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Questions & Answers for Oral Answer 23 June 2005

( Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing. For corrected transcripts, please visit: http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/hansard )

Thursday, 23 June 2005
Questions for Oral Answer
Questions to Ministers

1. Expatriate New Zealanders—Return to New Zealand
2. Child Poverty—Government Action
3. Land—Public Access
4. Aotea (Great Barrier) Marine Reserve—Application Process
5. Land—Public Access
6. Water Quality—Lowland Rivers and Streams
7. Health—Future Expenditure
8. National Immunisation Register—Computer System
9. Criminal Proceeds and Instruments Bill—Intended Impact
10. Health Services—Productivity Problems
Question No. 11 to Minister
11. Police—Funding
12. Employment—Jobs Jolt Initiative


Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers

Expatriate New Zealanders—Return to New Zealand

1. DAIL JONES (NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration: Does current policy encourage expatriate New Zealanders to return to New Zealand permanently?

Hon PAUL SWAIN (Minister of Immigration): Government policy is designed to improve and promote the opportunities in New Zealand, and it looks to attract highly skilled and talented people, including expatriates.

Dail Jones: Why, then, is a Mr Dean Kenny, a sixth-generation New Zealander and a former Otago, All Black, and New Zealand Mâori player who has returned to New Zealand with his British wife of 8 years and their two children, being put through the third degree by non - New Zealand immigration officials in so far as his wife’s application to stay here is concerned?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: I am not aware of the particular case. There could be a whole pile of circumstances there. But if the member would like to give me the details of the case, I will look into it for him.

Moana Mackey: Why is this a good time for expat New Zealanders to return home to New Zealand?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Because—[Interruption] 1.5 percent and going down. It is a good time because under this Labour-led Government, unemployment is at the second-lowest level in the OECD. Over 2 million Kiwis are in work, and over 260,000 new jobs have been created. That is a far cry from the dark days of the 1990s under the National Government, when unemployment was rising and opportunities were declining.

Nandor Tanczos: Does the Minister agree that it would be a real incentive to return home if New Zealanders living overseas knew that a proportion of their student debt would be wiped for every year they stayed in the country and contributed through paid and unpaid work, as the Green Party policy suggests?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: People who want to come back home make that decision for a whole range of reasons. Of course, one of the issues will be that wiping the debts of people who are overseas is unfair on those people who have paid their way all through university, without taking out a loan.

Paul Adams: Can the Minister confirm that most expatriate New Zealanders live and work in highly diverse cultures overseas, and that one of the reasons they may be reluctant to return to this country is the small-minded, anti-immigration sentiment whipped up by New Zealand First?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: There is a range of reasons, but that could well be one.

Dail Jones: Why is it that immigrants such as Mr Dean Kenny and his wife have to produce passport documents twice, documents to prove that their children are actually theirs, photos of them holding hands, and numerous other documents to prove that they have been living together in a genuine and stable relationship, and have to wait for 12 months before they get a decision; and does an 8-year Western marriage with two kids not speak for itself?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: As I say, I do not know the details of that case. What I can say is that if the system was lax, the New Zealand First members would be the first to scream, whinge, and whine about it.

Dail Jones: Why does it appear so easy, instead, for refugees and other immigrants to bring family members here under the family reunification policies, as in the case of Najim al-Ali, who successfully brought in 15 family members, when New Zealanders, such as Dean Kenny, returning here with their families are being treated like criminals in their own country?

Hon PAUL SWAIN: Of course, the refugee reunification of families policy was supported when the leader of the party that member belongs to was the Treasurer. It seems inexcusable to me that New Zealand First now wants to make political points out of this situation, when it supported those kinds of policies as part of a National-led Government.

Child Poverty—Government Action

2. GEORGINA BEYER (Labour—Wairarapa) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Is the Government committed to ending child poverty; if so, what is it doing to achieve this?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): Yes. We have committed ourselves in the Agenda for Children in 2002 to ending child poverty and we are making excellent progress towards this goal. From a peak of 34 percent or one in three children living in poverty in the mid-1990s, poverty levels have been reduced to 21 percent by 2004, largely thanks to key policies such as income-related rents and strong employment growth. Targeted tax relief through the Working for Families package will reduce child poverty rates by a further 30 percent by 2007, taking the level on this measure to around 14 percent, or less than half what it was when the National Party was in Government.

Georgina Beyer: Is there widespread community support for ending child poverty?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, there is. This cause is championed by both the Child Poverty Action Group and Every Child Counts, which is a coalition including groups such as Barnardos and Plunket, nearly 390 other organisations, and thousands of individuals. Church leaders have acknowledged that real progress has been made in areas like housing affordability and levels of poverty amongst New Zealand’s children. But not everyone agrees with this scenario being a priority. One person, when asked about his policies, said he could not give any guarantee. He stated: “Look, there is a cycle to these things. They go up and down. I can’t promise anything in this area.” That callous attitude has earned criticism from Every Child Counts, which stated: “Dr Brash’s remarks about the impact of his proposed tax cuts on children are the sort of political attitude that Every Child Counts argues needs to change if we are to have a worthwhile future.”

Judith Collins: Can the Minister provide an absolute guarantee today that child poverty will not rise while Labour is in Government and, if it does, will he then resign?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: This Government, unlike the member’s party, has committed itself to ending child poverty in the Agenda for Children. I say to that member we are all waiting—thousands of organisations are waiting—for that party to commit itself to ending child poverty.

Judith Collins: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Minister made absolutely no attempt to address the question of whether he could give an absolute guarantee to end child poverty or guarantee that it would not rise while Labour was in Government. He made no attempt to answer at all, after having taken a cheap political point in his second answer.

Madam SPEAKER: The Minister did address the question in his approach to the guarantee.

Sue Bradford: Is it not true that the abolition of the special benefit will actually cut the income of many families entering or re-entering the benefit system after 1 April 2006, and will the Government reconsider its decision to axe the last safety net available to the poorest families in this country?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The answer is no. What we have done with the special benefit, of course, is to have increased it hugely over the last 5 years to compensate for the fact that the previous National Government had not given people access to that third tier of the system. As I have explained to the member on many occasions, we have moved that money forward into the first and second tiers of the benefit system, and we are now replacing it with temporary assistance so that people can still get assistance if they are in severe need.

Georgina Beyer: Has there been a reduction in poverty levels for older New Zealanders, given that they are another vulnerable part of the community?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: Yes, there has. The poverty rate for superannuitants fell by nearly 30 percent between 1998 and 2004, from 10.6 percent to 7.6 percent. This reflects—

Gerry Brownlee: All National’s work.

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: —firstly, Labour’s decision to reverse the cuts National made to superannuation, I say for Mr Brownlee’s information, and restore the married rate to 65 percent of the average wage; and, secondly, our restoration of income-related rents. None of those policies was National policy, and on these estimates we now have a falling rate of unemployment, which is supported, of course, by all superannuitants across the country.

Land—Public Access

3. Hon DAVID CARTER (National) to the Associate Minister for Rural Affairs: Has drafting of the bill to enact the Government’s walking access policy decisions begun; if so, when does he intend to introduce the legislation to the House?

Hon JIM SUTTON (Associate Minister for Rural Affairs): Yes, drafting is under way and, as I have said before, it will be introduced when it is ready. There are some policy issues—such as mechanisms for negotiating compensation, and what to do with the millions of dollars worth of public land in the form of paper roads that are being farmed rent-free by adjoining landowners—that still have to be clarified.

Hon David Carter: What does the Minister find “amusing and funny” about today’s farmer protest, as he stated in the Straight Furrow dated 21 June 2005?

Hon JIM SUTTON: Well, there are some things in which size does matter.

Peter Brown: Will the Minister clarify whether the proposed legislation, as outlined on Morning Report this morning, is simply to allow the public access to rivers, waterways, and beaches, or is that an oversimplification?

Hon JIM SUTTON: No, the member has got right to the nub of the whole issue.

Larry Baldock: Has the Minister received any advice that United Future would give any support to a Government proposal that denied the principle of private property rights, given that Gordon Copeland’s member’s bill before the House would enshrine those rights in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act; if not, has he therefore familiarised himself with United Future’s policies that promote a common-sense solution to giving New Zealanders recreational access to their birthright while respecting farmers’ concerns?

Hon JIM SUTTON: I believe that the bill the Government has in mind would represent a very common-sense compromise between private property rights and public access rights and, therefore, I am confident that that party will support the bill when we can get it introduced.

Hon David Carter: Does the Minister stand by his answer in the House last week, when he said: “I am confident that I have the support of my colleagues.”, particularly in light of John Tamihere’s statement in the Herald on Sunday of 12 June that he considered the access proposals to be “tantamount to the right to roam”, and that “any drongo” could see that the proposals put Labour in a “no-win position.”?

Hon JIM SUTTON: I presume that my colleague was misquoted, because he would know, as other members of caucus know, that the policy is not for a right to roam at will.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: What will the Minister do to ensure that local authorities enforce the law on public access to publicly owned paper roads that are fenced off by adjoining farmers or planted over by forestry companies, or will he continue to tell people denied access that they will have to go to court?

Hon JIM SUTTON: I am sure that is an issue the Government needs to address, and it certainly interfaces with the walking access legislation under preparation. Exactly how that interface will function is something we have not worked right through yet, but I agree with the member that it is an issue that commands Parliament’s attention.

Peter Brown: Noting the Minister’s answer to my earlier supplementary question, will those rivers and waterways have to be fenced in similar fashion to the swimming pools of landowners, whose lands people will have to cross to get to the rivers and waterways?

Hon JIM SUTTON: No.

Hon David Carter: Will the Minister give an assurance today that the access legislation will be introduced into the House before the general election?

Hon JIM SUTTON: As I have pointed out to the House before, I cannot possibly give that assurance, because for one thing I do not know the date of the election.

Rodney Hide: In drafting Labour’s “land-grab legislation”, has the Minister given any consideration to the member’s bill of National’s Nick Smith, which takes riparian-strip land outright, or is Nick Smith’s bill considered too draconian a measure even for the Labour Party, notwithstanding that the bill has the full support of National?

Hon JIM SUTTON: Dr Smith’s bill is far too draconian for the moderate, centrist Labour Party, but I must correct the member who asked the supplementary question. The bill that I have in mind is not a land-grab bill; all land will remain in its existing title.

Hon David Carter: I seek the leave of the House to table the Straight Furrow, dated 21 June 2005, in which Mr Sutton says the protest was quite funny and amusing.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Hon David Carter: I seek leave to table the New Zealand Herald in which Mr Tamihere says the legislation is tantamount to the right to roam.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Rodney Hide: I seek leave to table the commentary on Nick Smith’s member’s bill, which has the support of the National Party but is considered too draconian even for the Labour Party.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Aotea (Great Barrier) Marine Reserve—Application Process

4. LARRY BALDOCK (United Future) to the Minister of Conservation: Does he stand by the statement made on his behalf regarding the marine reserve application process that “if it can be demonstrated that there is undue effect on any one of a number of categories, then the proposal will not proceed.”; if so, how does he reconcile this with his approval of the Aotea (Great Barrier) Marine Reserve?

Hon RICK BARKER (Acting Minister of Conservation): Yes, there was strong public support for the proposed marine reserve and after modifying the reserve boundary to mitigate some areas of concern, the Minister of Conservation was satisfied that none of the objections should be upheld under section 5(6) of the Marine Reserves Act on the basis of undue interference.

Larry Baldock: In light of the Minister’s disregard for the opposition by the Ngâti Rehua hapû of Ngâti Wai, the Auckland City Council, adjoining landowners, the Recreational Fishing Council, Option 4, and the Big Game Fishing Council, does he plan to rename the Department of Conservation the “Department of Confiscation”; if not, when will he rename it to bring it in line with public perception?

Hon RICK BARKER: There was an extensive amount of consultation. At least 27 meetings were held with the general public and others, and at least 12 meetings with iwi. I reject entirely that member’s assertion that this is confiscation; it is conservation. It will preserve a unique part of New Zealand for future generations.

David Parker: What concerns, raised in objections, did the Minister respond to in amending the boundaries of the reserve?

Hon RICK BARKER: The area around Whangapoua Beach was excluded, which reduced the size of the reserve by some 508 hectares. The adjoining estuary had already been excluded from the proposal by the department. Taken together, these exclusions ensure an opportunity is retained on this remote north-eastern corner for local residents, recreational fishers, and tangata whenua to take fish from the estuary and the sea for recreational and customary purposes.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: Has the Minister been advised by the Minister of Fisheries when concurrence is likely to be received for the five marine reserves that are still awaiting decisions, and would we not already have five new marine reserves if the Government had been prepared to proceed with the Marine Reserves Bill, stalled in the select committee, which removes the need for this concurrence?

Hon RICK BARKER: I am not able to give the member clear advice on the status of the concurrence by the Minister of Fisheries, but I will undertake to have that to her in writing after question time.

Larry Baldock: Does the Minister stand by his statements, repeated in the New Zealand Herald on 18 June, that the Marine Reserves Bill, which United Future stopped in its tracks, needs to be rewritten because “every proposal becomes a major battle” and also that it is “more sensible to do the negotiation at the beginning.”; if so, why does he show no respect for those who have opposed the Great Barrier marine reserve by trying to ram it through and confiscate this area from New Zealand recreational fishermen?

Hon RICK BARKER: Every respect has been shown to the people who put in submissions. Their points of view have been listened to carefully, balanced, and weighed. On that basis, the marine reserve proposal has been amended. In respect of the bill, it will be enacted next term and I can assure the House that it is the Minister’s intention to make sure that all the key principles in it are retained.

Larry Baldock: Has the Minister any indication that the Minister of Fisheries, whose consent and concurrence is needed for the marine reserve, will join in his plan for confiscation of one of Auckland recreational fishers’ favourite fishing spots; if so, will they be mad enough to do it before the election?

Hon RICK BARKER: My answer to that question is in part the same as the one I gave to Jeanette Fitzsimons, in that I do not have precise advice on the Minister of Fisheries’ position, but I will get it and will forward it to him. The second point is that this application was lodged under the existing legislation and it should proceed on that basis. The third point is that surveys have been done of the number of fishers in this remote location, and it is not densely fished.

Land—Public Access

5. GERRARD ECKHOFF (ACT) to the Associate Minister for Rural Affairs: How important are property rights in forming Government policy, and why does he believe that his proposal to have a 5-metre walking access way along significant waterways is not a “land-grab” or “confiscation”?

Hon JIM SUTTON (Associate Minister for Rural Affairs): Property rights are important in the formulation of Government policy. In the case of the walking access policy, I do not believe that it is a land-grab or a confiscation, because this policy does not affect either title or land use.

Gerrard Eckhoff: Does he now accept that landowners in fact do own a bundle of rights to the property that they own, which includes the right of exclusive use of all their land; if he does accept that, would he please explain why his walking access proposal does not, in his view, take away that right of exclusive use?

Hon JIM SUTTON: It is a clear principle of the Government’s policy that there will be no interference with the right of landowners to use their land as they see fit, provided it is legal. What is not all right is for private property interests to capture sole use of public water for their personal private profit.

Hon David Carter: Why does the Minister continue to ignore the concerns of thousands of farmers and the advice of Land Information New Zealand, the Ministry for the Environment, Treasury, and his own Mâori caucus, simply to advance Helen Clark’s personal agenda?

Hon JIM SUTTON: The member should realise that the overwhelming majority of New Zealand farmers did not participate in the little gathering in front of Parliament Buildings today, and he should desist from wilfully misquoting Government departments and members of parties other than his own.

Stephen Franks: Will his bill faithfully uphold and protect the promise in the precise words of article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi—not the imaginary principles—to “confirm and guarantee” the “full, exclusive, and undisturbed possession of land for so long as it is their wish”; if not, what weasel words will be used to get round such clear, absolutely unequivocal language?

Hon JIM SUTTON: The Government is not proposing to offer members of the public exclusive occupation or use of other people’s land; it is proposing to give them certain and free access to the public water of which they are the owners.

Hon Ken Shirley: Given that this Minister’s and this Government’s proposal will certainly disturb the possession right of Mâori land, does he not foresee and anticipate a treaty claim similar to the foreshore and seabed anguish that we have just had through the last year of this Government’s administration; and if he is thinking of exempting Mâori land, why will he not apply the same principle to all New Zealanders?

Hon JIM SUTTON: As I have explained, there is a difference between exclusive use and occupation, and the right to access public water alongside land. I think members of this House should attempt to reach a reasonable balance between the public interest and private property rights, instead of taking the modern, selfish view of “Mine, all mine, and everyone else keep out or pay up.”

Rodney Hide: On reflection, will the Minister now apologise to protester Annie Carmichael, who called out to him in the protest: “It’s not a joke, Minister.”, to which the Minister shot back at her: “You’re a joke.”; if he will not apologise to Annie Carmichael, who made no personal attack whatsoever, why not?

Hon JIM SUTTON: The member’s friend was attempting to shout me down after I had been invited to address the crowd. I gave as good as I got. If people think it is all right to dish it out, then I think they should be prepared to take it, and should stop whingeing afterwards.

Gerrard Eckhoff: Would the Minister explain why this Labour Government is giving access over private property to everyone, yet I as an MP was denied access to Parliament grounds this very afternoon; is this not some form of hypocrisy, or is it just that the Government hates horses as well as cats?

Madam SPEAKER: I remind the member that the Minister has no responsibility for that matter.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. I trust that the Speaker, who is helping the Minister out here, is not ruling out the question. The question was perfectly in order. It just asked the Government whether there is a bit of hypocrisy in the situation that the Government is allowing everyone—any Tom, Dick, or Harry—to go over private property rights, yet a Labour-appointed Speaker is denying an MP access to Parliament grounds, which is an absolute outrage. The member should be allowed to ask that question.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The question had to be about two things for which the Minister is responsible for the non-useable word in Parliament to be used—that is, “hypocrisy”. What the member has now done, of course, Madam Speaker, is attack your independence on that matter. The fact that you ruled that a horse is not allowed in here does not seem to me to be, in any case, some kind of example of political bias, unless, of course, the ACT party gets horses voting on its behalf.

Madam SPEAKER: I thank the Minister. As the member knows, hypocrisy cannot be imputed, and nor was the Minister responsible for that decision—the Speaker was. If the member wants to address that issue to the Speaker, it is not to be done in the House; it is to be done outside the House.

Hon Richard Prebble: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. With the greatest respect, a question was put to the Minister, asking whether a double standard was going on here. The Minister is entitled to have an opinion about that. Perhaps he supports having a double standard. But we should hear it and hear his reasons why he thinks this Labour Government can allow anyone to go over private property rights, but, when it comes to Parliament, if it does not suit it to have a demonstration occur here it is quite happy to refuse access. I think it was a perfectly reasonable question to put. If it can be seen on television, why can we not at least ask a question about it—or are we ashamed of our actions?

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: The member has now compounded the error. The Government is not responsible for decisions that you, Madam Speaker, make as Speaker about access. [Interruption] Indeed, the question did ask that. One cannot have a double standard on the part of the Government unless the Government is responsible for both decisions. The Government is not responsible for the decision about a horse coming into Parliament.

Madam SPEAKER: Ministers are responsible for matters that are in their responsibility, but if they do not have any responsibility for a matter, then they are not required to answer a question about their opinion—that is outside their responsibility. So it is out of order.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. In no way did the question ask about your decision. The question was about the bill, the legislation, for which the Minister is responsible. What it then did was contrast it with your ability, as the effective landlord of Parliament, to deny access, and was asking whether the Minister saw a problem with his bill. It was all about the Minister’s bill, not about your decision. Your decision was the comparison. The Minister is responsible for his legislation, and therefore the question was in order.

Madam SPEAKER: The matter might be resolved if the member—and I see he is writing—would like to put his question again in a way that falls clearly inside the Minister’s responsibility. It will not be an extra question. Could the member please restate his question.

Gerrard Eckhoff: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I shall attempt to rephrase my question so that the Minister clearly understands it. Would the Minister explain why this Labour Government is giving everyone access over private land, yet I, as an MP, was denied access to Parliament grounds? My question really is whether that is a double standard.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The member has repeated the same question with the same problem. If he cared to phrase the question along the lines of: “Is the standard being applied in the Government’s proposal on access to private land different from what was applied in terms of the access of a horse to Parliament?”, then the question would be in order.

Madam SPEAKER: Although a member cannot ask a question on behalf of another member, if that captures—

Gerrard Eckhoff: Hell will freeze over before I listen to what the Minister of Finance suggests I should ask as a question in this House. My question, as I have asked it, as far as I am concerned, stands.

Madam SPEAKER: Then I am sorry but the question is out of order.

Gerrard Eckhoff: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Some days ago I wrote to you, as Speaker of the House, seeking your permission on a matter, and giving you a complete and unequivocal assurance that the high standard of behaviour that you expect of MPs would be followed. I asked for the ability to bring our bus into Parliament grounds in order to have a better speaker system, and also to ride into Parliament grounds on a horse—giving an unequivocal assurance that I would not abuse that privilege or that right that I do think is expected of me as a member of Parliament. I wonder whether you could explain to me and, indeed, the House why you turned me down on that particular issue, given that I do have a right to enter the grounds of this Parliament. If I am allowed to come in on a skateboard, as Nandor Tanczos does sometimes, I fail to see why you denied me access on this occasion.

Hon Dr Michael Cullen: That is not a properly raised point of order; it is a matter for correspondence. But I suggest that, perhaps, the member is unable to guarantee the behaviour of the horse—and some of us do have to walk across the forecourt afterwards. Nandor Tanczos’ skateboard is not able to engage in that type of behaviour.

Hon Richard Prebble: Horses were allowed in Parliament grounds for over 100 years, and no previous Speaker ever made a ruling against it. I think we are entitled to know; I think it is a reasonable question. Does this Government have a thing against animals? Is it just opposed to them? Or has it got a thing against protests—does it happen not to like them? If it does not, that is quite extraordinary, because one of the features of the New Zealand Parliament—and, I think, one of the best features—is that we are an open Parliament, and we allow demonstrations. We used to allow people, after they had taken part in a demonstration, to come into this building, because actually it is theirs, and we are just the custodians. We do not have the right to start saying who is to come in and when they cannot. I think it is extraordinary that the Green Party members, who support the Government, are allowed to come along on any sort of skateboard that they like, but the ACT party, which is strongly opposed to the Government, is told that it is not allowed to come and support ordinary New Zealanders exercising their democratic rights. I actually do think it is an outrage.

Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. As the member knows, and as those who have contributed know, this is not a matter of order in this House, It is a matter that could have been raised with me—

Gerrard Eckhoff: It was raised.

Madam SPEAKER: No; contact was made, and I was told that you would get back to the Speaker. You did not get back to me, except in this House. That is not the appropriate way to handle it. But, addressing the point—please be quiet while I am speaking—the same rules were applied to the ACT party as were applied to others who had applied to demonstrate outside Parliament. There was no difference in the rules. I do not want to have any further discussion on this matter, because it is not a matter for debate in this House. This is question time.

Nandor Tanczos: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. In terms of being helpful to the House, Mr Eckhoff is welcome to borrow my skateboard any time he likes.

Water Quality—Lowland Rivers and Streams

6. ROD DONALD (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for the Environment: What proportion of New Zealand’s lowland rivers and streams is she confident are safe to swim in?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS (Minister for the Environment): Data from the 2003-04 summer indicates that three-quarters of monitored swimming spots are safe for swimming. Having said that, water quality in our lowland streams and rivers is poor, which is something we are working to turn round.

Rod Donald: How does the Minister reconcile the statement she has just made with the scientific results of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research study in 2004 that found all waterways in urban areas and 96 percent of rivers and streams in lowland farming areas had levels of E. coli that made them unsafe for swimming in, and levels of phosphates, ammonium, and nitrates exceeding guideline levels in 65 to 90 percent of cases?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS: Yes, a National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research report found that 95 percent of lowland rivers were not safe, especially to drink from. The institute then relitigated and re-looked at that figure, and changed it to 83 percent. The report from which I quoted was in respect of three-quarters of monitored swimming spots. Ninety-two percent of all local government undertake recreational water monitoring, and that is where that report and that figure came from.

Dave Hereora: What reports has the Minister seen about managing water quality in New Zealand?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS: I have seen a report that stated that the issue of water quality should be dealt with nationally rather than regionally. For us to centralise all the water-related activities of regional councils not only would reduce the quality of informed decision-making but could cost taxpayers between $35 million and $50 million per year. The idea came from the Hon Nick Smith, National’s environment spokesperson, and it is yet another policy that would not add up if it was intended to give all New Zealanders a $50 tax break.

Rod Donald: Will the Government introduce a national policy statement on water and a national environmental standard for water quality, as we have for air quality, which would require no further deterioration and a steady improvement in water quality, and leave it up to the regions to determine what activities would be encouraged or discouraged to meet that standard?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS: As the member is aware, we are in the middle of work on the Water Programme of Action. That programme lies around questions of water quality. It is not particularly easy when we come to make decisions about who is responsible for land use and for non - point source pollution—as in nitrates—and about what that may do to the right of farmers to use their land.

Peter Brown: Will the Minister for the Environment take a few moments to explain the logic behind opening up land for people to have access to rivers, some of which are fast-flowing, dangerous, and of poor water quality, yet prohibiting the farmer who has the land from opening up his or her swimming pool?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS: I find that extremely hard. It is a question about access rather than a question about water quality.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: What is the Minister prepared to do to require regional councils to lift their game in their management of rivers under the Resource Management Act, given the report of the Auditor-General, who told the Local Government and Environment Committee this morning that regional councils have unclear objectives, inadequate monitoring, and do little enforcement of compliance, and that river water quality is getting worse?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS: Following the Auditor-General’s report to the Local Government and Environment Committee this morning, I reported to that same select committee that the Resource Management and Electricity Legislation Amendment Bill gives the Minister for the Environment the authority and power to ask and demand of councils that they set appropriate standards for water quality. That is why work is continuing on the Water Programme of Action. You may think it is a mere talkfest, but there are actually complex arguments around ownership of property and the ability to make money from farming.

Madam SPEAKER: Please do not bring the Speaker into the argument.

Rod Donald: In light of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report Growing for Good on the unsustainability of intensive agriculture, what is the Government prepared to do to make the agriculture sector more accountable and to take actual responsibility for the adverse environmental impacts on the natural water quality of the country’s lowland streams and lakes?

Hon MARIAN HOBBS: We recognise the problems the member is raising, and I have to say it is something we are dealing with. The example I give is the pilot work around Lake Taupô, which is absolutely to do with nutrients going into water. In that case, it is not lowland water; it happens to be a lake. What we learn from that work up there is very valuable in terms of working with the community to allow farming practices to continue but also lessening the amount of nutrients entering the water supply.

Health—Future Expenditure

7. STEVE CHADWICK (Labour—Rotorua) to the Minister of Health: What reports, if any, has she received concerning future Government health expenditure?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): I have seen a Treasury - Ministry of Health Budget bilateral report, which informed Government Budget decision-making. This paper identifies that the health sector is stable, and that a number of very significant policy priorities have been progressed within the vote. The report also mentions the review that the Minister of Finance and I have commissioned on the sustainability of health expenditure—further evidence that this Government is committed to continuing to spend money wisely.

Steve Chadwick: Has the Minister seen any other reports on health spending?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Yes. I have seen some very confusing reports about comments made by the National Party leader, Don Brash. On Tuesday morning Dr Brash said on National Radio that his party would spend more money on health care than we are doing now. Well, that is not hard; one would only have to spend a dollar more to say one was spending more. But something happened during the day. By Tuesday evening Dr Brash, when interviewed by Paul Holmes, refused to say whether he would spend more than is currently committed. Perhaps he had been told about—

Madam SPEAKER: Would the Minister please sit down. The first part of the answer was fine. You can refer to reports. But once you start to speculate on other parties’ policies, that is out of order. Would you like to reconsider your answer?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I was in fact quoting from those reports. The reports come from the transcript of the National Radio programme on which Dr Brash was interviewed, and from the Paul Holmes interview.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. What the Minister is doing now—

Madam SPEAKER: Members will be quiet. I cannot hear the point of order.

Rodney Hide: What the Minister is doing now is a direct challenge to the Speaker. You ruled that she could not answer with speculations on another party’s policy. You said that she could not do that. She then stood up there and tried to use the device that she was reading from a report, and carried on in direct defiance of a Speaker’s ruling. You have thrown me out for that—and quite rightly, because you have to maintain order in this House. A Minister is now acting, in her answer to a question, in direct defiance of your ruling.

Madam SPEAKER: I thank the member. Because the level of noise is slowly rising, I had not realised the Minister was still reading from a report. I thought she had moved from the report to speculation. She is perfectly entitled to make a reference to a report. Members must keep the level of noise down.

Rodney Hide: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. So is it your ruling now that it is OK to speculate—

Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry, but I did not say that.

Rodney Hide: Let me finish. Is it your ruling that it is OK for members to speculate on another party’s policies, as long as they say they are reading from a Labour Party report? That is not allowed. Members cannot say they are reading from a report, and then speculate on policies.

Madam SPEAKER: I am sorry. That is not a point of order, and it challenges my ruling. If it is a reference to a report, that is fine. If it speculates on what may be, that is definitely out of order, because the Minister has no responsibility for that. But if it is in a report, yes, it is OK.

Dr Paul Hutchison: What will the Minister do about the facts that Treasury reports continue to show productivity concerns with regard to the health system, that successive health and independence reports show little evidence of improved outcomes, and that a report on primary health organisation management shows that many primary health organisations need propping up financially; is that not a pathetic record after spending an additional $3.5 billion?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No.

Peter Brown: What funding increases does the Minister believe there should be to the health budget on an annual basis to address the health problems of an increasing ageing population?

Hon ANNETTE KING: There is no right amount of money to be spent on health. Each country decides what the appropriate level of expenditure is. At this point, New Zealand sits at about the middle of the OECD in terms of expenditure.

National Immunisation Register—Computer System

8. HEATHER ROY (ACT) to the Minister of Health: What is the total cost to date of the computer system and software for the National Immunisation Register, including the cost of fixing the reported 150 bugs, remedying compatibility issues, and correcting data records, and how much is recoverable from suppliers in penalties, remedies, or non-performance fees?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): I am advised that the cost of developing the computer software for the National Immunisation Register is $4.256 million spread over 3 years. This is split into two systems: the National Immunisation Register, with a cost of $3.213 million, and the school-based vaccination system, with a cost of $1.043 million. I am further advised that there have been no costs to fix the bugs. Those fixes have been completed at the vendor’s cost, as required in the contract. There are no current compatibility issues that the ministry is aware of. There are no additional costs to the project for correcting data records. The contract allows for recovery of funds, if required, for non-performance.

Heather Roy: Is it true that the Ministry of Health is paying a support contract of $25,000 per month for the computer system for the National Immunisation Register, that this is higher than the normal market value, and that the contractor is required to fix all bugs in a timely manner or incur a $1,000-a-day penalty,—but that bugs are not being fixed and that no penalties have been charged—and what explanation can the Minister possibly give for this?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I cannot confirm that.

Dr Paul Hutchison: Does the Minister have any idea how many children who have had immunisations have not been placed on the register and, conversely, how many children who have not had immunisations have been placed on the register; and how could she have bragged about that register only last Friday at Wairakei when she must have known about the shambles surrounding it?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I can brag about the Immunisation Register, because it was asked for in the mid-1990s and was declined by Bill English as not being needed, yet anybody who knows anything about increasing immunisation rates knows that it is needed. Any bugs in the system were expected during its establishment. It has been in place for 11 months, and those problems are being sorted out.

Heather Roy: Did Orion Systems International receive that contract through a closed-tender process, and is that company also the supplier of the computer system and software for the other failed project, the health provider index information technology project—or have the Minister’s officials not told her of that failure, either?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I do not have that information with me, mainly because I do not get involved in contracts. I do know that Orion has done a lot of work in the health system and is one of New Zealand’s finest information technology companies. I have no idea why ACT is chasing after the company as if it has done something wrong.

Criminal Proceeds and Instruments Bill—Intended Impact

9. TIM BARNETT (Labour—Christchurch Central) to the Minister of Justice: What is the intended impact of the Criminal Proceeds and Instruments Bill introduced to the House this week?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Justice): The bill introduces a civil forfeiture regime. This allows for the High Court to order the restraint of assets where there is reasonable cause to believe that they are the proceeds of crime. Once the court has found on the civil standard of proof—that is, the balance of probabilities—that the assets are the proceeds of crime, the regime allows for the confiscation of those assets. These measures are important because they will enable the justice system to strip gangs of assets, seriously reducing the profitability of organised crime activities and disrupting the capacity of organised crime to finance further criminal activity.

Tim Barnett: Will the legislation apply retrospectively?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Yes, the legislation will apply retrospectively to all assets and benefits derived from crime over the 7 years immediately prior to its coming into force. The legislation will therefore not have to be in place for years before its effect is felt. Retrospectivity is appropriate in this case, and it is not inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. The assets confiscated will have been found by the court not to be legally in the possession of those from whom they are seized.

Dr Richard Worth: Why has the Minister set up in Part 1 of the bill a scheme whereby criminal gangs and gangsters are given rights to negotiate and challenge the values ascribed to their tainted assets with a non-criminal standard of proof required of them, leaving the way wide open for abuse?

Hon PHIL GOFF: This bill is modelled closely on legislation that has operated for many years in New South Wales. In that respect, the New South Wales authority has found that once the assets have been restrained on the basis of “reasonable cause to believe”, in 90 percent of cases the crooks give up and surrender the assets without further taxpayer expense and without requiring the involvement in the court system. That is a great thing.

Tim Barnett: What is the estimate of the level of assets that may be recovered from criminals each year?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Officials estimate that up to $14 million a year will be recovered under the new legislation. That figure indicates just how much more effective the civil forfeiture regime will be than the existing legislation, which has recovered just $9 million in criminal assets over an 8-year period—$14 million a year against $9 million over an 8-year period. Everybody in the House should welcome this legislation.

Health Services—Productivity Problems

10. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Port Waikato) to the Minister of Health: Does she accept that there are productivity problems within the health system, and can she give assurances that she is doing something effective about them?

Hon ANNETTE KING (Minister of Health): I am pleased with the progress that has been made in additional operations and affordable primary health care. However, productivity in health systems around the world challenges Governments of all political persuasions—in particular, how to measure productivity. The assurance that I can give is that, for the first time, a Government is working with major stakeholders, to attempt to provide robust measures of productivity in the health system.

Dr Paul Hutchison: What action will she take, given that Capital and Coast District Health Board, Waikato District Health Board, Canterbury District Health Board, and Northland District Health Boards—four out of five of the country’s heart centres—all did significantly fewer operations in 2003-04 compared with the year before on a case-weighted basis, despite her pouring an additional $3.5 billion into health and surgeons saying that increasingly patients are critically ill before they stand a chance of having an operation?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I am very satisfied with the number of heart procedures carried out in New Zealand. The figure has improved considerably since the late 1990s.

Nanaia Mahuta: Does the Minister consider the claims that productivity in the sector is stagnant or declining are accurate?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No. About 80 percent of Vote Health is spent by district health boards. Of the money provided to them, about 60 percent is spent on hospital services, but only 35 percent to 45 percent of hospital output by expenditure is centrally recorded. That means that the analysis of district health board productivity is restricted to, at best, 25 percent of district health board activity, or just under 20 percent of Vote Health expenditure.

Barbara Stewart: Does the Minister expect New Zealanders to accept that productivity problems in the health system caused by shortages of essential medical personnel can be solved while workforce planning is split between the Health Workforce Advisory Committee, the 21 district health boards, and the Ministry of Health—a total of 23 separate organisations?

Hon ANNETTE KING: The member makes a valid point, in terms of productivity, when there are shortages in the workforce. I have acknowledged that on many occasions, and this Government has worked hard to increase workforce numbers. We now have something like 3,500 more nurses, over 1,000 more doctors, and so on. Shortages do restrict productivity. However, in terms of workforce planning, planning has to be done by all those organisations, and particularly by the district health boards, because they do the employing.

Judy Turner: Can she confirm that children’s elective surgery at Starship Children’s Health has ground to a halt all year due to shortages of theatre nurses; if she can, what strategies has she implemented to ensure that the massive waits those children are needlessly enduring for basic surgery do not continue?

Hon ANNETTE KING: No, I cannot confirm that, but I can confirm that I have put additional money into elective surgery at Starship Children’s Health for scoliosis surgery, where there was a backlog. There will always be times when children who arrive at the hospital and who are acutely unwell will take precedence over those who are waiting. There will be workforce problems in all our health sector. I am pleased, however, that a lot of effort has gone into improving that situation by employing more doctors and nurses in the health sector.

Dr Paul Hutchison: Why has the Minister failed to act effectively on the recent report on the sterile supply at Auckland District Health Board, a report pressed for because human tissue had been found on operating instruments prior to operations, when still, a month later, “grossly contaminated instruments” are appearing from sterile supply, which wrecks operating lists and is one reason why critically ill heart patients languish in the wards without treatment?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Because the report has been made to the district health board. The district health board is taking responsibility for, and will rectify, the problem.

Dr Paul Hutchison: What action is she taking to remedy the disastrous situation at Auckland District Health Board, where a quarter of a million dollars’ worth of heart surgery per week is being lost while specialist teams frequently stand around idle, because nurses cannot park on site and many are not prepared to take a bus from Green Lane Hospital, on the other side of Auckland, where there is parking, and why is that gross inefficiency and waste continuing to occur at a district health board that is on intensive monitoring?

Hon ANNETTE KING: Perhaps the member would like to ask the previous Prime Minister why the parking, when Auckland City Hospital was being built, was made as it is.

Dr Paul Hutchison: I seek leave to table two papers. The first is from the clinical leaders at Auckland City Hospital, subsequent to the report on sterile supply, and states: “Systems at ADHB potentially compromise patient outcomes and add significant delays to the processing of patients.”

Leave granted.

Dr Paul Hutchison: The second paper is from the New Zealand health statistics, and shows that four out of five of New Zealand’s heart centres carried out significantly fewer operations in 2003-04 than in the previous year.

Leave granted.

Hon ANNETTE KING: I seek leave to table the transcript of Morning Report, where Don Brash said he would spend more on health care. I also seek leave to table the transcript of the Holmes show, where he would not confirm that National would spent more on health.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table those documents. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Judy Turner: I seek leave to table a report from the New Zealand Herald about nurses’ shortages at Starship Children’s Health.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection. Yes, there is objection.

Question No. 11 to Minister

RON MARK (NZ First): I notice that the Minister of Police is not here. I seek the leave of the House to have this question deferred and held over until the Minister of Police can bother showing up.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought. Is there any objection? There is. Would the member please ask the question.

Police—Funding

11. RON MARK (NZ First) to the Minister of Police: Is he confident that police funding is being used effectively?

Hon PHIL GOFF (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade), on behalf of the Minister of Police: The Minister of Police has the flu at the moment. The answer is, overall, yes. The police are better resourced than ever before, with staff numbers about to top 10,000 for the first time, which is about 1,300 more than there were in 1999; and an annual budget that has been increased by this Government to $1.03 billion. The effectiveness of the huge investment in policing in recent years is evidenced in the fact that crime rates have fallen dramatically to levels not seen since the early 1980s; more crime is being solved than at any time since 1987; and the road toll is at a historic low.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Could you assist us on this side of the House. Nowhere in the statement of intent does it show that uniformed numbers will be over 10,000. Could you ask the Minister to correct his answer, please.

Madam SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

Ron Mark: Well, it is about accuracy and not misleading the House.

Madam SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. Would the member please ask his supplementary question.

Ron Mark: If all the money allocated to policing issues in this country is being used effectively, could the Minister tell the House why we are continuing to pay a huge salary, and all the perks and baubles that go with it, to a Minister who refuses to front in this House and answer questions—not just today, but previous days, day after day, and now even on the hustings?

Hon PHIL GOFF: I deplore the fact that when a member of this House, from any side of the House, is ill in bed with the flu, and is not able to be here, another member makes a personal attack on him. That is really pathetic, petty politics.

Martin Gallagher: Has the Minister seen any reports of threats to the current effectiveness of the police?

Hon PHIL GOFF: Yes. I have seen reports that National is advocating cutting staff from core Government departments to pay for tax cuts. I find it hard to believe that anyone would want to cut police numbers—

Simon Power: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. This matter was ruled on earlier in the day when Mr Hide raised it with you. There is no such report. The Minister is creating a hypothetical situation, on top of which he has no responsibility for National Party policy, and is abusing his position in answering that question to make those statements.

Hon PHIL GOFF: Speaking to the point of order, I have in my hand a report stating that National has confirmed that it is eyeing up job cuts in the public sector to help pay for big tax cuts promised in its first year in office. That is the report. I am quoting from it.

Simon Power: That is not what the Minister said when he responded to the question. He made a specific reference to the police, not the public service. He has misrepresented exactly what was in that report.

Hon PHIL GOFF: Hansard will recall that I made no reference in my answer to the police.

Madam SPEAKER: I heard the Minister refer to a report. He then read from that report. I say it again, and I know we are in that period, that there cannot be speculation on hypothetical situations, but if statements are referred to they are perfectly in order—on both sides, whether it be in the questioning or in the answering.

Dail Jones: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. The Minister is answering questions as the Minister of Police. He has just told us that he is referring to a report that made no reference to the police. Therefore, how can that report possibly be used by him with regard to answers about the police? He should be asked not to refer to it.

Hon PHIL GOFF: Madam Speaker, if I can finish my answer I will be happy to reply to the member.

Madam SPEAKER: Can we let the Minister finish his reply, and then we will see where we go from there.

Hon PHIL GOFF: I find it hard to believe that anyone would want to cut police numbers, but then I do recall in the late 1990s the last National - New Zealand First Government planned to cut 540 police staff in order to pay for the failed INCIS computer system.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. This is where we get ourselves into difficult situations. If a Minister blatantly says something that is not true, not just once in response to my question, but again, and now again, and he is not brought to task, it leads to disorder. Now, there are questions of not misrepresenting the facts in the House, not telling untruths, and not deliberately inciting disorder. The fact is that that man knows that the New Zealand First coalition agreement gave another 500 uniformed police, and he is deliberating seeking to mislead the House again. And you let him get away with it.

Hon PHIL GOFF: I seek leave to table the document for the edification of the member. It starts: “Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, has confirmed up to 450 jobs could go within the bureaucracy with police restructuring.” They are—

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Ron Mark: I seek leave of the House to table the New Zealand First - National Government coalition agreement, which makes—

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Dail Jones: I seek leave to table the New Zealand First policy for the 2005 election, which states that New Zealand First will double the size of the police force—

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection. Can we get to a supplementary question please.

Larry Baldock: I seek leave to table the National - New Zealand First coalition agreement that promised the coalition would provide “sound and stable Government for New Zealand for a 3-year term”.

Madam SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection. We are getting to the point where the House is being brought into disrepute. I ask members to desist. Can we get to a supplementary question, please.

Dr Richard Worth: Why does the Minister have confidence that the Commissioner of Police will use the resources allocated to him in the recent Budget to fix the 111 system, in light of the commissioner’s view that the report into the communications centre was “provocative” and he believed that the 111 service was in fact already quite adequate?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The member forgets that the person who ordered the report was in fact the Commissioner of Police. Why do I have confidence in it? I have confidence in it because it provides an unprecedented $45.5 million that will allow additional staff, enhanced training systems, additional radio channels, and improved management systems and structures. This will resolve a very longstanding problem; a problem of long standing to the extent that this was a problem under previous administrations.

Ron Mark: In light of that answer, does the Minister not recall that he was personally informed of the failings of the 111 system 3 years earlier than the ordering of that inquiry, and was specifically warned that someone might lose their life; and why did Iraena Asher have to die before this Government acted?

Hon PHIL GOFF: The way in which a communication centre operates, by its very nature, is an operational matter. That is a responsibility of the Commissioner of Police, and the police commissioner has accepted that responsibility. The answers given time and time again by the Minister of Police in this House were that the review was ordered, and when we had the result of that review he would ensure that the funding was available to implement those recommendations from the review. The Minister was as good as his word, and, together with the Minister of Finance, provided $45.5 million to produce a system that will be truly world-class.

Employment—Jobs Jolt Initiative

12. JUDITH COLLINS (National—Clevedon) to the Minister for Social Development and Employment: Is he satisfied with the performance of the Jobs Jolt initiative, Activating Very Long Term Unemployed; if not, why not?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY (Minister for Social Development and Employment): Yes.

Judith Collins: Can the Minister confirm that the review of the 2004 performance of his Activating Very Long Term Unemployed stated that the impact of this initiative—in terms of getting people into work—was “considered zero”; if so, what does his persistence with failing Jobs Jolt initiatives say about his claim that his ministry only makes policy changes on the basis of “evidence-based research”?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: The latest Jobs Jolt quarterly report shows that the outcomes for this initiative continue to be significantly ahead of forecast and have had an impact; and because the number of very long-term unemployed have declined by 21 percent since we started this programme, I have now broadened its eligibility to include clients who have been on a benefit for 5 to 8 years rather than the original target group of over 8 years.

Judy Turner: Is he satisfied with the performance of another Jobs Jolt initiative, the ProCare pilot, designed to assist beneficiaries in Manukau with stress and depression, when only 52 have participated out of the original target of 120, despite the fact that these conditions alone account for 1,327 sickness and invalids beneficiaries in that area and that despite a forecasted success rate of 24 percent, only 13 percent have gone off the benefit, and half have left the programme without going off the benefit?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I actually am very pleased with the emerging results from the Providing Access to Health Solutions, ProCare, and Workwise programmes that have been piloted in the Manukau and Wellington regions. I have congratulated both the Ministry of Social Development and the two district health boards on the way they have run this pilot. The concept has proven itself to the extent that now we have extended it to the Western Bay of Plenty, and I am looking forward to rolling it out across the country in the coming year.

Judith Collins: Can he confirm that New Zealand taxpayers spent $761,000 on the Activating Very Long Term Unemployed initiative in the 2004 year for “zero effect”, and what does he have to say to the long-term unemployed people to whom he has provided a quarter of a million dollar programme that is nothing more than a public relations stunt?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: No, and the figures for long-termed unemployment run like this: 2 years - plus since 1999, 34 percent reduction; 2 years - plus over the past 5 years, 61 percent reduction; 8 years - plus since we introduced that programme, 21 percent reduction; 10 years - plus since we came into power in 1999, 63 percent reduction; 10 years - plus over the last year, 35 percent reduction. My advice to the long-term unemployed is: “Stick with Labour.”

Judith Collins: In that case, has he seen Treasury concerns about Jobs Jolt, that: “Treasury believes that strong economic and employment growth has masked the relatively insignificant impact of the initiatives.”, and is he satisfied that the only appearance of success in the Jobs Jolt package is in fact the result of hard-working New Zealanders creating more jobs so that someone else can pay taxes?

Hon STEVE MAHAREY: I have seen a report that shows that the Jobs Jolt initiative to date has in excess of 7,000 people directly from the job. It is a 3-year programme. It is well on the way towards its 22,000 target. It would help if the member became literate and actually read the reports properly.

( Uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing. For corrected transcripts, please visit: http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/hansard )

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