Community Scoop

Questions and Answers – June 28

Press Release – Hansard

ORAL QUESTIONS QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS Finance, MinisterReports 1. IAN McKELVIE (NationalRangitkei) to the Minister of Finance : What reports has he received on the state of the rural economy? Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance) : Rabobank’s …ORAL QUESTIONS
Finance, Minister—Reports
1. IAN McKELVIE (National—Rangitīkei) to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on the state of the rural economy?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance): Rabobank’s latest rural confidence survey shows rural sector confidence rose to 54 percent in the June quarter, double that of the previous quarter, on the back of rising commodity prices. The survey shows that farmers are now more upbeat about their economic prospects than at any point since 2003, when the survey began. Of course, rural sector confidence is important for the confidence of New Zealand’s regions, and the Westpac McDermott Miller Regional Economic Confidence Survey was released this morning and shows regional economic confidence continues to rise, with the non-dairy areas of Nelson, Marlborough, and the West Coast leading the charge.
Ian McKelvie: How have New Zealand’s agricultural exports fared recently?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: According to the latest data from Statistics New Zealand, strong demand for New Zealand produce saw merchandise exports in May rise to their highest monthly level in more than 3 years, up 8.7 percent to just under $5 billion, compared with the same month last year. That was on the back of strong demand for dairy, particularly out of China, with export values increasing by $342 million across the month. Other agricultural export categories, such as beef and lamb, forestry, fruit, and wine, also saw increased demand in May.
Ian McKelvie: How well placed is New Zealand to cope with commodity price swings?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Over the past 8 years, the Government has worked to diversify the economy so that a sudden price change in one commodity does not adversely affect the rest of the economy, and that has indeed happened, as we have seen exports hold up while the dairy sector struggled. Diversification has occurred in the agricultural sector, as dairy is now complemented by other fast-growing sectors such as horticulture and viticulture, which are also helping us climb up the export value chain. The Government’s economic plan is working, as we saw recently when the overall economy continued to grow despite the dairy industry struggling.
Ian McKelvie: What are the long-term prospects for the agricultural sector?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The long-term prospects are very good. New Zealand is well positioned near high-growth markets in South-east Asia, where rising incomes are driving demand for the premium agricultural products this country produces, including meat, milk, and fruit. We have, of course, an approach of adding value to volume. In 2016 primary products generated $37 billion in export revenues, and that is forecast to grow to $45 billion by 2021 when it is expected to be equivalent to 14 percent of our economy. The Government continues to encourage primary sector growth through Trade Agenda 2030, ensuring greater market access for our farmers and export business.
Speaker’s Statement—Level of Noise
Mr SPEAKER: Just before I call question No. 2, there were quite a few emails through yesterday complaining about the level of interjection that I was allowing, suggesting I was being a bit soft on some members. I may have to address that relatively quickly in this session unless—
Kris Faafoi: They came from over there.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, they came from all sides of the House, including from the member who just interjected. So I require more cooperation.
CHRIS HIPKINS (Labour—Rimutaka): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We too have had further correspondence as a result of question time yesterday, and one of the points that I would ask you to consider is that you have taken a relatively strict approach to the questions that can be asked in relation to this matter, and I also ask that in doing so you take a strict approach to the answers that can be given, and where they deviate significantly from the questions, that you are quick to shut those down as well.
Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the House): Speaking to the point of order—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Again, this is a point of order. It will be heard in silence, unless members are quite keen to go back to their offices instead of having to enjoy—endure—question time.
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: I think, in fact, reflecting on yesterday, whilst your ruling at the start was, I think, very helpful, what was in fact happening was that the questions were, ultimately, asking about something that there was not prime ministerial responsibility for. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister was giving answers because the question was there. I think that in itself was part of the issue. So I do not think, unlike Mr Hipkins, over on the other side, that it actually was necessarily a question of a strict interpretation of the questions at all; it was the fact that they were let through, and that led to, or was part of, I think, the situation we had. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: No, I do not need any assistance unless it is another point of order. On this matter, I will adjudge the quality of the answers on each occasion. If I feel the answer is deviating significantly from addressing the question, then I will certainly cease the answers, and I will also, if the question is relatively political, give some latitude to the Minister or Prime Minister who is answering it.
Prime Minister—Ministerial Conduct
2. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Have he or any of his Ministers ever deviated from the ministerial standards he expects, in order to maintain the House’s confidence in the Government?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): No, and I would expect Ministers to maintain standards. For instance, I would not expect my Ministers to be involved in foreign-worker exploitation.
Andrew Little: Did he cover up his knowledge of the Todd Barclay affair for 18 months to protect the Government’s majority in the House; if not, why did he participate in that cover-up?
Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think the issue here is that, again, this is something that he does not have responsibility for as Prime Minister. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! No. I think, on this occasion, judging from the questions yesterday, other matters that have been raised in the House, and a considerable amount of media coverage over recent weeks, I am not in a position to judge whether the Prime Minister spoke in his capacity as leader of a political party, leader of a caucus, or as Prime Minister. But I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will have no difficulty in informing the House. I am going to ask the member Andrew Little to repeat the question now that it has been interrupted.
Andrew Little: Did he cover up his knowledge of the Todd Barclay affair for 18 months to protect the Government’s majority in the House; if not, why did he participate in that cover-up?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: No; I completely the reject the member’s assertions. He needs to understand that just because he admitted to foreign-worker exploitation does not mean the 85 students are not still here.
Andrew Little: Without wanting to veer into the fantasy world that the Prime Minister—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! We will just have the supplementary question.
Hon Steven Joyce: A little bit sensitive, Andy?
Andrew Little: No. No, Steven. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! My warning to all members about the level of noise and interjection yesterday now applies to all members, regardless of their seniority. I am asking Andrew Little to rise and ask his supplementary question.
Andrew Little: Does he or any member of his staff have any knowledge of any person advising Todd Barclay to delete the tapes; if so, who was it?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, and I have no further comment to add to the 10-month police investigation there has been into that matter.
Jami-Lee Ross: What steps has the Government taken that have helped to maintain the House’s confidence in it?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The best thing the Government can do to maintain the House’s confidence is to deliver for New Zealanders and maintain their confidence, which is exactly what we are doing—for instance, the Government is delivering more jobs, more apprenticeships, more police, better roads, better classrooms, and better broadband. It has enough confidence of New Zealanders that we can find our own people to canvass and telephone, while the Labour Party has to import free—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order!
Andrew Little: Does he or any member of his staff have any knowledge of any person advising Glenys Dickson to withdraw her complaint because it threatened the Government’s majority to pass legislation; if so, who was it?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have nothing to add to the 10-month police investigation into those matters.
Andrew Little: Does he or any member of his staff have any knowledge of the sex and drugs matters that Todd Barclay was involved in?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have absolutely no ministerial responsibility for whatever matters he is referring to, but I know he is responsible for 85 foreign workers imported to canvass for the Labour Party.
Andrew Little: Why has he failed to report his knowledge of potential obstruction of justice in relation to the police investigation of Todd Barclay?
Mr SPEAKER: In so far as there may be Prime Ministerial responsibility.
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I completely reject the member’s assertions.
Andrew Little: Can he confirm that the Government’s Oranga Tamariki bill, the local government bill, and the employment relations bill are reliant on a single vote to pass and will fail if Todd Barclay resigns immediately?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I can confirm that the Government has always operated on a slim majority for the whole time it has been in Government. I can also confirm that while we are reliant on a small majority, the Labour Party is reliant on foreign workers to do its campaigning for it.
Andrew Little: Why is he prepared for his Government’s support in this House to rest on a person whose behaviour the Prime Minister has described as unacceptable, who recorded his staff, who has refused to cooperate with the police, and whose conduct has fallen so far below acceptable standards that he has felt the need to leave Parliament, or is that the Bill English way?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: Again, I reject the member’s assertions. I mean, this Parliament includes a party that has imported 85 foreign workers it will not pay, just to keep it as a viable Opposition.
Andrew Little: Does he agree with his old local paper, the Southland Times, that “politics is not a game in which bluffing and misdirection are to be placidly accepted as tactical necessities.”, and is it not time to cut the crap and come clean on the Barclay cover-up?
Mr SPEAKER: Again—[Interruption] Order! Again, in so far as there may be prime ministerial responsibility. The Prime Minister can address one or either of those questions.
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, but nor do I think politics is a game where you import cheap foreign labour to try to beat up your public support.
Care and Support Workers—Pay Equity Settlement
SARAH DOWIE (National—Invercargill): My question is to—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I gave warnings earlier. Chris Hipkins has not managed to hear it, so I now direct it to him specifically. If he continues to interrupt at that sort of level, then I will be asking him to leave early.
3. SARAH DOWIE (National—Invercargill) to the Minister of Health: What work is being undertaken to ensure that from 1 July 2017, 55,000 care and support workers will begin to be paid their share of the $2 billion pay equity settlement announced earlier this year?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (Minister of Health): Since the settlement was announced in April, I have been receiving regular updates on the implementation. I am assured by the officials that that implementation is on track. I have been advised that all providers have indicated that they are ready to pay eligible employees the increased hourly wages from 1 July. Funds will be transferred to 653 providers by the end of this week. That will enable providers to have funds in their accounts to pay the 55,000 workers from next week. This is part of this year’s $880 million increase in Vote Health, the largest increase in 11 years.
Sarah Dowie: Can the Minister confirm how much extra employees will receive from the settlement?
Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: This dedicated and predominantly female workforce, who are mostly on or around the minimum wage, will receive a pay rise of between around 15 percent and 50 percent, depending on their experience and/or their qualifications. For the 20,000 workers currently on the minimum wage, it means they will move to at least $19 per hour, a 21 percent pay rise. For a full-time worker, this means they will be taking home around an extra $100 a week, which is over $5,000 per year in the hand. This will make a massive difference to some of the hardest-working, most deserving, but lowest-paid people in this country, and their families.
Finance, Minister—Statements
4. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Finance: Does he recall his statement, “I’m sure we’ll talk about tax policy again between now and the election but we’ll deal with that at the time”; if so, were the Prime Minister’s “hints” of further tax cuts in the weekend what he was referring to?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance): Yes, I recall making that statement the day after the Budget. In terms of further discussions about tax policy, my comments related to the fact that between the Budget and election day the issue of tax policy would likely be raised many times. The member is right to be observant to work out that the Prime Minister’s statement of priorities on the weekend was indeed one of those times.
Grant Robertson: What is the fiscal impact of the new proposed further round of tax cuts on the Budget Economic and Fiscal Update released in May?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The member should note that the Government and the Prime Minister made the comments in the weekend that if we get the economy to grow faster, then we would have the room to do more. That implies faster than the current Budget position, and that is indeed what the Prime Minister was referring to. On the basis that the economy grows more strongly and the Government’s fiscal position is contained, then we would have the opportunity to potentially do more over the next term of Government.
Grant Robertson: Further to that answer, is the Minister of Finance confirming he has made no attempt to gauge the fiscal impact of the proposed second round of tax cuts that the Prime Minister noted in the weekend?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Sherlock over there has not quite worked out that the Prime Minister said that he would like the opportunity to do it again, and that if we got the room we would be able to do so. But of course we have to first get the Family Incomes Package into place on 1 April next year. I note the Labour Party is still opposed to the Family Incomes Package, so we have to deal with that one first.
Grant Robertson: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have two points of order. The first of—[Interruption] When the Prime Minister is ready. The first of those is that Mr Joyce has been here a long time and he knows not to refer to members by anything other than their name or the electorate that they represent. The second point of order is that I asked him a very straight question, and then a very specific follow-up question, to assess whether or not any work had been done on the fiscal impact of the proposed second round of tax cuts. He did not answer that question.
Mr SPEAKER: I missed the point in the answer where Mr Joyce may not have referred to the member correctly—I did so and I apologise. I missed that because I was busy looking through my Speakers’ Rulings—I knew the member would raise a question about the quality of the answer he was giving. I refer the member, please, to Speaker’s ruling 195/6, which talks about the answer the member can expect if he asks hypothetical questions.
Grant Robertson: We are not going to deal with the first point of order?
Mr SPEAKER: No, I did deal with the first point of order. I said I did not hear it because I was busy looking for Speakers’ rulings—I knew the member would raise a point of order about the answers he was getting. But I do advise the member that if he continues with hypothetical questions, like a proposed round of tax cuts, he is likely not to get an answer that satisfies him.
Grant Robertson: So is he telling the House that the National Government has done no costings for what the Prime Minister said would be a priority for a future National Government, and does he not recognise that the Budget he produced in May is now completely irrelevant?
Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Steven Joyce, in so far as there is ministerial responsibility.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: In answer to the second part of the question, no.
Grant Robertson: Why is giving every member of this House a $1,000 a year tax cut a higher priority for him than more funding for housing, health, education, or police?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: We actually think that people working in New Zealand should get rewarded for their labour. Actually, I think we are getting, though, to the crux of the problem from Grant Robertson’s perspective, which is that he hates the idea of returning tax income to New Zealand families. This $2 billion Family Incomes Package is delivering to New Zealanders. He hates that. He is against it because he thinks he should be able to spend all the tax that the Government collects.
Freshwater Management—Water Bottling and Exporting
5. JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Why did he say that “we accept there is growing public concern” over bottling and exporting water for profit, and when will he address that concern by putting a charge on water bottling?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): I said it because there was, and there is. That is why we have asked a technical advisory group on water allocation to look at the issue. We look forward to considering its report later on this year. It is an issue that needs to be seen in the context of all the other intensive work that is going on, to focus on better use and higher quality of fresh water in New Zealand.
James Shaw: Will he commit to implementing a resource rental on water if the technical advisory group recommends it?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member has leapt to a much broader assertion about resource rentals on water. We have yet to see what the technical advisory group comes up with.
James Shaw: Will he commit to implementing a price on water bottling if the technical advisory group recommends it?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: It just does not make sense to make open-ended commitments well before we have got an indication of the advice. But what I would say to the member is that over the last 5 or 6 years the Government has done intensive work on all these water-related issues, and from that we have learnt the importance of getting the science right, getting a very good understanding of all the different dimensions of the problems related to the use of water and the quality of water, and we have learnt not to jump to conclusions about what the right answer is.
James Shaw: Given that the Government has failed to implement many of the key recommendations of the Land and Water Forum, why should the public have any confidence that he will follow the advice of the technical advisory group?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member is just wrong. The Land and Water Forum was a radical departure from the usual systems. It took a big leap to a collaborative process with, I think, 70 organisations involved in formulating our policy. We have implemented most of the recommendations. Probably the major one we have not implemented is the Government appointing all the regional councils, and I think even the member might be opposed to that one.
James Shaw: How comfortable is he with the idea that local authorities and tangata whenua in New Zealand are missing out on millions of dollars in royalties from water bottling that could be used to improve monitoring and to help farmers to fence rivers and plant trees?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member is welcome to put forward to the public the view he has just expressed, that councils and iwi should have hundreds of millions of dollars of royalties from fresh water. As it happens, the farming community, without the benefit of royalty incomes, is actually fencing almost all the waterways, certainly in grazeable areas, of New Zealand. It has been a massive investment by the farming community alongside all the other investments and changes in farming practices they are putting in. I am hoping that councils will be able to respond as effectively as the farming community when the focus shifts to the quality of urban water, where his voters might actually have to pay rates in order to achieve the high quality of water rather than just leaving the burden to the farmers.
James Shaw: What other natural resources is the Government intending to give away to commercial companies to onsell for free?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government has given water to our electricity companies for years, which is then onsold for free. You can argue about whether that is the right thing or the most effective, economic way of allocating water. The advisory group is getting to grips with all of these issues, and if the member actually got out and about he would see that in a number of communities and water catchments there is a very sophisticated discussion going on about both the allocation of fresh water and the allocation of polluted water.
James Shaw: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was about natural resources other than water, and the Prime Minister did not address that question.
Mr SPEAKER: No, I think the Prime Minister did, because, again, it was a hypothetical question about what other natural resources the Government might consider giving away for free. It is very hypothetical in the question, and therefore I refer the member to Speakers’ rulings 195/5 and 6.
James Shaw: Does he stand by his statement that it does not matter whether it is fair or not if water bottling companies are charged, and how would he explain that to the people of Havelock North or Ōmārama, who were dependent on bottled water when their own drinking water was contaminated?
Mr SPEAKER: Again, there are two questions there. The Rt Hon Prime Minister can address one or either.
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I am not exactly sure what the member means. I mean the situation in Havelock North appears to be—well, it is not anything to do with bottled water, although they have had to use it when their water was contaminated. It is about local government performance and overseeing ratepayer-funded assets whose purpose is to deliver clean and healthy water to its local people. The extensive inquiry into that incident was warranted by widespread illness in the area, but it is not about charging for water; it is about local body performance and overseeing their clean water system.
Prime Minister—Statements
6. RON MARK (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister: In his prime ministerial capacity, does he stand by all his statements on the Clutha-Southland electorate office issue; if so, how does he do that?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Those statements were not made in my prime ministerial capacity.
Ron Mark: In that case, if his line—
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sorry to interrupt the member asking the question. The Prime Minister’s answer cannot be allowed to stand, because he has made statements on that matter in the House in his capacity as Prime Minister. He has answered questions as Prime Minister. He therefore needs to be able to answer for at least those statements that he has made.
Mr SPEAKER: The Prime Minister’s answer will stand, and it will be for people here in this House to judge it, and for the public to judge it.
Ron Mark: If his line of defence in this matter continues to be “statements were not made in my ministerial capacity” but as National Party leader, then why did he not correct Susie Ferguson on Morning Report, Duncan Garner on The AM Show, and Hilary Barry on the Breakfast show, when he was asked questions on this matter on Monday as the Prime Minister?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I would simply reiterate the answer to my first question, and I do not agree with the members assertions. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] That is the sort of remark that will lead to gross disorder.
Ron Mark: If that is true, did he lie to The Nation, Q+A, Morning Report, The AM Show, Mike Hosking, The Country, and others, given that he now says—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will give the member a chance to rephrase that question. You cannot accuse another member of lying in this House. I will give him a chance to rephrase that.
Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member did not make an accusation; he asked a question. In fact, if we go back through Hansard, you will find copious examples of where Ministers have been asked whether they have told the truth about something, or whether they have lied about something. This is certainly not the first time it has been used in a question. It is absolutely out of order to accuse someone of it; it is not out of order to ask somebody whether they did it.
Mr SPEAKER: I will listen to the member as he rephrases or runs that same question. If I do not like the tone of the question, and I feel that it then breaches Speakers’ rulings on page 48, it could well be ruled out. I will give the member another chance.
Ron Mark: If that is his answer, is it true that he did not tell the truth to The Nation, Q+A, Morning Report, The AM Show, Mike Hosking, The Country, and others, given that he now says he spoke only as the leader of the National Party.
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, and if I was that member I would be more worried about Shane Jones showing up in his caucus room. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order!
Ron Mark: In so far as it is to do with the Prime Minister’s ministerial responsibilities, what is the difference between Taito Phillip Field’s bribery and corruption conviction and a Minister misappropriating $100,000 in an attempt to silence a staff member and to prevent the police from laying criminal charges against his backbench MP?
Mr SPEAKER: In so far as the Prime Minister can, perhaps, detect some prime ministerial responsibility, I invite him to answer it.
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I reject the member’s assertions, but he needs to work out soon the difference between Shane Jones and a deputy leader of the New Zealand First Party. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will invite the member to ask his supplementary question, but he just asks it—it does not need the introduction.
Ron Mark: Why, after she served him loyally, faithfully, and honestly for 18 years, did he throw Glenys Dickson under the bus, and should he not just do the honourable thing and resign now?
Mr SPEAKER: I do not believe there is any prime ministerial responsibility for that. The question is out of order.
Vote Māori Development—Funding and Planning
7. KELVIN DAVIS (Labour—Te Tai Tokerau) to the Minister for Māori Development: Is he satisfied that all Vote Māori Development initiatives were adequately funded and planned in Budget 2017?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister of Finance) on behalf of the Minister for Māori Development: Yes, in the context of the stage of development of each initiative. Budget 2017 contained over a dozen Vote Māori Development initiatives spanning housing to sustaining Māori culture, and it has received more than ever before to deliver improved outcomes for Māori. In addition, Budget 2017’s $2 billion Family Incomes Package puts more money into the pockets of Māori by increasing the personal income tax thresholds, increasing Working for Families payments, and boosting the accommodation supplement.
Kelvin Davis: How can the public have any confidence in the National – Māori Party Waka Oranga mobile health clinic pilot when Te Puni Kōkiri stated this month that there was no needs analysis, it does not have a design, it does not know how it is going to operate, and it does not have targeted outcomes?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: International research shows that mobile health clinics can improve individual health outcomes, advance population health, and reduce healthcare costs, compared with traditional primary healthcare services. Māori make up approximately 15.6 percent of the rural population nationally and experience poorer health outcomes than non-Māori. This is an innovative proposal, and I suspect the member is indicating he is against it.
Kelvin Davis: In that case, what are the targeted outcomes for specific conditions, including rheumatic fever, diabetes, and renal failure, which disproportionately affect Māori?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Those desired outcomes are currently being set and will be—as the project is rolled out, as yet another of the innovate initiatives that this Government has come up with, all those details will be finalised.
Kelvin Davis: Is it this National – Māori Party Government’s style to allocate funding for initiatives like Marae Ora, which also has no operational plan and has no criteria for marae to meet to get funding, and when asked how many marae will benefit, the answer from the Minister was “a number”—does the Minister realise that zero is a number?
Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Steven Joyce, and, again, there are two questions. The Minister can address one.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, I am thrilled that the member is raising these Budget initiatives in the House today and giving them a little bit of extra publicity. The Sustaining the Marae initiative is $10 million over 4 years for a contestable fund to improve, restore, and revitalise the cultural and physical integrity of marae, including investments to meet earthquake and health and safety requirements, particularly where physical restoration projects are a catalyst for strengthening knowledge. This is a wonderful initiative. I thank the member for highlighting it, and I am sure that iwi in his area will be interested in applying to it to strengthen and sustain their marae.
Kelvin Davis: What kind of Minister bids for initiatives that have no operational plan, no design, and no targets?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: It is important to bid for initiatives that actually create new opportunities in the future. Just for example, we could find that there was a marae that actually had broken showers or, perhaps, limited accommodation, and we might want to invest in sustaining that marae, particularly if a political party had brought people there on false pretences and tried to tell them that it was a good place for accommodation. That is why you have these sorts of initiatives: to cater for the opportunities as they come up.
Primary Sector—Growth
BARBARA KURIGER (National—Taranaki – King Country): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I cannot hear with the level of interjection. I am going to have to give a couple of final warnings, and one is going to be to Grant Robertson to just cut down.
Grant Robertson: It wasn’t me.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I did not hear where it came from that time, but members—
Kris Faafoi: It was me.
Mr SPEAKER: Oh, Kris Faafoi has owned up, so let us make it quite clear to Kris Faafoi that if he interjects again through question time I will ask him to leave.
Kris Faafoi: Thank you.
Mr SPEAKER: My pleasure.
8. BARBARA KURIGER (National—Taranaki – King Country) to the Minister for Primary Industries: How is the Government supporting the primary sector to grow sustainably through science?
Hon NATHAN GUY (Minister for Primary Industries): Minister Paul Goldsmith and I recently launched the Primary Sector Science Roadmap. Science will be a key driver in doubling the value of our overall primary sector exports by 2025. This roadmap will inform research conducted by New Zealand science and technology teams and organisations, along with their international partners. It provides a shared view across the primary sector on the science and technology needs for the sector and where investment needs to be focused.
Barbara Kuriger: How is the Government partnering with farmers and growers at a grassroots level to adapt to environmental challenges?
Hon NATHAN GUY: That is a very good question. The Sustainable Farming Fund supports the primary sector’s own forward thinking and its Kiwi ingenuity, which in turn helps keep New Zealand ahead of the game. One thousand projects have now been funded since the fund was initiated in 2000. This represents around $150 million in Government funding, alongside a significant overall level of local support. Each project brings together farmers, growers, and foresters to work alongside scientists and researchers to solve a problem and, overall, seize opportunities.
Prime Minister—Statements
9. TRACEY MARTIN (NZ First) to the Prime Minister: In his prime ministerial capacity, does he stand by all his statements on the Clutha-Southland electorate office issue even if facts known to him make doing so extraordinarily difficult; if so, how?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Those statements were not made in my prime ministerial capacity.
Tracey Martin: In light of recent comments he has made as Prime Minister, was he deliberately being dismissive about recordings because one intercepted conversation involved talk of sex and drugs, as reported by Newsroom?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have nothing to add to what has been covered by a 10-month police investigation. I understand the police are reopening that investigation.
Tracey Martin: In light of recent comments he has made as Prime Minister, is he deliberately attempting to mislead because the facts known to him include matters relating to sex and drugs?
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: As I said, I have nothing to add to what has been a 10-month police investigation—an investigation that is now being reopened.
Tracey Martin: In light of recent comments he has made as Prime Minister, when his text read “Everyone unhappy.”, was he referring to the huge settlement, or was it because he knew the contents of the recording included sex and drugs matters?
Mr SPEAKER: In so far as there may be prime ministerial responsibility, the Rt Hon Prime Minister.
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I reject the member’s assertions, but, as I have said before, this was a matter of two people who fell out very intensively, and that has had a lot of implications. I would hope they can find some resolution to their differences.
Tracey Martin: As Prime Minister, has he attempted to contact Glenys Dickson to apologise for her treatment by a member of his Government; if not, why not?
Mr SPEAKER: Again, in so far as there is prime ministerial responsibility, the Rt Hon Prime Minister.
Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have no prime ministerial responsibility for that.
Richard Prosser: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With regard to this line of questioning that has been going on for the last couple of days, I seek your guidance with regard to Speakers’ rulings 175/1 and, to a lesser degree, 173/3 and 173/4, all of which touch on the same subject. The fact that a Minister has no legal control over a certain action does not mean there is no ministerial responsibility to answer a question. Speaker’s ruling 175(1) says: “nevertheless the Minister assumes the political responsibility to the House to answer questions on those matters.” I know that you have made reference to Speakers’ rulings 173/1 and 173/2; it appears to me that 173/3, 173/4, and 175/1 are almost the polar opposite of those and do seem to play out that in some circumstances, even though the Minister does not have ministerial or legal responsibility, he does have a political responsibility to the House to answer those questions.
Mr SPEAKER: The Speakers’ rulings on page 175 particularly refer to operational matters. I am comfortable that you can go through Speakers’ rulings and find many that appear to contradict each other. The ones that are pertinent in these cases are certainly the ones that I have used consistently over the last week and have done so in two rulings to the House now, and they apply particularly to pages 172 and 173. But I do thank the member for his assistance.
Emergency Housing—Demand
10. CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour—Kelston) to the Associate Minister for Social Housing: Is the demand for New Zealanders seeking emergency accommodation increasing or decreasing?
Hon ALFRED NGARO (Associate Minister for Social Housing): Demand for emergency housing is increasing because such assistance is now available. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am just trying to get bit of silence and a fair go for the member.
Carmel Sepuloni: Is he concerned that the number of approved emergency housing special needs grants applications has again increased, from 8,860 in the December 2016 quarter to 9,218 in the March 2017 quarter?
Hon ALFRED NGARO: We know that we are making a difference, because it is about more than providing a roof when someone is living in transitional accommodation. We are really clear that the fact is that the demand for emergency accommodation will increase over the winter months. We know that less desirable living situations become untenable—events such as World Masters Games. The member cannot have it both ways—both to criticise the Government for not having the support and then to criticise the Government for spending too much.
Carmel Sepuloni: Can he guarantee that the Government has planned for enough emergency housing places across the regions for New Zealanders in 2017 in light of the growing demand for emergency housing support?
Hon ALFRED NGARO: The Government has set its intentions out quite clearly. It expects to secure 2,150 places by the end of the year. I understand that the ministry expects to have around 1,300 places available by June, with a further 230 places expected to come online in early July. With those places in play, we will be able to support 5,600 families.
Carmel Sepuloni: What does he say to the 196 families in the central North Island who needed emergency accommodation between January and March of this year but had access to only 14 Government emergency housing places?
Hon ALFRED NGARO: I would, what you call, continue to support—and we have put out some press releases just of late to talk about the demands, which we have been meeting; in fact, two motels over in Hawke’s Bay just last week, in order to meet those demands. I have actually been out through to the areas, working with providers in those areas who are providing that accommodation to meet those needs in Tauranga and in Rotorua.
Hon Dr Nick Smith: Are foreign workers who are being exploited by political parties in substandard accommodation eligible for emergency housing?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I do not believe that that is a question that is in order. It is a question that is clearly designed to attack the Opposition, and that is not the purpose of using the Government’s supplementary questions. [Interruption] Order!
Carmel Sepuloni: Given that the number of emergency housing grants has doubled in the Taranaki region since December 2016, will the Minister be pushing for the Marfell State housing development, which was dropped by this Government, to be immediately resumed?
Hon ALFRED NGARO: I am not aware of that particular project that the member has been mentioning, but what I can say to the member is that this Government has the intention—the first Government—to, in the 2016 Budget, have $350 million more for housing support, to support 8,600 families over this period of time.
Carmel Sepuloni: What written communications has he received from regional Work and Income offices that emergency housing demand is far exceeding the number of emergency housing places that are available?
Hon ALFRED NGARO: I have not personally received any written communication or correspondence to my office.
Disability Issues, Minister—Announcements on Access to Written Materials for Print-Disabled New Zealanders
11. SIMON O’CONNOR (National—Tāmaki) to the Minister for Disability Issues: What announcements has she made regarding improved access to written materials for blind, visually impaired, and otherwise print-disabled New Zealanders?
Hon NICKY WAGNER (Minister for Disability Issues): The Government has announced that it will join the Marrakesh treaty. That is an international framework that will enable the reproduction of books and other literary works in accessible formats.
Simon O’Connor: How will the Marrakesh treaty benefit disabled New Zealanders?
Hon NICKY WAGNER: An estimated 90 percent of all written materials worldwide are not published in accessible formats, such as Braille, audio, or large print. For about 168,000 New Zealanders with a print disability this is a barrier to participation in public life and restricts employment, education, and recreation. This treaty will make a meaningful change to the lives of thousands of New Zealanders, by ensuring that they have access to a greater variety of books and other publications in accessible formats. It also supports the Government’s vision for creating a non-disabling society, as outlined in the New Zealand disabilities strategy. I wish to thank my colleagues the Hon Paul Goldsmith and the Hon Jacqui Dean, as well as the Blind Foundation, the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand, and other advocates for their hard work in making this happen.
Foreign Affairs, Minister—Nuclear Weapons Convention
12. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Does he support the negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention currently under way in New York, which would result in States’ parties agreeing to prohibit the manufacture, possession, and use of nuclear weapons; if not, why not?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister for Economic Development) on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Yes.
Dr Kennedy Graham: Will the Minister encourage his counterparts in all the nuclear weapons States to participate in the negotiations?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Yes. We think it is a good idea to take part in negotiations for this convention. Of course, it is at a very early stage. It is really in draft treaty phase and is still subject to, I think, quite a long period of negotiations.
Dr Kennedy Graham: Given that, in fact, the negotiations are not that far away from completion and that a text could be open for signature, possibly, by July 7, does the Minister share the pride felt by New Zealand citizens that our disarmament ambassador is one of the vice-chairs of the negotiations?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: We share the pride.
Dr Kennedy Graham: In the fullness of sharing the pride, why did the Minister oppose the Green Party’s amendment to the notice of motion of 8 June calling upon all States to support the ongoing negotiations for the convention in which New Zealand is actively engaged?
Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Because the motion was to mark 30 years of our nuclear-free legislation, which has become a defining aspect of this country’s international reputation in which we can all share the pride, not to discuss ongoing United Nations negotiations. New Zealand continues to work strongly for a nuclear weapon – free world.

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