mr SPEAKER: I am going to let—because it is a matter of a lot of interest across the House, if the member has a point of order she’s allowed to have it. She will be allowed to have the next question, but as a result of Dr Smith’s further interjections when he was asked not to, next Tuesday the National Party will start minus two.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. One of the most important rights in this Parliament is freedom of speech, and if you as Speaker are going to say that I, as a duly elected—and, actually, soon to be the longest-serving—member in this House, am now going to face the Speaker in a partisan way of removing my right to interject, one has to ask why one bothers to serve as a member of Parliament in this Parliament.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Mr Speaker—
Mr SPEAKER: Mr Peters, I know you are the longest-serving member and that member will never at current rates get past it. If the member has a question like that for his own future, he can contemplate it.
Hon David Parker: Speaking to the point of order, sir—
Mr SPEAKER: No, there’s no point of order. Barbara Kuriger, supplementary question.
Barbara Kuriger: In accordance with the Minister’s answer, on behalf, in the House yesterday, can the Minister confirm that the $9.3 million in funding for biosecurity response, approved in December 2017, was additional to the $9.3 million reserved for biosecurity incursions by the previous Government?
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR: The $9.3 million was a proposal put forward by me. I’m not sure that the last Government put $9.3 million. I’d be really interested to see those figures, if I can believe them.
Barbara Kuriger: I seek leave to table two briefings received under the Official Information Act from the Minister’s office, that in August 2017—
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, can I just check. Were these received by the member or the ones that have been proactively released by the department and by Treasury?
Barbara Kuriger: These have actually been received in my office under—
Mr SPEAKER: As a result of your request?
Barbara Kuriger: Yes.
Mr SPEAKER: The question is that the briefing of the date mentioned by the member be tabled. Is there any objection to that? There appears to be none.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Mr SPEAKER: Was there another document or just the one?
Barbara Kuriger: Those two—I mentioned—
Mr SPEAKER: The same date.
Barbara Kuriger: No, there’s two. There’s one from 30 October and one from 15 December.
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR: Point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I put the leave for the first one. I’ll put the leave for the second one. Is there any objection to that one being tabled? There appears to be none. It can be tabled.
Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’m not sure whether I have the ability to seek clarification but is this one of the many proposals put forward by the previous Government that never received funding—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. I think that member is experienced enough as well to know when he is trifling with the Chair and running a risk going forward.
Hon Louise Upston: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder, in the interests of balance, when a member obviously rises and raises a point of order that is not in the good order of the House whether the Government side should be docked two supplementary questions for next week.
Mr SPEAKER: Thank you for the member’s suggestion. If the member was doing something that was her responsibility and not mine, then I might have contemplated it. I will take the judgments in this area and I will decline to have coaching, as I have, I think, three times today from my right. I will also decline to take coaching from my left in these matters during question time. The member is most welcome, as other members are—and have—to seek my advice in these matters either in my office or in writing, as members did as recently as yesterday, and I will reply to them as quickly as possible if it is in writing.

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