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Parliament: Questions and Answers – September 13

Press Release – Hansard

Question No. 1Prime Minister 1 Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy LeaderNational) to the Prime Minister : Does she stand by all her Government’s statements and actions?ORAL QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Question No. 1—Prime Minister

1 Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements and actions?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes, in their context.

Hon Paula Bennett: Will the Labour-led Government support the Employment Relations Amendment Bill that was approved by Cabinet as it is currently written?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, after 25 years of MMP we expect members of Parliament to come here understanding the lexicon and language of MMP. That’s number one—it’s a coalition between the Labour Party and New Zealand First with support agreement from the Green Party. Having got that out of the way, can I just say that the bill is progressing successfully and it will pass in the fullness of time.

Hon Paula Bennett: Can he confirm the Employment Relations Amendment Bill has already been approved by Cabinet?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The bill was approved by Cabinet for introduction, of course, but it has a parliamentary process to go through, and I would have thought members over there understood roughly what the process is. There will be a second reading, there will be a committee of the full House looking at it, and it will go into a third reading. Only then will it become legislation.

Hon Chris Hipkins: Can the Prime Minister confirm that it’s her expectation that the Government listen and Ministers listen to the select committee process and the feedback that members of the public give in a select committee process; and is that a change from New Zealanders might be used to through the select committee process?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I can answer on behalf of the Prime Minister that listening and paying attention to the public is something that the Government parties do to a fault, and we want to go on encouraging them to do that—listening to what the public have got to say rather than having the arrogant view that they service a little elite out there of about 2 percent of the population.

Clayton Mitchell: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I didn’t want to interrupt the question or the answer given just then, but I found it extremely difficult to actually hear that question being answered, and I wonder if the people back home actually had the same issue because there was so much noise coming from the Opposition benches.

SPEAKER: I note the member’s comment. I think it’s fair to say that some of the noise came at a point where I should probably have stopped the Leader of House in his questioning, because it was a question which invited an attack on the Opposition, which in itself is out of order.

Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just wondered whether that applied to the Education Amendment Bill, where the member denied members—

SPEAKER: Order! No—hiding down there doesn’t mean that the member gets away. I think the member does know that that point of order was disorderly and she will withdraw and apologise.

Hon Nikki Kaye: I withdraw and apologise.

Hon Paula Bennett: In light of the previous question and answer from the Prime Minister, can she confirm that the Labour-led Government unanimously voted for the bill at select committee and the bill has now been prepared for a second reading; and do they know how they will vote for it?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, that member will not conform to the proper language of an MMP environment. We do not intend to answer her mindless questions. She knows full well the construction. We can handle it and that’s why we’re here; and that’s why they’re over there—because they just don’t grasp what the new environment looks like.

Hon Paula Bennett: In light of the previous question and in light of the previous answer, will the Winston Peters – led Government, unanimously vote—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! That was deliberately disorderly and the National Party will lose two supplementaries as a result of it.

Hon Paula Bennett: So does the Government support the Employment Relations Amendment Bill as it is currently written and has been reported back to the House?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I say on behalf of the Prime Minister that the governing parties always supported that legislation, but they were always mindful of the fact that there was a select committee process to go through and that—

Hon Paula Bennett: It’s been reported back and your party voted for it.

SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Look, we’re not going to have a drive to the bottom of the moronic abyss that that member wants us to go to. We are talking about the process of a full committee of the House and then on to the third reading. That’s what’s being targeted. That’s what we’ll do.

Question No. 2—Housing and Urban Development

2 PRIYANCA RADHAKRISHNAN (Labour) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: What progress has he made towards the Government’s target for building KiwiBuild homes?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): Namaste

[Hindi text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

This morning, I announced that the ballot for 25 stylish apartments in Onehunga will open next week in the first KiwiBuild development under the buying off the plans initiative. The architecturally designed apartments will be built to high specifications to minimise ongoing maintenance costs and maximise living space. They are available to eligible KiwiBuild buyers—six studio apartments priced from $380,000, 12, one-bedroom apartments priced from $490,000, and seven, two-bedroom apartments priced at $600,000.

SPEAKER: Before I take the supplementary, I just want to tell Mr King that probably the fact that he interjected loudly drew my attention to the fact that he appears to be eating his lunch. You’re not allowed to eat in the House.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan: When will these homes be completed?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Construction on these homes started today. The ballot opens next week, and they’re due to be completed in August 2019.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan: What did the developer say about how KiwiBuild accelerates the construction of affordable homes?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, Shane Brealey from NZ Living said this morning that KiwiBuild enabled him to get under way faster and with reduced costs. KiwiBuild has allowed this development to go from land purchase to construction in just two months, when it would normally take at least six months.

Priyanca Radhakrishnan: Has KiwiBuild reduced the costs of the developments and the purchase price of homes by first-home buyers?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, the developer said today that KiwiBuild is reducing the cost of affordable housing by reducing the risk that developers face, the time it takes to get developments off the ground, and the time that capital is tied up. He said that this is reflected in a lower purchase price for KiwiBuild homes, making them affordable for first-home buyers. To quote Mr Brealey directly, “If it was a non-KiwiBuild project, it may be that we couldn’t start for six, maybe 12, months.” The efficiencies of being able to get going fast fall to the benefit of KiwiBuild buyers.

Hon Judith Collins: How does a studio apartment the size of a double garage meet his statement in June this year that KiwiBuild homes will be for Kiwi families who want “a decent place to raise kids and enjoy life.”?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: We’re building, through the KiwiBuild programme, one-bedroom apartments, two-bedroom apartments, three-bedroom stand-alone homes, flats, townhouses, apartments, and all manner of new houses—the kind of affordable housing that communities need in this country, that that party never delivered in nine years in office.

Question No. 3—Finance

3. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with the comments of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive regarding business confidence that “It’s the impact of a number of things adding to a climate of uncertainty, and that’s what’s at the heart of the lack of confidence”?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): on behalf of the Minister of Finance: On behalf of the Minister of Finance, I agree that there are a number of things that impact business confidence readings, including staffing challenges, the international situation, and an historic lack of investment in the nation’s infrastructure, and I note that the quote contained in the question was more than eight weeks ago. The coalition Government is working in partnership with business on policies to transition the economy away from growth dependent upon property speculation and population growth, and toward more productive, sustainable, and inclusive growth that benefits all New Zealanders.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he agree that uncertainty over issues like employment law reforms, potential new taxes, immigration changes, and more than 150 working groups have a real impact on Kiwi families because it means businesses are less likely to invest and hire new workers?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I reject several premises in the member’s question.

Hon Member: Which ones?

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Heh, indeed.

SPEAKER: Is that a Muldoon impression, is it?

Hon Paul Goldsmith: How can a business have the confidence to lift wages and employ new staff when his own Government isn’t clear about the status of its employment reforms?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The Government is clear. I note, of course, that the legislation the former Minister appears to be referring to is the responsibility of another Minister. But a return to the conditions found under the previous Labour-led Government, when economic growth averaged above 3 percent over the whole nine years, might not be a bad thing. The bill that’s out there on employment relations is achieving the right balance again.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he think people are more or less likely to invest in new businesses and create new jobs or opportunities for Kiwi workers if they’re uncertain whether or not they have to pay a capital gains tax on that investment?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The member refers, of course, to the interim report from the Tax Working Group, which will be released shortly, and so I’m not going to discuss an interim report or comment on it before then. I remind the member that the group was set up to review the fairness, balance, and structure of the tax system. I note that when there is fairness, balance, and the right structure, we will have a more productive economy, and when the parameters around that are clear, business will have confidence.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Is it true that a deal is being done—changes to the Employment Relations Amendment Bill in return for New Zealand First’s support for more refugees—and, if so, do those sorts of deals not compound the sense of unpredictability—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is outside of the Standing Orders. We don’t do those sorts of nasty, self-serving deals.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Point of order.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Speaking to the point of order—

SPEAKER: No, no, I don’t need any support from anyone. It was a question with a questionable premise in it, but it’s not unusual for members on both sides to have questionable premises in their supplementary questions.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Shall I finish that? I didn’t call it a filthy deal; I just called it a deal.

SPEAKER: Right. Well, at that point, the member just lost a supplementary.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Just that one, or—

SPEAKER: No, you’ve lost—you’ve had one crack, and you’ve just lost another one. It was deliberately disorderly. [Interruption] Order!

Hon Gerry Brownlee: We’re waiting on an answer to that one, still.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Oh yes, I’ll have an answer to the first one, if that’s all right.

SPEAKER: Well, the member—if he can remember what was said, roughly.

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Firstly, any deal is not my responsibility, and I’d note that on this side of the House, we don’t do things like they do it in Epsom.

Question No. 4—Building and Construction

4. Hon JUDITH COLLINS (National—Papakura) to the Minister for Building and Construction: What actions, if any, will she take to ensure the cost of house construction is able to support affordable housing?

Hon JENNY SALESA (Minister for Building and Construction): Namaste, Mr Speaker. Tēnā koe. I thank the Hon Judith Collins for her question. This Government is taking action on a number of fronts to reduce the cost of construction and improve housing affordability. In my building and construction portfolio, I have worked with Ministers across several portfolios—for instance, to develop a construction skills action plan. This plan puts in place new initiatives in partnership with the industry itself to develop the capacity of the construction workforce to deliver housing that our New Zealand people need. That effort will contribute to addressing the overall cost of construction.

Hon Judith Collins: Has she expressed any concerns to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety that proposed employment legislation changes will allow union reps to appear on building sites without first warning site management?

Hon JENNY SALESA: We will be discussing the Employment Relations Amendment Bill when it comes through the Cabinet process, and it is in all of our interests that we ensure the safety of our workers. That is what we are committed to doing.

Hon Iain Lees-Galloway: Is the member aware that under current employment legislation and changes contained in the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, a union official must identify themselves when entering a workplace—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! This Minister doesn’t have responsibility for that. The previous supplementary was worded in a way that involved the action. Mere awareness of another member’s portfolio does not go to ministerial responsibility.

Hon Judith Collins: Would she support a building site manager refusing access to a site if a union rep turns up and there is no health and safety officer present to offer a health and safety induction?

Hon JENNY SALESA: It is in all of our interests to ensure that the safety and health of all of our workers, especially on building and construction sites, is actually taken care of. This is one of the reasons that we are looking at this legislation. It will come to Cabinet, it will go through the Cabinet process, and Cabinet, in total—all of us—will agree and decide how to move forward in this area.

Hon Judith Collins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’m not sure that the Minister really addressed the question around whether or not she—

SPEAKER: I’m absolutely convinced that she did.

Hon Judith Collins: Oh, you are? OK.

SPEAKER: Yes. Everything that she was responsible for was addressed.

Jamie Strange: Supplementary.

SPEAKER: Kieran McAnulty.

Hon Members: Jamie Strange.

SPEAKER: Oh, Jamie Strange—I apologise.

Jamie Strange: A slightly better-looking version of the member, but—

SPEAKER: Yes. I thought the member had had a shave. Carry on.

Jamie Strange: Yes, indeed. What is this Government doing to reduce the costs of building products?

Hon JENNY SALESA: Completing an analysis and review of building products in Aotearoa New Zealand is an area of priority for me. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has led a review of building products since June of this year. I will take options to Cabinet for consideration by the end of this year. This review of New Zealand’s building products regulatory and assurance system will support innovation and ensure a vibrant and effective market for building products in our country. It will contribute effectively to building affordable homes for New Zealanders.

Hon Judith Collins: Will building contractors be exempt from proposed provisions that require new contractors to take on employees from previous contractors?

SPEAKER: Order! That is a direct question and another member’s responsibility.

Hon Judith Collins: Does she believe that confidence and investment in the construction industry will be increased if businesses are forced to take on employees they know nothing about?

Hon JENNY SALESA: One of the things that our Government has done is we’ve come through and we’ve committed to building a lot of houses, because we are addressing the issue that we do not have enough houses. In the building and construction area, I’m reviewing products, I’m looking at risk and liability reallocation—I’m doing a whole lot of work because we need to address this issue. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How can that possibly be an answer?

SPEAKER: Yes, I’m going to ask the member to ask the question again.

Hon Judith Collins: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Does she believe that confidence and investment in the construction industry will be increased if businesses are forced to take on employees they know nothing about?

Hon JENNY SALESA: I believe that the confidence of our businesses in the building and construction sector will be increased once we implement all of the work that we’re doing in building and construction.

Question No. 5—Social Development

5. ANAHILA KANONGATA’A-SUISUIKI (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development: What report about benefit outcomes has she released, and what is the Government doing to meet the challenges it identifies?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Yesterday, I released a report prepared by the Ministry of Social Development on what happened to people leaving the benefit system following the 2012 to 2013 welfare reforms. It showed that almost half of the people leaving the benefit system returned within 18 months. Along with this, this report also highlighted the need for investment in the regions, higher education at level 7 or above, and apprenticeships or in-work training if we are going to keep people in meaningful and sustainable work. Work is well under way in all these areas under this Government.

Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki: What specific initiatives has the Government introduced to respond to the challenges raised in the report?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Within our first 100 days, we introduced a tertiary package that boosted the amount that can be borrowed for living costs and weekly student allowances by $50. We also introduced our fees-free policy, we launched the He Poutama Rangatahi employment scheme—thank you to our Minister of Employment—we’ve invested millions in the regions through the Provincial Growth Fund, we launched the Mana in Mahi – Strength in Work initiative, and we continue to grow industry partnerships. This Government knows that building meaningful and sustainable employment means taking action now. This report shows that our priorities to grow sustainable work opportunities for New Zealand are on track.

Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki: Why is research like this so important?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: The research is important because as Minister for Social Development, alongside many of my ministerial colleagues, I need to be able to make evidence-based policy decisions about how best to support people into sustainable work. Beneficiaries have been a political football for too long, and the messages coming from the previous Government were that—

SPEAKER: Order!

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: —kicking them around—

SPEAKER: Order! The member doesn’t have responsibility for that.

Question No. 6—Workplace Relations and Safety

6. Hon SCOTT SIMPSON (National—Coromandel) to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: Is he confident that the Employment Relations Amendment Bill that has been through Cabinet and the select committee process has the support of all Government parties as it is currently written?

Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety): Yes.

Hon Scott Simpson: Will the Labour-led Government consider changes to its Employment Relations Amendment Bill that allow more businesses to use the 90-day trial period when taking on new staff?

Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: The member has been here long enough to know how the parliamentary process works. If the Government sees an opportunity to improve the bill at the committee of the whole House, it will take it.

Hon Scott Simpson: Will the Labour-led Government consider changes to its Employment Relations Amendment Bill that would allow businesses to opt out of collective agreements and multi-employer collective agreements?

Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: The member has been in this House for long enough to know the parliamentary process. If the Government sees an opportunity to improve the bill at the committee of the whole House, it will take it.

Hon Scott Simpson: Will the Labour-led Government consider changes to its Employment Relations Amendment Bill that prevent union representatives from accessing the workplace of a business without the permission of the business?

Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: No such change is required. Under the current law and under the changes proposed by the bill, there are strict requirements on access, such as a union official has to make the employer aware that they are on site, they have to adhere to any reasonable health and safety conditions, and they must not in any way disrupt the reasonable activities of the business.

Hon Scott Simpson: Will the Labour-led Government consider changes to its Employment Relations Amendment Bill that prevent union delegates from being able to try and recruit new members to the union whilst on paid time of the employer?

Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: The member has been in this House for long enough to know the parliamentary process. If the Government sees an opportunity to improve the bill at the committee of the whole House, it will take it.

Hon Scott Simpson: Why can the Minister not give a definitive answer about the Labour-led Government’s position on industrial relations changes when they are the main reason behind plummeting business confidence and the bill went through the Cabinet process almost a year ago and has been through a select committee that has a majority of Government MPs?

Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: Well, this bill is one that all parties of the Government support, because it is a bill that restores balance to the industrial relations framework of New Zealand. It restores rights that were stripped away from workers by the previous Government, and it will ensure that a good day’s work means a decent day’s pay. That is why this Government supports it, and if there is an opportunity to make the bill even better during the process that it goes through in this Parliament, we will take it.

Marja Lubeck:

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

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

What is the intent of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill?

Hon IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY: The intent of this bill is to restore balance to the employment relations framework and make things better for working New Zealanders.

Question No. 7—Education

7. NICOLA WILLIS (National) to the Minister of Education: Has he consulted with the ECE services about the impact of the Government’s legislative changes on them; if so, what concerns, if any, have they raised?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): I meet regularly with the early childhood education sector and their representatives to discuss pressing issues with the sector, as well as any concerns that they may wish to raise. I attended the Early Childhood Council’s annual conference in May. I met with the early childhood advisory committee in December, June, and just over a week ago. I met with the Early Childhood Council on 27 August. These were all opportunities for the sector to raise any issues with me with regard to legislative changes or any other matter relating to Government policy.

Nicola Willis: Is he aware that the Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2018 gives union representatives the right to enter early childhood services without prior consent or warning, and does he have any concerns about the impact this could have on the children in those services?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes, I am familiar with the contents of the bill.

Nicola Willis: Is it appropriate for union representatives, without warning, to walk into childcare centres unannounced without background checks?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Any union representative entering such a workplace will still have to comply with any other regulatory or legislative requirements on that workplace.

Nicola Willis: Is he aware that proposed employment law changes could require a childcare worker to be reinstated after dismissal, even if a centre has remaining concerns about their conduct with children?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: If the centre has concerns about their conduct with children, there are a range of options for them, including, if they’re a registered teacher, pursuing that through the Teaching Council. I completely reject the premise of the member’s question.

Nicola Willis: Is he aware of a letter from a number of early childhood services stating their concern that proposed changes to employment legislation will “dramatically impact on the viability and quality of those services”, and will he investigate their concerns further?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: As I’ve already indicated in my answer to the primary question, I’ve discussed a range of matters with the early childhood education sector regarding Government policy changes and Government legislative changes, and I’ll continue to do so.

Hon Iain Lees-Galloway: Is the Minister concerned about the impact on the early childhood sector of members of Parliament grossly misleading the public on matters before this House?

SPEAKER: No, we’re not going to—I mean, I’ll leave it there. We’re not going to have an answer to that.

Nicola Willis: I seek leave to table a letter received by my office and signed by a number of early child care services regarding the impacts of the Employment Relations Amendment Bill 2018 on early childhood services.

SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that being tabled? There appears to be none.

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

Question No. 8—Māori Development

8. RINO TIRIKATENE (Labour—Te Tai Tonga) to the Minister for Māori Development: He aha ngā pūrongo kua kitea ai e ia hei tautoko i te whāinga a Te Kāwanatanga kia kōrero Māori te kotahi miriona tāngata o Aotearoa hei te tau 2040?

[What reports has she seen to support the Government’s ambition of one million New Zealanders speaking basic Te Reo Māori by 2040?]

Hon NANAIA MAHUTA (Minister for Māori Development):

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

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

Rino Tirikatene:

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

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

Hon NANAIA MAHUTA:

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

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

Rino Tirikatene:

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

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

Hon NANAIA MAHUTA:

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

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

Rino Tirikatene:

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

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

SPEAKER: Order! Before the Minister replies, the Minister knows that my grasp of the Māori language is not good, but there’s one word that I do know, and it’s “iti”.

Hon NANAIA MAHUTA:

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

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

Question No. 12 to Minister, 12 September

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (National—Ilam): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I hesitated to raise this yesterday because of the particular week that we’ve got, but you’ve just pulled up a Minister for what you considered to be less than appropriate language in Parliament. I wonder if you might look at the—

SPEAKER: No. No—”too much language”; “too long.”

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Oh, too long.

SPEAKER: Too long. The answer was too long.

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Oh well, there you are. OK.

SPEAKER: The answers were too long.

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Well that’s good. Right, well, there was a short answer yesterday that I’d like you to have a look at. It came from the Hon Kelvin Davis in answer to the question that was asked to him, and had that been delivered, I suspect, in English, then it would have brought some ire from you. And—no big deal, but I think if we are going to have more use of Te Reo and I don’t object to that. I think there should be—[Interruption] Well, I’m just making it very clear that that’s not what my point is about—

SPEAKER: Order! Sorry, can the member resume his seat. Can I just say that members know that it is a right of any member to raise a point of order, that points of order are heard in silence, and the fact that members might disagree with a point and call out when they’re not meant to is an indication of a lack of tolerance, which I find unacceptable. Now, Mr Brownlee, go back to the second part of your point.

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Well, it was simply that if the Parliament is to see more use of Te Reo then I think it is important that when people are using it they’re not using it to deliver insults or other comment that might not ordinarily be acceptable. I hope too that there is—while I’m on my feet—a greater level of tolerance for people that, as it relates to the question yesterday, do sometimes get the vowel sounds a little inappropriately pronounced. I’ve got to say, I haven’t used the language in 20 years because of a tirade that was dumped on me by the Māori Language Commission and its chief executive back then. But the real point is, have a look at that question yesterday. No big deal, but I think reinforcing with people who are using the language that it must be respected, firstly, and its use in this House—it should respect the House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member begins with a false premise, for a start—he didn’t understand the word he was talking about, and then he uses yesterday’s example, and he’s out of time. He had every opportunity yesterday to raise it, but he didn’t; he raises it the day later. And that’s why, sir, it should be overruled.

Hon Kelvin Davis: There is an issue, though, when someone speaks Māori—there’s a difference between the translation and the interpretation. So there are some words that can be translated in more than one way. And so there is the issue around the interpretation of what I said. I think I know the answer that he was referring to, which was one that Minister Jones put to me, and there was a word I used that can be interpreted as “ignorant”. I’m not sure what the translation said, but the translation could well have been a word that was a lot more harsh. But I’m not responsible for the translation of what I say.

Hon Members: You are.

SPEAKER: Order! I’m on my feet. This has highlighted an area where there is a potential for some problems. We all know that as translations or interpretation is occurring, both into New Zealand Sign Language and into Māori, or from Māori to English, there is often a speed of discussion which people who are doing the interpretation are struggling to keep up with, because obviously the members who are talking know what they’re going to say, but it’s slightly unpredictable to people who are doing simultaneous translation. And anyone who has even a modicum of understanding of Māori language and is listening to the interpretation will understand that occasionally there are interpretations which are not quite what one would expect to occur, and I think we do go with that. I’ll certainly accept the word of Mr Davis, that he thought it was possible that a harsher interpretation was given to a particular word that he used—harsher than what he would’ve given if he had been doing the interpretation—and while the interpretation might have been out of order, the actual original comments were not. I say to Mr Brownlee that while I’m trying very hard, one thing that is impossible for me to do with my level of language skills is to second-guess the interpretations, even a day later.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just make the point that Hansard do provide transcripts to members to correct if they’ve been inappropriately quoted. And it would be very interesting—given that the word that the Minister has suggested may have been used in the translation was not that word—to see how the word that has been used could be altered to give any context other than the insult it was meant to deliver.

SPEAKER: While a lot of us don’t look at the Hansard greens and don’t adjust them, I am going to ask the Minister in this particular case to look at that interpretation, and if he is not satisfied with it, to adjust it to something that he thinks is appropriate.

Question No. 9—Energy and Resources

9. JONATHAN YOUNG (National—New Plymouth) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does she stand by all her statements and actions?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education) on behalf of the Minister of Energy and Resources: Yes.

Jonathan Young: Will the Labour-led Government commit to electricity prices being lower in the next three years than they have been in the last three years?

SPEAKER: Order! Can I just have some authentication that that is a statement that has been made by the Minister—a statement or an action that’s been made by the Minister? The supplementary must flow from something that the Minister has said or done.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think you’ll find that when the inquiry report was released yesterday by Miriam Dean QC, the corresponding Minister’s comments about it spoke about reducing the cost of power to New Zealand households.

SPEAKER: But that’s not what the question was.

Jonathan Young: I can restate it. I’ll restate the question.

SPEAKER: Yeah, restate the question.

Jonathan Young: As she said that New Zealanders deserve affordable electricity, will the Labour-led Government commit to electricity price rises being lower in the next three years than they have been in the last three years?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: On behalf of the Minister, I cannot guarantee how much it’s going to rain or how much the wind is going to blow, but the Government’s expectation certainly is that for some consumers lower electricity prices may well be possible.

Jonathan Young: Will the Labour-led Government commit to those electricity prices being lower in the next three years, when under a National Government the cost of electricity for households decreased between March 2015 and March 2018?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I think, if the member looks back over the entire totality of the report, he will see that electricity prices for domestic consumers increased by 79 percent since 1990, whilst commercial power price increases were a fraction of the increase. Max Bradford promised consumers lower power prices when he implemented his power reforms, and power prices went up steeply after they were introduced. There is a reality here: that the Government cannot control power prices, and we don’t intend to control power prices.

Jonathan Young: Considering that under what’s called the Brownlee reforms the rise in power prices significantly decreased from 2010 onwards, why can’t the Labour-led Government commit—well, if they can’t lower the prices at least keep them the same?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I’m not sure even Gerry Brownlee can claim credit for the global financial crisis and an excessive amount of rain.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How on earth can the global financial crisis affect the price of electricity in New Zealand? It’s not possible.

SPEAKER: Well, I mean, if you’re asking me the question: quite easily, because it reduces demand.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Well, Mr Speaker, I’m sorry to engage you in the questioning, because that—

SPEAKER: Well, it did.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: What I did—and obviously you don’t know enough to answer it, because during the global financial crisis New Zealand did not suffer a retracting economy. It’s one of the hallmarks of the Key-English regime. The question is—

SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. I didn’t spend quite as long as the member did as Minister of Energy, but I did, I think, fulfil the role on three separate occasions, as well as being the State-Owned Enterprises Minister, and I certainly understand growth paths for electricity supply and demand and the effect that that has on price. We’re not going to continue this debate now. If we want to continue with the question, Jonathan Young will ask another supplementary.

Jonathan Young: When she said yesterday that the Labour-led Government is committed to seeing households in energy hardship offered some relief, does that mean more costs will be allocated to businesses?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I think the member should read the report carefully. One of the things that the report found, for example, is that prompt payment discounts are a tax on the poor, and that is something that I’m sure electricity generators and retailers will be looking very closely at.

Todd Muller: Does the Minister agree with the power generators that prices will need to rise for them to invest in more generation to support New Zealand’s climate change target?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No.

Question No. 10—State Services

10. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister of State Services: How many undisclosed emails through former Minister Clare Curran’s private Gmail account are there that relate to the appointment of the Government’s Chief Technology Officer, and what is the content of those emails?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of State Services): I’m advised that Clare Curran has already publicly released those emails that relate to the meeting that she had with Derek Handley. As part of the process of retrieving all relevant emails and transferring them to the appropriate agency, any other emails that relate to the appointment of the Chief Technology Officer will be identified. That work has not yet been completed.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Why did the Minister tell the House yesterday that the Prime Minister’s office has looked into the issue of the other emails, and has he been briefed on that Prime Minister’s office work?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Because I’m aware that the Prime Minister’s office has had discussions with both the former Minister and the staff who worked in her office about the process that will be used to ensure that all relevant information has been captured. I have not been briefed in detail on that.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: What, specifically, has he been briefed on by the Prime Minister’s office on those secret emails?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: My office has been in discussions with the Prime Minister’s office to ensure that I am aware of relevant information, particularly to answer the questions the member is putting to me today.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have, to date, used eight supplementary questions—including a question on notice—to simply establish the content around these important issues in respect of the Government appointment of the Chief Technology Officer. I think there comes a point when it’s appropriate for the Speaker to stop the obfuscation by the Government.

SPEAKER: Well, the member’s asked a series of questions. My view is that he’s had very succinct and accurate answers—well, I’m not going to judge the accuracy, but sufficiently detailed answers which are very clear to all of them.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Point of order, Mr Speaker. My primary question asked how many undisclosed emails—

SPEAKER: No, no. Order! Order! The member will resume his seat. Does the member have further supplementaries?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The supplementary question was “on what has he been briefed?” He then said his office had briefed him. Now, that doesn’t answer what he was being briefed on.

SPEAKER: Well, actually, he said he was receiving the briefing necessary to answer the question.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: What specific information has the Minister received on the private, undisclosed emails from the former Minister on the appointment of the Government’s Chief Technology Officer?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: In preparation for the question, yesterday and today, I was advised around the process that will be used to extract those emails and to ensure that they are appropriately archived.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: How can the Minister fulfil his responsibilities for the appointment of the Government’s Chief Technology Officer without knowing exactly what communications had occurred between the former Minister and the preferred candidate?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I do not believe that I am in that position.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Is the Minister aware of any communications on this matter between the Hon Clare Curran and the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern?

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I don’t have responsibility for the communications between Clare Curran and the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Point of Order, Mr Speaker.

SPEAKER: No, I’m not going to accept that answer. The Minister does have responsibility for the communications of his predecessor.

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: Yes.

Question No. 11—Defence

11. CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First) to the Minister of Defence: What recent reports has he received regarding the New Zealand Defence Force delivering value to the community, nation, or world?

Hon RON MARK (Minister of Defence): Recently I’ve received reports from the New Zealand Defence Force delivering excellent value for the New Zealand community, including: by conducting search and rescue operations near Great Barrier Island, P3 Orion fisheries patrols of the Chatham Islands and the Chatham Rise area, conducting hydrographic surveys in the vicinity of the Cavalli Islands in Northland to allow Land Information New Zealand to update its sea charts, and recently completing their planning support to the Ministry for Primary Industries for the response to Mycoplasma bovis.

Clayton Mitchell: Is the Minister aware of any recent examples where the New Zealand Defence Force has delivered value to our nation and region?

Hon RON MARK: Yes, I have. Over the last month, the combined efforts of the offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Otago and a P3 Orionaircraft, together with the Ministry for Primary Industries and our regional partners inspected 23 foreign-flag fishing vessels on the high seas surrounding New Zealand’s northern exclusive economic zone boundary. Also, just last week, on HMNZS Wellington, 19 scientists, including from GNS, MetService and the Department of Conservation, and support personnel on board left on a 1,000 kilometre trip to Raoul Island in the Kermadecs, with eight tonnes of supplies to sustain scientific work in those remote islands, which will occur over the next 6 months.

Clayton Mitchell: Is the Minister aware of any recent examples where the New Zealand Defence Force has delivered value on the world stage?

Hon RON MARK: Yes, I have again. Alongside of all their missions around the world, the Defence Force has recently completed specialist deployments to two uniquely difficult and dangerous environments with three additional military firefighters joining the Fire and Emergency New Zealand team fighting wildfires in Chester County, California and six additional firefighters provided to the team tackling the wildfires in British Columbia, Canada. The coalition Government is extremely proud of our Defence Force personnel here and at home, whether they are deployed around the world as they continue to deliver real value to the community, our nation, and the world.

Question No. 12—Foreign Affairs

12. Hon TODD McCLAY (National—Rotorua) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Does he stand by all his statements and actions?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Minister of Foreign Affairs): Yes.

Hon Todd McClay: Does he stand by his statement made on Radio New Zealand on 6 August, “I am full of support for career diplomats so they can be at the cutting edge of change into the future and not be passed over for politicians who have had a fair go in other theatres.”?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I stand by those statements—in particular, that we believed in promoting career diplomats, but there would be, in some circumstances, a way—

Hon Members: Ha, ha!

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: It’s all laid out—when I made the speech. In rare exceptions we would see—

SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. I’ve had just about enough of that. Does the member want to go on?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: In rare exceptions, we would promote someone with a political background, but I can’t see any opposite me at the moment.

Hon Todd McClay: Will he therefore confirm that he is not going to be appointing any current or former politician or political party member as High Commissioner in Australia or Ambassador to Spain?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: It is of the nature of foreign affairs—that member should remember, with his passing knowledge of it—that those announcements are made in due course by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and its Minister, and until that time he’ll have to wait in suspense. What I can say, of course, though—oh no.

Hon Todd McClay: Can he therefore confirm media speculation that he is considering appointing a member of the Labour-led Government as a head of mission to a New Zealand post overseas?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I just say to that member that while he and his colleagues deliberately seek to get the lexicon of MMP Government wrong, they’re not going to get an answer out of me. Behave and you’ll get it.

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I note that the Minister has twice not answered questions because he believes that we are misinterpreting the Government. A Minister today used “Labour-led Government” in his answer and so actually I just can’t see how he can use it as an excuse not to answer a question.

SPEAKER: Well, I can’t help the member with that.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You accepted the supplementary from my colleague Mr McClay. Is it then acceptable for the Minister to simply say “You’re not going to get an answer out of me.”?

SPEAKER: Well, if the member deliberately baits the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the way that he did, he’ll get the reaction that’s expected.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: With all due respect—guidance for us, if you wouldn’t mind, Mr Speaker. How is asking a direct question about a proposed appointment baiting the Minister of Foreign Affairs?

SPEAKER: I think the member knows very well that the phrase that has been used at least half a dozen times today and probably a dozen times by his colleague is designed to bait the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I can see that, everyone in the House can see that, and if the member needs further explanation then I’m sure Mr McClay will explain it to him.

Hon Ron Mark: Has the Minister got any concerns about Russian involvement in air disasters that might have been expressed?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yes. I can say that on Tuesday, two days ago, a member of this House argued—from the National Party, that is—that Russia was involved in the disappearance of flight MH370 in 2014. There has been no one in the whole wide world that has made that allegation—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. No one from the National Party made any such assertion. There was, most certainly, a question that related to that. It was for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to answer, but, as we’ve heard today, there’s no answer coming from him.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Speaking to the point of order, Mr Speaker.

SPEAKER: No, I’m going to—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I’ve got the Hansard here.

SPEAKER: Sorry, I’m going to ask the Minister to start his answer again.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yes, well, my answer is that I have had people raise concerns about Russian involvement with air disasters, to the extent that on Tuesday, a member of the National Party argued that Russia was involved in the disappearance of flight MH370. Here’s the Hansard here—he said that. Now, there is no one in this whole wide world, save the National Party, who has ever made that allegation.

SPEAKER: Right, that concludes oral questions.

Hon Todd McClay: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

SPEAKER: I’m going to warn the member it had better be a proper point of order, because he’s got that look on his face and I’m not quite sure that it will be.

Hon Todd McClay: At the end of a Thursday, I’m wondering what the consequences are if it isn’t—I—

SPEAKER: Well, the member can lose questions from next week if he wants to.

Hon Todd McClay: I’ll save it for next week. Thank you.

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