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Parliament: Questions and Answers – Dec 12

Press Release – Hansard

Question No. 1Prime Minister 1. Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister : Does she stand by her Government’s policy to “create more jobs”; if so, can she confirm that over 245,000 jobs have been created …ORAL QUESTIONS


Question No. 1—Prime Minister
1. Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by her Government’s policy to “create more jobs”; if so, can she confirm that over 245,000 jobs have been created in the last 2 years?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes. It is this Government’s policy to see more people in employment. I can also confirm that in the last two years, there were 235,000 more people in the workforce and an increase of around 245,000 people in some form of employment.
Rt Hon Bill English: Can she confirm that that means there were around 10,000 extra jobs created, on average, each month, and, if so, how many jobs—new jobs—over and above that does her Government plan to create?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: It is absolutely this Government’s ambition to increase employment, particularly for people in the regions and particularly for young people. Over the same two-year period that that member referenced, there was, for an example, an increase in the unemployment rate in Gisborne, up to 8.8 percent, and the number of “neets”—young people not in employment, education, or training—over that two-year period increased by 4,000. We can do better than that.
Rt Hon Bill English: Can the Prime Minister tell us what kind of jobs the Government has in mind to create in Gisborne?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: We’ve spoken a number of times around the kind of regional growth and employment we hope to see. A lot of that we hope to see off the back of our investment through the Regional Development (Provincial Growth) Fund, which is an initiative of New Zealand First. But I see opportunities, particularly in Gisborne, around issues like wood processing, the forestry industry, and others. This is a Government who is ambitious for New Zealanders and our regions.
Rt Hon Bill English: So do the types of jobs she wants to create resemble those referred to by her Minister for Regional Economic Development, who said it would take 1,250 planters to plant a million trees a day, a hundred days’ work a year; and does she mean that planting trees on Tuesdays and Fridays at the minimum wage is the kind of quality job she wants to create?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: We will see a range of job opportunities off the back of that regional growth fund. It’s sad to see that after such a short time in Opposition, those past Government members have become so unambitious for the potential of those young people.
Rt Hon Bill English: Can the Prime Minister address the question, and that’s: do the jobs proposed by the Minister for Regional Economic Development—that is, people working planting trees, two days a week, on the minimum wage—count as the kind of ambitious job she has in mind?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: There are full-time job opportunities in the forestry industry, and the member well knows that.
Rt Hon Bill English: So will she direct the Minister for Regional Economic Development to create full-time jobs, paying the living wage—as the public have been led to believe will be the case—or is she happy with the current policy to create part-time jobs on the minimum wage?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The Minister for Regional Economic Development does not need to be directed. He has a very clear ambition for job creation. He has a particular focus on rangatahi and young people, particularly in Northland, in the Bay of Plenty, and in the East Coast. Those are job opportunities, like forestry, and I have an expectation that of course they will be quality opportunities with long-term prospects.
Rt Hon Bill English: So can the Prime Minister tell us what jobs will be available in addition to those already struggling to be filled in the horticulture industry and the hospitality industry in the regions that she has referred to?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Look, as I’ve said, in an area like Gisborne we have an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent. Yes, in some cases that’s about investing in education and training. That’s another reason why this Government has removed any barriers to access around education and training, with its fees-free policy. It’s about investing in young people so that they’re able to take up those jobs—not diminishing their motivation or their ability to do a job.
Rt Hon Bill English: Does the Prime Minister stand by the estimates made for the Government policy that there will be a few thousand extra enrolments across New Zealand as a result of the fees-free tertiary policy; and to what percentage should unemployment drop in Gisborne as a result of that policy?
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Speaking to the question on the expected enrolment for the education sector, there’s been an expectation that that will lift, as a result of our policy, and stem the tide of declining enrolment and participation that was happening under the last Government.
Question No. 2—Finance
2. WILLOW-JEAN PRIME (Labour) to the Minister of Finance: What recent announcements has he made regarding the Reserve Bank?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was very pleased to announce yesterday that I’ve appointed Adrian Orr to be the next Reserve Bank Governor. Given his broad range of experience, I have no doubt that he will be an excellent Governor. I can’t put it better than Sharon Zollner, the chief economist at ANZ, who yesterday described Mr Orr as “A very safe pair of hands. … he’s a fantastic communicator and that’s obviously a key part of the role, … He’s extremely well qualified for the role. It’s difficult to think of anyone who is more qualified.” I would like to put on record my thanks to the outgoing Acting Governor, Grant Spencer, who has done an excellent job in the interim period.
Willow-Jean Prime: How will Mr Orr’s appointment affect the policy targets agreement?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: It is a requirement of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act that I negotiate a policy targets agreement with the new Governor before he takes up that role. I will do this on the basis of the work of the first phase of the review of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act, which is currently under way. This will include broadening the bank’s mandate to include maximising employment alongside price stability.
Willow-Jean Prime: What progress has been made on the review of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act that the Minister announced in November?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Phase 1 of the review work is under way, with officials looking at the language that can be used to best reflect the Government’s goal of maximising employment alongside the price stability mandate. We’re also investigating international examples of decision making within reserve banks that include external experts and greater transparency about their decisions, as committed to in the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act review. I’ll also be making announcements of the members of the independent expert advisory panel to support this work, very shortly.
Hon Steven Joyce: Does he expect, as a result of his Reserve Bank changes and other policy changes, that the Government will exceed the 245,000 jobs created in the last two years in the next two years, and would he consider that a reasonable measure of achievement?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: There are a lot of factors involved in whether or not jobs will be created. We want the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act, and, indeed, monetary policy, to contribute to that. We will be ambitious for New Zealand, unlike the Opposition, who seem to have given up on that in terms of employment.
Question No. 3—Transport
3. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Minister of Transport: Which statement does he agree with: his statement in the House last week that “no existing and funded roading project other than the East-West Link has been altered by the Government”, or the Minister of Finance’s reported comments, in relation to roading priorities, that “there are other priorities around New Zealand as well, in terms of investing in rail and getting coastal shipping going, improving our regional roads”?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): Both of them, in the context in which they were made.
Jami-Lee Ross: Can the Minister confirm that the construction of the Auckland-Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative project in its current form is a priority for the Government?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: It’s currently under consideration, but I would expect it would be a priority.
Todd Muller: Can the Minister confirm that the construction of the Tauranga Northern Link will commence as expected in 2018?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I want to make it clear that it’s not the role of the Minister of Transport to prioritise particular roading projects, because that would encourage pork-barrel politics. My message to the people of New Zealand is: don’t believe scaremongering press releases from National backbenchers aligned with—
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat.
Lawrence Yule: Does the Minister support the four-laning of the Napier to Hastings expressway, in light of Friday’s briefing, which shows that the port volumes of cargo at Napier Port are going to go up by 49 percent by 2026?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Actually, there is an investigation of that stretch of road going on right now. The focus is safety improvements. The business case, including recommendations on a preferred option, is expected mid-2018. I would point out to the member that this—along with a number of other projects that were announced by the former Government in a press release—was never costed and never funded, and no analysis of economic value was done on a single one of those projects.
Tim van de Molen: Does the Minister consider the extension of the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to the foot of the Kaimai Range more or less of a priority, given its safety improvements, than a rail connection through the Prime Minister’s electorate?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: That’s a line straight out of Judith Collins’ press release, if I’m not wrong.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I am going to advise the Minister to be direct in his answers. I’m trying very hard with both the askers and answerers to be straight, and the member is not helping.
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The investigation of Cambridge to Tīrau, again, is on safety and journey improvements. The business case will be expected in mid-2018. For the stretch of highway to the Kaimai Range, similarly, there’s an investigation on freight efficiency, resilience, safety, and travel time reliability requirements. This Government takes the view that high-quality, high-value roading projects can be funded alongside investments in modern rapid transit systems in our city. It’s not an either/or.
Marja Lubeck: What is the current state of the Accelerated Regional State Highway Programme, introduced in 2014?
Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, in the current three-year cycle the fund has delivered $70 million less investment in regional State highways than was promised. Similarly, investment in local roads under that programme has been $45 million less than promised. Understandably, this has fuelled scepticism of the Opposition’s new-found commitment to regional roads.
Question No. 4—Finance
4. Hon STEVEN JOYCE (National) to the Minister of Finance: What was the marginal personal income tax rate paid by someone on the full-time median wage on 1 April 2011, and how does this compare to the expected marginal rate paid by someone on the full-time median wage on 1 April 2018 under his tax package?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): On 1 April 2011, someone on the full-time median wage paid a marginal personal income tax rate of 17.5 percent—that’s if we use annual figures. I’ve been advised by Treasury and IRD that they do not make forward projections of the full-time median wage, so I am unable to fully answer the second part of the member’s question. However, I can tell the member that the Government is not proposing to alter the marginal tax rates on what people are currently earning.
Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Given that the median wage is currently around $50,000 a year, it surely would not be beyond the wit of the finance Minister to make an estimate as to what the tax rate would be on 1 April 2018 under his tax package, because I can work it out—it is like to be 30c in the dollar.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, the member can ask his next supplementary if he wants to.
Hon Steven Joyce: Well, if he’s unable to work out the answer to the first question, can I ask him another one. Given his concern for Kiwi workers, should someone earning $23 per hour face a marginal tax rate of 30c in the in dollar if they are working a full-time wage?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I’ll repeat the second part of my first answer, which is that we’re not proposing any changes in terms of what people will pay in terms of their effective marginal tax rate. What I can say is that somebody in the position that the member indicates would actually be paying an average tax rate of around 16 percent on all of the income that they earn.
Hon Steven Joyce: Does he stand by his statement to journalist Alex Tarrant on 14 September that “I think”—and I quote—”all New Zealanders understand, when they go to work every day, pay tax on every cent of income that they earn, that they want fairness to be seen across the system”, and how does increasing the tax rate for median wage earners increase people’s perception of fairness in the tax system, and when I say increase, I mean changing the law from 1 April next year?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I’m sure Mr Tarrant would have quoted me very accurately in that story. What we are saying is that no New Zealander will pay more tax—
Hon Steven Joyce: That’s not the point.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: No, it is. No New Zealander will pay more tax than they do now. Mr Joyce’s package may well have seen changes in tax rates, but no New Zealanders will pay more tax, because that package has not been implemented.
Hon Steven Joyce: Is it the Minister’s view that fiscal drag should actually never be addressed so that any full-time worker eventually pays a marginal tax rate of 30c in the dollar?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: All Governments would like to address fiscal drag. This Government has inherited a massive social and infrastructure deficit from the previous Government, and our priority has to be to make sure that our schools and our hospitals work. We’ll do that first, because that’s what a responsible Government does.
Tamati Coffey: How does the tax on wages in New Zealand compare internationally?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: OECD analysis shows that the average worker in New Zealand has the sixth-lowest net average tax rate among the 35 OECD members. Under this Government’s policy, no one will be paying more tax in the future than they do today, but by rejecting National’s tax cuts we can actually rebuild the social services New Zealanders rely on.
Hon Steven Joyce: In light of his previous answer, does he realise that the net $2.4 billion that he saves through this tax package has already been exceeded by the $2.8 billion in the tertiary package he’s so fond of, and does he think that builders on the median wage will be happy paying $1,060 a year more throughout their working lives as a fair exchange for one year’s free education for a law student?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I think builders on the minimum wage will be welcoming the fact—
Hon Members: Median wage.
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: —the median wage, will be welcoming the fact that there will be apprentices arriving fully subsidised and paid for by this Government. They’ll be welcoming the fact that their hospitals will actually be working. They’ll be welcoming the fact that more houses will be being built under the excellent KiwiBuild programme. They will be very happy indeed.
Hon Steven Joyce: How does the finance Minister expect us to believe he cares about average Kiwi workers when his very first act as finance Minister for workers is to lift the marginal tax rate from that that is in law now and actually charge them $1,060 more in tax from next April than is currently the case?
Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: They will not be paying any more tax in the future than they do today because that member’s package had not come into force. But what this member seems to believe is that the reward for working people is that their taxes will be cut. On this side of the House, we’re more ambitious than that. We want their wages to rise. We want a productive economy that delivers them higher wages.
Question No. 5—Education
5. JAMIE STRANGE (Labour) to the Minister of Education: Does he consider it acceptable that young New Zealanders’ literacy levels have fallen significantly, as measured by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study; if not, how does the Government propose to turn this around?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): No, I don’t. The average reading score for year 5 children in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, or PIRLS, as it is more widely known, has fallen by eight points between 2010 and 2015, and this is just the latest in a series of disturbing trends in international studies. The Government’s agenda will tackle this in a number of ways, from reforming initial teacher education and professional development to a fairer funding system and stronger early learning. But today, I’m starting by clearing away a failed experiment that has wasted enormous amounts of time and energy and produced misleading results. Today, this Government has delivered on its promise and scrapped national standards.
Jamie Strange: Have national standards given parents a reliable indication of their child’s progress; if not, how will he ensure that parents get better information in the future?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: No. As Auckland University’s Dr Kane Meissel has said, “There is … clear evidence that the ‘standard’ being applied differs markedly”, with Wellington students needing to have much higher results to be considered “at the standard” than those in the Auckland region—which, of course, is probably true. Parents in 2018 will still receive reports in plain English at least twice a year on maths, literacy, and across the curriculum areas, but I want teachers to be freed up so they can spend more time teaching and less time testing.
Jan Tinetti: What evidence has he received that demonstrates that national standards were neither national nor standard?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: A report released by the Ministry of Education found that national standards had incorrectly measured the achievements of around four out of every 10 students. The ministry’s own analysis of 352 children who were judged to have met the maths standard for their age showed that in fact only 28 percent, or less than a third, of them had actually met the standard. National standards were neither national nor standard. [Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Question No. 6—Health
6. Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (National—Northcote) to the Minister of Health: What measurable outcomes, if any, will his policies deliver?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): Better health for New Zealanders.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: How will the Government afford the cost of the $1.4 billion rebuild of Dunedin Hospital, given that the extra $8 billion for health is, in his words, “pretty much spent”?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: From the existing capital allowance.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: Can he confirm that he intends to seek $1.4 billion of capital for the Dunedin Hospital rebuild in Budget 2018; and, if not, where and when will the cost be booked?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Budget processes are under way now, as that member will well know. He was in Government for nine years—surely he understands how this process works.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: If the $8 billion for health is “pretty much spent”, why doesn’t he use a public-private partnership (PPP) to fund Dunedin Hospital so that an extra $1.4 billion could be freed up for more specialist appointments, for more operations, and for the many unfunded promises that he continues to make?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: The overseas experience is that those who’ve entered into public-private partnerships have ended up paying many times over for the experience and that the healthcare delivery has been poor. I’m absolutely delighted that we were able to scrap the public-private partnership model for Dunedin Hospital, because it made no sense. The Mayor of London describes their hospitals over there as “a noose around the necks of the citizens”.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: With Pete Hodgson running the Dunedin Hospital rebuild and a PPP being ruled out, does he understand why The Lancet, the world’s oldest medical journal, says in its November editorial that “with Jacinda Ardern, Marxist ideas have re-entered the political debate in health.”?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member clearly has no responsibility for either The Lancet or the comment.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I seek leave to table an article from The Lancet, an editorial—4 November 2017.
Mr SPEAKER: Can I ask whether The Lancet is a widely available journal?
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: You probably wouldn’t get it at your local dairy, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member. Any further supplementaries?
Angie Warren-Clark: Supplementary?
Mr SPEAKER: Question No. 7—oh, sorry. Angie Warren-Clark.
Angie Warren-Clark: What action is the Minister taking to improve outcomes in mental health in New Zealand?
Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: Mental health is a key priority for this Government, as signalled in our 100-day plan. Work is under way to establish a ministerial inquiry into mental health and addictions. I’ve asked that this inquiry be broad and cover a variety of topics. There are three further steps we’ll be taking in the near term to address current shortfalls in mental health provision. We’re progressing work to extend school-based health services—a nurse in every secondary school. We’re also planning on piloting mental health coordinators in GP practices. Finally, we are making primary care more affordable and accessible for New Zealanders.
Mr SPEAKER: Once again, Question No. 7.
Question No. 7—Education
7. Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central) to the Minister of Education: Will he scrap all public-private partnership arrangements involving school infrastructure; if so, what is the potential cost of doing this?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Minister of Education): The parties that make up the current Government have all been clear that we don’t support public-private partnerships (PPPs) for the provision of basic core public services like schools and hospitals. I am not currently proposing any changes to existing signed PPP contracts in education. Future projects, including those the previous Government had signalled would be PPPs but aren’t currently subject to signed contracts, will be considered as part of the Budget process.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Is Whangarei Boys High School proceeding as a PPP, and, if not, will he guarantee that their $50 million redevelopment goes ahead?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: That would depend on whether or not they are part of a currently signed PPP. They are not on the list of signed PPPs entered into by the previous Government, so that is something that we will be considering. I can give them a reassurance that their building projects will go ahead.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can the Minister advise the House as to when this announcement was made at Whangarei Boys High School by the previous administration and what costs they had at that time organised to have planned within the next Budget?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I understand that it is one of the many commitments that the previous Government made during the election campaign that they had not budgeted for.
Hon Nikki Kaye: Will the Pukekohe-Belmont school be proceeding as a PPP; if not, why not?
Hon Nikki Kaye: How many schools are currently in negotiations for PPPs, and how many of them will then proceed?
Hon CHRIS HIPKINS: I understand that none of the schools are negotiating PPPs. That work is done by the Ministry of Education.
Hon Nikki Kaye: How many schools have had their PPP arrangements scrapped under his watch?
Question No. 8—Health
8. CHLÖE SWARBRICK (Green) to the Associate Minister of Health: What restrictions on surgical mesh has the Government made, in order to protect women’s health?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER (Associate Minister of Health): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. The Government has welcomed moves by Medsafe to limit the supply of surgical mesh products as they are used in transvaginal surgeries. Specifically, Medsafe has written to surgical mesh suppliers advising them that if they cannot prove the safety of their products within 45 days, they will no longer be available for use in those transvaginal surgeries. Hundreds of women have experienced debilitating pain as a result of complications from the use of surgical mesh in these surgeries, and we are glad to be acting to protect women’s health.
Chlöe Swarbrick: Is the Minister aware of any previous recommendations about the use of surgical mesh?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: Yes, I am. In 2015, ACC undertook an analysis of surgical injuries resulting from the use of mesh, and that report recommended a full evidence-based review of the safety of the product, which, unfortunately, the Government of the time failed to act upon. This Government is committed to acting on women’s health issues and not ignoring them.
Chlöe Swarbrick: Does the Minister agree with Mesh Down Under advocacy group member Charlotte Korte when she said in the Dominion Post today that the news was like “an early Christmas present. We have been campaigning for so long and the previous Government did nothing”?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: Yes, I do agree with her. This Government is committed to ensuring that women’s voices are heard in the health system and that their concerns are not ignored. As Associate Minister of Health, I have specific delegations for women’s health, and it is my intention to ensure women are well treated in our health system. I’m here to listen to women and act on their health concerns.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: Has the Government started any work on the surgical mesh register, which was promised during the election campaign?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: The announcement today is just the first step in ensuring that all products that are used are as safe as they can be and fit for purpose.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked a very direct question: have they started work; yes or no?
Mr SPEAKER: I’m considering how to react to the member’s point of order. The member started with quite a good point of order and then he asked for something that you can’t ask for, and that’s a yes or no answer. The Standing Orders clearly rule it out. I am going to ask the Minister, however—we’ll go back to the first part of the point of order.
Hon Tracey Martin: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: No, we’re going deal with this one first. We’ll go back to the first part of the point of order, and I will ask the Minister to address that.
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would let that member know, and reassure him, that this Government is taking steps to ensure that surgical mesh, as it is used, is safe and that if it is not safe, it won’t be used. So it depends on the results of the steps that have been taken today, whether or not the register is needed.
Hon Tracey Martin: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can a Minister of the Crown be held accountable for an election campaign, because that was what the member asked?
Mr SPEAKER: I listened very carefully to the questions that were asked, and I think that the original answer to, I think, the first or second supplementary broadened it out wide enough for that to be considered.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Things are travelling along quite well today, except that you did rule out a question from the Hon Jonathan Coleman, when he was talking to the Hon David Clark, asking for, effectively, an opinion. Yet in this latest question, we’ve had Ms Swarbrick ask a question of the Hon Julie Anne Genter: if she agreed. That seems to me to be a little inconsistent.
Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member for his view. In my view, there is a difference between an unrelated quote in a magazine, for which there’s no responsibility, and a comment on an announcement that a Minister has made in the last 24 hours. The Lancet comment on an unrelated matter, compared with a comment on a specific announcement that the Minister is responsible for, are different.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It’s very interesting that you can make that analysis so quickly, given that The Lancet article was not able to be tabled in the House.
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, I relied on the quote from it from your colleague.
Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. As I explained to you, The Lancet comment directly related to, and mentioned, the Prime Minister and health and Marxist ideology.
Mr SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr Coleman—and that adds, what?
Question No. 9—Corrections
9. SIMON O’CONNOR (National—Tāmaki) to the Minister of Corrections: Does he stand by all his statements in relation to prison population growth?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS (Minister of Corrections): Yes, in the context they were made. In particular, I stand by my statements that I would like to work with the member and all parties in a bipartisan way, given research says that scaremongering amongst politicians creates fear in the public, which in turn drives policy that increases the prison population.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! Before we go to the supplementary, I would like to remind members on my left that they do not draw me into this discussion.
Simon O’Connor: Is he ruling out a public-private partnership at Waikeria; and, if so, has he talked to the Minister of Finance around extra funding to cover increasing costs in population growth within his corrections portfolio?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: We are yet to make any final decisions on the rebuild of Waikeria, but we don’t generally do public-private partnerships.
Simon O’Connor: What advice has he received of the impact on prisoner numbers of the 1,800 extra police, and how is he going to manage this?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: Done correctly, increased police numbers will actually reduce crime, in particular if they have a focus on education.
Simon O’Connor: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked what advice he had received. I don’t think that was addressed in the question.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I think it was. The Minister might not have prefaced it with “The advice I have received”, but I think he indicated what that advice included.
Simon O’Connor: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Am I able, through you, to ask for clarification if that is advice or just an opinion?
Mr SPEAKER: If the member wants to use another supplementary, yes.
Simon O’Connor: Thank you. Can the Minister advise myself and the House if, in the answer to the previous question, that was formal advice that he has received and reviewed?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: The member is asking whether I’ve received formal advice. The advice I’ve seen from research is that, if done correctly, community policing and education will actually reduce crime and reduce the prison population—that way.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has he received any advice that if you get rid of the police force there will then be the case where the prisons will not be required; they’ll be emptied out?
Hon KELVIN DAVIS: No, I haven’t received that advice.
Question No. 10—Employment
10. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister of Employment: Does he stand by his statement in the Manukau Courier, “for 9 years we’ve had Government policy which has offered up little more than lip service to job creation”; if so, can he confirm that in the past 2 years an average of more than 10,000 jobs a month have been created in this country?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON (Minister of Employment): Absolutely yes, I stand by my statement. And to answer the second part of the question—as the Prime Minister answered so eloquently earlier—that is one interpretation of reports, but what I can confirm is that Statistics New Zealand data shows around 245,000 more people are in some form of employment than two years ago.
Mr SPEAKER: I’ll just let the member the Hon Paul Goldsmith know that his team has another supplementary.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: If 10,000 new jobs a month is not good enough, what target will he commit to?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: This Government is absolutely committed to real jobs—jobs with dignity, jobs with a future—and we want to lower unemployment for a group of people that the National Party have forgotten all about.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: What is the current average wage?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: At the moment we know what the average wage is, and that MP needs to do some research.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: Is it a point of order on me for allowing the question?
Hon Paul Goldsmith: No, it’s just I’d like to have an answer. I asked a very simple question and I didn’t get any answer.
Mr SPEAKER: Yes, and I’m not sure of its relationship with the original question.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I assume you are considering whether or not you will act on that point of order? I mean, to—
Mr SPEAKER: I am considering.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: You are? OK. Well, we we’ll be quiet until we’ve had a bit of consideration.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: For the Minister’s information, the average wage is nearly 60,000 a year—a 28 percent increase on 9 years ago, which is twice the rate of employment. And so, given that, what would his target be for increasing the average wage?
Mr SPEAKER: I would have given some extra questions if in fact we had a question. We did at the end, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to have the Hon Willie Jackson answer that question, but I do want both sides to settle down, and I especially want questions not to have prefaces.
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Sorry, Mr Speaker. What was the question again?
Mr SPEAKER: Well, I think if the Hon Paul Goldsmith just does the tail end of what he said before.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: So my question to the Minister is: what is his target for increasing the average wage?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Our target is to create real jobs with dignity amongst our communities. This is an Opposition that has forgotten a big group of people in New Zealand: the Māori nation and the Pacific Island nation. Shame on you.
Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’m just conscious that the Minister today has answered the question by talking about the importance of certain types of jobs that deliver dignity and so on, and one would have thought that, therefore, as the Minister of Employment, one of the key ways of delivering dignity in employment is the size of the wage that is paid. It’s not the only way, but it is one of the key ways. So it would be fair, surely, to actually have some considered answers to these questions about what sort of average wage the Minister might be looking for, or, indeed, what is the average wage, given that he is the Minister of Employment.
Mr SPEAKER: I thank the member for his point of order, but I am going to be consistent with my predecessors and say that I am not going to take responsibility for the quality of the answers.
Hon Grant Robertson: Speaking to the point of order.
Mr SPEAKER: No, too late.
Hon Grant Robertson: Point of order, then.
Mr SPEAKER: I hope it’s not a related matter, Mr Robertson.
Hon Grant Robertson: It’s a related matter to the nature of supplementary questions, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: I have allowed them, and we’ve passed—and I’ve made some rulings pretty clearly on that, thank you.
Paul Eagle: What has the Minister seen that highlights that the creation of jobs for Māori and Pasifika people are lagging behind those of others?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: I’ve seen the recent unemployment figures that show under the previous Government Māori and Pasifika people were more than two times more likely to be unemployed than others, and that highlights that the job creation under the previous Government left parts of our community unacceptably behind.
Paul Eagle: What other examples has the Minister seen of lip-service to job creation?
Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. That is not a supplementary question.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: When he wrote “I’m Minister of Employment to make a real difference, not appease easy stereotypes and lazy journalism”, which journalists did he think were being lazy?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: There are many fine journalists, particularly the ones who write negative articles about the Opposition.
Hon Iain Lees-Galloway: What impact does he anticipate the Government’s plan to progressively raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour and to enhance workers’ bargaining position in the workplace will have on average wages?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Huge, huge impact—huge impact. Workers are so happy with the changes at the moment, particularly after being under attack for the last nine years from a disgraceful Government.
Hon Paul Goldsmith: How long will it take to get to that target?
Hon WILLIE JACKSON: If the member’s been reading our press releases, by the year 2020—inscribe it on your forehead: 2020—we’ll get our workers, our people, all people, up to a liveable wage: 2020.
Mr SPEAKER: We will now move on to the next question, but I am going to remind the Minister that suggesting that the Speaker get tattoos is not a good thing.
Question No. 11—Agriculture
11. KIRITAPU ALLAN (Labour) to the Minister of Agriculture: What is he doing to protect and enhance New Zealand’s trade reputation for agricultural exports?
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR (Minister of Agriculture): I’m very pleased to announce today that MPI—the Ministry for Primary Industries—has now finalised a scientifically robust definition for mānuka honey so our export markets can be confident the New Zealand mānuka honey they buy is authentic. This is a positive step forward for our industry, for our trading partners, and for consumers in our export markets.
Kiritapu Allan: How long has it taken to produce a robust, scientific definition for mānuka honey?
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR: It has taken some time. As far back as 2013 some honey exporters were concerned that “cowboys”—to use their own words—were trying to sell phoney mānuka honey. Their quote: “If we don’t do something about it, our reputation will be damaged.” It’s taken some time to get to where we are today, but I hope that the decision will reassure our trading partners, our customers, and all those who buy mānuka honey that cowboys will no longer be in the honey business.
Hon David Bennett: In today’s announcement of the test for multi-floral and mono-floral mānuka honey, why hasn’t the Minister included a chemical test for leptosperin, which a unified honey industry uses for its current tests and strongly advocated for inclusion in the ministry test?
Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR: Some people in the industry put forward leptosperin as being the accurate marker. Unfortunately, over time, leptosperin is diluted into the honey, so honey that can sit on the shelves would no longer be defined as mānuka. So it was not an appropriate marker to give a robust scientific definition to mānuka honey. That’s why we use our definition.
Question No. 12—Police
12. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Minister of Police: Which of the following statements by Jacinda Ardern does he agree with, “… we already budgeted for an extra 1,000 police so that is just an additional $40 million required”; or “the additional police that’s probably one of the larger figures that’s about an extra $80 million in order to fulfil that one”?
Hon STUART NASH (Minister of Police): I always agree with the Prime Minister, because the costs of this policy have yet to be finalised. I particularly point the member to another part of the Prime Minister’s 30 October statement: “Now that we’re in a position to do so, we’re going to make sure we use our access to officials to cost [the policies].”
Chris Bishop: Will the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update on Thursday contain the cost of the additional 1,800 police over the next three years?
Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, I was too slow to stop the Minister answering the question, for which he has no responsibility.
Chris Bishop: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER: No, you’ve had your answer, so I’m not going to retrospectively rule it out.
Chris Bishop: Well, it’s just important for the future. I mean, if the Minister assures—
Mr SPEAKER: No, sorry. We’ve had both a ruling and the fact that it’s too late. I think it’s very important that the announcements to be made in the House by the Minister of Finance can’t be hung on a junior Minister beforehand.
Chris Bishop: Does he seriously expect—[Interruption]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! That’s one fewer supplementary to the National Party.
Chris Bishop: Does he seriously expect New Zealanders to believe that the cost of a thousand extra police is just $40 million or $80 million per year when the National-led Government’s 880 extra police funded in Budget 2017 cost $503 million over four years?
Hon STUART NASH: We are putting 1,800 more police into our communities over the next three years. If the member wants to criticise me for that, go ahead, or if the member actually wants to campaign for less police, be my guest.
Chris Bishop: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that was a fairly fair question. All we just got from the Minister was a political flick in response, and I would ask him to address the question.
Mr SPEAKER: I think any question that starts “Does the Minister seriously believe” can have quite a wide response to it. If the member wanted a tight response, he should have asked a tight question.
Chris Bishop: Why will the Minister not just be upfront with the Parliament and the public after 46 days in office and tell us what the cost of this signature part of the coalition agreement between New Zealand First and Labour will cost?
Hon STUART NASH: Someone as intelligent as that member will know there is a Budget process to go through, and the detail, as per usual, will be fashioned as part of the Budget cycle.

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